The Smoke House & The Blizzard, Rudolph & The Cowboy, Winter & The Eclipse

Greeting to all and welcome my new friends to the East Wing

Last Sunday, December 12th , it started to snow as I drove to town to teach my CCD class at Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in North Judson.  The wind had not yet started to blow. By the time my class was dismissed, over an inch of snow was on the ground and 30 mph winds made me think we might be in for one of those special days. On the way home after mass, the radio described the conditions in which the Chicago Bears would play football at 3 p.m. local time. The conditions were not good for the Bears and it turned out the game would be even worse than the weather for those Bears.  But at that time I had no idea how much of the that bad weather I would personally touch before I went to sleep that Sunday Night.

With the volume of sales at our new business, Bubs’ BBQ, in Demotte Ind.  keeping my oldest son, RJ, cooking for what seems like ‘round the clock, with me and the She helping out in the evenings,  the She decided to bring home the ribs, pork roasts, and chickens and cook at home in her oven. And so she did. All went well with the pork roasts, after several hours of slow roasting they were just where they needed to be. After dinner she would do the ribs and chickens as they don’t take as long as the thicker roasts.

As I went downstairs to the West Wing to watch the late Sunday Evening football game between the Eagles and the Cowboy, the She  started to cook the rest of the meat for Bubs BBQ Monday Menu.

It was half time that I decided to go upstairs for something to drink. I walked upstairs into a smoke house. My first thought was Oh my goodness, the house is on fire. Running up the stairs, I noticed the She laying on the couch as if nothing was amiss, watching TV. I walked into the kitchen and saw smoke rolling from the oven vents, much faster than the exhaust fan could handle. Going back into the living room and through the thickness of the haze asked her if she noticed any smoke. She said yes, she did notice some, and it was just grease smoking from the oven.

Asking how much longer to cook the meat and finding out another two hours, I made a unilateral decision to stop the cooking process right then and there, lest we die of smoke inhalation, the house continues to fill with smoke and they find us both dead along with the ribs which by that time would be reduced to your  bacis carbon. The She agreed that it was time to end our slow suffocation and get on with living.

The She opened the oven and what a surprise, 12 chickens and 20 or so slabs of ribs all nicely wrapped in foil, and most all dripping fuel for the smoke.  More food at one time in that oven than it’d ever seen in its whole life. We’re talking loaded down here, it takes a lot of ribs and chicken for Bubs BBQ.

The venting of the smoke from the house  introduced us to the magical powers of a Northern Indiana Blizzar. The wind was blowing with such force from the west, the only thing needed to rid the house of smoke was simply open windows on the west side of the house and open the doors of the East Wing. And just that quick the 75 foot house became a wind tunnel.  The only drawback was the force of the wind along with the amount of snow in the air. That and a 45° drop in inside temperature.  It’s truly suprising how fast ya can cool the inside of your home in a raging blizzard, and at the same time get rid of lots of smoke as a by product of the cooling process.

When I was a little kid in Kentucky my dad used to work as a safety inspector of coal mines. I remember hearing him talk ‘bout the importance of proper air exchange in a coal mine, to assure the miners don’t die from “bad air”. Good thing me and the She got the air exchange thing going, else we’d be goners from “bad air”.

I never thought I’d see it snow in my upstairs bedroom, I did. Never thought there’d be snow in the East Wing, there was. With the wind whipping through the house at 30+ mph, the smoke was dispursed in short order, blown thru the open doors of the East Wing and into the waiting arms of the  nighttime blizzard winds, then carried along and blended into that white darkness of the night. It just disappeared.

With everything now in  chaffing pans it was necessary to go outside and put the pans in the van. Turning on the outside lights on the front porch, I saw for the first time the full fury of that storm. The van was hardly visible and it was less than 50 feet in front of me. Up and down seemed to go away.  Right there, just outside my front door, it was snowing west to east, not up and down like it’s suposted to snow , snowing west to east. Between me and the van stood a 2 ½ ft snow drift that had to be breached to get to the van, and the She didn’t look like she was gona go shovel.  Good thing I don’t have chionophobia.

As I stepped into the blizzard the first thing I felt was the sing of snow flakes striking skin as I went about clearing a pathway to the van. The thought crossed my mind, that’s the first time snow’s ever hurt.  A total of six trips it took to get everything into the van.  By the 4th trip my shoveled trail was over half closed by the wild wind.  By the time the last trip was made thru the blizzard, the pathway was memory. It weas as if I had never moved the snow to start with.  The foresite to bring the shovel into the house that night  paid off Monday morning when it was time to dig out my outside cats, but that’s another story by it’s self.

Eeveryone  knows ‘bout Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, those little  fellers, the elves, Yukon Cornelius, that singing snowman that looks like Burl Ives, and even sounds like Burl Ives, yah that bunch.  We all know ‘em. But did ya ever know ‘bout where Rudolph really came from?

Back in 1939 a fellow by the name of Robert L. May thought up the idea of Rudolph during his lunch hour, of all things.  Bob May worked in the advertising department as a copywriter for the Montgomery Ward Stores.

Now back then Montgomery Ward done all their advertising in house.  In fact, they supplied damn near the whole world a copy of their print advertising. Called it the Montgomery Ward Catalog, ya could order anything they had to sell, and they had a lot to sale. In addition to bringing the store into your home, the Montgomery Ward Catalog  was used for other purposes as well. The catalog provided a renewable source of sheet paper before softer sheet paper became readily available on rolls.

 Bob May came up with the Rudolph idea for a Christmas pamphlet as a promotional thing for Montgomery Ward,  and the booklet was used for several years for that purpose.

In 1947 the chairman of Montgomery Ward gave the copyright of  Rudolph to its creator, Bob May, it may well have been a Christmas present. He found a publisher for the story and sold over 100,000 copies the very first year

The story was put to music  couple years later by Bob May’s brother in-law. Then Bob and the brother in-law  set out to find somebody to sing the story.  They thought they had Perry Como, yes,  Perry Como lined up to sing the Rudolph story.  But Perry Como had a line in the song that he insisted be changed. They refused to change anything ‘bout the story, and Perry Como missed the chance of his lifetime.

They approached Gene Autry to sing the story but he thought the song was too childish for his image.  Now can ya just imagine that, a feller who makes his living playing a cowboy in the movies, wearing a white hat that never gets knocked off during a fight, saying Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer is too childish for his image. No wonder he hung around with Pat Buttram, two Einsteins make good cowboy movies.

I think they somehow got to Gene Autry’s wife and she told him to sing the story, ‘cause his wife wasn’t a cowgirl like Dale Evans and when non cowgirls spoke Gene Autry listened.  The best decision that singing cowboy ever made was to sing the Rudolph story. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was the largest sales of any Gene Autry record ever made.

Before we visit again in the East Wing, two really neat things for star gazers will have occurred, and the really cool part ‘bout the whole deal is they’re both on the same day.  In the star gazing world having two things on the same day is kinda like having your cake and eating it too. It just don’t happen too often. It’s the official start of Winter 2010 and on the same day a total lunar eclipse. Now it’s just coincidentally they happen on the same day, but they just do.

 What’s really neat ‘bout this eclipse is that everybody in North America who wants to see the eclipse can do so. Now that assuming wherever you are,  it’s not cloud covered during the time of the eclipse.  If it is, oh well, there’s not a whole lot I can tell ya ‘bout it, ‘cause a lunar eclipse is  kinda like listening to 4th of July Fireworks on the radio, there are some things in  life ya just gota put your eyes on or else they don’t work out well for ya. A lunar eclipse is one such thing.

This whole eclipse thing starts at 12:29 a.m. EST when the moon begins to enter the Earth’s outer shadow and the whole deal gets done several hours later at 6:06 a.m.

While these eclipse things, both sun and moon, occur on a regular basis they’re not always seen by everyone.  It has to do with angles and orbits and time of day and stuff like that. And sometimes even if you’re in a position to see an eclipse, and ya got cloud cover. Just turn on the radio, close your eyes and think fireworks…..

The last total lunar eclipse for North America took place on February 21, 2008, and the next isn’t anticipated until April 15, 2014. Now eclipses are one of those things that are so predictable if it should come before or after April 15th 2014, we’re in a world of hurt.  Ya don’t even want to know what that would mean.

One look out the window Monday morning and it was  obvious, we wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while, maybe a long while. Sown at least 18 inches and maybe more, winds of at least 25 mph and maybe more,  meant an extra day of play time with the 2girldogs, Bentley,  Spike, and Sophia the Republican Cat.  A fun day to watch it snow and play on the computer while I enjoy the company of friends of mine.

 Nothing is more pleasant than watching a snow storm from the comfort of  the East Wing.  When such times as that  do occur, I’m reminded of how truly blessed I really am, both me and those I hold dear.

After a full day of doing nothing  but talking to the animals, messing around on the computer, reading a bunch of star gazing stuff, a full day of having fun with nothing to do. At 6:30 p.m. the She comes to the East Wing and says “I’ve got a plan, you go get the ribs and chicken from the van, and I’ll finish cooking ‘em” I looked at her and we both started laughing as she said “no more smoke, I promise”.

The trail to the van was blazed once again and the carrying process was in reverse order. The cooking was completed  and once again the snow was shoveled to allow food to be transported to the outside freezer, and oh yes the She kept her word, on this second go around, the smoke didn’t  roll

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, The Smoke House & The Blizzard, Rudolph & The Cowboy, Winter & The Eclipse

I wish you well,


From The East Wing, The Black & White War, Santa Clause And The South Pole, A Jewish fruitcake

Greeting to all and welcome my new friends to the East Wing,

Blustery!! Of all the Winter Weather Words in the World, blustery is my favorite. Don’t know why, it just is. Blustery, it doesn’t say a lot, it’s just blustery.  The other day I read the weather report, as many of you know, I’m a meteorologist wanta be, anyways, the weather report said blustery. I knew, I just knew we were in for a show, and we were.

The very next morning I woke up to 4” of blustery, and was so surprised ‘cause it looked just like snow. Blustery, such a neat weather word, ya gota love it. But it sure looks like snow, from time to time.

Now everybody knows ‘bout Sophia,  the Calico Conservative Republican Cat and Spike, the Man Cat, along with the two Black and Whites in my Office, Miss Kitty and Little Brother, what ya may not know is ‘bout  the outside Kats of The East Wing. Got six of those kats outside the East Wing. They too are special friends of mine.

A few days ago one of the outside Kats of the East Wing got inside while I was in the process of feeding ‘em. Now ya gota keep in mind these outside kats are not tame kittens. They depend on me for food and water but not for love and affection. Those outside kats are just not tame, in fact they’re first cousins to wild kats and sisters to Bob Kats.

Now a little black and white girl somehow got inside the East Wing. Did ya ever try to catch a Wild Kat Cousin? Not an easy task, catching those Wild Kats.   The problem of catching the Wild Kat was compounded by both Spike and Sophia wanting to ward off the intruder. That and the simple fact that kats just don’t heard easy, they just don’t heard easy, never have, never will.

The East Wing’s not the largest room in the house, but its got lots of places to hide if you’re a Kat on the run, and so she was, that little black and white, on the run in the East Wing, from me, her provider of both food and shelter for all her life. But she didn’t know that, all she knew was that she was in a new hostile world and she didn’t like it one bit. A kat scorned is trouble with a Capital T and that rimes with P and that spells Problems in the East Wing.

I actually had her in my grasp one time, wrapped in a towel, when the Bentley chose to assist in the capture of the Wild Kat and jumped up and dislodged my grasp, and the little black and white ran for a different cover. Damn democrat dogs, butting in where they don’t belong, so typical, but oh well.

Not being one to give up the chase, I was bound and determined to capture that Kat even if it took me till Christmas. But the She had a different time frame, in fact, Wednesday morning She said “today the Kat goes or you go”. It was time to switch to Plan Q.  I called it Plan Q ‘cause every plan  between A and P had failed to capture the Krazy Kat who had invaded the East Wing.

Most of the day last Wednesday was spent formulating Plan Q.  Calling  on my days as the general of the Toto Volunteers, the development of Plan Q was put together with military precision. It was brilliant in its simplistic approach to the complex problem of Kat eradication. No wonder I got to be the general of the Toto Army, back in the day. Capturing a Kat was simple when compared to the Pop Bottle Wars of Toto. Ya just map out the plan and execute the plan, and it all falls into place. And besides just like every war ever fought in the past, every good general knows that God’s on his side. As Plan Q was being formulated, I too felt God was with me on this one.  The same God as when we marched in the Pop Bottle Wars of Toto.

Now the She told me that the Kat had run under a cedar chest setting in the East Wing. I didn’t think the Kat could get under, but She said it could. When the She says it’s so, it’s so.

The battle plan was to get the Kat to run under the cedar chest and when I’m sure she’s under the cedar chest, surround the cedar chest with a heavy blanket.  Have the She slowly tilt back the cedar chest while I reach my hands under, protected by the blanket, and capture the Kat once and for all .

Through out the day, last Wednesday the excitement mounted as anticipation of the upcoming battle for the East Wing drew near. After all  the She had said “the Kat goes or you go”. And I didn’t plan on leaving, that is, not unless I couldn’t get that damn Kat.

Darkness comes early on December 8th so I was home before it came.  Ya gota have all the things possible working for ya to win a battle, and the War for the East Wing was no different. The battle was joined at 4 PM.

The first phase of the fight was to obtain the right weapons of war. In this case, a thick blanket to ensure I don’t suffer lasting battle scars.  The blanket was selected from the linen closet and folded into thirds, to assure proper size and fit to surround the cedar chest in the East Wing.

Phase two of the battle was implemented with the precision that would make the Pentagon proud. I herded the Kat, and Kats don’t herd easy.  But I herded that little black and white right under the cedar chest. Thoughts of victory started go creep into my mind. I shoved such thoughts back into dreamland. The battle continued.

Phase three was deployment of the attack blanket. It went off without a hitch.  With the attack blanket in place, I had trapped the Kat in an potentially inescapable position.   I could set back and wait for the She to come home and assist in the final battle. I didn’t have long to wait, The She arrived shortly after 5 O’clock and the final phase four was underway.

After a short training session (Boot Camp, so to speak) for the She, explaining her role and importance to the success of the mission, we were ready to enter into the final step, the final battle for control of the East Wing. It was either me or the Kat, and I didn’t want to leave.

As the She slowly tilted the cedar chest backwards, protected by the thick blanket, I reached my hands underneath, and as gentle as a dandelion seed  floating on the wind, surrounded the little black and white Kat with the softness of the fuzzy blanket.

And it was right there, underneath that cedar chest surrounded by the blanket with my hands gently holding the little black and white that the battle of the East Wing ended. It ended not in death and destruction, as do so many wars, but in the warm fuzziness of a super soft blanket.  It was such a fitting end for such a worthy enemy, that little black and white Kat.  I’m so glad that war didn’t end like most where the fight don’t determine who’s right, but who’s left.

Without a great deal of  fanfare I delivered the little black and white to the north deck outside the East Wing.  Where upon she ran straight over to the other five outside girl kats and started to tell the story of her capture and escape from the other side of the glass.

One of the things that had arrived while she was held captivate inside  the glass of the East Wing was a new watering dish, heated so it never freezes in cold weather. Minutes into her story, she had to stop for a drink of refreshing water as the outside temperature of 18° displayed on the inside East Wing Weather Station, after which she continued the chronicle.  Kats tell good stories.

Now when ya think ‘bout Santa Clause and the North Pole, ya just never think ‘bout the cold of the North Pole.  But it is, cold up there, real cold. A cold so brutal that it claimed many lives of brave explorers who attempted to venture north back in the day. Before we knew how to stay warm in extreme cold, people died there in the far north as well as the far south.

Winter temperatures at the North Pole can range from about -45° F to -15° F, with the average temperature coming in at -30° F. The average summertime temperature is a lovely 32° F. Warm enough for the sea ice to melt. ‘Cause salt water has a lower freezing temperature than fresh water, so it to melts below the freezing point of water.

But the real cold Pole is not North, it’s South.  With an average winter temperature of -79° F, the South Pole is a lot colder than the North Pole. The record low temperature at the South Pole is −117° F,  while the record high is only 7.5° F. In general, temperatures at the South Pole average 30° lower than the North Pole. Knowing that, ya can just see why Santa Clause decided to move north rather than south.

The reason the South Pole is so much colder is sea level. The North Pole’s at sea level, the South Pole isn’t.  The South Pole’s ‘bout 9,000 feet above sea level. Higher elevations are colder than locations at low altitudes, because seawater acts as an insulator, holding in heat from the sun and warming the air around it. Because the North Pole is nothing but seawater, it’s able to retain heat more efficiently than the high-and-dry South Pole. Kinda like the difference between Denver CO. and Miami FL, in the winter time, but not quite the same. But one is sea level and one’s 5,280 ft or so above sea level. Wow! The South Pole is almost a mile higher than the “Mile High City”.

Now the real surprise is that neither the North or South Pole is the coldest spot on earth. It’s a place called Vostok, Antarctica. It’s a Russian Research Station ‘bout 800 miles from the South Pole.  It’s located 11,444 feet above sea level. It’s even higher than the South Pole, and for the same reason, even colder. An average temperature of -67.4°F compared to the South Pole of a balmy -56.4°F. Ant the other day I thought 5°F was cold.

One of the down sides of being a diabetic, is not being able to eat all the fruitcake I want. Don’t misunderstand,  I’m finding that there are few downsides to being a diabetic, ya just have to be more aware of stuff that goes in your mouth. Fruitcake’s just some of that stuff ya gota be aware of.

Last week a friend who knew ‘bout my amorous relationship with good fruitcake, and not knowing ‘bout me being diagnosed a diabetic last summer sends me a fruitcake recipe calling its self “The Worlds Best Fruitcake”.

I don’t think the She’ll make it for me, but I’m gona ask anyway. Things like currants, petted dates, dried apricots, dried sour cherries, brandy, ground almonds, orange zest, lemon zest, and butter, lots of butter along with lots of sugar, sure sounds to me like the worlds best fruitcake. But I don’t think she’ll make it for me.   One ingredient I did notice  that stood out is Kosher Salt. Maybe if she thinks I’m Jewish???????

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, The Black & White War, Santa Clause And The South Pole, A Jewish Fruitcake

I Wish you well,


From the East Wing, Lake Snow, Come December, Mountain Magic Memories, Season For Turduckens

Greeting to all and welcome my new friends to the East Wing.

Hark, how all the welkin rings, ‘Glory to the King of kings’; Peace on Earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled.  –Charles Wesley (1707–88)  Some things ya just don’t even have to comment about, just remember ‘em, even stuff over 300 years old, wow!

 Seems I read somewhere you’re never really dead until there’s no one alive who remembers anything ya said or done while you were alive. Charles Wesley’s still remembered today in the East Wing.

Saturday Morning and the snow came by, 5” at the East Wing, 3” in town. Lake effect snow in northern Indiana all thanks to Lake Michigan, one of the five great lakes.  Did ya know that the Great Lakes hold most of the worlds fresh water supply. Ya, right there up by Michigan City IN.

And that was the place I needed to go last Saturday Morning, Michigan City.  We were hosting the Madrigal Dinner at Grand Central over the weekend and I needed to get supplies. Could have gone Friday, but didn’t, could have gone Thursday, but didn’t. Saved the trip for Saturday Morning and now it’s 5” of snow and still snowing.

 Oh well, that’s life when living south of one of the Great Lakes. Lake effect snow, ya just never know when it’s gona snow. It has to do with the wind direction, the water temperature, the air temperature and all that stuff, but the bottom line was  it’s Saturday Morning and I gota go to Michigan City to get stuff.

Now we all know that Michigan City, setting on the shore line of Lake Michigan,  gets lots more snow than North Judson, forty miles south of the lake, so if I’ve got 5”, they’ve  got lots more.  So I wait a couple hours for the roads to get plowed out before starting to Michigan City. And as I drive north, I’m most surprised the closer I get to Michigan City the less snow I see.  When I get to where I need to be, no snow.  Just when ya think ya know it all, ya don’t

Good thing December has a lot going for it besides being the darkest month of the year. As long as anybody can remember people have created special events and festivals of light along with

special ceremonies of renewal to brighten up this darkness of December.

From time to time I’ve talked ‘bout the old Romans, those Cesar boys and that band of democrats who just laid ‘round and partied all the time, drinking wine and eating pizza  and grapes while wearing bed sheets. Ya know ,those guys.

Their calendar, If ya remember was all jerked ’round and December lost its original meaning of ten (decem) for tenth month and now is more  synonymous with decorate, as in  Yule log, evergreens, colored glass ornaments, the wassail bowl.  These all  have backgrounds lost in time but are designed to make December bright, and they do. My most fond memory of a December decorations occurred one night while driving in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky.

The most beautiful site I’ve experienced in the mountains was a night drive from Prestonsburg to Paintsville on a 4 lane high speed super highway carved through rock mountains. With the Full Moon of December overhead, and an inch of fresh snow on the mountains, the whole world appeared as if you’d stepped  inside a white neon light. Ya could drive at midnight without the lights. Few things in nature can compare to the beauty of snow on the mountains in full moon light. It’s beyond sparkle. A magnificent site to behold. A unique treasurer to those who are blessed to see how God decorates his mountains for Christmas.  We decorate a tree, he decorates the mountains. I’m forever grateful to have seen it in my lifetime.  Did ya ever notice that how ever once in a while ya run across something that just grabs your memory and writes itself there forever. On those back roads of your memory, that little special part of your memory, that ya keep for just such stuff, and ye never forget,  ya just never forget. Magic in the moon light is  one of mine.

Starting out the month is Chanukah on December 2. This 8-day Jewish festival begins at sundown on December 1. This 8 day Jewish party is nothing compared to the Cesar boys parties that used to go on for the whole season and then change themes just like ya can change themes on your windows operating system.  

The start of winter comes  round the 20th or so every year.  As the start of winter approaches ya can really see the short days. It’s as if the days end ‘bout 3 o’clock or so.  But then just as winter really kicks in and it gets really cold, the days start of lengthen.  

Then comes Christmas, December 25th .   A Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is second only to Easter as a Christian holiday. Yes it is second only to Easter, Christmas is not the most important holiday in Christianity, it’s just not.  If nothing else, ya just gota go with me on this one, ‘cause I’m telling ya, second only to Easter.

Did ya ever hear of a Turducken?  Well it’s an authentic Louisiana Cajun thing, and we all know ‘bout those authentic Louisiana Cajuns. Just imagine some ole boy setting ‘round down there on the bayou somewhere waiting for alligator season  to open up, and having some time on his hands, starts messing ‘round with a chicken, a turkey and a duck.

Without getting into too much detail as to how all that fowl got intertwined into a Turducken, well it just did. It’s a Cajun thing and well worth hunting up come a special holiday.  Here at the East Wing, we consider Christmas to be that special holiday. And so we pay tribute to that unknown Cajun down there on the bayou, waiting for alligator season to open up, who blended the turkey, duck and chicken into the Turducken.  The Turducken comes frozen in dry ice, delivered by the UPS Truck straight from the bayou to the East Wing.

Cooked just like the turkey, stuffed with cornbread between each fowl, the Turducken makes  the East Wing Christmas special. One time years back, we tried one with a different stuffing, I think it was rice & shrimp or something like that, either way, we didn’t like that one.  After that little deal, we never strayed away from the cornbread stuffing for the turducken.

For those who may like good  Cajun food, there’s a Cajun Grocer online who sales among other things; Boudin, Crawfish, King Cakes, Turducken, Gumbo, and Gulf Shrimp. Now I’ve not had any of their Gulf Shrimp in the last year, so I’m not sure if they’re oily or not.  Their emails assure me they’re not.

Got an email last week asking if I had a picture of my very early computer, that yellow and black one, with the delete button on the top. Told ’em no but I thought ya could still get one a Staples. They also asked ‘bout the graphite operating system. The question was “was the graphite operating system before windows or before DOS?”  My answer was it was used to created DOS. I’m pretty sure that’s the way it worked.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing,  Lake Snow, Come December, Mountain Magic Memories, Season For Turduckens

I wish you well


Greetings From the East Wing

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing,

By now most people I know may well be fed up with turkey. Like many things in life, too much of a good thing just don’t work out well. And so it’s the same with turkey. But did ya know, that turkey in Hebrew means “Big Bird” Well most folks don’t know that but it does. At least one version of the word does. ‘Course most folks I know don’t even speak Hebrew anymore. But when I was a kid in Kentucky, some people here in Indiana thought we spoke Hebrew, or something other than English. Mountain talk, gota love it. In fact, The King’s English. The Old English. Look into it, you’ll be surprised.

Not everybody agrees how the word turkey came about, but one conjecture is that Christopher Columbus coined the word turkey based on his interpreter when some birds were making a sound of “tuka, turka” and his interpreter took that sound to be “tukki”, which in Hebrew is big bird.

I’ve got only one major problem with that deal, Christopher Columbus was Italian, and I live with Italians. The She is stone cold Italian. These people talk with their hands, why the hell do they need an interpreter, ‘cause everybody knows sign language, especially when spoken by Italians.

Another useless bit of turkey information is the fact that Ben Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird, as it was the true original native of America. In fact Ole Ben called the turkey “a more respectable bird”. ‘Course ya gota remember that Ben also knew ‘bout wild hemp. And with that thought in mind, maybe the turkey did seem to be a more respectable bird.

I read somewhere that the average person in the United States eats 15 pounds of turkey per year. Now I don’t know ‘bout you, but somebody’s eating my part, ‘cause I’m not coming close to keeping up my end of the eating turkey average person in the United States. One, maybe two pounds per year tops for me. That means somewhere, somebody in these United States is eating 28 – 29 pounds of turkey, theirs and mine.

Turkeys were almost extent in the 1930’s then some do-gooder decided to take on the cause to save the turkey. Oh well, it worked. Now there’re more turkeys than do-gooders. Now days some people even thing do-gooders are turkeys. To prove the point of the turkeys rise from near extinction all ya need do is come to the East Wing. At least once a day, every day turkeys come to the East Wing Gardens. The turkeys come so regularly I can tell when the turkeys are in the yard by the way the 2girldogs bark. ‘Course the 2girldogs also have the “here come the deer” bark and of course the “what the hell are those stray dogs doing in my yard” bark. The 2girldogs, even as democrats, ya gota love ‘em, the Pup Baby and Grady Lady James.

The store bought turkeys get big, maybe as much as 50 pounds, but I’ve never seen one that size. Last week I cooked 18 turkeys at Grand Central Station in preparation for Thanksgiving Dinner, and the largest one I cooked was a little over 27 pounds. Now the kinda turkeys we eat for Thanksgiving can’t fly, the wild kind that come to the East Wing can, not too good, but just like the Wright Brothers, they can get’er off the ground for ‘bout the same distance.

One more little thing ‘bout turkeys and I’ll swear to get off turkeys here pretty soon, it’s that little thing hanging down from the turkey’s chest, that little wobbly thing, is the turkey’s beard and is made up of keratin bristles. Keratin is the same stuff as the horn of a rhino. Now I’m not saying that rhinos and turkey are cousins, but I’m just saying the wobbly thing on turkeys and the rhino horn are made of the same material. And ya think politics make strange bedfellows, how ‘bout turkeys and rhinos. That’s a stranger combination than the President and Sophia The Calico Republican Cat.

I saw on TV News the other evening that President Obama had taken the time from his busy schedule to pardon a fifty pound turkey, in fact pardoned two turkeys. Now they didn’t say what crime those turkeys had committed which had brought them to the attention of the President of the United States, and as such a presidential pardon.

I’m disappointed to think the President can find time from his busy schedule to pardon two turkeys and it’s a big deal for TV, and a few weeks ago he could not find time from that same busy schedule to participate in the National Day of Prayer.

From the inception of the National Day of Prayer, all Presidents up to this one had participated. Oh well, ya know what they say ‘bout “birds of a feather flock together”, those turkeys.

Our Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Central went well. A most special THANK YOU!!! To all those who volunteered, you know who you are, so I’m not gona name the list, it’d be my luck I’d leave someone out and then feel bad. But all the volunteers know how much my family and I appreciate their help. It was such a time, such a time.

Old friends and new friends coming together for a common purpose, to be thankful for what we have received in life. The number of guest for dinner exceeded 400, and we didn’t count the carry outs. I drove over 100 miles that Thanksgiving Day picking up guests who needed a ride. And ya know what, most every worker bee that volunteered this year, told me to put ‘em on the list for next year.

I cooked much of the food this year, 18 turkeys, we didn’t even weigh the amount of dressing, but it’s a lot. Mashed potatoes, lots of mashed potatoes, the secret to “swell” mashed potatoes is from the cows, lots of butter and milk. Especially heavy on the butter. My daughter, Angela, made the cakes and had a secret ingredient which she refused to share, but it was mayonnaise, so don’t tell her I told ya so. And of course Pumpkin Pie. Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie would kinda be like making snow angels in the mud, it just ain’t right. There are some things in life ya just don’t mess with, ya don’t tug on Superman’s cape and ya don’t have Thanksgiving Dinner without Pumpkin Pie.

We started ‘bout 9 o’clock Thursday morning warming all the food. The She and my son RJ served the meal along with our small army of worker bees, while I collected all the guest that needed a ride, then just set back and marveled at how well this thing comes together. We’ve already talked ‘bout next year, and the answer is of course we’ll do it again, next Thanksgiving.

The most distant guest at the Thanksgiving Dinner was from northern Minnesota. I didn’t ask it he’d seen the announcement in The Market Newspaper or heard it on WKVI Radio , either way I didn’t know they reached that far out, but guess they do from time to time. Guess when you’re happy with what you’re doing it shows, even all the way to Minnesota. I wonder if Minnesota is farther than Alabama, ‘cause I’ve got friends in Alabama, that for sure.

One of the neat things ‘bout having friends in Alabama, ya don’t even have to know ‘em in person, ‘cause if they know any of your family, then you’re all family, and that’s the way it is in Alabama, my friends there know my daughter Angela, and just like that, we’re family, my friends in Alabama. Too bad the whole world don’t work like that. Then the world may well be a better place if it did.

My clothing drive for the needs of southeastern Kentucky is going well. I’ve got a lot of people asking themselves “why do I have so much clothes when so many need so desperately much of what I have? It’s a good question to ask yourself. Ya then bring your excess to Pioneer Florist in North Judson and my boys and I, we’re are going to deliver to either Salyersville or Prestonsburg clothing bank, or maybe both before Christmas.

I hope we have to get a semi truck, if we do then we will. All I know for sure is that when we need that truck, somebody’s gona step forward with the truck, they may not even know it yet, but they will. That the neat thing ‘bout the saying “God works in mysterious ways” ya don’t even know God is working in mysterious ways till after it’s all over, then ya say WOW, That was cool!. And so it will be with the clothing drive for Appalachia. We’ll do our part.

Spike, the man cat, has become a constant companion after his elective surgery. He is growing in both weight and friendliness. He’s always been a friendly cat, but after his surgery even more so. He not occupies the left side of the computer table most of the time I occupy the chair. Now with Sophia firmly entrenched on the back of my chair and leaning severely to the right, one can only surmise that these cats will have a difference of opinion some day.

But Spike sure don’t look like a democrat, he smiles too much. Seems the democrats don’t smile too much now days, or so says Sophia. You’d think with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi surviving the land slide they’d be smiling. Their survival may be the reason for democrats not smiling is Sophia’s rational. Oh well, one neat thing ‘bout politics it’s all one big circle. What goes ‘round comes ‘round.

Yin and Yang so to speak, the black and the white, the good and the bad, the light and the dark side, the ups and the downs, the cowboys of white and black hats. It all depends on which side ya want to start on to begin with.

But Spike sure don’t look too democrat, he don’t lay ‘round doing nothing enough to be a really good democrat, but we’ll see. Now the 2girdogs are stone cold. Ya could write the book ‘bout the 2girdogs being democrat, Sophia says they took lessons from community organizers out of Chicago as they passed through the countryside doing grass roots work for the party a few years ago and the 2girldogs learned their lessons well.

Setting in the East Wing last Wednesday evening watching my weather station as the temperature took a nose dive from mid 60’s toward the low thirties by the next morning, I thought ‘bout an old friend that’d made an impression on my life many years ago. Think I mentioned ‘bout a chemistry professor I knew who knew a guy that figured out a system to measure the heat in peppers. Well what I didn’t tell ya was that chemistry professor of mine, Dr. Gill, even though I didn’t know it at the time would turn out to be one of four teachers I would later in life point to and say “they made me what I am today” I’ve never tried to put those four in rank order. I just call ‘em the Four Aces in my deck of life. One was a grade school teacher, one a high school teacher, one a college professor, and one a Baptist Preacher who just so happened to also be my father, those Four Aces.

Dr. Gill was well known for assigning off the wall homework that had nothing to do with organic chemistry. One day Dr. Gill walked by me lab station and said “Mr. Howard tonight write a paper on your choice of any laboratory instrument.” I hated when he done that to me , and he did that to me often.

Now this was back in the day where research meant going to the library and reading books, yes reading books, real books. There was no such thing as Google Search. PC’s were not there. In fact the only computers I had available then were made of wood. Interestingly enough they were hexagon shaped bodies , a graphite operating system, with a manual delete on the top of the computer. And the delete button could be replaced if need be.

This early computer didn’t even have an output screen, ya had to use paper in place of the screen, yes it even cut out the printer and computed directly onto paper. Such a marvelous device, I remember ‘em well. I’ll never forget mine was yellow and black, had a number 2 stamped on one side, up toward the delete button. I’m not sure if that was the serial number or model number, but it had number 2 up there toward the top. And it was with the old manual computer that I started out to complete my homework assignment from Dr. Gill to do a paper on a laboratory instrument.

It was a cold day as I walked toward the library with snow blowing in my face. I was walking into the face of winter, without a clue as to how to even start this project. I wondered how cold it was as I got close to the library and right there saw a large thermometer displaying my needed information.

The little angel on my right shoulder whispered into my right ear, “ ya know how a thermometer works? Then research it and write it up”. The little devil on my left shoulder whispered “that’s stupid, ya gona believe that angel? Dr. Gill will throw ya completely out of the lab if ya write something that dumb”. As the little angel reached behind my head and socked the little devil on his right ear, and said “shut up little devil, it’s a good idea and ya know it”. The deal was done. Thermometer research was underway within minutes.

Now most everybody knows how to read ‘em but not everybody know why they work. It was that why part that I wanted to put to paper for the Dr. Gill’s assignment. They’re everywhere, inside, outside, cooking, cooling, home heating, home cooling in cars, planes and trains, in the water and even on the moon.

Turns out we want to know the temperature of ‘bout everything, sometimes ‘cause it’s necessary to know and sometimes ‘cause we’re just nosey people.

These things we call thermometers were invented way back in the very early 1700’s by a fellow named Fahrenheit, in Germany. The most basic form of thermometer is the glass bulb thermometer, This type of thermometer is a long glass tube filled with liquid that rises and falls as the temperature changes. The first thermometer used alcohol in the bulb ’cause alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water. All thermometers in common use provide their reference to water as the unit of measure.

A few years later still looking for a better mouse trap, so to speak, the alcohol was replace with mercury based on the fact that mercury has a much lower freezing and boiling point than alcohol. Mercury bulb thermometers continue to be the most used liquid in glass bulb thermometers some 400 years later.

Now glass bulb thermometers work ‘cause liquids, such as alcohol, or mercury, expand slightly when the temperature rises. When the liquid is trapped in a narrow tube, it has nowhere to go but up. With this expansion happening at a predictable rate, Fahrenheit was able to create a scale to determine what the air temperature would be when the liquid reached any given point on the tube. And just like that ya knew when water turned to ice, it’s 32°.

Oh, and by the way, the little angel on my shoulder was right, Dr. Gill liked my paper on a laboratory instrument.

Stay safe in Afghanistan (yes as so many of you pointed out, last week I forgot to say so, but did not forget to keep ‘em in my prayers, nor did you)

From the East Wing, Turkey, Talking, Cooking, Serving, Clothing for Eastern KY, Spike, Four Aces, Wooden Computers, Thermometers

I wish you well,

From the East Wing, Paraprosdokian Figures, Google Sky, Wilbur Scoville, Squanto, Tonto, And Fish and Loafs

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing,

Calling yourself Catholic is no more making you Christian than standing in your garage for one hour each week makes you a car, seems to have touched a nerve for lots of folks.

Wow! Did I ever get comments on that thing. Some good, some bad, but lots of comments. Just like dancing, some folks can and some folks can’t and some folks wish they could dance. Oh well, just depends on ones point of view, the way ya see things I life.

Saying thing like that is a paraprosdokian figure of speech in which the back part of a sentence or phrase is so surprising or so unexpected in such a way that causes ya to go back and look at the front part again. Those things just kinda makes ya stop and rethink the whole deal from the start to the finish. And some times, sometimes they just make ya smile, or even laugh out loud, from, time to time.

Paraprosdokian figures are fun things to think up and even more fun to write. Things like, If I agreed with you then we’d both be stupid, or we don’t know what we don’t know and we don’t know that we don’t know it, you’re never too old to learn something dumb, I didn’t say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you. I was looking back to see if your were looking back to see if I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me.

Alistair Cooke is credited with on of my personal favorites for paraprosdokian figures of speech when he, while speaking of the Duke of Windsor, said “he was at his best when the going was good”. Paraprosdokian figures of speech, fun things to play with. Words, ever gentle on your mind, gota love ‘em.

Did ya see the meteors Thursday night? Well if ya went out somewhere after ‘round 9:00 o’clock or so and looked toward the east, a little southeast, then you’d be bound to see ‘em if ya looked for any time a all. 30 to 50 meteors per hour was what I’s seeing when I’m standing out there in the cold, wondering why I’m out here standing in the cold. Now I’ve seen this same meteor light show every year and still go out and stand in the cold night of November like I’ve just been introduced to meteors. It’s a little magic show in the sky. They sometimes come and go so fast, ya wonder if ya really seen it or not, them sneaky little meteors. Then sometimes the meteor will go from horizon to horizon, now that’s kinda cool. Ya don’t see too many of those kind, but when ya do, it’s kinda cool.

I just don’t stargaze like I used to when my brother in-law was alive. Ed and I enjoyed a rather unique style of stargazing. Ed was no longer able to look thru the eyepiece of the telescope, I was. The way it worked for Ed and me was I’d set up the telescope, and look at whatever I wanted to. When I found something interesting, I’d give Ed the coordinates by computer webcam and he’d either find my position in his star chart reference books or more likely, Google Sky.

Ya know ‘bout Google Earth, but don’t know ‘bout Google Sky. Well just like the Staples commercial, hit the “that’s easy” button, ‘cause Google Sky has been right there on you computer all the time, Ya were just having too much fun with Google Earth, finding your house, then the house of everybody you know.

Yep, Google Sky is right there on the top row, in the icons, ‘bout in the middle as I recall, just click and ya go from looking down on earth to looking up from earth. The Google Sky is lot easier to get lost than Google Earth, ‘cause after all, the distances in Google Sky are a lot farther than from the East Wing to Alabama. Google Sky is so good, sometimes when I’m too lazy to set up the telescope and go out in the cold, I just look at Google Sky.

Now ya gota remember that the images displayed in Google Sky came from a better vantage point than the East Wing in the dark. There’s a little telescope high in the sky taking all kinds of really neat pictures from space. Ya might have heard of it, It’s called the Hubble Space Telescope. That’s a different brand than the one I use outside on the north deck of the East Wing. I bet the controllers of the Hubble don’t have any more fun looking at the stars than I do, but they don’t have to go outside on crisp cold clear winter nights to see the best stuff like I do. I miss stargazing with Ed. Stargazing’s more fun with someone to share with.

Last Tuesday me and the she found ourselves in Michigan City IN when it was time for supper, went to Ryan’s and had a buffet which is a bad place to go for a diabetic for supper. Oh well, if ya watch what ye eat then ya can eat anywhere, and so I do. The one thing that stuck in my head was cornbread with Jalapeno Peppers inside.

Now I’m telling ya that’s not the hillbilly way, putting those Jalapeno Peppers in cornbread and all, but I was surprised that it worked well. I liked it. Can’t say the same for all the other stuff there, but the kicked up cornbread with a 5,000 unit Scoville rating, I’d eat again.

Did ya ever hear ‘bout Wilbur Scoville? Well don’t feel bad most people never did, I just happen to have had a chemistry professor one time in the past who just so happened to know a chemist by the name of Wilbur Scoville back in the day, and my professor delighted in sharing the fact that he knew someone that had made a name for himself so to speak and he was hot item in the scientific circles. And continues to be so to this day.

Now Wilbur Scoville was a chemist in the early 1900’s, as I remember the story, and working for Parke Davis, a pharmaceutical company when he developed a method of measuring the heat level in chili peppers. He ground up chilies with a sugar water solution and diluted the concentrations in measured steps till ya couldn’t taste the heat any more.

Testers sipped the stuff till they reached the point where it no longer burned their tongue. At that point a number was assigned to that chili based on the dilution factor. And just that easy the Scoville Organoleptic Test was born. A way to measure the heat of given chili peppers against all other chili peppers. Now that organoleptic word is just a quasi medical term that refers to qualities that affect our senses, taste, sight, smell, touch, that kinda stuff.

Like most pioneers in laboratory research, someone else comes along and improves upon the original work. And so it was with Wilbur Scoville, and the red hot chili peppers.

Machines now measure the heat of chili peppers, but even with the high tech of Liquid Chromatograph and pepper heat never touching tongue, the Scoville name remains as the acknowledged unit of measure for the heat of peppers. A researcher from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station listed most all peppers from the mildest to the hottest. Those in the pepper business refer to the pepper heat as the pungency level.

Here’s the Scoville Units of pepper pungency, so pick a peck of pickled peppers.

0 -100 Scoville Units: Bell/Sweet pepper varieties
500 -1000 Scoville Units: Big Jim, Anaheim peppers
1,000 -1,500 Scoville Units: Ancho, Pasilla peppers
1,500 – 2,500 Scoville Units: Sandia, Cascabel, Rocotillo peppers
2,500 – 5,000 Scoville Units: Jalapeno & Mirasol peppers
5,000 – 15,000 Scoville Units: Yellow Wax, Serrano peppers
15,000 – 30,000 Scoville Units: de Arbol peppers
30,000 – 50,000 Scoville Units: Piquin, Cayenne & Tabasco peppers
50,000 – 100,000 Scoville Units: Chiltepin, Thai, Santaka peppers
100,000 – 300,000 Scoville Units: Scotch Bonnet & Habanero peppers.
575,000 Scoville Units: Red Savina Habanero peppers.
855,000 Scoville Units: Naga Jolokia peppers (Professional pepper. Do not try this at home) .
16,000,000 Scoville Units: Pure Capsaicin (Don’t even think about it.) This is the chemical that makes the fire. I think if ya just put pure capsaicin on your tongue, ya don’t have to die to go to hell, you’re there.

Ya just gota love that word “pungency”. Ya don’t find good descriptive words like pungency around too much anymore. I think President Obama’s Word Czar took most all those good descriptive words from the dictionary, but maybe the House Republicans will bring ‘em back. I think that was part of the deal.

With the end of year winter holidays fast approaching, Thanksgiving is on the radar this week. Thanksgiving, such an American Holiday, a day recognized by all as a special day to thank God for all that we’ve received in life. I’m sure there are some who may not agree, but it you’re reading this, then you’re on the right side of the dirt, and that’s something worth being thankful for, unless you’re a mole.

Being an almost exclusive American Holiday, Thanksgiving has its origin all the way back into the very earliest history of the people who suffered so much to get to this land, this thing we call home, this America, started. An Indian played a major role in the process of thanksgiving becoming a holiday. Yes an Indian, a fellow by the name of Squanto, taught the Pilgrims how to feed themselves in this new and hostile land.

Seems I recall that fish played a key part in Squanto’s success, but he didn’t invent the dish “Fish and Loafs”. That’d been used to feed large crowds in the past, way before Squanto’s time. I think that “Fish and Loafs” deal was the start of the first catering business. Oh by the way, Squanto is the great, great, great, great grandfather of Tonto.

Good thing Squanto was around, else the Lone Ranger would’ve been just another cowboy with a mask, and probably would’ve went to the dark side, I mean with the mask and all, what other line of work could he get into? And he’d even have to changes horses, ‘cause everybody knows that ya can’t go to the dark side while riding a white horse, that’s just not right.

I think I’ve already invited each and every one of you to join me for Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Central Station in North Judson IN. We’ll start at 12 noon and eat till everyone’s full or the food’s all gone, whichever comes first. I bet we get full first, ‘cause for backup there’s always Fish and Loafs.

From the East Wing, Paraprosdokian Figures, Google Sky, Wilbur Scoville, Squanto, Tonto, And Fish and Loafs

I wish you well,

With Spike Doing Well, Sophia Moon Walking, Email Scams, Father Mark From the Mountains

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.

Thank you one and all for your concern for the Birthday Kitten, The Man Cat, Spike. Spike is doing well and is currently holding court in the East Wing. Now having joined the inside pets completing his special elective surgery, he’s truly one of the gang. They still look at his rear end hair cut and laugh, but oh well, things are like that in the East Wing. We some have hair and some don’t

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