Saturday, April 30, 2016


There's nothing like a road trip to get your blood moving and improve your attention span.  Quite often the girls around town head out, having kept track of every festival, wine tasting and quilt show in California. I had planned on a solo trip, but since recently getting Diane (on the left) addicted to quilting, she didn't want to miss the show in Fresno.
For the first time ever, it wasn't exactly my kind of fabrics.  That's a shock, right??  Believe it or not, I didn't buy one single piece.  I've finally learned not to purchase all those pretty fat quarters without a pattern or idea in mind.  Diane on the other hand, hasn't learned that lesson yet.  

Lydia in the middle, loves all the fabric and wants to sew, but currently doesn't possess that all important piece of equipment ... a sewing machine.  She asked the price of the embroidery machine and being the good friend I am, I picked her up off the floor when she heard ONLY $13,999.  I'll take Lydia to Walmart later.

We were a little late getting started due to Diane's solar installation, so at 1:30 we wandered in to Todd's Cookhouse for some Que.  I'm pretty sure they thought I had picked a bad place.  There were only two people in the huge building.  Todd really needs to be a little more creative with his menus.  A badly scribbled piece of copied-over-500-times paper was really hard to read.
I had a huge brisket sandwich stuffed with perfectly smoked pieces of mouthwateringly tender cow and their pepper coleslaw.  It was delicious!!  It could have used a little more sauce for my taste, but I'd still go back ten times over.
Finally back home, we checked out Diane's new acquisition.  Solar panels for her house ... it's all the rage around here with probably ten companies vying for everyone's dollars.  I questioned her about the deal she got and here's what she said.  It costs her nothing!!

I find that hard to believe since even though I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, I DO know that nothing in life is free.  There is no equipment charge, no building permit charge, no charges of any kind, just sign on the dotted line.  Then they take your PGE bill for the last full year and average it out .... $140 a month in this case.  
Here's the best part ..... she pays her average $140 a month EVERY month for the next 25 years to the solar company.  Correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't that what she would pay anyway?  Unless PG&E raises their rates, which is of course a possibility.  In 25 years they own the system free and clear, along with any repairs or maintenance that needs to be done.  

But what about all the electricity the solar panels are producing, you ask?  It is purchased by PG&E (minus what they actually used, which I'm assuming would be about $140 a month) with all the proceeds going to Vision Solar.  Think about that for awhile and let me know your thoughts!!
While in Fresno, I never did find any material that suited my current project, so today I'm off to either the fabric store in Turlock or back to Clovis!!  I'm dead in the water until I find something, not a comfortable place to be while waiting for June's trip back up the coast of Oregon and Washington.  

In the near future .... a tamale festival and painting a purple cow.  Blu needs a friend!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Smoke and Dogs!!

It was a perfect day for a barbecue at the fairgrounds.  I arrived early at the Lodge and packed up my truck with most of the lunches before anyone even arrived.  The rest of the required utensils and supplies were NOT my job!  I try as much as possible to maintain my status of Indian in the face of six Chiefs.  If there's one thing I've discovered however, Indians wearing cowboy boots end up wearing different hats!

When the discussion began about when to start the BBQ, I immediately became invisible, disappearing into the kitchen.  They quickly discovered we didn't have enough pans for the dogs, no ice chests to keep the dogs warm, no foil .... well you can imagine there was a long list.

Two trips later, we're organized to a T.  The smoke started rolling out of the barbecue and the dogs rolled off the grill ..... cold in the middle.  I smiled ... but not where anyone could see me.  Ten minutes later we had HOT dogs and the assembly line was on!!
Our handicapped (foot surgery) leader sat on his scooter on the end and opened the buns, while I filled them with delicious smoky all-beef dogs.  Four people at the other end wrapped them in paper and placed them in the ice chests to keep warm.  

Ten minutes later, kids started coming from all directions.  With four lines, it took no time at all to hand out a bag, a hot dog and drinks.  By 1:00 we were all packed up and heading back to the lodge.  I have to say one thing about this crew .... it's the same guys that do EVERYTHING at every event and we have a GREAT time doing it!!  There's so much laughter and kidding around, it makes the work part really fun!!
When I got home, I made up another list of everything required for THIS event.  Pretty soon, they'll so efficient they won't know what to do!!

I spent the rest of the afternoon hand stitching the binding on this lap quilt.  It's the weirdest thing ... none of the pictures I took actually show the true colors, even though I spent quite some time in photoshop.  
Jessie loved it ... two seconds after I laid it on the couch, she was on top of it!  
I feel like I'm running out of gas, but there's a quilt show in Fresno that two of my old friends (new quilters) want to attend today, so we're making the trip in my truck ... more room to bring back material.  I have every intention of leaving my credit cards home, but I do need a couple of things .... maybe I'll just take ONE card!!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

We're Stuffing Bags .....

All morning yesterday, we stuffed lunch bags with goodies for the Ag Safety Training Session at our local fairgrounds.  Previously, they served boiled hot dogs ... YUCK ... so this time they are going to be BBQ'd.  Lucky for the Elks guys, there were no outdated boxes of condiments.

I mean really ... it's like serving that lettuce-only salad with gross Italian dressing.  Soggy City!!  Why doesn't anyone suggest adding a container of tiny tomatoes and LESS dressing.  How hard is that??  And don't tell me this is how you've always done it.  That's no excuse!!  General Nancy is going to whip these guys into shape if it kills her!!!

Once the apples, chips, condiments and gummy worms were placed in each bag, we folded the tops and boxed them up, ready for transport this morning.  UGH ... another EARLY morning for this retiree!!
The rains came in yesterday afternoon with a BANG!  Literally ... I heard a huge crash of lightning right over the house.  Naturally I went outside with my camera.  I had a fleeting thought about carrying something metallic during an electrical storm, but that passed quickly when I saw the sky.
From the time I walked outside, the thunder rolled ...... and rolled!  It was constant for over 30 minutes, as were the flashes of lightning, but at least they stayed above the clouds.  I think that was the worst storm I've ever seen, dropping over two inches in about an hour.  Now the work begins, trying to put all that mulch back in my flowerbeds.
In the meantime, here's the recipe for the french toast breakfast bake.  Try it and let me know what you think.  I figure six 9" pans will feed our group.  Now I just need five more ovens to bake them in. I think I'll try the freezer method too ... it would be easier to make them ahead of time.

1 loaf french bread, cut into one inch pieces
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (a must)
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
8 large eggs
2-1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup cream (I added this just because I had some)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 t/l cold butter, cubed

Grease a 9 x 13 pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees
Slice bread into cubes, placing half in the pan.
Beat the room-temperature cream cheese until smooth
Add in powdered sugar and vanilla, beating well
Drop by teaspoonful on top of bread
Cover with remaining bread cubes
Whisk milk, eggs cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla
Pour over bread and cover pan with plastic wrap
Leave in fridge three hours or overnight

In the morning, whisk brown sugar, flour and cinnamon together
Cut in butter and spread over soaked bread
Slowly pour cream over top in a thin stream
(this part actually stolen from a cinnamon roll recipe I have)
Bake 45 minutes for soft texture, longer if you wish
Serve with maple syrup

I halved this recipe for myself and baked it in a 9" cake pan, just because it's easier to use my small oven.  It says you can freeze it after preparation, then thaw in the fridge before baking.

So I'm off to save kids from stranger danger, irrigation canals, eating laundry detergent and electrocution by downed power lines.  I just hope they survive the hot dogs!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Resounding Success!!

Don't you just love it when your days go well??  Yesterday was one of those days for me.  That doesn't always happen, especially when the day involves cooking!!  First up, I completed this quilt and I LOVE it.  I'm such a lover of bright colors, I'm surprised this is one of my all time favorites.
The quilting came out nicely too.  There's a border pattern around the outside with matching stitching on the inside.  Since she's just getting into borders, half of this quilt job was free!  I'd love THAT any day!!
A cooking success in the same day?  YUP!!  Hard to imagine for me!!  This overnight french toast recipe came out so well I had TWO servings!!  It was light and fluffy with a brown sugar crust on top and cream cheese filling.  I'm going to give it one more try just to be sure it comes out good twice in a row, before serving this at the Indio Rally.  Smothered in syrup, it will be even better.  Even though I made a list, I forgot to buy the syrup!! 
While enjoying my french toast in the morning, Jonathan decided it was time for a bath despite the cold weather.  He's pretty hilarious to watch.  Getting ready, he fluffs his feathers and talks up a storm.
Of course the only water is his water bowl ... nice and dirty from seeds and pieces of cracker.  Dipping his head in the bowl, he comes up for air, spreads his wings and shakes his head.  Water goes everywhere!!
He turns around several times to be sure he gets every little spot damp, including the wall.  He must have been pretty dirty because this went on for about 30 minutes ... a record bath for Jon!!
Okay, I'm done now!!  Shortly after, he's shivering, so I turn up the heat.  I've tried blowdrying, but he isn't especially fond of that.  
With two successes under my belt, I was ready for the Magic Kingdom of Bingo.  A third success for me!  No grumpy people and I balanced at the end of the night, but not so much for the Pull Tab side.  Apparently $400 disappeared.  It's sad to think that volunteers are pilfering the coffers, but at this point, there is no other explanation.  More controls need to be put in place, which means I need to put on my accounting hat and come up with a solution.  Of course that kept me awake until midnight!!

Early this morning, I'm off to make school lunches for 1300 kids.  YIKES!!  That's a lot of bologna!! Actually, we feed them hot dogs.  Hmmmm, I guess that IS bologna, more or less.  Anyway, Ag Safety Day is coming up tomorrow, and every single third grader in the County will attend safety training with the Elks Lodge supplying lunch.  

I love volunteering, but I sure wish they would keep in mine that I'm retired and really don't like to leave the house before 10:00 am.  I'll be out of here within the hour ... better get myself in gear!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Fingers Are Holey!!

Not Holy, as in blessed, although I am that too, but full of holes from hand stitching the binding on to this quilt.  I've run both ends of the needle into my fingers so many times they are terribly tender ... and I still have half to go!  I know there are things called thimbles.  Funny thing about thimbles ... every time I take a stitch, I push with whatever finger is NOT in the thimble!!

Quilts are crazy characters too .... sometimes you love them and sometimes you don't.  This is a keeper!!  Although it doesn't show up well in the picture, many of the tan squares have different patterned fabric.  I'm a little behind in sewing, as this one came from the Sacramento Quilt Show over a year ago!!
As I wandered around the house trying to decide if I should vacuum or not (NOT), I noticed one unusual result of the pancake marathon.  I kept smelling something between baked goods and barbecue grill, but couldn't figure out what it was.  I was afraid something was cooking that I didn't know about, so I looked around the kitchen area for 15 minutes checking everything I could think of.  Finally it dawned on me ... my Elks shirt and apron were sitting on the counter.  Whew!!  I thought I was going crazy ... well I am, but you know what I mean.  At least I hadn't put something in the oven and forgotten about it!!

Other than sewing, I didn't do much.  Being the hunter gatherer that I am, I headed off for groceries, since my entire refrigerator was empty.   There was this pan of pasta, but I was getting pretty tired of the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  
Here's one I forgot to show you ... the rear view mirror picture I got on the way home from the ball game last week.   Thank goodness the Giants have picked up a little, winning a few more games. 
I think I have finally recovered from the weekend activities, just in time for the Magic Kingdom of Bingo.  Oh Boy!!  Yay!  The bad news is that I'll be on my own tonight, as the Castle Lawyer has other engagements.  

I'm also trying out a new recipe ... french toast bake ... for the WMHA rally next January in Indio.  I hate to say it, but that rally has become rather boring.  Nothing changes from year to year, so I'm trying to spice it up with a breakfast or two.  I know, that's dangerous territory for me, but I'm giving it a shot.  The test pan is in the oven, so I'll let you know how it turns out.  Don't worry, my trusty, handy dandy shovel is close at hand!

Monday, April 25, 2016


As a retired person, getting up early is NOT a habit I want to get into.  In fact, ever since I was a kid, I've HATED getting up before the sun does.  After all, you can't SEE anything!  That never mattered to my dad however, as we were all shaken out of bed at 4:00 am to saddle our horses and gather cattle.

Friday started out okay, cooking 30 gallons of pasta sauce in the morning.  Luckily for the Relay for Life walkers who were going to consume it, Mr. John Cale came to the lodge to impart his recipe to us.  I quickly found out making that much sauce requires massive muscles to break up the sausage and hamburger, not to mention opening those huge cans of tomatoes.

Since the man in charge was in ill health, I made up a list of requirements for each of the meals to make sure we didn't forget something.  Early Saturday morning we began gathering up all the supplies for lunch, including the barbecue.  It was then I noticed some outdated condiment packets and the discussion/war began.  We are NOT serving these ... oh they're fine!  We are NOT serving these!!  They went in the trash!

It was about that time that we noticed there were no hamburgers or hot dogs, which were to be supplied by the Relay for Life people.  It's always something, right?  The guys made a quick run to the meat store and saved the day.  We served over 400 lunches, with all FRESH condiments, chips and icy fruit cups.
Wish I could have gotten pictures of the crowds, but we were just too busy.  Next up, pasta dinner, so we switched out the small barbecue for this massive beauty owned by the Fire Department.  It takes a town to cook for 900 people ... and THIS beauty has FOUR grills just made for cooking!!
We loaded the sauce in my truck along with salad, rolls and supplies, making our second trip to the college.  With the grills blazing, we heated up the huge square heads filled to the brim with sauce, and set up two propane burners to boil water for the pasta.  Yup .... we make it FRESH!  So far so good ... I haven't burned anything or made any big mistakes like last year when I poured the pasta in the water without the strainer.  Ask me how to get 20 pounds of pasta out of a 50 gallon pot of boiling water!! 
Can you imagine cooking 100 pounds of pasta ... mixing in the sauce and serving people at a college track field??  We did it with EIGHT people .... and these great kids who came from the Key Club to help serve.  Thank goodness the butter and dressing weren't past dated!  We got rave reviews on the pasta!!
Sometimes you just hurry up and wait!!  There weren't many minutes that we got a chance to sit down, so we took advantage every time we could.  By the end of Saturday, we packed up all the pasta utensils and pots, taking them back to the lodge where we had to wash every single one!!  Geez ... I didn't know dish washing was included in this endeavor!!
At 5:00 am everyone was back at the college ready to fix breakfast.  Pancakes and sausage, syrup, butter and fruit cups.  The big grills were lit as we mixed up 50 pounds of pancake batter along with something like 200 cups of water.  As I surveyed the pile of supplies, I discovered old syrup that I remember from last year ... it tasted like ... well you know, so I surreptitiously threw it in the trash.  I made sure we only served the good stuff!!  For that I became known as the General, a title I wear well!!  I'm really not a stickler for dates, but anything over a year is just asking for trouble!!

Hundreds of pancakes came off the grill along with perfectly cooked sausages.  I'm kind of picky about breakfast food, but these were pretty darn good!!  From a 5 gallon mixing bucket (with a huge drill connected to paddles), to a pouring bucket, to the pancake dispensers, they whipped out hundreds of perfectly cooked tasty Krusteaz cakes.  YUM YUM!!
By now we're all pretty tired, but we have a big mess to clean up.  Everyone's truck got filled up as we headed back to unload at the lodge.  The next thing I knew, there were only two of us putting everything away and cleaning all the pots and pans.  Hey!!  Where did everyone go???

I spent the rest of the day on the couch.  I finally got up and walked around to be sure I didn't get rigor mortis, when I discovered it was only 10:00 in the morning.  How could that be?  I was sure it was past noon!!

The best part is I have 5 little sausages to savor, our payment for working our butts off serving almost 900 people for a good cause.  It was worth every penny, or sausage as the case may be!!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It's O-Dark-Thirty .....

Actually, it's 4:00 in the morning!!  Not the nicest time of the day ... and there's nothing to see except darkness ... but at least it's quiet.  After serving 400 hotdogs and hamburgers for lunch and 250 pasta dinners, I'm up and at 'em.  The breakfast crew will start cooking at 5:30.

Ugh ... this is just too early for ANYTHING!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Snakes For Lunch .....

The baseball game didn't end well for the Giants.  Even if you DO eat snakes for lunch, there's a lot of other guys on the bench that can make mistakes ... and make mistakes they did.
It's still fun for me though!  I like to people watch, like the young couple who came down acting like those front row seats were theirs.  When the REAL occupants showed up, they had to move.  An hour later when the seats were again empty, probably due to a beer run, they came back with tickets in hand.  Unfortunately for them, so did the REAL tickets holders ... and so the fakes were politely escorted out of the park.  
While I really DO watch the game, my favorite activity is trying to catch guys sliding and hitting the ball.  I didn't take my longest lens ... it weights over ten pounds, straining the seams of my backpack and my BACK!!   Now home, my shoulders think there must have been a small child sitting on them the entire day.
Finally ... a couple of sliding images.  Due to some broken legs and ankles last year, the rules have been changed when it comes to sliding into bases.  The Giants player was safe ........
The Diamondbacks player was out!!!  Very close though ... you can see the ball at the right of the picture!!
Sadly, the Giants lost 6-2.  They didn't play at all like the Champions this team has had in the past.  Sometimes I wonder how they did this at all.  Every year the players change and only a few playing now were on the team when the trophies were won.  
The sun came out about 2:00 and we roasted to well done before leaving the park and walking back to BART.  You can imagine the crowds at 4:30 on a week day, all trying to get on the train and go home.  Squished into a car, shoulder to shoulder, it was a slow trip back to San Leandro where we parked the car.  The good news is that I must appear very young for my age.  Not one single guy offered me a seat ... I stood the entire ride.  Chivalry is dead!!

The GPS said it was a 4 hour trip home.  Impossible!!!  It's only a two hour drive.  Boy was I wrong!!  From San Francisco to Tracy, it was 25-35 mph, if that.  It took a VERY long four hours and 15 minutes to get home.  I felt like someone beat me with a stick!!  

To add insult to injury, I had to be up early headed to the Elks Lodge to cook that pasta sauce!  It's a good thing someone brought donuts for that early morning sugar rush and you'll be happy to know I didn't burn down the kitchen!!  

In less than an hour I'm off to help gather up all the supplies and feed twelve hundred people!!  Maybe there will be donuts!!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Do You Wanna Play Some Baseball???

Me either!  I tried a few years back to join one of those mixed leagues that play round town.  After 15 minutes of trying to catch ground balls, I put my glove away in my cedar chest where it will probably stay for the rest of it's natural life ... or at least MY life.

You may think baseball is the most boring thing in the world, and believe me, sometimes it is.  That rarely happens however if you attend a game in person at AT&T Park in San Francisco.  It's a two hour drive to Dublin/Pleasanton, then always an interesting ride on the BART train into the city.  People watching is a sport there!!  From the train station, you can either take a Muni train the mile to the park, or walk as we always do.

It never ceases to amaze me how the city can change.  Old buildings that have been rehabbed suddenly stand out, like this one ... the Audiffred Building, pictured in the middle.  Originally named the Bulkhead and built in 1889, it was saved during the earthquake and fire by the bartender who guaranteed every fireman two quarts of whiskey and a case of wine if they would save it from the flames.  So that's what they did and it still stands today!
Where else but in San Francisco are there sidewalk cafes and small food stands that sell Rabbit Sandwiches??  It's a unique town to say the least, and it makes for some awesome photography if you take the time.  
Unfortunately, we didn't have any time, as we walked the mile to the park along the waterfront on Embarcadero Street.  There's some rather weird sculptures along the way, such as this bow shooting an arrow straight into the heart of San Francisco.  
The beautiful Bay Bridge allows vehicles access, this section being from the city to Treasure Island.  It is completely lit up at night.  One of these days I'll take a body guard with me and do some night photography.  I've spent many days alone here with no worries at all, but carrying around a big camera at night is just asking for trouble!!
Finally at the park, after passing through all their new security and metal scanners, I tried out my latest fisheye lens.  It sure gives you a different perspective.  My season ticket seats are up by third base on the Giants side of the park (to the right in this picture), giving you a great view of all the plays.  
It was a perfect day with clouds overhead blocking out the hot sun.  Too bad the Giants lost ... this is like four in a row, or is it six?  No matter, I've never had a bad day at the park, even when they lose.  The food and atmosphere is beyond compare, as are the cute ballplayers.  Don't you wish you were this flexible??
Their mascot Lou Seal has been around for ages.  His antics are hilarious as he dances in the face of Queto the pitcher who's warming up.  He's even been known to put on a dive suit and swim around in the bay.  
I have many more images, but they will have to wait until tomorrow.  First thing this morning I'm required to be at the Elks lodge to help cook pasta sauce for the Relay For Life Dinner we provide, as well as hit the grocery stores for lunch, dinner and breakfast supplies.  For the next two days I'll help cook and serve about a thousand meals, including pancakes on a barbecue grill.  That should be interesting to watch!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

No Blog Today .....

I'm going to DISNEYLAND!!  Not really, but it's like Disneyland to me.  I'm going to a San Francisco Giants baseball game in my favorite big city!!  I think this is the first game in 3-4 years, so I'm very excited.

I'm NOT so excited about the two hour drive to hopefully (but maybe not) find parking in Pleasanton where we will take BART into the city.  No parking means we drive all the way in ... and back out in 5:00 traffic.  Won't THAT be fun!!

Got my Giants Mad Bum (Bumgarner) jersey on and I'm ready to go!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In The Middle Of A War .....

Just when everything is going along swimmingly, you can find yourself in the middle of a war zone.  Such was the case at the Magic Kingdom of Elks Bingo last night.  The worst part is I never saw it coming!!

Being a former Property Tax Manager, I've dealt with lots of angry and maybe a little troubled people.  I'm usually pretty good at calming them down and diffusing the situation.  Such was NOT the case this time.

Everything started out nicely enough, the usual grandmothers, welfare mothers and retirees came to make their purchases.  Unfortunately, the Hot Ball pot of $1199 had been won the previous week, so our numbers were very low.  That should have been a sign!!

As the people came through the line, we dealt with the normal "I don't have that much money" (void everything out) and "wait, I'll get more" as she put her hand down her shirt and came up with a wad of cash, after pulling out her car keys and grocery shopping list.  Please carry a purse ladies.  There's nothing worse than handling damp money, which makes us run to the bathroom for double soap and lots of hot water.

Then there's the ones who can't hang up the phone long enough to pick their cards and pay.  They never get the right amount of cards and don't even think about digging out their money, causing a long uncomfortable pause in the line of people tapping their feet.  The noise level usually goes up several notches as they yell into the phone.
Still, it went okay until someone came to trade in their pull tabs, which we can't do.  Pull tabs are tickets you buy and pull off the little tab, kind of like a scratcher, to win $1 or $2.  If you BUY something, you can pay with them, but we're not supposed to give them cash back.  Therein lay the problem, waiting to jump out and attack me!

Long story short, she thought I didn't give her $2 in change, which she actually had in her hand as she slammed her fist on the table, screaming at the top of her lungs.  She created such a scene that the two police officers who work for us came to calm her down.  Finally, in an effort to quiet her, I just gave her the two tickets back.  She continued to rant!!

After a few minutes, she left the table, grumbling all the way, complaining to anyone that would listen!!  Thirty minutes later, she came back and apologized.  That was unexpected and appreciated.  In the end, two dollars isn't going to break us, but it will haunt me for a couple of days because I'm an accountant.  I should have been a Veterinarian!!

On a side note, I passed on the hamburger and hot dogs that give you indigestion for a week and went straight for the chili cheese fries!!  The huge stack of soggy french fries smothered in mediocre chili and American cheese weren't really all that tasty.  That's a good thing because I only ate half with NO resulting stomach ache.  I think we have a winner!!

Lots of errands to run today while setting up a railroad tour in Southern California and creating a master list of supplies required for the Relay For Life event this weekend where the Elks cook three big meals.  In between I'm going to meditate a lot and try to forget the lousy two dollars!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

STAG Day!!

When I saw the advertisement for STAG Day at the Park in the Elks Lodge bulletin, I immediately assumed it meant men only.  I guess that was showing my age, back to the old days of women not counting for much except cooking and cleaning.

So when the ER, we'll call him Prez as in President, asked me if I could help out in the kitchen, I was a little surprised, to say the least.  WHAT???  It's a stag party and I'm not invited, but you need me in the kitchen?
Turns out I had it all wrong, after all it's 2016, not 1950.  A STAG is an Elk the Prez said ... an elk is a member.  This party/picnic/steak lunch was for members only.  Once that was explained to me, I felt a little better about being kitchen help.  I did feel bad for all the wives out there who were not only NOT invited, but NOT allowed to attend.  It's members only!!

That meant there were dozens of men, not that I mind THAT at all, and only three women, four if you count the bartender.  Hey, I kind of like this STAG thing!!  Never once did I get up for a soda.  I probably could have even talked someone into taking my place in the kitchen!!
In case you didn't know, just a stone's throw from this patio/kitchen building is the RV park, with lots of spaces, a dump station and plenty of electricity.  The best part is the peace and quiet since it's located about three miles from the freeway.  Unfortunately, it's Elks only, but at least wives can stay too.

When it came time to get the steaks on the grill, I headed to the kitchen.  Over 100 HUGE New York strip steaks were cooked over charcoal as I mixed up a green salad and made sure the rolls in the oven didn't burn.  We had the usual people come up and try to get TWO dinners, or an extra one to take home to their wife and kids.  Once they heard the definition of STAG, they wandered off for another free beer.  

As with all organizations, the leftover steaks magically disappeared.  I suppose it's the price paid for all the work to organize and put on a shindig like this.  I ate my roll while serving, passed on the salad and took my steak and beans to go.  It was cooked perfectly!!
Then came the raffle.  There's always a raffle, right??  The pretty girl in the skimpy outfit running around with a big roll of tickets trying to extract money from your wallet?  There was no skimpy outfit, in fact no girl at all, but a good looking guy!  Being the good Elk that I am, I donated $20.  There was lots to win ... an easy-up, five larger than life bottles of booze, even a barbecue!  

Believe it or not, I actually won this magnificent QUAD CHAIR!  I have no idea what the quad part is all about, but I was feeling pretty good about my acquisition until I got it home and saw the price tag of $14.99.  RATS .... I lost again!!
About that time they brought out four huge cakes for dessert.  You know me, I jumped up immediately, only to find the men cutting humongous slices.  WAIT!!  There won't be enough for everyone!!  Like any good woman in the kitchen, I grabbed the knife from his hand and proceeded to cut each cake into normal sized pieces, the perk being that I got to eat all the frosting stuck to the knife.  

All in all it was a nice day, in spite of the grease splattered on my brand new shirt as I served the too-large steaks.  I met some nice people, including one gentlemen I actually went to school with.  Not that I ever saw him.  Our school was broken down into two campuses.  Freshmen and sophomores at one site, juniors and seniors at another, so our paths never crossed.  

Maybe one of these days Prince Charming will show up at the STAG dinner!!  I know for sure the Quad Chair will show up at the next raffle!!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Trains, Planes and Automobiles!!

There really weren't any trains out at the Castle Air Force Base Museum Car Show, unless you count the one that sat on the tracks for ten minutes before letting me cross the road to the museum.  It was apparently meant to be however, because as I pulled into the parking lot, there was one single open spot waiting for me!!

There were WAY too many planes to show you yesterday and just as many cars for today.  This being small town America, I was surprised at the HUGE car show!!
Don't ask me what any of them are ... I can only guess.  I do know a few from my "era", including a Dodge Super Bee and several '57 Chevys, because that's what my girlfriend Lynn and I drove!  We were always getting in trouble for racing!!
There are some crazy engines entirely encased in chrome, making these babies unaffordable for you and me .... at least for me!!  I do remember taking the air cleaner off when it came race time and immediately replacing the exhaust with Glasspacks.  There's nothing like a healthy sounding engine, even if it is stock!!
If you were rich, you put mag wheels on your car.  We put CHROME wheels on the day we drove them home.  Unfortunately my paint job never looked like this one!!
Being Smallville, I didn't expect a crowd at all.  Boy was I surprised to see so many people walking around, especially when there was a $5 per person entry fee.  True, there isn't much of ANYTHING going on around here, so any excuse for a day out of the house.  The good news is that the Museum made a bundle to help with their indoor museum remodel.
There were lots of food and ice cream vendors, as well as automotive performance enhancers, you know so they will go fast and jump high!!
As I was taking a picture of this beauty, a gentleman came over to tell me it should have won an award.  Although you can't really see it, the paint job is spectacular, not to mention the grills front and back.  He said it was painted by Baressi ... or something that sounded like that.  I may have just thought that because of John Baressi the kite flyer.  At any rate, this particular car has a $15,000 paint job.  YIKES!!!
The only thing that bothers me about these beauties is driving them on the street.  In the old days, you had trouble getting insurance to cover the actual value of hot rods.  I would be too afraid of getting in a fender bender, or worse yet, totaling it and getting a $300 check to cover replacement!!
Now here's a car of a different color!  I imagine they get lots of looks going down the road.  Just like motorcycle get-togethers that have Rat bikes, there were a few Rat cars.  Maybe they were beauties in the making.  At any rate, everyone was out polishing and cleaning the entire time I was there.  
I included this picture yesterday, but forgot to give you the most important information.  This C-123K Provider was a movie star back in the day!!
It appears that out of 307 built, only 44 remain, or at least weren't lost in the war.  Since that time, this baby has been in many movies, including Air America, Diehard II and Con-Air.  You remember those movies, right??  Who knew I was in the company of a STAR!!
I had a great time at the car/plane show.  If you are ever driving through Central California, take the exit just North of Merced, bring your walking shoes and check out the Castle Museum.  By October they should have the inside museum remodel completed.  If you need a place to spend the night, they even have a small RV park.  

Its back to the rowing machine this morning ... I'm feeling an ache or two and am pretty crackly when I walk, but I think that's due to yesterday's Elks Stag Dinner in the park.  You KNOW I'd be going to THAT one, right??