Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bird Watching Gift

A lovely little visitor to my gardens this morning. And such a patient little subject for an old man with hand-held camera and no tripod using a zoom lens! She posed there for over two minutes!

What I'm Reading #93

Just finished Elizabeth Kolbert's "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History". I can't recommend it enough. You will leave the pages of this book with such an appreciation for our natural world and the amazing great good fortune we have of living in this time and place... Very soon the world will be a different place, a far more barren place. In the lifetime of the children being born today Coral Reefs will become a memory. It just isn't possible to reverse the damage we have already wrought upon the oceans and seas of our world. And the trajectory of large mammal extinctions, coupled with the introduction of pathogenic organisms will see such a loss of other species from Rhinos and Elephants, to Tigers and Bears--yes, Bears. Presently Amphibians are disappearing to the point of being completely absent from large swaths of Central, South and even western North America--and bats, precious bats are racing toward extinction by the thousand upon thousands all across North America. It's not an easy book to read. But it's profoundly important to have an understanding of the crisis our world is in from a scientific vantage point. And paradoxically, it renewed my utter amazement at LIFE itself and our planet home in particular. Because while we are not the first species to destroy the balance of life on it (mosses seem to have accomplished this 440 million years ago or so!); the planet is resilient. And the next chapter may take it 50 million years to set right again (the average recover interval), but until the sun implodes there will be a next chapter.

If you don't read another book this summer, please read this one.

The Race For The Senate 2016

So now, it's real, right? The conventions are over the races are under way.

And then there is the Senate. I prognosticated back on May 9th and here is my latest update as to the state of the races there. Things have changed or finalized in Colorado, Florida, Indiana, and Iowa. And we still await final selection of candidates in Alaska and Florida. And then the polls are telling us stuff, too.
From May until now some things have happened.  
  1. Some primaries have determined the candidates  
    1. In Iowa it's Patty Judge facing Chuck Grassley.  Patty is the former state Attorney General.  She is poling well.  She will enjoy the surge of women voters that Hillary Clinton will bring to the polls.  And Grassley who always campaigns as a centrist is painted with the slime of conservative poster child for Constitutional obstructionist puppet for his blocking of President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.  (I rate this race a total toss-up)
    2. In Colorado, after a crazy-ass primary fight on the Republican side, Darryl Glenn rose in a field of 14 contenders.  Glenn is an uber conservative in a state that is NOT uber conservative.  I move Senator Bennett from Leaning to Safe and the polls are bearing me out.  A former purple state, Colorado (like Virginia) is also polling as strongly Democratic as traditional blue states this cycle.
  2. Candidate changes
    1. Florida: Out and no en casa, little Marco Rubio is BACK!  I still don't think he's a slam dunk to be re-elected, but until his opponent is chosen (August 30th), he had cleared the field of Republican Senatorial wannabes.  This moves Florida from a likely democratic pick-up to a toss-up.  If the eventual Democratic candidate is smart, he will pummel Senator Rubio on the immigration issue and show him by his own words as the immature, spineless, opportunist that he is.  Ready to say and do anything to achieve his personal goals.  
    2. Indiana: A leaning Republican state has fallen fully into toss-up play by virtue of Evan Bayh's return to the fray and Mike Pence's selection as VP.  Bayh is a proven winner and beloved native son of the Hoosier state.  And Mike Pence is an embarrassment and despised failed governor.  Don't think for a minute that those Indiana citizens who looking forward to voting him out of office won't turn up to vote to Evan Bayh as one way to send the message that Indiana is NOT an ass-backward backwater of conservative ideals.
  3. Present Polls
    1. In Nevada, the strength of candidate Catherine Cortez-Masto has slipped in the shadow of a major media assault fueled by unregulated cash from the Koch brothers and Sheldon Addison.  Send her a dime or two--give her the level playing field that will take her over the top.  Hispanic voters are the key to this eventual win, but for now it's a toss-up.
    2. The support for Pennsylvania's Democratic candidate, Katie McGinty (and the state overall for Clinton) is growing and moves this race from toss-up to leaning, while....
    3. In neighboring Ohio the race between Portman and Strickland has become cloudier, as has the allegiance of the state on the national presidential stage.
  4. Wildcards
    1. Alaska: Independent candidate Margaret Stock may really end up pressing all the right button in her attempt to replace incumbent Lisa Murkowski, and ironically, Murkowski's own strategy of running as an independent may be her own undoing.
    2. Louisiana has the most fucking weird election rules in the nation.  Having elected a Democratic governor in the past year, and given that the election of a senator is also a statewide contest...It could happen?

Full disclosure, I have contributed to Democratic candidates in Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri.

Today's Featured Exhibits

Three current pics from My Garden Zoo.
 The oldest joey of the band of Red Kangaroos has discovered a wild strawberry!
 The family of Chimpanzees are happily awaiting the promised rains of this day.
The pair of Aldabra Giant Tortoises forage between a pair of ancient sage 'trees'--sage plants that over wintered in this container and are now flourishing again.

American Alligator Brood

Momma gator's brood has grown to 4! And she's quick to remind you to keep your distance, even as the hatchlings scamper forward to get a closer look!  And what I love about this exhibit, the adult Alligator and first hatchling came as surprise gifts from a Facebook friend who has admired by Little Garden Zoo from afar!  How wonderful is that?  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Peaches & Cream Pie


Peel and halve 6 large peaches. The white peaches are especially yummy in this recipe. Place in an unbaked 9-inch pie shell, cut side up. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle over peaches. Dollop with 1 cup sour cream. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes.; then lower heat to 350 and bake 30 more minutes.
 The best way--i.e. the ONLY way to peal a peach is to blanch it first for 60 seconds and then the skin just slides off.

Fresh from the oven!

My July Garden: Phlox Patch

 I love my little phlox patch.

Veggie Burger Leftover

 Take the previous mixture from the Zucchini rolls and an egg, roll in panic bread crumbs and brown in a little olive oil.  It's makes a fantastic Veggie Burger--better than anything you can buy remade at the grocery store, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Wonderful Meatless Dinner!

Went with two dishes.  Both were super good.
No Meat Zucchini Roles:
(You can substitute pasta for the zucchini and use manicotti or large shells.)

The inspiration for the filling comes from a recipe I first made over 25 years ago I found in the great cookbook "Sunday's at Moosewood Restaurant," but I have long since forgotten the proportions, changed a couple of the ingredients and vary the spices to suit my needs. In a food processor combine: mushrooms, walnuts, carrot, green pepper, scallions, parsley, and celery. Just some of each: I used a medium bag of walnuts, 8 oz of baby portobello mushrooms, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1/2 of a green pepper, 6 scallions, 1/4 cup or so fresh parsley...oh, and a decent sized red Thai chili pepper for a little kick. 
What you get should look like the mix in the bowl. I later added a cup of cook rice, too. This will have the consistency of a cooky dough. I seasoned it with a generous amount of a Moroccan Spice Mix. tastes of cumin, cinnamon, paprika...along those lines.

Next I sliced two large zucchini into lengthwise slabs and blanched them in salted water for a couple of minutes until they were just about ready to go translucent. Then I removed them to paper towels where they continued to cook and just became a little translucent--you don't want to over cook them (they become mush, you don't want to under cook them (they are difficult to roll. I lined them up three side by side, placed some no meat mix across them, rolled them up and transferred them to a baking dish.

Finally, topped them with Mozzarella cheese and a little oregano before baking.

Stuffed Tomato Fancies:

For the stuffed tomatoes. Food process a heaping cup's worth of dried bread crumbs with fresh parsley, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Next I stirred in a diced scallion and 1/2 cup of shredded pepper jack cheese.

I cored a package of Campari Tomatoes and then sprinkled them with my homemade sage salt. Next I tightly stuffed them with the bread crumb mixture.

Both dishes bake in the oven @ 375˚ for 40-45 minutes.

Kentucky Coffee Tree

I started a Kentucky Coffee Tree from a seed collected from the ground at the National Arboretum two years ago.  And look at it!
 Not just one years growth....
But look!  Two!!  I am now going to have to really decide where in the yard in can go...

Dream Results!

A Democrat can dream, right? Let's assume that 1) Trump is unmasked as the complete and total incompetent bully with the attention span of a guppy (10 seconds) that he is, 2) that his mild-mannered, brown-shirt lite Veep running mate is the very model of an ancient major general who believes in the unmitigated lack of humanity in GLBT people, the 3/5th status of minorities as human beings and the utter Biblical subjugation of women (that his policies have always consistently expressed, and 3) ONLY the un-educated lovers of trump and the truly racist white loosers of this nation vote for him--at least those who can actually bother to do so. Couple this with a tsunami of progressive, modernity loving, formerly oppressed, and presently oppressed citizens...and well, It could happen.
Map 1: The new Senate. I have no doubt Democrats will regain the Senate. The seats are there: Feingold in Wisconsin, Duckworth in Illinois, Hassan in New Hampshire, Strickland in Ohio and McGinty in Pennsylvania. After that the only question will be how much farther can we run the table?
Map 2: I will not be happy until 51 senators are women. I hope I live long enough to see this happen. In my dream scenario we move 5 seats closer.

Electoral College Stats This Week

I am keeping a running average of the national polls by state for a 30 day period creating averages for the states. I categorize the states in the following way.

States that are averaging 3% or less are Battleground and too close to call.

States that are averaging between 3% and 4.99% are Leaning toward the favored candidate.

States that are between 5% and 9.99% are Likely to vote for the favored candidate, and
States that are 10% or greater are Solidly in one camp or the another.

As of today, two states are in the Battleground category:
Florida and Arizona

Of the presumed battleground states for this election

Ohio and North Carolina are leaning toward Clinton

Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Nevada are likely toward Clinton

Missouri is likely toward Trump

Michigan is solid for Clinton

Indiana has not been polled in the past 30 days (position based on three previous presidential results).

Mid-Summer Visit To My Little Garden Zoo

 When my African Elephant herd says it's a jungle out there, they have the thyme to prove it!
 Amur Tigers was one of the first and now it's been up-dated.
 Arctic Foxes
 Cape Buffalos

 One of the newest members, the Caribou.
 Cloud Leopards and new blossoms.

 Jaguars in a jungle of blooming golden oregano.
 Northern European Lynx
 Polar Bears adjusting to climate change!
 Rabbits and Hares!  Arctic Hares, Jack Rabbit, Eastern Cottontails.
 Squirrel Monkeys
 European Stout
 Timber Wolves
Western Mountain Gorillas

My Zoo Accepts New Animals From Up-State New York

Like a headline in a news paper!  My friend and admirer of my Little Garden Zoo surprised me with a pair of American Alligators to add.  I have such amazing, generous, and loving friends.

Gay And An Object Of Desire!

You may recall my recent frustration with Nielson Ratings corp. They tried very hard to recruit me into there army of raters. I do not watch TV. I only listen to the radio, and I have no desire to surrender my privacy, in any account, to their electronic surveillance gizmo. I thought that I conveyed this to them via multiple phone calls which they placed to follow up on the cash that they sent me in the quest to buy my information back in May.

Then on Thursday I received another goddamn packet from them with two more crisp $5 bills in it! Jesus Christ, already! I tore out the money--I'm not that stupid--and then tossed the rest of it. I anticipated another phone call. WRONG!

Knock on the door this afternoon, and there stands Steve with a gift basket and wanting to follow up on my recent letter from Nielson. I acknowledged that I had received it and told him that it really pissed me off. I then explain why. And he said, well, Nielson has an auditor that grades them on the depth of their demographic data base. Once they discover a person who participates in polls and fits a needed weakness in any demographic sub-group, they can be aggressive in their campaign to recruit them., I get it. They need more gay men to use to disaggregate their data. He didn't say that, but as he explained the situation to me, he purposefully glanced at my rainbow flag hanging below my American flag over my front door--and I think I can safely assume that Nielson already has enough Americans in there data ranks!

Needless-to-say, I didn't change my position. My homosexual radio listening habits are both boring and NOT for sail. This after he offered me another $200 to reconsider. Ultimately, He gave me his card and promised to pass on my desire to end what is becoming mild harassment (and a petty cash drain on Nielson, I should think) in regards to me. And I didn't get the gift basket!