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THE END OF THE LINE

To my remaining LJ friends and followers:

My paid LJ account will expire at the end of this month. Since I currently only follow four friends on LJ, I began making plans to relocate my blog to another site some time ago. For the past several months I have be posting my blogs to both sites. Effective today new adventures of Mlle. Renee and I will only be posted to the new site. http://smilingbagel.com/
We'd like you to come and visit us there. I have links to all your journals and I will continue to drop in and visit you

Rob

And on this first day of April ...

What more could I possibly lift?








There is, they say, no fool like an old fool.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Oh, I am Fortune's fool.

Who is more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?

If fifty-million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.

Better a fool, than a tool.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.

Humanity is a parade of fools, and I am at the front of it, twirling a baton.

You can fool some of the people all of the time,
And all of the people some of the time,
But you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
Unless it's an election year.

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Today Ireland and the United States celebrate the death not birth of Patrick, the once and never saint who happens to be the by-product of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling and drunken revelry. The real man known as Patrick was born in 387 to prominent Roman citizens living in Kilpatrick, Scotland; and as for the rest of his life it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.


A lot of his fable-filled life was created by Irish immigrants to the United States who were trying to compete with the Jews, Poles, Italian and other sundry huddled masses. Other parts of his fantasy life were created by Patrick himself in his writings. Hey, we all exaggerate a little when we write. And while he might have gone to Ireland to save the pagans living there, he might also have left Scotland to avoid becoming a tax collector. Preacher to the pagans … tax collector for the Romans … neither one was at the top of the job list back in the early fifth century. To make matters worse, there were never any snakes in Ireland for him to drive out. Also, the stories about the shamrock and why he invented the shillelagh are highly suspect, too. That brings us to corned beef and cabbage a dish which happens to be very popular in both Poland and Germany, but which everyone thinks is the national dish of Ireland. Now Patrick never ate corned beef and cabbage, since mutton, pork and Pagan Irish Stew were all the rage back in 410 A.D. Besides the Irish didn’t discover Corned Beef and Cabbage until they immigrated to the US.

Now my grandmothers were Polish and German, and they both made damn good versions of corned beef and cabbage. One added apples and sometimes raisins to the dish. The other added caraway seeds to it. It was also good, hearty and cheap food for the large families of their day. So I’m quite fond of the dish and I used to make it all the time myself. But, it’s not a dish you fix for yourself when you’re cooking for one. So when I was shopping at one of my local stupidmarkets Friday, I was tempted by some of their store kitchen prepared corn beef and cabbage dinners.



Since the entire dinner was only $7.98, I gave into my temptation and purchased one for my evening meal tonight. Let’s just say it wasn’t my grandmothers’ or even my corned beef and cabbage . The cabbage, carrots and potatoes were all under cooked. They’re not supposed to be soggy, but they’re not supposed to be crunchy either. They’re supposed to be fork tender. The corned beef was tough and had no taste whatever. It looked and tasted like the corned beef they sell sliced in the deli-meat counter. The creamed horseradish was quite good though. Overall my dinner was a total failure that left me craving for a real home cooked corned beef and cabbage dinner.

Writer's Block: Kiss me, I’m Irish!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?


Saint Patrick is as imaginary as the leprechauns are. Even the church that invented him does not recognize him as a saint anymore. Besides, as a shout, hearty person of Polish/German ancestry, I don't need a fictitious holiday in order to get shit-faced and falling down drunk.

ROB WHIPS UP A QUICK BREAKFAST!

If you are a regular visitor to The Smiling Bagel you probably know that I occasionally dabble in creative cookery. You might say it’s a hit or miss effort that can either result in totally tempting, creative cuisine or deplorable greasy-spoon failure. It can also be somewhat time-consuming, and some morning I want something tasty and fast … like this morning when I woke up with a craving for cinnamon buns which can become an hour and a half messy kitchen project. So I decided to resort to quick trick cookery.

I always stock certain items in the fridge for when I have to resort to Q-T-C … one of these is a can of ready to bake jumbo flaky biscuits. They come ten to a can, and all you have to do is pop open the can and separate the dough into individual biscuits.

Roll each piece of biscuit dough flat … and spread one side with softened butter or margarine.

Mix a couple of tablespoons of sugar with some ground cinnamon on a plate and press the buttered side of the dough into the mixture.

Roll the dough up with the cinnamon/sugar inside and bring the two ends of the roll together.

Dip the top side of the dough into the sugar mix and place the unsugared side on a un-greased baking pan. Do the same thing with the other nine pieces of dough.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-minutes or until they look like this.


If you’re so inclined you can put a small dollop of canned vanilla frosting on top of each hot bun and allow it to melt and run down the sides. I don’t need the extra sugar myself. Just a cup of hot Timothy’s Pumpkin Spiced Decaf Coffee will suffice for me. In my classic Sherlock Holmes mug, of course!


Now Mlle. Renee mentioned that she hasn’t been getting a lot of face time in my posts recently. So for fans of the lovely lady, here’s her latest photo.


The temps have been in the mid-80s this week and she has been enjoying taking an afternoon nap on a bed of zoysia grass thatch. She doesn’t even see this Catalpa Tree Snake creeping up on her.

THE PRODIGAL POSTER RIDES AGAIN!

So I haven’t set fingers to keyboard in almost a month. I can legally say almost because February only had 29 days which is one day shy of the 30 day count required for most months except the ones that have 28 or 31 days. Allow me to offer a visual to explain my absence.



This is a picture of a catalpa tree that grows at the back of the family homestead. Now imagine it as my brain … well for the past several weeks my brain has been as barren and a twisted as that tree or to add more metaphors to my misery; it was as if I had fallen through a trapdoor bereft of creativity. Hell, to be blunt I didn’t have anything interesting to write about and I found myself falling into bed half way through the News @ Ten. Not that I have anything earth shattering to write about today, but it was THE IDES OF MARCH which was an ill omen since I received phone solicitations from both the Romney and Santorum campaigns to attend the upcoming Republican caucuses and vote for their candidates. Sheez … what a choice! That’s like trying to decide if I want to be run down by gasoline tanker or a garbage truck. Since they were both robo-calls received during the time mid-westerners usually eat the evening meal, I gave forth and spewed a torrent of thoughts and opinions into the receiver. I did have second thoughts after I hung up. Considering their political beliefs the robo-call line was probably being tapped.

Anyway since it was the Ides today I decided to celebrate the day with a hearty breakfast. I started with a honey cured ham and egg scramble topped with a dollop of red pepper and onion relish served on a toasted sesame roll.

As the fruit part of my breakfast I decided to try a yellow watermelon.

What can I say other than it tasted sweet and yellow and lacked all the flavor usually associated with the traditional pink flesh melon.

I decided that I probably should have stuck with the giant tangelos I also picked up at the stupidmarket this week. They rocked!

Great juicy flavor! And all that was left when I finished was a tangelo shell bowl.

MLLE. RENEE CELEBRATES VALENTINE'S DAY

In case you didn’t know, Valentine’s Day … was also Mlle. Renee’s Third Adoption Day Anniversary. So, to celebrate the occasion I whipped up a batch of Oatmeal Carrot Cookies. And being a good girl, she even sat pretty as I held out her cookie and tried repeatedly get a picture of her licking her lips. Alas, the tongue is faster than the shutter! So this shot will have to do. Naturally, I also made a few cookies for myself, which are now hidden in the dog-proof cookie jar.



And since the day was also Valentine’s Day, I spared no time or expensive on a luxurious dinner I prepared for myself. It was a Crustless Roast Beef Pot Pie. For those of you on the culinary fringe, that means I made a skillet supper consisting of ground beef, Hamburger Helper (Roast Beef and Pasta flavor), and some leftover mixed veggies plus the last of the creamed spinach I made to accompany Sunday’s Smothered Steak. Actually it was amazingly delicious! Especially when accompanied by a vintage bottle of cheap Sutter Home Merlot. Hey, the bottle had a cork and not a screw top cap!


And for dessert I had a wonderful heart-shaped petit-four served with a cup of fine Columbian Decaf Coffee.

Ok, so it was really a Little Debbie Cupcake.

Anyway, Mlle. Renee and I had a wonderful day!

We even received a valentine from a secret admirer.

And as my friend Marika says, getting one valentine is something special.
Getting a lot of valentines makes you a whore!

ENTER THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON

Well, today was the first day of the Chinese Year Of The Dragon and I decided to start the day with a hearty breakfast to become strong like a dragon.



I started of with a bowl of puffed wheat. Notice that was a lower case or generic puffed wheat rather than the original upper case Quaker Puffed Wheat that I grew up eating.

Wow, there was nothing like the original Quaker Puffed Wheat and Rice. It was actually shot from guns, and it even said so on the front of every box. And the back of the box with filled with colorful cutouts that you could assemble and collect to make entire Yukon mining towns and Indian villages. And sometimes you would even be able to assemble Sgt. Preston’s entire dogsled with his lead-dog Yukon King in the lead. Boy, you had everything you needed to recreate each evenings radio adventure in full color right on your kitchen table. Now that was living!

Don’t know what happened to Quaker Puffed Wheat or Rice … they just disappeared from the grocery stores about the same time grocery stores were replaced by stupidmarkets. I understand you can still buy them by the case on Amaz*n, but I don’t know how they would be able to deliver that to my Kindle.

So I have to settle for the giant generic plastic bags of puffed rice and wheat. Does taste the same though, guess that’s because they don’t have the BIG GUNS to shoot the rice and wheat grains out of.

So I started the day with a bowl of un-gunshot puffed wheat …

And a dish of black and blue berries … Why is it that blackberries always photograph as redberries on my camera?

And in case you're wondering, I’m a purist -- I can’t eat cereal with the fruit in the bowl because the fruit will make the mile sweet and I don’t like sweet milk. That’s why I never eat sweetened cereals.

After I finished my cereal and fruit I had a cup of tea.


I received a collection of twelve different teas for Christmas, and each morning I start the day with a different variety of tea. Today it was French Vanilla, and I drank it while I worked the Mensa Puzzle of the Day from the calendar I also received for Christmas. Today’s puzzle had you looking for a common English phrase that contained one of the signs of the Chinese zodiac. I got them all except for the one that was seemingly powerful one who is actually weak.

Then I put some food out for the birds.

I don’t put the seed in a bird feeder since all the birds do is fight for a position at the feeder … where they knock all the seed out of it … which they then end up eating off the ground anyway. Besides, the empty hulls will make mulch under the trees. Since the Colorado Spruce and the Red Cedar trees got big enough for nesting I have six cardinals, two pairs of mourning doves, a clutch of chickadees, two different species of sparrows and a number of mocking birds. I’m hoping to attract a Missouri Bluebird … a bird I have never seen off the state license plate.



I also noticed the daffodil bulbs are sprouting already. I’m hoping for snow to keep them from budding too soon.


I also discovered Mlle. Renee carried my old slipper out in the yard to play with again.

And last but not least, I didn’t discover another frozen snake!
It was just another dried seed pod from the catalpa tree on the adjacent property.

Then I went in to do the laundry I’ve been putting off for the past week. And all because I started off with a dragonesque breakfast of mock puffed wheat and berries. Tomorrow it’s puffed rice ... mock of course!

IN SEARCH OF THE OTHER ME ...

In fiction and folklore, a doppelgänger (German “double walker”) is a paranormal double of a living person, typically representing evil or misfortune. In modern vernacular, the word has come to refer to any double or look-alike of a person. Source Wikipedia

It is rumored that almost every human has a double, or a least someone who looks enough like him or her to confuse and confound friends and associates. I first aware of this when I was twelve or thirteen.

INCIDENT ONE:
This was just about the time that I became my mother’s general errand boy. In other words, she trusted me to make trips out of the immediate neighborhood a pick up things from stores that were as far away as Grand Avenue. This naturally put me in the somewhat near to being close to becoming near to being a grownup. One of these trips was to the Best Way Cleaners near Grand and Natural Bridge to pick up my father’s trousers. This was a long time before the advent of wash and wear pants.

The trip took me past my best friend Mike’s house, along Sportsman’s Park (home of the Browns and Cards) and up the alley by the Y that had a broken glass block window that revealed all the naked people running around the swimming pool. Then I had to cross Grand by the Kroger Grocery Store to get to the cleaners which was next door. I walked into the shop and up to the counter where the woman asked, “Did you forget something?”

“No, I just came here to pick up my dad’s pants,” I replied.

The woman then explained that someone who apparently looked just like me had been in the cleaners about a half hour before I got there. I guess I looked dumb as usual as I said, “I just walked from home.” and gave her my claim check.

When I told my dad about the incident at supper that night he said, “Impossible there’s no way God could make another someone as ugly as you.”

INCIDENT TWO:
Two years later, my Uncle Mike who drove the Natural Bridge bus, said he had a boy who looked exactly like me but wasn't me get on his bus one afternoon.

INCIDENT THREE:
The year I started high school my parents bought a house and we moved out of the old neighborhood to the current house in Saint Louis County. Because I rode the bus to my high school which was located between the new house and my grandmother’s house in the old neighborhood, I would go past her house twice a week to get anything she might need from the store and then catch the bus to go home. I got on the bus for the trip home and a lady sitting in one of the front seats looked at me and asked, “Bob, where are you going?”

“Home,” I replied most probably with a dumb look on my face which caused the woman to look close at me.

“I’m sorry,” she said. ” But I thought you were my nephew. You look just like him.”

Stupid that I am sometimes, I failed to ask the woman what her nephew’s name was besides Bob.

Off and on over the years, other friends have reported seeing or running into someone they thought was me. But like the Yeti, I have never been able to confirm any of these sightings as fact. And it has been a long time since I have been accosted by someone thinking I was my doppelgänger. Until last week …

INCIDENT MOST RECENT!


As I noted in a post last week, I treated myself to a matinée movie at the Esquire. After the movie I walked into the strip mall next to the theater for a bit of lunch at Einstein Brothers Bagels. I walked in and started to check out the menu board when the counterman asked, “Do you want your usual doctor?”

It was deja vu all over again, and I guess I had a typical deja vu look on my face as I asked, “Usual?”

To which the counterman replied, “You look just like a doctor from Saint Marys.”

I then ordered the Mex Turkey Special which apparently was not the doctor’s usual.

Now I know my double is a doctor, but I have no idea if he’s an evil twin or not.

SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE MET!

I’ve often commented about my Saturday trips to see the Metropolitan Opera, and several people have asked if these are films of Met productions. Actually, they are part of a series of live opera performances transmitted in high-definition video via satellite from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City to select venues (motion picture theaters and cultural centers) across the United States and around the world where the HD signal is fed into the projectors that fill the big screen … complete with surround sound. And in the average season the number of people attending these performances is greater than the number of people who attend the entire season at the opera house. Many of the productions are later rerun as part of the PBS Great Performances series.

I started going to the Saturday matinée productions during the 2007/08 season at the auditorium of the Saint Louis Art Museum.

While not an opera house, it was a location with a decidedly operatic ambiance.



Unfortunately, prior to the start of the 2010/11 season the Art Museum started a long-planned expansion program and the auditorium was closed for construction work. So my opera location moved several blocks west … from historic Beaux Arts museum to classic Art Deco movie house.

The new location was the Esquire Theater which just happens to be all of two months younger than me. It is one of Saint Louis’ surviving second-run movie houses that was originally built with a large main auditorium with balcony. In recent years the balcony was enclosed to form two smaller theaters.

An addition was built in the late 80s creating three additional theatres … one large and two smaller. The large theater is used for showing the Met broadcasts. The decor reflects the design of the original main auditorium.

The theater seats about 750 in three seating sections. The curved screen almost fills the full width of the theater.

The image shown is the pre-program projection test.
While the A/V capabilities exceed that of the art museum, the movie theater lacks the atmosphere and sense of participation the museum auditorium provided.

But, in the last five years I've seen more "live" opera than I have during my entire life.

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