Just like Gramma Used to Make


I am publishing this recipe, because I am sure that there are other families who have members who don’t know how or have forgotten how to make ice when the ice tray is empty. — From food.com user name CHRISSYG

After all the snobbery, cruelty and vitriol over the Grand Forks paper’s positive food review of Olive Garden, I was down on the internets and all the bullies.

Really, I was ticked. The sneering is wearying.

Then today, I find this little gem, a Food.com recipe for making ice cubes.

A must click if only to read the comments.

Everyone is in on the joke and at least for the first several pages of comments, no one is mean. This is what makes the internets fun.

Link via Shoebox Blog

It’s Hard Being a Nina (godmother)


My oldest godchild is now eleven years old and she’s a smart, beautiful, inquisitive child.

She and I have a pretty strong relationship. She trusts me enough to talk about some things she won’t talk to her parents about. I’ve worked very hard to be a safe place for her to talk to a grownup without worries of getting in trouble.

She also likes to challenge me. Since she was old enough to talk and form opinions, she has often hit me with the query….

“Nina Karen, what if….”

The question that follows is some scenario straight from the depths of her powerful child’s brain. Then she waits patiently to hear my thoughts.

Sometimes the questions are pretty easy, like:

“Nina Karen, what if I ate ALL the cookies and not just some?”

I explained that while it would be awesome for a little while, she would probably get a tummy ache. And then she would likely throw up. And then she probably wouldn’t like cookies any more.

The thought of not liking cookies any longer was enough to dissuade her from eating ALL the cookies. Whew, one point for the Nina.

Sometimes the questions are a lot more difficult and challenge my powers of Nina-dom.

“Nina Karen, what if I didn’t want to go to special math class anymore?”

At school, she was placed in an advanced math program and had to leave her classroom to go to math class every day. The other kids teased and bullied her about it.

That one was a bit tougher to work through.

But I did ok.

So now I know when that little voice says, “Nina Karen…what if…” I should brace myself.

I was unprepared, however, on Saturday evening.

A dear friend was getting married, and I sat in the venue with a goddaughter on each side of me.

The wedding was just about to begin. We could see the bride and her attendants coming down the hallway to line up for the service to start.

And my oldest godkid turned to me and said:

“Nina Karen? What if right when the minister says ‘you may kiss the bride,’ she farted?”

I’m quoting that word for word. No embellishments.

I looked at the cherubic child. I looked away. I looked back into her earnest blue eyes.

And started laughing.

Since I’m suffering under a powerful case of the flu, the laughing caused me to dissolve into a massive coughing fit that echoed off the walls and high ceilings and the other guests gave me dirty looks.

Thankfully, I was, quite literally, saved by the music. The cello quartet started and the wedding began and the beauty of the bride stole the attention of the room.

Which is good, because I have no idea how I was going to answer that question.

Image from Zazzle

Hit the Road, Jack

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What better way to celebrate the long drive home from L.A. than with my favorite story about the ubiquitous Grapvine. The Grapvine is what they call the bit of road leading through Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains in Southern California. After miles and miles of bleak, hazy and bland I-5, the Grapevine is sort of a welcome breakup to the drive.

It also, in my opinion, serves as the gateway to Southern California. Everything changes once you come off that mountain pass and drop down into the outskirts of L.A.

This bit of road is the stuff of legend and lore. Many a car has met its match on the Grapvine as the climb from sea level to at times as high as 4000 ft proves to be too much.

And with that, I’ll turn it over to a great New Mexican, the cowboy poet and dear friend of my best friend’s family, Baxter Black.

I read this story aloud to The Good Man as we made the summit….being on the very same road made it that much more hilarious.



The Grapevine
By Baxter Black

Equisearch columnist Baxter Black ponders the futility of tryin’ to impress the ladies while driving a Chevy Nova.

How better to impress his new lady friend, thought Rob, than to take her to his friend’s rancho for an afternoon branding and BBQ.

She would be pleased to see that he had many friends who drove pickups with chrome grill guards, tinted windows and coordinated paint jobs. He admitted to himself that his own outfit was less ostentatious. His ’64 model two horse trailer had been repaired so many times that it looked like a well drillin’ rig! The ’76 pickup was using 2 quarts of oil to tank of gas and his horse was . . . well, ol’ Yella looked right at home.

Rob was eager as a piddlin’ puppy when he picked up Delilah and headed north outta the Loa Angeles area. He was anxious to make a decent impression but one large obstacle lay in the pit of his stomach like a pea in the Princess’ mattress . . . THE GRAPEVINE! It was a monster of a hill dreaded by truckers and people who still drove a Chevy Nova.

The engine was screamin’ and smokin’ like a burnin’ pile of creosote posts when they finally leveled out at the summit of the Grapevine. Rob had sweated through his shirt but he sighted with relief as he gave Delilah a comforting look. She smiled back uneasily. Then the motor blew! A big dent appeared in the hood and it sounded like someone had dropped a Caterpillar track into the fan!

They coasted silently into a service station at the bottom of the grade. He assured his sweetheart there was “no problema”. He had lots of friends nearby. Her reaction was one of forced optimism.

By dark he’d borrowed a pickup from Hank and they both agreed returning back home was the best option. He loaded Yella, hooked up the trailer and back over the Grapevine they flew! Halfway down Rob managed to slip his arm behind Delilah’s neck.. Soon she was lulled into discussing’ her dreams of home and family. She snuggled closer as he watched a tire bounce by him on the driver’s side. No headlights shown in his rearview but he couldn’t help but notice the huge rooster tail of sparks spraying up from beneath his trailer! He could see her astonishment in the flickering light.

Rob wheeled the screeching rig to the shoulder. Together they unwired the trailer doors and Yella stepped out, unhurt. Rob tied him to the highway fence and unhooked the trailer. Rob’s facial tic had returned.

Seemingly in control, he jumped in the pickup and headed south for the nearest phone to borrow a trailer. He returned to the scene to find Yella grazing in the median with semi’s whizzing by on both sides and his date shivering over the still warm axle, forgotten. She, herself, was smoldering. She spoke not a word and Rob conceded to himself that it was gonna be hard to regain her confidence.

In the space of 12 hours and 50 miles he had left his pickup, his trailer, his horse and his girl scattered from one end of the Grapevine to the other.

Next day he towed the pickup to the shop. He left his trailer to be impounded by the State Police. His horse made it home safe but Delilah changed her phone number, wrote him out of her will and has not been heard of since!

For more from this cowboy poet, visit BaxterBlack.com.


iPhone photo of The Grapevine, copyright 2008, Karen Fayeth

Story reprint found on Equisearch.com.

On A Mission


At the end of last week, my Big Boss (the boss who begat boss who begat boss) gave a presentation to us troops. An “All Hands” is what they call these events. “Quarterly state of the department” and stuff like that.

We have a new Very Big Boss and so Big Boss had just given him an overview of who and what we are about. The All Hands was scheduled so that Big Boss could show us what he presented. This was so we could, you know, live up to all of his promises.

As part of the presentation, Big Boss unveiled our new mission statement.

I hate mission statements. I really do.

But to his credit, Big Boss was able to take our former three paragraph run on sentence and bring it to a few lines. The lines still say meaningless things, but it’s at least easier to read.

So thinking about mission statements and writing mission statements and the sort of language mission statements use, I figured there had to be someone out there who created an online mission statement generator.

I was right. Many are actually serious affairs, trying to genuinely help business people crank out something useful. I didn’t want that. Then I stumbled across this Mission Statement Generator. It uses a slot machine interface.

Now we’re speaking my language.

First pull:

We probably should be hindering a high level of employee dignity by dedication to bribery discarding all principles.

Oooh. Bribery. I do like the idea of a mission statement that fully owns up to the magic of kickbacks in the business environment.

But then again, Mr Sarbanes and Mr Oxley to tend to frown upon such things.

Time to pull the lever again:

We are committed to providing unquestionable investor return with quality products and integrity of the highest integrity.

Ah yes, investor return always a popular phrase. And throwing quality and integrity in there….good stuff. Integrity with integrity? Sure!

Pull three:

We are dedicated to challenging world-class dynamic metamorphosis by expansion through personal goals at the highest level.

Ok, now we’re talking. “World class”…a full bag of yes! Metamorphosis! Good, good. Expansion? Who can argue with that? We’re getting close, but I think we can do better.

Last pull:

We are committed to generating the full range of our staff development with expansion through added value from the lowest level.

Ok, that’s just downright scary. I think our actual mission statement says something almost exactly like that.

Creepy when comedy blurs the line into reality.

: shudder :

Image from the fabulous Rob Cottingham and his Noise to Signal cartoons. This particular panel couldn’t be more perfect! Used under a creative commons license.