Tropical New York

We’ve had over four inches of rain this week and that’s about all anyone around here can talk about. At least that is case with our neighbors. We haven’t left the hood in a while. We took a walk down Hoffman to see how “the fool on the hill” made out with all the rain. He was out in the road at the bottom of his driveway shoveling mud. Why the town ever gave that guy the green light to build on that steep slope is still a mystery.

It’s not not like it has been raining all the time, it has all come in these incredible tropical like downpours accompanied with thunder and lightning. We’ve lost power twice. We woke up to thunder this morning around three and shut the computers down ourselves before they got spiked.

Have you checked out Martin Edic’s global warming blog? There might be something to this.

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Suburban Hair

Suburban Hair at the corner of Culver and East Ridge Road in its final days
Suburban Hair at the corner of Culver and East Ridge Road in its final days

Irondequoit moved a 180 year old cobblestone building from it’s original location on East Ridge Road near Culver to the grounds of the town hall. Leo, our 91 year old neighbor and his lady friend, Bette, watched the move and they were both quoted in this morning’s paper. Leo remembers watching men shoe horses in the old Blacksmith Shop after school. Bette’s father ran a service station there in the thirties. Bette still lives nearby in the house she was born in.

Maureen called us to see if we might want to join her while she watched them take down the power lines and traffic signals along the route. We were too beat. We sat on the porch and read the weekend’s newspapers. And the whole thing just makes me sad.

The building was too close to the road and the Winter salt was coroading the foundation. It coud be because that portion of the road is now five lanes wide. It might also have something to do with the value of that lot to a Walgreen’s or Wegman’s competitor. It seems like only yesterday that Suburban Hair was standing where Walgreens is. Maybe the town hall can “charge the people a dollar and half just to see” it in the new location.

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The Whole World Is A Junk Heap

We woke up at 5:30 to what sounded like fireworks out back. The cats who sleep at the foot of our bed had their heads pointing in the direction of the road down below us. The sun was not quite up and I couldn’t see any trees in the road in front of our property so I went back to bed. I hadn’t fallen back to sleep when I heard sirens. So I got up again and noticed a car with its headlights on stopped near our neighbor’s property. I opened the garage and got my chainsaw out and headed down the hill. I was standing under our sagging power lines when the firemen showed up. One of them had a magic wand like thing that he waved at the downed lines that were stretched across the road under this huge branch. “These are live,” he said, “get out of here. We’re calling RG&E”. So I headed up the hill and went back to sleep.

We had just sat down with some coffee when our neighbor came to the door. He thought we should grab the wood that RG&E had stacked up down there but his pick up truck was full of scrap metal pipes from the repair job we did on one of the of our drains. (We didn’t find this out until we moved in but we own our short street and so we pitch in to keep it up.) We headed off to Krieger’s, the junk yard on Portland, to recycle the scrap. But first we stopped at our big footprint neighbors where we picked up the steel tubing from their old trampoline.

Krieger’s (now renamed Metalico) was a trip. If I was half awake I would have had my camera with me. It looked like the final scene from Road Warrriors where the whole world was a junk heap. People were lined up at the scales in overloaded pickup trucks with refrigerators and bycylcles and anything metal. A guy in a bright green suit held a magnet up to the stuff in our truck and then waved us on. We stopped in the office on the way out and waited in line with the sorts of people that do this thing for a living. We watched some junkies unloading their car trunk with a microwave and all sorts of appliances. We got forty seven dollars cash for our load and we didn’t get a flat tire in there.

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Showstopper

My parents stopped by and we sat out on the deck overlooking our unfinished stone fence project. I served them warm slices of the tortilla espanola that Peggi had just finished making. I helped peel the potatoes. We made two batches. One was destined for Jeff and Margaret Spevak’s post jazz fest party last night. The Spevaks served Sangria and tapas and our tortilla was a hit. Jeff played cds from the artists who appeared at the festival.

We use Gerry Brinkman’s (from the old Rochester Club and now chef at Hotel Wellesley, on the. St. Lawrence Seaway) tortilla espanola recipe. It’s really a simple recipe but it is sort of tricky to make. Ideally you need a hinged frying pan because it is made on a stove top and you have to turn it over and cook the other side before the potatoes, onions and egg have set up. We have such a frying pan. We bought ours online at La Tienda just before Peggi stopped eating eggs to combat her high cholesterol.

My parents had just been to an Historic Brighton luncheon where a speaker talked about the lost city of Tryon, an old Indian settlement on the mouth of Irondequoit Bay near where we live. Early settlers met the Indians here and traded guns for furs and that sort of thing. We sere sitting right under the wasp nest and I kept a watch on it without making parents aware of the thing. That would have been a showstopper. When they left I brought the hose in the front door, opened the back door to the deck and blew the nest away. Peggi videoed it. It was pretty anticlimactic.

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I’ve Been Experienced. Now What?

MX80 on iTunes juke box
MX80 on iTunes juke box

As I’ve noted here before, we do quite a bit of shopping in the produce section at Wegmans so I saunter around over there like I’ve been experienced. I reach to the back of the racks to get the bags of baby spinach and arugula with the date furthest out. I dutifully weigh the vegetables and enter the 4 digit produce code.  I shake the basil, parsley and cilantro before weighing it because I suspect Wegmans douses them with water to contribute to the weight you pay for. I notice the peaches, pears and apples are all way below room temperature when they are put out on the racks. They have been suspended at just the right temperature to keep them from ripening while they travel or sit in a warehouse. And then they ripen at an accelerated pace so timing is everything.

Peggi likes her bananas on the green side and I like them ripe so I try to buy two bunches. Pineapples, curiously, are sold per unit rather than by the pound so I try to guess which one is the heaviest and then take my top two picks to the scale. Some are denser so size isn’t everything. And how do they get six pound pineapples up here from Costa Rica and only charge $3.99 for them? They sometimes shoot up to $4.99 but they always seem to come back down. I put some asparagus back today because the scale said $4.69 for a small bunch. Guess it’s not in season anymore.

Strawberries are in season and the local ones are red all the way through and delicious but they are $3.99 a pound. I still bought three. Driscoll Strawberries from California which never seem to go out of season are on special for $1.50. They are red on the outside only. Makes me wonder whether they are red when Californians buy them locally.

MX-80’s “Mr. Watson” is up on our digital juke box and I’m trying to picture “the Mona Lisa on the head of a pin”. Peggi has a new sax coming today to try out. She bought the one she has now in 1978 and it sort of out of tune with itself. We’re waiting for the man.

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Into Oblivion

Bee hive on the back of the house
Bee hive on the back of the house

When I first spotted this hive it was much smaller and I checked it a number of times and but never found any bees near it so I let it go. Now when we step out on the deck one usually dive bombs us as a warning shot and then they leave us alone. The hive has grown to about twice the size and there are wasps coming and going all day. They run around this thing in a clockwise direction while others fly inside for a few seconds and then they take off. Who knows what goes on inside this thing. I know I have to deal with it before it gets out of control so I’ve been thinking about mounting the garden hose machine gun style onto something and turning it on from a distance and blasting this thing into oblivion.

We had ground bees last summer in the front and we let them go until someone told us that could die if they got stung so had to deal with it. I pounded there holes with a sledge hammer, hosed the heck out of the whole area and they just kept coming back. They dug new holes and must have hooked up with underground community because they would not be run off. They were there until the ground froze.

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Summer Project

Enjoying the summer will be a project. And then there are all those summer projects. First on my list list is looking at Cubism. Fred Lipp’s orders. More like a question really. “Ever look at much Cubism?”

I started last night with the Cezanne piece and continued my investigation tonight by looking at my recent paintings with my first impressions of Cubism in mind. I was struck by how obvious it is that I am still learning to draw. That’s what I saw first. And my paintings are really drawings. And then I saw a lot of room for expression. I’m still not sure what Cubism is. I’m guessing a more imaginative way of seeing and translating is probably an important part of learning to draw. So I am still on course.

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How Do You Do Mr. Lincoln?

We finished a rush job for a guy who kept making changes after accepting our proposal-acceptance form. We hadn’t even made some of the changes when a new email would come in telling us to ignore the last one and do something else instead. The job went way over budget and the guy wanted to make further changes after he gave us the check so I took it right over to the bank. Our branch is right across from the Wegmans on Hudson so I stopped in there to pick up a New York Times.

As I parked the car, I noticed an old man walking between the cars with his groceries. He looked sort of lost. I snagged the paper and came back out and and the guy was still standing there. He had four bags of groceries at his feet and he was clutching a five dollar bill in his hand. He asked if I was driving and I said, “Yeah”. He told me he lived in Seneca Towers on St. Paul. He had a hard time climbing in our Element and I kidded him about it. He told me his nickname was “Hercules” and he was 94 years old and then he launched into a few stories. He worked for the old Rochester Hotel. I grew up here and have no idea where that was. He started as a bus boy and then became a waiter and then a bartender. “The bar only served men in those days”.

He had a hard time hearing me and told me, “My daughter said, ‘Pop, you need a hearing aid’ and he said, ‘What?’ “. He laughed at his own joke. He met a guy at he hotel who was a hobo and they made plans one summer to hop a train. He told me you hop a train at the beginning of a car so when the momentum swings you back you don’t get flung off. They weren’t even to Syracuse when he got a cinder in his eye. They got off there and a pharmacist flushed it out for him. They wound up in Brookline, Massachusetts and bummed around for a while before he realized that kind of life was not for him.

I pulled up in front of Seneca Towers and he tried to give me that five dollar bill again. I said no and shook his hand. He told me one more story. When he was in grade school, a Lieutenant who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War came to speak to their class. He told the kids he had met Lincoln and had shook his hand. So before he left, he shook hands with all of the kids and told them that they could tell their friends that they had shook hands with someone who had shook hands with someone who had shook hands with Abraham Lincoln.

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Big Ball

Peggi with big green ball.
Peggi with big green ball.

Hoffman Road dead ends down at the park. It gets real low and wetland like at the end. There’s a creek that flows under the road and when it rains real hard it flows over the road. All sorts of stuff floats down the creek and gets stuck trying to get through the big pipe. We found a day plastic day glo sword a few weeks ago and big green ball the other day. We kicked it all the way home.

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Mr. Budweiser. We Have Your Number.

Snowman remains in April.
Snowman remains in April.


That’s the head of the snowman from yesterday’s entry on the left.

Apple was up six today. Somebody sees some light at the end of this tunnel but we’re still worried. We’re considering making extra house payments with the cash on hand instead of playing the horses. That way “if the market does go to heck in a hand basket”, as our ML guy likes to say, we’ll be protected from the rain.

I’ve been experimenting with hummus recipes that I’ve found online. I thought it was spelled “humas” at first and apparently a few other people did too. I made a batch of “humas” with jalapeños that was quite good. I’ve made four different kinds in last few weeks. I had a hummus, onion and spinach sandwich for dinner. I don’t like it when the first hit tastes like tahini. Three of these recipes have called for too much tahini vs. the chick peas. And the garlic gets overpowering fast. I like lime juice in there. Today I made the mistake of dumping all the gooey ingredients into the food processor without first putting the blade in there first so I had scoop it all back out. I’ll have my own recipe tweaked with a few more trials.

Note to the dude that drives down the dead end, Hoffman Road, and throws his 20 ounce Budweiser cans out the window: We have your number. Most of the snow disappeared today in the near 70 degree temperature and we found ten tall Bud cans along the side of the road. We are talking of making Burma Shave-like signs and sticking them in the ground down there. First one would read, “Mr. Budweiser”. Second one would probably get us arrested if we said what we thought.

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You’re A Bad Dog Whimsy

We walked through the woods today and came across four different parties of deer. The skies were pure blue and the snow was disappearing under our feet. When we got to the park we decided to walk up Log Cabin Road to the Wisner. We were asking for trouble here because dog people drive to this intersection and then let their dogs run free (i.e. take a dump on the road).

As we walked we watched an oversize woman bend over and call her dog from her over sized husband in a US Army sweatshirt. He had just let the big black dog off its leash. The dog came right at us and the women chided the dog with, “Well I guess you would rather go home with them than us.” A little further up the the road we ran into Whimsey, a Golden Retriever, who walked in circles around us while sniffing our bodies. With raising her voice or applying an inflection, the woman said, “You’re a bad dog Whimsy. You’re a bad dog Whimsy.”

About ten years ago I made the mistake of putting the back of my hand out for a stray dog to sniff. It grabbed my hand and and mangled it. I spent the afternoon in Emergency getting injections of Human Globulin directly into the wounds and then stitches. And there was a month of rabies shots at regular intervals. I couldn’t play drums for weeks. Dogs aren’t all that cute any more. Except for little white, wiry things and Dachshunds and Basset Hounds and our neighbor’s dogs. And that one that bit me.

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Graves Without Weeds

Peace gravestone in Irondequoit Cemetery
Peace gravestone in Irondequoit Cemetery

Irondequoit recently hired an independent company to reassess property values and they sent us a notice of our new tax rate. They determined the town was currently assessed at 88% value which means taxes needed to be raised by 12% on average to generate enough tax money to dump all that salt on our roads and pay people to walk in circles around the gravestones in Irondequoit Cemetery with weed whackers.

Our taxes went up more than 12% and they estimated our house was worth more than we paid for it a few years ago. The town posted the reassessment online and Peggi spent an afternoon comparing our house to similar homes in the area. She had Google maps open on the laptop and and the tax records on a different screen while generally snooping on the neighbors. I was making humas in the kitchen and listening to her updates. I never would have guessed which house was assessed the highest on our street and our neighbors on both sides with similar houses were assessed much lower than us.

It seems Un-American not to contest so we attended an informational meeting at the Town Hall called “Understanding Your Property Reassessment”. I was prepared for a snoozfest so I brought the morning paper with me. There was a headline on the front page that read “Local House Sales Tumble”. The story explained that although the sales have tumbled, the prices have remained steady. We have no housing market collapse here because we had no boom.

Growth is not all it’s cracked up to be. Steve Hoy was talking about this concept yesterday. Sustainability may be a better business model. Irondequoit starts north of the city of Rochester and it is hemmed in by Lake Ontario to the north, Irondequoit Bay to the east and the Genesee River to the west. We aren’t growing and we like it that way. We should probably just pay our taxes and shut up.

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La Sirène du Mississippi

We went skiing with our friends and neighbors, Rick and Monica. We skied up the west side of Eastman Lake and back the east side of Durand Lake in the park. On the way back, Rick got a hankerin’ for Mexican so we got online and looked for alternatives to nearby Monte Albán. We toyed with driving out to El Rincón in Sodus or the one in Canandaigua but decided to try San José on Buffalo Road. I was a little suspicious because the pdf of their online menu said “printed in South Carolina” but we jumped in the car and headed out to Gates. Rick had a “Best of Incredible String Band” cd on. We found the place and a sign on the door. “Closed Until March 3rd For Remodeling”.

So we continued on to Chilango’s in Spencerport. It was about eight o’clock and there was a half hour wait so we drove back in the city to Monte Albán. We ordered Margaritas and Peggi and I asked for no salt. Rick wanted salt. Monica ordered horchata and the waitress told her they were all out so she settled for a root beer.

The waitress was beautiful. It was hard to do something as mundane as place an order with her. She was a marvel. She had dark hair, a shiny, wide, white belt, a really cute accent and amazing eyes. She brought the margaritas back and two had salt and only one was saltless. Fine. She asked if we were ready to order and we obviously weren’t so she said she would come back, but she didn’t. Some time went by. I thought we had ordered already and we were waiting for our food. Rick started getting agitated. We had worked up an appetite skiing. He asked a nearby waitress to go get our waitress.

She returned smiling. We placed our order. She came back and asked Rick if he had ordered number 18 or 19. Rick ordered a Negra Modelo and she said they were out. The food was ok. Peggi asked for more napkins and the waitress smiled and nodded but never came back with them. None of this mattered. She actually yawned while we were placing our order and we still tipped her.

Back home, Rick asked if we wanted to watch “La Sirène du Mississippi” (“Mississippi Mermaid”), the 1969 Francois Truffaut movie with them and we took him up on the offer. Catherine Deneuve, the star, waltzed through the movie like she was barely in it. She was a blond version of our waitress.

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Perfect Conditions

Peggi Skiing in Durand Eastman Park
Peggi Skiing in Durand Eastman Park

It’s Spring in San Francisco and the daffodils are out. The temperature in Rochester is 11 degrees and it is supposed to go down to 2 degrees tonight. The cross country skiing conditions are perfect. We skied from our front door to Lake Ontario and back through the woods.

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New Voice In The Group

Lou and Arianna Calesso
Lou and Arianna Calesso Photo by Kevin Leas

I fell in love with this photo. It was on the front page of The Irondequoit Post. Lou and Arianna Calesso teach computer skills to local blind people. Arianna says, “I can do anything (on a computer) you (sighted) guys can do.” In the article she tells how she met her husband. “I heard a new voice (in the group) and that was it,” she laughed. “I wasn’t looking for anyone.” My mother in law has one of the clocks shown here. It chirps a different bird sound for every quarter hour.

I took some heat a while back for a my post with the dead mouse. That hasn’t stopped me from setting traps although we haven’t caught one in a while. The last few times I’ve checked on them the peanut butter I used as bait was gone but the traps hadn’t sprung. Either the mice were wising up as their brothers went down or or maybe it was light-on-their-feet ants. Yesterday I stuck my had in the crawl space to check on the status and one of the traps was gone. I got a flashlight but couldn’t see the trap anywhere. Either a mouse dragged it back to where he came from or some other bigger animal took the dead mouse and trap somewhere.

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Blight & The Irondequoit Melon

Irondequoit Melon Historical Marker
Irondequoit Melon Historical Marker

Monte Alban has a big window inside with a view of the Classy Chassy Carwash on the right.

We did a little last minute shopping and stopped at Monte Alban for dinner. It’s a pretty restaurante tipico for Irondequoit, NY. Our friends Alice and Julio took us here a while back for fajitas. The tv is usually on, tuned to Univision or Telemundo with the sound off and they play Mexican music. It’s located on Ridge Road behind this historical marker. The sign reads, “Our Irondequoit. Melon was first developed here on the Sutton Farm. Its seed was first sold 1899. Very famous for its taste. Wiped out by blight in 1940’s”. There were tent cards on the tables inside offering “Melon Margaritas”. It may have just been a coincidence. I don’t think anyone has noticed this sign out here. We visited the original Monte Alban outside of Oaxaca in Mexico. It’s a beautiful, deserted Mayan city. It may have been wiped out by a blight as well.

Peggi is on row 86 of baby blanket with two days to go before Christmas.

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The Mayor of Durand Eastman

About six inches of snow fell and the temperature was in the high teens so the conditions were perfect for our first cross country skiing outing. We skied across the street and into the woods behind our neighbor’s house. This is called the commons and a mile long trail runs through the valley paralleling a creek until it comes out on the 14th hole of the golf course at Durand Eastman park. We crossed the fairway and skied up one of the trails that works its way around one of the ponds that they call lakes.

We thought we would run into this guy, some sort of man child, that we call “The Mayor of Durand Eastman”. He is old enough to be a man but he pulls a sled with a transistor radio, a knapsack and a blanket on it. He hangs out at the top of the kid’s sledding hills and he is usually drinking a Genny. He he makes the beer look good. He greets us and acts like he lives in the park. We have run into him many times in this area. I hope he is ok.

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Peace Is Possible

I don’t really know if I believe it is possible. I’m thinking of how our cat, Ornette, slaughters chipmunks for kicks in the summer. Peace in the animal kingdom has its own kind of order and Bush has his own new world order in mind for us. But we decided to echo the Prince of Peace’s old fashioned sentiments in our card this year. We were cross country skiing when I took this picture. It’s a view of the marsh on Conifer Lane near our house. See Huntington Hills Marsh photo.

Paul and Peggi Christmas Card 2007
Paul and Peggi Christmas Card 2007

We took a walk down to the bay where the town has been building a million dollar retaining wall to protect a few funky beach houses. It was cold and icy down there. We saw a mailman with a Santa hat and a plastic Xmas ferris wheel in someone’s front yard – people trying to out geegaw their neighbors on a holiday (formerly a holy day) so devoid of meaning we all it “Xmas”. There was an article in the paper this morning about a white guy in Houston who saw a couple of black burglars in his neighbor’s house. So he grabbed his gun and blew them away. He is claiming self defense. They were found with a pillow case full of jewelry beside a sleigh and a Santa cow with a sign, “Have a Moo-ry Christmas”. Like Tommy Lee Jones said in “No Country for Old Men”, “you can’t make this stuff up”.

We watched that movie last night with Rick and Monica. They are movie freaks but they like to sit in the back of the theatre for some reason. Peggi and I usually sit in the third or forth row so it fells like we right in the movie. The movie was pretty cool but it lost steam at the end. Tommy Lee and Javier Bardem were great. Javier Bardem was great in Goya’s Ghosts too. Goya was laughable in that movie.

Tonight we are supposed to get heavy snow after midnight. 4 to 7 inches and get a load of tomorrows forecast, “Periods of snow through the day with blowing snow in the afternoon. Snow may be heavy at times. Additional accumulation 8 to 15 inches. Windy with highs in the lower 30s. East winds 20 to 30 mph…becoming northeast. Gusts up to 40 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent. ” Sounds like a sure thing but if you can’t count on the weather coming down like they call it around here. We are hoping to ski in the woods.

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Xmas Shopping

We left 4D early to do a little Xmas shopping. Our first stop was Barnes & Noble. Last time we were there we were trying to decide between two calenders and and we mistakenly came home with both. So we returned that and picked up “Into The wild” and “Mademoiselle Boleyn” for Peggi and a $12 “Expressionism” art book and a book on Ornette Coleman for me. First things first. We bought a large print version of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and a Puccini opera for my mother-in-law and started talking about where we would eat.

We headed for Aladdin’s Natural Eatery but stopped at Eastern Mountain Sports on the way out of the parking lot. We tried on those things you wear around your ankles and lower leg so the snow doesn’t go down your shoes. They are made of GORE-TEX and they cost $69. We had a hard time finding the right size. Large was right for me in the length but I couldn’t draw them tight enough at the top for them to stay up. In fact I pulled one string so tight it broke. We walked around the store with them on and then decided to leave without them. It felt great not having them wrapped around my legs. We stopped next door at this place that just had their Grand Opening called Stein-Mart. There was hardly anyone there and they were already having a “Clearance Sale”.

We headed in the direction of home and stopped at Target to pick up a Tangoes game for my sister-in-law and a Nascar hat for our nephew. The Nascar hat was so ugly we couldn’t buy it so picked out an Elmer Fudd style hat for him. We stopped at the Thai place across the street from the Irondequoit Mall and ordered “Evil Jungle” (a spicy tofu and vegetables dish) and Sesame chicken. We had a twenty minute wait so we decided to get a drink next door at La Trattoria D’Abruzzo. We love this place and have eatin here many times. It was Christmas time and I had a headache so I suggested a gin and tonic. The bar tender made them strong I think. We don’t usually order mixed drinks. We were chatting with her and then Giustino, the chef and owner sat down for a glass of wine. They had a number of cancellations because of the snow and it was sort of slow. Giustino bought us another drink. It was in front of us before we could turn it down. Our Thai food was cold by the time we got back there.

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Free Range Turkeys

Turkeys Running Free
Turkeys Running Free

These guys were waltzing around our neighborhood. We are headed out to LA for Thanksgiving in the Hollywood Hills. My wife’s sister will be doing the bird but the turkey is always my least favorite part of this meal. My favorite part used to be the stuffing but I now I like the Brussels sprouts if they are on the menu. I really don’t care for football either but I am thankful for the harvest.

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