Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Top to Bottom

This turned out to be a long journey (from top to bottom), so maybe more than one visit would be warranted to digest it all but at least we are now kind of "up to date" (with apologies to FOJTY, who IS in Kansas City)

The Top (dog)

In our kind of helter skelter approach to the Feeder columns, let’s go back to STL for another glimpse at the world of big time dog events.  I may have said this, but probably bears repeating, that when we told FOJTY we would be attending, he asked if we had seen the movie “Best in Show”.  Why, yes, we have…  “well he said, it’s just like that.”   Yeah, sure that was a parody, but this is the real thing…. Guess what.  He was right.

So while all the dogs are doing their strutting (along with the handlers) out in the ring(s), a whole different world exists “behind the curtains”.  Mostly I suppose it’s like many performances.  Stuff stacked around

And plenty of dogs, killing time in their little “houses”

Or just "hanging out"

Some almost literally
FOJTY says they do this to keep them in good shape after grooming..

Some ever hopeful for a treat

Or just plain bored

Griffs seem to have the right idea

While waiting for Duke and FOJTY, Stanley’s mom and I got along quite well..

And then eventually it’s showtime!

In the case of FOJTY’s Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, they are bred to be hunters, out in the fields, on point with quail, retrieving waterfowl, very active.  He really prefers to be out there doing field trials, or training, not prancing around a ring.  

He says some dogs (not necessarily only Griffs) spend most of their lives in those crates, going from show to show to show.   It’s an unfortunate truth (Right Al?) that in order to advance your dog in the world of ratings and thus stud fees, etc., you have to do this..

This may be the last dog show related posting.  It was an amazing experience.  What a world.  And I don’t think I saw one sequined sweat shirt with “I love my….” On the front.  Serious stuff.  

The Middle

We abandoned the original plan to visit KC and so had to skip the annual meeting of the AASLH (American Association for State and Local History), which of course is of immense interest to MFO.  The theme for the meeting was “Truth or Consequences”:

Museums and historic sites have been ranked among America’s most trusted institutions in an age where trust continues to erode and truth sometimes becomes murky. Our history organizations maintain the trust if we continue to tell the truth. But what is truth when our work is based on interpretation of the historical evidence and interpretations change? How do people know what to believe?”

Very timely, but with our STL experience in the hotel, we mutually agreed that travel is (now) very hard on us both, and so decided to return to Maryland.  Too bad, MFO had to miss it, but by the time we got here we were pretty well tuckered out.  We were so glad we made the dog event.

The “Bottom”

So life returned to “normal”, and the Feeder had an interesting experience with a new restaurant.   One of the things I do with my limited abilities, is to be a member of the Editorial Committee for the St. Mary’s Chronicles, the newsletter of the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, published quarterly which contains articles pertaining to the history of our county.  We review potential articles, and edit where called for, and learn a lot in the process. 

We have occasional meetings of the committee to discuss philosophy, recent and potential articles, tell stories, etc.  So last week we decided to have a lunch meeting.  Since there is a preponderance of members from the western part of the county we decided to eat at The Bottom of the Hill, a relatively new place just north of Leonardtown in the shopping center with the garden place, McDonalds, and Weiss (nee Food Lion). 

Side Track, but interesting (restaurant review to follow):

During the small talk while we gathered, I mentioned that this location has had many occupants, none of which have survived very long.  When I arrived here in ’96 the spot was a Perkins (Pancake House) one of two in the vicinity as there was one also in California in Wildewood (which kind of figures in the story).  Some of the members recalled a couple of the places, but the Feeder got interested in coming up with a comprehensive list.  Well, that has proved to be an elusive task.  I posted the question on the Facebook Page: “you know you’re from St. Mary’s county if…” which features history and many interesting postings from “county folk” who post pictures of old buildings and people, etc.  You might visit the page if it interests you.  Anyway, I got dozens of replies, and sparing you the details, here is the kind of consensus of occupants (no dates).

Mattingly’s Tobacco Field
Perkins Pancake House
Alice’s Restaurant*
Arizona Pizza
Rustic River Grill
Pho Saigon**
Bottom of the Hill

* It may be that “Alice” was after the Perkins in Wildewood, mixed opinions
** cloudy as to which of these two preceded the other

I am not sure of the accuracy of the above.  I could not find any way of “looking it up” on a county site, although I might be able to go back and research occupancy permits (too much work!).  Pretty interesting lineup, I’m not sure another county location could top that!  Some postulated that early demises could be because of the owner, but again, no substantiation.

Anyway, this is today’s incarnation:

The inside is kind of what one might expect and is common for a County local restaurant

With photos of local interest and cute signs.  Continuing the same formula, the menu is a single laminated sheet (front and back)

With choices you can find at almost any place in the county, baskets, sandwiches, appetizers, dinners, sides hidden as usual, nothing extraordinary. It does provide a challenge for the (now sodium limited) Feeder.   You probably can’t read the above selections very well, but try to think what might be low sodium in that lineup!  Invariably, it leads him to the salads, as most of the other (good) stuff is probably pretty high in sodium (as well as mostly fried) so I (ho hum) get some salad with chicken (here it was the Santa Fe (“no added salt, dressing on side" please).  Others at the table without dietary restrictions got some very nice sandwiches
Like a Reuben

A proper Crab Melt

A fried shrimp plate

All of which looks lovely compared to
Dry chicken and bare greens.  Sigh

(not that I’m bitter mind you!)

So Bottom of the Hill is just another place to eat, at least it's not a chain, not awful, not great.  Maybe they’ll last. We’ll see.

And since it was for lunch, we didn’t worry about
And to their credit, water was served in a proper glass, so didn’t have to worry about

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hold the Leash!

I want to take a quick left turn away from the Canine Community for a couple of items, then we’ll go back to the woofers.  Lots more to see there…

Confidence Booster

I have oft remarked that it is gratifying to read some pro restaurant reviewers like Tom Sietsema come up with the same feelings and principles that the Feeder has espoused for years.  Last Sunday in the (revamped) Post Magazine, Tim Carman, his pinch hitter and probably heir apparent, wrote a little piece called “Setting the bar for neighborhood spots” that reviewed “The Dish and Dram” a little place in Kensington MD, (2 stars (good)).  The premise was that it was a “neighborhood bar” and that everybody had an idea of what that meant.  He “interviewed” some unnamed folks and came up with criteria for what he considered made a bona fide Neighborhood Restaurant.  I Include his findings below verbatim:

A neighborhood restaurant, these diners told me, must be locally owned, and the owners must be on site.
It must be cheap enough so they can dine there frequently.
It must have history with the ’hood, at least 10 years.
It must be casual.
It must be walking distance from their home.
It must not take reservations.
It must support the community, maybe even the local farmers market.
It must have regulars and know their preferences (maybe even their secrets).
It must have a bar where locals engage with one another.
It must stay open late.
It must not be a chain.
It must not cater to tourists.

At this point, after all my harangues over the years, bells should be going off in your head and you’re thinking:   Hey!! Most of these are exactly what the feeder looks for in an establishment to qualify for his “Just Right” designation!  Maybe he ain’t so dumb!
Thank you very much!

The long awaited confession

Well, I can no longer make excuses, or postpone the inevitable admission.  I have to come clean about my problem.  I have an addiction.  They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.  I have a problem.  Hopefully by sharing with my loyal following, I can at last get some relief. 

Here’s the story:   Every couple of weeks or so, I go to a web site, and with a few clicks cause an innocuous plain brown cardboard box to be deposited on the front porch.  By that time, I usually am in pretty desperate straits needing to feed my habit, so I usually rip open the box to reveal my monthly dose:

And with shaking hands bite open the package to release the source of relief

Ah, those little morsels of heaven in beckoning colors

So easy and enticing, have to restrain myself from gobbling the whole bag.   Usually a dosage of two or three pieces a couple of times a day keeps me on an even keel. 

I suppose the seeds of my affliction were sown in my youth borne out of Easter Mornings, when I searched the house looking for a little wicker basket of plastic green grass, cradling the cherished beans within..  Yes, they are BEANS…. JELLY BEANS!   You can call ‘em Jelly Bird Eggs (what a stupid name) if you want, but they are Jelly Beans!  And don’t even talk to me about miniature, or “Spicy”, they ain’t the real thing.   And I don’t look at those puny little highly flavored nuggets called Jelly Bellies.  Ptooie!

Oh, BTW, black are the best. 

There, my conscience is clear!
DFD and keep up the crusade for

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Not really about Walruses..

But, as the Walrus says, it’s time of many things… of shoes and ships… and DOG SHOWS!  Been postponing dragging you through our recent experience at the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon National Specialty event in St. Louis (which was defined last time).  I did give you a little taste, but there’s a lot more to say.   I’ll try to break it up into nibbles so you don’t get too much at a sitting.

Anyway, the dog judging/competitions took place at the facility of Purina, which is headquartered in St. Louis

It is located out by Gray Summit in far western St. Louis County
It is a huge complex, all devoted to animals but real concentration on dogs.   Pretty fancy building for the animals

With many outbuildings for other critters

And even a place to present trends

We got there around nine, when people (and their charges) were beginning to gather for the day’s competition, and you had to work to find parking

Once inside, there are several “rings” that are used to show the dogs.

As "showtime" approached, hopefuls and their companions began gathering waiting for the competition to begin.

Including FOJTY and Duke

Then the judging begins and they strut their stuff

In the end, you want to wind up like this!

While all this is going on, there are other diversions around the outside of the ring, many “souvenirs” and general doggie stuff

and of course an opportunity to create lasting memories with your friends

Mostly the Feeder sat with his new found friend (Stanley's mother)

Anyway, it’s quite a different world.  I did get to walk around in the “prep” area, but I’ll wait for another edition. It is amazing..  A homework assignment might be for you to watch "Best in Show"  

I won’t wait too long.   Maybe tomorrow.    Besides I need a little “Just Right” discussion with you..

Meanwhile don’t forget to

And don’t sit at a table where you have to suffer:

Nice, huh?  really goes with the drink glass, which is why we always end with:


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

hello again, sort of

Well, I just looked, and last posting was 18 September! And here is it, 3 October (the day after MFO’s Xth Birthday).   The temporary darkness was due to a number of things not the least of which was a trip to STL to see both FOJ’s and take in a “National Specialty” event hosted by the American Kennel Club.  A specialty show is a dog show which reviews a single breed, unlike other dog shows, which are generally referred to as "all-breed" because they are open to all breeds recognized by the sponsoring kennel club.  FOJTY’s dogs are American Wire Haired Pointing Griffons, and so his portion was only for the AWPGA breed.   While there is a lot more “in the can” here is a picture of a “Griff” (not his, but related, another story for another time

And in action with Duke

They are basically a hunting breed, and alert readers will remember I have posted pictures before of FOJTY doing training. 

There will be more scenes from the competition in editions to come.

And now for something completely different!

I had a most pleasant surprise the other day, that kind of astounded me (I am trying to avoid using the overworked term: “aMAAAAAAzing”).  I was able to procure a whole beef tenderloin from a local farm, and a friend was kind enough to cut it into filets for me.  In exchange for a good glass of wine he agreed to come over and grill it for us (another lesson!).  In the end, an empty propane bottle scuttled the grilling scheme, but a nice job by me in a cast iron skillet did well.  Anyway, in honor of the steaks, I decided that we should raid the “Silver Oak” stash, as the “never the right time for THIS wine” syndrome has resulted in a growing inventory of said wine. 

On a whim, I went to the far end of the selections, and found this:

In case your eyes are fading like mine, look at the vintage on the label!

That wine is approximately 31 years old!  Expecting the worst, we also brought up a younger vintage.  My friend is quite an accomplished consumer of wine, and was able to extract the cork with help of an Ah So without crumbling it – which is common with older bottles, and employed the coffee filter trick to capture the sediment (after all, if you had been laying down for 20 odd years, you’d have sediment too!

After letting it breathe a little we hesitatingly poured it into a glass

Now those of you who are familiar with older vintages of wine know that in general, the older the wine, the more it takes on a “brick” color, which doesn’t extend far into the edge of the wine.
We were both surprised that while this one exhibited some of that, it held its color pretty well.   On top of that, the nose still revealed fruit, and on the palate there were noticable tannins.  Instead of having to dump it, we enjoyed it.   Pretty special

It gives me hope that the 2000’s vintages are worth drinking.   I will have to investigate and report!  I have decided that there is no sense in not drinking my “special” wines, who know what the future holds (the Shadow do….).


Last spring, with the help of our landscape team, we planted a bunch of plants (butterfly bushes, a couple of those red stick Dogwoods, an American Beauty Bush (for the birds), and my usual brace of herbs: parsley, basil, thyme, and our existing tarragon, chives, and the seemingly ageless volunteer Dill..  The deer made short work of the parsley, the basil wend wild, as did the tarragon, and the thyme hung on…

So finally we decided to “clean up” the bed by the pool, and harvest some of the stuff for culinary purposes.  We focused on the basil, dill, and tarragon, and came up with quite a lot.

We don’t get fancy trying to preserve them, just (painstakingly) editing them for the “good ones” and then after washing laying out in front of our window.

Eventually I will strip the leaves from the dill and tarragon, and kind of crush the basil into flakes.  Next year I’ll take more pains to cover the parsley.. home dried.

Finally, just kind of a pretty “still life” on our counter

 and as usual, we won't forget to say:
DFD and
(and for the few who still ask about the latter, No More Mason Jars is a plea for restaurants to stop bringing me water/tea/soda in those clunky Ball Mason Jars with a handle on it.  Disgusting)