“You know how to install a battery?”

I like to start Sunday mornings with a nutritious breakfast (or someone does), a nice bowl of blueberries, fresh pineapple and Greek yogurt, so you can imagine my dismay (joy) when I discovered that there were no blueberries, no pineapple and almost no yogurt (apparently bacon and eggs were not an option).

Oh well. It was time to put Plan B into action.

A movie. And a maybe not quite so nutritious breakfast of a Regal Crown Club Kosher Hot dog and a tub of popcorn. Called the M-I-L to let her know that it was movie day but got turned down, said she was washing her hair or her dog or something like that.  So no movie.

Was there a Plan C you ask?  Why yes, there is always a Plan C.

Today’s Plan C: TWWNCBUIP says it’s the perfect day for a picnic in the park. We will take the “fun” car says she, “the puppies love the wind in their faces.”

The fun car is also known as the “Sunday” car for insurance purposes and doesn’t get out much so I thought I would make sure it had enough gas for the trip.

Well, plenty of gas, but no battery. Dead as a doornail, which, in case you don’t know, means “quite dead.”

No worries, I am a great planner and am always prepared for emergencies, so I got my super charger for car batteries out and connected to my quite dead battery.  Nothing happened. The super charger was also quite dead.

Oh yeah, I remember now, we had used all of the super charger battery juice all up when the lights went out during Harvey.

Luckily there is an auto supply near the house.  I was able purchase a new fully charged battery and install it before TWWNCBUIP was even aware that Plan C was in jeopardy.

Got the car started and rounded up the dogs for their trip to the park. As we were backing out of the driveway I mentioned to TWWNCBUIP that I had replaced the battery this morning while she was getting ready. The look I got could easily be described as incredulous.

“You know how to install a battery?”

I’m not sure I want to a ride in a car that you have repaired.”

I was able to reassure her that I have some skills and after all, how hard can it be to put in a battery?

Off we went to picnic in the park, Linc, Lola, TWWNCNBUIP and Mr. Goodwrench.

The Japanese Garden was just closing when we got there but we got to watch the sun set over the lake and the puppies never took their eyes off the ducks. Don’t know what they had in mind, but we have a feeling they might loose a battle with the birds.

And the moral is …. lost on me.

But I had a great day, got a new battery, and remembered to pick up some bananas and strawberries for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Murder by the Book

I just finished my summer reading list and now must find new material in time for my annual birthday trip coming up.

While TWWNCBUIP swims, Linc, Lola and I like to sit poolside with mojitos and murder mysteries.

Now that I am approaching 50, I find that my memory is often not as good as it used to be.

I often find myself in Murder by The Book perusing the titles and making great selections only to arrive home and find that I already have two or three of the books I just bought sitting in my just read stack.  

So I made a new plan. I took pictures of all the books that are in my possession so that I can scroll through my photos before I buy and make sure I am not duplicating.


I’ll let you know how my photo memory trick works out after I get back from Murder with my purchases.

Wish me luck on the birthday trip … which has also become known as Shane’s annual Fantasy Football trip and Mr. & Mrs. Chicken Boy’s Anniversary. If I don’t forget them, it should be a doggone good trip … Linc can’t wait …..


I just had another great idea!
Suppose the dealer would let me use my new photo memory technique at the blackjack table?

For whom the bell …..

My summer reading list is always full of action adventure stories (hurry up Lee Child with my next Jack Reacher) and English mysteries.

Sometimes life imitates art.

The forty nine year old “Case of the Missing Bell” was partially solved this week when a mysterious package was left at our doorstep.

Inside the package was the bell. With a note.
A note from “Mr. Z.”

One can only imagine the tales of the many places this bell has been over the years.
The purloined bell shared a lifetime, on a ship to announce its arrival, on a bar to signify closing time … who knows for whom the bell tolled (sorry couldn’t resist).

Continue reading

Sunday checklist…..

Breakfast of yogurt before snuggling up with the puppies to watch “Marley and Me” 
It was probably a good thing that the puppies dozed off before the end…spoiler alert, Marley didn’t make it. There wasn’t a dry eye in the household by the time the credits rolled.
Finish my “Foreign Agent” spy novel and take a dip at Gramma’s 
I was down to the last 73 pages and Scott Harvath still hadn’t managed to save the world, but, by the time we were packing up to leave Gramma’s pool, Scott had accomplished his task and my tan was looking pretty good.
Catch a movie  

After checking through all the movie listings and coming up with several holiday weekend movie choices, one of which received a 22% of a rotten tomato rating along with the following quote: “worst film I’ve ever seen considering the unexpected horrible death that blindsides, the mediocre acting, the implausibility, and the completely impossible flawed storyline.” and with other selections like Captain Underpants, Cars 3 or The Smurfs, we opted for “Baby Driver” which Frank had said was “pretty good.”

We hesitated on that recommendation because with the word “Driver” in the title  TWWNCNBUIP was worried that it might be a car chase movie, however,  Frank assured us that while there may be a car chase or two, that wasn’t the main thrust of the movie.  So we picked up Gramma and headed off to see “Baby Driver.”

After the opening car chase, the car chases in the middle and the one at the end,  there was a nice relationship that developed between the young man and a sweet girl, what else could you ask for in a movie? And the hot dogs and popcorn were the perfect lunch for a Sunday afternoon.

I’m now back at the ranch cueing  up the latest episode of the Outsiders …. all in all – a good day

Can I be social?

IMG_4145.JPGWe just returned from our annual trip to the Social Media Conference in San Diego (two trips qualify for calling it an annual event, right?) and I’m happy to tell you, we learned a lot to thrill and delight you over the coming months.

 TWWNCBUIP, Shane and the newly Social Me arrived in San Diego just in time to get a sandwich and soda from the 24 hour Market One IMG_4093.JPGRestaurant (it actually sells everything you could need – aspirin, paperback novels, potato chips, and of course prepackaged sandwiches-to-go thereby allowing it to technically be called a restaurant) located in the Manchester Hyatt on the waterfront and across the street from the Gaslamp District.

The lamps from the district where enticing but with the conference starting at 8am we thought it wiser to hit the rack instead of the trail.
With six hours sleep and coffee in hand we arrived at the Convention Center at 8am Thursday morning in order to not miss any valuable information. This early bird was awarded with cool swag, a selfie tripod and wide angle lens for my iphone. Totally worth getting up early, right?

IMG_4056.JPGThere were so many seminars from which to choose that we had to split up to so we wouldn’t miss valuable information.  FB algorithms, Instagram videos and the secrets of Snapchat were the order of the day andIMG_2433.JPG by night we learned how to combine Japanese whiskey with walnut bitters and blood orange amaro.


Sunset at the Del Coronado for a tasty Old Fashioned. We will be practicing everything we learned in San Diego to surprise and delight you in the coming weeks (especially the Japanese whisky part).

If I were to select a few favorite moments, I’d have to pick dinner at Juniper and Ivy (that’s where I learned about the whiskey) and cocktails at the Del Coronado as we watched the sun set over the ocean … and the seminar hosted by Chocolate Johnny of Perfection Chocolate in Sydney Australia.  Johnny regularly has over 100,000 viewers that tune in to watch him make candy.


A crown of peanuts, a necklace of pretzels and toilet paper cake … what else could girl ask for?

We were only home long enough to wash clothes and then set out again, this time to take the mother-in-law AKA Ol’ Mel to Vegas to celebrate her 90th birthday.

Shortly before landing the flight attendants asked that the passengers pull down the window shades and turn on the “call” buttons above our heads. Much to Melba’s delight they then announced that there was a VIP on board celebrating a very special and high numbered birthday.  They placed a peanut crown upon her head and pretzel lei around her neck. She was beaming from ear to ear.

There’s a reason that Southwest is called the LUV airline.


IMG_4326.JPGWe spent the next three days in Las Vegas and were “happy birthdayed” at every meal…I can’t imagine how big a fuss they will make over her next birthday.

We were joined by Mr. and Mrs. Chicken Boy to celebrate grammas’s birthday, buffets, Italian dinners, 3-card poker and dinner at our favorite restaurant in Vegas – Tetsu Teppan Grill. Grilled lobster, dancing shrimp and three Lucky Seven cocktails and the evening was complete.


We’re home now! Hope to see you soon…I learned some stuff and I can’t wait to show you that Japanese whiskey thing.

In the meantime I have to go get some coloring for my Easter eggs.

It’s just too far to drive…

hobby… so with our SWA tickets in hand we were off to Memphis to attend the premier of the independent film who’s Production Designer was none other than our own C. Michael Andrews.

We were able to convince Lincoln and Lola that this would be an even better vacation than staying at their usual spot, the luxurious Rover Oaks Dog Hotel & Spa even though they would be missing out on the latest Lassie reruns, afternoon ice cream bars and bedtime stories.

natIt’s only an hour and twenty minute flight to Memphis but since the nonstop flight doesn’t even leave Houston until 10PM we always worry that we are going to be too late to pick up our rent car before midnight. The last time we flew into Memphis our flight was 30 minutes late and we had to sprint like OJ through the airport to get to the car rental place before they closed. This time our flight landed ten minutes early so we were relieved that we would make it down to the “Choose any car on the lot” area before it closed. We hurried down only to find a dozen folks standing around looking out on a completely empty car lot. Really, not one car in the whole place! It took an hour and a lot of hustling but the car rental folks got us all settled into vehicles.


Dogs on a plane 

PlanBy the time we finally got our car it was too late take the puppies to CB’s house so we drove straight to our favorite Memphis hotel where blinky Linky did his sleepy eyes routine and Lola practiced her too pretty to resist pose – before you know it the nice man at the front desk took us all in. It is now our favorite Memphis hotel forever.

bathcabinetSince we didn’t get in until after two in the morning we slept late and then took the puppies for their morning constitutional along the banks of the Mississippi so we didn’t get to Mr. and Mrs. CB’s until after noon. By that time we were all starving so we grabbed a very late breakfast at Uncle Junipers. mississippi

This was a busy week in Memphis with the Memphis Indie Film Festival on Thursday and the Fall Art Walk on Broad Avenue on Friday so we tried to make ourselves useful to Mr. and Mrs. CB who had their bearhands full getting ready for the Art Walk and moving into their new tiny house that CB built. While TWWNCBUIP and CB tended to setting up the new bedroom and scrubbing the paint and mortar out of the new bathtub,  I tried to make myself useful to Mrs. CB. so we spent the day tinkering in the shop getting set up for the Art Walk.

doggieAfter our last trip to Memphis, I had been hankering to have another helping of fried chicken skins so I was pretty pleased when I found out that Mrs. CB had made a reservation at the Kitchen for Wednesday night. If you are visiting Memphis in filmfestthe future be sure to put this restaurant on your to-d0 list along with my other favorite – the venerable Gus’s Fried Chicken.

The food at the Kitchen is fantastic and the view is even better. Both times we have been there we’ve dined on the deck looking out over the man made lake. This time we visited with the bartenders and asked them how they made their drinks so full of flavor. freeindeedSeems like infusion and fresh squeezing are the key. After a few more lessons from these Memphis boys who knows, maybe I can share some of their secrets with you. rustyalice

Thursday, the big day, arrives. After breakfast I joined Mrs CB at FiveinOne, she working and me supervising until it was time to set out for our pre-premier dinner at Mary and Catherine, another new Memphis hot spot. We enjoyed a fine meal and then we set off to the Memphis Independent Film Festival premier of Free in Deed.

This was one intense film. A tragic true story about about a troubled faith healer played by David Harewood. I recognized him from “Homeland.”  My favorite scene came at the very end of the film when the credits rolled. Production Designer, C. Michael Andrews.  Pretty darn cool.  We are proud parents in case you can’t tell.

tacoWe got to join everyone at the cast party at yet another new hot spot in Memphis, The Laughlin Yard.  It has a waterfall from a creek, fire pits and  the fixin’s to to macoveke your own s’mores, two patios and a stage where we listened to Marcella and her Lovers.

Friday evening and it was finally time for the Fall Art Walk on Broad. The art lovers descended on Broad Avenue where they wandered from store to store, some shopping some gawking. There was lots of eating from taco trucks and lots of drinking local beers. Food trucks lined the block. My favorite, Say Cheese, had PB&B with cheese, Pizza and Cheese, Pimento and Cheese and lots of other kinds of cheese. There was art made from car parts. There were ballet dancers.  “Made in Memphis” tee shirts.

Handcrafted furniture. Paintings. Pottery.  Hollywood dog treats. And lots and lots of people watching.

After the crowds went home we adjourned to the Pirate Bar at the end of the street to compare notes of the day and by the end of the night we were arrghuing the virtues of rye versus bourbon.

We had a great day. A long night. A short sleep. Before we knew it we had to be up and out of our favorite Memphis hotel. We loaded up the puppies and headed over to the tiny house inside the big warehouse.  Mr. and Mrs. CB were up and waiting for breakfast at Second Line.  We had one of every appetizer and then pancakes. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

soldiersA trip to the Hollywood Feed store followed our slow and coffee filled breakfast. The feed store has a place where you can give your dogs a bubble bath, a blow dry and pigs ears as treats. After all the puppies were bathed we walked back to the new digs to get our car and luggage. The puppies said goodbye to their new friend “I am Frank” CB’s 60 pound brick of a pit bull and we were off to the Memphis International Airport.

We are always sad to leave Memphis.  This time there was a bit of Memphis waiting for us when we got home. The Dead Soldiers had just driven in from Memphis and were setting up to play the Duck when we arrived.   We liked them. Think you will too.