Walleyed Pike

I go fishing once a year though not every year.  Up near Minnoqua, Wisconsin, with my friend Dan.  We get a guide – often Jim who is excellent – and head out onto the deep waters.  Looking for walleye.   It’s often so early the loons are not even awake (“what are they doing here?”).  

To catch walleyes, you need big worms and a small jig with a medium-sized hook.  You string the worm onto the hook so most of the worm trails behind.  Then you cast and reel in slowly waiting for a little tug.   There are times when I’ve fished and had not so much as a nibble.   And then there are times when the fish are biting so fast and furious (I’ve heard that term somewhere. . . . ) that you have to bait your hook behind a tree.  

At the end of the day, Jim will clean the fish and portion them into filets.  As with tilapia, not much needs to be done.  A quick roll in some olive oil, Italian seasoning and bread crumbs and saute over a medium heat until the fish is flaky.  I swear there isn’t a better-tasting fish on the planet when it’s fresh out of the lake.  Add some homemade hash browns (I cut organic potatoes thin and saute in a squidge of olive oil, some butter, salt and pepper and chopped Vidalia onion), steamed brocolli and wagon wheel chocolate chip cookies for dessert.   Oh yes and some Caymus cab.   You’ll have a North Woods meal fit for Paul Bunyan.     

Five Feet from Glory. . . .

I love golf.   I practice.  I play.  I watch (especially when Tiger is in the hunt).  And when I do play, I secretly like stepping up to the par 3’s because I know that there is a chance. . . . .

In my post of August 13, 2011, I spoke of a brush with glory.  A 205 yard par 3.  Wind against.  And I popped my Pro V1 less than a foot from the pin.   Twelve inches.   304.8 millimeters. 

Every time I tee it up on a par 3, I take just a tad more time.  A bit more analysis on club selection.  And more care on the implementation of all 49 of my swing thoughts.  Or is it 50?   Sometimes my ball ends up off the green though often it’s somewhere on the green.  Sometimes it’s a few feet away from glory.    

I have friends who have had holes-in-one.  But so far I remain untouched.  Maybe one day.   Probably on a Saturday when there is a special event.  And the Club is jammed with people.  Of course I will have to buy drinks for everyone.  Be just my luck.     

Louis L’Amour

In 1981, there was a center column article in the Wall Street Journal about an author who wrote about the Old West — Louis L’Amour.  Having spent some formative time out West when I was young, I read the article with considerable interest.  A few weeks later, while walking near my house with my 5 year old daughter,  we happened on a garage sale and went in.  In rummaging through the books, I found a battered copy of Shalako by Louis L’Amour.  Hmmmm . . . . . Louis L’Amour.   For one thin dime, I bought the book.  And read it.   Wow!   I was hooked. 

In the ensuing years, I read all 105 or so of his novels.  I think I still have them all – in a box – in the attic.  Some I’ve read twice.   What drew me to Louis L’Amour (1908-1988) was more than the tales of the Old West.  It was his inimitable style.  The good guys were good.  Good men.  Tough yet compassionate.  The women were always good.  And nurturing.  And sweet.  But mess with them and they’d carve you up one side and down the other. . . .  And the bad guys were very very bad.  And I relished when the bad guys got their just reward.  Which they usually did.   Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses. . . .

Some of L’Amour’s books have become movies.  Ironically, Shalako – my first read – had been a 1968 movie starring Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot and Honor Blackman.  I’ve never seen the movie.  It’s still on my list.  If you’re looking for a light – meaningful – read, give Louis a try.  You won’t be disappointed.   


Watch for Anomalies

When my daughter was very young, I taught her a phrase – “watch for anomalies.”  As a young girl growing up, I wanted her to always be keenly aware of her surroundings.  To know where the exits are in a restaurant, theater or other public place.  And to always be aware of what doesn’t “look right.”  What looks out of place.  I frequently cautioned her – if something doesn’t look right, go the other way.   

I have a feeling that my daughter at the age of 12 could “case” a room as well as anyone.  Though today when I smile and say “watch for anomalies,” she’ll usually responds “Oh dad. . . .”  

I learned the expression years ago.  As a State’s Attorney – working with police – I learned quickly that they watched carefully for anomalies.  Situations that don’t look right.   Things that look out of place or out of character.  

Apart from teaching my granddaughter about music, the guitar, speaking Spanish, making Swedish pancakes, how to spit, playing golf, making spaghetti carbonara (see post of 7/27/11), playing poker, doing magic tricks, finding pennies on the street and so on, I will also teach her to know where the exits are and to “watch for anomalies.”          

Let’s talk tilapia. . . .

I made dinner last night.  Baked tilapia, mashed potatoes and my own creation of sauteed bella mushrooms and carrots.  Ciao Bella key lime graham sorbet with fresh mango for dessert.

Tilapia does not have the omega-3 star power of some other fish, but it is good, healthy and relatively free from the chemicals that plague the larger fish.  I marinated two tilapia filets in olive oil (tilapia is a somewhat porous fish), then rolled them in finely-grated romano and Italian bread crumbs.  I sauteed (in olive oil) for about 2 minutes a side, then baked in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Perfecto!  My wife, however, advises against sauteeing.  She’d stick with the baking. . . .  

The mashed potatoes were the small, white organic potatoes.  Washed and peeled only for “eyes.”  Boil for 15 minutes (or until tender) then mashed in 1/4 stick of butter, a few ounces of garlic cheddar cheese and a little skim milk.  Salt, pepper and a little garlic powder.  Mercy! 

I also got two stringers of carrots.  Washed, peeled and then cut in small pieces.  I added chopped Bella mushrooms (carefully washed).  I put the mix in a fry pan and sauteed with olive oil, some tarragon, salt and pepper.   I added some honey (see post of  November 19,2011) to caramelize and add flavor.  I covered the pan and stirred often to keep the mix from burning.  Once the carrots were al dente, it was done.   

A wee bit of wine (Wild Horse pinot noir) was the perfect accompaniment.  It doesn’t get any better.  And the points rolled in . . . . (see posts of May 6 and 8, 2012).    

The Old Testament

I just finished reading the Old Testament (also called the Tanakh).  Took me about 15 months (between other books).  Wow!  What a journey.   Some of it was powerful.  Some inscrutable.  Some scary and much was encouraging.  I did not come upon any Old Testament comedians though the word “laugh” does appear 96 times in 93 verses. . . .

There was a lot to like in this literary endeavor.  I came across verses that spoke to me or just educated me:

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.”   Ecclesiastes 9:10.  I keep this on a 3″ x 5″ card.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying ‘who shall I send?  Who will go for us?’ and I said ‘here am I.  Send me.‘”  Isaiah 6:8.  This too. . . .

Isaiah 9:5 and 6 provides the refrain from Handel’s “Messiah.”   And Isaiah 40:1 and 2 gives the opening lines of Handel’s masterpiece.   

Isaiah 40:4 and 5 offer famous lines from Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech.

There is Psalm 17:8 which I quoted in my Father of the Bride speech at my daughter’s wedding:  “She will always be the apple of my eye and in the shadow of my wings.” 

And of course there’s Proverbs 17:28 — “Even a fool when he holdeth his peace is counted wise.  And he that shutteth his lips is deemed a man of understanding.”   This passage tracks my father’s frequent though not-entirely-Biblical counsel when I was young “better for you to keep your mouth shut and have people think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and have them know you are one.”   

“The Honeymooners”

We all have favorite T.V. shows.  Donna likes “Dancing with the Stars” and a couple other network offerings.  For me, there is not much that captures my attention.  “Squawk Box” while I’m having breakfast and reading the newspaper.  The Weather Channel if the weather is “iffy.”   But there is one program that I love to watch.  Pretty much anytime.  “The Honeymooners.”  Talk about an upper.   I have seen each of the episodes perhaps a couple dozen times.  And I never get tired of it.  This series is iconic. . . . . 

The Honeymooners” — which was based on a “Cavalcade of Stars” sketch that ran from 1951 to 1955 —  had only 39 original episodes (I have them all on DVD :)).  The series aired in 1955 and ended in 1956.  The stars were Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) as Ralph Kramden; Art Carney (1918-2003) as Ed Norton; Audrey Meadows (1926-1996) as Alice Kramden; and Joyce Randolph (born 1924) as Trixie Norton.  When the episodes ended, Gleason revived the program for occasional short sketches up until 1978. 

The shows were filmed before a live audience at the Adelphi Theater in New York.  Rehearsals were spare since Gleason wanted spontaneity.   When he forgot a line, he would pat his stomach (which he seemed to do with some frequency. . . . ).    Alice would look at the refrigerator. . . . .  There was nuance and hilarity.  Ronnie Burns, son of George and Gracie, made a cameo appearance in one episode as bebopper “Wallace.”  In another episode, Norton refers to a coworker as Nat Birnbaum.  George Burns real name was “Nathan Birnbaum.”  In 1960, the animation “The Flintstones” was based in large measure on “The Honeymooners.”   

The only living cast member is Joyce Randolph.  There are wonderful recent interviews where she spoke of the show – and her fellow cast members (see http://www.emmytvlegends.org/blog/?p=4710 ).

The theme song was actually written by Jackie Gleason.   And away we go. . . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSFSkiq1FXE 

So this guy. . . .

So this guy goes to the doctor.  The doc says “I’ve got bad news for you and I’ve got worse news.” 

The guy says – “Okay – what’s the bad news?” 

Doc says “You’ve got 24 hours to live.”

Guy says “That’s TERRIBLE!   What’s the worse news?”

Doc hesitates . . . . “Well, I should’ve told you yesterday.” 

Semper Paratus

As a Boy Scout (I am an Eagle Scout), I learned to live by the Scout motto “Be Prepared.”  I should’ve taken that motto more to heart when I went off to college. . . .

The first week of my freshman year — I was in a beginning political science course with the dour and very serious Dr. Erickson.   Dr. Erickson had assigned the class to review something-or-other for the next class.   However, given the newfound freedom of being away from home for the first time at the age of 17 (I had skipped a grade), and given the wide world of temptations that lurked, I walked into class that day without having read a word of our assigned project. 

Dr. Erickson droned on – and on – walking back and forth – as I stared out the window on a warm September afternoon.  Pondering my freedom and possible exploitation of it.  Suddenly I was distracted when I heard my name.  “Mister Petersen” he said.  “Please explain [yadda yadda].”   I hadn’t a clue.  So I spoke up easily “I’m not prepared” and I went back to looking out the window.

Mister Petersen . . . . stand up.”  Huhh??  “Stand up Mister Petersen.”   I stood.  “Soooo. . . .you’re not prepared.  You’re not prepared today.  So you probably won’t be prepared tomorrow.  Or next week.  Or perhaps ever.”  Sweat began dripping down my neck . . . . “I feel sorry for you Mister Petersen.  You might try . . . at least try . . . to be prepared.”  

Lesson learned.  From that day on, I was prepared.  Oh and Dr. Erickson?  He became my mentor and faculty advisor.  Poly sci was my major.   Semper paratus. . . . .