Saturday, December 15, 2018

Downtown Christmas Memories

When I was growing up  every town had at least one iconic department store that did Christmas right: fabulous back-lit and magical Christmas displays, often animated, gracing all of their street level windows. In a time before kids were so wired into their iPhones and “social” networks that they missed much of the amazement of the real world, there were all these fabulous windows of mystery and wonder, free for the taking. All it took was a dime bus ride downtown. 

I was very lucky as my hometown, Grand Rapids, MI, had three such emporiums of merchandise, all founded in the late 1800’s:


All now long gone. One of them, Herpolsheimer’s,  however lives on as it has been memorialized in the film version of Chris Van Allsburg’s book The Polar Express.

The-Polar-Express-HD-wallpaper[1]herpolsheimers polar express

The old Herp’s, as the locals called it, had what was called  the “Santa Express” – a monorail that ran around the entire basement level of the store during the Christmas season to keep kids occupied as mom and dad shopped.

santa express 1949Santa’s Rocket Express, 1949

It is said to have served as the inspiration for Van Allsburg’s  popular book.

The old Herpolsheimer’s building,

herpolsheimers-christmas-past-christmas-ornamentsPrint found on Pinterest but tracked down to ArleneFaye 

which once housed the inspirational train and window wonders currently houses the Grand Rapids Police Department. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you probably wouldn’t want to take your kids there for a festive Christmas pot pie lunch in their tea room.

chicken pot pie

And don’t even get me started on the “dime” stores, of which Grand Rapids also enjoyed three:

3524fbacacbe2fe06c43ccfae4d7d852Print found on Pinterest but tracked down to ArleneFaye 

Woolworths, above, at the foot of Monroe, Grants, right next door, and Kresge’s just up a block to the east.

kresgesPrint found on Pinterest but tracked down to ArleneFaye 

Also all gone.

What about your town’s locally owned iconic department stores? Do any of them still exist? Are any of them still in the downtown area? Or is your downtown comprised of restaurants, bars and clubs these days? Just wondering.

Friday, December 14, 2018

FLOTUS Friday: Blonde On Blonde Edition

Based on the catty comments about Melania’s new hair shade I’ve concluded that while the left is fine with men transitioning to women and vice versa they are not so fine with PDJT’s wife transitioning to blonde.

melania transitioning to blonde

Her critics stopped short of accusing her of Scandinavian cultural appropriation, as that could easily come back to bite an awful lot of them.

hillary blonde doOnce FLOTUS never POTUS

I confess, I prefer Melania with predominantly chestnut locks myself. But any woman who can rock a black jacket and leather pants look like this -

black leather slacks

can do any damn thing she wants with her hair.

Our FLOTUS clearly figured out long ago – possibly even sooner than POTUS - that the “comedians, journalists, performers and book writers” are not here to write history or praise Caesar but rather to advance themselves and their agendas. So let the haters pile on, sadly our FLOTUS has already grown used to their venom and tripe.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Danger: Underdogs Ahead

I note that the Washington Republicans are already whining about not being able to (fill-in-the-blank) because of the uncooperative Democrats: Rep. Scalise: Pro-Border Security Democrats ‘Being Held Hostage by Extreme Radicals’ Like Nancy Pelosi. Finally, they’re back in the underdog position they’re so fond of and comfortable with.

bark bite

Republicans have proved themselves useless in advancing their own agenda. Take Michigan for example: our supreme RINO governor Rick Synder will be leaving office at the end of an 8 year run having done nothing other than sign a right to work bill into law while also expanding Michigan’s Medicaid under Obama’s “Affordable Care Act” - a burden that now rests solely on the shoulders of state residents as the federal subsidies have died. He also reduced business taxes, yay, while eliminating the tax exemption on retiree pensions. Then there’s the bill he vetoed after it passed both chambers of the legislature to eliminate gun-free zones. So much for Republicans being 2nd Amendment advocates.

Oh, and then there’s this: he passed a 7.3-cent-per-gallon tax increase in 2015 intended to fund the improvement of Michigan’s beyond abysmal roads and bridges. Where did the money actually go? Certainly not to repair roads, and most Michigan residents have pot hole inflicted wounds to prove it. No, in typical RINO bait and switch fashion the money actually went to fund – ready? – Medicaid and public schools.  So it came as no surprise when Democrat Gretchen Whitmer handily won the November governor’s race on essentially one campaign slogan: “Fix the Damn Roads!” 

So when the pictures of this year’s Main Street Christmas tree on picturesque, car-free Mackinac (pronounced mackinaw) Island were published


it prompted comments along the line that were it anywhere else in Michigan it would be marking a pothole.


So let this serve as a cautionary tale for all those proud “never Trump” Republicans out there: not delivering on what you promised your constituents and blaming everyone else for your failure is how we got Trump in the first place. So if you want more Trump, that’s just fine with us.


We’ll take an alpha dog over an underdog any day of the week.

dog wont take meds

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tinkle Tinkle Little Czars

The party that likes to tout transparency met with President Trump yesterday to discuss funding the border wall and repeatedly called on him to shut down the cameras so they could discuss it in private.

"This is a most unfortunate thing. We came in here in good faith and we’re entering this kind of discussion in the public view.” – Pelosi

How dare he - exposing us to the public this way!? Caught with their pants down, so to speak, as they’ve both been on record as being in favor of a border wall before they were against it. Just not on their watch.

image“If I’d known this was going to be televised I would have had my roots touched up”

And like a true Democrat leader, when all else fails go for the scatological reference first and then remind everyone of how toxic masculinity is.

“It’s like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him, this wall thing.”

So tinkle away, my pretties:youve_been_skunked_magnet-rb1fcd298dcff4c82a86e1a9f8fb6a6bd_x7j3u_8byvr_307

Tinkle, tinkle, little czars
You’re dealing with a superstar
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
So tinkle, tinkle little czars
We don’t need you stinkin’ commissars

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

And the Time “Person” of the Year Is…

Time Magazine is about to announce its “Person of the Year” and the suspense is palpable.

As a reminder, last year’s “person” of the year was #MeToo, whoever that is. This year’s short list of contenders include President Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, special counsel Robert Mueller, Christine Blasey Ford, Jamal Khashoggi, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Meghan Markle, March For Our Lives gun reform activists (Hogg boy), and "Black Panther" screenwriter and director Ryan Coogler - but all the smart money is on the contender designated as  “families separated at the border” (by the evil American President).

separated families

I guess I could go along with the “families separated at the border” designation as long as it includes American families that have been permanently separated.



SteinleParentsSanchez20150708_101352_SJM-STEINLE-07XX-05-1brandon mary mendoza

The Steinle family, the Mendoza family

jamiel shaw jrmollie tibbetsrosenbergpic

the Jamiel Shaw family, the Molly Tibbetts family, the Drew Rosenberg family

root nebraskaand the Sarah Root family

Stolen Lives Quilt TX Gonzalez-countryman-OffJohnson

and a host of other families, too numerous to list, torn apart from their loved ones by the actions of illegal aliens.

Agent Brian Terry1The Brian Terry family

Surely they deserve to be noted by Time magazine as being families separated at the border too.

But we can’t build a wall,

pelosi meme_thumb[1]

because that would be “immoral, ineffective and expensive,” three things that have never stopped a Democrat initiative in the past.

Monday, December 10, 2018

There Will Be No Good News Until Such Time the President Is Impeached

There is no good news. At least not while Donald J. Trump is president. It’s the inverse of the Obama Occupation rule, which prohibited bad news.

And if there is something that might be interpreted as good news it will be ignored, like the blockbuster story about the U.S. transforming into a net oil exporter for the first time in 75 years. The only way you’ll hear about oil boom in the MSM is in connection with Obama taking credit for the solution to the problem he claimed we couldn’t drill our way out of. But I guess he deserves it, after all, oil was his fifth choice - right behind wind, solar, algae and corn.

bo wind solara boy and his algae

“That was me, people.”

Actually, Barack, your alternative energy programs were more a lot more you: a lot of hot air, expensive, foreign built, underperforming units and green slime. Not to mention the cultural appropriation of a native American foodstuff – which has been shown to be as dumb as it looks.


And if MSM can’t ignore it or lie about it, they will take a good news story and turn it into a bad news story:

“Heisman Trophy Winner Apologizes For Tweets He Sent As A Child”


They can’t help themselves anymore, it’s just reflexive.


And they wonder why we hate them.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen: Please Start Your Mixers

Today is Raj’s birthday, and that means only one thing around here: there will be cake. At one time that meant Mom’s Mystery Cake, which was about as simple as a homemade dessert could get and delicious when served with copious amounts of whipped cream. There are many more complicated variations of “fruit cocktail cake” out there but if yours looks more like a traditional cake with identifiable chunks of fruit in it you’re not doing it right. It should be more of an amalgamated pudding like creature.

mystery cake

Mom’s Mystery Cake


    1 (16 ounce) can fruit cocktail in heavy syrup

    1 egg

    1 cup sugar, white

    1 cup flour

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1⁄2 teaspoon salt

    1⁄2 cup chopped nuts

    1⁄2 cup brown sugar


  1. Drain the fruit, beating the juice with the egg till creamy.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Fold in the fruit.
  4. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan. Top with nuts and brown sugar.
  5. Bake for 35 minute at 350.

But I ran across a recipe for an Upside Down Pear Gingerbread cake one year and thought that might be a nice change up since Raj is a big fan of both gingersnaps and pineapple upside down cake. We’ve never looked back. It’s a prelude to the sweet, spicy tastes of Christmas and perfect for an early December birthday. Delectable on its own, it has the added advantage of being even more so when served with those copious amounts of whipped cream. Needless to say we shouldn’t be eating this, but…birthday!

I’d never make it as a millennial as my snapchat food photography skills are sadly lacking. I know I should have dabbed this with a bit of melted apple or apricot glaze before its photo-shoot and placed it on a contrasting color background under a pinpoint light, but the truth is I came to bury Caesar not praise him, so to speak.

jo's upside down pear gingerbread.2jpgI haven’t even begun this year’s cake, this is from a year or so ago.

I’ve discovered any firm pear will work but Boscs seem to make the prettiest whirligigs.  

Pear Upside Down  Gingerbread Cake



3 tbs butter 1/3 c firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 ripe, firm Bosc pears



1 ¼ c flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 large egg

½ c firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/3 c unsulphured molasses (Behr Rabbit dark, preferably, but Grandma’s seems more available)

½ c. milk mixed with 1 tbs white vinegar

4 tbs butter melted




Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides of a 9 inch round cake pan


For topping: melt 3 tbs butter in a small pan, add brown sugar and stir together until blended. Scrape into cake pan and spread evenly.


Peel pears and core. Slice each pear into slices. Arrange slices evenly around the cake pan to resemble a whirligig.


For cake: Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a large bowl. Set aside. Beat egg, brown sugar, molasses, sour milk, 4 tbs melted butter together. Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth.


Spoon batter over pears carefully without disturbing the pattern. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes; place a large plate over the pan and invert onto plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream – although I highly recommend warm. Individual slices can be warmed in a microwave for 10-15 seconds.

When I was growing up the 8th of December was a holy day (feast of the Immaculate Conception, probably the most misunderstood of all the Catholic holy days) as well as the unofficial kickoff of the Christmas cookie making. As we all had the day off from school my mom needed some way to keep us occupied as there was generally not any snow to go play in yet, so we did assembly line cookie making. Today is close enough: I hereby declare December 9th the official kickoff of this year’s national Christmas baking season.

Baking homemade Christmas cookies

In the event your diet or energy level prohibits the real deal, please do so vicariously and post pictures of your virtual creations. And with that, ladies and gentlemen: please start your mixers!

jamie oliver giant kitchen aid