Saturday, August 30, 2008


"He said you're his girlfriend."

I was aghast. First, I hear that I'm working for the C.I.A. and now this. I've got to start wearing nicer clothes for my casual wear.

Back when I was a teen, my mother despaired over my running errands in the island uniform of T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. "You never know whom you're going to run into," she lectured.

Until now, I always thought her concern over my leisure attire was motivated by her desire for me to marry well. Now, I see how clothing can be used as an exclusionary barrier. If I had been dressed up, instead of dressed down, when I encountered him at the convenience store I frequent, that he might have been able to pass himself off as my boyfriend to the store employees shouldn't have ever crossed his mind.

But, then, the idea that I work for the C.I.A. shouldn't have, either. At least, my wearing nicer clothing would have made his lie less believable because of a greater contrast to his dirty-gray T-shirt, jeans, and baseball cap. That he's been gone for several months, arrested for credit card fraud according to the grapevine, and I'm hearing of his lies about me only now gives me pause, "Did they believe him?"

Think about it. Americans are notorious for dressing poorly, but even our casually-attired society in which anything goes has standards that may be construed as uniforms.

Is a young man wearing an oversized T-shirt, baggy pants, and athletic shoes more likely to ride a skateboard or a horse?

Is a woman wearing something tight, low-cut, and short more likely to be advertising her body or her brain?

When you see a couple, is it more likely that their clothing matches in quality or does one member typically wear better clothes than the other?

Yes, appearances can be deceiving. If Adam and Eve hadn't been cast out of Eden, we'd all be naked, having to actually talk to get to know one another instead of making snap judgments based on the pieces of fabric that cover our bodies.

Genesis 2:25. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Road Trip Recipe: Capellini Alfredo ala Burger King

My latest recipe was developed last March in a Los Angeles motel room. I call it, "Capellini Alfredo ala Burger King."


Angel hair pasta, as desired.

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste - use enough to help the next four ingredients stick to the pasta, but not so much that you end up with a puddle of excess oil.

Salt, to taste.

Pepper, to taste.

Granulated garlic, to taste.

Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste - it's better to use a lot and lay it on thick.

1 packet per serving of Ken's Steakhouse Ranch dressing from Burger King - if you don't use all the dressing they give with the salads, it's a great way to use it up instead of throwing it away. Of course, for a family, it's unlikely there will be enough extra dressing for everyone, so you'll have to find a grocery store and buy a bottle.


Boil angel hair pasta to al dente and drain.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil onto pasta and toss.

Sprinkle salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Toss.

Squeeze one packet per serving of Ken's Steakhouse Ranch dressing from Burger King onto still-hot pasta and toss thoroughly.

Serve and enjoy!

NOTE: While this doesn't result in the traditionally thick Alfredo sauce, it certainly is as flavorful and is a wonderful change from whatever else you've been eating while away from home.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Packing List: Laundry

Essential to travel is the issue of laundry. If you're going for longer than a weekend, do you pack light and wash a few things every or every other day in the room's sink or find laundry facilities along the way or use the hotel's laundry service? Or, do you pack heavy intending to return with a suitcase full of dirty clothes?

With airlines charging for checked luggage that used to fly free, and with Delta doubling the fee for the second checked bag from $25 to $50 last month, more air travelers are seeing the wisdom of packing light.

For road trippers, packing light makes it easier to haul everything to your room upstairs especially in large cities where cars are broken into for a pair of skates and a Bible or for dirty laundry on the back seat.

Here's what I pack for my laundry needs:

1. Flat rubber sink stopper. Not all sinks have working stoppers and the plastic stoppers I tried didn't seal leaking plugs. Does double-duty as a jar opener.

2. Detergent. Biodegradable Camp Soap by AGS Labs is gentle and doubles as body wash and shampoo.

3. Flexo-Line travel clothesline. This the best travel clothesline I've ever used and the only kind I've used since I gave up on the others over 15 years ago. Elastic clotheslines don't handle much weight, sag too much, and lose their elasticity too soon for me. Their suction cups don't hold reliably. Neither do those that have two twisted lines that are supposed to hold wet clothing but don't. Flexo-Line's three-strand, braided, rubber tubing is lightweight, packs small, and holds up to 12 lbs. of wet laundry securely without clothes pins.

4. Something to hold the other end of the Flexo-Line. If the bathroom door knob isn't feasible, you have to get creative. Here are some that I like:

a. My power suction hook has never failed me on smooth tub walls or tiles. It has a hook that folds down over a stiff cover to lock the suction cup in place, like a Snap Hook. Hooks with regular suction cups aren't reliable.

b. A climber's carabiner works with fixtures such as towel bars and does double duty as a theft deterrent device when clipped to your bag and the overhead rack on trains and other public transportation where snatch and run thieves prey.

c. A cheap stick pen is probably the smallest, lightest, and simplest. Just wrap the end of the Flexo-Line around anything stationary and stick the pen through to hold it. Zounds! It might actually double as a pen for your travel journal when not being used to hold your clothesline.

5. Bumps-B-Gone hanger(s). I pack one or two in a carry-on bag for air travel and the whole set of four for extended road trips. Rooms don't usually have enough hangers anyway, and many can't be used anywhere other than with the rod for which they were designed. Regular plastic or plastic-coated hangers leave unsightly bumps in the shoulders. Inflatable hangers are a waste of money because they don't support much wet weight and leak after a few uses. A Bumps-B-Gone hanger can be formed for whatever you want to hang on it, then straightened and laid on the bottom along the long side of a carry-on bag where it doesn't take up much room or folded in half if that works better for you.

6. Plastic pants/skirt hanger or a plastic hanger with clips to hang pants or a skirt (optional - I like to take them on road trips). Many motels have an iron and ironing board in the room or you may borrow them from the front desk, but it may be easier to steam out wrinkles while you take a hot shower when you have your own pants or skirt hanger with you. Otherwise, set up the Flexo-Line over the tub and stick a couple of places of the waistband through to let the wrinkles fall out after your shower. Also provides (an) extra hanger(s) when in rooms that don't have enough.

7. Travel hair dryer. This may be optional because several hotel and motel chains provide a hair dryer as an amenity. Frankly, I forgot to take mine on my last road trip and never missed it. A hair dryer also helps get rid of the last bit of dampness when you're in a hurry to wear something although sunshine and your body heat will take care of that soon enough during warm weather.

8. A small spray bottle (optional). Spray plain water on isolated wrinkles or set-in creases, hang, and let air-dry or use a hair dryer. I tried Downy Wrinkle Releaser during my last road trip and was disappointed because it did not perform any better than spraying with plain water. Also useful alone or with a hair dryer for sprucing up hat hair or a bedhead.

9. Woolite Gentle Care Drying Rack (optional). I use this for air-drying sweaters and other dry-flat articles on extended road trips during cool weather.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Working for the C.I.A.

On Saturday, I was told that a man figured out that I work for the C.I.A.

"WHAT?!" was my near-shrieked response. "Where did he get THAT from?"

"He said it's because you keep clothes in your car top carrier. He said you do it so you can make a quick getaway if you have to. I've been meaning to tell you about it, but I kept forgetting until now."

I laughed and she did too, because we both know what a big fat liar he is even without this huge whopper.

"For the record," I said, "No, I don't work for the C.I.A. and never did and no, I don't store clothes in my car top carrier."

Maybe this is a signal that it's time for me to redo my packing list. I thought about it before, but hadn't actually started working on it. For years, I traveled at every opportunity, usually taking a few vacation days to pad a three-day weekend to get enough for a short trip without feeling rushed. I gradually accumulated things to keep in my bag so all I had to pack were my camera, clothes, makeup, and medicine, if needed.

Generally, I took only a carry-on and my camera bag. The exception was Hawaii because it's home. For those trips, I packed a suitcase into another so I'd have one checked bag going and two checked bags coming back full of gifts and goodies I missed and couldn't get in fly-over country where I live.

For road trips, I added a six-pack cooler for my film, another for canned drinks, a battery recharger, and a sack of canned meats, vegetables, crackers, and soups to help keep my expenses down.

Over the years, my situation changed along with what I took. As a result, when I packed for my last road trip, I had too much of some and none or too little of others requiring me to buy stuff on the road or do without.

I also bought things because what I had wasn't working for me as well as I envisioned or simply because they looked kewl and I wanted to try them. It's a good idea for me to sort through everything, regroup, and pack what I can to be ready for my next trip like I used to do.

I plan to post my packing list in sections as I go through them. Maybe my rambling through my packing list will help you plan for what you should take on your travels in the future. If not, oh, well!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Canadian Brass

If you're not familiar with the Canadian Brass, it is a brass quintet that does classical, pop, and jazz, mostly classical, mostly Baroque. I have some of their CDs and have had the pleasure of seeing them in concert. They're funny and put on a great show.

Here are a few links:

Bach's Toccata & Fugue (these guys are good!):

Jazzy version of Bach's Fugue No. 2 (kewl!):

Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee (funny):

Pachelbel's Canon in D (funnier):

Official website:

If you ever get the chance to see them live, go.