The Trailing of the Sheep

Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 17•14

Here’s looking at ewe.

Last weekend was the “Trailing of the Sheep Festival,” a charming Wood River Valley event that brings animals, locals, and tourists together. It is an annual ritual that commemorates an important history of wool and lamb production. Each autumn, the sheep leave their northern grazing lands for lower, warmer elevations. In the small towns in a narrow valley, this trailing can cause unexpected congestion on Main Street. Or, if integrated as it is with the resort community interest in tourism and historic events, it becomes a popular festival.


Highlanders with sheep covered bagpipes.

Peruvian musicians on Main Street.

Peruvian musicians on Main Street.

This year, commemorating 150 years of this migration, the theme was “Celebrating Generation,” marking its eighteenth year.  The festival has continually gained popularity since the festival was profiled fifteen years ago on CBS “On the Road with Charles Kuralt.”


Man of the cloth leading his flock.

Over four days, including the colorful parade through Ketchum, almost everyone gets into the act: sheep shearing demos, herding dog trials, presentations on regional history, displays and demonstrations of fabric arts, quilt shows, music, and market specials on lamb in various cuts. Valley restaurants rack up the lamb for specials of many varieties, and chefs–and we have an abundance of cooking talent in the valley–show off their talents. If breakfast is your only meal out, ask for the lamb bacon. Most businesses find some way to connect with the sheep theme at this special time.


Main Street in Ketchum.

The parade is a wonder of sights and sounds and color including Basque dancers, Polish Highlanders and vintage wagons, all packed into the narrow Main Street of Ketchum. Etiquette requires leaving family dogs at home for good reason.

Rules also caution humans against thinking this is the running of the bulls and jumping into the flock. This agglomeration of furry animals is just modestly under control of the horse mounted shepherds and the herding dogs which is evidenced in the leaping and fast pace of the sheep as they pass. The residue left behind is a major cleanup for the city.


The wooly river on Warms Springs Road.

One year, on a side street, we found ourselves suddenly surrounded by hundreds of sheep. We were adrift in the wooly river for minutes and the photo opportunity balanced the fear of sharing our space with what appeared to be very confused sheep.

Yes, this is a charming, memorable period in the sunny, yet cooling early autumn, but as with any soft story, there are some sharp edges. Around the table we discuss the fact that these sheep and their owners enjoy privilege in this state with access to public lands for grazing.  Ironically,  the “Trailing of the Sheep Festival” occurs each year around Columbus Day, a holiday celebrating the explorer who introduced sheep into this land of indigenous wolves.

Frequently, the ranchers blame the now-reclaimed wolf packs for predation on the herds, often exaggerating the volume of kills and risk to this part of the agriculture industry. It doesn’t matter that sheep in wolf habitat is a perfect predator to prey environment, or that there are coyote predators, or even that the real ultimate predator is the human rejoicing in the lamb concoctions at various restaurants. The wolf as usual is the plague and all of this plays into the mantra in Idaho.

Idaho, the unlikely State for this lovely valley, is a place that has very clear priorities and is damn proud of it. The Governor and most of the men in the legislature sport big cowboy hats in official photos, red neckties, and cowboy boots. This is an outfit that seems to speak of family values, ranching, opposition to same-sex marriage, and a form of conservatism that has brought funding for public schools to the lowest per-student in all fifty states.

The hat and the ranching theme also signal a priority for wolf-killing season to be year-around. It is a terrible irony that along with the announcement that public education funding was in the tank, the Governor proudly announced he and legislature had found $500,000 to hire consultants to kill wolves, including a paid sniper in a helicopter who shot seven wolves in the Frank Church wilderness area. Shall we review the definition of the word wilderness?

Save the WolfThis is a strange state of affairs. So it is, at this time of a charming community festival, we also took a hike wearing our Save the Wolf t-shirts.

Bless You, St. Francis

Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 13•14
SophieBlue with Reverend Dave

SophieBlue with Reverend Dave 2003.

Sunday, October 5th, we drove our Huskies to St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum for the annual “Blessing of the animals.” We have made a tradition to attend this event as we find it a beautiful witness for any church. More important, we find our pets love the attention, and the pomp and ceremony of the day. Our dear departed husky Sophie Blue Wolf decided this her favorite faith-based day. She loved the Episcopal Church in our Seattle neighborhood and settled in for a sermon that preceded the blessing. She enjoyed the church, perhaps the volume of the room, the parishioners, and always the music.Sun Valley is also a good place for this day of animal blessing. The Wood River Valley is pet-friendly, the home base for the introduction into this country of the popular Labrador retriever. It is a puppy paradise for playing and running the trails along the Big Wood River and its many streams. This is a place of happy humans and happy pets. The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley is a model for any in this country and it receives much support from the community. Shelter volunteers and pets were present at the blessing, and several of the pets were adopted at the ceremony.

Blessing Django and his knee surgery 2014.

Blessing Django and his knee surgery 2014.

It was a good day for our dear Django Skyy Blue to get out and to enjoy the human interaction so important for him. He was completing the first week of recovery from a TLPO surgery to repair an ACL tear on his left hind knee. Little sister Mascoutah Blue loves a gathering–always thinking it must be for her–and an intent man of God chased away her demons while she was sniffing his pockets for treats. The occasion was held outside on a beautiful day and the dogs, a few cats, two donkeys, and a turtle lined up for a serious and touching blessing.

Chasing away Mascoutah's demons

Chasing away Mascoutah’s demons 2014. Photo courtesy Leslee and Russ.

Enjoying the day, the community of humans and pets, the simple elegance of the blessing and good cheer, we were motivated to reflect upon this man, St. Francis, and wonder at his love of all animals in the grace of the God he worshipped. A 13th Century Italian Catholic, St. Francis left a secure, privileged family to follow his faith with a passionate concern for the poor that evolved over a number of years into his personal intense spirituality.

Perhaps it was this empathy for suffering around him that extended to animals and the natural environment. He was an original “talk to the animals” guy, including a gem of folklore that witnesses his sermon to a flock of birds, perhaps A Gathering of Starlings. Thus, we see artist portrayals of this saint so often with a bird in hand. Within the folklore surrounding his sainthood, there is the dramatic story of the marauding wolf of the village Gubbio that Francis confronted and converted, bringing the wild animal together with village residents in an affirmation of mutual consideration and understanding. This is such a grand story that we will revisit it in another posting.

St. Francis and his sermon to the birds.  Photo courtesy Lawrence OP.

St. Francis and his sermon to the birds. Photo courtesy Lawrence OP.

Francis of Assisi was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory IX in 1228, often thereafter referred to as the patron saint of animals and the environment. We cannot think of a much better reason for any church to elevate a believer to sainthood. As we are sure our Huskies would howl, “Bless You St. Francis.”

An Infinity of Nothings

Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 08•14

We often spin off versions of the group phrase A Pride of Lions. Who doesn’t? This time honored phrase makes so much sense, imagining a regal group of lions that we all can see. But, we had no idea of the origin of this phrase until recently rediscovering a fine book on the subject that was on a reading list for a college language course, a class that also included several weeks of attempting to learn Esperanto.

Exalt book cover

Cover of the 1968 edition.

An Exaltation of Larks–The Venereal Game by James Lipton will get your attention. It is a good book, one that can be read easily on a late summer day in the mountains. We learned plenty, sitting out on a lovely day, breathing mountain air and watching our Huskies rest in the back yard. Published in 1968, it does a lot to further the thesis that the English language is a literary power with many subtleties and much richness.

Yes, this is the James Lipton, son of the esteemed American poet, and a man of many talents. He is an author, playwright, actor, lyricist, equestrian, pilot, and might even deliver the mail. He served as dean of the famous Actor’s Studio in New York, and still produces and hosts Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio. Lipton also recently revealed that in the 1950s, he procured prostitutes in Paris. A Profusion of Professions?

The Colonel’s sketch of James Lipton, circa 1968.

Lipton’s book and these phrases add immensely to literature and culture. In this inspired piece of writing, the wonderful An Exaltation of Larks linked with the much more mundane A School of Fish (which is explained in its context). In addition, the book offers the explanation for these phrases starting in the sixteenth century in England, with such as A Shrewdness of Apes and A Cowardice of Curs.

This form has variously been referenced as “nouns of multitude,” or “nouns of assembly,” sometimes as “collective nouns.” According to this book, the terms have been used in literary form and common language for hundreds of years.

As an academic and man of letters, Lipton became fascinated with these collective nouns that led to this book and answers the query–what makes these phrases venereal? One thinks of venereal, from the root venery, to refer to love or lust, if there is a distinction. No, explains Lipton, the root is really the Latin ven as used in venari, meaning to hunt game. Thus, we find so many of these phrases relating to game animals, which Lipton breaks down into six families and lists on page 9.

  1. Onomatropoeia: for example, A Murmuration of Starlings, A Gaggle of Geese.
  2. Characteristic: A Leap of Frogs, A Skulk of Foxes. This is by far the largest family.
  3. Appearance: A Knot of Toads, A Bouquet of Pheasants.
  4. Habitat: A Shoal of Bass, A Nest of Rabbits.
  5. Comment: (pro or con, reflecting the observer’s point of view) A Richness of Martens, A Cowardice of Curs.
  6. Error: (resulting from an incorrect transcription by a scribe or printer, faithfully preserved in the corrupted form by subsequent compilers) A School of Fish, originally ‘shoal.’

After clarifying this centuries-old background to this trip of language, Lipton then introduces the additional human categories that evolved, including A Band of Men (think A Band of Brothers), A Bevy of Beauties (with a fine interpretation), and A Slate of Candidates, the latter to get us into the rich vein of politics and politicians, whether we want to or not. Lipton goes on to explain and embellish some of the most commonly used phrases and some of the most lavish with his personal take, while adding a few he manufactured just for the book.

The list that follows consists of the terms of venery that I have coined or encountered since I first began unearthing these shards of poetry and truth. I hasten to acknowledge that some of the terms are not mine. As I played the venereal game, like Tom Sawyer whitewashing his fence, I found that spectators didn’t stay spectators long. If you should feel the urge, there are more brushes in the pail.” (p. 93)

Lipton lays out some fine new collectives, such as An Escheat of Lawyers, An Odium of Politicians, and An Unction of Undertakers. He inspires us to join in the fun of whitewashing the fence.

Illustrations include works of European artists Granville, Durer and others unsigned.

Granted, some of these collective nouns are odd, such as A Murder of Crows, A Skulk of Foxes, or A Labor of Mules, but what could be more illustrative than A Bouquet of Pheasants? An endangered species today, the old French A Route of Wolves referred not to their rough journey, but to the French word for a troop. Living part-time in Idaho, we can update this with a more current An Endangerment of Wolves, A Political Execution of Wolves, or, well, we could go on and on. No whitewash here, just the sad truth.

Some good ones have weathered well through the centuries: An Impatience of Wives; A Draught of Bottlers; A Drift of Fishermen. An Illusion of Painters would be difficult to improve upon. However, some rise up to strike the sensibilities, such as An Eloquence of Lawyers. What might have been instructive in early history will not work with our prejudice in the now: hence, An Overpayment of Lawyers should be added to the mix. The 16th century A Cry of Players has some distant, lost meaning. In deference to Lipton and his theater work, we might suggest a contemporary A Studio of Players.

Sitting at the patio table, we began to think of more contemporary phrases, just as Lipton did in his seminal work. A Parliament of Owls is lovely; speaking to the wisdom of these birds, but conversely seems much too elegant a descriptor of our current mess of elected officials who act more like a scrum of mud wrestlers. So we suggest A Recess of Congressmen.

To extend the conversation and underscore how entertaining this can be, consider the contemporary:

An Aspiration of Bloggers

An Embarrassment of Selfies

A Ho-Hum of Social Media

 Perhaps we can continue to work on this list. Tipsy Table invites suggestions to the cause. As Lipton said, “…there are more brushes in the pail.”

The Curious Case of The Hokey Pokey

Written By: Tipsy Table - Sep• 29•14

For a period of time, a favorite joke at Tipsy Table concerned The Hokey Pokey and we would send it along to friends on their birthdays as it is a good, clean joke and appropriate for most ages.

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote ‘The Hokey Pokey’ died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin.

They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

Left or right, much controversy surrounds the origins of The Hokey Pokey. It’s a fractured history with facts in and out, lawsuits, and a dance floor of folks, and even nations, taking credit for The Hokey Pokey. Music historians have documented versions in Denmark, Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand, and United Kingdom’s Jimmy Kennedy, author of another perennial children’s favorite “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” copyrighted The Hokey-Cokey in 1942. Some versions of the lyrics date back to the 17th century,

Addicted Hokey PokeyMotivational speakers have used The Hokey Pokey as a metaphor for developing life goals. A bumper sticker and even Jimmy Buffet asks the question on his album Far Side of the World, “What if the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about.” Etymologists study the title’s meaning—is it a reference to hocus-pocus? Does cokey relate to cocaine, or the Canadian slang for “crazy.” Or was hokey-pokey just slang for ice cream?

What we do know is that Larry LaPrise is a real person who was awarded the US copyright to “Do the Hokey Pokey” in 1950. Wikipedia states that LaPrise sold the rights to Roy Acuff’s music publishing company Acuff-Rose, which in 2002 was sold to Sony/ATV Music Publishing.We also know that Ray Anthony released a version of “The Hokey Pokey” on the B side of “Bunny Hop.”

To Tipsy Table’s LaPrise surprise, Larry apparently created the dance at The Sun Valley Lodge, just up the road from our Hailey, Idaho home. Larry worked at the Ketchum Post Office, and later moved to Gooding, Idaho where he died at age 82, not 93 as in the joke.

Hhokey pokey risizeIncluded in the book Sun Valley, An Extraordinary History by Wendolyn Spence Holland, is this photo on page 271.

Yes, although not tippling the last time we shook The Hokey Pokey at age five, we agree it is a dance that most likely lends more fun when alcohol is involved. We are fairly certain most remember how to dance The Hokey Pokey, but we found this detailed description in the Wikipedia entry almost as entertaining, and as long as, the dance itself:

The dance follows the instructions given in the lyrics of the song, which may be prompted by a bandleader, a participant, or a recording. A sample instruction set would be:

You put your [right leg] in, You put your [right leg] out; You put your [right leg] in, And you shake it all about. You do the hokey pokey, And you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about!

Participants stand in a circle. On “in” they put the appropriate body part in the circle, and on “out” they put it out of the circle. On “And you shake it all about”, the body part is shaken three times (on “shake”, “all”, and “-bout”, respectively). Throughout “You do the hokey pokey, / And you turn yourself around”, the participants spin in a complete circle with the arms raised at 90° angles and the index fingers pointed up, shaking their arms up and down and their hips side to side seven times (on “do”, “hoke-“, “poke-“, “and”, “turn”, “-self”, and “-round” respectively). For the final “That’s what it’s all about”, the participants clap with their hands out once on “that’s” and “what” each, clap under the knee with the leg lifted up on “all”, clap behind the back on “a-“, and finally one more clap with the arms out on “-bout”.

THokey Pokey SV triohe body parts usually included are, in order, “right leg”, “left leg”, “right arm”, “left arm”, “head”, “buttocks, “backside”, and “whole self”; the body parts “right elbow”, “left elbow”, “right hip”, and “left hip” are often included as well.

The final verse goes:

You do the hokey pokey, The hokey pokey, The hokey pokey. That’s what it’s all about!

On each “pokey”, the participants again raise the arms at 90° angles with the index fingers pointed up, shaking their arms up and down and their hips side to side five times.

As mentioned at the beginning of this ramble, we would send the joke to friends on their birthdays. This wonderful and apt response came from our dear friend, The Barrister of Southern Illinois, in late 2008 when the US economy began to collapse and shook the country, and then the world, into The Great Recession.

The same thing happened in the financial industry.  They put the high risk in, and the subprime loan in and the subprime loan rate recalculation triggers in and the depreciating real estate market in and the resultant packaged debt securities in and the negative savings rate of the entire population in and the national debt in and the depreciating dollar in and the cyclical economic downturn in and the lack of transparency in and they shook it all around and that’s what it’s all about–financial hokey pokey.  Or is that financial hocus pocus?

As the joke goes…”and then the trouble started.”

HP what its all about

A Mighty Roar for the “Mai Tai Roa Ae!”

Written By: Tipsy Table - Sep• 27•14
Trader Vic's Closing Night June 21, 1991

Trader Vic’s Closing Night June 21, 1991

Most of us keep fond memories of grand openings of one kind or another, and we have a few. Conversely, we were remembering a sad closing, that of the Trader Vic’s restaurant in Seattle on June 21, 1991. Although, a special closing event was held the following night for city celebs and officials who had haunted the place, this Friday night was the last occasion of business as usual. It happened on short notice with little hoopla, simply a final night in a very popular local place. Friends called to inform us of this occasion and we met them after work, somehow finding a booth near the entry. Word spread and the place was full. We ordered drinks and plates of the faux pupus that this fascinating specialty restaurant had fashioned as an early example of fusian cuisine.

TV diffuse glow

Trader Vic’s shakers

With friends we spent this summer solstice, the longest day of the year, in the darkest bar in Seattle. We all enjoyed this final night at our admired restaurant, and looking back we much appreciate the opportunity we had to say goodbye. Our Trader Vic’s Tiki salt and pepper shakers are among our most treasured collectibles.

Trader Vic’s started as Hinky Dink’s in Oakland in 1934, changing its name to Trader Vic’s several years later, a name suggested by Victor’s wife because of his ability to trade and cut deals. In 1941, Herb Caen, journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle , wrote in his popular column that “the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland.” This restaurant, which helped to start the faux South Sea Island tiki-themed craze in this country, gained early popularity and soon branched out to other cities.

According to Wikipedia: In Māori mythology, Tiki is the first man, created by either Tūmatauenga or Tāne. He found the first woman, Marikoriko, in a pond; she seduced him and he became the father of Hine-kau-ataata. By extension, a tiki is a large wooden carving in humanoid form, although this is a somewhat archaic usage in the Māori language. Carvings similar to tikis are found in most Central Eastern Polynesian cultures. They often serve to mark the boundaries of sacred or significant sites.

Trader Vic’s website lists its second venue opened 1940 in Seattle. Local articles refer to the restaurant opening in Seattle in 1948, and we do know there were several locations in this first franchise city. The final spot, and most popular, was the large and dramatic venue at the base of the new Westin Hotel tower that opened in 1969, that being the place we helped close.

Mai Tai ToastIn our recollections of this great restaurant and its imaginative contributions to food and drink, it came to our attention that Friday, September 26, 2014 was the 70th anniversary of Victor Bergeron’s creation of the famous Mai Tai® cocktail.

Victor says of this invention, that it was thrown together quickly and had instant approval.

Let’s get the record straight…I originated the Mai Tai.

In 1944, after success with several exotic rum drinks, I felt a new drink was needed. I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of 17-year old Jamaican J. Wray Nephew rum, added fresh lime, some Orange Curacao from Holland, a dash of Rock Candy syrup, and a dollop of French Orgeat, for its subtle flavor. A generous amount of shaved ice and vigorous shaking by hand produced the marriage I was after.

Half the lime shell went in for color … I stuck in a branch of fresh mint and gave two of them to Ham and Carrie Guild, friends from Taihiti, who were there that night.

Carrie took one sip and said, “Mai Tai – Roa Ae.” In Tahitian this means “Out of this World – The Best”. Well, that was that. I named the drink “Mai Tai.”

Victor Bergeron

Later Victor exported the drink to Hawaii, where it found an enthusiastic home that helped it take off as a global cocktail. Though concocted in Oakland, the drink seemed as Polynesian authentic as trade winds and surf. We recall that, even a pre-mixed attempt in a plastic glass, the drink added greatly to the experience of a flight to Honolulu. By the 1960s, this syrupy drink was among the most popular specialty cocktails in the world. Trader Vic’s website boasts that even now, more than two million Mai Tais® are sold annually at their venues still operating in this and other countries. The company makes it easy to get the ingredients for their original recipe for this drink at the following link:Mai Tai

We at Tipsy Table join the world in saluting the mighty Mai Tai®, the popular drink built by Vic in his place in Oakland in 1944 and trademarked as “Paradise in a Glass®.” An upcoming post will be our recollection of another Trader Vic’s iconic invention, but for now, although a day late, we passionately raise a glass to the Mai Tai ®, with the original toast “Mai Tai – Roa Ae”.



Would you like a Spoon or Pitchfork with that Cake?

Written By: Tipsy Table - Sep• 26•14

So how about this latest in bizarre chain restaurant assaults–the great cake imbroglio at a KFC just north of where we live in Seattle.

The Seattle Times, by John De Leon, September 16, 2014:

Working in fast food is no cakewalk.

In fact, sometimes it can be a downright cakefight.

Case in point:

On Saturday, Seattle police Officer Nic Abts-Olsen responded to reports of an assault at the KFC in the 13200 block of Aurora Avenue North. The weapon of choice: Cake.

Lemon cake, to be exact. But more on that shortly.

As Abts-Olsen and his partner Cliff Borjeson rolled to the scene, details of the attack trickled in from dispatchers: “Unknown male was throwing cake at employees.” Followed by the ominous: “They can no longer sell the cake.”

Employees told the two officers that a man walked into the store, threw a KFC-brand cake at them and then left.

Fortunately, the man’s aim was off.

Staff at the KFC were only able to provide a vague description of the man.

But they offered a much more vivid description of his weapon: “The cake was described as a lemon cake, yellow in color and circular and costs exactly $5.19,” Officer Abts-Olsen wrote in a report.

Read it here:

We do not hang out at KFC, though we have plenty of them all around. It came as a surprise that a chicken place offered lemon cake, though we were not as surprised that a Seattle citizen would consider this sweet dessert a weapon.

KFC Lemon Cake, similar to the alleged weapon

Again, this caused considerable discussion around the table and we have surmised that if that cake were old and hard, it might make for a better weapon than an old, rusty, unwieldy pitchfork. Seattle residents are known to be weenies, dilettantes, and pacifists (with the occasional socialist) who do not understand that the second amendment is a book of the Bible. A high proportion of Seattleites actually believe in, and have voted for, gun control and probably would not be comfortable in a Waffle House bristling with firearms, or pitchforks, and smelling of grease. So it is that the lemon cake fracas makes sense in cultural geography.

KFC cake courtesy whiskmeaway

Homemade KFC cake (yes, real and edible) photo courtesy whiskmeaway

Checking online we find this mighty fine-looking KFC cake. Now this is a real weapon that could do damage, especially to your heart.

We are now planning a journey north for some bad coffee and to search for some crumbs of the alleged KFC lemon cake weapon that we can offer on Ebay.

Annie Get Your Pitchfork

Written By: Tipsy Table - Sep• 18•14

News this year carried some strange stories of food service attacks.

This from M. Alex Johnson, NBC News:

Man Robs Southern Diner — With a Pitchfork

Waffle House robber

Surveillance camera photo

At first glance, there was nothing particularly noteworthy about the robbery Thursday of a restaurant in suburban Atlanta.

An armed man made off with the cash register, scuffled with employees and sped off down the road. Police are still looking for him.

Did we mention he was armed? Because he was armed.

With a pitchfork.

Did we mention this was Georgia?

It all started around 5 p.m. ET Thursday at a Waffle House in Norcross, a northeastern suburb of Atlanta, when a portly man wearing overalls and a blue ski mask walked in.

The suspect was armed with a pitchfork,” Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers said matter-of-factly Friday. Security camera video confirms that, indeed, the robber was armed with a pitchfork — a wood-handled pitchfork with three metal prongs.

The man “herded the employees into the stockroom with the pitchfork” and tried to open the cash register, Summers said, but he wasn’t able to crack it open, “so he picked up the cash register and left with it.”

You can read the story here:

The strange incident did not end well for the perp who lost his weapon which was picked up by Waffle House employees who chased him with it, hit him with it, and then smashed the back window of his van with it. Police found the van a few blocks away, but were still looking for the cash register and the robber who they said would be “easy to spot as he’ll have unusual injuries to his face and the back of his head.”

It was not a good day for a pitchfork robbery. Nor was it a good day for Georgia. Recall that this is a state where it is virtually unconstitutional to rob with anything but a firearm, preferably a military assault rifle.

In April of 2013, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the state’s “Safe Carry Protection Act,” popularly titled the “guns everywhere bill.” This piece of progressive legislation was boasted as a protection for gun owners, who, we guess, need some kind of protection and seem assured it is a constitutional right of utmost importance. This informed legislation allows for Georgia citizens and those of some 28 other states to pack heat into bars, government buildings, schools, churches, and probably a Waffle House, with minimum restrictions.

So, what? You ask. C’mon now, folks, if Georgia law defines the right to have a gun anywhere, why the heck does this guy need a pitchfork in a Waffle House when a huge automatic weapon would be so much sweeter. He could have blown all the waffles off the grill, then have blown open the safe, and maybe smoked a few minimum wage employees, before taking off with the money. That is what the constitution is all about. Pitchfork? Forget it.

American Gothic Iowa State Fair

2014 Iowa State Fair photo courtesy Carol VanHook

This got us to talking around the table about the difference between a pitchfork and a hay fork. So you know, a pitchfork has three tines for pitching bundles of oats up for stacking, whereas hay forks have four tines for gathering and loading hay into the back of a wagon. So then we jumped to Grant Wood’s painting, American Gothic. The iconic farmer is holding a pitchfork. Thankfully the Waffle House robber was not wielding the pitchfork in the wonderful J. Seward Johnson sculpture based upon American Gothic. This sculpture is 25 feet tall, weighs 30,000 pounds and travels from New York to Florida and Chicago, perhaps in search of Waffle Houses. This year the sculpture welcomed visitors to the Iowa State Fair (and home state of Grant Wood). Sadly for this Iowa farm couple there are no Waffle Houses in Des Moines.

Click here for a fascinating article on American Gothic.

Our discussion finally landed on Waffle Houses. We know of these colorful, happy places though we do not have them anywhere near our home.   Checking online we found there are no Waffle Houses in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, or Montana, for some reason of franchise strategy. Arizona has many Waffle Houses–probably the closest to our residence–but that seemed too far to go to celebrate with sugar and carbohydrates, but hold the bacon. We wanted to do this, not that we think a pitchfork assault is something to celebrate, but because the Waffle House reminds us of one of our favorite movies—Tin Cup. Roy, the erratic golfer who makes the sport attractive to those of us who question the game, finds any Waffle House his kind of place, a refuge from his own instincts to make the wrong decision. After his spectacular and bizarre performance hitting the golf ball out the bar door and across a pond to dislodge a bird from its perch, Roy thinks the gang should repair to the nearest Waffle House. Molly, the beautiful lady friend, suggests they might elevate the occasion.

5505010303_a2c5fc5cd5_zMolly: I’ve got money from the bet. Let’s go somewhere fancy and celebrate.

Roy: There’s nothing to celebrate. Besides, these are my people. I’m a Waffle House guy. Got to stay in touch with that.

We have not had our Waffle House fix, but we will when we are in their neighborhood. We will be packing neither a gun nor a pitchfork.

Next up in strange food stories…pitch forks to pitched cakes.

A Museum for Helixophiles.

Written By: Tipsy Table - Sep• 12•14

Who knew?  A person who collects corkscrews is a helixophile. And the perfect destination for helixophiles is The Corkscrew Museum at the Corkscrew Inn Bed & Breakfast in Vancouver, B.C.

With a theme of corkscrews, we are now anxious to journey north across the border to check out this unique destination. From the museum website:

Our inn is a carefully restored 1912 Craftsman style home, a showcase of stained glass artistry, and a museum of antique objects related to the making and enjoyment of wine. We designed the Corkscrew Inn to be the type of place we like to stay when we’re away – comfortable, luxurious, and full of interesting things.

Mother of Pearl

A ladies’ gold and mother of pearl pocket corkscrew made in France in the mid 19th century.



An English corkscrew from about 1885.

An English corkscrew from about 1885.


This place has not only a corkscrew museum collection, but also a wine collection. It beckons to us as we contemplate the new Find My Corkscrew app.




An App for That

Written By: Tipsy Table - Sep• 10•14

Finally graduating to smart phones, we were surprised at all of the functions available, some of them useful to business or social engagement. We found thousands of applications for any variety of activities, many seemingly exercises in digital legerdemain. There are so many it is more than frustrating. The abundance actually makes one sad, the way thinking of how many sunny beaches there are that we will never experience, or incredible mixed drinks we will not prepare. But, we have found a few that we use and like.

One favorite is SHAZAM which, when the phone is held up to the speaker of music playing, will identify the band or singer.  A lounge of singers crave to sound like Chairman Sinatra or Peggy Lee and a few come close and keep us guessing. Or, we hear another cover from The Great American Songbook that is pretty good, or we just cannot recall a one-hit-wonder band from the 70s. We dial up SHAZAM and it gives us the background on the singer or band, the lyrics, and more. It is a great app and it is free. This started us wondering about an app we really need and have not yet found.

We agreed that we would immediately download the “Find My Corkscrew” app. We spend more time than we would like looking for this essential tool. It seems we will have continuing difficulty finding a consistent place for it in our crowded cabinet drawers. If you have have ever needed a corkscrew, you know how important it is to have one at the ready.

Now, the corkscrew has a long history, dating at least to the 17th century. It was a tool of necessity as beverages in bottles began to use compression stoppers. Historians think the tool is an English invention, and there is documentation from 1795 of a patent being granted to one Reverend Samuell Henshall in that country for an improvement to the basic tool that added a disk between the worm and the shank. Though a simple pointed helix shape with some kind of handle for leverage, over time the pullers have taken on various forms.

T handle

The basic pull

We still have several of the basic pulls, including those that have a removable part of the T handle that becomes a sleeve for the “worm” or helix. These are inexpensive and lightweight and useful in a picnic basket or camper van. We have found that they can be difficult with a stubborn cork and will break.

Other popular pulls add some lever arms for more power to the pull.

Angel Wing

The angel corkscrew

This improvement is sturdy, efficient, and uses less energy. Most of us have used this version, which gained popularity in the 1940s. It is variously called a butterfly or angel corkscrew. As one twists the worm into the cork, the levers rise. Pulling down the levers in turn pulls out the cork. The top is often shaped as a bottle opener for additional utility. If there is a downside to this beauty, it is the size and weight that can take up room in the drawer.

Ah So

The ah-so

One step in the evolution we do not understand, and that is the twin prong puller, sometimes called for  a butler’s friend or an “ah-so.” We have not found it friendly. The idea for this version is to gently ease the prongs between the cork and neck of the bottle and to twist out the cork. This tool has the advertised advantage of not only taking out a cork, but to re-insert it, if one finds that an advantage, but what crazy fool has leftover wine? We’ve watched the YouTube ™ videos and still don’t get it, so it’s No-Ah-So for us as we have never found this useful to remove a cork.


The sommelier knife

For the server or serious wine aficionado, the sommelier knife is a must. This compact tool is total utility and a must for the kitchen, van, or cooking apron pocket. German Karl Wienke patented this variation in 1882. It is light and strong and almost foolproof, incorporating all the necessary components into a pocket knife form. It will have a small knife blade at one end to cut the foil wrap on the bottle neck, the worm to grip the cork, and a lever arm that fits the lip of the bottle to assist cork removal. Some of the more advanced versions of this pull incorporate a two-step lever arm for ease of pulling at the start and as the cork emerges. Our current and daily favorite is just such a tool, employing articulation in the two-step arm that makes it even easier to use. It also offers us a built in bottle opener.

Our only remaining problem, to get back to the purpose of this rambling, is that we have to find this little jewel in order to use it. It is not likely that we will agree where to store it and, easily lost in a drawer, we need a signal of its whereabouts. Thus, the call for the new app “Find My Corkscrew.” It is possible, among the thousands of apps that pursue us, there is something of this kind. If not, there should be and some young techie might work on this during lunch hour at some upscale café or with takeout from Whole Foods™. The software and hardware should not be daunting. If the algorithm is generic, perhaps there could be additional apps such as “Find The Mate to My Sock.”  This is just a thought.






A Hiccup in Justice

Written By: Tipsy Table - Sep• 08•14

If you happen to awake early morning to a blaring TV, and we who are older do that regularly, you will almost certainly have caught Kevin Trudeau, the infamous Dream Maker. With his comely looks, boyish enthusiasm, and eagerness to share insider secrets for just a small pittance, he seems anything but a guy who has already served his country and justice behind bars for fraud.   He has pitched everything from secret health cures to self help to weight loss, and even some kind of powerful club, an inner sanctum of global wealth and conspiracies that anyone can join on just retirement income. If you caught him over a period of several years, you might have noticed that he went from off-the-rack suits and a Supercut hairdo, to tailor-made threads, haircuts that cost as much as those of Wall Street traders, a jaunty hat that equals a monthly Social Security check, and a lavish and opulent Saville Road topcoat. Something is going right with The Dream and it’s not just his weight loss.

Trudeau 4jpgLast year, we were surprised to hear that a federal judge wants him in jail for failure to pay a whopping $37 million judgement for simply misleading a few thousand or more consumers of his dream. Kevin, leaning on his stylish umbrella on a street in Zurich–where he has a home and lovely young wife– simply speaks of his contempt for ambush journalism and confidently says he has no assets and cannot pay such a ridiculous judgement. He isn’t so jaunty now, losing the game to the judge and now serving ten year in federal prison in Alabama.

Well, here is the thing, and we hope this surprises everyone, coming from this law and order part of the country. We need to get a sense of humor. Why throw this guy into the slammer when he has one of the best and most authentic unreality shows on television and he pays for it. If some of us didn’t want to get rich without working or to lose weight the easy way, neither of which has much chance of success, Kevin and his dream machine would just fade away.

And, there is another thing: what about his revelation of the easy, cheap, foolproof cure for hiccups?  Yes, if you have tried everything else, you will value his little giveaway while he trumpeted a book full of health secrets he wanted to pedal. Over the years, we have had the occasional hiccups, most often from injudicious ingestion of alcoholic beverages (or for Pinky a spoonful of all-natural peanut butter).  Once they hit, we have found them hard to shed. None of the foolproof remedies worked, and we got impatient with spilling water on a shirt while drinking on the outside of a glass or jumping up and down on the back patio, or holding our breath until blue. Just ease over to the cabinet, take out the balsamic vinegar (which is also damn tasty) take a small swig, swallow, and within seconds NO HICCUPS.  In most cases, one can get back to serious drinking immediately with no further problem. This was a throw-away secret by Kevin on one of his shows that pitched a book of secret health remedies that doctors and druggists and the federal government did not want you to know about. Well, it worked the first time and every time for us, and for every friend who we relayed the information.

So, the federal judge got heavy with Trudeau, finding that the dream maker grossly misled his customers and the government. It appears to us that this judge has never had the hiccups. If he does confront this most terrible of social setbacks, we would suggest he toss back some balsamic and reflect on his abuse of Trudeau.

We say “Leave the Dream Maker Alone.” Anyone out there interested in a FREE TRUDEAU movement? We could run him for Congress where hiccups are a constant nuisance.