Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Cocktail Hour: Belgians on Ice, Part Deux or Part Twee


Felt like something different for this week's Cocktail Hour so I decided to expand upon our original Belgians on Ice post.

Today, I needed to go to the store for some groceries and remembered that the Stater Brothers in Glendora is right next door to Lone Hill Liquor, home to a vast array of beers.


Letty likes the sours, so I'm looking for something she'll enjoy without breaking the bank like the sour rye I see from the Bruery that goes for around $24 for a 750 ml. bottle.  There is a great selections here and I end up settling for the Rodenbach Grand Cru at about half the price of the Bruery's version.

For me, it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a St. Bernardus brew, so I go with the hyper-strong ABT 12, which clocks in at 10% alcohol.


First the sour...Rodenbach is a classic Flemish Red Ale made in Roeselare, Belgium. It's sour, real sour with...as my wife says...no hint of sweetness at all. That's fine with her as she likes her sour ales as sour as possible.  It's aged over two years in oak barrels and has added bacteria to impart that tartness.

When it hits the tongue, the first thought is vinegar, like the malt vinegar you put on fish and chips, but let it linger a little bit and you'll find a rich savoriness in the background that's quite interesting.

I admit, I'm still developing my taste for the sour ales but each time I try, I like it a little more.


The St. Bernardus is an abbey ale, a quadruppel, which goes down very smooth like a good Belgian dubbel like Petrus or Kwak. It explodes with a rich, deep, almost sweet taste that goes down like velvet.

At 10% alcohol, this one will kick your ass if you're not careful...I think I'll need a nap after this bottle.  Only drink it if you're somewhere you won't have to drive from any time soon.

It's a delicious beer with a well-hidden kick.

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Cheers!


Darryl 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

CEREBRAL PALSY STORIES: Keeping Up Squeaky Clean Appearances-Taking A Shower


Showering! It's a dirty job but everybody has to do it!...Even those individuals who are disabled like me. Since I am disabled from having had Cerebral Palsy all my life, I do have to have my dad help me in getting my weekly showering needs taken care of.
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For us, there are two important things that help make all of our lives a little easier when it comes to giving someone like me a shower. The first is that the shower in my bathroom is a roll in shower instead of a bath tub. For people with disabilities of any kind, having a roll in shower in the bathroom is much easier to work with in the long run as compared to a regular bath tub.  The second thing that makes it easier for me and my family is that we also have a shower chair for me to sit on that we can more or less easily maneuver into the shower without too much difficulty.

Another thing that I should point out about the roll in shower and the bathroom that I use in my house is that when we first into the house where my family and I live at now, the bathroom that I use for all of my bath rooming and showering needs was not fully accessible enough at that time to meet my specific bath rooming needs. Just to give you an idea as to when my family and I moved into the house we currently live at -we moved there in December of 1995 when I was 8 years old.

As I mentioned above, the bathroom that would eventually become mine to use was not fully accessible for me to use at the time when we first moved in. To overcome this obstacle of what would be an obvious remodeling job to the bathroom in order to meet my specific needs, we enlisted the help of the San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center who provided us with a grant to help pay for the bathroom remodeling job. For the record, our house has a total of 2 bathrooms. The one that I use for my needs and another one that my parents use.



To make a long bathroom remodeling short, it was successfully remodeled pretty soon after we first moved in to meet my needs for the most part and it's pretty good to me in the 20+ years that I have been using it.

Getting back to what this post is really about though and that would be how I take a shower, when it comes to my weekly showering needs and routine.



During the  week, my routine usually begins with an initial shave, a full body scrubbing, and cleansing with help from my dad, Darryl. On Saturdays, I have what is without a doubt the most relaxing one of the week that get to have. That is because on Saturdays, my dad will give me the opportunity to have a nice relaxing spa day in the shower to start the weekend in which I do the best I can to my capabilities and or abilities to give myself a shower. The main reason why I don't get to have a spa day during the week is because there is simply just not enough time to take advantage of the benefits of having a spa day.
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When I have my Saturday spa days, I am usually able to wash my body with a wash rag consisting of the upper portions of my body including my face, arms, chest and stomach. I can also wash and scrub the upper parts of my legs right up to about to where both of my knees are. My disability with Cerebral Palsy does present some physical challenges for me in that I am pretty much unable to thoroughly wash the part of my body that my dad and I like to call the nether regions which includes the private parts on the front end of my body and the buttocks on the back end. 

Another thing that is sometimes physically challenging for me during some of my showers is that either one or both of my legs or feet will go numb from having to sit on the shower chair over a prolonged period of time. When this happens, it will usually take a while for my legs and feet to wake up and for the numbness and tingling sensations to disappear. By the time that I am transferred back into my wheelchair, the numbness and tingling sensations in my legs and feet will usually dissipate and go away once I am back in my wheelchair safe and secure.

Once the soap scrubbing with a wash rag is complete, the next of my spa day Saturdays is for me to grab the shower head that is connected to a water hose so that I can be able to rinse off the soap that is still on my body at this point. During this time that I use the shower head to rinse off my body I should also point out that just like mostly everybody else, I sometimes do sing in the shower while I rinse off just for fun and to help relax me even more than I already am at that point during my spa days.

After I finish the washing and rinsing off portions of the shower, my dad will then come back and help me with shampooing my hair and brushing my teeth with an electric tooth brush. Once that is complete my showering usually comes to an end and all that's left to do dry off and get dressed with my dad's help once again.



To help dry me off and get dressed, my dad will help me do so while I'm still in the shower. 



Once the drying off phase in the shower is finished, my 
dad will then roll me back over to my room to help me get dressed and ready for the rest of my day or night. What I wear usually depends on what time it is during the day. If I have my shower during the morning or if we have to go somewhere afterwards during the afternoons or at night, then I will usually wear my regular articles of clothing just like everybody else such as a T-Shirt, shoes, pants, shorts, leg braces and so on. If I don't have to be fully dressed to go out somewhere, then I will usually wear just my T-Shirt, some socks and a pair of boxers or briefs so that I can relax and be more comfortable during the night at home.

After I'm finished getting dressed, my dad will then transfer me back into my power wheelchair so that I can be free to roam around the house again on my own and get on with the rest of our day or night in our life until the next time my showering schedule returns. With that in mind, it's time to wrap things up and for me to get ready for the next wash, rinse and repeat cycle of my weekly showering routine.


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Tim Musick
Copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Los Angeles's Best Eats...Eastside Edition - Part 2


See Part One here...

The Best of L.A. food lists seem to stop at downtown. We're trying to rectify that by building a "best of list" for the east side of things...

Southern California is teeming with food variety. It helps that we're such an assortment of the world's ethnicities. In fact, we documented all the ethnic food varieties we could find in the San Gabriel Valley a few years ago.

A lot of it is a vast collection of mediocre establishments but a few rise above the fray. In the eastern portion of the area, it helps to have a guide...and that's what we're here for.

In downtown Los Angeles, the Little Tokyo neighborhood is a warren of great, Japanese cuisine. To the east, it can be just as good...just a little more separated by distance.

Right now, our favorite Japanese establishment also has the confusing name of Little Tokyo. No, it's nowhere near downtown but in the for-now Western themed downtown of San Dimas. You remember San Dimas, don't you? Home of Bill and Ted, where the Circle K was actually a time portal and they had the excellent adventure with Rufus (George Carlin) and became the legendary Wyld Stalyns?

Yes, it really does exist. At least the town, not so sure about that time portal.

In a strip mall next to an Alberstons and a Dollar Tree...on the corner of San Dimas Avenue and Bonita...is where you'll find Little Tokyo, sitting in the shadow of a cell phone tower disguised as an old west water tower.


We've always been partial to the excellent and fresh sushi here. The list is daunting, lengthy, and creative. Fatty tuna, roe, eel, squid, yellowtail....it's all here and very fresh and tasty made by a Japanese sushi master.


My wife now raves about the poke bowl they've added, which is the best she's found in the entire L.A. area. Salmon and spicy tuna sit atop sushi rice and a bed of vegetables which is like a whole sushi entree.


Not being much of a fish eater, I'll go with their excellent beef teriyaki which, even in the a la carte mode, comes with a fresh salad with their exquisite sesame dressing and the best miso soup I've had.


The savoriness of that miso, the chewy and slightly gelatinous tofu, and seaweed combine for such a shot of comfort food flavor that I could easily sit here on a cold winter night eating nothing but that soup.


In El Monte, which is beginning to feel the Asian pressure on it's west side from the fine Vietnamese restaurants of neighboring Rosemead, Daikokuya feels a bit out of place between the Pho and Bahn Mi places marching ever eastward on Garvey and the long established Mexican restaurants that have forever been a fixture in this town.

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While you can come here for sushi and such nuggets as shrimp lollypops and tofu nuggets, the real reason is ramen...that brothy, noodle soup perfected by the Japanese.


This is not the cheap, sustenance, instant ramen of your college dorm days. Here, exquisitely brewed soy-infused miso broth cradles medium boiled eggs (with the jellied yolks), floating pieces of kurobuta pork belly, bamboo shoots, and green onions all sitting on the perfectly textured ramen noodles. A large bowl is $11.00.

Save an Extra 40% on All Jewelery - Click NOW to get Coupon! For an extra dollar we'll go with the spicy option, which adds very little spiciness actually, that uses three different kinds of miso that adds a deep, savory taste to the broth.

It is a very delicious, satisfying, and filling way to part with just a little over ten dollars.

We'll continue on this list another time, I've already made myself hungry enough today.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 17, 2017

Solvang...the Bonus Reel



Here are some parts of our Solvang trip that didn’t make the final cut but are still worthy…

Taking a little break to see the view from our second floor window, I look down into the side street and see a little shop. Out of the way, off the main tourist trail, it’s Valley Brewers.

I run downstairs, cross over, and check out this little shop of homebrew, home wine, and home cheesemaking supplies. One of the owners is inside. Chris shows us around, takes us downstairs where the real treasures are, and asks if we’ve ever brewed.

“Three batches,” I tell him. I also tell him about my latest attempt at a Belgian Dubbel which, although tasty, came out a bit flat.

Chris explains how to get the priming sugars just right, the importance of splashing oxygen in during the pour into the fermentation tank, and slowly letting the temperature rise a bit after bottling to get that all-important carbonation.

He also tells me that he has a killer Belgian ale recipe that he makes up for me for around $40. I should be able to get 48 bottles out of it once it’s brewed.

Now, I’ve got my favorite souvenir and found a great new place away from the overpriced wine tastings and mediocre pastries of downtown Solvang. I get to go home happy.


When we first got to Solvang, we made our way to NojoquiFalls for a hike. On the way over to the falls, we passed an idyllic looking farm. On our way home, I made our way back before hitting the freeway.


It’s Classic Organic farm, a green, grass-covered hillside with frolicking goats and mouse-hunting cats.


In the old wooden barn, baskets of apples, lettuce, onions, citrus and more await. A lazy cat sits atop the barrel where an honor-system slot and a tray of change sit for customers to deposit their money and make their own change.


We get some fruit and vegetables, eat some apples, and make friends with the goats.

It’s a great place for a quick and impromptu picnic before heading home.

Darryl
Copyright 2013 – All Rights Reserved
Darryl Musick

Saturday, July 15, 2017

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Belgians on Ice


It's the first National Belgian Beer Week

Today on the patio were chillin’ some brews.  A couple of Belgian beauties.

Belgium is our favorite beer making country, followed closely by Germany and the good ole USA.  Today, we’re trying an abbey brewed reserve ale and a Lambic.  Both are readily available, today’s bottles came from Trader Joe’s.


The Lambic is Lindemans Framboise raspberry Lambic and the ale is Chimay Grande Reserve.

First the Lambic.  These are mainly sour beers often fortified with fruit.  Letty loves the sour Belgians, I think they taste like vinegar.  It’s an acquired taste for me but some people really love it.  This one is not sour, though.  It’s actually pretty sweet and tastes more like a raspberry soda.  Not sour enough for Letty and too sweet for me.  The raspberries give it a deep red color and it looks like punch.  


The Chimay is a rich, brown, smooth tasting beer.  It’s not very clear, almost a Guinness like thick brown that blots out the sun.  It is very smooth, like you’d expect a Belgian to be, and tastes just a little hoppy and a lot nutty.  Not a bad brew but there are better out there, although they are not as readily available.

The Lambic is $8 and the Chimay $9 for a 750 ml bottle at Trader Joe’s.

Cheers!


Darryl

Friday, July 14, 2017

Mission: Accomplished! Solvang, California - Part 3


Morning dawns in our basic, little room at the top of the dark stairs. We're hungry and we're in a town know for it's great breakfasts.



Two or three bakeries line each block. Abelskivers, little round pancake balls, are a popular specialty here but we're going traditional at Paula's Pancake House, just a couple of doors down from the hotel.



Finally, great good with matching service, Letty and I feast on the giant-but-thin Dutch pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage. It's a filling and delicious meal accompanied by orange juice squeezed right before our eyes.



Tummies full, we take a drive over to nearby Santa Ynez and check out the old inn in the cute downtown. Lovely hotel and maybe a contender if we ever have another romantic getaway up here...but those are as rare as Halley's Comet at this point in our lives.

We do notice that the inn is accessible, however, so maybe a family trip might be in order?  Who knows.



Back in Solvang, we see the troops of greyhounds, and their owners, from Greyhound Fest parading east to the edge of town. We drive over and meet them on the ground of Mision Santa Ines.



In addition to being the Dutch capitol of California, Solvang is also an historic mission town with the two-and-a-half century old mission. Mass has just ended and Father Gerald Barron introduces himself to us and invites us inside to have a look around in his Irish brogue.



We get to see the basic wooden altar and the old painted walls. Back in the old days, Native Americans would stand for the entire service. Modern parishioners can use the pews.



Outside, we see the old mission reservoir next to our parking space.

At the edge is one of the prettiest views of the Santa Ynez Valley stretching out from the mission's grounds (the picture at the top).  



Letty and I pause for one last picture before packing it in and driving back home on the 101 along the central coastline.


Darryl
Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 10, 2017

Making the Best of a Bad Situation - Solvang, California - Part 2






Click to see Part 1 of this report...

“This reservation is for March.”

Not what I want to hear while standing in the lobby of the Royal Copenhagen Inn in February on a busy Solvang weekend. It is my fault, though.  I didn’t thoroughly check my reservation as I tell all of you to do. I was certain it said February 23 but it was there in black and white on the printout…March 23.

It’s a rare weekend getaway without Tim for Letty and I. Getting someone to stay with him is not easy to arrange. There are less than a handful of people who can do it and last minute family problems meant we really had to work some magic to get it to happen. Timing it so our replacement caregivers would have to do the minimum of lifting, getting the workings of the van and lift down (which would prove a little balky as we spent many times on the phone trying to talk them through the operation), and making sure enough provisions and money were provided for them to get by over the weekend.

Now, we’re finally away and my boneheaded mistake finds us here with no place to sleep for the night.

“I have one room left,” the desk clerk says. “It has two queen beds.”

It’s not the two-level, romantic, loft suite I’d reserved for March, but it’ll have to do. We cancel the March reservation, take the basic room, and sign on the dotted line.

“You’ll have to find something else to do until two o’clock while we clean the room. You’re welcome to leave your car here in the meantime.”

OK, beggars can’t be choosers. I may have found another room in town if I’d looked but we’re on a tight schedule here. In the meantime, we’ll explore this kitschy little town.

About an eight square blocks of shops, restaurants, wine bars, and bakeries make up the heart of town.  Easily walkable from the hotel, every square inch of the downtown area is no more than a five minute walk.

Some shops are high end and high quality. The extra large wooden clog marks the entrance of the Solvang Shoe Store where a large inventory of superior footwear is sold for not too expensive prices.

You have to wonder what you’ve wandered into such as the outlet store we found behind a fake windmill, underneath a western wear museum where clothing went for under ten dollars.


After sampling some great fudge at a bakery on Alisal Road, my wife spends some time browsing among the yarn at a knitting store nearby. Kids are in awe of the great European toys available in a number of great toy shops. We grab some freshly baked pretzels and sample butter cookies at another bakery.

Every other shop seems to be a winery tasting room. We are in the Santa Ynez Valley, one of the state’s more well-known wine areas thanks to the movie “Sideways.” It’s not cheap, though. Most of the tasting rooms charge north of $10 for tiny tasting sips and are not willing to apply that to your purchase…although one said they’d knock $5 off of the $16 tasting fee if we didn’t want to take the logo glasses home.

Better yet, just go to one of the several wine bars or cocktail lounges and buy a whole glass for less than the price of the taste.




Greyhounds are everywhere. Groups of the dogs are walking on leash throughout the town. We’d seen more earlier during our hike up to Nojoqui Falls. We’re thinking they really love their greyhounds here in Solvang until we go back to the inn to claim our room…a sign in the lobby says “Welcome to Greyhound Fest ’13!”

Each year the dogs and their owners gather in town for a sort of greyhound convention. This is the weekend and the town is crawling with these gentle, race bred hounds.  I can’t turn around without some pooch sticking his nose at me and wanting a scratch under his neck.  They’re great dogs, well behaved, quiet, and their owners are picking up after them, keeping things clean.

The last room of the inn is up a dark set of stairs in a corner of the hotel. Our room is the only one up there and has no other room on any side. At least it will be quiet.

The room itself is a basic, no frills motel room with two queen beds, a couple of balky windows overlooking a side street, a bathroom with a shower and a toilet that won’t flush. (Wheelchair rooms are available here but we didn't need one this trip...plus I made a big booking error)

The chain is broken on the flushing mechanism. I’m about to call the front desk but Letty has already Momgyvered a safety pin fix for the chain and all is working.

The hotel has wifi but the signal doesn’t reach this far corner and we’re out of luck for an Internet connection.  They do serve a decent breakfast with goodies from a nearby bakery (there’s always a nearby bakery here in Solvang) and have a nice pool area.



For dinner, we head to Solvang Brewing Company, a few doors west of the hotel. It’s busy and a sign says to seat ourselves and to let a server know. We do but the server seems to forget. After sitting for several minutes at a table waiting for menus, we give that up to sit at the bar where we get immediate attention from the bartender.


We split a sausage platter and a cheeseburger. Both are delicious as is the house-brewed beer. Decent prices but weird service at the tables.

A bottle of wine from Presidio Winery, across from the hotel, a couple of glasses, and we’ll retire for the night.

We’ll end this in the morning…

Darryl
Copyright 2013 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 7, 2017

Meeting Murphy's Law in Solvang, California



It’s like something out of Tolkien. Shady, moss covered rocks protect a meandering stream. Large fonds of ferns fill in the empty spaces between the sycamores and oaks. A narrow canyon opens up into a sylvan glen. Sixty feet up, a stream of water cascades over a green, moss covered, mineral buildup that took millions of years to form.

Middle Earth? No, Central California.


This is the opening act to our weekend away. It’s our anniversary and we’ve just been able to find some help to take care of Tim so Letty and I can have an overnight respite. This year, we’re heading to Solvang, about 50 miles north of Santa Barbara.

Watch the Video!

Hike with us to Nojoqui Falls!

It’s a little over two hours to get here on a Saturday morning with no traffic. Before we head into the town proper, we pull off to investigate a sign that has intrigued me every time I’ve taken the drive north on Highway 101…Nojoqui Falls Park.

Since we usually have a wheelchair with us, hiking up to see a waterfall is usually off-limits so I take the opportunity when I can. It’s just Letty and me this trip so off we go.


From the parking lot, it’s a 1/3 mile hike through the narrow canyon to the falls. If you’re an adventurous wheelchair user, you could get 2/3 of the way before you hit a set of stairs that would block further progress.


This waterfall is different in that it doesn’t erode the cliff. Instead, minerals in the water build up over time, pushing the water out from the hill instead of the water pushing in, resulting in a bulbous mound of rock, similar to a stalagmite in a cave.

A few minutes to admire the cascade, really a little more than a trickle this time of year, and then back down. Up and back in less than 30 minutes.

We continue on Alisal Road, which is a backroad way into Solvang. It’s narrow, the pavement’s worn, and our phones won’t work out here but the scenery is beautiful, serene with green rolling hills dotted with horses and cows.

The exclusive and expensive Alisal Ranch and golf course tells us we’re about to get into town. The chirp on my cell phone confirms it.


Danish style buildings, a windmill, and throngs of tourists clogging the street welcome us to the Danish capitol of California. Gingerly, I thread the car through to Mission Drive, the highway that runs through town, and turn left to find our hotel, the Royal Copenhagen Inn.

A full parking lot and packs of greyhounds greet us at the hotel. We go into the office and ask if we can park there until checkin time.

“What’s the last name?”

“Musick.”

“Don’t see it.”
I pull out my e-mail confirmation and hand it to her.

“You have a reservation but it’s not for today, it’s for a month from today.”

Taking the printout back, I check it again. The date is March 23rd…not February 23rd as I had been absolutely sure it had said when I checked it twice.

What now?

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Darryl

Copyright 2013 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.