Ben Sneaks Off to the Beach on Thanksgiving Eve!

Ben Sneaks Off to the Beach on Thanksgiving Eve!

I had a ball at the beach today! Didn’t decide to go until about 1:45 this afternoon, so it wasn’t the longest beach outing I’ve had lately, but it was time very well spent.

My schedule and my budget have conspired to keep me away from the shore for the last couple of months and so getting the hell outta Dodge was a priority. Very glad today was the day. Traffic and crowds were not an issue at all. Yay!

I am working more hours these days and so I’m not sure when I’ll be beach-bound again. But I’m determined to get back before Christmas Day.

I took just over 300 photos this time. So far I’ve only worked a grand total of six that I think are blog-worthy! Yeah, not the best outing from the photography standpoint. But the featured photo you see above is a keeper. My new gull friend was riding the wind about 40 feet above Cocoa Beach. Without a care in the world. Just doing what gulls do.

I admire him. Heading back for another few stolen moments of freedom as soon as i can make it happen.

 

Back in landlocked O’do, I am,

“Beachdog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

Warning! Pancake Post in Progress!

Warning! Pancake Post in Progress!

Bulldog must disclose that this posting contains explicit Carbohydrate References!

Folks, I’d never heard of the Aunt Maple’s brand before, but the deadly-good chocolate and banana stuff in this mix are NOT artificial!

I truly loved my breakfast this morning! Want you to know that I found my new fave brand of pancake mix at Aldi; pray there’s an Aldi location near you!

Climate Scientists Issue Second Warning: We Are Killing the Earth

We are killing our planet. Humanity received a first warning from scientists who specialize in the environment in 1992.

Nothing changed. Exploitation of our planet for her resources–often in the most rapacious and unsustainable ways–has only accelerated. The Paris Agreement is a very substantial step in the right direction, but is only now beginning to be implemented.

The tRump Administration has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, taken steps to gut the E.P.A., is trying hard to eliminate incentives to use wind and solar and killed through Executive Orders every possible policy put in place by previous administrations to safeguard the environment.

The overall situation has gotten much worse, with only one issue relating to the earth’s degradation improving–that being the hole in the ozone layer of our atmosphere–and all other indicators sliding downhill far faster than climate scientists feared.

And now a second warning has gone out. We’ve been put on notice. Twice.

It’s time–way past time, actually–to pull our heads out of the rapidly-warming sand, try to mitigate this damage and begin to heal the earth.

Our survival depends on it.

 

 

Benjamin Lawrence Basile

A Visit to the Hunters Creek Applebee’s

A Visit to the Hunters Creek Applebee’s

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar
13500 John Young Parkway
Orlando, Florida 32837

Call 407 206-5039

I’ve dined at the Applebee’s location in the Hunters Creek area of Orlando many times. If you’re from metro Orlando or visit much, you probably know that’s very close to the tourist area and only a mile from the Osceola county line. But this one is mostly patronized by locals, many of whom work in the tourism industry.

I’ve eaten at seven Applebee’s locations all total and this one is not very different from the others. I like the crew here, the bartenders especially and go there fairly often. I still have not tried the dining room, opting to sit at the bar. Sean and Ariana and a couple of other crew members have always taken good care of me. They have a decent beer selection and the “always happy hour” thing is awesome. That’s 2 for 1 ALL DAY, but on domestic drafts only. Beer lovers, you gotta love that!

There are seven or eight TV screens in the bar so there’s always something good on. This location has become my go-to spot for sports viewing, especially for games I can’t get at home. However, they don’t carry the pay-per-view events, such as UFC fights or those PPV championship boxing matches.

I like just about everything I’ve tried here and can recommend several appetizers. The Spinach and Artichoke Dip is always good, as are the Mozzarella Sticks; but my fave is the Sriracha Shrimp. Just the right amount of heat, you can’t beat this one!

I usually dine solo so I haven’t had a chance to go the “2 Entrees for $20” route, but it looks like a good value. What I had on my last visit was the Bourbon Street Steak and it was damn near perfect. And their garlic mashed potatoes are to die for!

The one draw back here is that their usual good service is not so good when the place fills up. I don’t like it, but it’s a common thing at chain restaurants. Management in chains are very, very focused on payroll costs and you can’t really staff for the hour and a half of each day when the place “blows up” as you’d have too many crew members for the other 80% of the shift. I get it, but I don’t like it. I hasten to add that it’s no worse here than most places I’ve visited.

This Applebee’s is quite family friendly. If fact, you’ll find many families with school-age kids seated in the bar area on just about every night. If you still have small ones in your posse, you can be seated wherever you like, bar included. (Not AT the bar, but in the bar area!)

Quick summary: moderate prices, great place to watch sports, good service, decent beer selection and very tasty menu offerings.

One more thing: there is a designated entrance to pick up take out orders on the north side of the building. Your order will be waiting in the bar area.

A little info to help you find it: this A-bee’s is an out building in a very large shopping complex and there’s lot of parking. It’s not all that easy to see from John Young, especially if you’re northbound. It’s across JYP from the Gator’s Dockside which is much easier to spot, so look on the west side of the road. The complex is just a wee bit south of where the 417 exit for John Young cuts through.

 

Bulldog thinks the menu is one of the best things about Applebee’s.  View it here:

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

A Visit to My County’s Ag Extension Service

A Visit to My County’s Ag Extension Service

Some of you may know that I’ve been wanting to find ways to grow stuff. I had a ball gathering some ideas at Orlando’s Veg Fest nine days ago. There were hundreds of companies, growers, educators and agencies who rented tables for the event; one of them was the Orange Country (Fla) Agricultural Extension Service, and those folks were very helpful to me. The University of Florida’s Ag Dept cooperates with each of Florida’s 67 counties, and many of them do great work in helping their residents who engage, or–as in my case–hope to engage in anything related to agriculture.

I found the folks who were staffing the OCAES table at Veg Fest to be very, very helpful. They had stacks of publications on a thousand topics relating to growing things, permaculture, landscaping and green living and so on, and I took about ten or so. And they very patiently answered my questions, gave suggestions and told me about other resources which they believed would be helpful to me.

Because I found them to be so helpful, I decided to pay a visit to their Conway Road location in south Orange County. I made it out there last Monday and I’m glad I did. Way back in 2006, I scored a free tree from them when they were located much closer to the family homestead, but I had not seen the new and much bigger campus since the move. And, yes, I got a few good pix out of my visit to this new-to-me location.

The gardens there are lovely. There’s plenty there for folks who like to dig in the dirt, whether they’re mostly into landscaping and flowers, or, like me, stuff you can harvest and eat. You probably noticed the pergola that welcomes visitors in the banner photo; here’s a closer view of this inviting structure’s roof which I think makes for a pretty good photo:

I do enjoy seeing the landscaping or aesthetic side of what they do at the Ag center. Here’s a shot that features some mighty fine landscaping that any gardener would be proud to display or would look amazing at any park or place of business, too:

When the visitor gets a little further into the grounds, they’ll find the part of the gardens devoted to agriculture, to growing things we can cook and eat. Because I’ve done plenty of the “pretty stuff” and am now focused on microfarming, this is the part of my visit I liked best. And for some reason, this spiffy little shed attracted my attention and I just had to get a shot or two:

The staff has been so helpful to me, both at Veg Fest and when I came for my visit. I’ve gathered some very good ideas and will soon be planting. This is going to require some serious planning and preparation, as I have a small and very shady yard, but grow stuff I will!

If you’re also here in Central Florida, I recommend you stop by and take a look at the facility and their lovely gardens. You can find the Orange County Agricultural Extension Service at 6021 So. Conway Rd, that’s just a bit north of where Conway meets Judge Road. The hours of operation can be found here on their web site or by calling them at 407 254-9200.

 

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

Bulldog Needs to Get Back to Butterfly Heaven Soon!

Bulldog Needs to Get Back to Butterfly Heaven Soon!

Moss Park. Lots and lots of Butterflies. That was back in the springtime and it was an outdoor excursion I’ll always treasure. One of the best EVER for this puppy, sans un doute! (Can’t beat Florida in the spring if you’re a butterfly buff!)

I have posted with a few pics from the trip–that was in March of this year for any who’d like to see those photos–but today I have some that have not lived anywhere off my hard drive until now.

The one featured here is a fave. But I have plenty of others. That, of course, will be another post on another day…

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile