Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)



I'm not a big 'city' fan.  When I was a teenager, the subburbs on the East Side of Lake Washington we still individual towns...you knew when you had gone from Kirkland to Bellevue, and from Bothell to Woodinville and then into Redmond.  Sometime the late 90's though, that began to change.  The areas in between the towns filled in, until the whole of 405 was one big collection of latte stands. 

Traffic is one of the things that bothers me the most...sitting in traffic.  Between my time working at the Bangor Sub Base, and not working at Hanford, I have had a 30+ minute commute for most of my adult life...but that 30 minute commute has covered 20+ miles, which is a fairly pain free commute.

A couple of times during this last visit with my mom we found ourselves stuck in traffic...not long, like 10-15 minutes making it through choke points...but it still got in my head.  The whole drive home yesterday, I kept picturing this scene from The Matrix.  There are times I agree with Agent Smith. 


Any excuse for a party!

We are on the road this weekend, using the World's Greatest Nana's apartment as our base of operations on the Wet West side of the state.  Our excuse for driving 4.5 hours each direction is a 2-year old's birthday party.  Not just any two year old though...M.J. is the first daughter of some of our really good friends, and my wife actually watched her for about 6-months after her mom went back to work, so their is some emotional investment there.

It's a good excuse to visit my mom also.  One of the reservations I had about quiting my job at The Shipyard was knowing that I was going to be taking the grand kids further away from my mom and dad.  Actual road time was going go from about 2 hours to just over 4 hours...not horrible by any sense, but, the fact that the Cascades were going to be in the middle made the trip a little riskier/snowier in the fall and winter.  Add into this that my mom is dealing with some vertigo based anxiety, and it means we end up coming here whenever we can come up with a valid excuse. 

The drive over was good.  The roads of the passes were totally clear of snow, with a little snow still remaining at the 3500 foot level, so we made good time.  The cheapest gas we saw was at the Thorp Fruit Stand Antique Mall outside of Ellensburg($3.92), with Richland being $4.05, and the Kirkland area being about $4.15.  That kind of surprises me since Thorp is the most isolated of three data points, so it must have something to do with county tax rates.

Anyway, drive went smooth, and we got to have dinner with my moms new boyfriend.  He is a sales manager for a car dealership, which could be convenient at some point, since the wife's Subaru is aging rapidly.  It's a 2004 with about 160K on it.  We just had to have transmission replaced(we went with a used one), so if this car makes it until next spring, I will be pretty ecstatic. 

He lives on a little lake up in Snohomish County called Lake Serene, and it seems a good name for it.  It's a cute little 45 acre lake, with plenty of houses, but lots of tall trees too.  He invited us back over the summer, and said that our girls should have no problem catching a trout or two of his little dock.  For now, they had a blast chasing the ducks and geese along the shoreline. 

I told my wife that if we were living on that lake, we would have duck/geese once a week for dinner.  Hypothetically speaking...I mean, as much bird poop as there is along the shores and docks of that lake, I refuse to believe that ANYONE would complain about little ol' me defending my crops from the ravages of some Canadian Geese with my Gamo Whisper.  Heck...they crossed the border illegally...they could be terrorists.

I'd be doing the nation a favor...


Much ado about very little...

My wife and I don't always agree on 100% of stuff in the world, which is good.  Life would be boring if we were BOTH perfect.

One of the current things we have different viewpoints on is the brouhaha about the way Secret Service employees are spending their time when they are out of country.

My wife is one of the 'OMG, What they are doing is SOOOOO horrible' crowd.

Me?  Maybe it's because for a while I lived the hard-partying Navy life...but I don't see the big deal .  What these guys were doing in Columbia, and allegedly doing in Moscow, and El Salvador was not illegal there.  I refuse to hold them to any higher standard than I held myself or my co-workers to in the Navy, or myself or my co-workers to in The Shipyard when we were off-station.  You work long, stressfull hours, you are gonna blow off some steam.

Now, if it turns out these guys were using their government credit cards, or expense accounts to fund these activities...that's a problem.  If it turns out they were doing this when The President was IN the hotel, well, that's a problem also.  So far, though, it sounds like most of this activity was taking place on 'advance trips', which sounds a bit like a boon-doggle to me anyway, or on trips with former President Bill Clinton. 

If your primary responsibilty is protecting a former President, I have to think the 'perks' are much higher for protecting Clinton than protecting Jimmy Carter.  If you had the choice of building Habitat for Humanity houses, or making sure a sex club in Moscow was safe...well, sometimes you just have to jump on that grenade. 


Off their Rocker.

No, not me...it's the name of a new show on TV.  My wife and I watched it last night because it was on after Jeopardy, but it's funny enough that I recommend you give it a try on your own.

There isn't much to the show.  It's attempt to cash in on the resurgance of Betty White, and trades on the fact that when old people do ANYTHING, it's funny.  Boiled down to it's essence, the show is a modern version of Candid Camera(or Jackass) with nothing but 'old folks' doing the setting up and pranking. 

Man, when I'm 89 I'd be happy not to drool on myself, let alone play some pranks on a bunch of 20-somethings.


Ban Everything!!!!!!

I was a teenager once, and not like centuries ago....I mean, back in the late 80's and crazy early 90's. 

I wasn't an angel, but I guess upon reflection I was a pretty good kid.  I mean...I got into my parents liquor cabinet once or twice for a spot of amaretto, but never in a million years would I think of trying to distill the ethyl out of hand sanitizer

Holy Crap...I mean...I can kind of see some decrepit street person going through the DT's trying this...but teenagers? 

Whatever happened to playing the pass-out game behind the gym?


Shows that should come with a disclaimer...

Some shows are pretty good about covering their butt's with disclaimers, like Mythbusters, and 1000 Ways to Die.  Some, like Diners, Drive-In's and Dives, don't post a disclaimer, but should.

Yesterday I was watching Triple D(that's what us 'insiders' call it), and someplace he was visiting was making bacon wrapped hot dogs.

Why...I have bacon and hot dogs in the freezer!

Yeah...they came out tasting about like you would expect(which was good).  The only real negative was since I had to use toothpicks to keep the bacon on, I couldn't get the bacon on the side of the dog crispy.  I did it long enough that it was cooked, it just stayed a bit chewy.

Looking back, this might be almost as bad of an idea as when I was watching Deadliest Catch and I decided to whip up a few Duck Farts(Kahlua, Bailey's, and Crown) 'just because' I had everything in the house.

Ask me tomorrow morning...

Ooooo...the Rage, it burns!

I usually try to avoid the linking/stealing of other folks post ideas, especially when that person is Jay, and chances are if you are reading me, you are also already reading me, since there are orders of magnitude differences between our readerships, but I didn't think I could ignore this story today

Jay approaches this from a 'look how DUM bureaucracies are with their zero-tolerance policies and automatic thresholds for certain problems' viewpoint, which is a valid viewpoint. 

What caught my attention though, is the flat-out horror and sadness I feel for the poor family that got this letter. 

I've never lost anyone close to me as an adult.  I would have to imagine that at the two month point, you are past the 'sitting on the bed in your daughters room, looking at her stuffed animals' stage, and starting to try to get on with your life.

Then you get this letter in the mail, telling you that your daughter can't go to the prom. 

Would you like lemon juice, salt, or both in that raw emotional scar?


The story says a spokeman has appologized, which is lame.  Something this horrible should be addressed by a personal appology by whatever equals the Secretary of Education in England.

They are kind of like a 2-year old that way...

When our children were younger, we went through a stange where rather than get my clothes(and the whole bathroom) soaked trying to bathe them, it was easier just to strip down, and have my wife hand them to me in the shower.  When they were clean, I would swap them out for the other one. 

It just seemed the most effective way of completing the task.

Today, while cleaning the garage, I came across two of my 5-gallong water jugs that hadn't been taken care of since hunting season.  They are too big to fit in the sink, and the fill connection on the tub isn't high enough, so I remembered my old technique, and just climbed in the shower with them.

They are plenty clean and ready for use now.  As long as my wife doesn't find a chest hair in her glass of water, I will be able to say 'Job Well Done.'


Here...you can put your own hand cuffs on...

Kennewick men covered in feces arrested in alleged Pasco break-in

Ummm...yeah...wow.  That is wanting to stay out of prison BAD. 

The story also says that they swiped a car that had been left running as part of their escape.  I think I would call my insurance company before messing with that myself...

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2012/04/23/1914210/crime-kennewick-men-covered-in.html#storylink=cpy

Uh oh...are those wires?

Once upon a time(and you can only take my word for this) I was a pretty fair mechanic in the Navy.  Not 'small engine' stuff, but given drawings and tools, I could do a decent job of pump, valve and piping repair, which was a complete surprise to me since I hadn't done any of that growing up. 

The electical(and electronics) was a little outside my realm.  To qualify supervisory watches, I had to have a basic 'just enough to be dangerous' understanding.  Show me a schematic, and I could tell you if you planned 'tag-out' was safe, but I wasn't the guy you wanted swapping out your burnt out card, or rewinding an armature. 

Yesterday, while I was outside, my older daughter worked on assembling a Connex Spin n Turn Racer.  She has a few other basic 'working model' kits she has worked on assembling with help from my wife, but this is the first time my wife just sat her at the table and told her to see if she could follow the instructions herself.  And, she did a really good job.

The only part I got involved in at the end was supplying a few AA batteries, and some trouble shooting when those batteries didn't work. 

During my trouble shooting, there was a moment of horror on my part.  The wiring on the rig had exposed metal!  My daughter, in an effort to keep the 'spring connectors' together, had taped them all up with scotch tape, instead of flexing the connectors around the ends of the wire.  When we fixed that problem, the thing fired right up.  But...like I said, I'm not an electrician.  The box for the kit didn't show any kind of electrical tape on the wires or the connectors...so, the way I saw it, I had two options: run to the store for some electrical tape, or trust the picture on the box.

I trusted the picture on the box...so much so that I went ahead and stuck my fingers on a few of the exposed 'spring connectors'. 

Nuthin...I know, they are only AA batteries, without a capacitor in the rig, it shouldn't be too scary...but a slight shock is just the type of thing to scare my daughter away from a growing(potentially profitable) interest in electronics and robotics.

Guess I have some studying to do.  


Can't wait until fall to try this again...

A few weeks ago, my wife, in an effort to create a 'meat-less' meal, cooked up a very tasty batch of Rosemary White Bean Soup.  

Yesterday, she decided to make it again, with a few changes.  Change one involved using some Goya Ham Concentrate I bought her for her birthday.  Change two involved me heating a skillet of elk cheddar sausage on the side.  We left the sausage separate so that folks like me(and the girls) could add the sausage as desired, while my wife could stick to her pure version.

Both changes made the soup even better, moving it from 'that's pretty good territory' to 'put this in the rotation NOW!' territory. 

While she was making her soup, I decided to crank out a batch of fresh rolls, settling on this recipe

Yeah...they were pretty good, and along with the soup made an excellent dinner.  But...

Yesterday was flirting with 80, and the next two days are over 80.  Summer is not here yet, but it's on the way, and even yesterday I thought it was too hot for soup and fresh rolls for dinner. 

Is it September yet?  



With the temperature predicted to hit 80 today, and 85 tomorrow, I had to buckle down and get some serious gardening wrapped up.  Some of it was grunt work...doing one last folding in of compost and quality dirt in the planned vegetable garden.  I hope to be able to get some things in the ground early this next week...maybe even tomorrow.

The other thing I wanted to get going vegetation wise was some herbs.  My wife took a tea making class a few months ago, and bought a whole bunch of herb seeds.  It's also one of the reasons she ended up getting a dehydrator for her birthday.  The only problem is she lost the seeds.  Okay...not lost, just 'misplaced'. 

Today she gave up on finding them, and ran to the store to buy new seeds. She came back with 14 plants instead of seeds, which caused me to get pouty, because seeds are cheaper than starter plants, but then she gave me a hug, and said she would pot them herself...so I got unpouty again.  She bought a few types of mint, chamomile, stevia, parsley, rosemary, a few types of basil, lavender, and marjoram. 

We are a bit different on this plant/vegetable thing.  I am trying to start as much as possible from seeds for my garden, mostly from a 'proving I can do it' standpoint.  In a way, buying starter plants feels like cheating.  If the Schumer does hit the fan, you aren't going to wal-mart and buying a flat of peppers and tomatoes.  You have to be able to grow from seeds.  So far, that means I'm eating a lot of zuchinni and squash following TEOTWAWKI. 

My wife just wants fresh herbs so she can play with her dehydrator, and the plants will make that happen a lot sooner than starting from seeds. 

Besides...sooner or later we'll find the seeds, and I can try starting them to see how I do.

String him up!

Police: WA son helped friends rob his mother

Dude set his own MOM up.  How low in life do you have to be to set up your own mother? 

Throw away the key...someone who will set up his own mom to be preyed upon...at GUNPOINT(what if something had gone wrong and she had gotten shot?) doesn't belong in MY society. 

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2012/04/21/2077757/police-wa-son-helped-friends-rob.html#storylink=cpy


Why didn't my guidance councilor tell me about this?

Forest Service may blow up frozen cows in cabin   

I complain a lot more than is justifiable about my job...but nothing I have done in the 18 months is 10% as cool as getting to use dynamite to blow up a cabin...let alone, blowing up frozen cows in a cabin.

These better not be the same Federal Employee's that get to fly around in helicoptors and 'cull' problem wolves. 

20 is the new 24.

One of the things Commander Zero often talks about is what he calls 'Hidden Inflation', or what you could refer to as the 'shrinkage' of food/consumables packages at the grocery store, while the price stays the same. 

I saw another example of that at the store yesterday.  For the life of me, I used to think that canned soda came in 6 packs, 12 packs, and 24 packs.  Well...yesterday, I noticed that Safeway was having a sale on Coke Products...$7 for a 20 Pack.  Hmmm...I haven't seen a 20 pack before.  I've seen the popular 'golf size' 18-packs of beer before, but not a 20-pack.

Have to keep an eye on the bottles...see how long it is before you are buying a 1.75 L at the store instead of a 2 Liter. 


Land of the free?

The Everett Herald ran a story today about how difficult it is to cut down a tree in Everett without finding yourself facing a fine. 

I would like to say I got all raged up after reading that piece, but instead of railing against how retardiculous the City of Everett is, I am forced to admit that roughly 3/4's of the municipalities in the U.S. probably have very similar laws and restrictions.  I mean...Everett COULDN'T have gotten this dumb on their own...

Now I have a new excuse for not doing yard work...'Sorry Honey...couldn't find the ANSI Standard for Pruning'...

Strange thing to look forward too...

I get to go to the dentists this morning...and I have never looked forward to a dentists appointment as much as this one. 

The warning signs were there back in January, but I ignored them...for about 6 weeks, things seemed to fade away. 

Then, things started acting up again, and my wife actually got me an appointment in a quite timely manner.  The cleaning went as painful as most of them also do, and there was in fact a cavity in one of my back teeth.  The dentist wasn't sure if a normal filling would do, or if things would require a root canal. 

Today, I will find out...either way, I don't care what they have to do, so long as the tooth stops acting up.  The last few weeks that has been no doubt that something is wrong in the back corner of my mouth.  Hot stuff doesn't bother it, but anything colder than room temperature brings out the ache. 

Hopefully a few hours of pain will lead to a good nights sleep. 


Sometimes, all you can do is be there...

About 12-13 years ago, my wife's grandmother had a series of strokes.  She survived, but ended up in a Long-Term Care Facility(what I would call a nursing home), where she has been on a long, slow slide.  Physically she has been fine, but mentally, there has been less and less of HER there, to the point where she hasn't recognized my wife the last two visits.  Rather(corrected by my wife for accuracy) she has recognized my wife as one of her grandkids...just not which one.

The last two weeks, things have taken a turn for the worse.  She stopped eating on her own, and, basically, she is dying.  My mother-in-law, and her siblings have decided to let things happen naturally at this point, a decision both my wife(and I, though my opinion is unimportant) support. 

Agreeing that it was the right decision two weeks ago is a different kettle of fish from living with that decision now that she has slipped into a coma, and her time is being counted in days(maybe even hours).  The last two days, my wife has been quite weepy...which I supposed is totally legitimate. 

All of my grandparents were dead before I was about 8-years old, and I have not lost anyone that close as an adult...so I can't really imagine what my wife is going through.  I know the last time she visited her Nana, she told me she had made peace with the fact that the woman in the bed was no longer the Nana she grew up with...but that isn't the same as saying good-bye.

For now...all I can do is be there for her.  Give her some hugs when she is feeling bad, and when it does finally happen, make sure I don't do anything to make her pain worse.


There are always lesson's to be learned...

Trying to be realistic about my garden plans this year. 

When I first moved in, I was thinking something like a 10 X 20 foot garden would be a good sized 'first year' garden.  Each time I have gone out into the yard, the garden has gotten smaller.  Right now, using the fence segments as guides, I looking at about an 8 X 10 foot garden, with another similarly sized plot of land I want good and ready to go for some fall crops, like peas and kale.

I don't see how I can fail to produce some zucchini, and yellow squash, and some tomato's and peppers from starter plants.  I've done that before in containers.  It's the final outcome of stuff that I started from seeds that has me...if not worried, than highly interested.  Plus...it's the things I can learn this year to make next year, and the year after that more productive/efficient. 

One lesson I have already learned revolves my selection of beans.  The wind coming up the Columbia Valley tends to be 'energetic', especially during the spring, summer, fall and winter.  Every 2nd or 3rd day, when the fronts pass through, you are going to have a pretty steady breeze in the 20MPH range, with gusts to 35 not attracting any special attention.

So...one thing I didn't really think about is the effect that a steady wind like that would have one something spindly like pole beans...

I'm not sure if the answer is trying to grow bush beans next year, or trying to design some kind of a wind break.  I might even take a look at some dates...see if I can get some bush beans going still this year.  If not, it looks like I have 11 months to think about it...



Well, in an attempt to prove that the world can get on without me, I decided instead of savoring things, I would gorge myself on the written word, and finish Larry Correia's book 'Spellbound'.  I recieved it Saturday, and just finished it tonight.

Good book, with a more detailed review to follow.  The best news is that the way he ended it means there will be at least 1 more Grimnoir Chronicles book at some point.

Probably cutting that close enough...

As a little bit of self-assessment, it's amazing how much less motivated I am to hit 'send' on my Turbo-Tax account this year owing money than I usually am getting money back. 

Early last year, my wife and I made the tough decision that instead of rolling over my retirement acount from the Shipyard to my new job, we would just cash it out to ensure we had some extra cash on hand to be able to write a bigger check, to cover a bigger loss at the eventual sale of our house. 

It hurt at the time, because they take a chunk off the top, and it hurts again now, paying taxes on all the income. 

Guess I'l be waiting a while to get that Barret 99. 



Well, my wife is on the way to the airport with my Mother-in-Law.  It hasn't been a bad visit.  Heck...the part about getting an overnight break from the kids was beyond 'not bad'. 

There are only two things I really don't like when she visits...first, and most serious, is the effect it has on my wife.  Like most grown-up daughters, she tends to take everything that comes out of her mom's mouth as 'judgement'.  Sometimes it is...but not 100% of the time.  This tends to have my wife on a constant edge...which doesn't make her as sweet and kind and amazing as she usually is.

From a personal standpoint, while I enjoy company, I HATE having long term visitors, whether is a mother-in-law, a mother, or the Swedish Bikini Team.  I can't be ME when someone else is in the house.  What does 'being me' involve?   Well...realistically, a lot of sitting around in my skivies, as opposed to always needing to to weat a shirt and shorts/lounge pants.

Yup...look into the horror of my world...

He's been holding out on me!

A few weeks ago, my wife had made a run to the other side of the state to deliver a car load of Girl Scout Cookies to my family over there.  While having lunch at my dads house she ate what she called the Best Bowl of Ham and Bean Soup she had ever had. 

After some complimenting and buttering up, she asked my dad what his secret was, because her attempts at bean soup had not been as good as his.  He said his first trick was sauteing the vegetables before he put them in...gave them some color and texture, while bringing out some more flavor(my wife did this with some carrots and peppers for a Rosemary White Bean Soup she made after talking to my dad...it DID make a difference).

His other secret ingredient was ham concentrate

Yup...in addition to real ham pieces, and the ham bone, he put fake ham into the soup.  He said it just brought out more ham flavor...and my wife swore that it added to the 'mouth feel' too. 

I just couldn't believe what she was telling me...how could my dad have not given me this secret ingredient before?  Aren't fathers supposed to pass this kind of thing down to their sons?


I spent the better part of the last week hunting for this stuff in our local grocery stores.  My dad said he got his at Trader Joe's.  Our nearest Trader Joe's is over two hours away, so after having no local success, I broke down and ordered some on Amazon a few days ago, since I was on their getting a dehydrator for my wife's birthday. 

It showed up today, and hopefully I can have a review of its effectiveness sometime in the next week.  Summer is on its way, which means to my mind, the time frame for a hot bowl of soup is rapidly expiring.  If we don't use some soon, it might be October before I have a good feel for how good it works. 


Mangia, Mangia

I'm a little worried about my corn snake, Gloria.  For the first time since we got her last August, she has gone on a hunger strike.

The lady we got her from said she was feeding her an adult mouse(frozen) every two weeks, but that she had thrown a live mouse in once or twice, and the result had been satisfactory. 

I slightly moved that feeding schedule up, giving her a frozen(well, thawed) mouse every 7-10 days. 

Until the last two weeks, that is.  Starting just over two weeks ago, she began turning up her nose at her thawed mouse.  She would poke her nose out, flick it with her tongue, and just start backing away.  The first time, I wasn't worried...I figured maybe she was just full still...it's not an exact science trying to figure out when a snake is hungry. 

Now, it's extended past three weeks.  I have tried every third day, with two different brands of frozen mice.  I've done some research online, and have found some sources that say this is not unusual among adult corn snakes...a few folks said they have had their snakes go 5-6 weeks with out eating before, just to pick back up and get on their normal schedule again. 

Other than not wanting to eat, her behavior hasn't changed.  I change her water every few days.  She is still drinking and playing in it.  It WAS a little dark in her corner after moving.  With more square footage to cover than we had in our townhouse, we finally got around to rearranging lamps so she could have a bit more direct light. 

As far bringing her to the vet...did I mention we got her for free?  She is a neat snake...but, she is just a snake.  If I woke up tomorrow morning, and found a mongoose had gotten in to her tank and eaten her...I wouldn't be broken hearted...not like when I had my 18-year old cat put to sleep. 

I am thinking I might try her with something live the next few days.  I know corn snakes will eat mice, but that they will occasionally enjoy an anole, or a baby chick.  Of those three, the mouse is the cheapest and easiest to find.  Pet-co sells both mice, and anoles, with the mice being $3.50, and the anole's closer to $10. 

Price aside, I think it would be much easier emotionally to drop a lizard into the tank than a mouse. 

I'm just a softy...

So nice they named it twice.

Just got back from Walla Walla with my wife.  It was a great time away from the 'real world' of being parents.  The only negative from the trip is that it didn't last long enough.  I love my children to death, and I wouldn't trade them for anything...but I also wouldn't mind another 10-years of child free weekends. 

Okay...there is another negative:  I couldn't afford to be a wine-tasting childless Romeo every weekend.  Visiting wineries and lacking will power can get expensive. 

Hey...if you notice, there are 7 bottles of wine, which means at 1 of the 4 wineries we only bought 1 bottle!  A cynic might think that is because the wine cost twice as much at that winery...I prefer to think of it as willpower baby!

Plus, by that point, I had to help my wife get back to the truck.  I'm not sure how people do 'all day' wine country tours...4 wineries is 1.5 hours and she was DUN.

The meat in the picture didn't come from a winery, but rather an organic farmer here in town that we stopped at on the way home...some THICK cut bacon(7 slices per pound) and some apple sausage for breakfast tomorrow.

What did we do other than wine tasting?  We had dinner at Jacobi's Italian Cafe, and breakfast at the aptly named Bacon and Eggs.  Dinner wasn't bad, but the breakfast was better.  You can usually tell a good local place by the line, and at Bacon and Eggs, the line was out the door.  I had some outstanding chorizo and eggs, and my wife had really good Crab Cake Eggs Benedict. 

My wife said the poached eggs on her breakfast(which I initially took to be sour cream) were perfect.  I prefer scrambled, but I can say that her hash-browns had the 'just right' mixture of crisp too soft.

I would compare the dinner we had the night before to the hotel stayed at, The Marcus Whitman...pretensions of being something more than it was.  Walking into the hotel, we were both very impressed by the lobby...and the front desk help was very polite, with plenty of sirs, ma'ams, and thank you's.  The room itself was nice looking...king size bed, nice wall mounted flat screen TV...but the bed was too hard, and the pillow's too soft.  Also...the was no closet in the hotel room, in fact, no place at all the hang up a few pieces of clothing or coats if we had worn them.  Kind of strange.

The restaurant was kind of the same...very nice looking, with part of the dining room being in a romantically decorated train dining car.  The food wasn't bad, but also wasn't blow me away.  I had manicotti with a crab alfredo...it tasted well enough, but it was a strange orange color when it came out...I had left my phone in the truck, or I would have taken a picture of it. 

Other than food and wine, we just did a decent amount of driving around in town.  Walla Walla is a nice town.  Agriculture, wineries and Whitman College have combined for a relaxed feel, with a large number of very cute, well maintained end of 19th century houses. 

It feels like the kind of place that would make my short list of towns to relocate too after winning the lottery. 


Not unlucky for me...

Friday the 13th...Ooooo...scary...hide in the house.

Screw that.  My Mother-in-Law has been in town for the last week or so, and today she is taking the kids overnight so my beautiful wife and I can run away for an afternoon and evening of debauchery(and some wine tasting). 

Grant me strength to be able to walk into a winery and not fall for the '$5 tasting fee, but it applies to the cost of a bottle of wine if you decide to buy it' sales pitch.  If I am not careful, I could come home with 10-12 bottles of wine from this one overnight trip. 

Well, that's a bummer.

Yesterday, I did some talking about my wife's birthday, and in the post, I included a picture of her birthday cake, which was pretty enough, I'll just go ahead and post again, instead of linking to it.

Very pleased with the look and design of the cake.  Like I said earlier, we had won it in a silent auction at a fund-raiser.  My wife knows the lady that makes them, and convinced me to make a pretty secure bid for it.  The finished product was exactly what my wife had pictured when she described the cake to Melissa.  Melissa took it as a challenge, and enjoyed making something different than 'another darn wedding cake'.  If she had a website that I knew of, I would certainly recommend her to anyone in the Tri-Cities looking for a pretty cake.

However, in my world, a cake is not just for looking at.  Taste wise, this cake nailed two of the three components that go into making a tasty cake...the yellow cake inside was good, moist, and actually had flavor.  In my experience, as a chocolate on chocolate guy, I am left wanting for taste in a yello cake, but the cake part of this cake was good.

Likewise, the two different layers of cream in the cake, one vanilla and the other banana/lemon were great.

The ONLY problem with this cake was the fondant.  What a disappointment.  I don't think any of the blame for this goes to Melissa...I believe she buys her fondant...but as someone who REALLY likes the overly sweet, too damn rich frosting that Costco puts on their cakes...I couldn't handle to fondant.  Wrong feel, wrong taste...just wrong.  It might not have been bad....but it didn't mean my flavor expectations.  I actually picked mine off, thinking it distracted from the quality of the cake/filling.

If we give looks 50% of the vote, and then split the taste equally, this cake would score an 83/84 out of 100.  Even replacing with the fondant with something out of a plastic container, like Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker frosting would have made it a 99 out of 100(-1 point for white cake instead of chocolate.)  Yes...I know there is NO way the cake would have looked even half as nice with real frosting, but I'm a guy...taste is just as more important to me than it looking pretty. 

That's just my opinion though.  My wife, and the women playing Bunco, all loved it...I know my wife gave out Melissa's info several times.  From that viewpoint, it was 100% success.

I did notice I wasn't the only one scraping sheets of fondant into the trash though. 



Today was my wife's 32nd Birthday.  I didn't entirely forget about getting her a gift, I just didn't follow through on ordering her gift far enough in advance. 

About 3 months ago, she took a tea making class.  Ever since then, she has been talking about planting her own herbs and making her own tea, and how much easier a food dehydrator would make that process. 

Hey...not the most romatic thing, but after 11 years together, stuff starts getting functional(I mean, for my birthday in May, I think I may be getting a stand-up freezer for the garage). 

A quick little bit of research and I found out that the square/rectangle dehydrator are usually much more efficient than the round type.  Excelsior used to get the best reviews, but on Amazon, the reviews of their last few generations have fallen off a bit.  I ended deciding on a L'Equip unit

I'm not totally a failure as a husband...I stopped at an actual florist(not a grocery store!) on the way home yesterday and bought her a custom bouquet of aster's and carnations. 

The birthday cake was the easiest I had ever had since getting married also.  Back in February, we attended a fund-raiser for our homeschooling co-op, and in the auction, we won a custom cake from a lady here in town. 

Heck...she even delivered.

As you can see, it's a little different caliber than the cake I cranked out over the weekend.  It's also a Bunco cake in addition to a Bunco night...the first Thursday of every night my wife plays in a Bunco group, so she is hosting 11 other crazy ladies tonight.

Maybe I'll even get a piece of the birthday cake...


Well, it could have been worse.

After a 2 week stretch in Washington where 2 children had been killed, and one seriously wounded because of negligent gun storage and handling accidental discharges, things were pretty quiet the last week or so.

Until Easter that is, when the 10-year old daughter of a Spokane Police Officer shot herself in the leg with daddy's duty weapon. 

The incident happened on Sunday, but the Police Department didn't release any information about it until Tuesday, which kind of chaps my hide a bit.  I don't think we need to 'make an example' of this guy because he is a police officer, but I also don't think he deserves extra care and consideration for that reason either.

'We waited a couple days. We wanted the Sheriff’s Office to have an opportunity to investigate. Also, for an officer who was trying to care for a 10-year-old daughter,” Spokane interim police Chief Scott Stephens said, the delay “just felt more appropriate.”

And, if my daughter had accidentally shot herself in the leg with one of my guns, would I have been given some quiet time to care for her? 

I'm sure more will follow...


Ghetto Gardening

Back at the beginning of March, I started a bunch of seeds indoors, based on what I perceived as a warning trend in the weather. 

Here in the real world though, the weather(two days in a row last week it was less than 30 degrees overnight) and my motivation have betrayed me.  While the weather is rapidly warming up(it's not supposed to be less than 42 this whole week) my garden plot is not yet ready to receive.

No one told my beans this though, and two or three of my bean plants are ready to start climbing. 

The solution is not satisfactory, but after 24 hours, the beans seem happy. 

Yes...that is a curtain rod in the one on the right.  On the left, it's half a curtain rod shoved on a wood dowel, with strings running down into the dirt to keep it steady.

They pots should be plenty big enough.  I chose two different sizes to maybe see if the smaller one would get root bound by the end of the season...research about pot size for the future. 

Now I just need to look for a good fertilizer.  I don't worry about the pots being big enough, but I know plants in containers can exhaust their nutrients quickly.  


Terrifying, and more terrifying.

While doing a little internet cruising today, I found two stories that are different, yet each one terrifying in it's own way.

10-year-old girl gives birth in Colombia

Ex-Girlfriend Busted for Brutal Scrotum Attack

Of the two, I would say from a 'scenario that terrifies me' viewpoint, the one about the 10-year old giving birth is worse.  My older daughter turns 10 in June(terrifying in itself).  I can't picture her pregnant.  I mean...I can't picture her engaging in the acts that would lead to pregnancy.  As far as I am aware, my daughter has never even held hands with a boy. 

Home-schooling for the win, yet again.

I realize, that according to this story, the girl belongs to a native tribe in Columbia.  My wife assures me that menstruation can start at age 10(and that I need to be getting ready for it in my daughter(she's turning 10 in June!), and I am aware that in many tribes, the onset of menstruation is what matters when it comes time to talk about 'coming of age' ceremonies. 

I also don't care.  One day my daughter is going to be a beautiful woman...as she is now, NO ONE should be getting sexually excited by, or involved with, her. 


Now...the whole scrotum thing is quite horrible, but, not as bad as the pregnancy just because it is an INDIVIDUAL problem, as opposed to the pain and agony I would be going through while watching my daughter deal with her problems associated with pregnancy. 

Besides...to make a woman mad enough that she tries(and mostly succeeds) to tear your scrotum off with her bare hands, you must have done something to deserve it. 


Learning every day...

Occasionally, as you go through life, you are going to see things that make you go Hmmm.  Sometimes it's neat, sometimes it's fascinating, and sometimes it's something that maybe you should have already known. 

Today, I had one of the 'how did I not know that' moments...and it's so dumb I hope I don't make your brain hurt reading it.

I'm trying to learn to handle a vegetable garden...but when it comes to 'flowering' gardens, I'm fairly ignorant.  The place we owned in Belfair had a yard full of Rhododendron bushes, and we used to put in a few flat's of annuals...but we never really messed with bulbs.  Now since moving in here, we have been enjoying the fruits of other folks labor, with a succession of crocuses, daffodil's and now tulip's coming in. 

Folks...as someone who has only dealt with tulips that I have bought for my wife at the grocery store....I didn't know that tulips OPEN during the day, and close up again at night!  The ones I've had in a vase didn't do that...

Man do I feel like a city slicker...they sure are pretty though. 

Cooking is my excuse...

Getting ready for a sizable Easter Dinner, I didn't seem to have time to make it to church this morning. 

The reason I go to church at all is for my wife and kids....a little unity and consistency by the parents never hurts.  I wasn't raised religous, and haven't found 'faith' on my own.  That doesn't mean I don't appreciate the message The Church puts out...I mean...how can you not approve of a message that says 'Do good things, and live your life properly'?  So...I go, and more often than not, I find myself agreeing with the point of the sermon.  The pastor and I arrive at the same destination...I just take the scenic route.  I mean, two years in a row I have volunteered to help with Sharefest...half of the 'religous' types going to church don't do that...

My two least favorite days to actually go to church are Christmas and Easter.  The crowding is part of it...I've got a craw in my throat for hypocrites, and yeah, I consider Easter/Christmas Christians to be at least minor hypocrites.  I agree with my wife...you can be religious without going to church, and it SHOULD just be about your relationship with the God of your choice...but...hey, going more than twice a year isn't tough.

My big issue with those two days is that on those days, the story of Jesus takes priority over the Live a Good Life message...which probably makes perfect sense to The Faithful.  I however have just enough Jewish background that those two days make ME feel like a Hypocrite.  Because I don't Believe...I tend to mumble certain things are Church while rubbing blue mud in my belly button. 

So...since I don't want my negative vibe cramping anyone elses style...I tend just to stay away on those days.

Next year though, I need an easier to follow up on excuse than dinner for 13 folks....


Baker? Yes. Decorator? Ummm...well, ya' see...

I have my supplemental pork marinating for tomorrow, and my gingersnaps are all ground up for my ham coating.  I also have my carrot cake baked, frosted and in the fridge.

It's the first time I have tried following Alton's carrot cake recipe.  The worst part is having to shred the carrots.  My wife bought a big ol' bag of them, and some of them were quite thin and flimsy...not ideal for shredding. 

The cake smelled great in the oven and while it was cooling...and the cream cheese frosting I got on my hands tasted outstanding...I'm just not sure about the asthetic appeal...

I'd like to say my 6-year old helped me with the decorating, but nope...I deserve all the credit. 

Hey...I know they are carrots.  YOU know they are carrots...the question is would a random person in August know they are carrots?

Checking it twice...

Heading to the store here in a bit so I can begin my two day cooking adventure.  Somewhere along the way, I ended up with 13 folks here for Easter Dinner tomorrow.  The upside is that there isn't one of these folks that will have me rumbling, grumbling or questioning why THEY are here.  Friends one and all, which makes this easier.

The only real negative is that I only bought a 10-pound bone in ham, and I am not sure I am going to get 13 servings of ham out of it(and if I do, the there will be NOTHING left to put in bean soup!!!!!!).  To protect against a lack of protein, I also picked up a package of pork tenderloin.  I follow Alton Brown's City Ham recipe, and so the final cooking stage at 350 degrees should let me get the tenderloin and ham done at the same time. My results from the City Ham recipe have never been less than staggering. 

On the side, we are going to have mashed potatoes, and broiled lemon-pepper asparagus.  The wife is throwing together a salad. 

None of this is tough, so far.  What's going to make it tough is the coordination required to get Brigid's Rosemary and Sea Salt Rolls to the table warm.  Making the dough isn't going to be too tough(although I think I will need two batches).  Baking them so they are still warm and fresh is... I think I will have a window while I am peeling the fat off the ham to cook the rolls.  My only other option is letting the ham rest, and hope it stays warm while the rolls are cooking at the very end.  Or cooking the rolls, and then tossing them back in to warm up again...these rolls are just SOOOOOOO good with warm, dripping butter.

Finally, I will start tonight with making a carrot cake.  One of my friends wives said she is bringing desert...but I hate to trust fate.  I will make Alton Brown's Carrot Cake.  Like most of his recipes, it seems a little more complex than it needs to be...but in the end, it always proves worth it. 

Yup...in the end, Alton and Brigid are my muses...a guy can do worse. 



I'm 100% fine with punishing people who are guilty of firearms offences to the maximum extant of the law.  Of course, I am also fine with punishing ANY legal violation to the maximum extant of the law.  Forgiving person I am not.

Sometimes though, localities get a little carried away.  Whether it's because they want to 'make an example' or are just clinging to ignorance, who knows...but there are times I want to shake my head.

Case in point: Back in October, according to the official story, a guy dropped a 9mm Glock in an apartment.  The gun 'went off' and fired a bullet into the apartment below, where spent bullet pieces/debris hit a girl without causing any injury.  The gun was originally collected and kept by the police during the shooting investigation....but now the City Attorney doesn't want to give the gun back to it's owner, even though he wasn't home when his brother dropped the gun! 

Things aren't over yet...there is supposed to be a hearing on Wednesday.  It's just an extra pain and expense being forced upon this guy...

Oh, you came close to fooling me, Lifetime...

I was flipping through the channels the other day, when a commercial for a new TV show caught my eye. 

Folks...I'm here to tell you...I am a sucker for a pretty girl, and nice hair, and a pleasing, healthy body...and for over 15 years, Jennifer Love-Hewitt has punched all those buttons.  She might not be the worlds best actress, but(Misogyny Alert!), she is one of the 5 or 6 women in this world pretty enough to get me watch a show just because she is in it.  I mean...The Ghost Whisperer is NOT that good...but I have watched plenty of it on netflix.

The only question is, is she pretty enough to get me to watch a show on the Lifetime Network?  The answer...probably not...but I think the only thing really keeping me away is that it isn't on until 10PM, and that's my bedtime on a week night. 

To keep me up past 10, and watching Lifetime, a show would have to have both Jennifer Love-Hewitt AND Christina Hendriks in it, with Miranda Lambert singing the theme song...

I am looking forward to catching 'The Client List' on netflix in 18 months....

Well, that wasn't bad...

My wife has this vision, that one day(or even one dinner) a week, can be meat-free.  I'm not sure WHY she has this vision(she talks about things like 'saving money' and 'general health'...but I think she is really just trying to test my love for her.

As you might be able to tell, I am not very supportive of this meat free 'dream'.  I don't need a slab of steak every night with dinner, but some meat, even as an accent(like ground italian sausage in spaghetti sauce) is highly desired.

Last night, I was not home for dinner.  Some of use from work got together for beer and wings to send off one of my co-workers.  My wife seized on this opportunity to foist a 'meat free' dinner on my kids, who are too young to defend themselves. She made up a pot of Rosemary White Bean Soup.  One of my kids really liked it, and the other said it was okay.

I didn't see a polite way to decline bringing some into work for lunch...and so, I simply resolved myself to taking the hit for love.

You know what...that soup was pretty okay.  More than okay...it was really good.  I even made sure to tell my wife that.  Now...I'm not saying a little bit of sausage or bacon in it wouldn't have made it PERFECT...but if she wants to make this soup again...I'm okay with it. 


Two ways to do this...

A couple of 'Guns DO deter crime' stories in Washington tdoay:

Would-be burglars flee as Wash. woman brandishes gun

Bonney Lake resident shoots at would-be burglar's truck

Of these two stories, I feel a little better about the first one...woman hears someone trying to enter the house, and greats them with a pistol.  The two young folks decided at that point that they had someplace better to be.

The 2nd one, in Bonney Lake ends on a bit more of a question mark.  If I had a chance to think about it, I'm not sure I would admit to firing a round off in the direction of the retreating truck.  If you are still taking shots once the immediate threat has been removed, you are setting yourself up for some serious questioning by law enforcement folks. 

Either way, one would hope that both of these close calls will cause some folks to decide that a life of crime does not pay. 


A shocking development

This weeks winner of the 'Here's Your Sign' Award...

Man shocked by Taser after attempted Richland robbery

By Paula Horton, Herald staff writer

A 30-year-old man was shocked by a Taser after he tried to rob a Richland bank while armed with a wrench, police said.
Eric Forsyth went to the Chase branch at 711 Jadwin Ave. around 12:30 p.m. Monday, raised a large wrench over his head and demanded money from the tellers, said Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb.
Police were called and when officers arrived, Forsyth was still inside the bank being menacing and threatening, he said.
Forsyth was stunned with a Taser and arrested. He was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center and then booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of first-degree robbery.
No one inside the bank was injured, Cobb said.

Like my wife pointed out...this bank is only about 2 blocks from the Police Station in Richland.  Sounds to me like someone just wanted 3 hot's and a cot...


The Good Old Days...

It's common in our culture for the more mature among us to reminisce about how cool things 'used to be'.  Well, to that I would say...not always.

Last week my wife and I finished watching all the 'new' Dr. Who episodes available on netflix, and with my wife being on a Girl Scout Cookie delivery to the West Side of the Cascades, and no 'Walking Dead' to distract me, I sat down and attempted to watch 'Dr. Who: The Pyramids of Mars' from 1975. 

Ugh.  I made it about 10 minutes before I had to turn it off. 

Hey...I'm not running down 1975...I was born in 1975. and some good TV shows were on in 1975:  The Jefferson's started, Wonder Woman(not a great example), Saturday Night Live started, and M.A.S.H. was still on. 

But that old Doctor Who was rough stuff.  Obviously, the stories MUST have been good, or there wouldn't have been a push to get the series I enjoy on TV, so I appreciate and respect what went before...I just can't watch it. 


For my anniversary earlier this week, in addition to love and affection, my wife also granted me the gift of a Leatherman Wingman.  After being married for 11 years, she has accepted the truth that when in doubt, getting me a knife, flashlight, or multi-tool is a safe way to go. 

I really don't have any brand loyalty when it comes to multi-tools.  Gerber, Leatherman, SOG, Victoronix...I'm fine which whatever is on sale, and I would pick any of those over any Target/Wal-Mart/Sportman's Warehouse or any other cheapo store brand. 

One thing I really like about this Wingman, and I won't say it's unique, but it is an unusual feature in a multi-tool, is it's pocket clip.  No more need for an additional holster on my belt, I can just slip it in my pocket like any of my other knives, and that's what I have done this past week. 

My normal carry knife is a Kershaw Leek.  Compared to that the Leatherman is wider, thicker and heavier, but is actually a bit shorter.  Once it's in my pocket, I can't feel any difference between the Leek and the Leatherman.  That being said, I am a guy who prefers loose fitting jeans, so my pockets are sizable.

Features...well...it's got pliers, and different screw-drivers.  I like that you can access the two main tool without needing to unfold the pliers...a pair of scissors on one side, and a knife blade on the other.  Except for one thing, it is a much more useful device to clutter up ones pocket with.

That one thing is almost so silly I hate to mention it...but...if you were the type to carry an open assist knife for last resort tactical purposes, the Leatherman will come up short in that category.  While the users manual says the knife blade is designed to open one handed, there is no stud on the blade to get a good grip on.  In practice, I AM able to get the blade open one handed, but not always the first time.

Maybe I'll start carrying this in my left pocket, and keep my Kershaw in my right pocket...see if my belt can keep my pants up all day.


The Hunger Games

Yesterday, I went and saw 'The Hunger Games' with my wife.  As we were talking about the movie afterwards, I told her I guess I didn't see what the big deal was all about.  Not the movie itself...it was an enjoyable, well done movie that stuck pretty close to its source material.  I was referring more to the little of bit of 'too much violence' controversy that has followed the movie.  Many of the frequent early reviews said contained some variation of the theme 'this would be an excellent movie if it wasn't for all the violence.'

Frankly, I didn't see that much violence.  Certainly no worse than what one saw in 'The Lord of the Rings' Trilogy.  In fact, there were points where Katniss looked much less blood-splattered than Aragon. 

My wife, perhaps more insightful of human nature than I am, said she thought the problem people had was that in 'Hunger Games', the violence was kid on kid.  She may be right...I mean there aren't a whole lot of movies where you'll see a 17-year old reach out and just snap a 14-year olds neck. 

When it comes to movies, she thought the real problem might be that folks have stopped believing what PG-13 is supposed to mean.  'The Hunger Games' is certainly a movie where you need to stop and evaluate your individual child.  An 11-year old that plays a lot of Call of Duty would probably be fine.  My 9-year old would have gotten weepy about the scene where they were roasting a squirrel over the open fire, let alone killing each other.

It is a good movie.  They do as good of a job of translating the 'combat' section of the book to screen as they could have done.  The only thing lacking in the transition to the movie is opening part of the book...you don't quite see how desperate and razor thin the edge is for these folks living in District 12.  It feels too much like modern day Appalachia and not enough Mad Max. 

The acting and casting are good.  Is Jennifer Lawerance prettier than what I pictured Katniss?  Sure...but she IS Katniss in this movie.  They also re-do things a bit to make her a more sympathetic character.  The movie lacks some of her internal monologue where is drives home just how much she is playing Petta, and how much she think Petta might be playing her.  To watch the movie, you might think they actually like each other.  I'm curious to see how they handle this in the later movies.

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket impressed me.  The picture in my mind of Effie was closer to 50-something and dumpy, not a knock-out hottie like Elizabeth Banks is in real life...but she captures the character perfectly, and the make-up the have her in keeps her beauty from being distracting. 

My wife dug Lennie Kravitz also impresses as Cinna, coming across as one of the few warm, friendly roles in the movie.  Donald Sutherland, as the evil, manipulative President Snow is quite the opposite, but there is no one else I can picture in that role now. 

Not a perfect movie, but one of the better 'from a book' movies I have seen in a long while.  I would give it 8.75 out of 10.