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



Modern technology is great.  We can turn on CNN and watch the East Coast feed for New Years, meaning we can let the kids stay up and drink some sparkling cider and blow on their noise makers without them being demons tomorrow. 

It's also great for mom and dad.  Or dad at least.  My wife is a little more of a night owl than I am...her natural rhythm is stay up late and sleep in, while mine is Ben Franklin Early to Bed, Early to Rise. 

Anyway...we watched the ball drop, and the girls toasted it with their sparkling cider, while the wife and I had some sparkling wine.  No champagne for me...the last time I tried a brut(which was a few years ago) I was unimpressed.  My wife and I prefer Matini and Rossi Asti.  Sweet and bubbly, you do want to drink some water afterwards...or after the first glass cut it with some OJ and Peach Schnapps for faux bellini's, otherwise you might wake with an aching head.

It's too late for anything deep or philosophical...last year had some highs, and it had some lows, but the highs were higher than the lows were low(and if you can follow that, you also must have drunk 3/4's of a bottle of asti because your wife was 'taking it easy').

I hope everyone out there is playing it safe tonight, and is as happy with their last year as I have been with mine. 

The sacrifices I make.

One of the gifts I got for Christmas was this 'Flex Edge Beater' for my stand mixer.  I've been wanting to test/review some of my new presents, and lacking zombie heads to test my tomahawk on, I figured this was something easy to start with.

If one is testing a new tool, you might as well try a new recipe at the same time, hence, these Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins:

First, the muffins came out good.  My older daughter begged for a 3rd after having her first two.  While I've enjoyed working in the kitchen, until the last few years, I never considered myself much of a baker.  My cook meat!  With more free time on my hands the last two years, I've been spending more of it in the kitchen, working on my cooking skills.  That gave me the confidence to modify this recipe a bit, using 50-50 AP and whole wheat flour, and 50-50 white sugar and brown sugar. 


As far as the fancy new beater paddle...it works.  I still had to scrape the bowl down with a spatula, but only once, instead of a few times.  The only negative is that tended to wipe things up the side of the bowl more than down....and it had a tendency to 'slap' the side.  I just means you need to be even more gentle in starting things up until your dry goods get incorporated. 

It's a good tool, and it will get used again.


The creeping horror.

Earlier this week, my wife took my kids to the store so they could use the gift cards they go from out of town relatives to supplement their Christmas gifts.  My older daughter, in a totally innocent move that reeks of impending teenage rebellion decided to buy something that she knows has the potential to have her father climbing the curtains:

A ten-inch remote control spider.

I am not a fan of spiders.  I go out of my way not bother them outside, because I know what they do...but inside, I am ruthless.  As soon as I get over my heebie-jeebies.
My daughter has already been warned that if she leaves it out after dark, I will not be held responsible for blasting it into a pile of plastic scrap metal with a load of 12ga buck. 


Dinner Experiment

Earlier today, I found myself at the grocery store, with no real idea of what I wanted to make for dinner tonight.  I decided to let the 'you better cook it and eat it today' discount meat shelf be my guide.  A couple of packages of chicken thighs marked down to $1.50 a pound seemed to be the best choice.

My normal plan with chicken thighs is seasoning them well(garlic powder, cumin, paprika) and then bake them low and slow, until the meat falls off the bone...then the meat can be used in any number of applications. 

I didn't feel like doing that though.  Instead, I used the wonder that is modern technology to find myself a solution.  I used Safeway's Wi-Fi and my magical phone to access Foodgawker(one of my top three places for recipes, along with Brigid and Alton Brown), and picked this recipe for Crispy Chicken Thighs with Prunes

Wow....you really can't see the rice on that plate.

Now...the trained eye might recognize that those aren't prunes on that chicken.  Correct.  I guess you could actually say I was inspired by that recipe rather than following it 100%.  Instead of buying prunes, I already had dried apples and cranberries at home...and instead of opening a bottle of brandy, I used some amaretto and huckleberry cordial.  I think I actually liked the almond overtones that the amaretto added. 

The ultimate grading of the recipe came from my family, who approved so much that 4 chicken thighs was barely enough to go around.  I was kind of hoping I would get to 'help' my daughters finish their chicken, but no luck...although my wife did let me have half of her crisped chicken skin.  The fact that she ate any of it proves how good it was. 

Good Job, Marine

On Friday, a (suspected) burglar(who was caught in the act, but we still have to say 'suspected'), got caught in the wrong house.

Home for the Holidays, 22-year old Marine Corporal Alex Pohle returned to his parents house to find the door open and his dog sitting out of the front yard.  Realizing something was amiss, he left his wife in the car to call the police, and went inside to investigate.  Inside the home, he encountered 43 year old entrepreneur(or 'suspected thief') Christopher Schwanke, whom he proceeded to 110% Marine on, subduing him with some type of choke hold, and keeping him restrained until the police arrived.

Corporal Pohle, you are one heck of a man.  It's almost too bad that 'suspected' burglar(who has a 27 YEAR criminal record) didn't give you an excuse to snap his neck instead of just choking him out.  In fact, I'm impressed the young Marine had the discipline to 'stop the threat' without going too far. 

So, major standing ovation for Corporal Pohle.

I'm very glad it all worked out for him, and didn't end worse.  I am not sure that presented with the same scenario I would have responded the same way.  Let's say I came home from work, and found the front door wide open, and my wife's car was not around, and something just didn't 'feel right'.  I use the 'coming home from work' scenario to explain why I would be unarmed, and why I am not sure I would rush right into the house. 

This Marine got lucky in that his parents house only occupied by one unarmed(or too surprised to go for his weapon) 'suspected' thief.  Rushing into an unknown situation like that is risky, and, unless I suspected my family was in danger inside, I think I might just default to 'call it in and observe'.  Even in this case, the bad guy was trying to make off with moms jewelry, and dads hunting knife.  Things could have gotten ugly if he has his hands on one of dads skinning knifes when the Corporal burst in. 

If there was a strange car in my drive way, I would pull in and block it, but I'm not going to seek an encounter with unknown numbers and sizes of bad guys.  I'm not now, and never have been, a 22 year old Marine.  I used to wrestle and play football, and I can still be semi-intimidating when I'm not wearing superhero aprons, but I'm still not going to be looking for trouble. 



Busy day today...I'm just gonna have to take the easy way out for now, and post a link to post from Jay earlier today.  The first picture is my daughter...guess he felt the need to fire a strong opening salvo.


Score this one as a win.

One of the 'smaller' things that the girls got from Santa this year is the 45th Aniversary edition of Mary Poppins.  This was added to the list after a discussion between my wife and I made it clear that they have never seen Mary Poppins.

Heck, the truth is, it's probably been about 15 years since I have seen it too.  I was a little concerned that it might not stand the test of time compared to Cars and Monsters Inc.

Luckily, my fears were groundless.  The kids LOVED it, even if there was a time or two they were slightly confused.  'Daddy, why are they talking so strange?'

Even my wife and I enjoyed watching it.  It was the first time for either of us as parents and that causes you to look at somethings differently.  For instance, I had never really realized it before, but Julie Andrews was really quite attractive.  I thought she looked a little like Colbie Smulders(Robin from How I met your mother).

Now I just need to convince my younger one that Chimney Sweep is not a preffered career choice.


The many sides of the holiday.

Christmas has come and passed, and I can't think of a better one I have ever had.

The day started out good the night before.  Due to actual foresight and planning, my wife and I were able to be in bed before 11, which is early for Christmas Eve.  Usually it's a late night wrapping and assembling gifts. 

Then the girls slept in pretty decently.  I was laying awake in bed, and heard my older daughters door open about 6:45.  She went to the restroom, and then I'm pretty sure she crept around the tree a bit, just because it was a while before I heard her door open again.  About 15 minutes after that, my wife and I giggled because we heard here leave her room again to creep down the hall.  Mt wife called out that she better come and snuggle with us before looking at presents, and within 10 minutes, our younger one was in the bed also.

A queen sized bed is not really made for 4 people, even if two are kids, but it was a pleasant start to things, and bittersweet.  The girls are 7 and 10...we are approaching the point were that might not ever happen again...and yeah. 

Moving on.  Presents!

The girls seemed happy with what they got...big things included a new DS for our younger one, and a big dinosaur hunter lego set plus some K'Nex for the older one. 

I know...it's not supposed to be about the presents, but when you get those smiles...it makes you want to buy them whatever they ask for.

Mama did okay...she got a Kindle Fire, and a set of Addi Click adjustable knitting needles, and a new set of gold hoop earings.

Me?  Well, For the kitchen I got a new meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aide, and a self-scrapping paddle, and some new wooden spoons and spatulas, and an apron my wife had one of her friends make.  Then there was a new rechargeable spotlight, and a few Dresden Files books, and yes, a tomahawk.


Let me get back to you on that one...

A full reporting of all the goodies I got, and gave will follow.  For now, I will leave you with the questions I got asked by my older daughter(now 10.5 years old), who I think is increasingly suspicious, but still a hard core believer, in Santa. 

How can one be both suspicious AND a believer?  Because she believes in Santa, but she is a technical girl, and so she is full of curiosity as to how Santa can do what he does.

'Daddy...is Santa gave Maureen her Nintendo DS for Christmas, how did you, mommy and Nana know to get her DS games?'(Answer: Santa gave us a heads up in an e-mail two weeks ago when he was checking on your behavior.)

'Daddy...how come some of the toys have store stickers on them?  I thought the elves made the toys.'(Answer: Too many kids in the world now...Santa had to outsource.)

While watching A Christmas Story: 'Daddy...what did he say if he didn't say 'fudge''?(Answer: A word that is SO bad they couldn't say it on TV, so even Daddy doesn't know what it is.)

'Daddy...do I have to keep wearing this?"(Answer: Only long enough for me to get a picture to embarrass you with someday.)

Merry Christmas.

It doesn't matter what's under the tree, because I couldn't ask for more than what is beside it. 

Rest assured, I will be back later to brag about my haul.

May your day be Merry and Bright.


The Calm Before the Storm.

Things are quiet now. 

My wife is on the couch, knitting, drinking tea, and watching Warehouse 13 on netflix.  The kids are in the family room, building tinker toy animals and watching Madagascar.  The cats are on the couch, staying out from underfoot.

Soon, things will get busy.  We are going to Christmas Eve service at 4.  Before that, I've got a few cooking things to get going.  While we are just staying at home tomorrow, and it's only going to be the 4 of us, there are somethings I can do ahead of time to keep from stressing out.  The girls are going to help me make the pumpkin(really hubbard squash) pie here in a bit.  After dinner I will employ them again to help tear up raisin bread and mix up the custard for my bread pudding.  With both deserts out of the way, the only other thing I want to get done tonight is the dough to make some of Brigid's Rosemary and Salt Rolls.  The dough might not get fully risen in the fridge, but I can pull them out to finish rising at some point tomorrow.

After that, calm should reign again.  My wife and I actually on have about 3 things to finish wrapping.  Everything else is in the garage hiding from the kids, and ready to go under the tree. 

I think tomorrow will be a good day, and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.   

Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right.

Now, first off, as someone who has had to work for most of my adult life with people that can't realistically be fired due to the difficulties of firing government/union employees(and making it stick), I respect an employers right to hire and fire as they choose.  You shouldn't need to justify why you don't want someone working for you.

But, since that justification IS required for the most part in the United States, I must say that this case out of Iowa is one of the LAMEST justifications for firing I have heard.

Dental Assistant Fired For Being 'Irresistible' Is 'Devastated'

So, to boil it down to the basics, dentist and dental assistant have worked together for 10 years.  After 10 years, he decides(or his wife, who also works in the same practice) decides the way she dresses and behaves is 'irresistable' and a 'threat' to her employers marriage. 

I don't buy it.  While I would never say a woman in her 30's(or 40's or 50's or even 60's if her name is Jane Seymour), it is unlikely that she will be more of a threat to his marriage in her 30's than in her 20's.  The article has pictures and video of the dental assistant in question, and while she is attractive, she is not a knockout, I would not qualify her as 'irresistable', even if she is potentially playing it down for the media. 

What I'm saying is that if she wasn't irresistible then, she's isn't now.  Using that as the excuse to fire her is LAME. 

We all know why she was fired...the wife.  Most likely, the wife is also now 10 year older, which means 10 years more jealous....and a marriage that is 10 years more stressed.  100% she said 'She goes, or I go.' 

So...he fired her to save his marriage. 

I just don't think it will work.

In the past, I worked with a fair number(3 or 4) fairly attractive females, one or two whom I would label as knockouts.  Never once did my wife feel the need to give me an ultimatum.  That shouldn't have to happen in a healthy marriage. 

I've just got the feeling that his guy fired his dental assistant for no reason.  If his wife wanted something to be upset about and harp on him about...she's going to find something else. 



Earlier in the week, Borepatch posted a video of a great modern Christmas song done by Shedaisy and Rascal Flats.  Now, Borepatch and I seem to share an opinion about Rascal Flats...no matter how many records they might sell, or how many concerts they might sell out, they are never going to get the respect from me that the Zac Brown does. 

I'm sure this worries Rascal Flats all the way to the bank.

Shedaisy, on the other hand, is one of those bands that I can't believe never ended up bigger.  They write some of their own songs, they sing some bad-ass harmonies, and they are sisters with a high level of aesthetic appeal.  That should be the recipe for success.

The only thing I can figure is that there is only so much room at the top of the mountain(radio play time IS finite), and The Dixie Chicks beat them to the top of that mountain by a few years.

Anyway, if you are looking for a GOOD Christmas CD, I highly recommend Brand New Year, by Shedaisy.  It's a very, very good blending of some updated 'traditional' songs, as well as a few catchy originals, of which this one, Tinsektown, is my favorite.  I can listen to their harmonies year round, and just ignore the lyrics. 

I have a particular set of skills...

I love that scene in Taken where Liam Neeson tries to give the kidnappers a way out, by warning them about his 'particular set of skills...skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.'

I too, have a particular set of skills.  Need a nuclear power plant operated, or the water chemistry of said reactor tested?  Groovy.  Something sweet and tasty baked up, or a dinner for 8-10 prepped?  Give me a call.

Want a gift wrapped up pretty?  Maybe you need to go look somewhere else.  This time of year reminds me that I am one of those people for whom gift boxes and bags are created. 

Earlier this week, I tried to help my wife out by wrapping a few presents that were going to my moms.  She received them today, and said it was very sweet of me to have my daughters help wrap the presents.

Except, they didn't. 

Oh well...at least I know the limitations of my set of skills...


Wild Goose Chase.

Started my extended(6 day) weekend yesterday, and searching for something to do, I convinced my wife we should get in the car, and head to the town of Dayton for some light antiquing and lunch.  I then added in, 'since we were going to be in that direction, maybe we could swing out into the fields and hills between Dayton and Pomeroy and look at a parsel of land that is for sale'. 

I wasn't fooling her....recognizing that I was really looking for an excuse to go on scenic drive, she made sure to grab some knitting and books for the girls. 

Dayton was as advertised...there is just something about it that feels right.  There was some antique shopping, and yarn shopping, and lunch at the Grain House Grill.  It's a newer restaraunt, and this is only the 2nd time I've eaten there, but it's now neck and neck with Skye Book and Brew as my favorite place to eat in Dayton.  My wife and older daughter both had the 'American Kobe' burgers, and they must have been good, because they both ate all of their 1/3rd pound burgers, and my younger daughter tried to eat all of her grilled cheese with bacon sandwhich, but allowed me to help with the last two bites. 

After that, it was back in the car for a frustrating 2.5 hour drive.  You see...the address of the property I was looking for, doesn't exist.  As with some rural property that they are still making roads to get to, the property has a street name, but the actual address is TBD...but that street doesn't show up on any map I've tried to use.  However, there is a creek with the same name in the area, so I tried to use that as a guide for maybe getting close enough to find a 'For Sale Sign' pointing me closer.

No luck...although we did find come across over 50 deer(only one sad looking spike buck amoung them) and about the same number of turkeys. 

Despite the lack of luck, I can't say the time was wasted.  I had a great lunch with my family, the kids were PERFECT the whole day, and I got to hold my wife's hand when she wasn't knitting. 

We were close to the property...the land looked like what the pictures on the internet show...rolling fields with pine trees in the draws.  I was totally satisfied with the amount of wildlife we saw.  The piece of land for sale is not huge...10 acres, which is not necessarily big enough to go hunting on, but it is big enough that if one were to convince turkeys and mule deer to hang out on the property, you could safely shoot it. 

That's appealing. 

Since we aren't really in a position to buy it right now, I'm not too upset I couldn't actually walk to property.  We need to get through buying this house first...but after that?  Well, there is a reason we are buying a house in the 150K price range.  Getting our hands on vacation property IS a priority.  If this is still out there 4-6 months from now, then I might actually worry about talking to an agent and saying 'escort me to this property so I can walk the boundary.'

Until then, I will dream.



Well, I would volunteer, but...

Well, that's kind of depressing....the NRA's big responce to all the calls for gun control is 'volunteer armed guards at schools'.


Now...I don't think that is a 100% horrible idea....and I would certainly volunteer for the task, but it kind of overlooks the fact that most of our schools are gun free zones.  If we do away with the gun free zones, I think that's 90% of the battle...we just need to remove the impression that schools are soft targets.  I think 2 or 3 staff members who decide to carry at work would be just as effective, and much less controversial, then 'volunteer armed guards'. 

If this is the best the NRA can come up with, I think we might take a step or two backwards on this one.

That's just not working for me...

I'm a fan of Christmas songs.  I like the classics, the originals, and the remakes of the classics(I think that covers it all). 

Of those, the remakes have the toughest row to hoe.   People get a lot more emotionally attached to Christmas songs than other songs, and if you mess with one of their favorites, there is a very narrow window for success. 

Few people would argue that 'Santa Baby' is not one of the big Christmas songs, and there are a number of GOOD versions out there: The Eartha Kitt original, Madonna, and even Kelly Pickler for a recent attempt.  Notice something about all those names?  Female, most of them emphatically so. 

The opposite of Michael Buble.  Talk about a question that didn't need answering 'How would this song sound when done by a man?'  This is nothing against Mr. Buble...he is an interesting singer in a genre all by himself..this just didn't need to be done.


The Stupid...it burns my eyes!

I've been trying to avoid reading too many stories about the new drive for gun control, because they just upset me.  Wednesday night though, I couldn't avoid clicking on this Op-Ed piece on the Seattle Times website:

National gun buyback would reduce violence, boost economy

For real...lets go another 100 BILLION in debt to try a massive gun buy back program.

Although, if they can do it for $500 a gun, I WILL go buy  a suitcase full of Pheonixs' at Ranch and Home...


Saved me from myself

For a while Sunday through Monday, I had an itch.  Between the horrible things that happened in Connecticut on Friday, and some the things that Obama and other politicians have been saying, I had a bad, bad jones to hit the local ACE Hardware and see if they still had any AR's in stock.  Over the last year, they have always had 2 or 3 AR's on sale...usually DPMS's for under $800.  I figured if I went down there, and they still had them in that price range(or even $20-50 more) that I might pick one up....typical panic purchase.

Life events quickly began trying to change my mind. 

While I was in my truck to go run some erands Sunday, I noticed my 'Battery Voltage Low' light was flickering on and off.  I checked the battery and noticed there was a fair amount of corrosion on the positive post.  After doing some actual maintenance on the battery, and taking the connection apart and putting it back together, the light was still on.

Monday morning, after rolling back over, I swung by Les Schwab, figuring it was easier to have them test the battery than assuming it was an alternator issue.

It was an alternator issue.

After dropping the truck off at a local mechanic, it was off to the inspection of the house we are trying to buy, where I had to write a check.  Following that, we went to the Mortgage Brokers office to sign some paperwork, and then to write a check for the appraisal.  On the way home from the mortgage brokers, I got a call that the alternator was all swapped out and ready for pickup, so we went to get my truck, where I got to write a 3rd check. 

Yeah, well...between those three checks, and the way my wifes eyes kept lighting up as she was decorating the new house in her mind('Oooo....and a new couch here, and some curtains there) I decided that the time had past to pick up a new AR.  As some folks would say, the time to purchase an AR has long past.



As I said earlier...

It was a little breezy today.  I took this picture(from the passenger seat!) as we drove by John Dam Plaza in Richland about noon today.

No FEMA trailers in site, yet.

All total, we saw at least 30 trees, most of them in the 40-50 foot range blown over.  Part of the problem is that the natural desert weather patterns here in the Tri-cities don't promote deep root growth.  The other problem is there were several gusts in the 75-80mph range.

In addition to the trees, the were lots of shingles on the ground.  The house we are renting had about 15-20 of them blown of the roof last night, and the house we are trying to be had about 3 of them missing when the home inspector went up there today.  Other than that, there were a few other minor things noted by the inspector, but he also said that if I hadn't told him that the house was built in 1952, he wouldn't have guessed it. 

Might as well roll back over..

There's a front passing through out there...overnight the temperature has gone up 10 degrees, and the wind has arrived.  I'm listening to it howl, and according to my phone it's averaging 28mph, with gust to 46mph, and that's in town. That means out on the great wide open that is the Hanford site we are averaging over 30mph, with gusts over 50.

Not a lot gets done outside in this kind of conditions. 

Oh, we will do some inside stuff, and there are some calibrations and planning jobs we can do so we aren't wasting the tax payers money just staring at ourselves, but most of the true high risk outside work is put on hold in these type of conditions.  Crane's can't operate, and you really don't want to open a highly contaminated piping system outside.  If a gust of that wind catches something the wrong way, it can be in Walla Walla right quick, and that's what's known as a bad PR day.  Hypothetically.

Anyway...our inspection is scheduled for 10am this morning, and then at 1 we meet with our mortgage guy to actually sign some paperwork.  I told my boss I was going to come in for a few hours first...but I find my motivation lacking. 

The real deciding factor is that if I stay home instead of leaving for a few hours, my presence will greatly impact my wifes ability to get some useful homeschooling done in the morning...and I would rather face the wind than her with her hackles up. 


Well, at least I can keep my Marlin.

I haven't done much pontificating on the horrible, horrible events in Connecticut because chances are that if you are a regular visitor here, you share my opinion.  It was a sad, terrible event, and the act of a mentally broken and morally bankrupt individual.

Now, because this individual used firearms in the commission of this heinous act, we law full gun owners once again find ourselves under siege, having to defend that which shouldn't need defending. 

What it all boils down to, to me at least, is that I don't see ANYWAY in which taking the guns out of my house will prevent this from happening again.  In the end, you CAN NOT prevent someone who does not value human life(especially their own) from carrying out horrible acts like this.  If said person doesn't care about surviving, there is no possible deterrent to prevent this....all you can do is minimize the damage they can create.

One way to do this WOULD be eliminating high capacity, repeatable weapons.  Even a pro-gun person such as myself has to admit that the very thing which makes a gun desirable for me to own(it's usefulness and efficiency at it's designed task) allows it to do extreme damage in the wrong hands. 

But note, I said eliminating...not just making it tougher/more difficult for the law-abiding types out there.  It would require the rounding up and destruction of every weapon out there...and even then, it would only eliminate gun violence.  Like I said before, if the bad guy doesn't care about surviving, a whole world of violent options open up to them...and without guns, they will still find a way to commit terrible, terrible acts, killing children, and making people like me heart-sick, because those little children will still be dying, but I would then have no guns to protect MY family.

Anyway...why start is by saying I can still keep my Marlin?  Bah...I've been trying to avoid the news, because it just makes me frustrated to listen to it, just like I've been trying to avoid facebook.  I made one or two attempts early on to play the cool, logical, reasonable gun owner, but after being told once or twice it's my fault those kids are dead...I gave up. 

I couldn't totally avoid the news though, and at one point this morning, I caught a talking head on TV talking about the (latest version) of the guns used, and the guns that the sicko decided to leave at home.  The talking head was quick to label the guns left at home 'collectibles', and hint that they wouldn't have been able to take human lives, which is why he left them at home.  The guns he described were a .22 'training rifle', a bolt-action Enfield, and a Henry-Lever Action. 

Nice to know I have a number of 'non-dangerous' guns they might let me keep.  Does that mean I don't need to follow the 4 rules when I use my lever-action .357? 


Does that come with dancing girls?

Earlier this week, my wife decided she was going to do a really, really, REALLY nice thing for me.  Knowing that I love challah bread, especially when I am going to make french toast, she spoke with one of the bakers at the local food co-op, and placed an order with him for four loaves of challah bread.  That may sound like a lot, and is more than we can use in the short-term, but it freezes pretty well if all you are going to do with it when you thaw it is make french toast.

Friday, I came home from work to find 4 fine looking loaves of bread on the counter.  I complemented my wife on her good taste, and she made a strange face while she accepted the compliment.  Feeling the need to dig deeper, I asked her what they cost.

I never got a direct answer out of her, but she did say, 'Next time I'll ask the price before I place the order'. When I guessed $25, which would have been six bucks a loaf, she said I was getting close. 

Oh well...no need to dig deeper than that.  I don't believe the guy was sticking it to us...challah is time consuming to make.  What matters is, when I made french toast for dinner tonight, it came out fantastic.  We then put some of the homemade blueberry syrup my wife canned over the summer on it, and it was MORE than fantastic.  It was fricking awesome. 

I'm still not 100% certain ANY loaf of bread, even custom ordered organic challah is worth seven dollars a loaf. 


Even a broken clock is right twice a day...

I find myself in the unenviable position of being okay with something President Obama said today, when he said that the Federal Government has bigger fish to fry than going after legal pot users in Washington and Colorado. 

Now, he most carefully doesn't say what the Feds might or might not do about growers and sellers...but at least those folks who DO want to indulge in the privact can do so with little fear that they will end up in jail with violent criminals violating their body cavities.

It's all Greek to me...

These last few months, my wife and kids have been participating in a Greek History Co-Op.  The lesson plans wrapped up this week, and the moms decided to put the finishing touches on my having a Greek themed costume dinner last night.

So, lets see.  The short one is supposed to be Aphrodite, the one on the right is supposed to be Athena, and I'm pretty sure the one in the middle decided she is an Oracle. 

What was dad?  There was a reason I took the picture instead of posing in it, and it's not just because I'm not pretty.  There were 4 of us dads that went, and none of us got into the costume spirit.  I told me wife the only costume I was willing to wear is that of a Spartan Warrior, and she decided jeans and a blue shirt was Greek enough.

The food was good...Gyro meatloaf, and Greek spaghetti, and lots of things with olives and feta, plus feta for desert.

Overall though, the best part was realizing how much the kids had learned as they argued over which God/Goddess was the most powerful. 

'Yeah, but I'm Athena...I sprung from Zeus's head fully grown...that makes me more powerful than you, because you just married Hades and have power of the underworld!'


Hope she likes the Christmas Present.

Well, after a few weeks of being wishy-washy as far as looking for a new house, my wife and I found a house that met all of our requirements, as well as being low in the price band we had set for ourselves. 

Because history has proven that the chances increase that you will make a bad decision the longer you think about it, we got the ball rolling Monday to put in an offer.  Much pain ensued, but after some running around, we got the mortgage guy enough paperwork that he was willing to give us a pre-approval letter, and we sat down with our agent to put in an offer.

At noon I got a phone call with a counter offer, which we accepted.

Yay...we get to start the adventures of being homeowners again!

It's a nice house...at 1940SF it's big enough for us, but not too big(although my wife is already looking at a couch for the living room).  The back yard has several grape vines growing in it, which has the potential to be nice next fall.  To my wife's delight, it even has a room already set up for homeschooling.


Closing probably won't happen until the end of January, which is almost perfect timing as our lease is up at our current place at the end of February.  We will get to enjoy Christmas, and then start boxing things up.  Luckily, we have a lot of experience with that now...this will be the 4th move since December of 2010.

Even more luckily for me, it means me wife will be doing most of the packing!


And that's why I eat red meat.

I was flipping through yahoo this morning, and came across this somewhat horrifying story about mislabeled seafood in New York City. 

Now, with the disclaimer that I don't believe that this 'Oceana' is a 100% unbiased research group in cases like this, I am not the least bit surprised that something like this is going on....but it is more widespread than I thought it might be. 

I'm not picking on New York either, because the article says things are even worse in Boston and Los Angeles. 

The somewhat surprising stat is that the smaller stores were WAY worse offenders than major chains.  When I think 'smaller', I tend to think 'fancier', because that has been my experience here in the Northwest.  I forgot that the one thing a larger chain has going for it is better management, and the need to protect a regional or even nationwide reputation.

I'd be kind of curious to see how a investigation like this would do in Seattle.  Folks here in the Northwest tend to be a fairly 'sophisticated' when it comes to food.  Speaking for myself, I've caught halibut, cod, ling cod and salmon.  I know what those fish look like, and would recognize it under most circumstances.  Cod would be the easiest to fool me on. 

Now, where you could fool me is with bottom fish, and shell fish.  I couldn't tell you the difference between flounder and sole when they are swimming, let alone when it's a fillet in a cold case.  Also, while I can pick out a scallop from a clam from an oyster, I couldn't tell the difference between a Manilla and a Littleneck.

The only really good news is that so far there hasn't been a story about people selling goat and calling it Angus. 


Now where did I put that again?

After going back and forth on the whole 'should we buy a house or wait' thing, my wife and I hit an open house this weekend that we really, really liked.  After much deep and serious talking, we decided to get ahold of an agent and make an offer.

Then the pain started.

On one of our discussed timelines, we were going to spend November getting pre-approved for a loan before putting an offer in. 

That didn't happen, and so now that we want to put an offer in, today was full of much 'hair on fire' as we tried to start rounding up the paperwork to apply for the loan: W-2's, 1040's, bank statements, and pay stubs.

Most of it's easy, and can be printed off the computer.  The only one giving me difficulty is my most recent W-2 form, which is frustrating, because I KNOW we did our taxes back in April, and I KNOW I collected copies of everything I printed off from Turbo Tax, and put it away with my the W-2 forms also.

And now I just can't remember where I put it. 


It's another one of those 'no one to blame but myself' things.



One of my tasks for Saturday involved swinging through Safeway and cashing in our coins that had been rounded up around the house.  I won't even begin to try to guess the weight of our collected coins, but I DO know it was over 2 quarts worth of coins. 

Now, the hardcore money savers out there are going to flinch over this, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I pay the 9.8% fee to use the Coin Star machine at the store.  I just don't consider it worth my effort to cash coins in on my own.

One of the entertaining things about using the Coinstar machine is trying to convince the machine to take every coin, which can sometimes mean feeding the rejected coin through 3 or 4 times before giving up. 

Saturday, I had one dime sized coin that out stubborned me, forcing me to take a closer look at it, and boy, am I glad I did. 

Obviously upon closer examination, it was easy to tell that the coin was Canadian...a common enough find up here in this border state.  What was tougher to figure out is who the joker was on the other side of the coin...it certainly wasn't Queen Elisabeth.  Instead, it was King George VI, because the coin was 1952.  That means it wasn't just any dime, but rather an 80% SILVER dime, having a value of roughly $2...

I am SOOOOOO ready for the zombies....

Trifecta Perfecta!

Made two trips out yesterday, with the goal being the completion of my Christmas shopping.  I would say I was mostly successful, completing 60-70% of it.  The morning trip was better than the afternoon session, since the afternoon session included bringing my 7 year old out to get her shopping done, which really just involved walking down each and every aisle in the toy section at Wal-Mart and Target while she showed me things SHE was interested in. 

The big purchase for the day was made at the store formerly known as Sportsman's Warehouse...a Rossi Trifecta, intended for my oldest daughter.  With a .22lr, .243 and 20ga barrel, I paid $350 for it, which was actually a bit less than another store in town wanted for a Rossi Matched Pair, which just had the .22 and 20ga. 

It seems like a slick little gun, and a great training tool.  The .22 barrel has a cute little set of fiber optic sights on it, the 20ga has a bead on the front, and .243 has normal open sights, and is threaded for a scope, which I didn't buy yet. 

The range report will have to wait a bit...my guess is a month or two, but hopes are high.  All I know is it sure feels tiny, and it should fit my daughter okay...even my full size 10-22 is too big for her to hold comfortably.  Heck, now my only problem might be stealing it from my wife.  When I showed it to her yesterday, and let her hold it, it kind of confirmed for me that I should be looking more at youth/bantam sized stocks for her. 


The good ole' days.

This evening, we sat down for a little quality family time.  The goal was kicking back and watching a Christmas movie of some sort on Netflix. 

Rather than starting a whole movie, we decided to watch a collection of old cartoons, labeled Christmas Classics, Volume 1, from 1952.  The headliner, if you will, was the original Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  That one wasn't half bad, even though I missed Herbie who wanted to be a dentist.  However...

The 2nd cartoon was called Santa's Surprise, and it was about how a bunch of kids from around the world snuck home on Santa's sleigh, and helped clean his house while he was sleeping.  That's all well and good, except, the cartoon was made back in 1947, and well...it might go without saying, but the cultural sensitivities were different then than they are now.  There was a scene in the video, starting at 12:19, that made me gasp out loud. 

I think what they were going for was United Colors of Benetton....but that's not how it comes across 65 years later.  What was even funnier was that my daughters didn't see anything wrong with it.  They didn't find it funny, but they didn't know any of it was supposed to be offensive either. 

Me?  I don't know...I've never thought of myself as overly PC, but I was blown away...and it didn't get any better.  During the singing, dancing, cleaning montage, they had the little African American kid SHINING SHOES, and the Chinese kid doing the laundry.  And that was OKAY!!!?!?!?!??! 

Yes, I know...it's a cartoon, and not a documentary....but, my gosh...it drives home the enormity of the whole Civil Rights battle, which was fought barely 20 years after this cartoon was made. 

I think next Christmas movie night, I'll have the kids watch Die Hard instead. 


Well, THAT's a terrifying coincidence.

This time of year, my amazing children spend a fair amount of time in the evening playing around on Norad Santa.   There they can play Christmas games, and count down to Chirstmas while checking Santa's progress. 

The other day, my daughter found herself playing around the Santa FAQ's section, taking joy in reading me the answers.  One in particular caught my attention. 

'Daddy, based on flight profile data gathered from over 50 years of NORAD's radar and satellite tracking, NORAD concludes that Santa probably stands about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs approximately 260 pounds (before cookies).' 

'Do you really think that is what Santa looks like?'

Well...I'm really closer to 5'6" than 5'7", and because I have lost some weight, I'm not 260 anymore, but the stats for Santa were close enough that I didn't even have to lie to my daughter.

'Yes honey, that sounds remarkably close to what Santa Claus looks like'. 


Wow, that's some dark stuff.

I'm normally a fan of country music, but for the past few weeks I've been tending to avoid the country stations.  Just too much of the same sound, and too much of that same sound sounding like Taylor Swift.  No doubt she is a pretty girl and she can sing a catchy tune...I just haven't felt like buying what she is selling.

This weekend, my hand was forced by geography, so I spent most of Saturday listening to country music, and heard a few songs released over the last month or two that had previously escaped my attention, and one of those lodged deep.

I failed to catch who sang the song the two times I heard it, but man, it was different, and it was dark.  Yesterday I finally got a chance to play on youtube, and by feeding in the few lines I was able to remember and much trial and error, I finally found the song.

Much to my surprise, it was by The Band Perry, and called 'Better Dig Two'.  I have extolled the virtues of The Band Perry before, but even so, I was not prepared to hear this new song from them. While they had some serious songs on their first CD, even the serious stuff was 'sweet'.  This is the opposite of 'sweet'.

If their first CD was a handfull of M&M's, then this new song is one of those individually foil wrapped salted dark chocolate squares.


I hope that's some good ass backstrap.

Todays story comes to us courtesy of yahoo, and WMUR out of New Hampshire, and is fresh from the 'Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug' files.

Cornish hunter describes ordeal after getting stabbed by deer's antlers(you'll need to click on the link...attempts to embed failed miserably.

Because he's relatively okay, it's funny to joke about. 

I had a similar thing happen to me with the first elk I shot.  I hit it through the neck, and after standing there, unable to run uphill, it layed down.  You could see the blood coming out of it's neck.  When I approached it, it stood back up, and luckily, ran away from me instead of towards me.  If a 144 pound white tail can hurt you, I'm pretty sure a 400 pound elk with 14 inch spikes could kill you. 


'Tis the Season

There's no getting around it...we are now in December, and Christmas is fast approaching.  Yesterday, I listened to my first full Christmas song on the radio, the Kelly Pickler(Hubba Hubba, by the way) version of Santa Baby, and when I got home from hunting, my wife had set up the Christmas tree. 

Following the morning football games, my wife chased me outside to wrap some lights around a few trees in the yard, and then I baked some Applesauce Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip cookies.  After dinner(venison steaks, butternut squash and spinach couscous) we decorated the tree, and then ate some cookies. 

Not THAT tree....this tree!

Darn you to heck, Trace Adkins.

One of the things you gain an appreciation for on a long day of road hunting is a good radio station.  Luckily, the country station out of the Pullman/Moscow area came in pretty strong through most of the Palouse, and it was a decent station, 99.5 KZZL.  They played a good mix of older stuff, and some really new stuff, as opposed to the stations in the Tri-Cities which I would call Top 40 Country.

It didn't help that I was in kind of a funky mood to start with.  As I explained yesterday, I was kind of out hunting more because I should than because I wanted to.  While I was packing things up Friday night my wife even observed 'I don't think I've ever seen you so depressed to go hunting before.'  Blame it on Thanksgiving.  After spending 4 of my 5 days off last weekend out and about, I really didn't feel like spending most of this weekend in my truck.

Trace Adkins was there to make me pay, with these two songs in particular. 

Heavy sigh.

The original plan had called for me possibly spending the night in Colfax and hunting Sunday AM before coming home, but with the early sundown(pitch black at 5!), I decided I could still make it home in time to give the girls their story and say prayers.  The deer will still be there next Friday, the last day of the season, and maybe then I will be in a different mood.


Species Envy

With late muzzle loader drawing to a close, and me still having a 2nd deer tag left unfilled, I figured I had at least make a half-hearted attempt to fill the tag. 

Half-hearted it was.  The late season actually opened last Wednesday, but I had to go spend Thanksgiving with my family instead of deer hunting.  Since I missed that week, I also missed the opportunity to hunt an area I was semi-familiar with.  Instead, I headed out early this morning to the Colfax area, the hArt of the Palouse. 

From above, there isn't a lot of difference between Pomeroy and Colfax...it's wheat fields and rolling hills, for the most part, although the Colfax area has neat areas of mesas and tableaus courtesy of Glacial Lake Missoula. 

On the ground, the big difference is the wheat fields around Colfax have a lot more fences, limiting the opportunity for guys like me to find a place to shoot deer.  With no real research opportunity, I spent most of the day driving...hooray road hunting!

I only saw 6 deer for my efforts, which is about 3 gallons of gas per deer.  The four I saw in the morning were about 250 yards away, with the distance increasing rapidly.  The two I saw at sun down were much closer, in fact they were highly shootable, if they had been the right species. 

Stupid mule deer.

We are lucky enough here in Washington to have several different species of deer.  For the most part, the white tails live in Northeastern Washington, the mulies in central and south east washington, and the black tails live out on the coast.  In some areas of Central Washington, these species mingle, which leads to micromanaged hunting rules.  For instance, today I could shoot a white tail doe, but not a mulie doe.  If I had been 10 miles further north in the Cheney GMU, I would have been able to shoot a mule deer doe OR a white tail doe.

Don't think I wasn't temped though.  Not too tempted though, since I was less than half a mile from a house with a State Patrol cruiser parked in the driveway. 

The day wasn't a total loss...there was some nice country, and I marked a few really nice chunks of land to call for permission for next year. 

Plus, I got to have chicken fried steak for a late breakfast at the Top Notch Cafe in Colfax.