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


Well...that proves the saying about 'assuming'.

One of the things that we were really excited about when we moved into our house last spring were the grapes growing along the fence.  At least we thought they were grapes...I certainly pruned them and treated them like grapes all year....and it was a pretty safe assumption.  Richland is in the middle of Columbia Valley Wine Country...everyone has grapes in their back yard, so, figuring the vines growing along our fence were grapes was not a huge leap.

As they got leafy and the season moved along, they formed little balls of flowers that I figured would turn into grapes, but instead they formed much looser groups of strangely berry looking 'grapes'.

Finally, I broke down and posted a picture of my 'grapes' on a few local sites...and found out that what I though were grapes, were actually an invasive vine called Virginia Creeper.

An invasive vine that is toxic to most mammals, and is actually in the poison ivy family...which surprises me, because my daughters spent most of the summer building a fort out of some of it.

Anyway...so, yeah.  No grapes...but the good news, is that the chickens don't have any problems with the plant.  They LOVE the little berries, and if I toss a 4 foot piece of the vine into their run, the will strip it clean of berries and leaves overnight. 

Once the leaves fall off for the fall, I suspect I will start the battle of trying to rip out this 'invasive vine'.  I was willing to have my chain link fence stressed by the weight of grapes...but not a vine that does ME no good. 


Consistency is not their strong point.

They say variety is the spice of life...if so, our chickens are laying some spicy eggs...


Guess I waited too long.

One of the things on my list of 'Someday, I will buy one of those' is a nice shooter grade CMP Garand.  Don't care about who made, just want a potential piece of history I can call my own.

Well, with the newest Executive Order Mr. Obama passed today, the clock on doing that for a reasonable price might have chimed 'midnight'.

Obama proposes new gun control executive orders

Now, just because I don't own any NFA type weapons doesn't mean I don't care what happens to them.  I am one of those folks who truthfully feels gun control is the ultimate in creeping incrementalism, and any time the pendulum swings towards more gun control, it's bad. 

The part of this that really hurts though is the part of the executive order that would prevent selling any weapon sold or donated to a foreign governments to an American once it is returned to the US...which is kind of all that CMP sells. 

It might be time to tell my wife to buy my Christmas present now, before it's too late. 


That's how I roll, yo.

Now that we are almost into September, my cantaloupe vine is finally bearing some fruit. It's going to be a race to see if they make it.

To help them along though, I have read on some websites where people recommend you support the fruits as they grow on the vine, so it doesn't stress the vine on the trellis.

Can do.  In fact, I can do while finding a great repurposing of something already designed to support...melons. 

Yes, it is what you think it is...and it's almost ideal.  The elastic means it will stretch and flex as the fruit grows, while the lace will allow it to be water soluble.

I just need to hope I don't have more than 4 cantaloupe growing at one time...my wife was only willing to purge two older ones from her stash. 

I know how you feel, General.

Last weekend, we ordered a new lap top computer through Woot.  Well...new to us, it's really a 'factory reconditioned' model...but it came with an honest to goodness HP warranty, and the computer itself is fairly smoking compared to the Toshiba  it's replacing. 

However...while it's only been about 3 hours of use, so far I am NOT a fan of Windows 8.  In fact, after half an hour, I was already searching for this NSFW clip from South Park the Movie.


Words of Wisdom

I was going to present this without comment...but it needs comment.  I remember being as depressed as ANYONE when Mr. Bill Watterson walked away from Calvin and Hobbes in 1995...but he did what he felt he had to do.  This cartoon was inspired by Mr. Watterson, and captures his style very well, and just goes to show that he had much wisdom left in his pen that he could have shared with us.

All credit goes to zenpencils .  I'm not good enough to figure out how to make the picture bigger...feel free to click on the link to enjoy the real thing. 


Because I'm strange like that.

It's that time of year where my wife can no longer keep up with the cherry tomatoes coming off the plants in the garden.  I'm sure the chickens can help her keep up, but we try to limit them to about 2 each...just because they would eat nothing but the tomatoes if we let them.

Neither my daughters or I are much help.  I'm just not a fan of fresh tomatoes.

However...I do appreciate sun dried tomatoes...I just like the flavor more than fresh.  In the absence of sun dried, dehydrated will do too.

The only real problem with this process is that the resulting dehydrated tomatoes have a lot of sharp little corners, and I have roughly a 25% failure rate when I vacuum seal them, because the tomatoes are actually able to cut little holes in the bags. 


Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Boy oh boy...one thing I hate more than just about anything else is having to wait for something.  Case in point...I'm all committed to auditioning for a production with one of local community theaters.  I've been practicing and everything. 

The only problem is that the auditions are tonight at 7:00(registration starting at 6:30, which is two hours from as I type this for you non-West Coast types).  So...after going to church this morning and doing a few 'hotel load' type chores earlier, I really haven't been doing much other than staring at the clock.  Don't want to get into anything I can't get out of, but I'm also trying to stay somewhat distracted, because if I think too much about my evening, the butterflies in my stomach grow into golden eagles.  It has been a time now measurable in decades and not just years since I last did something like this.

One of those times I wish my life had a Tivo, so I could just skip ahead to Monday, and see if I make the call back list. 

It's that time of year!

Kind of a repeat post from last year, but dang it, it's that time of year when you might be looking for new and tasty things to do with your summer squash, and  I am here to help.  This morning I whipped up a pan of the tastiest thing you have ever made with zucchini. 

Here is a link to the recipe, with hopefully all the typos corrected, and a few details smoothed out from when I first put it up last year. 
Nom, Nom.


I'm sorry, cat.

A few weeks ago, my older daughter had asked if we would get a harness and leash for the cats so she could take them for a walk.  Of course, I said no, because I'm a total meanie.  THEN she asked if she could buy one with her own money.  Not thinking much of, I said sure.

Well, today at Target, I guess she reminded her mother of that conversation, and so she came home with a harness and leash she bought with her own gift card.

That is NOT a happy cat.  She alternated sitting around sulking, and manic running around trying to scrape it off on something.  When she finally knocked over lamp, I told my daughter to take it off...we would try again later, and let her slowly get used to it.  

Stop the world, I want to get off!

I am hung over this morning.  Or rather I was hung over this morning.  Head achey-stomach queasy officially hung over for the first time in a while.

It was worth it though.  Our previous 100% baby-sitters have both found other things(real jobs and college), so my wife did some looking around, and found us a new one to give a try.  I've come to decide that there are very few luxuries for a parent quite like a baby-sitter who can drive themselves. 

Anyway...it was a good date night.  As much as I sometimes bitch and moan about the heat here in the summer, yesterday was a perfect example of a great summer day.  High right around 90, and then once the sun dipped below the horizon, it cooled up quickly into the low 80's.  We took advantage of that by having a decent dinner of Panini's at White Bluffs Brewing, and then traveled a whole 50 yards down hill to have some desert and vino while watching a band called The Millionaires Club at Thomas O'Neil Cellars.  As always, I brought the most beautiful woman in the room with me where ever I went, which is a plus. 

It was a really good date night.  While it's true that the Tri-Cities is kind of isolated, and a hard-core city slicker might find things a tad slow, there is more than enough night life here for me.  Richland alone has three very respectable brewpubs, and there are another 2 in Kennewick, to go along with roughly 147 wineries(well, at least 40-45) that call the Tri-Cities and nearby Benton City home.  While some of those are small, small places, there are 6 or 7 decent sized places, and all of them usually have some kind of live music on weekend nights.  Last night, we really liked The Millionaires Club...they were a bluesy rock band, with more than a splash of Rockabilly mixed in, and they hit the ground running with a couple of Johnny Cash songs(Sunday Morning Coming Down, and Walk the Line), so how can you go wrong with that?

Anyway, the lesson is, don't start drinking beer(and White Bluffs does not make wimpy brews...I think there lowest is about 5.8% ABV) and then help your wife kill a bottle of Riesling, and then go back to beer in the same night.

Although, I still think it was worth it.


Not fast enough...

They don't have to ask twice:

Man shot by deputy claims he tried to drop his guns

The funny part of the whole article is that, the guys lawyer didn't try to say his client didn't deserve to get shot...he was more approaching it from the point of saying he wasn't threatening the police with the gun, so he should have a lower bail.

Sigh...my real question is did the body armor he was wearing stop the other bullets or ?  A link to an earlier story says that somewhere around 7 or 8 shots were fired, but the guy was only hit in the left hand.  Were the other shots just clean misses, or did the armor protect him?  Inquiring minds want to know...


I blame/must give credit to the TV people.

My kids have been watching A LOT of Mythbusters lately on Netflix, because my wife and I decided it fell under the heading of 'educational programing'...at least by the summer definition. 

Yesterday, the girls set out to do some experiments, and I guess the felt a little jealous of Jaime and Adam's friend Buster, because they did a little repurposing to make themselves a crash test dummy.

Poor Barbie...she's going to need a day at the Snip n' Style Salon and Spa when my kids are done with her.  I wonder if they make a Barbie Emergency Room Playset?


You're right, they should have let you die.

Because it's funny to make fun of drunk people!

Chicago Doctor Accused of Posting Photos of Intoxicated Patient

So...to summarize: A young lady gets SOOOOOOOOO drunk, she has to go to the hospital.  She is SOOOOOOOOO drunk that she is unconscious for 8 bleeping hours. While she is recovering, an acquaintance that works at the hospital takes some pictures of her, which he puts up on  'social media.'  The young lady is now suing EVERYONE for 1.5 million dollars because she had the 'potential to someday work for Fortune 500 companies, which may now not occur because of said photographs.'

No.  No you didn't...because a search of google images reveals you are a model/actress with your own website

Now...there was nothing really bad on her site(and trust me, I looked)...but the fact is that Fortune 500 companies are not hiring struggling models/actresses. 

I'm willing to admit that the doctor was fairly out of line posting the pictures he took, especially if he only was able to gain access to the room  because he was a doctor.  I'm not sure I blame the hospital...I certainly don't assign them 1.5 million dollars worth of blame.  I also don't assign any monetary blame to the stupid young doctor who took the picture, although I wouldn't blame the Illinois authorities for doing something to his medical license, or the hospital for firing him.

It's just funny because it's exactly the sort of thing I would have done to my buddies back in my sailor days. 


Kicking it old school.

Earlier this week I found out that someone had created an android friendly updated version of Spaceward Ho...a game with which I passed many hours back in the late 80's and early 90's.  At our school, the Mac's all had Spaceward Ho(or Stars, a very similar PC game) loaded on to them, and it was an acceptable way to pass your time in certain classes if you had completed an individual activity before the end of the assigned period. 

If you were not lucky enough to have played Spaceward Ho, then you probably had many more productive hours in your life than I did back in the 90's, but you also missed out on what was, for the time, and interesting game.  It was one of the first good turn based strategy games for the computer, and you got to run your interstellar empire with cowboy hats!

Anyway...the only thing which is going to keep me from wasting most of the next decade is that I have to constantly fight my wife and kids for the Kindle...that should preserve some of my productivity. 


Real Life Stuff

Not a lot of time for much original content lately...been doing important things like trying to finish Warbound, the third book of Larry Correia's Grimnoire Chronicles Series.   It's just as good as the first two, and Larry does a good job of wrapping things up.  He has put enough of a bow on the end that if he feels like moving on to something else, it's a good trilogy, but there is still enough float in the end that if he decides to pop out another book, he won't have to 'undo' anything.

In addition to that, my wife and I tagged up on facebook and craigslist to make one last push to find a new home for the player piano that the previous owners left behind in the garage.  After a few half-hearted attempts to get something in return for it, we finally just wanted to get rid of, figuring even not getting any money for the piano, we were saving our money by not having to pay for it to go to the dump, or for doctors bills after I destroyed my back trying to move it.

Mission successful.  We actually got about 10 or 12 interested people, which then had me wishing I had at least asked for enough to be able to take the wife and kids out for dinner...but oh well.  Having said free, I let it go for free...which then freed up space for more shelving in the garage! 

Previously, the shelving I had bought for the garage was some fairly decent plastic stuff from Home Depot.  However, glass jars of food can get heavy, and I noted that one of the shelves we had loaded down had developed an ever-so-slight sag in it.  So...while I am not replacing the 4 shelving units we already have, I will keep an eye on them...and this time around, I spent a bit more to get steel shelving(like this, but 72" tall instead of 60).  They weren't that much more than the plastic ones, and they are rated for about 3 times the weight.

So...today will be rearranging stuff in the garage, and maybe watching a bit of pre-season football. 


This seems to happen too much.

Sad story out of Everett, where a 1-year old girl was run over by a car backing out of a driveway. 

The initial story doesn't have many details...no word on if the driver was related to the little girl, or if the girl lived at that residence or not...but, man...what a shame.  It also seems to me that there is story about something like this happening every 2-3 months...some little kid playing around behind a car, and getting run over by someone backing up.  Over half the time, it is a traumatized family member involved in the accident.

From a personal standpoint, I know I am sometimes guilty of backing out without doing a good check behind the car.  At work, the company is big on pushing a 360 degree walk around before getting in a car, and if you have a passenger, the recommend using the passenger as a spotter when you are backing up.  My F-150 has backup sensors, and our Mazda CX-5 has a full on backup camera.  All of this combines to make me fairly complacent on those occasions when I drive our Subaru...which has none of those things.  More than once I have put it in reverse and started rolling without really checking over my shoulder until I'm actually ready to back into the street.

Just a little safety share as we head into the weekend. 


Almost makes me want to give up Wal-Mart....

Today at work, I had some training, and as a 'break the ice' type thing, our instructor played this video, that I'm sure some folks have seen, but entirely new to me, and I felt it was worth sharing just in case you are as in the dark as I am, and hadn't seen it yet.


Moving the right direction.

Shame it took the threat of a lawsuit to make them do the right thing. 

Under threat of suit, Mill Creek ends gun ban in parks

Considering that the ban was an illegal, unenforceable pre-emption of state law, it's a shame there wasn't a way to make it more painful for them when they initially passed it. 


Some of us have to fend for ourselves.

Earlier today, my wife called from the other side of the state to do a little bragging.  It seems that when she stopped at Shari's with the girls for lunch, the waitress approached the table and said that one of the other customers was SOOOOO impressed with the behavior of my children, that she had paid for a pie for my kids to bring home.  Not just a piece of pie to split, but a whole 25,000 calorie Shari's pie.

Being my kids, the chose a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Pie, and yes, I am proud of both their behavior and their taste. 

However, even though my iron fist was just as responsible for training their good behavior as my wife's velvet glove is, I was not going to get to have any of the rewards.  Even if any of the pie survives a last night at my mom's house tonight, it's not going to survive the 4 hour drive back from Everett.  So, it was up to me to reward myself...and while I was at it, create something to ensure that my wife and kids actually come home tomorrow.

Having a few bananas that need to get used, I took to foodgawker, looking for something to do with bananas...and finally settled on this recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Upside Down Cake. 

The picture on her blog looks better than mine...might need to get a nicer camera sooner or later. 

Now...if you actually read the recipe, you might realize that my finished cake down not look like it's 9 X 13...and that's because after getting the cake out of the pan, I then dropped the pan on a corner of the cake...so...I got to taste test!

Pretty okay.  Maybe not as good as a Reece's Peanut Butter Pie...but it's a nice change of cake from banana bread.  I just wish I had read the entirety of the directions closer.  I followed the recipe, and then kind of stopped reading...right before the part where she says you should put a baking sheet on your bottom shelf in the oven, because your cake might overflow the 9 X 13 baking pan.

My warning that I had screwed this up was the smoke detector going off.  Live and learn. 


Such variety!

Yeah, sorry...I'm in a very chicken oriented mood lately, now that they have started laying eggs and, you know, actually becoming useful.

I was kind of unprepared for the variety of eggs that would come out...I don't know if things will always be that way, or if they will settle out in consistency as the egg making machinery gets broken in.

Today, I came home to find that someone thinks it's Easter still.

Since I want to be a good chicken owner, I made a run to the feed store yesterday to buy a bag od crushed oyster shells to help the girls keep their calcium up.  You don't mix it in with their normal food...you provide it in a separate container, and supposedly they will know if they need to eat it, which is pretty interesting, since there isn't much else they seem to know.  


Dinner is served

Okay...so it wasn't a liquid dinner, but this did help wash down a tasty, tasty Cubano Panini(didn't last long enough for a picture), with mustard so hot my nose was running too much to drink a 3rd beer(beer number one was an ass-kicker of an Imperial Oatmeal Stout measuring in at a healthy 8.5% ABV.  This sweetie was their Biere de Mars, a wheaty French Farmhouse Ale...that was perfect for with my meal...

While I still like the chili better at Shrub Steppe Smokehouse, and the pizza better at Atomic Ale, I have to admit that White Bluffs is the brewery with the best and most(9 of 'em on tap right now!) beers in Richland.  How blessed am I to live in a town of 50,000 people with three quality micro-brewpubs in it? 

Satisfactory Accuracy

Chores mostly complete for the weekend, I headed to the gun range Sunday morning.  My scouting trip Friday reminded me that I am only three weeks away from the start of deer season, and I think the last time I fired my muzzle loader was Mayish.

6 shots later, I was pretty satisfied.  All of my shots were within 2.5 inches or so of the bulls-eye, even if they weren't within 2.5 inches of each other.  The target wasn't quite a full hundred yards out(maybe 80), and all 6 impacts were 'high'.  Group size(if you want to call it that) was maybe a little over 4 inches.

Meanwhile, 2 spots down, there was an older gentleman with a notepad and a chronograph set up.  A bench rest and varmint shooter, he was trying to bring quarter-size groups down to dimes. 

I mean, look...I'm not 'happy' that I can't shoot a half-inch group with my muzzle loader...but, I don't need to either.  Anyone of those shots I fired today would have anchored Mrs. Mulie or Mr. Elk.  I simply find the accuracy acceptable for it's intended use.  I would NOT be happy with that accuracy at 200 yards with my .35 Whelen, or 100 yards with my AR or lever action .357, or 25 yards with my CZ-75. 

Other than the muzzle loader, I brought the above mentioned AR and Marlin, as well as my S&W 686+.  Had a bit of a problem with the S&W, and I will need to do some trouble shooting to make sure it doesn't happen again.  The ejector rod started unscrewing...and in doing so, it lengthened itself, and gave me a very tough time swinging the cylinder open.  In fact, the only way to get the cylinder open was to use the needle nose pliers on my gerber to tighten the ejector rod back down 1/8th of a turn at a time. 

I don't know of that is something that I might want to lock-tight down or not...but, man, talk about something that would be a major inconvenience in a 'social situation'. 


Well, take a look at that!

If I was better at photoshop(or whatever the cool kids use for photo editing now), I would have drawn a little halo around this egg.  I found it yesterday in the coop...the first egg laid by my chickens.  While there is no way to prove it, I think the egg came from one of our barred rocks...most likely the one who has assumed the big mama role, and grew mature comb features a few weeks before the rest.

Not a HUGE leap in logic there.

It's not a big egg...I would say it's about the size you would find labeled 'medium' in the stores, but...it was pretty okay.  In person the yolk was darker and everything 'stood up' more when the egg was broke.  Yeah...it had the little blood spot in it, but some research proves that is fairly normal as the hens egg laying machinery gets broken in and up to speed. 

I'm hear to tell you, it tasted as good as any egg I've ever had fried and set on an English muffin with some thick smoked ham I bought from Tucannon Meats in Dayton. 


Scouting trip

After work yesterday, I decided to jump in my truck and drive down to the Paterson area.  My one previous attempt to go check out my hunting area with the family was a nice little road trip, but revealed precious little deer running around at noon on a 101 degree day.  I figured at least one trip to check out the dusk, and if necessary, the dawn, would be in order while the wife and kids were out of town.

From the point of view of finding deer and scouting, it was a very worthwhile trip.  I probably saw 30-35 deer...and some of them even stood still for me to take multiple pictures of them!

Even though my muzzle loader tag is only for does, it's nice to know there are bucks there.  Next year, I'll have enough points to have a really good shot at drawing a buck tag for this same special area. 
It was nice to have a chance to get out and walk around, too.  From the road, everything looked so flat, but once I got out and did some actual scouting, there were a surprising number of little draws and bowls leading down to the water...and I saw plenty of areas of matter down grass where deer had been bedded down.  It was also a nice quiet opportunity to enjoy nature.
Look...sagebrush can be pretty!
All in all, I saw enough deer and enough of the terrain that I don't think I will be motivated enough to go back for a dawn look-see.  The area my tag is good for is only about a 2 X 3 mile block, bird refuge surrounded by corn and soy bean fields.  The deer come in to bed down during the day, and roam to eat at night.  I'm confident if I get in early and sit quietly for a long time, something will walk by me.
All it needs is giraffes and it would look like the Serengeti.
The only negative from the trip yesterday was the temperature.  At 8 o'clock, when I got back to my truck, it was still 88 degrees.  My hunting season opens 3 weeks from tomorrow, and I can't see it cooling down more than a couple of degrees between now and then.  I see a LOT of sweating in my future. 


Guess I'm committed now.

Prior to accepting this job three years ago, my schedule in the Navy and working for PSNS didn't leave a lot of time for extracurricular activities.  Taking a week or two off for hunting, and a long weekend or two for family trips was about it...there was certainly no need to fill my evenings with anything other than sleeping.

However, with the new job, I have all kinds of free time.  More than once twice 43 times, my wife has told me I need to find SOMETHING to do with my time...get some kind of hobby.  The garden takes up some of my time...but getting too involved in gardening feels too much like manual labor. 

Way back in the mythical time and place known as high school, I was involved to some extent in drama, enjoying the musicals in particular.  Since then, I have occasionally looked at local community theater productions, and said, 'You know, I should audition for that', a statement to which my wife has agreed.  Then, I never do.

Then, I saw that in this upcoming season, the Mid-Columbia Musical Theater Company(formerly the Richland Light Opera) is putting on a performance of Les Miserables, which is, hands down, my favorite musical.  I told my wife 'if I don't audition for this one, I'll never audition for anything', a statement to which she has also agreed.  I went as far as making my wife go see a production of one of MCMT's spring shows to help me size up the competition. 

So, now...the moment of truth approaches.  Auditions for Les Mis aren't until the end of October...but I figured if I want to do this right, I should probably have some sort of practice audition prior to the one I really, really want to do.  To that end, there are auditions for 'Into the Woods' at the end of August which would be my only real opportunity at a 'warm up' before the big one.  To do those auditions, I had to go to the music store today and buy a song book, which luckily came with two CD's of piano accompaniments so I can practice with the piano, which is different than singing along with a full CD of something. 

Now that I have spent actual hard cash(and more than I planned on) on this song book(which has like 40 songs in it, including the one I was going to do for Les Mis in a few months), I had better not bail out on this course of action. 


It's SO quiet.

Came home today to a very quiet house.  My wife and kids headed out today to visit my mom, and 'help' her recover, after my mom had her thyroid removed earlier this week.

No...the good news is it wasn't cancer.  She went through all the typical stressful tests, including nuclear dyes, and a biopsy, but after receiving the good news that it wasn't cancer, she had to deal with the fact that because there were a large number of bumps and nodules on the thyroid, she was going to have repeat that stressful testing every 6-12 months...or she could just have the thyroid removed and go on hormone replacement stuff.

She decided to go down the conservative path.  The surgery went well, and now she is recovering with some of the most beautiful assistants in the world. 

Meanwhile...things are quiet on the home front...but at leas the chickens were happy to see me...or rather the tomato that I was carrying for them. 


I'd sue him for the dings...

Earlier this week, a gentleman out for a run wasn't paying attention to where he was going, and smacked into the side of a Chevy Avalanche as he tried to cross the street.  He wasn't paying attention to where he was going because he was looking over his shoulder at the group of people chasing him from the bank he had just robbed. 

Good on the crowd chasing him, and good on the guy driving his truck for realizing something just isn't right when a guy smacks into the side of your truck in a cloud of $20's and $50's. 

Hat's off to the couple of veteran's(and the non-veterans) who detained this idiot until the authorities could arrive. 


Hell yes, you change the charges!

Umatilla Cty. woman dies 6 months after home invasion

I missed this story when it first happened(there are so many sad stories in the news), but from what I can find, 3 thugs(18-21) broke into this 80-year olds house, and beat her so bad she has been in an Idaho hospital ever since.  The story says that the Umatilla County D.A. is considering adding some murder charges to the robbery, assault and burglary(not how that is different from robbery) the trio is already facing.

He has my full support if wants to tack a manslaughter charge on.  I don't care that they are already facing multiple felonies a piece...any extra bit of jail time you can pile on to them with, you do.

Hell...it's not like they are going serve their whole sentences anyways. 

Few tomatoes, many excuses.

A few days ago, a fan of my blog(okay, my wife) pointed out that I haven't been doing as much bragging about my garden as I did last year. 

The easy answer for that?  There hasn't been as much to brag about.  My garden is very late to produce this year...I just got to eat my first zucchini last weekend, and we have had about 2 dozen cherry tomatoes, with no more than 4 or 5 a day being ready to go.  Finally, today, I was able to bring in enough stuff at once to fill a small bowl: 2 tomatoes, 2 lemon cucumbers, and a regular cucumber.

There are several reasons for such a poor turnout so far...one or two of which I deserve the blame. 

First, there was our late frost.  After temperatures in the 80's halfway through April, we had two overnight freezes the first week in May, which kicked a lot of the plant's asses in my garden.  So...not protecting things from a potential freeze is my fault.  Not just ripping everything out and replacing it all while things were still on sale at every store, also my fault.

What isn't my fault is how fast things changed when summer did get here.  We went from 80's, to a freeze, and then right up into the 90's with very little time spent in true 'spring' conditions...so the plants, which barely recovered from the freeze, didn't get much chance to establish themselves before getting hot, hot, hot.

Finally, and what I think is the primary reason for my sad production, is the dirt.  After putting in the raised beds, since my truck was not doing good at the time, I resigned myself to buying bags of topsoil and compost at Home Depot.  Each 4 by 4 foot bed got three bags...2 of top soil, and 1 of compost, for a total of 9 cubic feet of dirt.  Looking to save money, I bought the Kellogg brand soil and compost, because, well, they were cheaper than 20+ bags of Miracle Grow would have been. 

Even as I was opening and dumping bags into the beds, I had to check to make sure I hadn't bought the wrong stuff...my top soil looked and awful lot like bark.  Heck, even now, 4 months later, it still looks a lot like bark.

Oh well...too late in the summer to worry about it now.  I can just focus on the positives of spending the fall mixing in some of the grass clippings/leaves and chicken poop I've been composting, and be satisfied with next years garden being better. 



With the first game of the NFL season this evening, I decided to swing through Ye Olde Beer Shop, and pick up some beer, ignoring the 6 5 4-pack of Alaskan Amber already in the fridge.  Since it's preseason, I only had my 32-ounce 'Grunt' filled instead of a full 64-ounce growler. 

When the young lady went to give me my change, I heard a distinctive 'tinkle' from the change in her hand...not the kind of noise everyone would recognize...just a freak like me.  It was a great time to work on my poker hand.

Sure enough, when I got outside and went through my pocket, I found a 1960 quarter among the change.  Heck...I would have been happy with a silver dime, which has happened before.  A 90% silver quarter was totally unexpected.  Even though silver isn't going for what it was 2 months ago, a pre-1964 quarter still has enough silver in it that it paid for over half of my Scotch Style Pike Kilt Lifter Ruby Ale(yeah, a mouth full, but man is it good). 

I thought about going back in and asking for change for the pay phone...but it's not 2005 anymore, and no one would fall for that excuse.


That's horrifying

As I was flipping through the channels last night, I swung through ESPN, hoping for any nugget of information about the rapidly approaching NFL season.  Instead, I found the 2013 X Games BMX Big Air finals. 

That is some terrifying, terrifying stuff. 

Didn't these folks mothers love them enough to tell them 'No, you can't try those tricks?' 

That was the gold medal winning run...and it wasn't nearly as scary looking as some of the...less successful runs.  Part of the score is determined by how much air you catch off the quarter-pipe after performing your first trick.  Most guys were getting 12-14 feet...the winner got over 21 feet. 

Not in a million years would I even think of trying something like that.

Boring, scar free Greg...that's me. 

They were on sale!

I'm a lucky man, blessed with a wife who very rarely comes home playing the stereotypical 'it was on sale!' game after buying something. 

Instead, I'm usually the one who falls for 'Sale 75% Off!' signs, like I did today at Home Depot. 

The deal was just too good to resist...they had trees priced for 75% off, including several fruit trees.  I bought two of them, and made it out the door for less than twelve dollars.

The taller one on the right is a Golden Delicious.  The one on the left is an Unmarked Mystery!  Yup...I'd say 90% of the trees were unmarked as anything other than 'fruit trees', so I just picked out the two nicest looking trees they had...luckily, one of them was labeled 'Yellow Delicious'.  The other...well, it looks like it could be another plum tree.  Really won't know for sure until next spring...or heck, maybe even late next summer.  It's very exciting.  


Healthy AND pretty.

I have recently fallen in love with the 2 pound bags of mini sweet peppers you can buy at the store.  Yeah, they are more expensive than a bag of potato chips, but they taste almost as good, and are way, way less horrible for me.

Tonight, I decided to work them into dinner, stuffing a bunch of them, and then throwing them on the grill with some smoke.

The stuffing is nothing fancy...a little dab of cream cheese in the base, and then a mixture of Spanish rice and taco seasoned ground beef. 
The children weren't exactly blown away...but mom and dad were pretty satisfied. 

Way to go, Navy.

Notice, the article specifies the Army and the Air Force...I guess sailors are still as depraved as ever.

Playboy, Penthouse get the ax at military stores

Surprisingly, I'm going to go out on a limb, and actually believe something in an article about our Government.  I find it very plausible that this is primarily an economic solution.  The fact that it might get some conservative anti-porn group to STFU is just the icing on the cake. 

Heck, even the last time I went on a submarine WAY back in 2000, there were an increasing number of folks who were embracing technology to digitize their carnal appetites.  Back then, it was still DVD's full of pictures and videos.  I have to imagine now that it's tablets(and phones!) and 16 GB micro SD cards full of things that would make a guy like me blush.  This is just one more nail in the coffin of most forms of paper media.

Besides, given the limited overhead space in a submarine bunk, those things are probably actually easier to look at than a magazine. 

Practical, that's me.