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


But it's pretty!

It was 82 degrees here today, and by Friday it is supposed to be over 90.  A quick early May heat wave, but according to every site I have visited, we are past our average last frost date...it's time to start getting some things in the ground. 

I'm still working on the 'hardening off' process for the seeds I started in the house, but it feels like the right time to get started on the seeds that are being direct sown, like my cucumbers and beans.

I feel bad though, because the seeds for the Scarlett Emperor Runner Beans I have look too darn pretty to cover with dirt!

Hopefully the plants will be as pretty as the seed, and then the beans will taste as good as the plants look! 

To Protect and Serve

Now...while I'm not one of those folks who routinely bashed the police a jack-booted thugs, I also don't shy from pointing out the bad apples in the barrel,  or how police officers occasionally seem to get the benefit of the doubt on some issues that I don't think you or I would.

However...I believe that I also have acknowledged around here more than once that being a police officer is not a job I could do.  I feel that I lack the proper temperament or patience.  I WOULD be one of the police officers you read stories about. 

  Back near the beginning of March, my truck was broken into(well, it was pillaged...I'm not sure you can call it 'broken into' if you leave the door unlocked).  I dutifully filed a police report, because I had to for my lost work badge, but I really didn't expect it to accomplish anything.  Yesterday, I actually got a very nice phone call from the Richland Police Department, telling me that in the execution of a warrant, they had found a stash of knives, flashlights, and binoculars, items that matched my description of some of the things I was missing.  They offered to send me some pictures...and lo and behold, my cute little Cold Steel Urban Pal, AND my Nikon Prostaff binoculars were in the pictures.

I don't have them back in my hands yet...but it's pretty sweet. My birthday is in a few weeks, and I had already resigned myself to replacing my binoculars as my birthday gift...so now I can actually start thinking about something I might actually want for my birthday, and not something I need. 


For every victory, a defeat.

Yesterday, I went to move a few things around in the freezer, and while doing so a few bananas fell out, almost landing on my toes.  To punish them, I moved them to the kitchen to thaw, while I went searching for a recipe to use them on. 

I settled on Banana Nutella Swirl Muffins.

If you look really close at the middle one in the front, it appears to have an actual 'swirl'.  The others, not so much.  If I could critique my technique, I think I didn't heat the nutella up quite enough...it was resistant to 'swirling'. 

These muffins were pretty dense and filling.  If you do the math, each one has a third of a banana in it. 

Quite tasty though....kid approved.

As for my failure...no pictures exist of it.  I started a pot of black beans this morning.  Since  I didn't soak them, I boiled them for about half-an-hour, then dumped and replaced the water, before adding some seasoning.  I then turned the heat up to high, and went to change into rattier clothes for yard work.

I meant to turn the heat back down to low, low, low before going outside...but I kind of forgot.  I had been outside about an hour when I started smelling something coming from inside the house...no smoke, but not a pleasant smell either.  I called in and asked my wife if she could go to the kitchen to check on the beans.

It was not pretty.  The pan is still soaking in the sink as I type this.

Luckily, my wife is squared away, and we have several pounds of precooked beans in the freezer.  We have canned too, but I prefer to save those for a work night when time is more 'of the essence'.


Something is missing...

Well...the raised beds are as ready to receive plants as I can make them. 

Today I turned soil one more time, mixing in some more compost, and a sprinkle of Epsom Salt into each bed.  After that, it was untangling and faking out the hoses for each bed.   I kind of screwed up...expanding from 4 beds to 6 beds meant I had to buy two more hoses...and I for 'soaker' hoses instead of the 'sprinkle' hoses I got last year. 

The sprinkle hoses seam to give out more water than the soaker ones.  I hope to have overcome that by having them in the middle beds.  That way, the overspray from the sprinkler hoses should be able to help water the middle beds(fingers crossed).  The real challenge is going to be the watering.  As you can tell I have one hose, that then goes through a three way splitter, before each of those is split again into the individual beds.  I'm pretty sure once I split that one hose out 6 times, I'm going to need to run the water almost an hour.  Luckily, I have another month or two to figure that out before it starts getting really hot.  

I'm also hoping that after a week or two in the sun, the green hoses will get a little more relaxed and then I can run them out in a more...aesthetically pleasing manner. 

Tonight it might get down to 38 degrees or so, and I'm not willing to take the chance of frost, so...nothing is planted yet...but I'm under the gun.  We go to San Diego for vacation at the end of next week, and I can't leave a bunch of seedlings in the house that long. 

C is for cookie...or cake.

Last night we had a family game night, something we don't do often enough. The game for the night was the classic, Sorry!

A family game night calls for a family size desert!

Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake!

It's much more of a cookie than a cake.  A pretty good cookie at that.  In some ways it's almost the ideal cookie.  I prefer chewy cookies...the chewier/moister the better, while my wife, for some reason, likes them crispy.  With the cake size cookie, you get both!  Crisp around the edges, chewy in the middle! 

It's way easier than having to scoop out spoonful's of dough onto a cookie sheet, and do batches and batches of cookies.  I see this getting made again in the future. 


You just need to be good at rationalization.

Since, I bought untreated lumber for the man-style garden trellis' that I made, I had to do something to extend their life in the weather.  After going through the remnants of 4 can's of spray paint and barely getting one of them done(I also had a numb/sore hand from squeezing the top of the can that long) my wife convinced me it would be simple to use the 1.5 gallons of left over grey paint we had from when she painted the back study to paint them by hand.

Yeah...easy...kind of ...but also time consuming.  It might not look it in the pictures, but these things are not small...6 feet tall by 3'8" wide...with a lot of cross hatching to paint.

At the one hour point, I revealed to my wife how at one point, I had been thinking of buying some nice quality, THICK rope(not string...ROPE) to use to make the middle portion of the trellis, but I had found the cost of good rope to be intimidating. 

At least rope wouldn't have had to be painted.

It didn't take long for my wife and I to revolutionize a new technique...or at least bring it back in to vogue...the 'goop and spread'.  Mr. Miyagi would not have approved.  The finished product has a fair amount of running, and easily visible brush marks.

Here is where the rationalization comes in...we managed to convince ourselves that the added texture would help plant vines grow up the trellis, and once the plants were on it, no one would see the drip marks anyway! 

Let's hear a Hell Yeah for efficiency.  Or laziness.

Either way...I'll be able to sleep tonight.


Hefty, Hefty, Hefty.

One of the things I am really wanting to try to do this year is save garden square footage by getting some of my vegetables that have a tendency to 'run'(cucumbers, squash) to grow upwards.

Now...everyone grows beans and peas on trellises, and you can find tomato cages and pepper cages...but I found most commercially available support structures to be...lacking.  Perfectly fine for flowers, or ivy, or beans...but not up to the task of supporting cucumbers, or winter squash.  I'm not doing hubbard squash, or anything like that...but the Fairy Squash I am doing still get to 2-2.5 pounds.  The last thing I want is the quarter-round and staples based trellising they sell at Home Depot to collapse in Mid-August.

So...since I was at Home Depot to run down their trellising, I did some shopping, and some sawing, and some screwing.  And some head scratching.  And then some more screwing, all resulting in these monstrosities:

Yup...got some 1 X 4's, and 2 x 2's, and a bunch of 1 X 2 furring for the cross-hatching.  With a bunch of  2 inch decking screws holding it together...they might not be pretty, but I think they are going to be plenty sturdy. 

I know...I know they don't look like much...but I'm not much of a handy guy.  The fact that I managed to draw up a basic plan, buy the right amount of wood in one trip, and assemble it all without a trip to the ER is quite an achievement. 

Tomorrow, the plan is painting them, and getting all my garden hoses laid out. 

The politics of asparagus

The other night(while she was taking calls every 30 minutes from the vet), my wife and I went to an asparagus tasting that we had been looking forward to at Barnard-Griffin, one of our local wineries. 

A week night date night!

It was a bit different experience than we thought we were getting into.

One of the local farmers was coming in with 14-15 types of the first asparagus of the season, and the winery was going to pair it with the release of their new vintage of Rose of Sangiovese.  What my wife and I both pictured was sitting at a table, and being served different types of wine prepared different ways.  In reality, it was much more of a class, where we were sitting in chairs, while plates of the asparagus(simply boiled) were passed around as the farmer covered the history, and future of asparagus farming.

You know...we weren't the least bit disappointed. 

Alan Schreiber owns a local farm here in the Columbia Valley, and he also heads the Washington Asparagus Council.  While his farm is run for profit, it's also a research farm, on the lookout for the next asparagus variety that will help to keep Washington(and American) farms competitive into the future.  He was a highly engaging speaker, and down right(refreshingly in my opinion), blunt about some of the issues facing American Farmers.

He pulled no punches on labor when the topic was brought up by someone in the crowd.  First, Washington farmers pay the 2nd highest wages for labor in the world(he said Quebec is the only place they pay more).  Asparagus field workers start at $10 an hour, and based on amount harvested, can earn up to $16-$17 an hour, compared to the $5-10 a DAY that farms in Mexico, Peru, and China pay. 

He pulled no punches, saying even at that wage scale...white people European Americans(he corrected himself with a smile), WON'T do the work.  He said they occasionally get some Russian immigrants at the field, but they rarely show up a second day.  A few other farmers who were in attendance backed to the hilt, and they all expressed the opinion(one I had read before, but never heard from anyone's mouth), that if the United States southern border IS ever 'Closed' without there being some kind of 'Guest Worker' program in place, it will be the death of not just the asparagus industry, but American Agriculture as a whole.

Sobering.  He expressed the opinion that you could double the wages they paid and most American's would still not consider doing that level of back-breaking work for a season....but his workers risk 2-3 months in jail to come do it at 10-20 times what they could earn at home....and all they want to do is work for the season, and then go back to their families...something a Guest Worker program of some type will allow.

The War on Drugs also came up, and surprise, surprise, it's effect was not positive on the Asparagus Industry(at least not the American one).  Back in the early 90's, to support the War on Drugs, a law was passed to make it easier/more profitable  for South American countries to import food crops(including asparagus) into the US, the goal being, allow them to make money off other crops, and they will stop growing drugs.  To this day, they can still grow and ship their crops up from South America cheaper than our farmers can get them into stores.

All in all, it was a fairly eye opening and entertaining evening...even after my wife and I figured out that essentially we had paid for the right to participate in an Asparagus Testing and Focus Group. 

For the record...my favorites were the Jersey Supreme, and the Sweet Purple. 


At least it was sudden.

There were good things about the day today, and I promise I will focus on them at some point, but I feel that first I need to get the negative part of my day out in the open.

I slept in to my alarm this morning, which is a very rare thing.  More often than not, our big male cat, Rueben, wakes me up before the alarm, bumping his head against the door when he thinks it is time for his breakfast.

That didn't happen this morning, and neither was he waiting for me in the living room. Instead, I finally found him downstairs, when I went to change out the cats water.  He was huddled in a corner, meowing in a pathetic manner.  Around the room there were several spots of...well, not throw up...but more of a foam material.  When I bent to pet him, he started purring right away, but his muzzle was damp, and he just had a general air of 'miserable' about him. 

Just yesterday, he had been fine.  He woke me up, and eagerly ate when I put fresh food in his bowl.  This time, he didn't move from the corner when I topped off the food.  He was still in the same corner when I brought my dirty clothes down to the laundry room after my shower, and he had zero interest in me moving him.  A quick bit of research showed that those type of symptoms were 'Not Good'. There was not much I could do but leave a note for my wife, asking her to call me when she woke up.  I was worried she might not notice him downstairs. 

Fast forward...my wife called the local vet, and based on the symptoms, she was told to bring him in, and they would work him in.  Rueben is usually pretty mellow, but today he wanted nothing to do with the vet, and wouldn't let them look in his mouth.  The vet asked if we would mind them sedating him for the physical inspection, and we said yes.  The sedation seemed to work well, and they didn't find anything glaring wrong on physical inspection, but...he didn't come out of the sedation very well.  Low blood pressure, very lethargic, low blood sugar.  They kept him for observation and tried giving him some medicines to help him come out from under the sedation...but they didn't help much. 

Finally, they did some more blood work, and all indications were that his kidney and liver were not really working anymore.  Right around 7pm, we told the vet to proceed with putting him to sleep.  My wife, bless her soul, was the one doing most of the talking with the vet, and she kept it together until we got home from the date we were on. 

It's very much a bummer...and surprising.  I had zero idea we would have to make this decision when we went to bed last night.

We didn't tell the girls.  I'm not big on lying to them, but telling them right when we got home and it was their bedtime didn't feel smart.  We told them that the cat is spending the night at the vets, and I guess that is not technically lying. 

Tomorrow is soon enough for the whole truth. 

It's going to be interesting to see how Dahlia handles not having him around.

Son of a Motherless Goat.

So...I've been looking through the 2014 Washington Hunting Regulations, and, I am not happy.  Like...the kid who didn't get anything he wanted for Christmas. 

I'm not sure how things work in other states, but here in Washington, while anyone can buy a deer or elk tag, there are then several categories of special tags you can apply for...antlerless, buck(in areas that are normally not open to deer hunting) and 'quality buck', which gets you out at times without other hunters.  Elk has a similar breakdown for special tags. 

Now...each year you don't draw a special tag in one of these categories, you earn preference points.  The concern here is that if you get lucky and get drawn for more than one of those categories, then you have used all your points...but you can still only shoot the one deer/elk...so...have to kind of think about that when you apply for special permits. 

Last year, I applied for(and was selected for) a doe tag on in a nice little wildlife area about 45 minutes from the house.  Ideal.  They also had buck permits available for the same area...but, I had more doe points stored up(hence, a better chance of getting drawn for doe than buck), so I figured I would wait until THIS year to apply for a buck tag for that area.

Sweet plan.  Last year, I got my doe, and saw a few bucks...and so all winter and into spring I have been dreaming about getting back into that same area I am now familiar with to shoot me a buck this year.

You can feel it coming, can't you?

Yup...for some reason, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to change the buck season in the Paterson Wildlife Refuge from muzzleloader to Gosh Darn ARCHERY!!!!!

Grrrrrrr.  I now have NO idea what I am going to do for deer hunting this year.

Luckily I have a few months to work on that. 

It's just so....Grrrrrr. 



A friend of mine shared this video on facebook, and I have to say I am highly intrigued.  The first four minutes are more of a Toyota commercial than a trailer commercial, but when you get to how the thing unfolds you can 'OH SHUTUP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!'


Knot Bad.

Still catching up from the weekend, and the one thing I can't let get away without comment was the dinner I had with my wife on Saturday night. 

Without having to worry about the kids, we decided to go check out one of the many Puget Sound area brewpubs that I haven't had a chance to go to yet...Diamond Knot Alehouse, in Mukilteo. 

I cannot recommend it highly enough.  We made a good choice.  All four of the beers we tried were really good.  I had a pint of their Winter Ale and their American Brown, while my wife had the Possession Porter(expertly modeled above) and a sample size glass of their Barley Wine.  Truth be told, a 4 ounce sample of barley wine is just about the right size anyway.  It was the first time my wife had tried a barley wine...and she liked it.  I had tried one or two before, and I liked it also...pretty smooth and mellow for a barley wine...but I'll stick with the dark beers, thank you very much.

We weren't there just to get tipsy though...we needed to eat some dinner, also.  On this score, Diamond Knot more than measured up.

Starting far away, we have the 3 piece fish and chips(my wife wanted 2 piece, but I told her to get the three piece so I could do some guilt free thieving), and then a bowl of seafood chowder in the middle that we shared, before we see the enemy in the foreground...the Sloppy Tot Casserole. 12 ounces of their house made ground beef, chorizo and corn sloppy joe mix, covered with cheesy tater tots.  Yum.

The fish and chips I had was really good...more of a crispy breading than a batter coating.  While I prefer a straight New England Clam Chowder to a 'Seafood' Chowder...this one was really tasty.  I think it was the smoked salmon that gave it some good flavor. 

Service was also stellar.  Our server was on the ball all evening long, and our food was out FAST.  One might almost say too fast. As you can tell from the picture above, my wife and I had combined to barely eat half of the chowder before the entrees came out. 

Next time, I'll skip the peanuts.  Oh...and there will be a next time.  The pizza's looked really good, and one of the folks at the table next to us ordered the Reuben....it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine. 

Even if I do need to bring the kids.


The hunt is on.

We had a decent Easter today...it rained all kinds of nasty on Saturday, and then dried out on Sunday so we could hide eggs outside at my moms house.

The kids had a good time collecting eggs(because the Easter Bunny didn't leave enough candy in their baskets already).

As for me, I didn't need to hunt for anything, because I already had everything that I wanted(and I'm not talking about the brownie in my mouth or hand).


Rollin, Rollin, Rollin...

Heading out early this morning(the goal is to be leaving the drive way at 9am...but I have learned, and so the family thinks the goal is 8:30). 

We are heading over to my mom's for an Easter Brunch.  We also have to deliver the case of wine she bought for wedding when she came out to visit in March. 

The kids are excited because they get to spend the night at Nana's house, decorating eggs.

My wife and I are excited because we are NOT spending the night at Nana's house decorating eggs.  I think we will be out for a grown-up dinner, and maybe some karaoke.

It should be a good weekend.  After action report to follow.


No wonder they were depressed.

My wife wrapped up her homeschooling session on WWI and the Great Depression today by having the girls help her to make a 'wacky cake'.

Historically, a 'wacky cake' is one of the many 'make do' type recipes that came out of rationing. It's an egg-free/dairy free cake.  The lift is provided by vinegar and baking soda, mixed together at the last minute, in the pan.  The result is...not good, but also not bad.

In defense of my wife and daughters...it's closer to being good, that it is to being bad.  Rather than call it bad I should probably say it is slightly...'bland' for a modern pallet.  It's flour, sugar and water, with a wee bit of cocoa powder and vanilla to give it a bit of flavor...but, I'm sure to kids back in the 30's and 40's...it was better than nothing. 

You could salvage this.  Add some more cocoa, maybe some chocolate chips, and some cinnamon/nutmeg...but then, it's not a pantry ready 'make do' style of cake.  It's not meant to be AS good as a normal cake...it's meant to be 80% as good as a 'real' cake, with the things you could get your hands on without a ration card. 

It's also meant to be a good history lesson, and something that will stick with the girls more than an extra paragraph or two in a history book. 


Interupting our regularly scheduled broadcast...

You all are just going to have to entertain yourselves for a while.  The 2014 Washington State Big Game Season's and Rules Pamphlet just showed up online a short while ago.  I have to go plan out my daughters fall for her.


I'm willing to bet that my deffinition of responsible is different than theirs.

While cruising the internet for stories to get my rage up, the Seattle Times did me a favor, and allowed me to get my rage on without needing to actually read a story. 

Splashed across their front page, is not one, not two, but 4 different adds with a cute little girl holding a pistol.  The add extolls you to 'keep guns out of the wrong hands', and links to a video/website of a couple of children playing hide and seek in the house.  Of course, the cute little girl hides in mom's and dad's room and finds a pistol in a shoe box, which she plays with, and eventually there is a gun shot, so you are led to believe that something horrible happens.

The video then leads you to a group I've never heard of 'Everytown for Gun Safety'.  It says there are two million kids who live in homes with unsecured guns, and that you should 'start the conversation for responsible gun ownership in your home and community'. 

Oh, hey...thanks for that advice.  But you see, I started that conversation in my home 8 years ago.  When my kids were 4 years old, they learned that guns weren't toys.  They were taught that if they found a gun at home(or a friends, because most of our friends are gun owners), that they weren't to touch it, but rather get an adult involved. 

In addition, why are these kids running into mom and dads room to play hide and seek, anyways?  At about the same time we started to teach them gun safety, my kids were taught that mom and dads room belonged to mom and dad, and they weren't allowed in there without knocking, or a parent to escort them. 

Of course, a little bit of research shows that this group is financed by Michael Bloomberg...so, no big surprise.  It's part of his attempt to outspend the NRA, and determine what responsibility means FOR me. 

If I actually paid for the Seattle Times, I might work up the energy to complain.


Pretty sure there is a lesson here.

Well, I don't even have any vegetables in the ground(containers don't count), and I dealing with my first case of 'aw, shucks'.

Last fall, following several things I read online, I mulched over my raised beds at the end of the season.  Also following what I read on the never wrong internet, I used straw as a mulch.  Now...in an effort to save money, I didn't buy the nice chopped straw/hay that we use in our chicken coop...rather, I bought a few bales of the straw we spread out at hunting camp to control mud/dust between trailers, or that you would use for outdoor fall decorations.

Well...that cheaper bale type straw was not seed free...and it looks like all I did by clearing off the beds and turning them was cause those seeds to sprout.

Now...since I covered up 5.5 beds with black trash bags to bake for a few weeks, I'm hoping that maybe this won't happen as soon as I pull the trash bags and plant.  If it does, then the war is on.  At least in those beds, I'm putting in plants I started inside.  I let these sprouts go so far because the reason I left the bed uncovered was that I planted carrot seeds in it, and when I saw green, I was hoping it was the carrots.

No such luck. 

Nothing much I can do now.  Since the carrots haven't sprouted yet, I will probably turn this bed one more time, and then try to plant something.  Keeping the weeds out is usually a summer long challenge anyways. 

Next fall though, I think I'm going to be a little more careful about the mulch I use. 


Double Dragon

Yesterday, as is right and proper with it being her birthday, my wife decided we should go out for Chinese food.

Now, for my wife, that's a big deal.  She is very selective of where she is willing to go eat Chinese food.  During the 13 years we have been together, there has only been ONE Chinese Buffet place that she has willingly gone to more than once.  More than the quality of the food, I believe it's the quality of hygiene at most buffet places that trips up the nurse in her.

Luckily, at Double Dragon over in Kennewick, it doesn't matter that it's not an all-you-can-eat buffet.  With the way they do 'family style', it might as well be.  We usually order one of the 'family style' combo's for three, and even through there are four of us, we have huge amounts left over.  Yes, it helps that the girls eat like birds...but, still...it's a huge amount of good food.  It's good enough that ever since we had some friends bring us there a few years ago, shortly after we moved to the Tri-Cities, we gladly drive past a dozen places we have never taken a chance on. 

The birthday girl?  She's getting harder to find stuff for, but occasionally, I get lucky.  This time it was a matching cream and sugar bowl in her pattern. 

Technically, it's Gemco, and not pyrex...but the pattern is right.  Like I said, it's getting tougher to find her new things for collections.  I'm pretty sure our house has the largest collection of Crazy Daisy Pyrex, Lard Cans, oil lamps, and turtle pins in the Tri-Cities. 
Not AR-15's though....
Then again, my birthday is just next month...

Fine, Fine Saturday.

I suppose everyone has their ideal of what a Saturday(or any day off) should be.  Some folks actually enjoy working hard, on their stuff.  I'm not a wood working type of guy, or a motor head. I don't mind getting my hands dirty in the garden...but it's not like a zen thing for me...it's almost more of a need to prove something to myself.  Feel free to throw around words like sustainability, or self-sufficiency...I just hate to think that I have ZERO useful real life skills.  If I can go from seeds in a package to tomato and zucchini on the table, I'll feel like I've done something.

Anyway...ideal Saturday...blog train almost jumped the tracks there. 

What I was trying to get at, is I don't mind working on my days off, it's more that I hate getting up Monday and realizing my to-do list is longer than it was on Friday. If I have an excuse to avoid working hard, then I will...as long as I can like productivity is being achieved.

Yesterday, I had those excuses.  First, I had to be out the door by 8:30 to get my daughter to Walla Walla to perform the 'skill based' exercise of her hunters education course.  Things started out a little rough, but got better.  There are two ways to do hunters education in Washington...a 100% classroom way, and a more modern way, where you do reading/videos/quizzes online, then do a monitored 'field exercise'.  The gentleman running the show yesterday was a traditional type guy.  He expressed to me when we first showed up that he felt children my daughters age were ill-served by the online class.  I explained to him that out schedule the last few weeks had been to inconsistent to attend a traditional multiday class, and that as homeschoolers, I didn't just turn her loose on the computer, but rather worked with her to accent the things that I felt were important.

He seemed to accept that answer, and luckily, my daughter did me proud the rest of the day.  Because she was the youngest kid in class, I'm not going to say she was a target...but she was a useful teaching aid.  After a few minutes of nervous getting used to the class format, she did fine, not answering just the questions she was asked, but raising her hands to answer the group questions.  In fact, upon our return from the field work, one of the other dad's told me that the instructor stopped answering questions, because no one other than my daughter would answer them.

Not that they couldn't....I think part of this is tied to the fact that since we DO homeschool, my daughter has never been exposed to the 'only the geeks and suck-ups raise their hands in class to answer questions' attitude.  If she knows the answers, she's going to let you know that she knows the answer.

She, of course,  passed with flying colors...the color orange to be exact(and the vest was a free gift!)

The only thing she really did wrong all day, was on the walkthrough, she didn't know the difference between the male/female turkeys.  I guess that was one of those things non-turkey hunting dad didn't think was important.

After class it, was back home(a trip to Walla Walla with no wine tasting?  It was tough...but I had a birthday dinner to get home to.(teaser!)


My day is spoken for.

No relaxing Saturday here...I'm heading out the door in a minute to run to Walla Walla so my daughter can do the field exercise portion of her hunters safety course(she got a 92 on her written test), which is a better score than I would have gotten based on the practice test I helped her through.

It is also my wife's birthday today...and since I am running away to Walla Walla, she is having to abandon her plans to spend the day in bed with a cuppa and the kindle watching 'House' to bring my younger daughter to soccer practice.

I will try to make that up to her later, when we all go out to dinner.  Right now she is leaning towards Chinese food.

I made this collage up last month for our anniversary, but since I didn't share it here back then, it's still applicable(and it won't make me late for hunters education.)


Two for Two

Sorry things have been slow this week.  Earlier in the week, both myself and my daughter went in and auditioned for parts in the Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre's summer production of The Sound of Music(her idea, not mine).  Last night was then a long night, with both of us getting to go in for Call Backs. 

Today we found out that we both landed rolls in the show...nothing big...ensemble rolls for each of. 

It's about what I expected for myself...The Sound of Music does not have the scale of Les Miserable...in fact, there are only two adult male rolls that have singing, and neither of them are written for a 'modern' tenor part. 

As for my daughter...she is very excited to have gotten a chance to be on stage. I am beyond proud of her for the way she conducted herself during the audition process.  I know she gave it her best.

I ain't gonna lie to you...the 'yelling from the sideline soccer dad' in me felt she was the perfect Gretl(youngest of the children, if you aren't a Sound of Music fan).  She was the smallest of the children who made the call-backs, and the one who could most easily have passed for 5 years old.

But...(and this might be daddy rationalization)...that could have been her down fall.  The directors made no bones of the fact that the kids had to work as a 'family'.  They wanted a nice 'stair step' look to the kids...and my daughter is a good two inches shorter than any of the others.  Even I can concede that she threw off a nice the nice even stair-step, no matter what other combination of kids they tried her with. 

Still...it's a first for her.  As near as I could tell, she didn't suffer from any nervousness in the process.  Plus, like my wise wife said, with her starting out with a small part for her first stage experience, it let's her see how everything works,

There is always next time(which I am sure there is going to be plenty of). 


Someone is in trouble.

This evening, my wife told me she had a confession to make.  Earlier in the day, our younger cat had followed her into the bathroom, and to keep her distracted, she turned the faucet on a slow trickle to see what the cat would do.  Well, after playing for a bit, the cat seemed to enjoy drinking from the running water.

Ha, ha, ha. 

I proceeded to lecture my wife for a minute or two about teaching the cat bad habits, and then let her stew for a few minutes before showing her this video I filmed this morning.

Yeah...I think we need to nip this in the bud now, before it goes to far.  One of my friends told me she had a cat who got used to drinking in this manner, and just about allowed herself to die of dehydration before she 'lowered' herself to drinking from a bowl again.


Spring is Sprung.

Yesterday was a fairly beautiful day.  Right around 75-degrees, sunny, with just a slight breeze.  I came home to find one of the two plum trees in our backyard in full blooming glory.

And as a hopeful good sign, the bees had found it, and it was the center of attention in my yard.

The second plum tree in our yard is about two days behind this one.  It has popped a bloom or two, but it's not at 100% yet. 
This does mean I need to keep an eye on the weather though.  While today is supposed to be 78ish, and we were 48 overnight last night, if a front dives down from Canada, we still could see a freeze.  Last year we had a hard frost right around April 20th...and I got nothing from my trees...not that I expected much since I just put them in...but the blooms were pretty. This year I have decided that if I need to spend some more money for fans, or blankets, or net's....I will. 
But it's starting to feel like that won't be required.  


A first time for everything.

Fresh on the heels of a bust few months(and an extremely busy last few weeks) of participating in the local production of Les Miserables, I really had no intention of auditioning for the summer production of The Sound of Music.  Alas, in the way that children often do, my younger daughter threw a monkey wrench in that plan, when she asked my wife and I if she could audition for a part.

Well...I'm not going to say no to that.  We try to encourage the kids in whatever they want to do, and so, how could I say no? 

That didn't mean I was going to make it easy on her.  First thing we had to do was pick out a song she knew, and then try to see if I could find the sheet music for the piano accompaniment for it.  Hello Internet, you sweet thing you.  I had no problem finding and downloading the piano part for Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?, from Frozen.  Through the magic of youtube, we were able to find a few videos of the piano part for her to practice with, and then since she takes weekly piano lessons, we were able to ask her piano teacher to help her with the song this week.

After that, my wife took over with her bit of preparation...the dolling up.  And by dolling up, I mean she did her best to make my daughter look like a doll.


I'm not sure there are many situations where being 'cute' hurts your chances. I do know that trying out for a role in a play where you are supposed to be a cute kid is not one of them.

The tough part for me was the audition itself...because I didn't get to go in the room with her.  My stomach was flip-flopping worse when she had to go in the audition room by herself than when I went in to do my song. 

She seemed pretty chipper when she came out, so hopefully that's a good sign.  When I finished my audition, I broke etiquette  and asked if she had done okay, and I was assured she had done what she was supposed to do.  I couldn't dig much more than that.  Either way, I'm proud of her.  There are many folks out there who could never work up the courage to perform in public, or put themselves out there for an audition. 

Working in her favor is the fact that the youngest three children in The Sound of Music are girls. 

I still blame Carrie Underwood. 

Welcome to the party.

After years of hearing about it(Ned Stark!  Red Wedding!  White Walkers!  Death!  Boobs!), my wife and I finally ponied up some cash to start watching Game of Thrones on amazon prime.

A special event like this calls for special victuals. 

Yes, something like a glass of Barnard Griffin's 2009 Syrah Port, and some Nutella Brownie Cups.  The brownie cups were dead simple to make...5 ingredients(4 if you leave out the chocolate chips, but then you are a commie bastard).  The toughest part is getting the razza-frazzin chocolate/hazelnut spread out of the jar.  So...easy to make, and they go great with the port(although, I think if you take one or two of them while warm, and put them in a bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream...whoa Nellie).

So, why port?

Gotta drink it sometime.  Port is one of those sneaky things.  When you go out for a day of wine tasting, most vineyards end their tasting with their desert wines, or ports.  By your third or fourth winery, you manage to convince yourself that the port is worth the price...and dang, it does taste good....but then, you forget about it.  The little half-size bottle ends up hidden amongst the rest of your wine, until your wife finds 3(or 7!) of the cute little bottles of desert wine/port when she is dusting off the wine racks, and says 'We are drinking some port this weekend!'.

Very good call on her part, by the way.

Anyway...we only watched the first episode last night, but, we were not disappointed by Game of Thrones.  It's highly possible that this might be one of those things that actually live up to the sky high expectations that have been set for it.


And that's why we read the packages.

So, between the labels on tomatoes, the labels on zucchini, and what I read on the internet, it's highly possible that I confused myself.  Somehow, I got into my head that everything I wanted to plant was supposed to be started 4-5 weeks prior to last frost.  What I really think is that I convinced myself that with tomatoes needing a 6-8 week head start, and zucchini/squash needing a 3-4 week head start, that I could split the middle by starting everything about 5 weeks before I wanted to put it in the ground.

Great Logic.

Now my zucchini look ready to go in the ground, and yeah, the weather this week looks okay, but we do still have a week or two left where we could have frost.

I have to do something though...those little starter pellets aren't going to keep them going much longer...so I moved all of my squash and tomatoes into 5 inch pots, to hopefully buy them another few weeks before I have to put them into the ground.

As far as getting the ground ready, I took another big step today, clearing the straw off of last years beds, and then turning everything over, and mixing in some fresh compost.  After that, I covered the beds the best I could with some heavy duty black trash bags, my goal basically being to 'cook' whatever weeds might still in the beds for a week or two. 
I also couldn't resist the urge to start some things growing, so I threw some early carrots in one of the beds, because...well, SPRING!

Good Son.

It would be nice to have some more details prior to making a definitive statement, but at the least, it seems like mom should make her son his favorite dinner this weekend.

LYNNWOOD — Two men were shot Thursday night while they were reportedly trying to force their way into a house near Lynnwood.

A 54-year-old woman and her 21-year-old son were home as the event unfolded about 10 p.m. in the 15800 block of Highway 99.

The son fired the shots, said Shari Ireton, spokeswoman for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. The two men ran away and were later found by police. Both were taken to the hospital. They are believed to be in their 20s.

One was shot in the back, the other was shot in the arm.

One was released Friday and booked into jail on warrants. The other remained hospitalized.

The man who fired the shots was cooperating with police, Ireton said Friday. He was not arrested. The investigation is continuing.

Now...to go along with some of the comments on the Heralds website, the only worrisome thing here is the report is that one of the guys was shot in the back...but, before jumping to conclusions, I can think of all kinds of reasons that this would happen legitimately.  I mean...say he's got his back turned to you, because he is threatening your mom.  As long as the shot to the back didn't happen as he was running out the front door, it should be okay. 

Good job to the young man for keeping his head on straight.


That's what I get for caving in.

So, yesterday I had to swing by to help out  with one of my daughters girl scout cookie sales.  It was just my girls and my wife, and, well...nature was calling, but my wife didn't want to have to pack everything back in the car, and she couldn't just leave the girls in front of the drug store alone...so I drove down and helped stand there a few minutes.

Now, as much as I have been pushing Girl Scout Cookies, I have been tough this year.  I'm actually losing weight right now...and so, I have not had a single cookie yet this year.  Not one.

Meanwhile, at the booth sale yesterday...I stared at the last box of Tagalongs(the chocolate covered peanut butter ones)...hard.  But in the end, I was able to resist.

I was so proud of myself that when I my turn was over, and I bopped into the store to pick up a few things, I decided to reward myself.  I spotted an intriguing idea in with the Easter Candy...a White Chocolate Covered Carrot Cake Egg. 

Soul crushing disappointment followed.

It was not very good.

In fact, I don't know when I am going to be brave enough to eat carrot cake again. 


Bad Day at the Office.

I'm not talking about the newest Fort Hood shooting...still waiting for info to come in to form much of an opinion about that one. I will say it confirms what I have always thought about these type of things though: If you perpetrator of the planned violence DOES NOT care about their own survival...you CAN NOT stop them from killing/hurting people...you can only minimize the damage they cause with a rapid response. This is where allowing teachers(or co-workers on a military base) could help...you are never going to stop the bad guy from killing one or two people...but you can start making it tougher for him right away.


Nope...the bad day I was talking about occurred over in Bangkok, where 7 people were killed and almost 20 injured when workers at a scrapyard found out that the metal cylinder they were trying to cut apart with plasma torches turned out to be a 500 pound bomb left over from WWII.

Not a huge amount of details...a construction crew found the object, and sold it to a local scrapyard.  They then took the most direct path to cutting the object up, which ended badly.  Where I work we stress 'Identify the Hazard' again, and again, and again. 

Yeah...it's sad people died...but what stands out to me is that almost 70 years later, they are still finding leftover bombs from WWII...two of them in fact, because earlier in the week, this same construction crew found another bomb(which was properly handled by the police bomb squad). 

Makes you try to visualize just how much ordnance was dropped from planes back in the 1940's in both the Pacific and over Europe. 


Not as good, but still not bad.

Last night, my wife and I finished up the 2nd season of House of Cards on Netflix.  It wasn't as jaw-droppingly excellent as the first season, but it was still a good show. While Kevin Spacey, as Frank Underwood, is the star and center of the plot, I think it's increasingly Robin Wright who is the center and driver of the show. 

The weakest part of the show is a character we hopefully won't have to deal with much longer...the President of the United States.  Nothing against the actor(although I guess it is against the actor)...but I just can't see this President having enough charisma to have ever been elected in the first place. He has been tough to get behind(but I guess that just reflects reality).

With House of Cards in the bag, we needed a new show to watch, so my wife picked Hannibal, which just recently showed up for free on Amazon Prime.

We are only 4 or 5 shows into it right now, but I kind of like it.  It uses some of the characters made famous by Thomas Harris, most notably Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  Now, the series plays fast and loose(or just balls up and throws in the trash), any kind of timeline from what Mr. Harris did...but, that's okay.  In the series, Hannibal is a psychiatrist who helps out one of the F.B.I.'s top profilers, who is loosing his mind. 

The show is dark, dark, dark, dark...and the fact is, it might work even without having Dr. Hannibal Lecter...but not as good.  The great part about it is, that...you the viewer KNOW he is an evil, evil, manipulative person...but no one else does.  Everything he does has so many different layers to it, because you KNOW.  Every time he invites a co-worker over for dinner, you worry what they are eating...and above all else, you are waiting. 

Waiting for season two to come along, so I can catch up at some point.