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


I'm down with that...

If it works for squirrels, no reason it couldn't work for people.  Bring on the Soylent Green.

And because there is something innately funny about fat squirrels, a two-fer!


The haul.

Gonna be catching up on Christmas related posts for the next few days. 

The Christmas haul was a little bit light for me this year, mostly because in the weeks before Christmas I decided to make good on a promise to get my wife a new couch in the living room, and we got a membership to one of the local health clubs. 

The cats seem to approve of the new couch, so I guess it was money well spent.  The only negative with the couch is that to be able to afford it, I removed my big gift off my wish list.  While I was out hunting alone this year, I kept thinking about what a pain in the butt it would be to pack out an animal by myself, especially without a proper backpack. Luckily(unluckily) I never had to worry about packing anything out...but it did cause me to list a nice external frame on my Christmas list.  However...since a NICE pack starts at around $200...well, I figured it could wait. 

What did I get?  A nice new beard/grooming set, some comfy lounging pants, new slippers and a Serenity T-Shirt and socks in the personal comfort department.  In the outdoorsy/useful tool department, I got a nice new Kershaw Select Fire(not open assisted, but easy to open one handed) and a new 180 lumen compact flashlight.  Once upon a time, I told my wife if she was ever in doubt, a man could never have enough knives or flashlights. Good to see that lesson sunk in.

The day after Christmas, a planned visit to my dad's house brought us within close proximity of a Cabela's...and it seemed a dang shame not to stop.  We didn't buy much, but I did pick up something from my Christmas list that my hadn't been able to decipher...a set of reactive ground targets for use with my Gamo air rifle.  I hadn't been using my air rifle much in my backyard, because I had been too busy/lazy to research the legality of back-yard use.  I did finally do that before Christmas, and basically, as long as you take a precaution to prevent the pellets from leaving your yard, you are legal.  My plan it to get a sheet of MDF to use as back stop behind my reactive target...and I am hoping to get a lot of practice in in the coming year. 

Every little bit helps.


It was fun but...

Being home is kind of nice too.

Been on the road the last 5 nights with family, doing the 'visiting' this year for Christmas.  We headed out Tuesday night as soon as I got off work, and fought our way over Snoqualmie pass to get to my moms house.  We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there, having a grand old time.  In kind of a change, we had the fancy prime rib based meal Christmas Eve, and then a much more casual brunch followed by a pasta dinner on Christmas Day itself.

Christmas Day was so casual, that even though my wife and I snuck in early showers, and came down stairs all dressed, we were chased back upstairs to change into PJ's which we spent the rest of the day wearing.  Luckily my wife and I both got some cute new PJ's for Christmas.

The day after Christmas, we actually had to get dressed, and we went to visit my dad for the day before returning to my mom's for the night.  Saturday, just about 'family timed' out, my wife and I left the kids with the World's Greatest Nana, and headed out to Poulsbo to visit spend the day and night with some good friends, visiting wineries, and breweries, and then having an evening of 'roll your own' sushi. 

Sunday, we picked up the kids from my mom's, and headed home to much love from the cats.  One of the wife's friends did a bang-up job of keeping the cats and chickens alive while we were gone, but they were happy to see us home...I think. 

It was a great couple of days. Much time was spent with family, and friends.  Still...it's nice to be home.  I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, with my own pillows tonight, and sleeping in a bit on Monday.  I put in for Monday off a few weeks ago, knowing that I was probably going to need a day to recover from my time off. 


Is it over yet?

We are visiting my mom for Christmas, and the decision was to have our fancy Prime Rib dinner for Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day would involve a brunch when other guests come to visit.

It was a good plan, until we all tried to remain functional and finish wrapping gifts with bellies full of meat, wine, and then later, bread pudding with rum sauce.


Today was good, and I am sure tomorrow will be better.  Whether or not you celebrate in a religious manner, or a secular manner, or you don't celebrate at all...be good to each other.


Need a little Christmas...

The next few days might get a little busy...and since I haven't heard this on the radio yet this year, I need to share it with you folks.

Still more than slightly bummed out that these young ladies just didn't quite find a lasting success. 


Hard to argue against.

Kate Upton Named People's Sexiest Woman Alive

Hey...far be it from me to play devil's advocate on this one. 

photo from www.entertainmentwise.com

I stand by the fact that I don't even really like blondes...or rather, I like red heads and brunette's better than blondes...but with Kate...it works.  Her build is amazing...and healthy.  I'm not a big fan of the 'visible collar bones/sternum' look...I'll take a Kate Upton or Christina Hendrik's any day of the week over one of those skin and bone runway models.

In her case...it's not just the hair, or the ummm...assets. Or the skin...many women have those to one extant or another.  For me it's the smile.  Man...she ALWAYS looks like she is having a good time.  As someone who occasionally ends up in moods of melancholy, I need a lady with a nice smile...she kind of reminds me of my own Mrs. that way...



I was at Safeway today and saw this in the parking lot.

According to it's badges, it's a Ford...but I couldn't find a model name on it.  One of my friends on facebook thought that it might be one of the Ka's that Ford makes for foreign markets...but it doesn't look like the pictures of those I have seen.  I mean...it's even got a little wanna-be spoiler on the back.

I thought about getting two men and a small boy to help put it up in the back of my truck so I could being it home and research it, but then I remembered I just didn't care that much.

You say tomato, I say...

According to the dictionary, the correct spelling for a circular shaped chunk of fried dough is Doughnut.  On signs around the country, it's Donut.  Down in New Orleans, it's Beignets(which, trust me...I made them a few weeks ago...it's a doughnut). At the county fair, they have elephant ears/fried dough...

Pretty much every sub culture/region has it's version of a 'doughtnut.  The Jewish culture have Sufganiyah(plural sufganiyot). 

I don't go into it much...but I am from a Jewish family on my father's side...but I am not practicing.  Heck...since I never even had a Bar Mitzvah, I'm not sure I can call myself Jewish.  But...Jewish is one of those things that kind of straddle a line...Yes, it's a religion, but it's also a culture, with rich traditions.  And my wife and I want my daughters to know about that culture.  So...we eat matzoh at Passover(and other times, because I love me some Matzoh Brie), and we light the menorah and talk about what it means...and for Hanukkah this year, I made a batch of these sufganiyot for breakfast, and a few nights before that, we had latkes with dinner, and a really tasty noodle kugel(I used Alton's recipe, but egg noodles instead of lasagna noodles) for desert.

I think you always worry that you might be doing stuff wrong as a parent when you are raising your kids, and trying to teach them things that are important...but I think in this case, by tying tasty treats in to a bit of history...my kids have a much better chance of remembering the significance of oil than they would if I just handed them a Jewish History book.

Now I just need to find an excuse to work gefilte fish into a holiday...THAT will stick in their memories for a good long time.


Momma warned me...

When I was a young child(and a not so young child) I was fascinated by the idea of candy/caramel coated apples...mostly because it was the ultimate 'forbidden fruit'.  My mom flat out did not let use eat these...she always said that back in her day, the lowest quality/nasty apples were selected to be covered in candy/caramel, because the only way the could be sold was to cover them in something so people couldn't see what they were getting.

Now...I'm not saying there is any basis in fact here, and I am certainly not accusing any person or company of doing this(other than the creepy lady who used to live down the street from my mom who put this idea into her head)...but I will tell you that I have never had a caramel apple this I did not help prepare myself.

Stories like this fall into the 'it's not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you' category.

Prepackaged caramel apples linked to 4 deaths

The investigation is just kind of getting going, so, far be it from me to even try to guess what might have gone wrong here...but, let's just say I'll give me momma an extra big hug this Christmas.  It just makes me wonder what else she might have been right about...will my face really freeze like that if I keep faces at my wife?


How is that not on purpose?

The last few years, I have done the majority of my shopping on the internet machine, and then waited patiently for everything to show up in the mail.  For the most part, things show up in great condition.  I'll give major props to Amazon....I've never once even come close to returning something for it showing up in bad condition.  If anything, a lot of time their packaging is overkill. 

Place other than Amazon?  Well...things are not always as perfect, and sometimes I sit waiting with bated breath, for things like this to show up in the mail.

Yeah, it doesn't show up the best in the picture, but that crease about 1/3rd of the way across is a bend...right near the 'Do not bend' request.  Inside is a print that I ordered for my new Step-Father from e-bay.

Luckily...the print inside was not creased.  I don't think I can place any blame on the folks I ordered it from...the print was between two pieces of cardboard, a they  wrote 'do not bend' on it. 

Ah, the holidays.


Can't believe I forgot to brag!

So, with our cycle of Handel's Messiah wrapping up, I've had a whole 48 hours now where I haven't had to worry about learning new music. 

That period is now at an end because tonight we had our first meeting for Mid-Columbia's Musical Theatre's production of 'Cats'. 

Yeah...that 'Cats'...Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical about singing, DANCING cats.  Singing, YAY.  Dancing...not so much.  I'm not 100% unathletic...but smooth, stylized, RYTHMIC movements are not my strong point. Neither is wearing tight, clingy unitards. 

There are a few roles with reduced amounts of movement...and luckily, I nailed my audition, and landed one of those roles.  I'll be playing Bustopher Jones. 

I'm excited.  I had more stage time during our production of Les Miserables...but in this those show I have an actual feature roll...two of them in fact because I also will be singing the roll of Gus, the theatre cat, which is a very different part from the one above. 

We get to ease into things...the show is for two weekend in April, and we start slow with only two rehearsals a week through January.  We are expected to start learning music over the Holidays...so I hope my wife and kids enjoy listening to my 'Cat's CD as we go on Christmas visits.


Long Weekend

I was out of town all weekend...the choir I am in, Mid-Columbia Master Singers, did a swing through Pullman and Clarkston, supporting the Washington-Idaho Symphony doing Handel's Messiah. 

Things were made slightly more logistically challenging because there was a graduation ceremony at Washington State University this weekend, meaning we were put up at a hotel in Lewiston, Idaho...convenient for the Clarkston concert, not so much for the Pullman-Moscow rehearsals and concerts.  This meant much criss-crossing of the Palouse, and surprisingly little deer sighting.  I kind of figured with my hunting season over, I would see somewhere around 1200 deer.

I left my house at 2 on Friday, and didn't get home until 8 Sunday, making for a long weekend.  So long in fact, that I had put in a month ago to take Monday off from work.  Good choice.  Other than the length of the weekend, and the fact that I didn't get to see my wife and kids for two days...it wasn't bad.  Both shows went pretty good.  It's always tough to tell from the choir's perspective...you are standing behind the symphony, and so you are lucky if you can hear the 4 or 5 people standing around you...let alone the finished product in the audience. 

Of course, I can't go on a road trip like that without using yelp to plan my meals two weeks in advance. The only real negative thing food/drink wise about my trip was that our rehearsal Saturday morning, less than 12 hours after the last rehearsal, was not good.  There was a lot of vocal fatigue, and with a concert 6 hour away, our choir director begged and pleaded with us to take it easy on our throats, and specifically directed that we not drink any alcohol with out lunches/early dinners.  That made my planned trip to Paradise Creek Brewery for lunch a little less festive than I had hoped it would be.  It did give me an excuse to buy a new growler and get it filled with some Stovepipe Scottish...and, yeah, I might have had a small (16-ounce) taste of it before deciding to get my growler filled...but, they had 8 of their beers on tap...and I limited myself to one.  THAT is dedication and sacrifice.

I also greatly enjoyed a dinner at CD's Smoke Pit in Moscow(pulled pork and brisket platter) and then some fine chicken fried steak and eggs at Hazel's in Clarkston.  It was a very kitschy place that I will need to take my wife and kids to at some point.

Tomorrow it's back to work...got a whole 5 work days left before Christmas.


Not enough.

Our local paper ran a quick two paragraph blurb about two folks in Idaho who were given record fines and lifetime hunting bans for going on a little poaching spree a few years ago.  The local story just basically listed the number of animals and amount of the fine...no real information...just hey, they were fined a lot of money for shooting 1 cow moose, 1 spike elk, and at least 8-deer.

I tried to refrain from judging without getting some more information.  I mean...folks shooting cow moose and spike elk...there is a potential someone doing that is out sustenance hunting...especially in Idaho.  Now...is that legal?  No...as far as I know there is no real provision any more for sustenance hunting, but if I ended up a jury of a poacher, and that person was able to prove that shooting a cow moose is the only think that kept his family from starving...I'd be willing to push for jury nullification.

So...I did a little research, and found this story, and the attached picture removed all desires for leniency from my mind.

Photo borrowed from the Spokane Spokesman-Review, for emphasis. 
A cow moose, a spike elk are one thing.  Spotlighting deer with racks like that, AND THEN being dumb enough to keep those racks.  Nope, nope,nope...that's heinous.  I am 100% okay with lifetime hunting bans.  I am NOT okay with 'time served'.  As a hunter who resists temptation...I'm angry to see this.  Maybe they don't need more jail time, but there has to be some kind of hunter supporting community service they could be sentenced to. 


I wouldn't mind, if...

I really wouldn't have a problem with 24 hour Christmas music stations if 50% of the music didn't just plain suck ass.  Do I really need to hear Billy Idol's 'Christmas Love'(yes, THAT Billy Idol has a Christmas Song) three times in a week?  Nope.

But, I did get to hear a song that was new to me at least this week, and man, did I love it.

The thing is...that video is from 1998.  How does something this epic float around for 16 years before I get to hear it?  Thank gosh for the internet machine, and Bless Mr. Gore for inventing it.

As a singer, I am hear to tell you that that is one of the most challenging pieces that I have heard in a long time.  Your ear, and your sense of timing have to be spot on.  Something like that is very easy to perform badly. 

Since this group was founded at Indiana University, this is just another secret, like lamb bacon, that those fine folks in Hoosierville have been hiding from the rest of us.


Hmmm...now that's an unfamiliar feeling.

For Christmas, the big thing my wife put on her Christmas list was the desire to either get a new treadmill, OR a membership to one of the local health clubs.  I've bought home work out gear before...and the fact is, unless you can afford to drop $2000, you aren't going to be happy.  When we paid $500 for an elliptical, I didn't think that we were being cheapskates...but, all those little things that slightly annoy you build up in a hurry, and then you have a $500 clothes hanger.  So...I knew the answer to this one, especially after pricing up Columbia Basin Racquet Club.  I mean, I don't know what a health club should cost...but I wasn't offended by the price.  It helped that they were having a Black Friday discount for new members.

Anyway...I understand the whole 'Christmas Present' thing...but to me it didn't make sense to pay for something like a health club membership, and not start using it...especially during this dangerous eating season between Thanksgiving and Christmas...so, I gave the membership cards to my wife as an early present.  Oh...and I kept mine, which I finally used this weekend.

Now, I am sore, and tight.  Nothing like going to the gym to make you realize just how much you have let yourself go.  Oh...it's not like I haven't been sore before...or even recently.  Days two and three of hunting season were pretty rough.  It's just that going to the gym and using actual exercise equipment allows you to focus on muscles that you kind of forgot you had...and it makes you sore in places that you forgot you could be sore. 

Well, now due to rehearsals the next few nights, I have a few days to loosen up before I go back to the gym...which is actually tougher, because the longer I wait to go back, the tougher it is to go back.


Take a deep breath.

You might be able to smell it.

Or you can imagine how it smells...but you better have a good imagination, because it smells amazing.  And as good as it smells, it tastes even better.

As far as I am concerned, for $1.29 a pound, there is nothing that gives you more bang for the buck than chicken thighs, especially if you have the time to treat them right.  In this case I rubbed the thighs down this morning(brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and some cumin and sage), then threw them on my grill/smoker for 3 hours or so.  I don't really own a smoker...I just use indirect heat and wood chips(cherry today) on my grill.

It's worth the time.


Crafts, and a floor show!

Desperate for something to do with the family today so we didn't just sit around the house and stare at each other all weekend, I threw a Hail Mary, and we headed to the neighboring town of Kennewick to check out the Holiday Craft Bazaar at Sandollar Farms and Alpacas.

It's a cute little place...not big, probably somewhere between 5 and 10 acres, with 30+ alpacas, and goats, and chickens, and bees.  What's always interesting is how close it is to 'town'.  Kennewick is kind of a spread out place, with two or three population/shopping centers, and it's less than 2 miles from some fairly built up areas to acreage properties zoned for agriculture.  In reality, it's a bunch of older grand-fathered properties...but good for them. 

The Bazaar was...interesting.  Alpaca farming is not rare around these parts...I can think of 8-10 alpaca ranches in the surrounding 20 miles, so other farmers were there, peddling their wares.  My wife bought a skein of nice alpaca yarn, and I was quiet taken by a pair of socks I just couldn't bring myself to spend $22 on.  My wife also made contact with one of the farmer/salesmen who was looking for people that do fiber arts to make things for sale.  She basically provides you with the raw material to make hats, scarf's or mittens, and then pays you with additional yarn for your time...a very good deal for someone like my wife.

You could also walk around the farm and check out the alpacas...but we hadn't gone 10 feet from the car when my wife and I spotted this.

They aren't wrestling.  And yes...it's nature...still it's hard not laugh when your daughter asks you 'Daddy...is that what mating looks like?'


It's gotta be the fanfare...

Unless you were living under a rock, or you don't like Star Wars(and I know we don't have any of those commie pink-o types around these parts), then you probably already knew that the first trailer for the 'post George Lucas now owned by Disney' Era Star Wars movies came out last week.


It's short enough that it qualifies more as a 'teaser' than a full length trailer...but the good news is...they didn't mess it up, yet.  Then again, as folks are wont to point out, the trailers for all the prequel movies looked good when they first came out too.

I mean, there are only about 6 scenes...but who ever threw this trailer together knew what they were doing. Menacing voice-over, scenes of sand, and the a helmet-less Storm Trooper.  Quick shot of a cool soccer-ball droid, and some Storm Troopers looking like they are getting ready to do a combat drop.  Okay...a neat 'speeder' zooming away making Harley noises...and then some bad-ass X-wing fighters doing some nap of the Earth flying over a lake, followed by a dark scene in the woods with a sweet looking 'claymore' style light saber....and then...it happens.  You get a quick shot of blank screen, and boy, they hit you right in the gonads...oh, just watch it yourself!  You can jump to 58 seconds if you don't want the full 'build-up' effect.

Oh...John Williams...you the man.  I hope and pray that 200 years from now, he is remembered the same way that we still talk about Brahms and Mozart.  Coming out of the black screen to the F3(rear outside camera view from F-119 Stealth Fighter) of the Millennium Falcon just in time for them to hit you with the opening blasts of the Star Wars Main Theme is genius.  I'm geeky enough to admit it gave me goose bumps the first 17-18 times I watched it.

After the 'not great' movies that the prequels turned out to be, I don't want to get my hopes up...but they make it so hard! 


Well, my face is pretty smooth.

There is a difference between being considered 'cheap', and being considered 'frugal'.  I consider myself to be frugal...and even that would be debatable.  I don't mind spending money to take my wife out on a date, or to buy a nice bottle of wine...but, I will stare at the peanut butter shelf at the fridge for 5 minutes to make sure I am getting the best deal.  I tend not to buy the least expensive option(because it usually doesn't hold up to use), but I also don't buy the top of the line product.  In the end, brand names aren't important to me.  I just want something that will work, for a decent price.

A good example of that is razor's.  I refuse to use the cheap blue disposables, but dang...some of those newest fanciest 5-blade vibrating models are pricy, pricy, pricy.  I tend to buy whatever decent 3-bladed model is on sale.  Heck...I've even been known to use pink or orange razor's if those are what are available for the right price. 

Occasionally my wife will sign up for various kind of freebies online, and every so often, one of those things will actually show up at the house, and even more rarely, I will get to use it.  Last week, we received a Gillette Fusion Proglide with Flexball Technology in the mail...and man oh man,  it does give me a nice shave.  Smoother and with much less effort and grip changes than the generic Matrix-3 I've been using.

It's a nice enough shave that I took a peek at the store yesterday to see what a package of replacement cartridges would cost me...and I dang near fainted when I saw that a 4-pack of cartridges was selling for over $21!!!!!!!!   Crikey...over $5 a replacement head.  That is going to take some soul searching...and some usage tracking...can I get 2.5 times as much usage from one of those expensive cartridges as I can the cheaper ones?  If so, then it is worth it.  If not...well, fool me once, shame on you...

But, if getting a nice, easy close shave is important to you...it IS a nice razor.