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


As You Wish.

Been an active last few days around here between Girl Scout Cookie Sales, and CATS rehearsals, and the 'ARGH...it's 75 degrees!  Summer is almost here, need to get some yard work done before it is too hot!' knee-jerking I've been doing.  On top of that, my 14th Wedding Anniversary was yesterday, so I've been trying to work in some time with my wife this weekend, too.

For our fancy date, my wife and I went out Friday night to a local Japanese Steakhouse, Fujiyama's.  Due to one of our daughters friends having a birthday party Friday night, we didn't make our reservations until 8pm...so when the party wrapped up early, we had a chance to slide in a visit to Cheese Louise, where they do free wine tastings every Friday night.  In this case 'free' meant it only cost me having to buy a cheese plate for the wife and I to nosh on, and a bottle of Martinez and Martinez Pinot Grigio.  Money well spent, causing my wife to ask when we turned into grownups, where wine and cheese replaced beer and nachos(not that I still don't dig me some beer and nachos).

Dinner itself was good.  Fujiyama's does all the same 'Japanese Steakhouse' things they do everywhere...knife tricks, flipping shrimp onto plates, FLAMES!  My wife had the Hibatchi Salmon, I splurged and went with a fillet/shrimp combo.  Yummy.  My wife said that her salmon was the best she had had since we moved to the Tri-Cities...I tried some and agree. 

Saturday, our actual anniversary, we spent at home with the girls, doing pizza and a family movie night.  This week we decided the time had come to introduce our daughters to the magic The Princess Bride.

I think the kids really liked it...they were very into the story...although what really got to my older daughter was the 1987 era video game Fred Savage was playing at the beginning of the movie.  They aren't running around quoting it yet...but if I make them watch it another 4-5 times this week, they might get there.


Yes, Please. Like...Yesterday...times 2.

My geek cup runneth over today with good news this morning.

First, there is this:

Live-Action Robotech Will Be a Full Franchise at Sony.

Hoorah.  A live-action Robotech movie has been kicked around Hollywood for decades, but the rights to it have always been tied up between Harmony Gold and several Japanese Studios...but now things appear settled for Sony to grab the ball and run with it. This is going to be one of those ones where reviews don't matter...count of me being there opening day.

Then, also from www.io9.com, we have this drop dead sexy picture of Ryan Reynolds in his official Dead Pool costume.

I am very excited for this movie...mostly because I am the target audience. This movie is for my generation of comic book fan who got excited to see Ryan cast as Wade Wilson in the Wolverine: Origins movie, and then suicidally depressed with the way they treated the character. 

This is a sign that the wheel of karma will turn if you wait long enough and live a good life.


Sad head shake.

I don't get it.  It seems awfully early to judge, but the early evidence is pointing to the fact the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight deliberately crashed his plane into the French Alps earlier this week, killing all 150 people on board. 

Nobody is throwing the 'T' word around yet, so for right now, it's looking like a suicide run. 

I'm not a religious person, and I highly support 'right to die' policies.  Heck...I even support it if you aren't terminally ill.  If you decide you are tired of life, and are selfish enough that you don't care about what your absence will mean to your family and friends, and you want to suck start a 12ga, or lock yourself in the garage with a running car, or drink a bottle of whisky and eat a bottle of Valium...go for it.  Just lay down a tarp first so people don't have to clean up your mess.

But...how...HOW can things be so wrong in your life, and your mind, that you feel the need to take 150 people out with you?  That blows my mind.  Terrifying.  I almost hope that they do find some terrorism connection...at least then there would be some cause behind this(however fracked up that cause might be.)  Better still would have been the co-pilot stabbing himself in the steak knife before the plane took off....



Happy Birthday!

Because I need something I can put up quickly, and an excuse to post a picture of a hot red-head is always in order, it's time to wish a Happy Birthday to Alyson Hannigan, perhaps the best thing to ever come out of Washington D.C.

picture borrowed from www.stylebistro.com
Depending on your age, you would probably associate Alyson as either Band Camp Girl Michelle from the American Pie movies, Lily(from How I Met Your Mother), or Willow(from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

All three are in my temporal wheelhouse...but as much as I liked Lily, Willow is the role where she shows her chops. Going from meek 'willowy' best friend to the most powerful character on the show, Alyson did it all on Buffy.  It doesn't seem possible that she is turning 41 today, which actually makes her a year older than me, rather than the 5-8 years younger she looks.

Of course, on Buffy, she was able to easily pass as a high school student in both Buffy and American Pie when she was actually 24...good for her, and her husband of 11 years, who has played some great roles on Buffy, Angel, How I Met Your Mother, and Grimm.


If that is on...

Holy Moly, The Walking Dead just came on...what happened to the weekend?

Friday, my wife and kids had a field trip to go on, and the first day of Girl Scout cookies booth sales, so to keep busy, I started on a project I promised my wife a while ago.  We have a walkway that splits our front yard in half, and since moving in she has expressed a desire to be able to plant a strip of lavender along either side of that walkway...so I decided the time had come to clear the grass and start working on the strips.

Man...dirt is heavy.  Cutting up the old sod was not tough...finding something to do with it was the tough part.  In this case, I decided to try something useful with it, and moved it to some bare patches in the backyard.  Heck, if even 5% of it takes, that would be nice.

I was sore.

Saturday we had a LONG day of rehearsal/publicity for the production of Cats I am involved with.  We are at the point where we are doing the serious blending of the actors roles/stage movement with the ballet's stage movement.  It wouldn't do for me to accidentally take out 3 or 4 dancers.  I'm sure I would win the collision...it would be memorable though.

Sunday was a family day.  Took the kids to the park for a nice walk and play time, and then I took my wife out for lunch and a bit of wine tasting before hitting The Home Depot to look at border ideas for her lavender strips.  I was hoping I could convince that something light would work(like some pressure treated 1 X 8's, but...no joy.  She wants something heavy and made of cement/concrete. 

That can wait until next weekend. 


And it's not even close, really.

Trying to decide what to watch on Netflix, and I've got to tell you: Archer Season 5 > House of Cards Season 3.


A goal is a goal.

A while ago my wife and I were wine tasting with some friends, and they talked themselves into buying an expensive(expensive is a relative term I guess...say $40+) bottle of wine by saying that they would label it as a 'goal wine'...write a goal on the bottle and that way when you meet the goal, you get to drink the wine!

Sweet deal.  Since we had more than few bottles of wine at home that were too expensive just to drink because it's a Tuesday night. 

What kind of goals?

So yeah...made the last payment on my F-150....about 9 months early...so, not as good as it could be, but still good.

I'm not quite sure that Dave Ramsey would approve of setting aside a $40 bottle of wine for meeting all your financial goals...but I'm not Dave Ramsey. 


So weak.

So, it's 9:34 on St. Patrick's Day, and I'm just settling down to drink my first(and only) beer of the day.

Lame, Lame, Lame.  Tuesday night drinking holiday's during Cats rehearsals are lame.


More fun than I thought it would be.

As a fund raiser, Homelink, the Alternate Learning Experience my wife runs our daughters homeschooling through, was selling tickets to a Tri-Cities Fever game.  The Fever play in the Indoor Football League, a semi-professional tier of Arena Football, and while I LOVE me some football, I've never seen an indoor football game. 

It was very enjoyable.  Not sure I could watch it on T.V., but in person, it had a very rock concert feeling to it. 

What I especially liked about it is the same thing I used to like about watching the Norwich Navigators, a AA baseball team back in Connecticut...in the smaller stadiums, even the cheaper seats are decent. 

Of course, it also might have helped my enjoyment than last night was $5 Beer and Margarita Night...and that included Irish Death! 

Or, maybe it was my seating companions.


You might be a Red Neck if:

We have all probably heard the term 'Kill them with Kindness'...and I think that is what the guy driving the front-loader at the nursery today was trying to do.  Yeah...he had the One Yard bucket on the front of the machine, but, he didn't seem too worried about leveling it off before dropping into the bed of my truck. 

That was very nice and generous of him...but, I was already rounding up my needs to 1 Cubic Yard, and as a result, I have a half-yard(at least) pile of compost with no current home in the corner of my yard...and I had to unload all of it out of my truck today, because the forecast for tomorrow is wind/rain...so my pick-up truck was either going to be emptied by the wind, or muddy because of the rain if I didn't empty it today.

Of course, because I want to add a degree of difficulty to ensure a high score from the Romanian Judge, I forgot that I don't actually have a wheel barrel until I went to the shed to get it.  I started out using a 5-gallon bucket, but realized it was going to take me to Tuesday at that rate.  So...like Clint Eastwood recommended, I had to Adapt, Overcome and Improvise.

Like my step-dad used to say...Work Smarter, Not Harder.  Worry not...I did take the beer out of the cooler...didn't want it getting all shaken up.  Even with that bit of Red Neck Engineering, it took more trips than I thought it would...but I got the truck emptied.

I feel I earned the beer I had after dinner(a 22oz Salted Carmel Stout from Breakside Brewing), but I had to stop at one.  It's not just the calories.  Nope...you see, in between working out this morning, and picking up the truck-full-o-dirt, I had an appointment to donate blood at the Red Cross(yeah, I know...you aren't supposed to lift heavy stuff so soon after giving blood...it's why I took a lot of trips).   That and the full days work made me a very chap date tonight.

I think I will sleep good.

Nice weather means work.

Cost vs. Convenience time.  In the past, I have bought the soil/compost for my raised beds by the bag.  Now,  that is more expensive, but the 1 or 2 cubic foot bags are not too tough to move from place to place.

Today, I went the other direction.  It was looking like I was going to need somewhere between 20-25cubic feet to top off the beds after doing some serious weed/root removal. So...pricing all that up vs. just buying a Yard of compost for $47...well, the cheap side of me won out.

Now, I'm going to have to deal with the lack of convenience.  I kind of forgot that I don't have a wheel barrel anymore...and, so, yeah...I'm stuck moving this with a couple of 5-gallon buckets.  No single load is too heavy...but, instead of 15 trips carrying 2 c.f. bags up on my manly shoulders, I've got to make something like 50 trips, carry a bucket on each side.


I probably didn't need to waste my time working out this morning. 

Instead, I'll just keep telling myself how good that beer will taste tonight.


Sucks to be you, 2/3rds of the country!

Look what I planted this weekend:

So pretty!

And, what's this, in the pot that I put some kale seeds in a few weeks ago but I was too embarrassed to admit it? 

OMG!!!!!  Little green sprouts!

I'd dance a little jig, but it's supposed to be between 67-71 this whole week, and my raised beds aren't ready to receive yet!!!!!!!!  ARGH!!!!!!

Guess I know what I will be doing this weekend.


Gobble, Gobble

It turns out that everything worked out fine, timing wise yesterday...the auditions for Rocky Horror were quicker than scheduled, so I was able to get home and get my turkey in the oven in time for dinner.

I follow Alton Brown's recipe, to the letter...the brine, the filling of the cavity with onion, and apple, and cinnamon and rosemary, and sage, then the starting at 500 for 30  minutes, before applying the 'turkey triangle' and finishing at 350.  This was an 18-pound bird and it was done in under three hours, so...yay!

The only not yay about the dinner was it seemed to be a 'fatty' turkey, and we didn't get nearly as much extra meat off it as I hoped we would...just under 5 pounds. I was hoping for closer to a 50% yield...and the turkey sandwich I had an hour after dinner didn't cut into the final tally that much.

With  the turkey, my wife had bought some small white potatoes that were on sale for cheaper than the red's, or even the russets.  Score.  I know that there are different things you can do with different potato types due to starch content variances. One web site I found had these fateful words: Grilling whites brings out a more full-bodied flavor.

What the what?  Grilling potatoes?  After just grilling lettuce a few weeks ago?  Sign me up.

I thought they came out really, really good...like a smoky French fry.  The secret for this recipe is parboiling first.  Slice the potatoes (about 1/4-1/3 inch), boil for 10-15 minutes.  Drain, and coat with a mixture of 4 parts mayo, 1 part mustard, 1 part garlic, 1 part honey, and I added some ranch dressing too...paint it on the taters, and grill them up.  Since they are parboiled, they only need 3-5 minutes on a side depending on heat. 
This is something I will come back to at some point when I need to blow a mind or two. 


Had to zig...will be back after the zag.

Like all good 'preppers'/smart people, when seasonal items go on sale, I buy them cheap...like corned beef, and turkey.  Now, I need to make room in the freezer, so it is time to cook one of the turkey up. 

Turkey takes prep work...thawing, brining...umm...wasn't planning on spatchcocking this one, so...I guess that is it for prep work.  It does mean if you want turkey Saturday, you need to commit to it Tuesdayish. 

Friday night, I was kind of thrown a loop...I found out through facebook, that Columbia Basin College, a CC level school in Pasco, was doing The Rocky Horror Picture show as part of their Summer Showcase...and that Summer Showcase shows are open to everyone to audition for, not just students, as I had always assumed, which is why I was surprised by these auditions, which happened last night, and today at noon.


Well, there is nothing wrong with bringing a turkey longer than 12-18 hours...and once it's cooked, we can always do open face sandwichs for dinner with it Sunday, in case it isn't ready in time for dinner Saturday.  Most of the turkey is going to be made into Ranch Chicken Burrito's my wife makes and freezes ahead of time, with hopefully enough left over after that to justify firing up the pressure canner.

They hope to have casting complete by Tuesday...more to follow. If I must say so, I CRUSHED Heaven on their Minds, from Jesus Christ Superstar, even if I did barely survive the dance portion of the audition.

While Carl Anderson does a great job in the movie version, I prefer Murray Head(One Night in Bangcock), who sang it on the original 1970 release.


Disappointment, they name is Bacon Lovers Sausage.

You can only imagine the way my eyes lit up when I saw new varieties of Jimmy Dean Sausage at the store today: Chorizo, and Bacon Lovers!  With Real Bacon!

Hell yeah I went home with a tube of Bacon Lovers sausage.

And I probably won't again. 

First of all...it was more expensive than normal Jimmy Dean Sausage(I prefer Jimmy Dean Sage, by the way).  Same price out the door, but only 12 ounces of product instead of 16, so 25% more per ounce.

The second, and final negative...it didn't taste worth the extra expense.  I mean...I will pay extra for something if I think it is worth it...this just didn't taste like it was worth it.  On an absolute scale, it doesn't taste bad...it just didn't taste any different than 'normal' Jimmy Dean sausage.

For a 2nd opinion, I offered some to my wife(no reason hogging it all to myself if it didn't taste special), and asked if she could taste any bacon.  She said not really, although there was a tiny bit of smokiness at the very end that could have been due to bacon.  Since she is a genius though, she said that we could probably get the same effect, and maybe even more bacon flavor, by throwing a tablespoon of bacon grease from the fridge.

Man, I love that woman.


So ONE wrong does make a right!

While swinging my coat up onto the hook located on the back of our door, my phone went flying out of the pocket, and hit the ground at the worst angle possible.

Dang-it.  So...the good news is that the phone still works...at least I'll be able to get all my phone numbers and pictures off it, which is much nicer than when my Droid 2 fell in the toilet, and never turned on again, and I couldn't get important things off of it. The bad news is that each time I slide my finger across the screen to open the phone, I worry I'm going to slice my finger open.

The even better news is that now I have an excuse to get a new phone!  Since we switched to a pre-paid plan, there is no 'countdown' to a new phone. 

It won't be here until next Tuesday/Wednesday...but that's not the bad news...the bad news is that my wife is currently outside trying to run her phone over with the Mazda so she can get a new phone too. 


Because any advertising is good advertising.

The Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, to which I belong, is doing a fund-raiser this weekend, and like most fundraising event dinners, there will be a silent auction run as part of the fundraiser...but instead of just limiting it to people attending the dinner, the auction is actually being run online, through a website called biddingforgood.com.

Currently there are 76 items up for bid in the auction, and while for some of them you probably need to live in the Tri-cities area, there are a few things you could buy and get shipped to you.

Because my wife and I are not going to be able to go to the fundraising dinner, I wanted to donate something special to the auction, and after talking things over with my wife, we agreed to donate a special wine tasting at our house, which you can find the details of here

It's going to be pretty sweet.  A few years ago, I fell deeply, deeply in love with Malbec...a wine variety that is known for being produced in Argentina and California, but also benefits from the hot summers we have in Eastern Washington.  I was lucky enough to be at Terra Blanca one day when they had a 2002 Malbec open for tasting...and it was the best wine I have ever had in my life.  After buying a few bottles at list price, I got even luckier a month or two later when Terra Blanca offered up a Vertical Malbec Special...wines from 2002-2006. 

Well...for this auction, I am offering up something I have been wanting to do from day one, but haven't been able to justify...a blind tasting to see if there is a detectable difference from year-to-year.  So, yeah...it's a little greedy, because I fully intend to pour a splash for myself as well as for the person/persons who win the auction...but...what an opportunity.  If you have been looking for an excuse to come to  the Tri-cities and try wine...I might even be willing to make my guest room downstairs available to the right winner!


Would you like some cheese with your wine?

The answer to that question should be 'Yes'. 

A few weeks ago, by doing some easy 'share' and 'like' stuff on facebook, I won a gift basket from Tucannon Cellars, rapidly becoming one of my favorite wineries(and not just because they give me prizes!)

So, there were some cheeses, and crackers, which are tasty.  And then, there were three boxes of Chukar Cherries, and two very nice Reidel Wine Glasses.  Sadly, the wine was not included in the FREE gift basket, but I included it in the picture as an example of the rather fine wine produced by these folks(2011 Bareback Red:50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Mourvedre and 5% Petit Verdot.)

Perhaps the nicest thing included in the basket was two tickets to a Wine and Cheese tasting that Tucannon was co-hosting with Cheese Louise, a local gourmet cheese and wine shop. 

It was a great time, and an interesting learning experience.  Neither my wife or I had even been to a 'cheese tasting' that was much more involved than sampling cheese on a toothpick at Costco, and we didn't know that there was a 'way' to taste cheese. 

So...you pick up the piece of cheese, and you squeeze it...warming it between your fingers and releasing some of it's moisture.  Then you sniff it, before finally putting it in your mouth...but don't chew!  Let it melt and soften(or if's hard, rehydrate), before kind of 'smushing' it with your tongue.  Then you can chew and swallow.  If you are combining your cheese tasting with wine tasting, you have a sip of wine, swallow, then put the cheese in your mouth, and take another sip of wine as you are getting ready to swallow the cheese.

It's always fascinating to talk to someone that has a passion for something, and Bill Kreiger, the head cheesemonger and owner of Cheese Louise, has a passion for cheese.  He brought a wide variety for us to try...actually about three more than are on this list.

We warned before things got started that not all wines go with all cheeses...most whites, especially an unoaked Chardonnay or a Riesling, go good with most cheeses, but Red's are a bit more difficult to match up do to their stronger flavor.

I was kind of surprised to find out that my favorite cheese of the night was the Glacier Blue, a blue cheese made right here in Washington.  It started out slow, but kind of 'bloomed' in your mouth.

My wife's favorite was the Dry Jack...which I had thought would be my favorite when we first read the descriptions.  Jack cheese rubbed with a cocoa, pepper and olive oil paste?  Sounded like something that couldn't lose...it was just kind of dry for my taste.  I agreed with my wife in that the Dry Jack would have gone good in any soup that had called for cheese as an ingredient. 

It was a good night for smiles. 


Glass Houses and all that...but, still....

After grabbing the mail on the way to the car yesterday, my wife was flipping through the new Field and Stream, when she made a strange noise, and then she asked me, 'So...what is the most you would ever pay for a pair of pliers?'

Like it matters, I asked her is she was talking about regular or needle nose, and she just huffed and said to pick which ever I thought was more expensive, so I think I just said something like $15(which is probably more than I would be willing to spend for one paid of pliers). 

She seemed to consider this for a minute, and then asked me why someone would pay $280 for a pair of these Hatch Nomad Pliers.

I almost ran our car off the road when she mentioned that number.

Folks...I am a hunter, and there are times I have spent more money than I needed to on an item of dubious purpose...either paying too much for something I did need, or buying something I just plain didn't need.  It's how we keep the economy moving as outdoorsmen. 

But, still...$280 dollars?!?!??!?!  For a pair of pliers? 

Holy Cow...and I don't even see how they would fillet your fish for you!