Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The results

Borscht: Rave reviews from the friend whose parents immigrated to the US from Belarus in the early 1900s. Family also enjoyed. Must be something about there being a pound and 1/2 of butter in the recipe (I held back on that one).

Ham: It was ham, and it was appreciated.

Prime Rib: Excellent reviews for my first time out. The biggest challenge for me is paying attention to the muscle grains to be sure to cut against it. Only a few slices were in error. Today, wonderful sandwiches. I need to take better watch of the time and temperature of the center in the future.

Potatoes: Great reviews. Secret: like apple pie, the key is diversity in species of potatoes, usually three different types ... butter and cream (not milk, but cream). I also use Kosher salt in my cooking, but I don't know if that makes a difference.

There you go. A good small dinner party of about 11 people, and all went well.

Oh, and the pumpkin bread worked out great as gifts and something to have around.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas memory

It's been seared into my memory, and this is the voice I hear when I read the KJV of the Christmas story.

My gift to you this Christmas Eve day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Made yesterday

2 normal loaves of pumpkin bread.

16 mini loaves of pumpkin bread.

1 large batch of borscht.

To make tonight:

Caramel pull-aparts using freezer rolls.
Rub for prime rib

To make tomorrow:
Prime rib
mashed potatoes

Oh, and to straighten up the living room

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas day dinner begins today

Oh no, we're not gluttons or anything of the sort.

It's just that I got a crazy idea in my head that Christmas dinner (1 p.m. Tuesday) should have:

Prime Rib
Mashed potatoes


So I purchased the prime rib yesterday (egads!) and need to make the borscht today so it can sit for a day or so in the fridge, enabling the flavors to mix and settle together.

If you don't know borscht it's a Ukranian/Russian soup. The recipe that I use is a vegetarian one with cream and butter. The staple vegetables are beets and cabbage. To that is added tomatoes, carrots, and assorted others. I think I'll be putting in some shredded zucchini in this as well. It's served best with fresh bread, so that'll be something I make on Tuesday morning.

The prime rib will be the first time I attempt to make it, so I'll see how it goes ... hence the ham back up.

Here goes ... dinner for 15 or so coming up!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

For the 'girlfriends'

It's called blupper (breakfast, lunch and supper).

Thank you.

Monday, December 10, 2007

24 : 1994

Another "just a link" post, but by "just a link" I mean "just embedded video". Oh, and I've only seen, maybe 1/2 of a "24" episode.


"We just received a VHS tape. It could be a lead."

Thursday, December 6, 2007


April 2000.

Me? 25.
Chickadee, seven years less than what she is today.

Freshlly married, first born on the way. I was communting from Olympia to Renton, she was working at a newspaper.

And ... my brother went in for surgery. Nothing small. It was to be a 6 to 8 hour surgery to remove a tumor.

It lasted 10 hours longer than the estimate.

Then there was the ICU, the waiting, the visits. My first time getting pulled over since our honeymoon.

Today, a call. This time it wasn't my dad, it was my brother. With his gentle meter, well thought out (he knew it was coming) message, he told me (with confidence and brotherly assurance) that it is back. But it would certainly be only a few hours. It won't entail any ICU or prolonged hospital visits.

I pray this to be true.

Its been a long, long week around here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"I'm sick"

So we've had a bout these past three weeks with illness...stomach, head and chest type things.

Now Ms Youngest goes about the house saying, "I'm sick ... my tummy hurts."

All day long.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

what I'd like to do

I would like to learn how to can.

Really, Kerr or Ball jars, rings and sealing lids. Big pots of boiling water and stuff to put into the jars.

I'd can tomatoes.





Jelly, too.

The key, though, is that I would actually use the stuff too. Lazy cooking nights might be healthier and easier with a bunch of food in jars hanging around.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Inside post

Do loud movies equal Phantom of the Opera?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

I remember: Bonus 2nd post

Success! Slow pumpkin seeds ... really, really slow.

Did the jack-o-lantern thing yesterday.

Cleaned guts from the seeds and soaked them in a brine for 16 hours ... adding salt as time went along until the water was saturated with salt.

Drained and rinsed the seeds, placed them on a cooking sheet.

Set the oven at 250 degrees, and forgot about them until shortly after 1 p.m.

tested a few, not bad, shut the oven off, but left the seeds in 'round 2 pm..

Then, as I started dinner at 4:30 (forgot the seeds were in there) with a preheat of the oven (350 degrees), I smelled them, they then browned to the color sees are supposed to be.

Good eating.


Last one: it was me being slow, I finally utilized the Sage blog feed reader thing that Elle told me to download months ago.

Frankly, I like it.

Slow discoveries ...

One thing that I hate, being unable to drink milk or consume it on a regular basis (ixnay on the ice reamcay, too), is the lack of options for breakfast.

Well, it totally puts the hamper on oatmeal, or at least it did. I'm not a fan of the sticky goo that oatmeal becomes when it is heated over the stove.

Last year, a friend of mine told me that he soaks his steel cut oats overnight with raisins, figs and a few other things. Then, he heats it in the microwave in the morning.

I found it to be interesting.

So, the other day Kurka tells me he does the same. Huh. Must me good.

I mixed the oatmeal per the directions on the bag: 1/2 c oats to 1 c of water with some raisins and dried blueberries.

It worked, but there was too much water the next day. The texture, though, was EXACTLY what I like ... individual oats, not clumpy, starchy globs. I think it's more beneficial for digestion, too.


We get our vegetables from Pioneer organics. Great program, keeps us in the veggies throughout these non-veggie months. (drop me an e-mail if you want to get in on the action, we get discounts for referrals)

Two weeks ago, we received my favorite type of potato in our delivery. Fingerling potatoes are great broiled, roasted and made into potato chips.

So, I cut them in 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices. I sprayed the pan with olive oil, laid them out, then sprayed them on top with olive oil as well. A sprinkle of Kosher salt, and it was ready to pop into my standard temperature oven (350 degrees).

Because of the variance in thickness, they needed to be monitored. I pulled them out as they turned brown.

More salt, and they were done.


(Thanks to EGV for putting this thought into my head.)


There was something else, but I forgot.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I might be shamed ...

I'm a bad parent tonight.

A bad 1980s - style parent who sees it fit to serve Hamburger Helper parent.

Honestly, once a year I make something from the box of white glove.

By its one-dimensional cookbook printed conveniently on the backside.

I've never been a fan of a talking glove. Especially now that it is CGI. blech. The puppet was much better.

So, I guess the quality of the product might have caught up with the quality of the character that graces its packaging.

Maybe not.

It's not done yet.

At least it is better than Spaghetti-Os and baloney.

That's another post.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Conversations with the 5 year old

Scene: Interior '89 blue Camry, interior a bit worn, but kept up, floor slightly cluttered with 'kid debris', talk radio plays in the background. 5 year-old in the back seat. Father driving.

Radio is barely heard, though it is clear that the news break at the top of the hour said, "George Bush".

5YO: Dad, is George Bush evil?

Father: (Internal monologue voice over) How do I answer that one? Nearly 3900 killed, no WMDs, internal memos showing domestic spying before Iraq ... big corporations turning over phone records, Federal Attorneys being fired ... (Out loud): Is there any reason why you would say he's evil?

5YO: You remember those guys on that mountain? That he killed?

Father: What mountain?

5YO: The one we saw with the water slides. You remember ...

Father (Internal monologue voice over) water slides? Dead guys on a mountain? Not Ruby Ridge, he's too young for that ... crap. Searching searching ... oh yeah ... Mount Rushmore?

5YO: Yeah, those guys.

Father: (Internal monologue voice over) Dude, I guess you're right, he did kill them, well the ideals enshrined in the Constitution at least that each of them stood for ... a government of, by and for We the People ... Well, technically, they died long before he was born, remember?

5YO: Oh, yeah.

Father: Grocery store?

5YO: Sure.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Random update

Um, two political things.

Adults can be like teenagers, but it's worse because they've been that way for 30+ years.

Kids are nice.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Conversation enhancer

Tonight chickadee was giving very, very good advice.


I turned my mind off of the content and just listened ... adding "in your pants" to the dialouge every five to six words.

To me, it was very, very good and very funny advice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Again today, I get a phone call.

Usually it's on a Tuesday late morning. Today is not without an exception.

"(papatacoman) this is Kurka. I have a bag for you, when you get some time, just come to the front door and get it."

It's been that way for the past 6 weeks.

The bag? It's a bag of bread, and he gets a kick out of calling me and seeing that my "kiddos have some food to eat for the week".

He knows that it's not easy around here, and the $15 of bread he gives us each week is well used, and eaten with thankful hearts.

I'll share more of this 92 year old blessing that lives down the street in the future.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Advice for those thinking about gettin' married

Make sure your spouse can make good ipod lists for working in the yard.

Or in the house.

Thank you chickadee!


6 a.m.


Chickadee going for a walk.


Asked if I want newspaper while I'm gettin' e-mail and stuff.


Good toss / bad catch?

Check. Check.

No coffee.

Laptop okay today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Quick trip and post

Went to Fred Meyer (so you know, it really, really irks me when people use the possessive of that name). It's Fred Meyer. No 's' on the end. Okay. I wince when I hear people say it that way.

The trip was mainly to get some relief from the kids, get five year old some medicine and some hooks.

A lady in the home furnishing aisle, window treatments I believe, was leaning over kissing her 18 month or so old on the neck where it joins the shoulder.

At that age, up to about 3 and one half I did that to my kids.

Today, though I wanted to say, "Hey lady! Please don't eat the baby."

I don't know why, I just wanted to.

Also, I found the last copy of Transformers the movie in the places that I usually shop. I've promised my son it for about 4 months, and have now succeeded.


chickadee is great

I like busses and buses in the morning.

Now, I'm not be redundant. Busses are kisses. It's a simple way to remember the plural of bus. Two "s" is a kiss.

It comes from Middle English as a form of bassen, meaning to kiss. Well, at least that's what Webster says.

Buses are, well, great to not putting wear and tear on the car, help to avoid parking fines, etc.

Today, I had one clingy two-year old, a 6 year old needing to do home work and a 5 year old with a head cold. The last of which makes me incredibly twitchy, as for the past two years when he has this type of cold he ends up in the hospital for a day or two. So I'm keeping him home today so he can recover and not end up with "the asthma" (as he says).

Two year old woke up early today ... 5:30 a.m. early ... and those of you who know chickadee, you know that's early (though she's gotten better this last year of a 'normal' job).

Plus, today is laundry day, and with the sick kiddo that means church night tonight might be called off for our small family.

So chickadee is running out the door, 2 year old crying, my egg is slowly colding on the plate (not cooling, mind you it's just getting COLD), 5 year old is coughing, and I'm trying to write notes to excuse me from tutoring reading today in 6 year old's class. Oh, and I need to straighten the livingroom, take advantage of the sun and clean the back yard of its summer stuff ... and ... and ... yeah, gutters need to be cleaned.



Not 3 minutes later, chickadee comes back home. Missed the bus.


She cuddled 2 year old and 6 year old got to read homework.

That gave me time to arrange for 6 year old to walk with a neighbor and that made all the difference.

Thank you for missing the bus, chickadee.

Oh, and as a treat for missing the bus she now has faster home internet. Mainly because we need the bandwidth for our phone, ask me about it, if we refer you and us get 2 months for free, which would be nice.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dear Kitchen Fairy

When we last spoke, Mr. Fairy said to just say 'shut up.'

Well, I'm ready.

Let me know when we can work your organizational magic on the most sacred room in the house.

Thank you,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Risen from the dead: The Revenge

Maybe that title is over the top ... a result of watching too many horror flicks at mom's during the summer.

Maybe it isn't.

I was able to surprisingly resurrect yet another ancient product today.

A few years ago we purchased a used G3 Powerbook, if anything for the programs that were contained therein.

It was pretty cool. But the eventual purchase of a G4 desktop sent this laptop to 'occasional use' heaven.

Honestly, I finished my BA on it. So, it means a little bit to me.

But this little guy lost its ability to hook up to the internet. I though the (geek moment) Ethernet plug was shot, and I have an extra shell lying around just waiting to be used. I think the shell has a usable port that I can switch out.

Well, today said port worked.

Now, in the short 3 or 4 years of not using this computer online, it has dramatically changed its ability to surf.

It is fun, with 192MB of RAM, but not quite the same without the 2 ghz processor.

Oh well, at least we have something that might serve well as a voice mail receiver.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Risen from the dead

Technology is weird.

I believe that it is one part technological, one part magic and two parts miracles.

Yesterday, known by some as "PapaTacoma's very, very terrible-bad day" was perked up by a wonderful technological irony and event.

First off, my brother-in-law was having problems getting his computer on our network (two macs and his girl friend's PC were able to, but he could not). I shared with him that technology is part magical part miracle. He "humphed" the idea.

So there's a story about my wife playfully throwing a newspaper two days ago, only to have it not be caught by me, but by the FIRST CUP OF COFFEE of the morning. Not a bad thing, that's why we have towels ... except that said cup of coffee was, oh about 6 inches from "really-cool macbook pro" with (thankfully) AppleCare. (not a fan of extended warranties, but this one has been worth its weight in pennies).

After some fussing with the keyboard, I decided that it was time to call Mr. Jobs' company and ask for help. We reset things, and still no down arrow or "?/" key.

So I schedule a time at the genius bar that is closest to here (and break my mall rule, but wow, what a nice place to break that rule).

In the mean time, I find our U2 edition 20 gig iPod that I picked up about two years ago to help chickadee survive some night shifts. Now, 8 months ago, I went to sync it and it decided to die.

No warranty.

Not extended warranty.

Just dead weight.

So, I plug it into the "really cool MacbookPro", and even as it is dying, it gives our iPod life. And before I know it, I'm syncing files and all sorts of things that I haven't been able to do for nearly a year.

Now, I'm back in love with my iPod, chickadee can have it back whenever, but if not, she does have the Nano.

Oh, and wee one, if she had the $400 would have picked up the iPod touch today, as YouTube had a cute kitty video of cats popping out of a latex glove box. And even at two years old she could make it work ....

Thursday, September 20, 2007


It was going to come up soon enough, so don't be surprised. I have a 2 year old, and so today we get to talk about the potty.

She's still in diapers.

Usually it's the peeing that's easy for kids ... I think.

This one, thankfully, has the number two function down very well.

Really well.

She stops, tells me about the business that's happening, and I whisk her away to the potty.

It's wonderful.

No messy diapers.

Just a wipe and a flush.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Today's morning

Kids are awake now
syrup in hair random cut
Now we can travel

Saturday, September 1, 2007

For the Swede

So, I've been to IKEA multiple times in the 13 years I've lived here.

And, to the surprise of the staff in the restaurant, I have never eaten there.

Until Friday.

In homage to the Swede, I had the meatballs, potatoes and the sauce. I forget what type of berry it is ...

They offered me something like 10 or 20, I took the lesser. Boy, those are some good meatballs. Quite the tasty lunch.

I'll have to take chickadee sometime.

Oh, it's like $5. And the kids, being newly minted Kids Club members enjoyed their kid selections (sans the picky one).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pile 'o tools

When kids are young ... say around the age of two, it becomes a problem to leave sharp, electrical and other types of tools lying around the house.

So, today (more) shelves went into the basement for me to stack, sort and generally keep the kids out of the destruction business.

We'll see how it goes.

Oh, and if you're buying a home don't only look for square footage, but also consider vertical storage (eg shelves, etc.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Conversations with a 4 11/12ths year-old

We join the conversation ...

"And about 700 days ago Daddy rode in the back of an ambulance," I said, looking at the ambulance.

"Was that during the times of kings and queens?" inquired the 4 11/12ths year old.

"No, there aren't many of them around."

"Daddy, when can we visit the kings and queens?"

"We can't."

"But you said there still were." He obviously recalled a conversation earlier in the week when I told him that dinosaurs were not part of the times of kings and queens, but there were some monarchies with parliaments still around (yes, I use those terms with him).

"Well, there are some, why?"

"I'd like to see their castles."

"Well, there aren't any in the United States, but we could visit England one of these days and see Buckingham palace, that's where a queen lives."

"Do they buck hands there?" He asked.

"No, BuckingHAM palace." I clarified.

"Oh, so, do they buck hams there?"

Oh, I can't wait until we talk about the Declaration of Independence and the largest signature on that one.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday's thing.

Totally excited right now.

Really, totally excited.

It involves cat pee. And a guarantee that will go fulfilled.

Isn't that GREAT!?

Okay, I guess an explanation is in order.

A good, dear, dear friend called me mid day today:

"Papa in Tacoma, I'm in desperate need to ask you a favor."

Because I was on my way to an appointment, and fearful that it might involve watching a child in the very near future, I posed my usual response, "Yes, but it depends on the time, place and scope of favor involved."

"Trusty husband and I are taking a trip tomorrow," said this person "And I've run through our standard cat watchers ... so I need someone to feed my cats for the next 10 days ... probably only twice ... we'll even pay you."

"That I can do ... and you know our house wine is a currency."

"Funny, we're going to California."

That's wine country.

That's cool.

So, I get the message as to the instructions. It includes a special bonus to clean up the cat pee that one of the ancient kitties.

I feel like hitting a box in Mario Brothers and getting an extra life mushroom! But in this case for wiping the box and floor, I get an extra bottle of wine.

That, my friends, if dedication and friendship. The means by which we should judge each other: would they clean up cat pee (or spray) if I gave them a bottle of wine.

I would.

Would you?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Response to Elle

Responding to elle:

The problems with being big in the trunk:

1. It's the food. Produce is at record lows for supplying us the nutrients that we need. That comes from mechanization and the horrible chemicals that we have permitted to be used in production. The soil of the midwest is not what it used to be.

2. It's the soil. The best farmland in our state (WA) is under the city of Kent and most of the valley. It is optimal for growing food for people. Their major industry now? IKEA and shipping. The whole freakin' valley sits in the shadow of one of the largest volcanoes in the country, and they produce good soil when they blow.

3. We can fix the parent not being at home problem. Real wages have decreased steadily since the 1980s. Minimum wage has been stagnant since the early 90s (we got our first increase this year). Oh, and before you go off on how that hurts ... the states with higher minimum wages have lower unemployment numbers.

It's not a difference between mom or dad being at home, it's about a parent being there to ignore, I mean, participate with the kids in their lives. Many people work a second job to cover their health insurance premiums, co-pays or other related expenses. For some, the second check goes to day care.

For many , two people working is not because of woman's lib or whatever (I happen to find Rush's term for the woman's liberation movement to be offensive, as offensive as his name being that of a band), it's been about survival. And, as is typical in the neo-right-wing-conservative movement, it is the people who are being victimized that they blame. In this case, it's the working family who is responsible for not having the money, time or ability to care of their children because their misguided ill-advised and all together poor voodoo economic policies, and not their greed.

Simple steps:

1. Join all other industrialized nations and put everyone into a health care system. Private care would still be offered. Our system now rations health care, and puts whomever can't afford their care into bankruptcy (been really, really close to there).

2. Offer Pre-K to Doctorate education to all citizens. Invest in your future, gosh darnit! The economic benefit of an educated populace is incalculable.

3. Health and economic security are just as important, if not more important, than other types of security we hear about there.

It has been thirty years of think tanks, brain washing and general movement towards this situation. And, it is up to America to take back ownership of itself. We are the government, it is not separate from us. And it has a big impact on our livelihood.

A few words to the Sun ...

First off, I want to clarify.

I really like you. I know we have our moments. I don't like squinting. I choose to eat indoors during the summer when restaurants open their patios.

AND I make fun of you at meetings. It's based on a skit done on Under the Mailbox Theater, so it's hardly my material. But I find the idea of a bunch of people plotting to destroy the sun during a board meeting to be funny. Please, don't take it personally. Blame Ed, he is actually out to destroy you. I think that's what his new company will be doing. However, his employees will have joy at work.

Now, you know I live in the Northwest. I like the mild weather, and enjoy the rain. But right now, my plants need you. We get your rays filtered through the clouds right now, so they still do their photosynthesis and give us oxygen. That is good and all.

Right now, though, RIGHT NOW, my tomatoes need your warmth ... the sun flowers need your heat, and the corn really, really needs your golden rays.

Could you take a few days to come out and get them moving again? I know we foolishly planted them at the last possible minute to get a harvest in October ... and maybe your schedule says that's when you're next appearing, but some quality time between then and now would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Today is a day to vote.

If you don't vote, your option to complain about how things are done in your government is hereby revoked.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Busy day

Not unlike the last post that was short and sweet:

House project, politics ,politics and politics ... make dinner send kids to bed.

All I have to say is that one of those meetings today pushed a major project forward 6 to 8 months, and that is a good thing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday's thing

Based loosely on an event that actually happened on Thursday, but worthy of being today's thing.

I got a call from tacomachickadee yesterday morning. It was a short and sweet call (calls are typically sweet from her, but frequently not very short ... except when she's working).

"Hey honey, they have oysters at the farmer's market today."


"Do you want some."

Ya betcha I want some.

I'm not what you would call a raving shellfish fan. But earlier this sumer, my neighbors brought us some they had purchased in excess.

They explained that you put them on the grill for about 10 minutes, until their shells crack a bit open ... then you take them off, pry them open (cut it from the shell), place the oyster in the deeper of the two halves and then drizzle a butter-based sauce over top.

We kept those for 48 hours before we had them, and boy, were they good.

Well, yesterday we had them for maybe 9 hours before we prepared them.

Oh, boy oh boy those things were some of the finest shellfish to grace my palette. The sauce was simply butter, a small bit of feta cheese (very sharp) fresh basil finely chopped and some white wine.

It was a nice, late dinner.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I'm a lying sack ... or geek for $400, please Alex

I lied.

Today I found out that I lied, mislead and all around was horrible to the 9 of you who read this blog.

I lied and I admit it.

I do have a second LP.

I found it today as I went to get the bells LP (which, quite frankly is awesome, can't say it rocks because it's bells. And to say it bells would be dumb.).

And, because of the title of the LP you know I'm a geek.

First off, the sleeve is black and white, and on the very bottom in bold, capital letters it says, "Organist/Director: Robert Schultz". Big giveaway when the featured artist is both the director AND the organist.

There are credits to Concordia Collge, River Forest, Ill. And a list of Minnesota ... Lutheran Churches.

Talk about getting my geek on (damn, this bell LP ... it totally bells), its "The Music of The Holy Communion".

I got it from our church staff, the saw it and immediately thought of me.

I now have an Hi-Fi to play it on. No, take that back, a groovy Hi-Fi to play it upon.

Along this one that totally bells.

Oh, and it totally works.

Take that Capitan Morgan costume friend.

Does anyone have a copy of the Thriller LP?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

5 minute rant

The stopwatch is set.

I have five minutes to get this out.

It is scary and all oh so bad.

My wife and I started a garden this year. In hopes that the experiment will work out and we'll reap benefits of fresh veggies.

One thing that I did was save seeds from a few plants in the past year, in attempts to grow something from 'em.

This was mentioned on chickadee's blog, and elle responded with the scariest thing ever.

There are some seed companies who produce seeds that are only one generational. Meaning they have a suicide gene where they will produce for only one year, and the seeds inside the fruits are not good to create a second generation.

I just don't understand. These are the same corporate types that rail against "unnatural things" yet they tamper with the genes of our FOOD SUPPLY and could not care less insofar as people buy their seeds every year.

It's horrible. That means they control our food. Ultimately, if you control the food you can control whole populations.

I guess we can check the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at the door. 'cause you ain't gonna be able to do any of those if you cannot eat.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The point that my friend slaps his forehead ...

I can hear it already.

The dull smack on my friend's head as he meets it with his palm.

Maybe he'll go for the closed fist against the head. I dunno.

But he knows who he is.

When I picked up a 8mm projector from the WWII era, he said, "wow, that's neat, especially since you have so many 8mm films."

Yeah. We all have those laying around, right guys? Uh, Guys?

Today I had the privilege of assisting my aunt-in-law and uncle-in-law with clearing out a bit of his father's house. His dad died a few months ago, and all of the estate has been going through whatever process (probate?) that it needs to go through, and they just about closed today (complex story).

I went under the assumption that most of the stuff was done and gone, but I was quite wrong.

I also went assuming I was picking up just a few things to store for them until such time they had the capacity and ability in their vehicles to take said items to their house on the Oregon and Washington boarder.

Dear sweet, Lord, why do I deceive myself?

I'm practically an addict to estate sales. But I am poor. But when relatives are just about to ship things off to the local thrift store, it's all about free. I'm also a history sucker, and, well, that might not be a good combination.

I'm grateful that I got some usable stuff.

Though, I don't *quite* know what I'll do with four plastic mail order arbors that unfold and screw into some sort of fence (screws included!), or the bowling ball. Okay, I know the bowling ball is for juggling. So should the knives and antique oil cans (ala "Wizard of Oz", the Tin Man scene, except they are made of copper). Or perhaps the four Sampsonite folding chairs (mild mildew scent).

Or maybe the Hi-Fi from the 1950s in its built-in cabinet It's BEAUTIFUL.


Yeah I've been wanting one since about 1996 when I got an LP from a Russian Orthodox monastery.

It's not as weird as is sounds. It was either take the recordings of the oldest church bells in Russia from one of the few monasteries that survived the Soviet religious purges (the rumour is they did them alphabetically, and this one was at the end of the alphabet ... near the Baltic States, just outside of Pskov), or stay. Their kvaas was good, but not that good.

Okay, prepare your hand, dear dream house friend. I don't have a place to put it. Oh, I'll find a place to put it, and will set my modern i-pod station on top of it to play ipod tunes. Might even retro fit the speakers some day ... but of course I'll use it ...

To play my one LP.

And that, compared to my 8mm projector, should be justified.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Screw the EASY button


It's stupid.

I'd prefer a 'reset' button.

Like the one on the Nintendo Entertain System.

You know, Mario runs off the edge in the underworld, or doesn't swim fast enough, or, worse yet, you get into the negative worlds and get tired os swimming. You simply reset.

Zelda? If you really mess up (is that possible?) don't save, just reset.

In real life, it would be nice (heck, Windows wouldn't work without ctrl alt del) to have a reset button.

Maybe not in life, maybe just for something, like, say a house. Every time you buy a house it looks and works exactly as it should given your lifestyle and the space that is there.

Then, if it gets cluttery, you get behind in your day by doing something stupid (say, breaking something even more that you're trying, err, attempting to fix), you just push reset, and your house is back to the original state ... sans painting or other fixes. Dishes done. Clothes where they belong and linens wherever the heck they're supposed to go.

I guess my parents had that feature.

Yeah, it was us.

Oh for the coming years when the lil ones aren't so lil and they can help out more ... I can wait, but I'm slightly impatient at times.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Bunnies eating

Long week, lots of projects finishing up (drywall from 2 years ago, bathroom, kitchen wall) ...
Will update later.

Until then, watch two bunnies eating.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Reflexive Red Robin Remix (imaginary Techno version)

It's my birthday
It's my birthday
It's my birthday
It's my special day.

Do I have a birthday here?
Yes I have a birthday here!

It's my birthday.
It's my birthday.
It's my birthday.
It's my special day.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday's thing

When it happened, it really doesn't matter. So, you're not going to get that information out of me. Though if my memory of the light in the room serves me correctly, it happened in the early afternoon.

How it happened, doesn't really matter, either, because I have not clue as to how.

It did happen.

It happened in my home, in my kitchen, right near the butcher block.

I was finishing a project, or staring at the wall that I'm converting into a chalkboard. Typically, it wold take a bit of chalkboard paint, and that is all. But former owner either one or two, really, really, really liked texture on the walls. I've cut my knuckles on these walls, if that gives you a clue. Though I might be mean in saying that. Perhaps they didn't like texture as much as they sucked at doing mudding and taping (and designing room layout, bathroom and tile work), and they sought to hide their job by, oh, totally sucking on the texture.

I'm not a home repair expert. I don't do everything by the book, but I do my best, and at least I know what I suck on in the process. And it's my suckage, and if we do sell, I'm certain there are ways I can find someone to help me fix some of the problems.

Anyhow, the 2 year old comes up the stairs. Usually I 'm expecting some sort of whining or wanting of whatever food she's been told she can't have. That day it was chips ... and chocolate (such chickadee's little girl), as usual.

But she changed her game.

She got to the top of the stairs, and her little legs sprinted towards me, arms out for a hug. I crouched down to receive this amazing hug.

Mid hug she says, "Dada, I missed you."

"Okay, honey, I've only been up here."

"Yeah, I missed you."


Come to think of it, it had been about 15 minutes since I last saw her, and I missed her, too.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Really simple:
Our house, at 1800 square feet of livable space, really, really, really sucks in the vertical storage department.

Today, in the never ending pursuit to make a better bathroom, I put shelves in our closet.

No story, they went in without a hitch and without a trip to the hardware or lumber stores.

I'm happy.

Maybe it's the wine.

Maybe it's more of the politics thing, I dunno.

But, tomorrow? ZOO DAY!!!!

I get to be part of the formerly known as Mommys group, seeing as there is a permament daddy member and a paternal leave member now it's the playdate group.

Should be a good time, and it'll be nice to get out of the house for awhile.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Today: politics, Costco, politics, and politics.

Tomorrow: more of the same.

Wednesday: ZOO DAY!!!!


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Of Pipes and Men

Given my last post on the trials and tribulations of the Kentucky Porch in our fair city, it isn't a surprise to me that another incident occurred in our bathroom today.

Our previous owner was a jack plumber. He mainly did work for the city with their waste water and storm water pipes. You know, things outside the home.

We haven't had serious problems with our pipes. Weird ventilation design in both of our bathrooms is about the extent of the challenges.

And some of the stuff that he used to create our current system was less than new.

Tonight, it was the "less than new" that prevailed. Now, if we had water that was high in minerals or other things, I would say that nearly 5 years would be the length of time. But, then again our pfaucet has a pfunny name associated with quality. Now, the trim would lead one to believe otherwise.

Six-year-old wanted a bath. Since Thursday night. But baths at grandma's house weren't good enough for her. She need to have Mister Bubble. Ah, the joys of the giant smiling friendly cousin to The Blob surrounding your body as you soak and cleanse. Back in my day, it was powder, today it's a pleasant gel that has all the bubbles and none of the grit.

I obliged the wish, and went to run the bath. Hot on. Check. Cold on. Check.

Hey! Wait a minute something's not right, why is there water coming out the back of the handle?

Yep. Pouring out at a brisk trickle form exactly where we don't want it to.

I knew it was going to happen eventually. The diverter valve has been doing silly things for about a year, and I had noticed that the cold handle was pretty cold after a shower. Not something I'd normally expect from a shower handle.

It was then off to the "I'm the only store open on Sunday at 7 p.m. for your hardware needs" store. (Big link, eh? Yeah, important one, too. I DO feel guilty) My goal was to finally fix said problems.

I thought it would be easy.


Previous owner felt it necessary to puddy and caulk every little thing around the trim. Not bad if it all lasted for longer than 5 years. Bad, when you want to fix the problem.


Well, it works.

I know more about the workings of the fpunny fpaucet three-handle shower. For future reference: buy the stems, and other gaskets rather than the whole trim kit. Tighten some of the connections with the pipe wrench to get a better seal. Oh, and investigate the entire stem to be sure that the threads aren't stripped or washer thingies aren't broken.

All part of the fun and excitement of homeownership.

Oh, yes, it does work, we might have to adjust the handles and some of the settings, but I'm pleased.

chickadee gets her shower in the a.m.; and I will, too ... at some point.

I just have to watch out for the happy blob.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday's thing

Thanks, but um, what?

That was my thought this evening as I was mentally reviewing my day. Which, for crazy reasons has put me in a slightly mental state right now, but that has to do with shifting schedules, family challenges and a strange form or anxiety that I get in over cluttered (or overcrowded) places.

Today I purchased some 18-inch fluorescent light bulbs to fix a light. They were the wrong style, and though it is an 18-inch fixture, they were 1/4 inch short. Must be like millwork and wood, there's 1/4 that gets shaved off in the milling process. Maybe on the green chain.

I paid for these with fake money; easier for returns.

So, part of my day revolved around picking up four kids (7, 6, 4, and 2) from Bible school. Joy. I get to do a return in a mega-type store with four kids hanging on me.

It was supposed to be simple, drop those who could survive the playland, off in the activity area. Take those, whom I assume would be the eldest two, to do return and some shopping.

It was shortly after lunch time, and I approached the counter decorated with the Freddy Bear holding balloons or something. Grandma behind the counter. Well, she reminded of my Grandma, but with extra-special retail bite. "Oh, I'm sorry, dear;" she says, "I'm going on break." Maybe she remembers one of the crew that's with me, I dunno.

I plaster on my best shocked-yet-plastic smile and walk away.

To do the return.

Now the return was rather simple. Efficient. I exchanged jokes with the cashier. One of the kids impressed them with her diva flip-flops. That in itself is a great therapy / rehab statement that I even laughed.

The weird part was right at the end, you know, where they say it's all done and the amount is charged back to your card? Well, she didn't do that. She handed me cash. And 97 cents. In itself, not weird, but she says this:

"I figured I'd give you change, as I know that kids like change."

Um, I have FOUR kids here, whose combined ages (7, 6, 4, 2) are just above 1/2 my age and the average number of drinks a shuttle pilot has before take off.

They are clawing on me, making noise, and so she CHOOSES to give me change?

Next time: my return, my choice.

For the rest of the day I sounded like my high school physics teacher jingling along the way as I walk.


Help out a gritty town

First Night Pierce County and Tacoma is an incredible celebration.

Artists. Musicians. Thespians. Food. Families.

All ringing in the new year.

More details are at chickadee's blog, but if you can spare even $5, that would be wonderful.

Oh, and it's alcohol-free event.

Who would want to welcome the New Year passed out on a Twister spinner?

250,000,000,000,000 to 375,000,000,000,000

That's how many total cells read this site each day ... on average.

It's not the individual cells that read the posts.

It's the people the cells support, doing everything from seeing, tasting and feeling to typing and thinking of better ways to spend their time.

But, I want to give you a time waster today.

It's two brothers who communicate solely by vblog. (That's video blog, if you don't want to accept my wiki link).

I found them on You Tube, and thought they are funny.

You don't need to think they are funny ... just know that it's something you could consider. Maybe just laugh a little, but it's up to you.

Brotherhood 2.0

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Screeching Halt


I died.

Well, not really. Took a trip through the world of the Deathly Hallows.


Finished it. It's great.

Historically, with this series, I've read about 1/4 to 1/3 of it, set it down for a few *seconds* to only have it swiped from me by my wonderful, beautiful wife.

Then, about 2 weeks later, I pick it back up, pull myself through the slow part (typically something germane about a magical herb, or random, seemingly non-essential history) and finish in a few days, one of which entails reading "just 15 more pages" for most of a night.

This one, it was with exception. I set it down, chickadee did pick it up, and we co-read it back and forth for two days ... then, I headed to her parent's house to do some handyman work for her aunt. So, I have been physically away from that copy of the book all week.

Fortunately, as I said before, we had the foresight to purchase TWO copies, with one being for my brother-in-law. He did the typical final night of reading it Monday night. I followed suit by having the all nighter from the moment of the wedding, to the end for two nights in a row.

Okay, I actually got 5 hours of sleep the first night, but less the second.

So, I curse you JK Rowling.

I'm doing physical labor, on little sleep for most of this week. But that's okay.

The book was worth it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday drive

I'm normally a pretty calm driver, follow the rules, make sure I'm within reason on the whole speed-limit thing.

Today, we packed up the three kiddos, my goddaughter, brother-in-law and mother-in-law to take a normal road trip to the in laws for a week of work fixing things here and there. Oh! We also brought the family cat down to acclimate him for a week so before we leave.

I have only one complaint about the trip (aside from missing chickadee terribly right now):

The road was filled with colonoscopy entrance heads.


First it's the typical "I won't let you in my lane guy."
Then, it's "I'm going to ride your butt for the next 2 miles; NOT back off when you flash your brakes and then, repeat the SAME thing on the driver I get behind next." Grrr.

To you, guy in the black Sonata who did that WHILE ON YOUR CELL PHONE:

Be safe. At least two or three time that I braked while we were driving, was because those in front of me were actually slowing down.

You jeopardized not only my safety, but the safety of my children.

Shame on you.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday's thing (Saturday edition)

Big day yesterday.

Chickadee's cousin got married. HUGE deal. She married her on-again, off-again boyfriend.

Usually, that's not a great thing. This one dates back to junior high days for them.

I played kid chaser so chickadee could enjoy the ceremony. Thankfully, it all lasted a whole 15 minutes; maybe 20.

Then, all I have to say is:

Got it.

Two copies, actually. At 12:05 a.m. this morning after watching a wonderful display of fire arts by some firedancers at our local haunt.

If you've been living under a rock, use the google to look up 12:01 a.m. 7/21/2007 to find out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Well my tubes for the internets are stuffed full today.


The servers are having capacity problems assigning MAC (or is that IP) addresses and the sort as people log on.

I guess I'm going to take a nap.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Thank you.

Today, my wife's grandmother passed away.

She liked seafood. Especially salmon. In fact, when we had the chance to invite her over while we made salmon, she'd eat a second portion and always go home with another

She said she liked the way I cooked it.

I liked hearing her stories of growing up in Ruston ... meeting her husband at a USO dance (I think it was USO) ... working with my sophomore roommate at a snack counter called "Mr. Munchies". And the kind gruffness she used when speaking about her neighbors ... calling them "damn this or that" one moment and then saying how industrious they are the next.

She loved cats, too. She-ra ... Pumpkin ... and even our cat Sandy. There is also the collection of owl trinkets, which may or may not have been an accidental collection over time, but she did have many of 'em.

Her family is an example of forgiveness over time ... of grace and imperfection ... but that in itself is beautiful.

Thank you Grandma Jeri, you'll be missed by us and by Pumpkin ... say hello to She-ra and Mary for us, we still miss them, too.

It is done

Among one of the frustrating things in life is the misuse of the apostrophe.

Yep this little ant-trail guy right here:


He is misused, abused and embarrassed at just about every turn.

I, for one, am by no means an expert on usage, but I do know there are certain times that it should not be used.

Buy, why focus on the negative? Maybe each time I see a hand-written sign with the proper usage, or the lack of usage I should rejoice at the missing punctuation. I should be happy that the author took the time to word things differently.

CD's would simply say: Compact Disks, or, Certificates of Deposit.
"It is" would just be spelled out. No questions asked. Simply spelling out the word would save time.

I am not the only one out there with this pet peeve. There is actually a society in the UK committed to defending this voiceless and often abused punctuation mark.

Please help out.

I suggest:
If you do not know if something should be punctuated with an apostrophe or not, let the little guy rest.

Carry a red pen, or two, of various sizes to make the corrections as needed.

Thank you.

Update: I guess there is more people out there, thanks for this link, Elle!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday's thing


In Alanis Morrisettes' Ironic (damn, you can find ANYTHING on Wikipedia!) it's not so much irony but just plain things that suck.

You know, rain. Wedding day. Traffic jams. Already late.

Most of those situations just plain suck.

This morning, while running a few errands, I realized that I am experiencing alanirony.

About 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with IBS (yes, everything is on Wikipedia). I will spare you the details, read the link if you want information. My assessment is IBS-A. Of course, when experiencing an epidsode I, too, become irritable (to my dismay).

One of the therapies for this diagnosis and, at times, deliberating problem (I've been bed ridden before while suffering an attack) is to simply consume more fiber.

You know, go eat a sweater ... graze on some grass ... drink Metamucil. Of course, option three is something that I've only seen my grandparents do for the last 30 years.

I'm not wholly into pills and whatnot, and I enjoy food, so I'd much rather up the fiber content of what I eat. I'm especially interested in breakfast cereals that contain as much fiber, as say, colon blow (transcript here).

Enter Costco.

I pay the annual membership to just see 10 gallon pails of mayonnaise lined up in neat rows.

You betcha they'd have some thing close to what I'm looking for.

Sure enough, on the shelf, a breakfast treat with 51 percent of daily fiber.

Let me repeat that ... Fifty-one percent of daily fiber.

I get movin'. Buy a box, go home, and have a bowl the next morning. (ahem ... of said cereal).

Misery is all I can say. This is the worst thing for my system.

It is true alanirony. "Have more fiber" the doctor says. "51 percent of US RDA of fiber" the box says.

Nooooooo the lower GI tract says.

It's been three bowls, and a week of pure misery, irritability ... and all that I can do is wait for things to pass.

I'd rather have the 10, 000 spoons and need a knife, thank you. At least I can use the spoon handle to butter my bread.

Now, go try to get the song out of your head.

You're welcome.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Aphids, ladybugs and refuse ... oh my!

Elle sez in the comments here:
Yeah, but I'll have to weed the hell out of mine, water it constantly and wonder why. the. heck. the aphids. keep attacking. my plants! Oh wait... what were you saying.
Funny you'd talk about aphids and their destructive sticky goo that falls on my cars, ruins my deck, and generally ruins wine, beer and other open beverages with their sacrificial aphidic virgins jumping to their death.

Yes. I dislike aphids. They are good for feeding to ladybugs. (Don't let the name confuse you, as I learned watching "A Bug's Life", some are crabby men who chomp on cigars.)

Three weeks ago, chickadee decided to trim a bit of our plum tree (a good move, as I'm trying thin some of the overabundance of plums on branches so the sunshiney-good energy and sugars go into the remaining fruits), and put the limbs into the brown bin.

I believe we then went on vacation, and came back.

The bin was placed in the back along our new alley (more in the future).

The spot gets tons of sun throughout the day, so it became a wonderful incubator. It was crawling with cute little lady bug larvae. I mean PACKED.

Our fairy gardenmother exclaimed, "that's where they went!"

I mentioned that we have a new alley. Well, when it went in earlier this spring, I contacted the city to see if they could pick up our yard waste with recycling in the alley. The last I left them, they were going to do some research, and see if it would be feasible.

So, we get back, bin crawling with larvae that will incubate for the next week or two, and then, we'd lift the lid. I thoughts were the ladybugs would be like sharks in a chum frenzy.

Come Monday afternoon, I get a funny feeling that something is wrong. I shlepped across the yard to the alley. The brown bin was a bit askew.

Sure enough, all those dreams of an aphid massacare by the ladybug minions are gone.

I am happy that my request went through with the city, though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What a difference ... I hope ... 12 years makes

Okay, aside from the fact that it's been 12 years since the first "big birthday screw up", which actually, after 6 years, turned out to be actually okay ... we're trying something a bit different this year.

By "we" I mean "me with the consent of the birthday woman".

Having noticed that there is a rather HUGE pile up of scheduling issues this week, one of which I am obligated to be at tomorrow evening, I figured it would be best to open the festivities of birthday to a more ecumenical approach. Get her some quality time with her girlfriends.

Not a small task.

Not at all a small task.

On my side, I need to get the house ready, which entails sorting and recycling tons of paper stuff ... finding nooks an crannies to hide, err, store things that would work better "elsewhere", and even find inspiration to get some things into the paper storage room ... err, office downstairs.

I have to say, much less organized than 12 years ago ... but, I'm much happier, too.

(Sappy alert)
Some silly study came out a couple of weeks ago that said love peaks after 3 years. Blech. That's if you're looking at life like a race. Jeeze, pace yourself! Slow down around your loved one ... I can say that there are lows, but she's the best thing that's going on right now!

Happy Birthday, chickadee! Have fun with your friends!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Use rustic bread or exotic rolls as buns on hamburgers.

Today we used "slipper" buns (chiabatta, a chewy bread with crispy outside).

Yeah us.

Pile o' poo.

We're pseudo-hippies.

We like our milk organic, our yard natural, and (for the most part) or veggies and other foods to be au natural.

By no means are we perfect (heck, the new labeling laws allow too much stuff into 'organic.')

However, we like sustainable, and sometimes that trumps organic ... at least in our yard.

Right now, in the 80 degree afternoon sun, I have a big huge pile of our fair city's biosolid soil amendment.

How big?


A generous 5 yard load of it, to be exact.

So what am I doing today, as temperatures are warming up to get into the mid 90s by tomorrow?

I'm shoveling and leveling 5 generous yards of dark biosolids.

Yeah me!

And our garden will so kick your garden's butt this fall and next year.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Friday's thing

A brief bit of advice on this end-of-the-Fourth-of-July-week:

Flip your burgers only once, if that.

It keeps the juices in, and when you spice them, the spices mix with said juices. It's good.

Works the same in life.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Leo? Vergo?

I was born 6 weeks early.

Right dab smack in the Leo department of the astrological sign store.

So, for the past 20 some years I've just assumed Leo. Then I turned 30 and things just weren't reading right.

Hmmm; so I upped the game, and went to reading the horoscope for Vergo.

This week and next are full of complex issues in an organization that I'm involved in. And today's horoscope sums up exactly what I'm thinking:
If you said everything that you think, it would complicate your life quite a bit. The problem is that, although you may have a very clear idea of what you want and why you want it, you are unable to put it into words. If you do try, be as concise as possible. But rest assured that once Mercury turns direct on July 9, it will be much easier to communicate your needs.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

It's about neighbors

So, back in 1776 a group of white, male landowners got together and declared that we are endowed, just by mere existence, the right to life, liberty and (on the second draft) the pursuit of happiness.

Today, these rights extends to everyone.

Any movement or lobby that insists on infringing on these fundamental human rights for any person goes against the intent and purpose of our country.

It boils down to how we treat our neighbors.

Happy Independence Day, and may we keep our ideals in line despite dogmatic rhetoric.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Geneology of my grills

If I ever decide to grow old and wise, the one thing I will pass along to my son, in hopes that he will pass it on to his son, and so on, is wisdom that is quite contemporary. Granted, this speaks loudly of the consumerism of our lives, and our perception of value.

Growing up, having a grill meant one thing: a charcoal grill of the Weber design. I was actually surprised to learn that grills could be square, rectangular, heck they could even sit about 1 foot above the ground.

The first gas grill I encountered was in the late 1980s. My dad got one ... you know, propane with propane accessories. It worked well; we both were quite effective at burning things.

Being young, I swore that charcoal worked better, wasn't as hard, and 'when I grew up' I would be a BBQ purist. Regardless of what Hank Hill said, it was charcoal or nothing.

Things were looking great. I got married. Not only did I get married, but we got a Smokey Joe by Weber. Now we had portable charcoaly goodness.

About three years later, after finding out it's not fun to: 1. Find a suitable surface to set the small Weber on, 2. Wait, wait and wait for the coals to turn, well, coalish, and 3. There is a difference of opinon as to the qualities of lighter fluid's taste on a steak.

At that time I was at a Big Lots about 30 miles south of home. There they had a propane grill for about 50 bucks. I had been secretly shopping around, and decided that this was a good deal.

What could go wrong with an overstock grill put together in Korea?

Oh yeah, maybe the INSTRUCTIONS could go wrong. They were written in some hybrid Korean/English hybrid. Maybe to conserve fuel or something, I don't kow. But it basically sucked.

I faithfully put it together, called over friends to share in its bounty, and prayed that it would not explode in a firey inferno.

Well, it eventually worked, and for the most part, it sucked.

It was the last grill I ever bought.


After about 2 years, I cruised Craigslist and found a grill 15 miles to the north for, get this: free.

That grill disasembled nicely and squeezed into the trunk of my 89 Camery. I kid you not.

It was re-assembled and worked excellently for a year.

I then sold it for $5.

Why the heck would I sell a FREE grill? Well, my neighbors across the street felt their grill was too dirty, rather than clean it, they asked me if I would like it. So I sold a free grill to get another free grill. So, essentially I'm not doing too bad. I only needed to relpace the propane tank after a year (the valve was behind code).

This year, the grill's upper rack rusted through.

But another neighbor got wind that we're having a block party on Independence Day, so he HAD to get a new stainless steel grill for the shindig.

No problem.

I only had a grill up front, and if I wanted to grill in the back yard, I'd have to actually move the thing. Heck, I even had TWO propane tanks for the joy of grilling.

So now, I have a grill in the front (with out an upper rack, so it's perfect for veggies, long roasts or other big things that need the space). And one in the back with a side burner, I guess it's for making pancakes or something in the event the power goes off.

Oh, the advice to my son?

Never buy a grill.


Too many people will be willing to spend extra money to either upgrade or they won't clean the grill. But somehow you'll benefit from the grill karma.

Okay, maybe one purchase.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Farewell to Kentucky Porch

I honestly don't mean to offend Kentucky.

But it's the best image I've come up with.

For the past year there has been a toilet on my back porch.

That's correct, a bona fide porcelain God on my back porch.

It was empty, save the few leaves that blew into it over the course of the past 50 weeks (so not quite a year).

All that needed to be done was 4 feet of 1/2 inch grout needed to be replaced in our bathroom. So, I chose a night where my spouse took the kids down to her folks' house before we took off for a week in San Antonio, Texas. (though being there in July is a different story completely).

I had removed maybe 1 inch of grout when the tile popped up.

Not. A. Good. Sign.

More followed. I realized that there was something wrong, and that this particular installment of tile had a unique underlayment.

It was black.

In my limited experience of tile work, I know that the backer should either be: Gray, or gray.

Black is not an option, and that typically means mold. Which, in turn, explained many problems that I've had with our basement ceiling.

Oh joy.

So two hours bathroom, and a discovery that the floor itself is actually built up nearly 2 inches from the original subfloor.

It took until this December or so to get the subfloor in and sorta level.

The new hardibacker went in around April of this year, and the tile was laid this Memorial day (thanks, Joel).

So today, after giving a presentation I stopped by the best little hardware store in Tacoma and purchased the items necessary for setting a toliet.

It's in.

No leaks.

Only a little wobbley, but that's to just have the boy say's cute.

Now time to paint and put in the trim.

Fun times.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday's thing: Friends and brownies

Today was the first playdate away from the house.

Well, the first daddy playdate with mommy’s friends away from the house.

We ventured to the land of nearly-no sidewalks … the land where we need traffic impact fees for developers.

It’s about a 45 minute drive, not too bad of a car stint, except when you consider we’re only going about 18 miles. Though I did find that Google maps permits you to click and drag your route so you can go the way you at least have some familiarity with. It’s a great feature.

One of the customs of these play dates is the brining of something.

Being a guy, and this being a mommy function, I could have brought a bottle of club soda, and it would have been accepted as ‘a good start’.

We’ve all know each other since college, so I knew that I probably couldn’t have played the ‘guy’ card like that. So at 7:30 this morning, with my son’s help, we performed one of those secret recipes that are so easy that you need to share it because it’s:

1. Easy.
2. Easy.
3. Good.
4. Impressive

He’d been harassing me to make brownies. Now, a four year old isn’t too subtle when they want something. I think he brought out the box of brownies at least five times in as many days for me to make more.

So, rather than crack out the fixin’s for pancakes (and today would have been from scratch, sans the buttermilk, but it would have worked), I made him his egg (scrambled with 1 cheese stick melted into it), and while he watched I began the soon-to-be not so secret process.

First, get a box of brownie mix. This particular brand (Pillsbury, if you’re reading this, e-mail or comment, and I’ll happily give you my address for coupons) calls for 1/3 cup oil, 3 tablespoons of water and one egg. I beat these together in the bowl (with a wire whisk), and had my son help by adding 1/3 of the mix at a time.

Okay, I could have done the whole by scratch thing, but realize the bar for me was pretty low, I was exceeding expectations just by considering making something.

We got those all mixed together (using a wooden spoon; the wire whisk gets too gloopy). I then folded in 2/3 cup of semi-sweet Toll House chips.

I poured the mix into an 8x8 pan that was greased with olive oil.

And then it was into the oven at 325 for about 37 minutes (I set the timer for 33 and let it remind me twice it was done).

These sat for about an hour before we were ready to go. I then drizzled some chocolate on a plate, placed the now cut brownies on that and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Like I said, easy, easy, good and impressive.

The only complaint was that I cut them too small, so they were “pop-able” and that there was too few.

The first time new momma certainly enjoyed them, as did the “I’m done being pregnant with my second child” momma.

Kids had a great time, and all fell asleep on the way home.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ketchup. Smiley Face. Happy Face.

As I came into married life, we began a tradition of listening to NPR on Saturdays. Some great shows from 9 in the morning, clear through the evening jazz program. Only a little bit of guilt for having attended a different school that also broadcasts NPR programming.

A big part of the day starts at 3 p.m. It's when the frog-like baritoned voice of Garrison Kellior comes over the airwaves. It's comforting. Reflective, and pretty damn funny.

One of the 'sponsors' of the show is ketchup. With its natural mellowing agents, it's able to settle any stressful situations.

Growing up, I used to laugh at stories of my step-brother being obsessed with ketchup.

Cheerios. Eggs. macaroni and cheese.

Apparently, nothing was immune to the red, sweet goodness of Hunt's, Heinz, or brand X. He liked it so much that his little boy belly was called his 'tomato'.

My son, at 4 1/2 if just about no different. If there's an opportunity to eat ketchup will probably come into the picture.

He's taken his two-year-old sister under his wing, so they team up at each meal.

I tought that it would be a simple deal to serve it on the side on on the top of the food. You know, just drizzle it on top like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Oh how wrong I've been.

My little experts of youthful gastronomy like to eat things with faces (no vegetarians here, sorry). It's handy.

The other night I was readying my ketchup-pen, prepared to create a face on top of macaroni and cheese. Dot. Dot. Smile. Like this: :)

Simple smiley.


He stated in his sophisticated 4.5 year old voice, "Dada, Actually, I'd like a happy face."

I had to show my ignorance, "Happy face? That's what is there."

"No, that's a smiley face. A happy face has a nose."