Wednesday, November 13, 2019

My Kitchen

I love my kitchen.

I'm the family cook and a good or great kitchen is essential to my well-being.

I love my kitchen.

My kitchen has two entrances and a central island.  It has bright lighting and lots of storage space.  The central island sports a gas cooktop and the double oven is self-cleaning upper and lower.  The Bosch dishwasher is totally silent.

My kitchen is perfect.

So what, you might ask?

Well, my attitude to cooking is affected by my environment.  When it's good, I'm good.  I've done my best cooking here:  Julia Child, Robert Carrier, Gordon Ramsay - you name it, I've cooked 'em.  Right here.  In a great environment.

Twenty years ago we were looking to move to a bigger house.  After many many visits our realtor took me here and as soon as I walked into the kitchen I knew this was the place.  Although the house was way out of our price range, the total perfectness of the kitchen was too much to simply ignore.  We improvised some creative financing and, twenty years later, here we are.

Such magnificent feasts and parties we have produced!  It's been a great experience and I feel joy every time I walk into my perfect kitchen.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The War

Dad was an Army Captain in the 864th Engineering Battalion, Ft. Lewis, Washington, and served in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1946. Dad did not talk about the war and the only story we had was that he fell on a basketball court and skinned his nose requiring medical treatment. Ha, ha, what a lark it must have been!
Not so. I found out years later after he died what he and the 200 men in his command endured. The Army engineers supported the infrastructure on captured islands and bases held by the Marines. They built and repaired airstrips, by hand, built and maintained roads, hospitals and landing points. They did this while under constant enemy fire, bombings, attacks and in an environment where disease could incapacitate half the company.
Here are some excerpts from a daily diary written by one of the "grunts" under Dad's command. It was no cake walk and Dad never told us a thing:
Nov. 24, 1943 Lae (New Guinea)
The men are becoming uneasy. 7 Zeroes attacked one of our Liberators but were driven off. We saw the bombay doors open up and the men ready to bail out. Then the bombays closed and it made a beautiful forced landing. They didn't bail out because one of the pilots was shot in the head. Another raid at 9:15, but our Ack Ack drove them off. Boy, those J's got nerve.
Nov. 28, 1943
Back to working on hospital buildings ... concrete floors ... those sacks of cement weigh 94 lbs each. We work very hard on a 6 hour on, and 6 hour off schedule.
Dec. 3, 1943
The 808 and 864th made history today. we completed the 28 mile road from Lae to Nabzad with a loss of only 3 men., Most of our outfit is stationed here at Lae. Some of our heavy equipment operators are at Mandana and a few located at Finnschaven. Red alert tonight ... no casualties.
Dec. 17, 1943
Our advanced bulldozer and grader operators are back from Rumu Valley. They were really shot up. Five of the men from One Company and 3 from B Company aren't coming back. The big D-12 Cat was grenaded. What a mess! Things were pretty sad tonight. Hellped Peterdson splice a wire to repair his guitar. A Liberty ship with some troops just came in. We will be travelling soon with just our field packs.
Jan 16, 1944
Built another bridge and a light proof hut for developing photos. The mud out here is really bad. When some one dies or gets killed, they roll them into a matress cover and toss them into a deep hole. At 1:30 AM 2 personnel bombs were dropped, ripping holes into the air strip and killing 4 CB's and wounding 18. Goddamn, our radar had screwed and they caught us with our lights on and our pants down ... much damage was done.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Wake-Up Call

Every morning I get a wake-up call by this guy, Q the Cat.

Q is our rescue cat, "res CUE" being the origin of his name.

I give Mr. Q a lot of deference because of the hard life and near death experience he had as a kitten.  Mr. Q is special and I treat him specially.

Q has always been a hungry cat and he get's hungry some time between midnight and 6 AM.  He will let me know that he's ready for chow by a nip to the elbow or a gentle paw to my head.

If anything, Q is very polite.  He paws me or nips me gently letting me know he's up for some Tuna.

Of course, I respond.  It's become a nightly ritual for a YEAR!  I get up, have a drink of water, stumble around to find the cat food, feed Q and go back to bed.  He never bugs me after that.

I don't begrudge Q's nocturnal habits.  After all, Q had a hard life and nearly died at the hands of uncaring, despicable people.  It is my honor to give the little guy some Kat Fud in the dead of night.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Powers of 19

1869 - Grandfather 1-year old, living on a farm in Missouri
1879 - Grandfather still living on the farm.
1889 - Grandfather working as an accountant in Oklahoma.
1899 - Grandfather married with two children in Oklahoma.
1909 - Grandfather widower, children being raised by his late wife’s family
1919 - Father born to Grandfather’s second wife.
1929 - Father being raised by late mother’s family in Missouri.
1939 - Father at University of Montana
1949 - Father surviving WW2 married Mother.
1959 - Billy’s second grade teacher reconsiders career choice.
1969 - Bill rushed by Joe Reihl and Greg Wagner to join Kappa Sigma at NAU.
1979 - Received PhD and married Dr. Helen.
1989 - Building first house, three kids, survived 4 company layoffs.
1999 - Transferred to Houston, survived 8 company layoffs.
2009 - Retired having survived 17 layoffs, held a book signing at Barnes and Noble.
2019 - Here we are. Kids with their own careers. Bill awards 7th scholarship to Women in Chemistry at NAU.
2029 - Damn kids still on my lawn.
2039 - Jim White inducted into the Saxophone Hall of Fame
2049 - Rocket scientist S. Farrell invents anti-gravity belt because “Dad always wanted one.”
4069 - Brain transferred Doc Bill probe enters orbit of Alpha Omicron Pi-5 for planetary observation.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Bathroom Remodel

Do we have to do this?  Sort of yes, sort of no.

Yes, that we would like to have a new "look" to the Master Bathroom and Closets, update the fixtures, install LED's and new plumbing.

No, for the mess.

Well, you can't have one without the other.  

So much has changed since our house was built.  New shower and bathroom fixtures, lighting, flooring and stuff like heated towel rails.

Alas, by staying at fancy hotels in recent years we have been exposed to the possible which led us to the impossible decision of having a major room in our house re-done.

Our builder, an amazing and very modern person, was able to take pictures of our current very large master bathroom and superimpose his model of the transformation.  Truly astounding!  The tile, the lighting, the cabinets and the plumbing fixtures all laid out in color and 3-D. 

I say let the jackhammering begin!  More later.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Nitrogen Tires

Really.  Nitrogen tires is a thing?

Apparently so.

My new Acura sports "nitrogen filled" tires.  Seems that 79% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen plus some trace elements and water vapor isn't good enough.

Well, la-de-DAH!

The story is that nitrogen filled tires leak less (who knew) and are less prone to temperature change.  The first part may be true but the second is definitely not!  When the temperature in Texas dropped from a normal 90-degrees F to 50, my tires went from 35 psi to 29 psi, triggering the "low pressure" sensor thus causing the car to scream, "Low Pressure!  Low Pressure!"

Nothing I could do about it.  I don't have a nitrogen compressor in my garage.

So, I had to take my car with low pressure tires to the Acura dealership to have them dealt with.  Srsly, I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever taken my car to a dealership to have the tires filled up.  Yet, here I am in the FUTURE doing exactly that.  Oh, the humanity!

The service manager was quite jolly about it.  "We get this all the time in winter.  No big deal.  Just bring your car in and we'll top up those tires no charge.

Sure enough, 10 minutes later I was on my way riding on 35 psi of nitrogen and not a care in the world.  Yeah, now I pity the little people who have to exist on common air.  How awful their lives must be.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Q Loves Paper!

Q the Cat thinks that rolls of paper are a great thing to play with.  Can't say I disagree!

Q is the only cat we have lived with who plays with paper rolls:  toilet paper (of course!) and paper towels.

I say they are fair game and if it brings a little joy into his life, all the better.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Guy Fawkes Day

Here we are again.  November 5th.  Guy Fawkes Day.  The Gunpowder Plot and all that rot.

Guido Fawkes plot to blow up Parliament in London on November 5th, 1605 was foiled in the act and he was caught literally with a match in his hands.

He and his co-conspirators were convicted, tortured and executed in the most gruesome fashion imaginable.

Eventually, the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day became a national event in England with lots of charitable fundraising, parties and fireworks.

Yea, boo, Guy Fawkes.  Bad idea, good holiday.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Butter Chicken Curry

Nothing smells like "dinner time" better than Butter Chicken Curry.

It's a mild chicken curry although you can spice it up if you want.  I prefer it to be tangy, not volcanic.

The basic blueprint is:

Chicken - I use chicken tenders
Tomato sauce
Spices - garam masala, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper
Cilantro and lime juice to serve

That's it.  Pretty simple.

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and sauté in about 2 tbsp of butter.  Remove and set aside.

Chop the onion coarsely and sauté in about 2 tbsp of butter.  When softened and slightly browned add the spices and about 9 oz of crushed tomatoes, or 9 oz of tomato sauce or puree.  Splash of water if it looks too thick.  Let this simmer for 10 minutes or so then buzz up with a hand blender.  Add 1.5 cup cream and simmer.  

Before serving add another 2 tbsp butter, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro.

Cilantro tip:  I add cilantro to the plates served, not the pot because it will wilt down and discolor.  We always have enough for a second night, and a shot of fresh cilantro the next day is much better than the old, wilted stuff.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Fall Back

I love Fall Back.  For one reason.  I have a solid excuse for being a lazy bum and sleeping in.

"Get up you lazy bum!  It's daylight in the swamp!"

"Playing the Fall Back card!"

"Oh, OK.  Sleep tight."

See how that works.  I can only play the Fall Back card once a year but I play it with a passion.

I cope with Fall Back very well.  Living in the Jetson's time most of our clocks adjust themselves.  The only holdouts are the Oven and the Microwave.  As if I really care that either of them have a clock.  That said, they are easy to fix.  The kitchen clock will need changing, or maybe I can simply procrastinate until March when it will be back in synch.

Fall Back does not affect the cats or dog who, sadly, have resisted all attempts to teach them how to tell time.  They go by the Sun and their stomachs.  It's light, I'm hungry.  

The only thing about Fall Back that freaks me out is Darkness at Six.  Here it is 6 PM, about the time I should start cooking dinner for a 7:30-8:00 serving and I've got things on.  OMG, we'll be eating at 7 at this rate!  Messes up the entire evening.  On the bright side I'll be complaining about Spring Forward in no time at all.  No time at all.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Porky Stewy Thing

We invented this dish we call Porky Stewy Thing.

It's lean pork, boneless chops or ribs, stewed up with bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, carrots, maybe beans and other stuff.  It's basically a pork chili that works its magic by stewing for about two hours.

So, cold night, porky stewy thing it is!

Like all stews it's better the next day.  One wonders why we don't plan ahead, but we never do.

Aw, it will be fine!

Friday, November 01, 2019

NaBloPoMo 2019

National Blog Posting Month 2019

The challenge is to post something every day in November.  I've been successful a few times, a slacker in other years.

Here's to 2019, the Year of Doing It Rite.

First, the news.

Q the Cat completed his first year as a rescued cat gaining 15 pounds in the process.  He has transformed from an adorable kitten to an adorable cat.

About Mr. Q.

Mr. Q as a 1.5 pound kitten of 8 weeks was thrown out of the window of a slowly moving car on the freeway.  Tossed out like a McNuggets wrapper.  Splat.  On the asphalt.  Fortunately for Mr. Q our neighbor was driving nearby, saw the incident, stopped her car (on a freeway!), and at great peril to herself scooped up the crying kitten and took it home.  However, she owned big dogs and couldn't keep a kitten even overnight, so she brought him to us.

"Can you keep this kitten tonight and take him to the shelter in the morning?"

We took one look at the tuxedo kitten with big eyes, trembling, and made a snap decision.

No, we'll give that kitten a home.  And, we did.

We call Q the Thousand Dollar Cat because that's what it cost us in vet bills to get him de-flea'd, dipped for ringworm, shots, neutering and all that stuff.  He was worth every penny.

Q is short for "resCUE."  Some of our friends accuse us of being fanatical Star Trek fans and naming him after the immortal Q, but, no.  It's just Q.

We knew it was the right decision when we made it.  It didn't need a lot of discussion.  Q lucked out and so did we.

Sunday, April 07, 2019


Is it 2019 already???