Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The first five years of a child's life is spent cementing what that little person is like for the rest of their lives. Granted people can change but the research shows that who you are, what your personality will be like, is ingrained in these first few years of life.
We've taken great care to do as much as any grandparent can do to help Grace become a happy, well adjusted person: A winner in her lifetime.
This time of life has been a time for reflection. How did I get from there - birth to five years of age to where I am today. What formed the personality that I have than is a gift one moment and a curse the very next? Why do I feel such great responsibility for everyone and everything even at times when it's best to mind my own business? What happened to me?
I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. It was toss. It was turn. It was flop, flop and more flop in bed. Thinking, thinking, thinking, the poison to a good night's sleep. How did I get from there to here was on my mind.
Chapter 1: Birth to 2.5 years. It was spent in this very house living with my mom, her two high school age sisters, my grandmother and grandfather (Pop). My mother and father separated and divorced before my birth. There were no visits from my father. Never.
While mom worked at the bank downtown, I stayed with my grandmother who for all practical purposes played the role of my mother for these first few years.
As the story goes, I was the apple of everyone's eye. I would bounce on everyone's knee, dance every bebop dance with mom or her sisters when the right tune was played on the radio. All three of the sisters loved to sing, singing along with what was playing on the 78 speed record player. Old Butter Milk Sky, Sentimental Journey were two songs that were favorites to sing. There was always laughter and lots and lots of music and singing in our midwest home.
In mom's family toilet training came early and by age one. Sitting on the toilet until I did something was apparently a family tradition. "Can I get off now!" And most of the time I had to sit a while longer.
Mom started dating a man who worked at the Army Air Field. It was WWII and the field was in full operation to support the war effort. It must have been a heart wrenching decision for my mother when she made the decision to leave Nebraska with her new man and her little boy, leaving behind the life and the family she had always known.
Pop helped my soon to be step dad lower a trunk full of all the worldly possesions mom and I had from the second story window of our house (see the picture). The trunk was heavy. Luck had it that no one was killed or seriously hurt from a trunk hurling from a second story window.
I remember that sad day when we boarded a Union Pacific train that was headed west, a cold midwest December day I left our little town with my mother and her new man. In spite of my loud protests staying behind with my grandparents was never an option. My world, the direction of my future had just taken a 180 degree turn in the very opposite direction. Life would never be the same.
The train was old. It had been used to transport troops during the war. The seats were wooden making for an uncomfortable ride. When I slept I nestled down into my mom's lap hoping to wake up at home and in my own bed at grandmothers.
The train stopped along the way. People came. People went. When it came time to stop in Reno, mom and her new man got off the train along with me riding atop his shoulders. It must have been a picture.
That night Mom and her new man were married. After spending the night in a Reno hotel close to the tracks, we boarded a train early the next day bound for California. Mom said that during this last leg of the trip that I ran up and down the train aisle shouting, "I've got a new daddy! I've got a new daddy!"
Mom would remain married to her new man, my new daddy, for the rest of her life.
Next - Chapter 2: Life in Fresno: Ages 2.5 - 7
Monday, October 30, 2006
Remember this one?
"You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end..."
-Robert Duvall, Apocalypse Now (1979)
"You smell that? Do you smell that? Bacon, son. Nothing in the world smells like that. I love the smell of bacon in the morning. You know, one time I cooked up 48 pounds of bacon, four pounds an hour for 12 hours. When it was all over I walked around. We didn't find any piece left of the bacon, not one stinking scrap of bacon. It had all been scarfed up. The smell, you know that bacon smell, the whole house. Smelled like . . . BLT sandwiches. Someday this war on hardening of the arteries is gonna end and I'm going to eat all the BLT sandwiches that I want.."
-Old Bob, Bob's Stupid Book of Things No One Wants to Know (2007)
What does the smell of bacon mean to you? When you smell bacon do you remember the days when mom cooked bacon for breakfast and the aroma made it's way to where you were sleeping? Or does the smell of bacon remind you of camping on a crisp morning at high altitude where each and every smell is accentuated with the essence of the forest?
I could eat bacon and lettuce sandwiches each and every day of my life. There's something about a BLT that is right. Right with the exception of what bacon does to the arteries. Why is something that is so scrumptious be so damned terrible even in small quantities?
In an effort to cut down on the intake of fat I tried turkey bacon. Once.
There's nothing like the smell of REAL bacon in the morning.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
It wasn't long ago when the only pharmacutical products advertised on television were for dandruff, 'roids and bad breath. Roids, of all things on TV. Have you noticed a change in what's being advertised?
Now everyone gets to know and thing/worry about what they might have, all courtesy of television. I'm at the top of the worry list. Nail fungus commercials now has me checking my toenails with every clipping looking for tell tale signs that there might be a fungus among us.
The guy commercials have to be the worse. If I get up more than once in the night to use the toilet I start thinking my prostrate is enlarged. I always thought that bigger was better. I ask myself, why not an enlarged prostrate? It can't be all that bad. Maybe I can order up medication to increase its size. Haven't seen any ads that attest to doing that, at least not yet.
And this losing the hair thing that is always on television. There's a medication to take that supposed to stop hair from falling out off the top of your head. The way I look at it is less hair means less stuff to take care of. Those guys who have gone bald at young age and then started shaving their whole head? That's the way to go. No fuss. No muss. Think of all the money they're saving by shaving their own heads. A good hair cut is 20 bucks every 4 weeks. These guys are saving at least $240 a year which could be used for buying lottery tickets or for upgrading a coach airplane ticket to business class. That said, I think I have enough hair to last the rest of my life. Bob does not need to save $240 and he will not be shaving his head anytime soon.
Not long ago I started hearing this thing called ED being advertised as something men need to look out for. Were those the initials of some mean woman who was carrying the plague that men had to steer clear of? Evelyn Doodingee? I don't pay a lot of attention to commercials so it took a while for what the meaning of ED was. It means something doesn't work. Pills make it work. If that isn't a hell of a note. Pills.
Do you think that our forefathers had issues with ED? Hell no, the old lady would say, "Bud, you cowboy up, ya hear! And iffen you don't I'm a gonna cut your ears off!!" Maybe that's the trouble with people today . . . too much woosing out and not enough of the cowboy up stuff. If everyone would cowboy up and toughen up a lot of drug companies would go out of business.
Being a bunch of woosies is maybe why the good old USA has not won a war since 1946. Think about it. We're good at starting a fight but I'll be damned if we can finish one. USA? Time to COWBOY UP!
I now get mail from companies trying to sell hearing aids. How do they know if I have a hearing loss? Or does a hearing loss go with the age? Do the people at the hearing aid companies sit behind a desk with a list of people born during this year and that year and say, okay, let's send all this crap mail to those people born in this year. And they do. Crap mail, now there's another topic to write about.
I have a hearing loss. Not a complete loss of hearing. Part of my hearing loss is definitely selective hearing. Translated, I only hear what I want to hear. It's a man thing.
The other part of my hearing loss is real. A hearing test in my 20's revealed a 40% loss in one ear. Scar tissue in my ear caused by a childhood ear infection left unmedicated (Bob, Cowboy UP, now - your ear infection is all in your head!). Simply put, my parents didn't have the money to haul my sick butt to a doctor.
Additional hearing loss was caused by a combination of being around the jet engines of B-52's, front row rock concerts (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, to name a few) not to mention loud music played in the home (as evidenced by no less than three sets of four foot tall stereo speakers having their woofers being blown out) coupled with a penance for exercising my right to bear arms and shoot the damn things without ear protection.
Candace sometimes has issues with her ears being plugged but it's cool when that happens. The corner drug store sells these cone like things. You stick one end in your ear, light the other and VIOLA! the pressure is relieved. What's cool about this is that I get to light the end of the cone.
I get to pretend that I'm in NASA Mission Control. The rocket is on the launch pad and ready for firing. I light the match and count down: Five, four, three, two, one . . . Houston, we have ignition! Candace doesn't think this is funny.
What will the next cure be that is advertised on TV? Maybe they'll invent one pill to cure everything or at least prevent you from getting everything. ED, hair loss, 'roids, dandruff, clogged arteries, hip replacement, hangovers, you name it, one pill would take care of it. Wouldn't that be great? I just know that pill is going to happen one day.
I want to be around to buy that pill. Eating, drinking and being merry would be so much more fun.
The picture? I was going to say that it was a picture of me surfing in Hawaii but you'd know better than that, wouldn't you?
It's pot roast with vegetables tonight at our house. I think of this food as a touch of the old midwest, the Mother Land, where men were men and out of necessity, so were the women. In those days everyone had to cowboy up.
Have a great Sunday. And don't forget when the going gets tough, the tough cowboy up! Yeee HAW!
Friday, October 27, 2006
The dogs and I were in the backyard yesterday, basking in the sun, playing ball and avoiding the chores that I had on the list to do that day. I am employed by the Honey-Do Corporation. Candace is the CEO.
During the romp in the sun, I noticed a coyote in the green belt just on the eastern side of the house. He looked at me, I looked at him. The coyote didn't budge. Bob didn't budge.
I thought that it was strange that a coyote would be so brazen at that time of day. He was eating something. A quick inventory told me the coyote wasn't feasting on the cat or either of the two dogs. Apples? It was eating apples.
The day before Candace and Grace had thrown over ripe apples over the fence for the deer to eat.
As a habit I keep the gates locked and check the fenceboards regularly to make certain that Wylie doesn't find his way into our compound. Seeing a coyote in broad daylight with no worry in the world drove home the importance of checking the fenceline every day.
The picture? It's Zoe resting on MY pillow. When you have dogs, nothing is sacred.
It's a shame that the apples were thrown over the fence. I could have used them in our antique still. Then Old Bob could have gotten into the business of making and running moonshine, just like the Dukes of Hazard. I'd be Bo Duke. An orange Charger (the General Lee) would sit in the garage just waiting for another batch of Howling Coyote Moonshine to be ready for shipment.
Once loaded with the shipment of Howling Coyote, I'd pull out of the drive and onto the street. Sooner or later Boss Hog would come into my rearview mirrow, red lights glaring, siren blaring. I'd goose the General Lee and awayyyyy we'd go. There would be no catching Old Bob and General Lee.
I found this cartoon 6 months ago. Does it ever ring true today.
Max took this picture several years ago while on holiday in Italy. Isn't this a great picture?
Thought for the day:
I want to shake off the dust of this one-horse town...
I want to explore the world.
I want to watch TV in a different time zone...
I want to visit strange exotic malls...
I want to live!
Won't you let me live?
It's one of those days. When I quote Homer Simpson it has to be one of those days.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I spent part of today getting the 5th wheel ready for our next adventure. We'll be traveling again in November back to Brookings. Part of the trip will be for fun and the other for business. We're still looking for investments in this neck of the woods. With the real estate market headed downward this just might be the trip to seal the deal that I've been looking for.
Traveling with the fifth wheel is something that I always look forward to and enjoy. It will be wonderful to get back to the style of living even though it's for a short period of time.
Here you can see that I've loaded the trailer's refrigerator. I put drinks for Candace in the refrigerator too. She drinks Diet Coke.
This is my good buddy and friend, Alicia. Alicia is the Office Manager for Apple Blossom School in the Twin Hills School District.
A group of friends are getting together to celebrate Alicia's birthday in November. We will definitely be there for the celebration. On the invitation it says, "No children, please". YES! I can be assured that there will not be any kids double dipping at the snack table.
Alicia's eye is okay. It just wasn't working in this picture. It does work. Must have been the dozen or more drinks we had.
There was a lot of stress in our jobs. It's the nature of being in the school business. I read that laughter was a good cure for stress, especially belly laughter. One day when the business as usual was business in the toilet and very stressful I said to Alicia, "Time for a belly laugh!" She looked at me like I was nuts. So I started my "stupid laughing" - you know, kind of a laugh but fake. After I finished fake but almost real belly laughing I glanced over at Alicia who still had that "Are you nuts?" expression on her face and said, "Look, you need a belly laugh. Start laughing!" She did.
From that day on and when you could cut the stress in the office with a knife, one of us would say, "Time for a belly laugh!" Years later when we talk on the phone, one of us always has to say, "I need a belly laugh" and that starts the laughing all over again.
Here's another dear friend, Carol. Carol and I go way back in the teaching world. We were partners in a grade level. Which ever parents I couldn't stand, she would take. Which ever parents she couldn't stand, I'd take. It was the same for the kids. I loved teaching with Carol. She will be at Alicia's party, too.
"Back in the day" open classrooms were the thing. Carol's class was in the second half of our side of a four classroom building. I could see Carol teaching, Carol could see me teaching. Everything I said Carol could usually hear. And likewise.
When we got bored we threw things at each other. Things like erasers, wads of paper, pencils or whatever we could get our hands on were tossed from one room to another. Some role models we were. But the kids took it in stride, laughed and knew better not to do the same.
One day after school I was picking up my classroom, readying it for the next day. It was a habit to pick up pencils, erasers or what have you before the custodian vacuuming because he'd would suck up anything in the path of his hose regardless of what it was. If I didn't pick up stray pencils on the floor I would have never had enough pencils the next school day.
I love Junior Mints. On this particular day, I spotted what looked like a Junior Mint on the floor. Carol knew me well and realized that if she threw a Junior Mint into my classroom I'd eat it even though it had been on the floor.
I picked it up and looked at this black, flat object that was shaped like a Junior Mint. It really didn't look like an exact copy of one so I yelled over to Carol, "Are you throwing Junior Mints at me now?!"
"Well, I've got something here that looks like a Junior Mint but I wanted to make sure that it was before I ate it."
"Ah, I don't have any Junior Mints to throw at you."
I took what I found over to Carol to look at. After closer examination we both started laughing, laughing and laughing. One of us had to have peed their pants it was so funny. What I had been examining, thinking all the while it was a Junior Mint, and what I had almost eaten was . . .
A small little turd.
I swear, if I had to have bet my life that it was a Junior Mint, I would have bet my life on it. Geeze it looked real. Whew, that was a close one.
I should add Junior Mints and belly laughs to my resume under "Things Bob Can Do Or Things He Knows A Lot About".
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Grace is blossoming. By July she will be well prepared for entrance into kindergarten. Here are three reasons why:
Say hello to Miss Lori! She is Grace's lead preschool teacher.
Grace is with Miss Denise, one of the aides in the four year old program.
And this is Miss Sue, lead teacher for the second group of students in the four year old program.
You couldn't find a preschool teacher or aide any finer than these three ladies. Word!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Well, do you think? I also think that I'm going to be in big trouble for placing this picture on the blog. Then again, I wouldn't be Bob if I weren't always in trouble, would I? People only keep cute pictures of their kids and grand kids. Not Bob. This shot will adorn the cover of my first book, Bob's Stupid Book of Things People Don't Want to Know And Why I Don't Eat Food Kids Cook!
Click on this picture to get the full effect of what happens to kids when they get in the kitchen.
Grace obviously had a rip roaring cold when this photo was taken. Poor thing. I hope whatever it was she was mixing for her consumption only and not, "Here Papa, try some of this!"
Here's Grammy taking Kama Sutra training.
Now I'm trouble for two pictures.
It's another great day outside. A planting area in the front of the house is being overhauled by the two of us. This morning I removed a five foot maple tree from that area. It had to have been there for at least 15 years. Sliced my leg open in the process with the axe I was using to cut it down but HEY! No pain, no gain. Whooo ah!
Grace is coming over after preschool today. It will be fun, there will be games, and most likely, there will be cooking.
"No thanks, Grace. I've already eaten and boy am I ever full!"
Monday, October 23, 2006
A while back I wrote of looking into the mirror and wondering whose reflection I saw.
Max found this photograph, scanned it and e-mailed it to me. It's of yours truly and Max's godfather, Jeff. It was taken at one of those bleary, suds filled nights while celebrating Octoberfest.
We all have an image of what we look like. I've never been able to shake what I think I look like and what I now look like. The progression from what I looked like then and how I look now has been rapid. In my mind, the picture is an accurate portrayal of me and how I look today. As it stands, this "accurate portrayal" is only accurate in my mind.
How did I change? What happened? Was it the water? Maybe it was the end result of eating all of the food that I wasn't supposed to eat? How about all of those nights "out" until all hours, drinking, dancing . . . or was it life itself that grew me up?
I knew that I had to grow up when Candace's father died. There was lots to do an no one to do the things that needed to be done so I did them. When Candace's mother passed away I grew a little wiser because of the even greater responsibilities placed on me. Ten days later Mom died. Mom's timing was never great and her passing was at the worst possible time. Making arrangements for two burials that close together was definitely a feat. After Mom passed away we began to care for Dad a little at a time and I became even more grown up. Dad died on the first Saturday in 2002. I knew then that the torch had been passed to the next generation. Tag, I was it. Grownup or not, there I was.
I've noticed by pictures in the family albums that it was during these periods that I changed the most from Bob in the picture to the Bob of today, grownup Bob. Grief changes you forever.
The saying, "The mind is willing but the flesh is weak"? I'll be in bed by 8 or 9 tonight dreaming of Where the Wild Things Are (about Max . . . remember Max?) and I'll be loving every minute of it.
If I could order up dreams, tonight's dream would be of Dad, driving somewhere, in the middle of a warm Fresno summer night heading out for a camping weekend at the lake - - -
because it was too hot to drive a long distance during the day in a 1952 Ford without air conditioning down Highway 99 - -
passing cars when he should not have been passing cars - -
sprinklers along the highway irrigating Oleander plants would hit the open windows of our car, soaking my brother and I - -
who were hugging the backseat floor the car knowing that if a head-on collision occurred because Dad was driving like a nut with that can of beer between his legs that we would be the only survivors - -
all the while listening to him sing at the top of his lungs "I'm too old to cut the mustard any more".
How's that for a totally run on sentence?
That particular song was a favorite of dad's, a real song you could buy today on I-Tunes.
As I close today's entry I cannot help but think that Jeff and I were toasting not the moment but toasting the future when we'd look back at that picture and say, "Those were the good old days." But ah ha! Today's grownup Bob would say, "These are the good old days, enjoy them!"
And I'm going to do just that! Oh Candace, let's go out and have some fun!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Cooking or preparing food for myself has been something I've done since I was a little guy. During the ages of 4 through 6 Mom was often ill and confined to bed. My favorite saying, Necessity is the mother of invention" was the difference between being fed and going hungry albeit even for a short period of time. It was not unusual for me to have to fend for myself in the kitchen when dad was at work.
What I prepared was nothing fancy. In those days money and food in our house was in short supply. There were the sandwiches that I made, mostly peanut butter and jelly. There were always potato chips in the house. I learned to like chips dipped in mustard, a treat, if you will, that I enjoy to this day. Potato chip sandwiches with pickles, mustard and lettuce were also on my after school menu of choice. During my pre-teens it was not uncommon to eat a potato raw amply annointed with salt.
In the military I roomed off the air base with friends. We all took turns cooking. I prepared stuffed peppers and found not a lot of guys like them. I learned to prepare fried cold cut sandwiches which seemed to be a preference if you're from Michigan.
You could say that I've always been in the kitchen, whether doing the dishes for mom (there were no machines to wash the dishes, only kids) or helping with Saturday night's pizza, or chopping vegetables for something mom or dad were fixing.
When I became older cooking became like a Zen thing. Cooking brought peace to a sometimes troubled mind. During the process to prepare a meal it felt like I was in harmony with the world. In the kitchen it was just me, my knife, the cutting board, the meat and the vegetables to be sliced or diced. Stresses or worries that I was carrying would soon disappear once I entered into the Zen, I'm cooking (and please stay out of the kitchen!), state of mind.
One Saturday Mom was at the house with my niece and nephew. Candace worked in real estate at the time. It was the weekend and she was off sitting on an open house. I was in the middle of preparing a new dish to share with everyone that evening. My Zen kitchen thing was going full steam, chopping, thinking, letting the knife go with the flow of slicing and dicing.
It was a neat knife that I used in those days, a Christmas gift from Candace, a Wilkinson Sword Blade kitchen knife that came with a sharpening sheath. Inserted into the sheath the knife would sharpen by moving it in and out of the sheath.
Halfway through the process of cutting the vegetables I noticed that the knife was not as sharp as it had been earlier. I slid the knife into the sheath and with very zealous moves, glided the knife in and out of the shealth. I was not watching what I was doing. In a blink of an eye and one fell swoop the knife slid out of the sheath and across my left index finger. "Ouch?" I said. For a moment I thought that what had just happened was no big deal. There was no blood. Yes, there was a slice across my finger. But it would be okay, wouldn't it. I was feeling very lucky. All assumptions made in less than 5 after the fact seconds.
After the sixth second, blood began gushing from my finger. There was pain. after wrapping my finger in kitchen towels most likely contaminated with who knows what, I calmly went into the living room to inform mother that we would have to leave all of the kids at home and that she would have to drive me to the emergency room.
Dad had taken their car on an errand which meant that mom had to drive my stick shift truck to the ER. After giving strick "You'd better not mess up while I'm gone instructions" to the kids I handed the keys to mom, walked out of the garage door and got into the passenger side of the truck.
Mom got in and said, "I forgot my purse." Mind you, I'm bleeding terribly.
"Okay mom, go get your purse if it's that important."
"It's that important and I'll be right back."
I'm still bleeding but it's okay. It's only blood and I never pass out when I hurt myself like that. I can wait for mom.
Mom comes back, gets into the driver's seat and then says, "I can't drive a stick shift. You'll have to drive."
It was a fun ride to the ER. Left hand wrapped in kitchen towels and steering with it while gears were shifted with the right hand. Steering was a problem. The truck was all over the road when I had to take my right hand off of the steering wheel to shift gears.
Three hours later mom and I arrived back home. I had partially severed a tendon and found that partially severed was the good news. I didn't like hearing how the physician would have had to fish for the rubber band like tendon inside my arm if it had been completely cut in two. And I didn't cut off my finger. That was even better news.
First thing when I walked in the door? That wonderful but heinous Wilkinson Sword Blade knife hit the garbage can never to be seen again.
Last night, Saturday, Zen was in the kitchen when I prepared pizza for myself. Zen cooking happened again in the kitchen this morning. Sunday morning was accented with the preparation of Christmas Pasta courtesy of a recipe from Rachael Ray. She appears on the Food TV network. I've prepared Christmas Pasta for at least four years or more. It's the only pasta sauce that we use at home.
As a kid I would eat so much pasta that I'd make myself sick. I could do that with Christmas Pasta. I'm wiser now and not as prone to over eat (well, most of the time).
Here's one of my favorite foods, Christmas Pasta.
Rachel Ray/Food Television Network
We eat fish on Christmas Eve, no meat allowed. After Midnight Mass, all bets are off! We make this sauce for Christmas Day: you can't fit another meat in the pot! As many times as you reheat it, it just gets that much better, so if people are coming and going throughout the day, cook off only as much pasta as you need at the time -- half a pound for every 3 people.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
crushed 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1/4 pound pancetta, thick cut, chopped into small bits (Italian cured pork, ask at deli counter) 1/2 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
1 pound combined ground beef, pork and veal
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup good quality dry red wine
1 cup prepared beef stock, paper container or canned
2 (32-ounce) cans chunky style crushed tomatoes
A handful chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon (a couple of pinches) allspice or cinnamon
Coarse salt and black pepper
2 pounds penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Grated Pecorino Romano, as an accompaniment Fresh, crusty bread, for mopping
Heat a deep pot over medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, bay, and pancetta bits and brown for 1 minute. Add meats and brown and crumble them for 5 minutes.
Chop carrot, celery, and onions near the stove and add to the pot as you work. Cook vegetables with meat 5 minutes and add wine. Cook for 1 minute; add stock and tomatoes to the pot.
Stir in parsley, allspice, or cinnamon and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes minimum before serving.
Reheated sauce only improves.
Toss pasta (cook off only as much pasta as you need at the time: half a pound for every 3 people) with a couple of ladles of sauce to coat, then top bowl with extra sauce. Top pasta with lots of cheese and pass bread at the table.
The sauce will cover up to 2 pounds of pasta.
Bob says, At our home we freeze 4 or 5 containers of Christmas Pasta to use during the month. You'd be surprised as to how handy they are on a night when the question is, "What should we have for dinner?" Enjoy!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
You may have noticed as I have the advertisments placed by physicians in a special section of your local newpaper. Back in the day, it was considered unprofessional for a physician or a lawyer to advertise in the paper, on television and anywhere other than in the Yellow Pages.
More and more there are ads placed by female physicians soliciting only new females patients. Respectful, gentle, knowledgeable are frequent adjectives used in these ads. I can appreciate that there is a need for females to oversee the health of other females.
Why there aren't practicing male physicians who advertise their services as being exclusively for other males? Have you seen any? What would their ads say? Would they say, "Men caring for men?" "Safe, secure, gentle approaches to medicine the Man Way." Somehow that doesn't sound as right as "women caring for women".
An all male medical practice might be really cool. Most guys hate to go to the doctor and I'm one of those guys. A guys only physician could have things like draft beer in the waiting room, there would be liar's dice games while we waited to see the doctor, men's magazines would replace Ladies Home Companion and certainly there would be free access to X-Box video games during colo/rectal examinations. Yahoooo!
"Ah, doc? Would you mind filling my beer glass? I'm a bit busy with this video game to get off of the table."
If women caring for women is accepted by sociey, would men caring for men be likewise accepted? Or would men and women see this approach as being less than heterosexual? I think they would, don't you?
It's always interesting to examine the values of our society. More often than not when it comes to sex, race, or religion, what's fine for one segment within one of those areas just named is not okay for another segment within it. You will never see physician advertisements "Women caring for men" just like you'll not see ads that read "Men caring for men".
I've not had a male family practice physician for quite a while. Recently I had exams by two male specialist physicians. What is it with me? Men touching men gives me the creeps. I knew both men in my role as a professional which is maybe why these examinations didn't sit well with me. I am not homophobic. Not. I just don't like men touching me below the waist.
I have a male dentist. We visit every six months unless I have a cap that needs replacing or a cavity. When I have a cavity I tell him, "Drill baby, drill!" When it comes time to patch the hole he's made I yell out, "Fill baby, fill!" It's no big deal for men dentisting (is that a word?) men. That I can handle.
I had the greatest female physician when we lived in the Bay area. The best. I had absolutely the utmost of respect and confidence in her. I've had five female family practice physicians in the last 11 years. I'm working on getting the sixth. No one comes close to matching my Bay area favorite. She is a tough act to follow. Dear Dr. Kathy Anderson, please move to Redding!
My present female physician is old enough to be my grand daughter. She has facial blemishes and braces on her teeth. I don't have confidence in her abilities. She's inexperienced and it shows. No doubt there is a lot for her to learn in the field of medicine. I'm not going to be the one she'll learn on. I need to find a new physician. Problem is there are too many women caring for women. Finding a physician that I feel comfortable with is going to be a difficult. I'm funny when it comes to trusting someone. I have to believe first.
The best female physican in my world practices five hours away from where we now live. I have lots of time in retirement. Driving southwest for five hours once in a while wouldn't be a bad idea just to have quality health care that I have confidence in.
You don't see any automobiles on the road that were made in the year that I was born. If you do, rest assured its owner has to do a lot of tinkering to keep it on the road. The older I get the more I know that I need a physician who is a good mechanic that will keep old Bob roadworthy.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Yesterday Candace went with Grace's preschool class to the pumpkin farm. I had planned on going to the pumpkin farm too but unfortunately an issue with one of our properties came first. Nuts.
I have a recipe for stew baked in a hollowed out pumpkin. This is something I've always wanted to prepare but have not. With a little rain, some cold weather maybe I'll just do that.
This is my corny picture of the week. Thank you, Grace!
At the pumpkin farm they have a few hand operated water pumps used on the good old days. Yesterday children had contests to see who could pump the most amount of water in the least amount of time.
I was the same age as Grace when I began to visit my Uncle Ed's ranch in Fresno. While my Aunt and Uncle had running water in the house, the farm still had a couple of hand operated pumps in the barn and on the service porch of their home. I can remember the water from the pumps as tasting as sweet as sugar and as cold as ice. It was the best.
This is Candace looking down the pumpkin farm firing range for a projectile of corn that was launched from this cannon contraption at the pumpkin farm. Grace didn't like the noise the cannon and melted down until they stopped firing them.
It's nice to see that Home Land Security has installed the cannons to protect the pumpkins from being potentially subjected to terrorism.
Home Land Security could use a few corn cannons installed at airports. They would be exclusively reserved for ding-dongs like myself who need a blast of corn aimed in their direction when they get confused on to what to do at the security check point.
Being a native Nebraskan, a projectile of corn headed in my direction would be just what the doctor ordered.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Someone asked me why I was bothering to write publically on this blog. I've always been a writer starting as early as age 7 or 8.
Please bring me a new mommy or daddy. I've been a good boy. Your friend,
As a young pup I wrote for high school and college newspapers. In the military I composed letters for commanding officers. In the educational profession I wrote letters or articles to parents, board members, the press, to legislators and even to the President of the United States. There has always been writing.
If I wrote what was on my mind or runs through it it would be like what's on the mind of most men. A thought stream of like 10 minutes would go like this: "Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, STEAK, sex, sex, beer, sex, sex, sex, sex, NASCAR, sex, sex, sex, WORLD SERIES, sex, sex, sex, sex, more sex, DAMN NOSE HAIRS, sex, sex, sex, sex, WHERE'S MY CLEAN UNDERWEAR?, sex, sex, sex, FOOTBALL, sex, sex, sex, WOW LOOK AT THE COOL CORVETTE!, sex, sex, sex . . . " You get the drift. Ladies, if you don't think that men constantly think about sex you've got another think coming. And if your man says that he never or rarely thinks about sex he definitely has a problem.
I try not to write about sex. I don't spend all day at the computer. What About Bob? takes a maximum of 40 minutes out of any day to write.
Someone recently said that I should write a book. I could do that. It could be called, "Bob's Stupid Book of Things No One Really Cares About" It would have a section on things men should know - like things you can do as a man and things men really can't do. There's probably a lot of men who are in their 20's who could benefit from Bob's Book of Stupid Things.
For example, when your wife asks you how she looks before you go out on like a "married date" always say, "Honey, you always look great!"
"Does my butt look okay in this dress? It's not getting fat, is it?"
"Honey, you always look great!"
"Am I getting too fat? This dress seems tighter than the last time I put it on."
"Honey, you always look great!"
NEVER EVER! Again, NEVER EVER! Tell your lady that she's fat or her butt's fat. Men, all those sex thoughts that constantly stream through your mind? Try telling your woman her butt is fat and that's all you'll be getting, sex thoughts on the brain for a very long time and nothing else. Word!
Another section of the book would have recipes. I have a great recipe for a potato chip sandwich that I could share.
I'm not in a mood to write a book. For now, I'll stick with the blog. I like writing. When I write I write things that I like to write. I don't worry about who might read what I write and tailor my writing to who ever it is that might come upon the blog. If I did that it would ruin the "man flow" of my writing.
You're wondering what the first picture is all about. In 1955 Candace's father Buz developed a subdivision in Anchor Bay California and called it Enchanted Meadows. For the longest time a lot sat vacant in the subdivision with the statue that I have pictured. She was like the guardian of this portion of a meadow, the Mother of the Garden. We often admired the statue when we drove through Enchanted Meadows.
One day we decided to relocate to Anchor Bay. In shopping for a home we found the pefrect home to buy. It was in the Enchanted Meadows subdivision. And there she was, still guarding the meadow, this time our meadow - the Mother of the Garden.
From that day "Mother" brought a sort of peace to our house. There's just something about her that brings on that emotion. She's there. She's strong. She's made of stone. She weighs 140 pounds. Mother is going no where.
When it came time to leave the coast and relocate in-land it was difficult to leave the Mother of the Garden. All 140 pounds of her were loaded onto the moving van and transported first to a rental home then to our first home in this city and then a second five years later.
We have no idea where Mother came from or who carved her. What we do know is that our Mother of the Garden will stay with our family for generations to come. Mother's peace - Mother's silent presence has become one with us.
Roses from the garden are still blooming. Winter is coming.
And there are several orchids that are still in bloom. These are house plants that thrive if fed the right amount of water along with the right amount of nutrients. Anything more or less ends in a plant that produces no flowers. Don't these pictures beat the hell out of pictures of meat on a barbeque?
Jilli's favorites past time is to hunt for cat, possum, skunk, or squirrel poop. Here she is in the backyard on her daily hunt. Dog's do what dogs are going to do regardless of breed or what their training has been. Dog's also eat what they're going to eat regardless of what it is which makes for very horrible breath. Blech!
Did I mention that the girls get their teeth brushed every night? Now you know why.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
It can't be all fun and travel games here. Back to reality, home life and all that comes with it. The Blog may seem a bit dull, a bit average.
Always the rolling stones who gather no moss, we'll be home for a time then off to Brookings Oregon for a Thanksgiving celebration on the beach. Candace is worried that I'll buy a turkey that won't fit in the RV's oven. Candace, I said, that's why the good Lord made cooking oil. I'll just slather the bird with oil and guaranteed that puppy will fit in any oven.
I'll also use my special method for determining if the turkey is done or not. It's pretty basic. All you have to do is to stuff the turkey with unpopped popcorn. When the rear end blows out of the turkey you can be certain that it's cooked to perfection.
Who in their right mind would take a picture of a game hen cooking on the grill and then post it on his blog? Don't answer that.
Candace is down in bed with the flu and a cold. As you can see dinner last night was dinner for one. Cooking any poultry on the grill has become easy. For a turkey, a whole chicken, a game hen - a rack comes in handy for grill cooking. Turn the middle burner off. Leave the front and back burners half on. When the grill is about 400 degrees place the hen or chicken on it, close the lid and let it go for about 45 minutes.
I have a helper who keeps the grease pan of the grill spit shine clean. A raccoon or possum periodically does that chore for me. In the middle of the night I awaken to hear the rattling of metal against metal as my critter friend helps themselve to haute cuisine ala' Weber style.
We have green space on two sides of our home. To the rear of our home sits a ranch across the creek that separates us. It has horses, chickens and a peacock. It was not long ago when a bobcat wiped out the population of chickens on the ranch. It's during these times that I get really nervous about letting the girls out in the backyard.
Each night the owners place their horses inside a barn. Each night I hear the sound of hooves kicking the wooden stall walls as the horses settle down for the night. Like a teenage boy, bedtime in a stall for the horses is often unwelcome. As I settle down myself for a night's rest I wait to hear the sound of a board or two breaking with each kick. It never comes.
Once in a while coyotes walk along our fence line in their quest for their next meal. They'll explore along the boundaries of the ranch next door looking for a chicken that may have been left outside of the coop for the night. I'm not sure what triggers their howling and yipping but to be sure the noise they make nearly makes you think that the coyotes are right outside the bedroom. The girls have learned that whatever it is that makes all of this noise is not a threat to them. They often sleep through the coyotes' serenade. Sometimes they'll sit up, perk up their ears and just listen.
Our next door neighbor left their gate open one day. They came home to find a coyote in their backyard wistfully eyeing their 15 pound cat. Taking this lesson in stride, they no longer leave their gate open.
I don't hear the peacock anymore. It's cry has been missing for a month or more. One can only think about what has happened to it.
A bevy of 250 homes are slated to be built to the southwest of our home. The ranch will remain as it is and will continue to provide our home with a buffer of green space. I wonder what will happen to the animals who frequent this area. Who will clean the grease pan on my grill? Were our animal friends considered along with their habitat when an Environmental Impact Study was completed? This is progress, the developers say. Is it really?
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Our last night in Hawaii was spent at the hotel. That evening dancers and singers from the Polynesian Village performed on the lawn adjacent to the swimming pool. The sunset was just right. LOST was on ABC that night. A perfect end to a great vacation.
Candace had duck, I had macadamia nut encrusted chicken.
It was a priceless evening.
When I was a youngster my mother would always prompt me at dinner when I had a large glass of liquid to consume with the meal. She would say, "Now you know that you're going to wet the bed tonight if you drink all of that!" Funny thing, as a young lad growing up I never wet the bed after drinking any amount of liquid.
Today each and everytime I have a large glass of ice tea, beer, soda, even water, my mother's words echo in my ears. This last night in Hawaii was no exception. I heard the words, the bed was dry.
As I contemplated the last night of our vacation and the dread of the airplane trip home, could I have predicted:
That my boarding pass was tossed aside by yours truly during the rush of the security process? The luck of the day was its discovery by another passenger waiting for me to wipe that "oh shit" look off of my face so they could get by.
I'm going to take another trip really soon just to master the art of getting through security screening without looking like a blithering idiot.
That two seats in front of us on the aircraft there would be a never ending crying toddler. Thank goodness for noise cancelling earphones which nearly cancelled out this racket. Who in their right mind travels with small children anyway?
That a day after arriving home Candace would be floored with the flu.
That my home office PC died and went to PC heaven (working on this laptop at best is like my idea of camping: A room at Motel 6).
This just in, that if we would have extended the visit by several days, that we would have been stranded by Sunday's earthquakes. Just think, stranded in Hawaii. . . how bad could that be?!
And if that's the worse that happened as we ended our trip, HEY! It was a greating ending!!
My thoughts on spending 10 days in Hawaii? In the words of Bob Dylan (Mr. Tambourine Man) :
"Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free."
That would be me.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Part of this afternoon was spent packing our bags in anticipation of checking out of the hotel early tomorrow morning. Our flight leaves Honolulu at 1:00 p.m. Returning the car, putting up with airport security, changing the horrible seats that were assigned to us, last minute shopping in the airport, etc. etc. etc, all adds up and takes time.
We're ready to stay, we're ready to go, it's a bitter sweet departure.
The surf has been high as you can see from this picture. It's been a swimmer's nightmare but a surfer's dream these past few days. There have been storms in Alaska. The north shore of Oahu is the first landfall waves hit after being generated in Alaska.
Candace is thinking about all of the laundry she will do once we arrive home. It's a pile!
I'm thinking about just getting home, seeing the dogs who will no doubt go nuts when we pick them up, eating home cooked food which I will prepare for the first time in 10 days and working in the yard. It's been 85 and sunny at home which makes for great weather to work in the yard.
We'll miss scenes like these which have become common to us during our stay in Oahu.
Next trip? We'll definitely hit the fall colors on the east coast a year from now. Italy, France or Fiji are trips we've kicked around as potentials for the near future.
A popular saying once was, "Half the fun is getting there" which really is no longer applicable. Today the real fun is being at your destination and immersing yourself in all it has to offer. We did just that and because of that approach to this trip there is no doubt that our visit to Oahu has been one of the best vacations that we've ever taken together.
Will we ever visit the Islands again. Most likely this will be our last visit (there's been 5 or 6) in favor of visiting other places that we've never seen. Doesn't that sound so very final? Never close a door? Okay, maybe the door to another visit is cracked just enough for at least one more visit. After all, we have a grandchild who really needs to see Hawaii. What better excuse is there?
We'll have dinner out tonight (like there's any other choice) and toast the next adventure, to our good health and to the many blessings we are thankful for. Mahalo Hawaii, we will definitely be back.
Aren't people and the diverse nature of our world interesting?
I passed this sign this morning, did a double take, doubled back and took these pictures. The sentiment expressed here is not unique in the Islands.
Fins, mask, snorkel packed on our backs, we hike two miles south to swim with the turtles.
Flipper time. Candace keeps saying that she can get that damn fin on her foot!
SURPRISE! Northern California Lesson #1 to never turn your back on the ocean stands true in Hawaii.
Candace checks out the turtles.
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