Sunday, November 30, 2008

Juss Chillin

You've probably noticed that I haven't been posting much this past week. That's because I've be kicking back and hanging out with the family. Work was quite and the boys have had the whole week off school, so it's been fun to spend a bunch of time with them.

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. We had thirteen in total over for dinner this year, and opted for a completely non-tradition menu for a change. Grilled salmon, Caesar salad, Steamed green beans w/ garlic and balsamic, Shrimp cocktail, Twice baked - crab stuffed potatoes, and French onion soup.

Heading over to psycho mom's later today for a turkey dinner. . . yum.

Anyhoo, the picture below should pretty much sum-up the level of stress I've been experiencing this past week. You'll notice I'm kicked back visiting with a good friend up from California, Sally with a nice big smile on my face. Ya, these are the kind of weeks that are a nice change from the normal run, run, run that happens around here.

Hope you've all had a great week too. I'm sure I'll be back to blogging again next week and catching up with you. I had a post tugging at me in regard to the Black Friday chaos that happened in NY, but I decided to either not do it or just postpone it till the weekend was over.

Take care, and talk to you soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is It Done Yet?

This year we've opted for a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner, partly because my brother Mark's (not the blogging one) oldest girls will be here, and they have decided that eating meat, among other things, is like inviting Satan himself over for a Christmas party. Also, if they don't like a particular food, which is more common than not, they claim to be allergic to it. . . how utterly convenient.! Well, that's all fine I suppose, because they really are good kids, just picky eaters is all.

OK, so I did say that was part of the reason. The other part is probably some sort of repressed fear of cooking another turkey for a large group of people. Strange you say? Strange indeed, so let me explain.

Come back with me nearly twenty years ago if you will. At the time I was in the restaurant biz working as a chef. Needless to say, the family was expecting great things. Heck, even I was expecting some pretty good results. Not because I was some sort of super-stud, know all culinary master, but after a dozen plus years working in commercial kitchens, how hard could a turkey dinner for 10-15 people be?

On the surface everything seemed to be going according to plan. I had safely defrosted the turkey in the refrigerator a few days ahead of time, all the necessary shopping was finished, and I even had all the pre-meal preparations well under control.

In the true spirit of cooking a big Thanksgiving meal, I got up two hours before I went to bed so I'd have plenty of time to get everything set. Snag number one. My dear sweet grandmother "G.G." was already awake and she was getting started on making the stuffing. It was something she'd done for the past seventy years and there was no way on God's green earth I was going to keep her out of the kitchen this day!

In the big picture, this was perfectly fine. I mean this woman could cook the entire meal blindfolded with one arm tied behind her back and it would have turned out fantastic. She truly was one heck of a great cook. In the little picture though, her age had caused her to slow down a bit. Fact is, had she have done the whole thing that year, that Thanksgiving meal would have been the best Christmas dinner we ever had!

So I bit my tongue and let her continue to put the stuffing together while I zipped around the kitchen getting the other things started. Eventually we got the bird stuffed and into the oven, and not too far from target time I had originally intended. The rest of the morning as I recall was relatively uneventful, just general futzing around getting potatoes peeled, casseroles made and the such.


Fast forward to later that afternoon. The table was set, the house was filled with the wonderful aroma of a roasted bird with all the trimmings and the guests were all assembled. The appointed hour had finally come. Chef Jeff's first holiday meal was about to begin.

We gathered round in a big circle and said a word of thanks for the meal we were about to enjoy, then took our seats in hungry anticipation. We started off with our family tradition of shrimp cocktail. It was, as it had been for years and years, fantastic. (side note- This was the one thing I did not make, so I'm not tooting my own horn here) As we finished up our appetizer, everyone, except Gene I'm sure, was saying how wonderful everything looked and smelled. Yes, I was quite smitten with myself at that point.

Ah, the moment we'd all been waiting for had arrived. Time to carve the beautiful golden brown ostrich sized bird that was resting in the center of the table. With a twinkle in my eye, I grabbed the two tinned fork in one hand and the carving knife in the other. Slowly I drew the blade across the plump breast making the first slice. Then it happened, the painful truth became instantly clear that everything was cooked and ready to eat except the severely undercooked bird in front of me!

I swear we all heard that damn bird let out a gobble right then and there. The only thing that surprised me, is that it didn't start flapping its wings and make a couple loops around the living room.

All that puffed up pride of making such a wonderful dinner was gone in an instant. As you can imagine I was completely mortified. Here the great chef had cooked. . . well. . . not cooked the main course! At that point, the only thing more red than my face, was the blood that was still running from the bird. Arrrgh!!!

I remember shoving the bird back in the oven and stomping off in a huff, with my mom trying to console me, saying there were plenty of other things to eat and that it would be fine. She was right of course, but at the time there was no way I was buying it. Eventually the turkey did get cooked trough and as I recall it was one of the juiciest desserts we've ever had.


Well, there you go. The story of my first attempt at Thanksgiving dinner. It certainly was a memorable one, that's for sure. So what am I thankful for this year? I'm thankful that God has given me a sense of humor so that I can look back on that day and laugh at it now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stories, Sotries, Stories

Yes, you may have noticed that I've taken to writing more stories on this blog than anything else. I've really found this world of fiction quite a lot of fun. I will try to remember to mix it up a bit for those seeking more of a grab bag type of site, but for today. . . you guessed it a couple more stories.

A quick sidebar: The new Portrait of Words pictures for December are posted. You can scroll down the the next post to see them or simply click on the link in my sidebar if you like.

OK, time for this week's addition of Wordzzles. Raven started out by giving us one set of words to use and then realized some or all were reruns. By the time she gave us a new list, I'd already written the "Ten Word" story for the first set. What does all this mean? This week I have two "Ten Word" offerings and one "Mini" all with different words. Confused yet? If so, just breath in and out a couple of times and enjoy the following:


Ten Word (group one): moisturizing, pickles, seat belt, flip-flop, Chicago, allergies, doctor, ready or not here I come, computer programmer, dog biscuit

"Take Two Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning"

Doctor Flip-Flop was the allergies specialist at Chicago's Mercy Hospital. In his ten years on staff he'd seen nearly everything from reactionary chemicals in moisturizing creams, to severe repercussions from eating tainted pickles. He'd even had one little boy who'd nearly died after wolfing down and entire box of "Beagle Bites" dog biscuits. Today was a new one though. The receptionist paged him and said a computer programmer had come in with a bad case of hives that had apparently been brought on by the material used in the seat belts of his new SUV. "Ready or not, here I come!" he announced.


The Mini: canary yellow, grizzly bear, out of the frying pan and into the fire, simpleton, Ministry of Crazy Walks

This nature walk put on by "The Ministry of Crazy Walks" was like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire! The simpleton who had set it up told everyone to dress in bright canary yellow. Little did they know, it was the only color that would actually attract grizzly bears!


The Ten Word (group two): pipe organ, ravages of time, lottery tickets, angelic music, five x five, boxes of books, flattery will get you nowhere, yodeling, pig tails, knitting needles
"Pin Drop"

The ravages of time had obviously not been kind to her. In fact, it looked like someone had slipped two big boxes of books into the back of her drawers. Yep, she was your basic five x five woman; Five feet tall and five feet wide! The pig tails and Viking helmet she wore definitely did not help either. Everybody in the audience held their collective breath as she prepared to lower her caboose onto the flimsy little bench in front of the pipe organ.

"You look so much better than that honey." one husband whispered to his wife.

"Your left handed attempt at flattery will get you nowhere with me mister!" she shot back.

Meanwhile, as the bench slowly disappeared beneath the woman on stage you could feel the tension in the crowd mount.

Another man quietly told his wife, "I'll bet I could sell lottery tickets to see how long that baby's gonna hold!"

This garnered only a swift jab from his wife's elbow.

Much to everyone's surprise, not only did the bench remain in tact, but she began to play the most beautiful angelic music they had ever heard. It was absolutely mesmerizing in its quality. Then, just as the audience was being lulled into a melodic trance, for some reason unbenounced to them, the woman on stage began yodeling in the most irritating high pitched voice imaginable. The sound was like having knitting needles inserted directly into the ear drums! Everyone in the congregation sat motionless in shocked disbelief during the next three minutes as she continued. When she finally finished, a rather half hearted applause came from just a smatering of the people.

Without missing a beat, the woman got up, turned and bowed. As she raised back up, the pastor walked up behind her and unzipped the latex "fat suit" she was wearing. The entire congregation gasped as the suit was peeled away and they realized this woman was really the quite petite worship leader who generally led them in their Sunday morning praise songs.

She bowed again and the pastor began his sermon, "Today our message will be about having a critical heart and passing judgement on others. . . "

You coud have heard a pin drop!


Hope you have a great weekend all.

December POW Photos

Time for the photographs for our December Portrait of Words. If you would like all the details for this writing challenge please click here. The simplified version is as follows: Check out the pictures, interpret them and then write a story based on what you see and/or feel.

The November addition of this writing challenge saw some new faces join in and a few more that expressed interest in doing it this coming month. A special thank you to all who have participated so far, Whether you're a writer or a reader, you all make a difference.


I perused the creative commons section of Flickr yesterday and came up with our next batch of photos to work from. Below you will find the names (as they appear in Flickr) of the contributing photographers.

FYI, I obtain the photos from the "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License" section. Flickr's definition of these terms are as follows:

AttributionAttribution means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give you credit.

NoncommercialNoncommercial means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work - and derivative works based upon it - but for noncommercial purposes only.

Share Alike Share Alike means:
You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license the governs your work.

In a nut shell. . . use them, give credit where credit is due and don't use them for monetary gain.

Just thought you might want to know we aren't abusing any copyright laws through all of this.


Photo Credits:
(From commons, unless otherwise noted)

Main Character- Bill Adams
Backdrop- clry2
Purpose- Olivander
Item- Shawn Econo
Wild Card #1- Old Shoe Woman
Wild Card #2- Dave77459
Wild card #3- magnuscanis


I decided this month to start including each picture independent of the graphic. Hopefully this will make it easier for those of you that choose to include them within the text of your story. This should save you the step of having to crop them out of the graphic.

This month's stories will due to be posted between December 15-17

Now go put on those thinking caps and get busy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seasonal Haiku

With Thanksgiving a week away and Christmas just around the corner I turn my thoughts to a few Haiku.

When you have turkey,
remember to cook it well
Salmonella kills

Christmas lights are up
Presents are under the tree

Happy Hanukkah
Time to light the last candle
Don't burn your finger

Big expensive gifts
Spend more money than you have
Retailers don't care

Two thousand years past
Jesus came to save the world
Original gift

Time with the family
Crammed into one tiny house
God I need a drink!

When you greet someone
why say happy holidays?
Try Merry Christmas

"Hi, Merry Christmas!"
"Don't bother me with that stuff."
You've been bah humbugged

Snowmen live outside
wearing no pants or undies
Frosty's cold snowballs

Let this season bring
Joy, Peace, Love and Happiness
Warm wishes to you

Mistletoe above
Passionate kisses below
How I love my wife

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Portrait of Words #3

Here we are in the third month of this writing challenge already. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to those that have participated by sharing a story or two and equally to those who encourage us by reading what we've come up with. I appreciate each and every one of you!

For anyone new, here is a quick run down on how it works. I supply a variety of photographs along with corresponding categories for them. (Main Character, Backdrop, Purpose, Item and Wild Card) From these five prompts, we weave stories as our imagination dictates. If you'd like the full blown details please click here. For all of this month's current photos, please click here.

If you're considering joining us...please do! Everyone is welcome to participate.


"Love at First Sight"

Neither of them had considered using a computer dating service before, but it seemed to be going well so far. After a few emails and a couple of phone calls, Pam and Johnathan decided it was time to meet in person. Their previous discussions had revealed,among other things, that each had been married before; Pam to a dirt bag lawyer who'd decided his new legal assistant had more to offer him than his wife of twenty-three years, and Johnathan to his high school sweetheart who'd been tragically killed in a car accident about three years earlier.

Both had admittedly filled out their online applications with a bit of apprehension, and in fact, had it not have been for their children, they probably would have never gone through with it. Pam's daughter, who herself was now married, assured her mother that not all men were as despicable as her father was and she should look for someone who would treat her with the respect she deserved. She also convinced her mom that online dating had lost its astigmatism of a desperate attempt of finding love. It really had become a legitimate way for busy people to connect with others. Pam wasn't sure she completely believed her daughter, but she was at least willing to give it a go.

Johnathan's two daughters had also encouraged him to go online, but from a slightly different angle. They both knew after three years of being alone, it was time for him to find someone to share his life with again. He had been introduced to a couple of ladies in the past two months, but had never really hit it off with any of them. He chalked it up to good intentions by mutual friends with poor results. There just didn't seem to be much spark in him these days, but with his girls blessings, maybe things would be different now.

The "date", as it were, was set. Both of them loved their coffee and decided getting together at the local roasters called the 'Java Hut' would be a safe bet. Johnathan was the first to arrive. He found a couple of chairs and a small table in the corner with a good view of the door. A few minutes later an attractive woman in a long sleeve blue shirt and shoulder length blond hair walked in. There was no question that this is who he was waiting for. As he got up to greet her, Pam spotted him. This was a good first sign they both thought, at least they each looked like the pictures from their profiles online.

After introducing themselves, Johnathan asked, "Shall we get something to drink? A vanilla laté if I remember correctly right?"

Impressed that he'd been paying attention during their previous conversations, she replied, "Sounds goo to me . . . with 2% milk though, I'm trying to watch my figure."

"I don't think you have anything to worry about." he returned. Then he thought to himself, "Good lord Johnathan you idiot, why don't you just look at her ass while you say that!"

Fortunately she understood it for the compliment that it was and just thanked him with a pleasant smile.

They gathered up their coffees and sat at the table Johnathan had reserved earlier. They instantly hit it off and before they realized it, an hour had gone by consumed completely by conversation and the occasional laughter. When their talk took a more serious turn, to their previous spouses, Johnathan suggested they move their conversation to the pathway that meandered through Winchester Park. Pam agreed and off they went.

The calm and peaceful stroll around the lake was a much better choice for the direction the conversation had gone. As uncomfortable as the topic might have started out, it was surprisingly refreshing for each of them to be able to talk with someone else who had experienced first hand, the pain of loss. What really struck them was the candidness with which each one spoke. Although they'd just met, it seemed as if they'd known each other for months. Another hour passed in what felt like a minute. Was it possible that they were really this compatible?

Pam suggested if Johnathan was game, they grab some lunch together.

"I'd love to." he said, "In fact, I know a great place out on the coast if you're up for a little drive?"

"Hmmmm. . . let me check my busy social calendar." she quipped. With a mock look at her watch, she continued, "Hey, look at that. . . looks like I'm free!"

"Great! To the coast we go," he energetically replied.

They opted to take Johnathan's car. It was a exquisite mint-green, luxury-class convertible Mercedes, and with the beautiful weather outside, it just begged to be driven with the top down. Pam was more than relieved they wouldn't be relying on her Ford Taurus to get them there. A trip across town was risky enough, but an excursion all the way to the coast could easily turn out to be a one way trip for it and for them.

About two hours later they pulled into the parking lot at the Sea Cliff Inn. As the name would imply, the views of the Pacific from the restaurant and luxury hotel were stunning to say the least. It was situated about a hundred feet above the pounding surf on a rocky bluff which provided a panoramic shot from the north to the south. They each ordered a glass of chardonnay from the bar and decided to walk out onto the sun deck and wait for a table to open up. The sound of the crashing waves below, mixed with the taste of the crisp salt air enlivened their senses even more. A moment later a young lady approached them and announced their table was available.

The clam chowder was out of this world! It was quite possible the best Pam had ever tried. Of course the ambiance of the restaurant and the company she was keeping could have easily influenced her decision as well. About halfway through the main course, Johnathan noticed Pam starring out the large window next to them.

"Hello. . . anybody in there? . . " he lightheartedly asked.

"Oh sorry," she replied, "I was just lost in thought."

"About what?"

"Oh, I don't know if I should say. It might come off as too forward or too sappy."

"Come on, I can take it. . . try me," he insisted.

Taking another sip of her wine to buy a moment, she started in, "See those clouds outside?"


"I couldn't help but think about the image they formed. If you look closely, you'll see two hands coming together to form a sphere in the middle. Now I know we've only shared one day together, but what I see in those clouds, and our short time with each other, is two lives coming together and forming something special between them."

"Wow!" Was all Johnathan was able to muster.

"See, I knew I shouldn't have said it out loud."

Interrupting her, he said, "no no no, not at all. I feel very much the same way about you too. I was afraid of saying anything too early for fear of jinxing it or that you wouldn't feel the same."

A sense of relief washed over both of them.

It wasn't more than a half dozen steps outside of the restaurant when they simultaneously turned to each other. Without a word being spoken they embraced in a long passionate kiss. It was love at first sight and they both knew it.


Now of you're thinking, "hmmm, this looks like a fun writing challenge." Please consider joining us next month. I'll have the pictures for the next one up on Friday 11/21. Hope to see you there!

Looks like the Mr Linky site is having outage problems again today. As a result the sign in link box may not be available. I'll type in everyone's link so you can find the other writers.

Maggie May
Dr John
B Roan
Betty Gram
Strawberry Jam Anne

Friday, November 14, 2008

Puzzled By Wordzzles

Before this week's installment of Wordzzles, I thought I should remind you that this month's Portrait of Words stories are due to be posted this coming Monday 11/17 through Wednesday 11/19. For some reason the dates I posted on my sidebar say the 18-20. Guess I was just having a brain fart when I did that. Anyhoo, they will be out next week. Hope you can make it by to share a story with us or read the ones that have been written. Eveyone's welcome to join in on the fun. If you would like to see the pictures for this month's challenge you can find them here.

OK. it's now time for one of my favorite bits. Raven of Views from the Ravens Nest has a weekly challenge known as Wordzzle. She gives us a list of ten and five words respectively and we are to come up with a paragraph or short story using them. A couple of months ago Akelamalu came up with a unique twist in which she used the words in a Scrabble like format. It was a brilliant idea and I though this week I would do something along those lines, but different enough that it won't be an outright copy of what was already done.

Generally this is where I'd list out all the words that would be used in the stories for the week. Instead I am going to give you a couple of puzzles and one story in which all the words can be found in each of them. At the end of this post I will give you the words along with the answers to the puzzles. If you are a participant in the weekly challenge these will be obvious, but if not, it will hopefully provide some entertainment.

So, here we go. This first one is a crossword. The letters in the red squares will solve the word scramble at the bottom. One of the letters is filled in as a bonus. Good luck.

(Click on the images if you need to see them in a larger view)

3) King's residence
4) Flaky quick bread
7) False pious
8) River drop off
9) Keyboard cleaner (2 words)
11) Molten rock
12) Damp fungus
13) Wide variety (3 words)
14) Breakfast beverage (2 words)

1) Willy-nilly
2) Traditional
4) Purchaser's letdown (2 words)
5) Communication devise
6) Arcade game
10) Oak tree nut

Next up is a word search. Can you find all fifteen words?

Now if you still need help in identifying the words, they can all be found within the following story:

The parking lot at "Soup to Nuts" was already filling up and Buster couldn't wait to get inside. He absolutely loved this place. I mean where else could he find everything under one roof from the biscuit mix and fruit juice his wife needed to one of those canned air horn thingies for his boat?

First things first though, he still needed to find a place to park. After a couple of loops around the rows near the front of the store without any luck, he opted to take his customary spot out in the north forty. Up ahead he could see the familiar oak tree that he generally parked under. In fact, an examination of the bed of his truck would probably reveal an acorn or two from his last trip here.

After what seemed like a mile long hike, he'd made it to the front door. Fumbling through his wallet, he found the membership card that was required to get in. The girl at the door politely nodded at Buster as he strolled in waving his card in the air for her to see. Before he forgot, he quickly grabbed the couple of items his wife had asked him to pick up. Having completed this task, he would be free to walk about seeing what kind of goodies they had to offer that he simply couldn't live without.

His progress through the cavernous store was haphazard at best. There were just so many things vying for his attention that it made it hard for him to stay an any type of predetermined course. First he decided to meander around the electronics section. He couldn't help but wonder at all the amazing new devices there were displayed. There was even a cordless telephone that had a range of a quarter mile. He marveled at far they'd come since the old rotary dial types he remembered from his youth.

In another isle, he found a waterfall like outdoor fountain that they claimed would be soothing to a tired soul. "Soothing my foot," he thought, "all it makes me want to do is pee!"

Then he remembered they used to carry a lava soap he liked to use. It seemed to be the only thing that would cut through the mildew that would form on the sidewalks around the house during the rainy season. Guess nobody told him that bleach does the trick every time. Well, before he could find his beloved soap, something else caught his eye.

There at the end of the isle was a pinball machine called the "Sultans Palace". He'd been wanting a game like this for as long as he could remember, and he even figured he had a spot where it would fit perfectly. They even had it plugged in so he could give it a thorough test drive. Ah, it was perfect!

Just as he was preparing to launch his third ball into play, a young sales associate came up to him and said, "Hey mister, if you're interested, they just told me to put this on a markdown. Ya, apparently the last one of these in a box just got sold so they're taking off $300 'cause it's a display model."

Buster looked up at the original price and did the quick math. The discount would make the new price $1,950. When the shopper behind him started to show some interest, Buster quickly told the kid, "I'll take it!"

About twenty minutes later, Buster's shinny new pinball machine was being loaded into the back of his pick-up truck. About ten minutes after that, it hit him. Not more than two days earlier, he and his wife had had a discussion about cutting back and putting some money aside in a rainy day fund. Now he'd gone and blown just short of two grand on a toy he really didn't need.

"What a hypocrite!" he thought. Then another wave hit him, "Now I know what buyers remorse feels like too!"


So, how did you do? Do you know what the mystery words are? If you're still stumped, scroll down and you'll find the answers.

Sure you want to see them yet?

Don't peek too early.

Alright, here you go.

The words for the week are: palace, hypocrite, canned air, telephone, biscuit, pinball, acorn, customary, fruit juice, waterfall, buyers remorse, lava, haphazard, mildew, soup to nuts

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For My Brother - Part 2

Since my brother Gene is vacationing in southern California at Disneyland right now and can't defend himself (yet), I thought I would offer up the second chapter of my story. If you would like to start at the beginning (Part 1) go here.

Part 2
"The Secrete Weapon"

When we last visited Gene, he had just been called to the service in the royal army of King Odoriferous, and . . . after a tearful?? goodbye with his mother, was now on the road heading to his appointed destination.

It wasn't more than a few hundred feet when Gene started making new friends. One by one, and dozens by dozens, the flies started buzzing. Like a sweet nectar to them, the stink trail emanating from Gene's un-bathed body beckoned his new companions. Eventually though, he walked through a quite aromatic, cow patty laden pasture. As much of a temptation it was for the flies to continue their pursuit of Gene, the steaming piles on the ground seemed to edge him out. . . barely.

The next five miles were rather uneventful, but then up ahead, Gene could hear the ruckus sound of hundreds of other young men gathering. He knew it would be only a few more minutes until he would finally meet his new comrades. Fortunately for the others, the large number of horses in close proximity to Gene as he walked up, helped to mask the stench wafting from his overly ripe self. Those around him attributed the stench to the abundant amount of fresh road apples that dotted the landscape.

Just then a brilliantly handsome, strapping, muscular young knight, mounted upon a glorious steed, rode into the camp. The men all knew who who this amazing specimen of a man was. It was of course, none other than Jeff The Great! This was a man who legends were made of. His devilish good looks alone were the envy of every other man in the land, but his outright wonderfulness certainly did not end there. He also easily possessed the strength of ten men, and his perfectly defined muscular body confirmed it.

Being a master of the bow and arrow was another skill that all who were assembled longed to obtain. As a demonstration of his craftiness, Jeff The Great reached into his quiver of arrows, drew one into his long bow, pulled back on it and let it fly. It guided swift and true, landing dead center on a bulls eye some hundred paces to his left. The looks of amazement became even more pronounced when Jeff split the first arrow with a second! Yes, all the men knew right then and there, that they were in the presence of greatness.

Upon dismounting his white stallion, Jeff called out to the men, "Who among you would display your skills for all of us to see?"

Scanning the crowd he could not find one who would heed his challenge. Some declined out of respect, but most simply did not want to be made a fool of in front of their peers. A long uncomfortable hush fell across the men until Jeff turned and addressed the the lad to his right.

"You young squire," Jeff said in a deep, booming voice, "perhaps you will give us a demonstration?"

Gene's good eye locked upon Jeff's, much like a deer's stuck in the sights of a crossbow. Fear seized every muscle in Gene's puny little body, save one. In a reactionary, yet involuntary moment, Gene released a toxic plume from deep within his nether regions. The green fog emanating from Gene's posterior side, knocked six men to the ground in an instant. With terror in his eye, he looked at Jeff and waited for the inevitable. To his amazement though, Jeff did not run him through with his sword. Instead a twinkle formed in his gorgeous hazel green eyes and a smile stretched across his perfectly unblemished face. He called out to the master of arms and declared, "See to it this lad receives a steady diet of pork fat and sour beans. This young lad shall become our secret weapon! . . . Oh. . . and make sure his tent is on the far side of the camp. . .down wind!"


My dear sweet brother has written a kind, sweet, gentle poem in my honor. If you haven't taken the time to read it, please do go by and have a look. You can find it here if you like.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Worzzle Movies

As always, the lovely and talented Raven of Views From the Ravens Nest is graciously hosting this weekly get together.

The words: France, cold weather, backhoe, lite and shadow, Humane Society, ambivalent, "Happy Birthday, Sarah Jane", Martians, Thanksgiving Day Parade, green eyes

and: she'll be comin' round the mountain when she comes, pumpkin pie, yellow jacket, short changed, life after 50

Thought I'd try a new twist on the writing challenge that is Wordzzle. Rather than doing a couple of stories this week I thought of what it might look like if the words were found in the titles of some movies one might find at the Sundance Film Festival. Be sure to catch these before they leave the theaters.

"Happy Birthday, Sarah Jane"
The inspiring story of a nine year old girl struggling to overcome brain cancer and reach it to her tenth birthday.

"Yellow Jackets . . . Green Eyes"
A docudrama that looks into how the fashion industry's increasing pressure to maintain ultra thin sizes is affecting the increase of anorexia among teenage girls worldwide.

"Cold Weather in France"
Climate shift and global warming issues, as narrated by Nobel prize winner, Al Gore.

"Lite and Shadow During the Thanksgiving Day Parade"
A look into the cover-up in the death of a minority balloon handler during the 2007 parade.

"The Ambivalent Backhoe Operator"
Highlighting the struggles between independent contractors and union shops.

"The Not So Humane Society"
A graphic depiction of the challenges facing the often discarded inner city children in America.

"She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain When She Comes. . .
Eating Pumpkin Pie"
An in depth look at the continuing obesity problem in the United States since the end of the industrial revolution.

"My Short Changed Life After 50"
Exploring how the financial meltdown during the past year is affecting those reaching the retirement age.

"Martians in the White House"
A retrospective analysis of the Bush administration. (Written and produced by the Green Party)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mmmmmm Soup

Who else is happy the election is over? No more irritating phone calls and piles of junk mail. It's enough to make a person break out in song. Just be glad I haven't figured out how to put those little audio bars on the blog yet or I'd sing you a diddy.


Well, with the cold and rainy weather having settled into the Pacific northwest, comfort food has begun to once again take on its seasonal appeal. I hadn't made a pot of French onion soup in years, but for some reason it just sounded right. It's really easy to make and doesn't cost very much either. (except for the cheese if you opt for the good stuff)

I don't know that I've ever actually measured the ingredients for this, but I'll give you the amounts as close to what I can remember. Keep in mind that a little more or less of any component can be left to personal taste or preference.

4 or 5 large yellow onions
2 T. cooking oil
4 quarts chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste
1½ T. tomato paste
1 pkg Holland Rusk
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Notes about ingredients:

I highly recommend using homemade stock. The flavor is much richer, It isn't watery like the canned stuff, and it isn't pumped full of sodium.

If Maui or Walla-Walla sweet onions are available use them. If not regular yellow onions are just fine too.

Holland Rusk is a toasted bread round that is placed on top of the soup. If you can't find them in your super market, you can toast white bread in the oven till it's dry (remember to cut off the crust first)

Gruyere is an aromatic (code for stinky) type of cheese in the family of Swiss. It has a much deeper flavor than an ordinary Swiss. The down side to it, is it is kind of spendy. If you can't find it or you just want to save a couple of bucks, sub in Swiss.

OK, how to prepare it:

Cut the onions in half, peel and slice them into thin strips (half rounds). Place the oil and onions into a stainless steel stock pot large enough to hold all the ingredients. Cook over medium heat until the onions are dark golden brown. (This is called caramelizing them) Separately, bring the stock to a boil and strain off any fat from the surface. Once the onions are caramelized, add the stock to them. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato paste. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so.

To serve:

Ladle into individual oven proof soup bowls. Place a Holland Rusk on top of soup. Sprinkle some cheese on top of Rusk then place under the broiler to melt the cheese. Watch closely as it only takes about a minute to go from melted and bubbly to burnt and nasty! Grab a spoon and enjoy. Remember the cheese is like molten lava when it first comes out of the oven, so be warned and don't burn the roof of your mouth on it.

As mom would say. . .try it, you'll like it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Recap and Wordzzles

Halloween came and went last night with what I would call a big success. After raining for the better part of the morning hours, the skies cleared and gave way to a dry evening. It was also pretty warm outside. (relatively speaking that is) At around 50ºF for us north westerners is was practically a heat wave.

What really made it great was that the kids had a blast. We went to what seemed like a million houses and they gathered treats of all sorts. In fact, they woke up early today and are down stairs now sorting through their loot and trading each other for various favorites.

For those of you that have been reading here for a while, you might remember Anthony's project he did to earn his special Darth Vader costume. He did such a good job on it we made sure to include the light saber and a cool voice box that he could speak into and change his voice. It also had the classic breathing sound like the "real" Vader. Needless to say, he was stoked. Mathew decided he wanted to be a ninja this year. Not exactly the most stealthy one I've ever seen (or heard), but he looked pretty cute anyway.

On a trip to the supermarket earlier in the day we spotted this car (hearse) and I had to take a few shots of it. It provided some pretty good chuckles to everyone who saw it. I'm betting he/she was a hit anywhere they went in that thing.

Well, as you can see, yesterday was a bunch of fun. Looking forward to next year already.


OK, after taking a few weeks off from participating, it's time for another round of Wordzzles. A fun weekly writing challenge hosted by Raven from Views from the Ravens Nest. Do go by and visit her please, and better yet, join in on the fun if you're so inclined.

This week's words:

The ten word group: squeaky toy, perpendicular, olives, shanty, howling at the moon, soul, bow and arrow, uniform, statistics, praying mantis

The mini group: glamour, rocking chair, cormorant, objective, symbolism

The Ten Word
"The Hunt"

Ah yes, being out here with his boy was good for the soul.

Jacob and his son had arrived at the shanty in the woods earlier in the day and were now anticipating the following morning's hunt. Olives, their trusty black Labrador retriever was resting comfortably in front of the pot belly stove gathering in its warmth while chewing on her favorite squeaky toy. The father and son combo chuckled as they watched Olives hold the toy perpendicular to the floor with her front paws, gnawing away at it without a care in the world.

Billy, Jacob's son, asked his father, "Dad, do you really think we're going to be able to bag a deer with just a bow and arrow?"

"Well son," he replied, "the statistics look pretty promising that we'll at least have the opportunity to try. Their numbers have been increasing in this area at a pretty uniform rate over the last several years. Besides, you remember seeing the praying mantis that was perched on the quiver of arrows you were carrying earlier? That's a sure sign of good luck. . . and listen to that."

The sound of wolves howling at the moon echoed through the surrounding canyons.

"Wolves know where the hunting grounds are good too son."


The Mini

What was the objective of this strange symbolism? A cormorant sitting in a rocking chair dressed like a fashion model? What were the editors of Glamour Magazine trying to depict with this image?


Have a great weekend all!