Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We're going to market this new batch as breakfast wine.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Put your glad rags on

Gas up the jitney; gramma’s going to the state fair.

Lyn Ellen grew this prize zucchini in her little raised garden. It measures 14 inches. And her tomato plants are over six feet. Your results may vary.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Birthday presents for the ex-pats in your life

A Google search for the nearest WHATABURGER scared hell outta me. Saudi Arabia. So I clicked again and this time the answer was Birmingham or Tallahassee. That’s better, but not good enough.

So my sister put together a care package for Lyn Ellen’s birthday present. The mustard and ketchup were easy -- on sale at the groceries back in Texas.

It was the buns that posed the problem. For some reason, WHATABURGER no longer sells just buns. We were turned down last year in Oklahoma and the panhandle.

My sister’s secret?

She walked in, she asked for the manager, and then she cried.

And she walked out of the burger joint with four buns and overnighted them to us in N. Carolina. Lawd.

Next month, we’re talking brisket and pork chops from Coopers.

Friday, July 11, 2014

In the cool, cool, cool of the evening

My age and my wine consumption dictate the need for a more stable drinking platform. So our front porch is getting a facelift. The home-did stack rock and mortar was nice looking but a tad shaky.

To get started, get four strong guys, a jackhammer, a crow bar and a pickup truck. Then turn ‘em loose and stand back. Sure, they get a little crazy but what red-blooded guy doesn’t like busting rocks with a sledge.

Three hours later and there’s no going back. Monday, the new decking arrives. If this porch job goes well, I'll get the price for a facelift for me. Jowls and a minivan make it tough to be cool.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Little rescue dog returns the favor

We’re each nearly a hundred and I’ve worried from time to time what would happen if something happened to one of us while working in the yard when the other was inside.

Today, we found out thanks to Bitsy, our mini-Dachshund, who did her job.

Lyn Ellen was outside messing with the fish pond. I was in the house playing with the computer when Bitsy started barking.

Repeatedly. Urgently.

I immediately recognized her alarm as her “Timmy’s in the well” bark. I jumped from my easy chair and ran (almost) to the back door – just in time to see a soaking wet Lyn Ellen scrambling onto dry land. She had slipped on one of the decorative rocks and tumped feet first into the pond.

Lots of things could have gone wrong – she could have hit her head and lost consciousness, she could have broken her hip, she could have grabbed the electrical wire for the pump, she could have … well, you get the picture. Fortunately, the stress did not cause either of our pacemakers to fire off.

Only her pride was injured. Nothing a warm bath and a cool glass of wine won’t fix. Whew.

Tonight, we’re taking Bitsy to Sonic.

Friday, July 4, 2014

One ringy dingy...

I like to think I’m smart enough to understand how to use all the bells and whistles on my new iPhone. But I’m not.

So we signed up for the how-to class right after paying for the phones. The next morning, nine of us were waiting at the door. Each of us north of 70.

The young man teaching the class was slow and patient, a double blessing. First question: “How do you turn it off?” That set the tone. We were open in our ignorance.

Finally someone asked: “Where can I buy a manual?”

The young man’s response was astonishing: “Nobody makes manuals anymore. These phones are too complicated. The book would be too thick. Today, we use the Q&A technique. If you have a problem, get in the search mode, ask your question and the answer should pop up.”

Nobody makes manuals anymore! It has finally happened. Technology has outrun human understanding. And how do you get in the search mode?

I’ve got a question: What time do the bars open in N. Carolina?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Right wing skunk works heroes

The right wing is turning me into a bigot. I despise their champions. Or do I despise their nonsense?

Heroes from the right wing skunk works currently include:

--Joe the Plumber who says your dead kids don’t trump his constitutional rights.
--Cliven Bundy and his insights about The Negro.
--The Duck Dynasty clan leader who spoke at the GOP leadership conference in Louisiana.
--Rising star Ben Carson (be patient, you’ll see).
--And Sarah Palin for her lifetime achievement.

Then there’s Ted Cruz who lied to church leaders claiming liberals were going to try to repeal the First Amendment. He knows in his heart that is a lie.

Shameless demagoguery. Brazen. Divisive. Bad for America.

I don’t know which is worse: believing this crazy stuff or just throwing red meat to the other crazies. This little list is just the start.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Clink. Fun hobby. Clink.

The new chardonnay is corked. 17 bottles. Of course, we have to let it age an hour.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Intelligent design, my ass 

As promised, the angry red spots and splotches have faded from my scalp. Caustic medicine. But handsomeness has returned.

And it was good -- for about two days. 

Then, on a Friday before the long holiday weekend, the false tooth in front of my smile cracked and broke from its moorings. Right away, I noticed it was difficult saying f-words with a missing front tooth. Plus an extra hole in your face seriously messes with handsomeness.

Let’s see. So far this year there’s been pacemaker surgery, gout, a broken tooth, caustic scalp stuff, another broken tooth…

I may be past my expiration date.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

No photos, please

Good news. The red dots that have been eating my face are retreating back into my skull. The skin doctor prescribed a nightly slather of this bad-ass cream to cauterize scuffs on my face and scalp before they morph into cancer. Hope the treatment works. It was 40 days of nasty. But the angry red blotches are fading to a friendlier shade of pink. Likely all gone in a week or so.

Sure would like to fill the vacant space left behind with new hair. Do they make a cream for that?

Dreams die hard.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

 Avoiding Melanoma is worth the trip

If you don’t count visits to the doctor, I haven’t been out of the house in 38 days. I know because I started marking the calendar the first night I slathered my head with this caustic cream that eats your face an makes you look like the bastard child of Erik the Red and Jabba the Hut.

The prescription stuff is to combat skin cancer while it is still precancerous. But the cure is nasty. It stings, burn, itches and preys on your vanity. Ohhh. I look like a walking adv for a connect the dots game. A red marks-a-lot is recommended. Should clear up in a few weeks.

The source? Too much West Texas sun as a teenager. Pale winters chased by sun burned spring. Remember smelling of vinegar as your skin would marinade into summer?

Like most geezers in my demographic, I’ve had several bouts with several kinds of skin cancer. I've won every time. So far, so good. You, too?

Here’s the deal – show your face to your grandchildren when you look your worst. Melanoma is serious stuff.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Top o' the morning

Wine-making update: Is it wine? Or is it Aqua Velva? Enough of the particulates have drifted to the bottom of the carboy so we can siphon a sample for two tests to determine whether it is really wine.

I’m entitled to be nervous. This is my first solo batch.

First, the hydrometer. It appears to be floating at the right marker.
Second, the clarity test. The liquid is a little dark but clear.
Third, the taste test.  Yep. By the second glass, I can report a slight buzz.

It’s official. It’s wine.

Good thing. I’ve invested several hundred bucks in equipment and I’m up to my ass in corks.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Did the Gallo brothers start this way?

Since Christmas, we’ve made 75 bottles of wine. Damn good wine. Piesporter. But I had help from Chuck, my mentor. He produces 125 bottles at a time twice a year.

This time, I tried to go it alone. How hard could it be? I had printed instructions, plus the experience gleaned from making three batches this year, and I had Chuck’s phone number. Good thing.

There are not many ways to screw up making wine at home. But I found three.

First, I strangled the yeast. That’s what everybody said at the wine store. It seems I forgot to add one little quart of water at a critical juncture. So the air lock wouldn’t bubble. No incentive from fermentation gasses. No fermentation either. The fix – more yeast, more water.

Next, the room was too cold at 68 degrees. We live in the mountains. Wine likes 71 to 75 degrees. Too hot for us, so we wrapped the fermentation bucket in a blanket and sat it on a heating pad. Damn near baked up a grape casserole. Too hot. The fix – turn the heating pad to “low.”

Then…mix in the flavor packets, stir like hell, and add the clearing agent that magically makes the floating particles settle to the bottom. The problem – I mixed the concoction in the opaque plastic bucket rather than the see-through plastic jug (called a carboy for some reason). If you can’t see the mixture, you don’t know when it is ready to bottle. The fix – siphon the five gallons of elixir back into the carboy. I haven’t used a siphon this much since I left Oklahoma.

With luck, we’ll have new wine in a week or two.

Chuck says I can hang up the phone now.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jabba the Hut, Junior 

Pretty soon, I’m going incognito. I’m in the middle of treatments to get rid of pre-cancerous stuff on my head and scalp. The virulent ointment is turning my skin red and the lesions even redder. I’m beginning to look pretty scary.

I think I’ll go hang out at the GOP headquarters and see if I can suppress the vote.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

This is how I roll 

After years and years off my bicycle, I got back up a few days ago. I managed to eke out a paltry .8 of a mile before my legs turned to J-E-L-L-O. I was grateful for every stop sign.

Today, I nearly doubled that with a total of 1.4 miles. Mountain miles, remember.

I hope you are laughing with me. Those are not big numbers. Paltry is too kind. But they are my numbers – and they feel gooder than hell. And here’s the thing – the endorphins came back.

My new pacemaker battery has five and a half years. Wonder how far I can get in five and a half years…

I’m outta here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do – try this at home:

Three divas, two glasses of wine each, stir gently.

One book: Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein. It’s a children’s book. A billy sook, as he says. Written in pig latin. Now, begin reading out loud. Tait your wurn. This is bow shiz.

Runny Babbit lent to wunch
And heard the saitress way,
"We have some lovely stabbit rew --
Our Special for today." Caution: don’t order the pea soup.

Amazon says: Taken in dall smoses, this self-proclaimed "billy sook" is a fun-filled new (posthumously published) offering from children's poet Shel Silverstein, creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and other favorites. Completed prior to the poet's death in 1999, Runny Babbit was a work in progress for more than 20 years, and is populated by the likes of Runny Babbit, Toe Jurtle, Ploppy Sig, Polly Dorkupine, and Pilly Belican (who owns the Sharber Bop), all denizens of the green woods where letter-flipping runs rampant. In this madcap world, pea soup is sea poup, Capture the Flag is Fapture the Clag, and snow boots are bow snoots. Each poem incorporates the same kind of switcheroo wordplay found in "Runny's Hew Nobby:" Runny Babbit knearned to lit,/ And made a swat and heater,/ And now he sadly will admit/ He bight have done it metter."

Try it. You'll gust a but.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Like riding a bike, uh-huh

To my knowledge, there is not one single level street in Hendersonville. And that brings this story into context. That and the fact that multiple surgeries caused me to stop riding my bike for years and years.

The drought ended today. I cruised up and down the streets looking like I remembered how to gear a bicycle. Not at first. But soon the mountain air was filling my tortured lungs in a desperate attempt to awaken muscle memory in my legs. J-E-L-L-O.

Eight tenths of a mile. That is not a typo.


At the seven-tenths marker, I met a young student pushing her bike up the hill. We nodded the secret bicycle nod and I blurted with pride: “First good bike ride in nearly ten years.”

She shared the accomplishment: “You go, mister.”

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

North Carolina nice...

I just had the most charming small-town experience – at an auto repair shop, of all places. It went like this:

Ring, ring. “Can you do a trip check on my van before we get on the highway?”

“Yep. But I can’t get to it until around 9 o’clock.” Well, at 9:07 my van was hoisted on the rack.

“How long will it take?”

“Oh, 20 or 30 minutes.” Amazingly, my van was being lowered from the rack in 22 minutes.

“How much will it cost? Three hundred bucks?” I  hoped I was joking.

“Twelve,” he said.

As I was walking out the door, he said “have a save trip, George.” And so did two strangers in the tiny waiting area. “Have a safe trip, George,” they echoed.

I love this town.

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