About me

Sunday, July 31, 2011

He sailed through the air with the greatest of ease

It's not the sailing that the problem. It's that sudden stop that's the attention getter.

Here's the current profile picture from Danger's Facebook page.


It's been a week now, and I can talk about this. I think. I was cooking the figs that we'd picked earlier that day. It was about 5:30 in the afternoon, and time to start thinking about dinner, when my phone beeped with a text message. It was Danger's Facebook status update. He mentioned an ambulance, the ER, and some stitches. Not quite what a dad needs to read in a text message.

I send a text asking for details, and they came in abundance. We was mountain biking, and for the first time, decided it was too hot to wear his knee and shin guards.

Yes, he fell. The result was visible bone in the woods.

Here's the shirt he was wearing that he used to staunch the blood flow.


It doesn't look as bloody in the picture as he described.

Here's the knee.


Now, here's his knee after the bandages were applied. His sister helped select the color.


I think he liked this mess a lot better before the morphine wore off. The next night, he removed the bandage to clean up. Here's the shot his GF sent me.


Ain't it purty?

So while cleaning the knee, he pulls out a souvenir.


You see that little dark spot? That's some gravel he brought home. I suppose if there's an upside to this mess, it's that no one will need to remind him to wear those pads again.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The proper mater sammich

Yes, I can spell better than that, but doing so misses a little color.

If I ever have an apartment with a deck or patio, I'll put a bucket on it. In that bucket, I'll put some holes and potting soil. In that soil, I'll plant a tomato, probably a Bigger Boy, but the variety really doesn't matter.

I grew up on a farm, and I know the work that's involved in producing all those things we buy in the market. I also know it's usually far cheaper to farm at Food Lion. However, there is one exception: The Tomato. I rarely buy tomatoes at Food Lion. They're usually just too tasteless for the price we have to pay. That's not true for most of the rest, but tomatoes simply need to be home grown.

Sunday morning, a friend brought me a mater from her yard. Tonight, I made a proper tomato sandwich. There might be nothing better than a decent tomato sandwich, and it's been about forever since I had one. Here's how we do it, in case you've forgotten.

Find some bread. One mater will make about two sammiches.


You'll need some mayonnaise on that bread.


OK, you can probably tell that's not really mayonnaise. It's whipped salad dressing. No, I do not know why the salad dressing needed whipping. I suppose it was very naughty while I wasn't looking.

Alternative to mayo, you can use mustard. If you're feeling really decadent, add some cheese and grill the sammich. (I'm rarely deserving of something that good.)

Now, get the mater.


I took the stem off, and then I sliced it. Put the slices on the bread with the mayo that's really whipped salad dressing.


Yes, I had an extra slice, and I ate it straight up. I closed the sammiches, took it all to the couch, and chowed down while watching the news. You should do the same.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fetching figs

There are days when I feel more a character somewhere between Flagg and Faulkner, and today was one of them: I went back to the home place for figs.

In the late 70s, I planted a brown turkey fig tree in my mother's backyard, down below the end of the septic tank lines. It was something I bought for a very little money at the Roses's dime store at Rose Manor in West Smithfield. Bare roots in damp sawdust wrapped in plastic.

It grew, and some time later, my brother mowed it down. Several times, he mowed it down. I was not so happy, but I recognized the problem that an odd bush presented in the middle of a half-acre of wire-grass. At some point, he and I moved farther away with the thought of a fig tree drifting further and further from our reality.

The fig returned and grew. Whoever was cutting Mama's grass let the tree grow. And grow it did.

From the north.


And from the west.


Fig trees are not supposed to do well in our climate. Apparently, there are exceptions. My grandparents had what amounted to a fig bush by a barn. It was hardly a few feet high, and the story was that figs just don't do well here. Regardless, I have lived in smaller apartments than this tree in my brother's back yard.

Bro has been picking the figs and offering them for sale at a local wide spot in the road where people sell produce. People rave about the taste of the figs, but they never ask to buy them. He was puzzled by that, and I suggested that figs were an old fashioned fruit that have gone mostly out of style, at least in this area. Neither of us recall our mother ever cooking a fig except in the fall for a fruit cake.

I suspect not all that many people even eat Fig Newtons anymore.

We drove home this morning to pick a few figs. I had never seen the fruit on this tree, much less tasted it, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Yes, over 30 years after planting the tree, I'm on a trajectory to taste the fruit. That's just plain odd no matter how I think about it.


The fruits are small. The large ones are about half the size of a hen's egg. They turn brown when fully ripened, but I'm picking, and eating, anything that isn't gourd green.

We gathered the fruit in plastic grocery bags. (No matter how much we try to use only the reusable bags, we wind up with a few of the plastic. Go figure.)


Yes, my figging partner brought a proper basket. She also brought a basket she made earlier, but the weather turned on us before I could get a picture of it. Maybe later. Somewhere in this world, we have a jealous wren.

She also stood on a proper ladder-thing.


It took about an hour to pick the figs we could reach. At 100 degrees, an hour was a gracious plenty for me. We had a little lunch, toured the area, visited the dead, and left.

At home, it's time to cook. OK, half a bag went in the freezer for my smoothies. I'm cooking the other half into fig stew to have with biscuits. Were I a real cook, and a real character somewhere from the pages of Flagg and Faulkner, I'd be putting up fig preserves. That'd take a little more kitchen that I have, and then there'd be the matter of storage space.

Figs in the pot with a very little olive oil and a lot of water.


This mess simmers about an hour.


At this point, my grandmother would hand my papa, whom you would call my grandfather, a potato smasher and tell him to get to work, with a smile and a hug, of course. I would do the same except that I don't have a tater smasher. I use a big spoon and a fork for that activity.

So what's a poboy to do? Oh yes, the smoothie blender. This works well, perhaps too well.


For one, this needs to simmer to get some water out. (Yes, I added a little water in the blender, but I doubt that was really necessary.) It also needs some lumps.

I have a few more figs, and I think they now have a worthy purpose.


Let's take off the stems, and do a little dicing.


I'll let this simmer lightly for a while to cook through the figs, but there'll be no more smooshing or blending. Just some eating on a biscuit.

Oh yes, one thing. You might recall that Bro was a little bummed about not being able to sell the figs on the side of the road. So much for that retirement plan. I'm sure we've both seen worse.

I consoled him like this: The tree is at the end of his septic tank drain lines. His little turds become the little figs for the birds and bugs that, in turn, spread more little turds everywhere. In a sense, he is crapping all over the world.

He thanked me for that.

BTW, I might add some brown sugar when you're not looking.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The last lily

Last Saturday, I believe it was. I was out on a stroll late in the afternoon, and I noodled over by one of NCSU's remote buildings. The landscaping here is interesting, especially for the edge of a business park, and one corner of the lot is well done.

I arrived just in time for the last lily, at least for this stalk. There might be others later, but given their frailty, I might miss them all.


I returned the next evening on my way to Sunday dinner. I wanted to get a better shot, one with more resolution. However, this picture will have to do. The bloom had withered. Sadness all around.

Meanwhile, I think this spot needs a few roses to make a lily and rose garden.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

After a month in Vibram Five Fingers (Komodo Sport)

I ran.

Here are my pretty feet cooling in the morning grass.


Here are the flowers I took to the physician who prescribed the Celebrex that went with the shoes.


My biggest challenge now is to not over do it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Foundling sheep

The discussion of lost socks in the washer will likely never end, at least not until we learn specifically of that alternate reality where the landscape is littered with stray and unmatched socks. I suppose we'll even find the occasional frilly unmentionable there as well. Will we become friends with the inhabitants of that fair land where no one knows that socks should match, or will we visit ungodly fashion imperialism upon them?

However, today we have gathered not to plot the fashionable overthrow of an imaginary land littered with all those socks we've lost to the laundry elves, but rather to muse upon the foundling item.


Yes, a white wash cloth. It appeared in my load of darks, and I ran it through with the next day's load of whites with the usual dose of generic Food Lion bleach and hot water. Still, it resembles something Noah Poke would have used back in the day when we bathed in the creek and called it clean, probably because the creek was clean then.

The thing is that I do not possess a wash cloth proper except for the two that live in the kitchen where they protect my delicate and oh so sensitive hands from the assault of hot pan handles. One might ask, then, if it's fair to call them wash cloths, and I suspect the answer would be a firm negatory were we to ask said question, which I won't.

More important this day is the question of what to do with this once white wash cloth? Is there a child's face growing dirtier by the day for want of this strip of cotton? Is someone downstairs developing a terminal case of toe jam while I sit here and muse upon their missing salvation? Should I have another spot of coffee and get on with the day, leaving this mysterious cloth in the laundry room where someone more deserving, and perhaps more worthy, to give it a better home?

I'm thinking we'll go with the latter.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Laundry seed

In the olden days such as those I grew up in, it was important that we saved some seed from one year to the next. You didn't want to eat all this year's corn, and then have none to sow next year. OK, we didn't so much eat the corn as we drank the corn, but you get my drift. If you don't save a little seed in the one season, you won't have any to plant in the next season, and that means you'll be going hungry, or thirsty in the case of corn.

The same reasoning applies to laundry. You need to save a little from this week's laundry so you'll have plenty of laundry to do next week. Oh what a sadness it would be to wake up so early on a weekend only to discover you have no laundry to do. I'm not sure I could find the strength to continue if that ever happened.

Here's the seed I set aside this morning.


A white sock. Study this carefully.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Green tomatoes and nuclear devices

Bro brought me four green tomatoes and 15 itty bitty nuclear devices.


I put two tomatoes on the shelf where they'll maybe ripen enough for a few sandwiches this coming week. I sliced the other two.


You probably know where we're headed, so put some corm meal in a bowl.


Now, don't go get all smart with me. You know what I mean.


That's better. Rub the tomato slices in the meal. Yes, on both sides. Drop them in the frying pan with some olive oil. We both know lard would be better, but there's no need to even go there.

Brown them lightly on both sides. Add a little salt and pepper as you choose.


While the tomatoes are browning, find some firm tofu, and slice it as you did the tomatoes. Yes, I said tofu. Just hush and do it.


Put the tofu slices in the corn meal, and brown them in the pan just like you did the tomato slices. You'll probably need to add more olive oil to the pan.


While the tofu browns, cut up a very few of the peppers. This variety redefines hot. I cut up five.


Sprinkle the pepper pieces on the browned tofu, and then put the tomato slices on top.


If I had some mozzarella cheese, I'd put slices between the tofu and tomato, or I might omit the tofu altogether, and just put the mozzarella on top of the tomato. However, I do not have any of that fancy city-folk cheese. What I have is shredded 4-cheese Mexican, which I like better.


Put the lid on the skillet, and let the low heat melt the cheese. You can work on the laundry while the cheese melts.


There were no leftovers. Sorry.

Odd naners

I know bananas might be one of the least green things available in our local grocery stores. Nonetheless, there are days I live off the things. Perhaps this is how I deal with my current latitude. I was switched at birth, you know. I was born the crown prince of a wealthy tropical island nation, I'm sure.

So I'm in Food Lion yesterday evening fetching back some produce. Naners from somewhere south of the border, and right there, directly beside the object of my evening's desiring, what do I see?

Odd naners!


The label said "Baby Bananas." I have no idea what one is supposed to do with this half-rosette of teeny naners. It'd take most of them to make a decent smoothie. OK, maybe four in a smoothie, more or less, but the point remains. They cost more. They take more work. There will be more peelings to dry and smoke.

This is just too much for me on a Friday afternoon. Even the memory on a Saturday morning leaves me in a weakened state. And yes, like any other old piece of white trash, I returned to that part of the store just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. Twice.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A brief exercise

A few of us need a little extra instruction.

Go to the mirror and take a long hard look at your butt. Use two mirrors if you need. I certainly did.

Now review in detail this picture.


It's a hole in the ground. Compare and contrast. Your butt and the hole in the ground. Study each carefully.

Continue until you're certain that you know your butt from a hole in the ground. Don't cheat. I needed several passes.

Cheesy crackling bread

Some of you are going to wonder if the rest of us have lost our minds. Probably, we have, and do know that you cannot eat like this often unless you're after a slow suicide, but have it now and again, and your soul will hum in resonance with that satisfying moment you haven't felt, but needed and missed, for ages.

When we're done, we'll step back into a healthier, and, likely, somewhat less tum-satisfying world.

We bought a bag of homemade fried pork skins yesterday, and took them to work. A very few were left at the end of the day. I brought them home to use this morning.

Here are the lefgtovers.


I took the crunchiest of the crunchy out, and broke up the rest into relatively small pieces.


I put the little pieces in the big pot (because I don't have room for the large mixing bowl that I also don't have) with a huge splash of olive oil. There was no subsequent explosion. By huge splash, I mean two or three ounces. That emptied the bottle, and being ever the good boy, I rinsed the bottle and put it in the recycling. Well, I'll put it there once it drains and dries.



Now, we need some cheese. I used the last half of the bag of shredded Mexican cheese, which is likely only available in the States. Yes, it was the Food Lion brand.


Stir all that together using the spoon the children found that weekend long ago when we were camping at Jordan Lake. Then, add some buttermilk, probably a pint to start out with, and stir that some more. A lot more.


Find the cornmeal. It's in the fridge to keep the bugs out.


Yeah, I really did get that meal at Food Lion.

You'll find the self-rising flour over in the pantry. We use it to fast to worry about the bugs.





Now, dump in some corn meal and some self-rising flour.


Stir this mess. After two strokes, I discovered I had put in too much meal and flour. Rather than throw the whole mess into the trash, I added more buttermilk, stirred, added more buttermilk, and stirred some more. It was finally about right, and yes, the mix needs to be wet.

Won't that fun?

Find the iron skillet, and splash in a lot of olive oil.


Yes, I have one skillet sitting in the other. Space comes at a premium around here.

Spoon, or otherwise relocate, the batter from the iron pot to the skillet. If you used a large mixing bowl, that's OK. I promise not to hate you. Just move the batter from the bowl to the iron pot so you can then move it to the skillet according to these instructions.

It's important to follow instructions exactly.

Yes, you can pat it a little. I certainly did.



Put it in the oven at about 450 degrees. Those are American degrees, which you might know as Fahrenheit. Aren't you impressed that I can spell that name?

There will be a little left in the iron pot.


Yes, you may lick out the pot. I certainly did. Just don't let Mama find out, or you'll have to listen to it yet again. That's right. She will tell you how raw dough, or batter, causes worms. Yes, we all know better, but there are just some things you don't do, and contradicting Mama is one of them.

After about an hour in the over, it's done. Here's what it look like.


I'm taking this pan to work with a stick of butter.

Oh, about the bigger, harder pieces I took out. They didn't make it though breakfast. Had to keep up my strength, you know. Let's keep this little secret away from the doc. And the dentist.