Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: w00t

Tomatoes in the News!

Our good friends, Todd & Julie, have photographed everything tomato-related, including plants, the finished product, James’ hands separating seedlings…. and this past Sunday, those photos were a major feature in the House + Home section of Sunday’s Kansas City Star! Along with an awesome interview with my husband, who doles out all the growing advice you can get regularly over on his blog.  Since the pictures aren’t online, I snapped the two full-pages with my phone:

 

As much as I detest sweating, I’m ready for some fresh, tangy, delicious, home-grown tomatoes!

A Happy Dog’s Tale

A couple weeks ago, our friend Cindy went out for a walk and came home with a lost dog. The pooch was predominantly black lab,  a blocky-headed, chunky dude named Coal. He had a leather collar with a city and phone number in Georgia, so we all assumed his owners had recently moved to town. After all, Coal hadn’t missed any meals, and he was one friendly dude. Because Cindy’s yard isn’t fenced, we agreed (yeah, I got the puppy-dog eyes from my husband) to a trial run and to help house him for a couple of days, as long as he got along well with our two labs. Plus, we have an outside kennel and doghouse, and a fenced yard – it seemed like the humane thing to do for the fella. James had high hopes he might be a hunting dog, but one toss of the dummy showed utterly NO interest in retrieving. Coal chased after the dummy, looked at it, and ran back to James – leaving the dummy behind. Not a duck dog!

He certainly got along with our dogs -manic play time and Coal showed no interest in challenging either dog for pack leadership (another oddity, as he was still intact, and I fully expected aggression between the two males.) No such thing, though by day two, Tripper was attempting to hump him, proving once and for all he’s got a madcap gay puppy inside him just howling to get out! (j/k!) We decided to get our P.I. friend in on the hunt for Coal’s owners – since the GA number rang into a fax, and faxes sent to the machine were unanswered. She quickly identified the name of the owner of the former number, and we even thought we’d found a residence -not too far from where Coal was found. Alas, no such luck. Cindy called vets in the Georgia town, and found Coal’s former vet – who confirmed the name we had was indeed the owner. They supplied a KS number, but that person said they weren’t missing a dog. I started to believe his owners had dumped him, and it made me so sad – and angry. To me, dogs are a commitment for their lifespan, not a couch you decide you’re tired of and put out on the curb. But I digress.

My new knitting friend Shawnna graciously agreed to foster Coal on a longer-term basis, and asked if we could call the vet back to get his records (for immunizations, etc.) Cindy obliged – and the vet faxed everything over. Unlike people medical records, apparently you can just send the whole kit & caboodle – and lo and behold, there was another (GA) number on the paperwork! Cindy called it – and it went through to the owner’s mom! Who was beside herself and told Cindy that her son and his wife LOVED that dog, and she would alert them immediately. Sure enough, they called, arrangements were made, and Coal went home that very night! Big smiles reportedly abound, and the only request that was made was to UPDATE HIS COLLAR. (I would have also suggested a surgical snip-snip, but that’s probably not my bidness.)

For a short time, I was afeard we’d have ourselves back up to three dogs, and at one point, Coal was sitting pretty on the back deck, begging to come into the house. I saw James behind him, with an equally hopeful look on his face. Yes, he was well-mannered, and a sweetheart, but no, I wouldn’t let him in. I’d watched that dog attempt to mark every bush, tree, and blade of grass in the back yard, long after he’d run out of “ammo”, and I could only imagine what would happen INSIDE the house. After all, it was Tripper’s error in judgment that fateful day he lifted his leg on our comforter and got his balls moved to the top of my to-do list! So I like to think that Coal’s reunited with his family, and his fellow dog, and he’s probably already put the weight back on that he lost at our “spa” – what with the massive exercise of playtime, and no people food.  Truly an all’s-well-that-ends-well.

But I do still wonder when a puppy might wander into our lives…heh.

Sometimes Being Blatant Feels Brilliant

I have a fascination with Lady Gaga, I’ll admit it. I have always loved dance music, and she churns it out like salt-water taffy. But her videos – lord – they are something else. She makes mini-movies with bizarre storylines, insane costumes, and all with a healthy dose of sexuality bordering on soft-core porn. Take a look (fair warning for those watching at work – there’s swearing and a nearly-nekkid GaGa):

I love it. I think her latest video is exceptional because it unabashedly works product integration into the show – who’d a thunk Lady Gaga could elevate making a sandwich with Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip to such heights? She flashes her Virgin Mobile phone at us several times, and the old-school Polaroid gets props as well, and the prison guards use the PlentyOfFish dating site. Even Diet Coke (I do miss you, friend) has a supporting role – in the form of giant hair rollers. A fast-food joint also gets a nod, and Quentin Tarantino’s infamous “Pussy Wagon” is resurrected. I’m sure there are more brands there – this is just my takeaway from watching it once. Also got a chuckle out of the guard’s line, “I told you she didn’t have a dick”… a little GaGa fuck-you to the internet speculation that she’s a hermaphrodite or really a man. At this point, who cares?!

Just as OK GO had to secure a sponsor for their equally brilliant (though wildly different) Rube Goldberg video, in order to allow embedding, I expect we’ll see more product integration in videos like this – and it won’t feel bothersome because we’re being highly entertained. Embedding videos means the record company isn’t making money off the views, but if they can get their nickels another way, through sponsorships and product placement, it allows videos to be more viral, gaining more exposure for the artist. OK GO left their label EMI at least in some part because of the control they were exacting over their video distribution – and OK GO is actually one of the most viral-video-creating bands, ever. (Think of how many times someone sent you a link to that treadmill video!)

So, because I can, here’s that video from OK GO:

21-paintball-gun salute to our indie boys, and if I had a crazy rotary telephone hat to tip in your direction, Ms. Ga, I would.

Shout Out

Today is NOT my friend Beth’s birthday. However, she did just return from a vacation. Yay! Beth! I am so glad you are home. It IS my dear friend friend Staci’s birthday, however, so keeses to her.

Beth is my bestest friend in the world. She shares a space in my inner circle with some wonderful people, and I must say, she is the most constant presence among these people, and we email and chat so regularly that I began to flounder when she took a vacation last week.

(Thursday)

Me: “I miss Beeeeeeeth.”
James: “When does she come back?”

Me: “This weekend but not ’til Sundaaaaaaay, oh my god she’s been gone so lonnnng.”

James: silence

Me:”NNnnnNNNNNYYEErrrrrrrrRRRR!” with dramatic flailing.

Me:”I mean, she doesn’t have internet so there are all these THINGS! She is not caught up! Like, like, does she even KNOW about the iPad? We would have talked about that. The world is moving along and THINGS are happening and we discuss those THINGS.”

James: laughs at me

I will say this, though, I had one giant rant-er-iffic meltdown with my husband over the week and he handled it fantastically.  He’s my best friend of all, of course, but we also know that girlfriends listen differently than husbands do. Bless his heart, he didn’t try to fix anything or tell me what he thought I should do, he just agreed that it was crazy, and (as always) offered to slash their tires. And he bought me some dinner and made me hot cocoa with Kahlua in it.

I’d take James and Beth into a knife fight any day.

(don’t worry, there are quite a few of you I’d bring to the party. Beth, however, would remember the tourniquets.)

Wahoo!

I won a gift certificate from The Pioneer Woman! I have no idea what I’ll buy, and when I told my husband Van Dyke’s Restorers was a Cabela’s company, he immediately wanted to know if the gift certificate could be used there. (No.) (I don’t even want to know if it can.) (I’m not good at sharing, does nobody remember this?)

This would be lovely, though it would require me to kick in some cash to cover the difference. Never mind there’s nowhere to put it. I’d be perfectly happy with it in the living room. Watch my DVR, knit, splash a little, no biggie! Hi, company! Can you all just look out at the garden while I get out of the tub? Thannnnks.

Actually, I just realized why the site was familiar to me – a couple years ago, I was looking for some bun feet to raise our dining room table – I’d bought it from a friend, and it sat a little too low. (The table itself is really cool, it’s a reclaimed barn door, but the construction doesn’t allow you to lengthen the legs at the top.) The bun feet were pricey, and I went with something much cheaper from Lowe’s that worked for height, only to discover they didn’t work as well for stability. So! I expect I’ll be bunnin’ it up! And, the more you read and say “bun foot” the more it sounds really, really weird. Especially when you like Vietnamese food, and, um, bun (noodles).

Look for the next post to be a big ol’ smattering of Orts. There’s been lots happening, but work has been really crazy with, you know, work, and there’s more work and fewer people, so we …work a lot more. But there are still jokes and drama and funny things going on.  I’m especially chirpy because one of my dearest friends is coming to visit next weekend, and the weekend after that is my trip to the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling and whenever I think about that road trip and yarn and meeting all the knitting friends I’ve made online, I just get so excited.  Like I was today! I swear, you just get in your path and sometimes it feels like a rut, but then you come around a corner, and it’s like everyone threw you a surprise party and you remember all the reasons life gives you to be happy again!

mwah! I am cheerfully annoying. I kiss you and go. Wipe the lipstick off your cheek. I understand.

Veectory ees MINE!

Well, I can’t take any credit for the negotiation process, it all goes to my sales rep, who may be petite, but can also be quite fierce.   She was rather astonished that the person who first responded to me only cut our bill back by $25 (taking the rate hike to 40%, vs.  60%). So she found the right person, and from the results, I can see she went in swinging.

I got off the phone this morning and this is where they stand, my new long-term friends at Time Warner Cable: I get my old, nice, shiny, cheap rate back. For a whole ‘nother year. And then I have a $5 increase. (Plus a 30-day window in which to change my mind & go with someone else.) This happens for the next FIVE YEARS. Always one to boil it down, I said, “So, in five years, my rate has increased only $25?” “Yes.”) This I can live with.

Oh, and you bet your ass I asked to get credited for December’s overages.  I was all ready to pull the plug on them (and to see what their best offer to keep me would be), which is necessary if you’re going to threaten them.  That they fixed it didn’t completely surprise me? But that they fixed it for five years did, so, with that, I grudgingly give them some props. (And await my credit, kthxbai.)

Everyone Remembers Their First….

and now my (relatively new) blog has gotten it’s very own troll.

Awwwww.

Ain’t that cute? I wonder if he lives under a bridge and eats goats on Sunday. Whups! Perhaps he just sacrifices them.

You know, I don’t actively seek out blogs of folks I dislike, or with whom I disagree, let alone leave snide comments for those people who write such blogs to read. Yes, yes, I understand that I will never get my troll badge, operating under this principle. The irony is that HIS blog is all blather and bravado about how you can’t be disrespectful and blah blah blah blah blah. Go home, fucknut. You will never change my mind and I am PRO CHOICE and voted for OBAMA. (Just a little salt for your wound or your balls, whichever you happen to be licking right now.) I don’t like holier-than-thou assclowns, and your comments will never, ever appear on my blog. Because, see, it’s MINE. That’s why this is all so cool. Speaking of cool, I DO have a fairly good little program here in WordPress, and should he persist, he shall find himself not only blocked, banned, and branded, but I’ve got his IP and all that other good stuff. Not to mention a whoooole lotta friends who have my back, combined with ninja computer skills.

Just sayin’.

It’s Actually Possible to Go on a BBQ Bender….

….because right now, I feel hungover. A meat, smoke, rub, sauce hangover.

It is an unbelievable weekend, and this year, we took our learnings from last year, and had our act together. Apart from one small hiccup, which could have been disastrous – the weekend was an unmitigated success. We saw some folks we’d met last year, and made new friends this year. It’s really a lot of fun, and has been the Christmas gift that keeps on giving!

The hiccup was at the very start of the judging, when we arrived at 11:05 for the Invitational Meats judging. One woman working the entry to the judges’ tables barked at us, “You’re LATE!” I was all, “Surely she is speaking to someone else!” Because our paperwork said we were to check in between 11 & 11:30. So we got our aprons & pins, and stood in line. They called out if there were any husbands & wives together (we raised our hands), and I got accelerated to the front of the line. Again, nothing alarming or unusual; we’re not allowed to sit together. I get seated, greet my tablemates, and get out my book for signing. Then I see James come in with his group of 6, and I found out shortly thereafter that his table was the last table in the door.

Whoa. There was some screw-up with turn-in times and they seated the judges way earlier than announced. He would have been crushed if he’d missed the cut-off. (And mad at me, who was all, “WE DON’T NEED TO ARRIVE SO FLIPPIN’ EARLY”) As it was, we met numerous people who arrived after us who were turned away and were PISSED. So, I know two things – next year, we’ll be crazy early, and two, the KCBS folks are prolly gonna get some angry letters.

We judged chicken, ribs, pork shoulder & brisket. Wisely, we’d brought insulated coolers, ice, baggies and a wet washcloth in a separate baggie. (Which drew envious admiration both days…. a little trick we learned last year.)  The chicken in general was outstanding; most of the meat was above average or better. Then we judged sides, and our table got three different potato dishes that were basically inedible. The first was beautifully presented, but sweet potatoes are more of a gamble in the ‘tater category, and if you overspice them and whip them to the consistency of baby food – eesh. The second was underdone. As in, raw. Ah, no. The third, another sweet potato, was sauced with pure cayenne pepper that left my mouth on fire for quite some time afterward. My seat mates and I were all in agreement, at least.

The big drama comes with desserts, and after the bad sides, we were getting a little pessimistic, joking that we were gonna end up with pudding, tapioca, jello and vanilla ice cream.   And as we watched massive dessert after dessert come in, I think a little part of us inside hoped beyond hope that we, too, would get an elaborate three-tiered cheesecake, or a large torte. Our table captain didn’t even get in line until, well, she was last. (grumble, grumble.) So what did we get? Banana pudding. Strange slivers of fruit tart. Flavorless vanilla ice cream mixed with unripe peaches. And six measly grilled peach quarters.  James, on the other hand, got large-scale productions (including one that had a solid chocolate cow from Annedores as GARNISH. FOR EACH PERSON.) My hope is that next year will be a different story, but I was definitely disappointed.

Today’s Open competition included sausage, which I was dreading. I don’t normally enjoy this category, on the heels of last year’s submissions (two were so spicy I thought my head might explode, and all of them made me burp unpleasantly.) Sorry for the overshare, but there it is. Again, the chicken was fantastic, we had one awful, almost inedible rib, I almost got a hand cramp trying to pull one piece of brisket (lawzy was it tough), and then…. along came the sausage. And the one entry I gave a “9” to for appearance? Was without a doubt the best sausage I have ever tasted in my life. It was the only thing I gave all 9’s to, and I am still rather blown away by how good it was. We swung by Culver’s for a palate-cooling cone, I put away our extra baggies of meat, and we promptly fell asleep.

The other crazy thing that parallels over-imbibing alcohol is how much water you ultimately consume. During judging, and then once you get home. I feel like I’ve been on some Atkins-cleansing diet for three days. The only thing that sounded remotely appealing tonight was some fruit, and I expect tomorrow will be a meatless day.

And, much like being drunk, I could only do one thing when we hit the radio to hear the Chiefs-Panthers score: laugh hysterically. (34-0. Oy.)

Lotsa Pics!

OK, first off, I’m going to show you the cake I made last weekend for Momma Linda’s birthday:
Gnome Guards the Cake

It’s a Peach Upside-Down Cake, from AllRecipes (I love that site). The cake is from scratch and it’s deeee-licious!

Momma Linda's B'day Cake

I love to garnish.

Now, here’s how Tripper looks when I’m giving all the dogs some treats. I realize it’s blurry, but you get the tractor-beam stare, nonetheless.
Tripper Wants A Treat

We give them treats in order of pack status, so we say their names, and then toss them whatever they’re getting. (It goes, “Suzy!”, “Polly!” “Tripper!”) What’s funny is that the other two dogs sit and remain utterly fixated, watching your hand. Tripper, however, does this in-place bouncing, keeping his back legs grounded, but lifting his front paws off the floor in this sort of horse-rearing-back motion. He does it quite enthusiastically (to each dog’s name), and it usually results in his ears flopping completely inside-out, but he continues to perk them up. And it makes me laugh, and laugh, and laugh! I had to stage these ear pics, but you get the idea.

Ear Flippage
I like that his lips look a little caught, too. Doofus.
Lady, This Is Embarassing.
OK OK, you’ve had your fun….. now knock it off, Lady.

Last, but not least…
Grammar Update!

So, it really is good to know someone. And I used to work with the guy who’s now a designer at one Ace Hardware’s agencies. I didn’t want him to get thrown under the bus, in case it was his work, so I sent him the photo of the egregious shelf-talker. Turns out it was done corporately – and nationwide. And he reassured me that they’d have to reprint them all. (He’s on a one-man mission to eliminate bad letter kerning. He understands.) And, the Wendy’s boards have been fixed! To say I had a triumphant week in the war on bad grammar and spelling would be an understatement. Never underestimate your own power to change the world!!!

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