Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#163. or, Honey, Build me a Frickin Gate!

 It's nearing the end of July, and as far as I can remember, I've had my morning coffee on the deck, a grand total of one time this summer.

  Maybe twice, my brain doesn't cling to these details like it used to. But rest assured, it's a low number.

  Our deck, while useable, is still under construction. But that term, "under construction", conjures up images of exposed joists, and having to walk down a plank, from the door to get to the BBQ. Like some sort of rural pirate, without the ship.....or water......or, ruffled shirts for that matter. So, I tend to use the term "work in progress". What we have so far, is a split level space that is completely useable as it is. It's just not the vision my wife and I had in our heads when we dreamed of evenings with friends, sharing time on our deck with the ambient mood lighting, flickering citronella torches, all while I mixed drinks from the outdoor bar. It's a lovely, cozy space, perfectly suited to sharing a morning coffee on, with my wife in our pajamas. Or.......without the pajamas, depending on how badly we want to traumatize our kids.

  Except, because this is rapidly turning into the summer that wasn't, we rarely use that space. Every day we seem to have thunder showers roll through, making it damp and soggy out there. Not entirely inviting at all. And to top it off, our old dog, who is completely freaked out by thunder has decided that climbing up onto the patio furniture with his wet, muddy feet makes him safe from any impending, thundery doom. While his son, one of our other dogs, has taken to eating the cushions his father isn't using. So if, on the off chance, it happens to be a beautiful morning, or even evening for that matter, the place we would normally sit and enjoy that time looks more kennel than cozy.

This isn't a recent picture, there's less cushions now.

  My wife and I have recently begun a campaign to reclaim our deck. Or, as it's more casually come to be known as, Operation, HEY YOU DOGS, GET THE HELL OFF OF THE DECK!! Because that's what we yell out the door now, whenever we see them up there.

  We've let the dogs know of our intentions to take back our deckly sanctuary by going out, pointing forcefully at them, showing our stern faces and making pssshhht!, pssshhht! sounds like Cesar Millan does. I even trimmed my beard more into the style that Cesar Millan wears so I could be doubly threatening. And more awesome.......but it's mostly for the dogs.

  Whenever we wake up now, to a lawn full of patio furniture cushion stuffing after our dog has gone on, what I can only assume, has been a night of terror filled struggle as he battled the devil cushion until he was completely satisfied it was dead, I sometimes go for at least 30 minutes without petting him. Just so he knows I'm not terribly impressed with him, for protecting us from deck furniture.

  So now, we're planning to take our offensive assault to the next level. Well, mostly on my wife's urging. And when I say urging, I mean she said, she's NOT putting the new patio cushions, that we spent 130 DOLLARS on, out there until I build her a FRICKIN gate, to keep those GODDAMNED dogs off of the deck! AND, if I EVER want to see her out there in her pajamas again, or without pajamas for that matter, get the FRICKIN gate done!

  Because I'm a good listener, and I can pick up on subtleties and shit like that, I think I'm going to build that gate today.  I suspect she'll be pleased that I picked up on her hint and appreciate my efforts to make her happy. Also, I keep picturing her out there in her pajamas, and occasionally without them, so it's pretty important I get that job done., I get to use my power tools, so......bonus!

Friday, July 12, 2013

#162. or, Silicone Spatulas

  I am a campfire cooker. That's my thing. Well, one of my many talents. No.....not really, I mean yes, the campfire cooking, no, not too many talents.

  Whenever we go camping, I'm in charge of cooking the significant things we eat. Whenever I can, I do it on an open fire.

  I need to tell you here that primarily, my wife is the reason our family is as healthy as we are. She does the meal planning because I seem to lack that skill. If she asks me what we should have for supper tonight, most likely I'll draw a blank, freeze up with that deer in the headlights, glazed over, vacant eyes look, and give her my go-to answer. "UM.........nachos?" If the task were to fall to me, ours would be the home where you would come in and probably find a kid huddled in the corner in a tattered loincloth,  eyeballing the dog with visions of it on a spit over a fire on the back lawn.

  But when we're camping and she says, "here, cook this", I'm magically transformed into a combination of a kinder, gentler version of Gordon Ramsay and Bear Grylls. An Outback Iron Chef, if you will. Being able to do this, requires me to draw heavily on my vast and skilled knowledge of shop tools, and farm boy ingenuity.  My griddle handle is fashioned from a old pair of Vice Grips, and all of my bacon grease goes into an empty beer can that I've cut the top out of with a survival knife.

Fire, meat, Vice Grips.......yup!

  So, the one thing that I do cook on the campfire that's an actual combination of ingredients, is what I like to call my version of a campfire McGriddle. Basically, it's a large breakfast sausage patty with a slice of melted cheese on it, a couple fried eggs, all between 2 pancakes. I do this well, and I take pride in my ability to plate a desirable product that my family wants to eat.

This is why we come home from camping, 10 lbs heavier.

  The thing that has always bothered me while preparing this is that when you fry an egg on the campfire, the griddle surface is rarely flat. This causes my fried eggs to stretch out into unsightly, and unwieldy shapes. I was telling my wife of the grief this was causing me, and how I was going to have to go out to the shop to fabricate a metal ring by cutting a 1 inch metal strip of stainless steel, forming it around a piece of 4 inch pipe, tack welding it into position, and possibly, if I got fancy, fashioning some type of handle out of piece of heavy wire, a sheet metal screw and a chunk of old wooden broom handle.  (The blueprints are in my head if you're interested.)

   She went and got this giant rubber band looking thingy, and said, "here, use this."

  I have to tell you, I was more than skeptical. From a childhood on the farm spent trying to burn things that aren't necessarily meant to be burnt, rubber on the fire, while creating an awesome amount of thick black smoke, doesn't take long to be reduced into an oozing puddle. But because I trust my wife implicitly, and after 20 years together, know better that to question her intelligence, tossed the flimsy rubber ring onto the griddle.

  ............and it didn't melt, not to mention, working exceptionally well.

  Apparently, it's made of silicone? Silicone! The same stuff I use in the shop to glue the differential cover  back on the rear end of my pick-up, and seal the bathtub with. The same stuff they used to make bigger boobs with. They make frickin spatulas out of the stuff! Who knew?

  But more importantly, why did they not make the space shuttle out of this miracle witchcraft-ery!  Female astronauts with giant fake, silicone filled boobs, could rest at jiggly ease during the fiery re-entry through earth's atmosphere without any worries to whether or not they had lost any of the adhesive heat resistant tiles while hurtling through space at 20 000 miles per hour.  Plus, zero chance of dying in a crash landing because silicone is bouncy and returns to it's original shape. The possibilities are endless.

  Then they could go home to their families and make perfectly rounded eggs, every damned time, on open fires with flimsy silicone rings. Or at the very least, have their husbands do it.

  ...............and for the record, as much as I am in awe of silicone, I still like the natural boobs better.

  Joining up this weekend with the Yeah Write Moonshine grid, and the Humor Me Blog Hop. Click on the button to read some awesome blogs that are way better than mine.
Misplaced Alaskan

Monday, July 08, 2013

#161. or, Camping and the Decline of Human Civilization.

 So, we went camping last week. It was our big holiday for the year. There's going to be a couple other weekend camping getaways, but this was the big one. We left on the Tuesday after Canada Day, because it's impossible get a site anymore on a long weekend, arrived in the midst of a terrible storm, and got back home last night. So, 5 nights.

  While we were gone, I did my best to stay away from here. I wanted to recharge my brain and aside from bombarding social media with various pictures of campfire food, I pretty much stuck to that.

  I missed you.........really, I did.

  Anyways, while I was gone, I did write a post on paper, with my pencil, on the beach. Which is something I find I'm doing more lately before I bring it here. Well, not the beach part, that was new. But now, because that post was about events that happened nearly 2 weeks ago, and now feels like ancient history, I'll probably just trash it. Unless I can find a way to resurrect it, that post about the Canadian Football League and Jesus will most likely never happen.

  What you get instead is a post about camping. Because it's fresh, and relevant, and topical as people head out on summer vacation. More than that, it's a post about observations I've made over the last week that hopefully, you might find useful if you find yourself heading out this summer to spend some time in the woods.

  Now, I'm not going to lie to you, we do our camping in a trailer, so we bring along a lot of the comforts of home. I'm not really sure if that qualifies as roughing it? In fact, we park in numbered sites, along side endless other trailers, so it's more like the city than where I actually live, except that there's more trees.......and fires......and outdoor crappers.

  Our trailer has it's own toilet. It's more of a closet, but it still serves the purpose. My family uses it, and it's quite nice to have it there in the middle of the night. Also, since my wife has an aversion to outhouses, it's a necessity. But if I get sticken to do some real damage, I'd rather take my business to an outside source. The thing is, campground outhouse toilet paper is only that in the broadest sense of the term. It's my suspicion, it's created by the same people who would have been in charge of coming up with devilish torture devices if this was medieval times. The same guy who thought of the rat in the bucket, strapped to your stomach, you saw on Game of Thrones. Campground outhouse toilet paper has approximately the same structural integrity, and softness of touch to the skin, as a dried leaf. Use too little, and your fingers crush right through, which is unpleasant as it sounds, and NO amount of squeeze bottle hand sanitizer is going to make OK! Use too much and you get the same unpleasant scrubbing sensation that you would get if you were to attack your backside with a handful of Caesar salad croutons. My advice is to bring your own! Toilet, or toilet paper, I don't care, you're not going to go wrong with either.

  Also, if you're the one who has to empty the chemical toilet, you should do your best to argue against corn being on any part of the menu while you're camping. Trust me on this.

  If you go camping, it's completely alright to spend the whole day in your pajamas. You can wear them to the store, you can wear them to the beach, when you're cooking, everywhere!  It's awesome and it's normal there. But don't forget to wear regular clothes your first day back to work. People will look at you oddly.

  When you're camping, you will see, and be quite alright with, more dudes with big knives than you have ANY business EVER being comfortable with.

  Unless you have an exceptionally big trailer, you are never going to feel comfortable having sex with your wife at one end of the trailer while your kid is sleeping at the other end. Or possibly more accurately, your wife will not be comfortable with it. If you're a guy, and you're in the mood, it probably won't be such a big deal.

  Two things that probably should never go together, open fires and drinking will be common place, and if you're lucky, will happen every night.

   I pride myself a tiny bit on my ability to make a fire in the most efficient manner possible. As a rule, if it takes more than one match, I begin to question my manly fire making skills. (most of which, I learned from my wife) I'm a little anal about it. I'll have kindling of various sizes in small piles, all within reaching distance to use consecutively as I move from tinder to substantial sized wood. Just in case the only wood available is damp,  I keep a supply of dry wood to use to start my fires, in the trailer. Although I'm not so hardcore as to try to start my fire by rubbing 2 sticks together or by sparking a couple rocks against each other, I rarely use paper or a lighter.

  The thing is, I have a bit of a handicap, when it comes to the use of lighters. Not with Zippos or the pocket jet lighters I use to light my cigars with when I'm sitting around the fire at night. Those are fine. I just can't work those long stemmed BBQ lighter things. Those ones that require you to move 2 tiny leavers in opposite directions, while contorting your mouth just right as you squeeze the trigger. They never ever work for me, and on the off chance I do get fire to spew from one end, I'll inevitably let go of one of the levers just before I can actually start the thing I want to on fire. Then I have to begin the whole process over again, only to end up throwing the frickin thing in the bush after about the 8th try.

  My wife keeps saying it's because my penis gets in the way. I know she's mocking me and my ability to operate that damned lighter because I'm a man. I like to think she means that I have an incredibly impressive appendage that keeps getting in the way of my proper operation minor hand tools.

  .....................whichever it is, if you're a guy, hearing an attractive woman tell you your penis is getting in the way of menial tasks, it's probably going to make you quietly nod your head as say "OH YA!" to yourself, rather than be offended for your fellow male, gendered comrades.

This week, I'm joining up with the Humor Me Blog Hop as well as the I Don't Like Monday's Blog Hop. If you like you some funny,or just some darned good writing, follow the links (click on the picture)

Misplaced Alaskan