Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beer Can Chicken

This weekend seemed like a good time to try out some new recipes on my hubby and son Steven. So, on Saturday night I made a salad which featured black beans and Feta cheese, and also a corn casserole which just might be the best one I ever made.  Months before, I had happened on a bargain Beer Can Chicken gadget, complete with slotted pan to roast your veggies and custom built "cone" to hold that bird upright while he was turning brown & becoming delicious.

Why not? Flush with my Saturday night epicurean victory, Sunday seemed like the perfect time to 'do the chicken'. With advice from my friend Mike (king of beer can chickening) I set about the task but... soon discovered... it ain't easy!
The aforementioned gadget was outfitted with a place for the beer can; however, I only had bottled beer. I improvised. Found a long neglected bottle of Guiness in the back of the fridge; seemed like it would be a good one to get rid of so, I poured it into an empty black bean can and inserted it in the beer can place.
Time now to mount the chicken on the cone. He was all covered with a spicy rub, looking delicious already but, that chicken was not thrilled with the idea of the "CONE". He refused to sit down far enough that the hood of the grill could be closed. So the Mr. and I performed an emergency episiotomy on him... to no avail. Now we're getting desperate... the heat is escaping from the grill and all that spicy rub is falling off that damned bird!
Finally I removed the black bean beer can, poured the beer into the can holder and then replaced the cone-with-bird-atop which was now short enough to fit inside the grill. Two plus hours later... who would have thought that red potatoes could roast for two hours and still not be cooked...(finish in skillet). The bird was (mostly) done but required a quick trip to the microwave oven... all in all, it seemed like an exercise in futility. I was glad we had some leftover Black Bean Salad.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Goodbye Viola

Ginger will be participating in a Breast Cancer Awareness event later this year. She is doing this to honor the memory of her good friend Viola, who lost that battle in December. Ginger expressed to me that she wanted to speak at Viola's memorial service but was not sure she could manage to do that. After much thought, she wrote a poem to Viola. This is what she wrote:

If love could have cured your illness
You wouldn't have been down a day.
I know that you weren't ready
We all prayed for you to stay.
They tell me that God has a bigger plan,
Though I don't know what it is.
What I do know is, that you are so loved,
And very dearly missed.
We will see each other again someday
I don't know the time or date.
What I hope is that you will hang around
And meet me at the Pearly Gates.
We will all find out one day, I think
When our day on earth is through
That Viola has painted the Pearly Gates pink
Just to show me and you.
So, until we meet again my friend
I will think of you every day.
And I will be so glad you are waiting there
With Jesus to show me the way.
Ginger is a Deacon in the Presbyterian Church that she and her family attend. Each year the Deacons are expected to write a "devotional" for the Lenten book. This year the subject is: THE LORD MADE ME LAUGH. This is Ginger's devotional:
The day was Sat. Jan. 5th 2013. My dear friend Viola was being put to rest after having lost her battle with cancer on Dec. 5th 2012. I really felt a "need" to speak at her service about how much we loved her and will miss her. However, I think I would rather eat live worms than stand and address a crowd. For a week or so, I wrote and wrote, 5 pages in all. There is no way I could stand and read 5 pages of words without crying and boring everyone to tears, no way. I instead decided to sum it up with a poem. I tried to practice reading aloud to Bobby and couldn't get past the 2nd stanza. For 3 days I prayed about this. I had sleepless nights, it really wore on me. I prayed for strength, I prayed for grace, I prayed for courage and a clear voice. I prayed for God to get me through it. On that day, the church was very full. Probably close to 200 people. The pastor started to ask if anyone wanted to speak. I stood up and as I grabbed the mic, "Oh God, please help me do this" I thought. The words flowed from my mouth like a rainbow. When I was done, I almost couldn't believe that I did it. I didn't even stammer. As I sat down, I chuckled and said to myself, "Wow, thank you God". That was the day God made me chuckle.
Thank you Ginger... that was beautiful. I love you, Mom

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Years Ago

I was sitting in a doctor's office recently and there was a Christmas tree there. Among its other pretty decorations were silvery foil 'icicles' resting on the branches. You don't see those 'icicles' much any more and it sure brought back memories.
I don't think Christmas tree lots existed when I was a youngster; even if they did... never in a million years would my parents have gone there to buy one. BUY a Christmas tree? Ridiculous! We would go out to the 'back pasture' where the cedar trees were plentiful, pick a good one and bring it home.

I can remember making strings of popcorn & (I think maybe) cranberries for the tree; we must have had some shiny balls to hang on the branches. I was 9 or 10 years old when electricity became a part of our household so likely we began having electric tree lights then. And the icicles... we always had the icicles.
 On the tree I saw recently the icicles seemed to be mostly tossed up & let to fall where they would.  On our tree, they were lovingly hung... each individual little strand of foil put precisely in place. And when the tree came down... each individual little strand of foil was gently draped onto a piece of cardboard... to be used again next year.  We did not waste.
I think of those icicles sometimes when I am about to toss away something perfectly good but no longer useful to me. You can only save so many glass jars...plastic containers...very sturdy cardboard boxes (in various sizes). I do recycle, but probably not enough.
I blame it on our 'throw away' world.  I wish corporations...and people.. would think more like my Mom. Use those plastic bags, aluminum foil, packing peanuts, pickle jars again and again. And most important of all... save those icicles for next year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marine Corps Birthday Ball 2012

 This one was held at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas and, even
though we live only a few miles from there, we booked a room
so we would not have to worry about foul weather... or... driving
home after dark.
So, with the Mr. looking spiffy in his tux, and me, I was doing all right too...except for the shoes!  I had been pleased to find a shoe
box in the closet marked "gold" and, inside, sure enough a pair of 'gold' shoes looking like they'd never been worn.  They were my size so I surmised they must be mine (and who knows why I never wore them?)  Actually they felt good on my feet for a while... until I started walking... but that was okay.. I managed. Those shoes are now back in the box marked "gold" and will soon appear at our nearest Goodwill Center.
We easily found our assigned Table 75 and, since we were the first ones there, took the two best seats (naturally).  As time went on it became obvious that there would not be any occupants at the ten  empty place settings and we were left to ponder if the table simply didn't 'sell'... or if we missed the sign proclaiming this to be the Leper Table.
At any rate... there is something to be said about being the only two people at a table set for twelve. First off... you avoid that awkward situation where the first guy to grab a roll uses the wrong bread plate.  And then everyone is confused about whether your own bread plate is on your left or your right and by the time you figure it out all the butter is gone.
And another good avoid altogether that smiling and nodding at the stranger seated next to you who has been talking non-stop since she (or he) sat down and you haven't heard a word because of the music blaring and the racket all around you.

We had a delicious meal and a wonderful evening just doesn't get any better.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

It will be 100 years until Veterans Day occurs on that date again. My Veteran and I went downtown early & got the best parking place for the Veterans Day parade. We could stand on the sidewalk for two & a half hours or, when aching backs (knees, feet) demanded, we could sit in the truck and see most everything. Prior to the parade start we met a nice couple from Boston; they had never seen the Las Vegas parade but had heard it was a good one. He had not been in the military himself but his father had served during World War II. We assured them it was a great parade; they wandered a little farther down the street.
The Marine Riders led the parade... so many noisy (beautiful) Harleys and their super-patriotic riders. Makes me wish I was younger, braver, crazier... I too would ride a Harley. All branches of the military were represented in fine fashion. We all cheered and waved as the four remaining members of the Las Vegas Pearl Harbor Survivors rode slowly down the street. Their president who is 96 years said this will be their last parade. Well done old soldiers... well done.
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Once again, many high school ROTC groups marched by... they looked so serious, America's future. One fella standing near us was looking and looking for his daughter but couldn't quite pick her out of the crowd of youngsters. She came by later & he was so full of pride in her. Friends were taking pictures of them; someone told her to 'smile'. She replied "I'm not allowed"... come to think of it... in every formal picture of our military, none are smiling.
The Hawaii Marines are having their annual reunion here so Ray was wearing his Hawaii Marines shirt, along with his Korean Veteran hat. Many people standing near or passing by stopped to say "thank you for your service" to him. There were a lot of 'Semper Fi's shouted to him; a couple of Vietnam Veterans who were marching with their groups came over to salute him and shake his hand. Although these acts tend to embarrass him, I could not have been more proud.
Here is a guy who is so gung ho even his dogs wear the uniform:
After a while, the Boston couple came back to us and said the parade was all we had said it was, and more. The man's red-rimmed eyes told us what it meant to him.
Another fine parade and a fantastic show of patriotism. God Bless Ameria!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

By the Dawn's Early Light

September 11, 2011: we remember...we will never forget.
It was an entire weekend full of memorials for those gone, but not forgotten... and memories for at least one man who was there that day. Terry Revella, a member of the Las Vegas Marine Corps League, and a survivor of that terrible day, was the moving force behind the events here in Vegas. I salute him and all those who helped him make it happen.
8:46 am: the moment the first plane hit the Tower. Today that was the moment for the beginning of the Memorial Parade in New York City. In Las Vegas it was 5:46 am, our Memorial Parade timed to coincide with the one in the city where the terrorists killed without mercy and brought down buildings, but did not even cast a shadow on the spirit of the American people.
Planning ahead for this day, Mr. Ray & I had scoped out the parade route, picked out our parking spot & mapped out how to get there. Silly me... of course all the streets in that area of downtown were blocked off & detour signs ruled in the dark of the morn. However, a quick turn onto Las Vegas Blvd... an opening into a business (which turned out to be the driveway to the Nevada State Bank drive-thru ATMs) & after 'driving thru' we found ourselves in a parking lot which fronted on the parade route & right across the street from the bleachers. How good is that?!?
About half way thru the parade it got noisy behind us. Turned out to be a guy who was marching along and shouting "911 WAS AN INSIDE JOB"...911 WAS AN INSIDE JOB" (he was wearing a matching t-shirt). Then there was shouting even louder than his: "YOU'RE FULL OF SHIT"..."GO STRAIGHT TO HELL".... oh wow... I thought I recognized that voice. It was my beloved, utilizing his right to free speech as well. While I don't happen to agree with the 'conspirator' guy, I recognize that he has a right to his opinion. It simply was not the time or place to disrespect those who perished on that terrible day, or those of us who were there to honor their memory.
I am disappointed in the quality of the still photos I got... even though the flash was working, it mostly lit up the back of the heads of the people in front of me and left the parade in the dark. I did get a lot of video but I won't attempt to include it here (I know my limitations regarding electronic gadgets).
If you are familiar with my blogs, you know how I feel about parades. I love them, large or small. There's just something about the smell of the Harleys & the roar of the crowd... oh, waitaminit... ?is it?... (I always get those two mixed up). This parade was smaller than the 3 hour one last Veteran's Day, but it was well done and made me proud to be there watching & waving & clapping along with my fellow Americans. All together now...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

RV-ing 101

Some years ago there was a camping trip to Three Rivers, CA. This trip involved a mother & father, three children about 10, 8 and 6 and a baby. Also the father's brother and his two children, ages 11 & 13. Ages are approximate here but you get the general idea. It also involved a rented 13 ft. travel trailer, a station wagon & a 2-seater sports car.
Prior to arriving at the campground, there was a flat tire incident which necessitated that the father & his brother breeze off to Bakersfield in the sports car while the mother sat in the station wagon alongside Interstate 5 on the hottest day of the year entertaining the aforementioned FIVE children and a baby.
Now, get this. Here it is... only thirty six years later... and that mother is...going camping again! However, she has learned a thing or two in those 36 years so this trip involved a rented 25 ft. C class recreational vehicle and fewer people, although it was a much l-o-o-o-n-ger trip (2380 miles).
Here is what we learned: in a C class RV, only the driver & the front seat passenger have access to the view through the windshield. All other passengers get the view from the large side window while they are seated at the table on the bench seats in the 'dining room' of said RV. Those bench seats are quite comfy for about 30 miles (of the 2380 mile traveled); after that, they are simply the dreaded bench seats.
We tried to keep track of 'lessons learned' on our adventure. First lesson: do not place your McDonald's large mocha frappe ON the table while traveling (that's what cup holders are for). We cleaned up that spill about half a block from our house. Lesson Two: be sure to close the refrigerator door FIRMLY... that lesson came some 100 feet further down the road from Lesson One. We had to stop (again) to pick up the rice pudding cups which had spilled out of the open refrigerator door. But never mind all we are at one of our three stops at a KOA campground.

Mr. Ray, ready for another day in RV Land

We ate every breakfast at a Cracker Barrel restaurant; and when we fixed our own meals in the RV, we wished we were eating in a Cracker Barrel.

Our first night out, in Holbrook AZ, we discovered that the RV heater didn't work. We knew that because it was 40 degrees outside & we were freezing our tushes.

We also discovered that it is a rule that each and every KOA campground has a furry, friendly cat to make you welcome. (Ginger was tempted to catnap this one... but reason prevailed).

(I don't think that is a real rule).

Campgrounds... I have limited experience here; however, two of them do stand out in my mind. The first would be the aforementioned Three Rivers. I don't remember much about the grounds as I spent most of my time in the 13 ft. trailer, cooking real food (like a fool) for the nine people who were depending on me to feed them. I do remember one evening (it was hot in that trailer) when I had finally finished cleaning up the roast beef dinner I'd prepared, fixed myself a tall glass of iced tea and walked out to the campfire where all of the seasoned campers were gathered. As soon as I got there, and before I sat down, my beloved informed me that "the baby is crying". So I gave him my iced tea (in the face) and went to get the baby.

Some years after that, (I must have blanked out that first experience), we went camping in MEXICO with a bunch of square dancers who all had nice, self-contained "rigs". We were in a Ford van conversion... meaning it had a couch which would lay flat & a small ice box. Of course our friends were more than generous in sharing their facilities... but I still ended up using the campground bathroom. That would be the one with a dozen toilets... none of which would flush, and all of which were full to the brim. And... showers which didn't drain, meaning you had to step into four inches of someone else's recently vacated water if you wished to even come close to bathing.

But enough of fond memories. Now it is June 2011 and here we are on the road to Oklahoma. The KOA campgrounds were very nice with full hookups and their bathrooms were CLEAN and everything worked in there. I know.. I know.. we had our own traveling bathroom but the shower was a tad on the small side. The toilet flushed fine BUT... if you use the toilet, then sooner or later you must DUMP the 'stuff' (another fact of RV life).

But that is what FULL hookups mean; electricity to run the A/C without sucking up all your gas, water aplenty (if you should desire to bathe in a claustrophobically confined space), cable TV and a place to dump your stuff. To accomplish that, all you need to do is put on your rubber gloves, drag out the 4 inch dia. hose (knowing full well what has recently passed through it), sit on the ground and reach up under the RV siding to connect the hose to the outlet valve, etc. etc. I'm really not complaining here... Ginger did all that.

Anyway, in spite of traveling through the smoke of the worst fire in Arizona history, and in spite of constant winds which forced the driver to maintain a death grip on the steering wheel, and in spite of being pulled over by an Arizona Trooper (for no good reason), the RV trip was... OK. And the two days of family reunions in Oklahoma made every minute of it worthwhile... and then some.