.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Three score and ten or more

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Truck Guacamole

Janet and I love Mexican food.  Some we like better than others but you can hardly find anything that we don’t love.  I suspect that my favorite is really Tex/Mex, but I love fajitas.  I make good fajitas (not as often as I did when the “children” were at home but I have also made fajitas for my departmental dinners (I also make a really interesting Taco salad.)   We have a favorite place to eat here called El Sombrero.  We we eat there so often that Janet gets a little disturbed when her favorite waiter is not on duty.

One of Janet’s current favorites is called Caldo de Pollo, which means (if my dictionary is right) Pot of Chicken.  It is a wonderful chicken soup with almost half a pound of chicken in a delicious broth, a little bit of rice lots of good vegetables, a half of a lime and one corn tortilla for dipping.   I don’t often order it, but I finish hers with enthusiasm  (she eats a lot less since her aortic aneurysm).  We both eat almost anything except guacamole.  I eat guacamole, but I think Janet lost interest when the kids were still young, and guacamole  resembled –to her- diaper contents and she was never really able to overcome that image.  I have always been happy to scarf the guacamole off her plate and add it to whatever I have ordered so that the world stays in balance.  Somehow her lack of enthusiasm for guacamole has extended into a lack of enthusiasm for avocados. About the only real use for an avocado in our house was the occasional growing of a plant from seed for a children’s school project.

Last week, Janet found, what she thought would be a wonderful recipe for enchiladas and we went to the store to buy all of the appropriate ingredients.  I was a little surprised when my list included an avocado.  What I don’t know about buying a good avocado would fill books.  I went to the box of avocados at the store and asked how I could identify a good avocado and was told to squeeze them and get one that had some softness.  You might as well squeeze granite.  There was no softness, so I just bought an avocado. 

The enchiladas were wonderful, just the right amount of heat and flavor, and they were yummy.  I discovered early that I was not going to make guacamole.  The best I could do was to make slices and segment them, and the only weakness in the entire dish was the crunchy avocado.

I couldn’t help thinking about my most vivid previous experience with avocados.   When Hurricane Andrew (I think it was Andrew) happened down in Florida about ten of the men from our little congregation packed up and went to Florida to  help people get things cleared up and livable again.  Altogether from our church (from about three states) we had between three and five thousand men go down there.  We had been told to bring camping gear because we would be out in the open.  They (I am not sure who “they” were) put us in the high school football stadium, and assigned us to various parts of town so that we wouldn’t be running into and over each other.  The entrance to the football stadium was through an avocado grove wherein the wind had blown the avocados onto the ground.  When we entered the stadium the road was covered, about a foot deep, with a combination of whole   and  smooshed avocados.  It was as slippery and treacherous as any  ice and slush covered road in Colorado.  By evening, when every one was in the stadium getting ready for bed there were two unifying phenomena.  Someone had set up a “soup kitchen” at one edge of the stadium and was serving a delicious bean soup to all comers, and everyone—I mean EVERYONE had feet covered with squashed avocado mush.  We generally came to refer to it as Truck Guacamole.

After three days of going in and out, tearing the roofs of houses and replacing them with plywood, OSB, tar paper and shingles, we had done lots of good work, and there were traces of truck guacamole almost everywhere.  With my neuropathy, others tried to keep me from climbing ladders and going up on roofs so I became a major supply wagon with a pick-up that belonged to someone with red hair  I made trips so every open lumber yard and building supply in town to pick up lumber, nails, tar, tar paper and all the various supplies that were needed, and no matter how carefully I wiped my feet and cleaned my shoes I left truck guacamole traces everywhere.

I should mention here, that this was my first experience with Home Depot.  I have read in various blogs vast condemnation  of the big box stores including Home Depot, but in Homestead, most of the local lumber yards and supply companies had inflated the cost of repair supplies, but Home Depot was selling them at cost.  That kind of big box store I can, and do support.  Of course most of my supplies came from semi truck load of supplies that had been sent by our church (and some other churches and civic groups into the area, but I really appreciated Home Depot because most of the stuff I picked up there were paid for with my credit card.

In time “someone” sent in a back hoe and plowed the truck guacamole off the road, but this resulted in piles of avocado on the sides of the road, somewhat like the piles of snow next to roads in Winter states.  The difference was that truck guacamole, sitting in the sun for several days acquires a fragrance not totally unlike a cattle feedlot.  I confess that, for awhile, the memory of that fragrance affected my enthusiasm for restaurant guacamole.  All in all, it was a wonderful experience.  I have never been more tired or dirtier (they did allow us to use the showers in the football stadium, but they were crowded and the lines were long.  The eight hour drive home was made more pleasant when one of the Shoneys along the line, recognizing where we had come from, allowed us to partake of their breakfast buffet (which was wonderful and well appreciated.)

Still and all, and have trouble understanding why my avocado was still crunchy, when I didn’t run across ANY crunchy avocado in Florida.

From Frightened to Just a Little Nervous

My level of fear has gone down some as many of the National News Services, (No doubt, realizing that if it can happen to Fox, it can happen to them) Came out in reasonbly strong support of Fox.  The Constitution is not in the clear yet, but it is more stable.

I’ll probably post a totally unrelated item later today.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


My concept of fear has  evolved over the years.  I used to be afraid of dark rooms and, as a little boy, I asked my mother to come in and look under the bed, in the closet and verify that there was nothing to fear in these locations   Gradually I became confident that I could go to bed  by myself, confident that nothing yucky was going to come out of the darker places and do me harm.  (Though I still  tried to sleep without arms or feet hanging out over the edge of the mattress, just in case something was under the bed that might find those parts appetizing. 

Gradually I developed a clear  understanding that though things might make me nervous (going on stage, first night (I did a stint in Long Beach, California where I found that one of the world’s great actresses routinely had someone standing off state holding a bucket incase she had to throw up before her first entrance); asking for a date, taking an exam in Hymena Hoffman’s history class, (one of the worlds all time great teachers, but a giver of exams that might curl your hair) driving a car solo for the first time, working up nerve to kiss your first girl, etc.  Fright was reserved for things that might create permanent damage.  There are things in my life that seriously frightened me:  Driving a truck full of blocks down a steep curvy hill and putting my foot on the brake only to have the brake pedal go down to the floor; standing in the jump door of a Ford tri-motor airplane wearing a forest service parachute not much bigger (in my opinion) than an umbrella, then, on cue, jumping out that door, knowing it to be the last voluntary act of my life; prowling the city dump with friends in search of (I don’t remember what we were looking for) and having a brown bear rise up out of the refuse about ten feet away, looking like he was sixteen feet tall and shaking his head angrily; climbing my first forty plus foot pole with belt and hooks to instal the cross bars, braces and insulators to help install the Union Pacific Railroad CTC (central train control system), then feeling my arms, without my volition, reach out and clutch the pole (“freezing” on the pole, they call it), necessitating that at least two other climbers, (seemed like twenty) climbing the pole, attaching a pulley to my back, and literally prying my arms loose so they could get me back on the ground. (Actually the most frightening thing was when the foreman told me I had to immediately climb a pole again, and finish the job, or be laid off – with a wife and three children, one of them newborn, all, needing my salary to survive), that second pole was as bad as the jump door of the airplane). 

These have always been the kinds of things that I felt were frightening, but they are immediate things, and you either survive them or not (obviously I did).  When I say I am frightened, I don’t fear an immediate strike of lightening, but my fear is as vivid, just not as immediate and my fear is not of personal death, but for the death of the type of nation I have come to love.

A number of things which have happened  since the election of President Obama which have made me nervous and distrustful, but I never felt an emotion that approached real fear until the administration launched its attack on the Fox news network  (The Fox Network such as it is, holds no special place in my heart) an act, which, if upheld, essentially vitiates any hope we have for freedom of expression, a central focus of our Constitution and our way of life.  Political correctness forces have been picking at this freedom for some time, but this is a frontal assault on the core of Bill of Rights.   Almost at the same time it was revealed that our country (as one of a group) has endorsed a United Nations resolution that could become law in our country if some have their way, making public speech or criticism of an faith or religious group an international crime (the article I read implies that it identified this form of criticism as a form of terrorism. 

The implications are mind boggling and hold more threat to our existence as it is than could be completely imagined. 

I was calming down on this subject, but as I sat in our Cardiologist’s office, the President was shown being interview by some lady newsperson and his answers to her softball questions were so self  convicting of Obama’s feeling that any organized criticism of his programs deserve stifling that my feeling rose again.  Thus, this post!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Computer Help

Okay all you computer genius types, old coot needs help (WELL doesn’t NEED, but would like some.)

I bought me a one terabyte external hard drive.  I have all kinds of stuff I would like to put on it, and I even know how to do some of the stuff I want to do.

What I don’t know how to do, my not be possible but I would sure like to do it.  I want to archive my blog on this hard drive-if possible, I would like to include the comments.  I made a start on doing this last year by turning all (well the first fifty or so) of my posts into Word documents and saving them in a folder.  Talk about a time taking pain in the - - -.  No archive is worth that much fiddlin around unless you can pay someone else to do it, but it seems to me that someone ought to know a way to just do some kind of a “select all” , push a button and go away for an hour or two while the computer does its job.  Possible?  I don’t know, but if it is, and someone can give me directions – Maybe.  I confess that RaDena gave me directions a couple of years ago how to put her blog on my blog list, and I tried them all and screwed it and much of the rest of the blog list up, but one major screw up does not a total catastrophe make (and what can I screw up except my new hard drive?

Monday, October 12, 2009

BRIGHT PINK UNDERWEAR (and shirts and sweatsocks and ---)

I wrote, several years ago, about my childhood, and that during my childhood I learned to do the family wash with a wringer washer and a pair of rinse tubs. It was particularly important under that situation to sort clothing carefully because all the wash was done in the same water, rinse water etc. The whites went in the first load, the soft colors in the second load and the dark colors in the third. Jeans, bright deep colors, and new colored clothing were saved for the final load of all because they faded and would color any other clothing that was lighter than they. Jeans faded blue, red things faded red etc., but when these really dark clothes faded they seemed to fight things out and keep their own colors.

Newer washing machines wash each load in its own water (I am astonished that the environmental fanatics haven’t insisted on a return to the wringer washer) and sorting is still a necessary procedure. A lot more clothing is colorfast now, and the sorting doesn’t always have to be as strict. Ordinarily one learns quickly which items are colorfast and which ones (usually new) might fade and it is pretty easy to keep your clothing in its original coloration.

Occasionally, a new, non colorfast item slips into a batch, and causes trouble.

I have to inject a bit of information about a much maligned element of Mormon faith. One reads on the web and in fiction, a real lot of garbage about “Mormon Underwear”. It is true that once a member of the LDS church had reached the stage of making certain serious commitments to the Lord, he or she will be given a certain type of underwear to use. We are taught that this underwear, we refer to it with the generic term “priesthood garments” will serve as a protection to us. This has been interpreted by some, to mean that they have some sort of magic, which is silly. There are myths and apocryphal stories about physical protection, but they are not bulletproof, they will not stop knives or saws or even scissors from penetrating them. They serve, for us, more or less the same functon that the reverse collar or vestments serve to Catholic and Protestant ministers, with one main difference. The vestments etc., are designed to remind others that those wearing them have specific authorities and religious responsibilityies. Mormon garments are designed to remind those wearing them that they have made commitments,and have some authority, and the protection that they give is primarily a reminder that keeping those commitments keeps one closer to the faith and thus to our Lord.

Having said that, I will go on about bright pink underwear. LDS Missionaries have such garments. When I was a missionary they were one-piece units somewhat like “long johns” except that in the summer they had short sleeves and were knee length, I guess like “short johns”. I went to Finland for my mission. It was in the early fifties when Finland was just recovering from the second world war. Washing machines of any kind were in somewhat short supply, and in one city where I worked, public washing machines were unknown. We were faced with paying folks to wash our clothes, some of which were washed on the river side and beaten on rocks. I had one pair which was made of nylon, which the laundress tried to iron, and I spent a year with an iron-shaped hole between my shoulder blades. As for those made of cotton, it was not unusual at all for them to come back in various shades of blue, pink, or any color common to one’s other clothes. During my three years in Finland I became philosophical about the color of my underwear, but upon my return home, my mother had conniptions about those colors and all of the garments were either bleached or replaced.

I have become accustomed, over the past fifty five years (since returning from Finland), to a consistent shade of white. Somehow, last week, a new red shirt belonging to Janet slipped into a load of light colors, into which, on a whim, I had also put a couple of pairs of underwear. The result was a mini disaster. I tried rewashing the things with more detergent, and oxyclean. No result at all. Then I hit the stuff with a cup of chlorine bleach in the water. No difference, the dye in that shirt may have faded once initially, but it was determined not to release its hold on anything else this time.

“I’ll get you.” muttered I. This time I added four cups of chorine bleach to the batch of laundry. Some good things happened. None of the clothing dissolved (bleach will sometimes do that). A pale blue shirt turned from purple to an indescribable shade of bluish purple which is still pale and a fairly pleasant color. A green patterned Eddie Bauer shirt which I loved, lost most of its green and some of its pink, but still has red streaks up the cuffs. All the clothing was, at least, improved, except the underwear. I have two pair of almost eye-popping bright pink underwear. Jan has threatened to burn them, but I have kept them in my drawer as a warning. These are so bright that as a missionary they would have shined through my white shirt, and as used as I became to strange tints in my underwear at that time, they would have been burned in disgrace. I guess no one is immune from strange colors if the laundry is incompletely sorted and a non-colorfast piece enters the picture.

BEWARE, Carefully sort your wash! Beware the bright pink plague.

(I actually have a pair of bright pink athletic socks as well, that I will wear if I find an appropriate occasion)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Habanero or Jabanero (No tilde, I don’t know how) peppers. What to do? What to do?

I was given a bag of Jabanero peppers yesterday.  Now I love peppers, and I have often grown Jalopeno peppers because I love to make fajitas, and I love hot peppers in the fajitas.

Jabanero peppers are supposed to be the hottest peppers of all.  Can I really put them in fajitas and let the unwary take freely?  The darn little orange things are so small, cute and innocent looking.  Janet picked the bag out of the refrigerator and asked “What are these?  They really look delicious.  Can I have one?”

It was that moment that I realized that they are dangerous.  What if she hadn’t asked?  She has enough problems already without adding a burnt tongue.  Maybe I am just being paranoid.  I can’t bring myself to throw delicious looking little things away, but how does one use them.  I will accept recipes or suggestions, but please be kind.

I worked on a construction gang made up of Texicans for awhile and  I learned to eat pickled jalopenos right out of the jar.  We began to almost have a contest until on about the third or fourth day I discovered that massive jalopeno pickle ingestion may burn a little, but  massive jalopeno excretion burns even more, and in a much more sensitive place.   I wouldn’t want a recipe that provides pleasure in the beginning and great pain in the “end”.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Back for a bit

I am a little offended by the blank space in my blog that represents almost the entire month of September, but I just haven’t been able to get myself up to writing something that takes concentration.  Medical thoughts have taken up most of my concentration, and I am not talking about socialized medicine.  We had one week this month that was taken up entirely by medicine. Between Janet and I we had an out of town Doctor’s appointment every day but Friday, and that included an appointment with our cardiologist.   We dealt with cataracts, glaucoma, aortic dissection, deteriorating retinae,  something that is dealt by a colorectal surgeon, and a variety of other physical factors that are natural results of coothood.

Then to conclude the following week, I had the doctor’s appointment from hell.  (Nothing wrong with the doctor, I am very impressed with him).  I had to go to University Hospital in Augusta, GA for a CT scan of my pelvis followed by a consult with the doctor.   My appointment was for 10:15 AM, which was acceptable to me in spite of the fact that Augusta is a two and a half hour drive to a hospital of which the location was a bit vague to me (I almost LIVE at the Medical college of Georgia Hospital so, of course, this surgeon was in a different Hospital)

I had expected to get out of the exam stuff by noon, have lunch with my lovely wife (we don’t go to doctors by ourselves much anymore) and be home for an afternoon meeting.   We started out fine until the phlebotomist couldn’t hit my vein to insert  an IV to insert dye for the CT scan.  After four or five dry holes, they sent for the IV specialty team, which was held up for an emergency elsewhere in the hospital.  At noon, I still didn’t have the appropriate puncture.  Finally a different lady came in an said “Let me try”.  I was willing, and she punctured me on one try and stuck in the tube.

I had downed a barium milkshake earlier in the day, but they decided to give me a second one to brink me up to “snuff”.  Two barium milkshakes in one day are enough to make one want to just “go ahead and be sick”.  All this while, Janet had been in the waiting room wondering what the heck was happening.  (She had experienced two CT scans earlier in the week, and knew that they didn’t take two and a half hours.)  Finally she got insistent and they brought her back to make sure I was still among the living.

They did the scan, sent the results to my doctor and I went to his office.  He was a bit  frustrated that he didn’t get adequate information so he sent me back for a cystogram.  You just know that the ladies in radiology were thrilled to have me return, especially when this procedure was not on the schedule so they had to find a room, dig up a radiologist etc., but they were good sports.  I wasn’t.  For a cystogram I had to “gown up” in the dressing room and then wander the halls till I reached the appropriate room for the procedure.  You can imagine how much fun it was for a fat old man to wander the halls of the hospital wearing nothing but hospital gown and shoes and socks, following a cute little blonde who kept “beckoning” to me.  Porn movie fortunes have been made of such things.

I then plopped on the table and “bared” myself for a preliminary xray.  After covering the “bared” spot with a sheet the blonde left me supine on the table as she left, reassuring me that as soon as an appropriate nurse could be found to “catherize “  they would pump my bladder full of dye and the radiologist would come take pictures for the systogram.  I laid there on the table for about an hour, listening to people in the next room talking and laughing (probably about me, I thought) and in came the nurse.

“Have you ever been catherized?’ she asked.  “Yes, I replied,” but I was usually unconsious.”  “This should be a new experience” she said.

She then took away the sheet that was there so that I could be modest when no one else was in the room, looked at me for a moment, and said, “Well, now we’re acquainted.”

She then grabbed my penis (previously referred to as the “bared” part) and started pushing the catheter into place.  I am not sure what problem seemed to be,but she kept asking “Does this hurt?”  (it did, sometimes, sometimes, not) and two lady  radiology techs came in and started handing her things and examining me (at least they didn’t laugh) and finally she hit gold because I felt urine running across my calf.  She moved the catheter into a container and the radiologist came in to pump my bladder full of whatever they pumped in.  He kept saying “Do you feel full? “ and I kept saying “No”, until finally the nurse came over. reacquainted herself by probing my lower abdomen and she said “He’s full.”  (I have been told that I am “full of it” before, but it never required an abdominal probe on those occasions.)

They took a whole lot of pictures, led me to an appropriate room to reliever myself of the dye (or whatever) and then I had another march through the halls in my “gown”, found my clothing and got dressed.  Now we had to find our way back upstairs to the doctors office for another consult.  He examined my cystogram still wasn’t satisfied and sent me back for another, lower, pelvic CT.  Janet, walking back mentioned that it was five P.M and she had had nothing to eat since we left home.  She mentioned that when we left, they were bringing some muffins into the waiting room and expressed her hope that there were some remaining.  There weren’t. 

I was led back for another CT, and when I returned Janet was just finishing off a cinnamon role, and a diet coke.  She handed me a bottle of water and said that the people in radiology had taken pity on her.

When we got back to the doctor’s, he expressed frustration, that they had not located the anomaly that my symptoms demonstrated was there (I have discussed enough embarrassing stuff, I won’t belabor you with the symptoms) so we are going to wait a while, have a colonoscopy and if the symptoms are still there, we may have to do an “exploratory” laproscopic surgery .  We got home a little after 8:00 P.M., ate a little and went to our beds to recover from the “appointment from hell”

It is such fun to get old.