Archive for the ‘texas’ Tag

11-19-2014 Journal–Chili Day!   1 comment

This stretch of cold and rainy weather has pretty much kept me in the house for the last few days.  I was starting to climb the walls a bit when I received a call from my better-half from work to discuss arrangements for dinner. I assumed from the call that she wasn’t interested in cooking and needed me to help out a little.  She suggested that maybe just maybe I could make a batch of my chili. 

After agreeing I checked my latest recipe for the necessary ingredients and I was out the door and on my way to get them.  You need to understand something important, when I make a batch of chili I make a huge batch.  My normal recipes result in upwards of ten quarts and sometime even more.  It was a quick shopping trip and I returned home and got to work.

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This was a new recipe I created after tasting the chili pictured below during one of our luncheon forays to Kennebunkport, Maine. That chili contained a lot of cheese and a healthy number of calories due to the ground beef and oils used in preparation. As you can see it looks incredible and tasted even better.

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‘Thanks Federal Jack’

I substituted a mixture of ground chicken and turkey to replace the beef, then eliminated the oil by browning the meat in Smart Balance.  It was then a simple matter of adding the remaining ingredients and spices and cooking it for a few minutes.

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Most of the state of Texas would string me up by my heels for ever calling my chili, Chili.  Fortunately I cook and flavor foods so they taste good to me.  I like my chili super hot and use a mixture of Cayenne and Habanero peppers that bring it to life in a big way.  I also use a selection of beans with different flavors and textures which apparently is a big NO NO in chili cooking circles. Just to add insult to injury I always, regardless of the ingredients, add diced potatoes.  Strikes two and three as far as Texas is concerned.

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A short time later I had my finished product, a batch of Black Bean & Corn chili, and to hell with all of you chili purists. It tastes exactly the way I wanted, hot as blazes, with no red meat or oil used.  It looks a little like the restaurant version but certainly has more flavor and an increased level of heat.  As is usually the case most restaurants serve a medium heat chili unless it happens to be a Mexican restaurant.  Here it is.

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We had a couple of bowls each for dinner that night and loved it.  We then packaged up the rest for freezing which should supply us with five or six hearty meals this winter.  Life is good.

06—7-2014 Journal Entry–Texas, Day Three!   Leave a comment

I figure by now most of you are tired of hearing about my Texas trip and I understand completely.  While I understand I still have one more day from the that trip I need to tell you about.  It was my final day in Dallas before my ill fated flight home.

The day started with an omelet cooked superbly by my nephew and was filled to the brim with diced jalapenos.  If that doesn’t get your heart started then there’s something very wrong with you. We then took a cruise in my nephew Mustang.  It’s a car he’s spent a great deal of time and money getting as perfect as possible.  It is one beautiful machine and it rode like a dream and was as fast as lightning.

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While cruising around the metroplex we did a little people watching and ran into a mobile Texas furniture store parked in a mall parking lot.  We saw a number of these vehicles during my short visit and it fascinated me.  It’s definitely not something I’m used to seeing here in Maine.

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We eventually arrived at the Texas Land and Cattle restaurant and I was really looking forward to another excellent meal.  I wasn’t disappointed.

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As you would expect the interior was all Texas all of the time.  These two wall decorations and this saddle display were very cool and brought home the western ambiance in a big way.

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The meal was a piece of soft and tender smoked sirloin with jalapeño sauce. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and was almost as tender as the sirloin.

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We finished the meal and made our way home because I always need my beauty sleep before I go a-flying.  I wasn’t really looking forward to my flight even though I’ve flown hundreds of times. I just hate flying and airplanes in general.  That’s one of the reasons I liked skydiving so much.  I’d rather jump out of a plane than depend on an unknown pilot to get me down safely.

This last photo was taken at Reagan National airport in DC at 3:00 am the next morning, where I was sleeping on the floor of the terminal.  It’s the ceiling of the terminal from that perspective.  I couldn’t sleep so a snapped a few pictures.

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UNITED AIRLINES SUCKS

06-01-2014 Journal Entry–The Texas Trip!   Leave a comment

I’ve spent the last few days complaining about United Airlines and the  terrible time they gave me while traveling. So today maybe I should calm down and thank my nephew for being such a good host. I’d hate to make people think that my entire Memorial Day weekend had been totally ruined because of an unfortunate incident when it really wasn’t.

I managed to drag my camera around with us during my visit and took a few hundred photos.  I thought I’d share some of them with you today,  These first few are of the highlight of the trip as far as crazy delicious food was concerned. The name of the place is The Hard Eight and this was the line at the entrance when we arrived.  You could smell that barbecue for miles around.

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As we waited in line the smell of cooking meat was overwhelming and as we approached the grill station it got even worse. This is their outrageous version of a menu hanging on the wall.

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And then you walk to the grill and see this.

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You can almost smell it just by looking at these pictures.  You choose your meat, it’s placed on a tray covered with wax paper, it’s weighed and priced and then your off to the dining room to choose your side dishes.

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We enjoyed the band playing C&W music as we ate and OMG was it incredible.  We ate until we couldn’t move and then just sat there to enjoy the atmosphere for a few minutes.  The prices were reasonable and I’d recommend this establishment to anyone going anywhere near Dallas.  It’s barbecue heaven.

This was just day one of the trip and I have many more photo’s that will follow in the next week or so.  I also feel somewhat obligated to introduce all of you to my new best friend and Texas bedmate. She made me feel right at  home and actually snored and kicked less than my better-half does in Maine. Her name is Pepper.

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Thanks for a great time Mike.

05-28-2014 – Flying the Unfriendly Skies   9 comments

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I love passing along information that will possibly help some of you travelers out there in making your vacation or long weekend trips worth doing.  I’ve just spent the Memorial Day weekend in Dallas and it was one of the best holidays ever. There always seems to be a few bothersome  issues when traveling which tend to gripe my ass and that’s the topic for today’s discussion.

I really only have one travelers tip for you based on my recent travels.  Never fly the freaking friendly skies of United because believe me they’re not that damn friendly.  United Airlines sucks and I intend to spell out the entire nightmare they put me and a few hundred of my fellow travelers through on Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday night, Wednesday’s wee hours of the morning and into Wednesday afternoon.

My trip began perfectly with a flight to O’Hare in Chicago last Friday, on time and no problems to complain about.  I was filled with holiday cheer and was having good thoughts about the entire world and everyone in it.  That lasted approximately two and a half hours until the United Airlines curse began.  I was due to land at Dallas/Fort-Worth at 11:15 pm and my ride was waiting patiently for me. Honest, he really had nothing better to do than to waste his time waiting for United to get their act together.  Finally after some typical airline BS I arrived in Dallas late.  Being the forgiving soul that I am I cursed quietly under my breath and just let it go. I really do hate to be forced into any situation being controlled by any airlines but since it’s one of those times when they have you by the cojones , you’re screwed.

My holiday weekend was terrific with barbecues, tacos, and smoked steak headlining the menus.  Unfortunately the fun had to end and as we drove to the airport for my return home I began to have premonitions of the coming disaster.  As we flew out of Dallas a storm front arrived and eventually extended all the way to Dulles in Washington making for a really bumpy ride. We landed just ahead of the front and I had only thirty minutes  to make my connection for the second leg of my journey to Maine because we arrived a little late.

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United in their indisputable logic required me to run like O.J. Simpson across the terminal, jump into a shuttle bus to  reach another terminal where I arrived out of breath and barely made the flight. All of us cattle herded ourselves into a small version of the Boeing 707 that held approximately a hundred idiots like me.  Starting out the steward had difficulty making his safety announcements because his microphone appeared to have a loose wire of some sort.  It was screeching from the feedback so loud no-one could understand him.  Then the pilot announced a fan equipment failure and a half hour delay.  That delay caused us to miss our take off window before the storms hit and we then had to sit through a wall of thunderstorms trapping us on the tarmac.  Two hot and sweaty hours later the pilot tells us the flight has been cancelled because of other maintenance issues. 

We were directed back to the terminal into the supposedly capable hands of the oxymoronic "Customer Service" crew.  They herded us into a line of almost two hundred other people and offered only three Customer Service agents to handle all of our problems.  As we waited endlessly in that line they announced we should call 1-800-UNITED1 for additional ticketing help. 

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To make a long story short the morons had me on hold for one hour before I got to talk to a human being who then told me there were no flights to Portland until Thursday with very few seats available on them. He then passed me along to another so called expert who  put me on hold again.  My phone ran out of power at that point and I was forced to stand around for another hour in that line to get help from their three overwrought agents.  I felt bad for them but unfortunately this nightmare was about me. Also during that time my luggage, a small carryon that I had been forced to bag check in Dallas, had been sent into the black hole that is the United baggage claim system and disappeared.

Their first recommendation when I reached an agent was  that I upgrade to a first-class ticket for an additional $226.00 and they could get me on a flight to Boston within the hour. Then I could rent a car and drive the rest of the way to Maine at my expense of course. I won’t repeat exactly what I said  because it was extremely rude and crude. Lets just say that agent immediately understood I wasn’t interested.

I’d like to take a moment here to thank the lovely and friendly blonde lady from Yarmouth, Maine whose name I never got. She was sweet and calm and kept me from erupting into a full blown maniacal rant while we stood in that line. As I promised her, I have nothing but nice things to say about her. I told her about this blog and she  was worried I might say something derogatory.

I strong armed that United agents into finding me a flight on another carrier, US Airways, but I had to shuttle across Washington DC  to Reagan National Airport ($30.00 for a fifteen minute ride) and arrived there at midnight.  I should also tell you that United refused any compensation to any of the travelers even though most were forced to get motel rooms that averaged $150.00 a night (I wasn’t one of them to be sure). They claimed the cancellations were totally due to the weather and never mentioned any of the maintenance issues we’d been told about by our pilot.  Maintenance issues require them to compensate travelers so I wasn’t all that surprised when they didn’t hesitate to screw us all.  A bunch of lying, uncaring, arrogant assholes to categorize them as nicely as possible.

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I have to tell you that I had a lovely night sleeping on the floor of the terminal at Reagan National airport with eighty of my now closest friends who also refused to be coerced into paying out of pocket for motel rooms.  I finally flew home to Portland today with US Airways and arrived at three o’clock this afternoon. Along with all of the other BS, I lost my Kindle Reader as I was scurrying around  trying to get  home. I hadn’t had a decent meal for thirty hours and I had the pungent aroma of a disgusting farm animal or so I was told by my better-half when she picked me up.

Thanks for nothing United Airlines.  May you and your entire operation rot in hell.  You’ll never see me again.

05-21-2014 Journal Entry-Off to Texas!   1 comment

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Well the Texas trip is finally here and I’ll be flying off to Dallas tomorrow.  I don’t intend to do any blogging until sometime next week, probably Wednesday at the latest. I’ll be taking a break from working out, blogging and everything else as well.  That’s what a vacation is supposed to be and I’m going to make the most of it.

This week I finally planted the last few plants in the garden.  I have others breaking ground as we speak and so far everything is doing fine except for the asparagus.  All of those I gently planted are doing absolutely nothing.  I purchased a bag of asparagus roots and knew at the time it was a big gamble.  I have yet to buy either flower bulbs or veggie roots packaged that way that have actually grown.  I’ve finally learned my lesson, never again. Next year I’ll try to find asparagus seeds and start my own plants.  Hopefully I’ll have more success.

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“Zucchini”

As you can see the garden has made significant progress in the last week. The plants are loving the warmer nights and are jumping out of the ground. As you can see I have more chives than I know what to do. When I return I can look forward to a day spent filling the dehydrator with chives for our use through next Winter.

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“Cherry Tomato’s”

Starting tomorrow I can kick back and relax for a few days and enjoy my trip. It will be nice to enjoy the warm and sometimes hot weather in Dallas.  It should help me shake off the effects of this last Maine Winter. My summer will officially start when I return home next week fully rested and relaxed.

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“Left Side”

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“Right Side”

I hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and that the weather cooperates.  Show the flag, cook a few burgers and dogs, and toast all of our former and current Vets.  Without their service we wouldn’t have much to celebrate.

05-19-2014 Texas Here I Come!!   2 comments

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No journal entry today because I need a bit of a break.  I thought doing something a little different, interesting and off-beat might be just the ticket.  I think I’m mentally already on vacation because I’ve started procrastinating many of my normal tasks and putting them off until I return from my Texas trip.  I’ll begin preparing for that trip today.

My better-half is also preparing me for the trip by giving me her list of things I’m supposed to bring back for her.  Since she was born in Texas and thinks she’s a real Texan, I’m being instructed to bring back a load of stuff.  I just smile and nod my head so she’ll walk away happy but come on.  Her list keeps getting longer and longer but I’ve managed to pare it down a little.  She requires between 5-10 interesting Texas post cards.  She’s something of a collector and loves sending random cards to her Mother who lives in Delaware.

She also wants me to somehow carry or ship home a few dozen tamales. She’s obsessed with Mexican food, especially the traditional style tamale.  I think it was something special from her early childhood or so she says but I honestly don’t see that request being honored.  Next on the list is a pair of cowboy boots or a western hat for the grandson.  This one I might make happen if I can get away with spending a reasonable amount of money.  The way he’s growing anything I buy will be too small within a month or two so I made no concrete promises on this request either.

Next on her list is her wish for two T-Shirts with some sort of Texas theme. I quote her as best I can, "nothing pornographic, dirty, or stupid". With that list of don’t’s the chances of pleasing her are now slim and none.  As with all of her requests, I’ll figure something out once I get there.  If I could find a small petrified chunk of horse droppings I’d buy that for her in a second because it would pretty closely reflect my feelings on this entire matter. Maybe I’ll just buy a really dirty T-Shirt for the grandson that he can wear when she comes to visit.  Any eighteen month old can get away with wearing something like that and it would absolutely make her crazy as well.  That’s called a Win-Win in any language.

Enough of that, now let me throw a short collection of useless things your way. These are things you never really never wanted to know or even cared about.

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  • The line “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” in James Joyce’s Ulysses provided the name for the subatomic particles now known as “quarks”, named by physicist Murray Gell-Mann.
  • “Transurphobia” is the fear of haircuts.
  • Dylan Thomas once unkindly pointed out that, except for one misplaced letter, T.S. Eliot’s name spelled backwards is “toilets”.
  • The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
  • The single dot over the lower-case letter “i” is called a “tittle”.

And finally for all you nerds out there:

  • The letters of the word SHAZAM, which was shouted to conjure up comic-book hero Captain Marvel, stood for Solomon’s wisdom, Hercules’s strength, Atlas’s stamina, Zeus’s power, Achilles’s courage, and Mercury’s speed.

How’s that for a really useless tidbit?

05-03-2014. Journal Entry – Spring Continues!   Leave a comment

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“The First Flower on the Deck for 2014”

I just opened my eyes, rolled over and checked the clock.  It was 6:30am and I was awake, it was morning, and the only thing on my body that wasn’t sore or stiff was my eye balls as I looked around the bedroom.

Without a doubt I love Spring time but OMG the work involved.  The last week has been nuts and the weather has been just warm enough to make me crazy. As always I tend to overdo at this time of the year in my lame attempt to make the warm weather get her just a little sooner.  I’ve been "garden" involved almost one hundred percent these last few weeks.  I’m trying to get as much of the preparation done as I can before I take my trip to Texas over Memorial Day.  I’ll be returning from there just after the holiday and I need the garden ready for planting when I get back.

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My main project for the last week was the rebuilding and repairing of the raised beds that I initially built five years ago out of non-pressure treated lumber.  They were slowly rotting away and were filled with bugs and other unwelcome guests.  It was easy enough to just tear the wood out of the ground but getting the required replacement lumber to the house without paying Lowe’s  huge delivery fee was a bit more difficult. I have no immediate access to a pickup truck so I had to improvise.  I drive a small and cute PT Cruiser that is my all time favorite vehicle.  I was forced to turn her into a workhorse for two days as I made numerous trips from Lowe’s to my house with 12 foot long pressure treated boards sticking out the passenger side window at least four feet.  It was the only way I could get them in the car and close the rear tailgate door.  It made for a very interesting drive home. I accomplished it without killing any pedestrians who happened to be standing along the edge of the road and I also dodged hundreds of mailboxes that I came within inches of as I sped past.

Everything was delivered to the house with minimal damage to the car, to me, or any innocent bystanders.  It’s not something I ever want to try again. Lugging all those heavy boards around has accounted for most of my sore muscles and general overall feeling of "death warmed over".

The pictures will show the new and improved beds and the other work that was done.  The gardens have been cultivated, composted, and the fabric put in place covering the soil.

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This week I’ll be planting the cold weather crops such as lettuce, kale, and spinach. I visited a nearby nursery yesterday and made a few preliminary purchases to place temporarily into the cold frames. While chatting with the owner I was able to pick up some valuable information on upcoming weather patterns and all of the problems with specific plants lost or damaged due to the rough winter.

I’m now in the process of preparing the hoses and sprinklers for installation. They should be up and operational in a day or two and then I can relax for a week or so before my trip.

My better-half is suffering from a raging Spring Fever that has taken complete control of her life. We have a wrap-around deck that partially circles the second floor of our house. This deck becomes our second home during the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  As you can see she has moved many and assorted pots to the deck to begin planting her container garden. She’ll have pots full of a grand assortment of flowers and certain selected vegetables making it like  a jungle out there in just a few weeks time.

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Once I return from Texas I’ll be back to my good old Maine gardening ways doing all of the things I enjoy most. Fortunately for us both all of the really hard work will have been completed by then allowing us to enjoy the garden and deck time well into September. Then the canning, herb drying, and wine bottling can commence once again.

08-24-2013   Leave a comment

Before I start to write this posting I’m required to put on my cowboy hat, my boots, and my big ugly belt buckle.  Don’t misunderstand me, I am not a Country & Western fan in any sense of the word.  Unfortunately my born and bred Texan better-half has been a life long fan of the genre. She roams from room to room through the house every day, turning on multiple radios to blare that good old down home music every effing minute.  It keeps me out of the house doing fifty percent more yard work than I would normally do.  Maybe that’s her sneaky Texas way of making me work harder.  If I’ve learned nothing from our years together I have learned to keep a close watch on her,  Texans are sneaky!

I had a wonderful day off today because my crazy better-half and her even crazier daughter are off on another adventure.  They left early today to attend the Country-fest Concert at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  I’m sure they were cheering all the way to Mass but what they didn’t know was just how loud I was cheering to see them go.  An entire day without listening to music that makes me cringe.  I worked in the yard for a good part of the day with my IPod blasting a wide variety of Blues, Rock, and NO C&W.

I was receiving text messages and photos for most of the day telling me just what I was missing.  I was missing endless traffic, Country music fans by the thousands, and an endless number of drunken bums wearing their boots and cowboy hats.  I’ll just bet that ninety percent of those crazies have never been on a ranch or had a close and personal conversation with a horse. A whole lot of wannabes trying to impress a few young ladies with their swagger and y’all’s.

I had a great day until eleven pm when I was awakened from my blissful sleep by two tipsy cowgirls making their way home from Boston.  My better-half was so horse I could barely understand her and all of the laughing and screaming in the background didn’t help either.  She called to let me know when she’d be arriving and that she was going to "wake my ass up" whether I liked it or not.  I mildly threatened to end her life, said goodnight, and went back to sleep.  She arrived home in the wee hours, fell into bed, and barely woke me at all.

Waking up this morning I opened one eye to see if she was prowling around.  Next to me under a huge pile of blankets and pillows I found what was left of my better-half.  She was snoring like a truck driver, smelled like beer, and was dreaming about Kenny Chesney I’ll bet.  Ya, I know at least one cowboy crooner’s name.  Please don’t hold that against me, my survival instinct requires I know enough Country names and trivia to keep her happy.

Yee haw y’all !

05-06-2013   2 comments

I was just sitting here trying to decide what I should post today when I received an email from my nephew in Dallas.  He’s lived there long enough to be called a real Texan and he’s proud of it as most Texans are.  I’m passing the contents of his email along for all of you to read.  It’s humorous to the Nth degree but the underlying message is something I also feel strongly about.

I only wish I could be the guy who picks the contestants for this Texas version of Survivor.  I have at least ten possible candidates that truly deserve to to be put to this test.  I won’t name them but I’ll bet anything you can figure most of them out on your own. Please let this happen.

Survivor — Texas Style

Due to the popularity of "Survivor" shows, Texas is planning to do one  entitled: "Survivor – Texas-Style!" The lucky contestants will all start  in Dallas, drive to Waco, Austin, San Antonio, then over to Houston and  down to Brownsville. They will then proceed through Mission, up to Del  Rio, El Paso, Odessa, Midland, Lubbock, and Amarillo. From there they will  go on to Abilene and Fort Worth and Finally back to Dallas.

Each contestant will be required to drive a pink Prius covered with the following 15 bumper stickers

"I’m A Democrat"

"Amnesty For Illegals"

"I Love The Dixie Chicks"

"Boycott Beef"

"I Voted For Obama" 

" George Strait Sucks"

"Re-elect Obama In 2016"

"Vote Eric Holder Texas Governor"

"Rosie O’Donnell Is Texas Born"

"I Love Obama Care and Chuck Schumer"

"Barney Frank Is My Hero"

"I Side With Jane Fonda"

"It’s Bush’s Fault"

“Islam Is A Peace-Loving Religion”

and the last sticker will read:

"I’m Here To Confiscate Your Guns"

The first contestant to make it back to Dallas alive wins.  What more can I say except "Remember the Alamo and the Constitution".

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