About me

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Return of the Beast

Ages ago, I was visiting a bud, and he noticed that I was prone to drink a lot, and by drink a lot, I mean a few quarts of sugar-free generic Kool-Aide-style soft drink each day.

Get your minds out of the liquor store, no matter how much you're liking the AC there these days.

So on a follow-up visit, he gifted me with a cup.

52 ounces. I used it regularly until a couple of years ago when I stopped. No, I don't know why. I just did. I also lost touch with the bud.

So last night, here, out of the blue, comes a text message. It was a pleasant moment. Turning, I reached for the cup from the cupboard. Two sticks of Wyler's and a fill-up of Raleigh's finest, and we're good to go this morning.

Yeah, I'll probably need a potty chair in my office today. Or a catheter.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Smoothie blender

The old one gave up the ghost after two or three years of faithful service. There'll be a candle light vigil and wake this evening followed by interment at the Wake County Public Landfill tomorrow.

That beast has made hundreds of smoothies. Typically, I'll have two or three a day, depending on the day and what I'm doing. Yes, I slow down in the dead of winter when it's just not right to drink frozen drinks. Otherwise, the freezer is filled with plastic containers of fruit, usually grapes, strawberries, and blueberries, though after Christmas, I'll pile it high with cranberries because they become real cheap then.

Here's the old and the new side-by-side.

Comparing the old and the new, I can discern no difference. I expected Hamilton-Beach to have ruined a perfectly good product by now. It seems like most other companies do.

The problem with the old one was that the rubber teeth on the motor and on the cup had both worn down to nubs, and a critical degree of nubbin was reached just this morning, so when Grandpa went over the Kmart to fetch his Celebrex, a recreational drug for sure, and a ream of computer paper, he nabbed a new smoothie blender, a US$15 splurge.

The gal at checkout wanted to sell me a warranty, and she was none to impressed that I was willing to spend about 35 cents a month on a smoothie blender. However, she did not push the point.

So there you go. Come a runnin'! A cup of plain non-fat yogurt. A naner. Some frozen fruit. Top it off with skim milk. Buzz until you know it's done, and slurp it down.

Yes, I know some white rum would go a long was in that recipe, but remember, I'm trying my best to be good here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kitchen towels

Well, a better title might be towels in the kitchen because, as you'll see, not everything here is an official kitchen-type towel. Of course, you know I have a tendency to make do with odd stuff now and again, and by odd, I mean convenient.

Towels from the camper

As you might know, I set up housekeeping with stuff from a camper. That means a lot of old stuff that was no longer suitable for use in the big house found it's to here, and here it shall remain for a long while. In particular, these two towels will be here a while because of their connection to better times camping with the children. At some point, though, that final thread will vanish, and I suppose I'll store the remaining lint in a jar or something, perhaps with a label.

Foundling washcloths

I found these two washcloths in the discard pile of the laundry room. After washing them, I intended for them to wait until company arrived. However, I found myself pressing them into use in the kitchen for some purpose that I do not now recall, and there they have stayed. The company never arrived, and I suppose it's all for the best because the thick washcloths work well with hot pot lids and biscuit sheets.

Pink and purple

At some point after moving, it was apparent that I was going to need more than the two camper towels, especially if I continued to insist on cooking. On a trip to Food Lion, I found these on sale at a dollar each. In hindsight, I'm not sure how economical the choice was because they are rather thin, but that buck amortizes fairly well over the half-decade it's been, and I doubt there's much consequence following the choice aside from the giggles of people when they see them. Do bear in mind that exactly three people have seen these towels in person, and I suppose, then, the giggling is tolerable.

Bar mops

Yes, that was the name on the tag at Food Lion. Bar mops. These are fairly utilitarian white towels that stain easily, and that means they need more bleach that I tend to use in the laundry. They also tend to scald a little under hot pots and lids. Given that they came in a five-pack for $4, I'm not all that concerned. They'll last a few seasons, and I'll use them a few seasons beyond that. At that point, we'll have a funeral because something will happen between now and then that will leave me attached to one or more.

Oven mitts

These came with the similarly colored towels. I rarely use them because they're thin, and the heat gets through them quickly. Instead, I tend to use folded towels for moving hot things. I suppose I should toss them out. It's not like there's a surplus of space in my kitchen. They could find new life in someone else's kitchen, perhaps a student downstairs. More likely, I'll leave them in the discard pile in the laundry room, and the cleanup person will toss them in the trash the following Monday. For whatever reason, that leaves me a little sad, and so they remain in my kitchen where they find some use under warm pots.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Towards my middle 40s, my foundation became shaky as tendinitis settled in for the long run in both feet. A few years later, metatarsals gave up the ghost, twice. That was such a delight. You should try driving with a walking cast on your gas foot. Meanwhile, the podiatrists wanted to fix the obvious problem, that being bigger bunion. They could also deal with the plantar fascia, but they didn't have much to say when questioned about the 33% satisfaction rate after the surgeries. That coupled with the six to nine month recovery period PER FOOT! left me choosing to grunt and be grumpy.

Well, there were the prescription shoe inserts at $500 each, neither covered by insurance in any manner. That didn't help with the grumpiness. And no, there are no drugs that help. There is not that much NSAID in the world. What I do is focus on accommodation: What can I do and not do that makes locomotion better.

This leaves me intensely aware of shoes. Some suggest I have a foot fetish, and I suppose in a manner of thinking, I do, but the only source of pleasure in this fetish is avoidance of pain. I usually know within seconds whether or not a pair of shoes will be acceptable.

One accommodation is that I swap shoes frequently. This not only allows yesterday's shoes to dry while I'm sweating up today's shoes, but the change permits old frayed nerves to cool while new happy nerves are abused.

Here's what's in the closet now. Well, they are more beside the bed than in the closet. Having them out facilitates changing, and it's not like anyone actually uses that side of the bed.

The cowboy boots

I loved these shoes. They're easily 20 years old, if not more, and have seen a half-dozen bottoms. I've worn these boots on Tienanmen Square as well as on the campuses of all but two of the universities in the North Carolina system. They've been around. They've also been as far as they're ever going to go unless a miracle happens. I've not worn them in two years or more, and the last time I put them on, they were off in a matter of seconds. I suspect my days of high heels are about over. That's sad because you know how insecure I am about my lack of stature.

The FitFlops

Yes, that's the name. FitFlops. They're from somewhere in the UK and ordered through Zappos. The idea is that the sole wiggles slightly when walking and that's supposed to promote some therapeutic effect. I have no evidence of that. All I know is that I can go farther in these shoes than in any other pair I have. However, there are limits. I worked three days in Orlando last February, and these were the only work shoes to took. After the third day, I was in agony. Still, these are my preferred shoes, especially when flying. They work well going through airport security because they slid on.

The work Crocs

Yes, these are Crocs, and no, I wouldn't buy them again. They're marginal for me. I only wear them a couple of times a week, mainly because they can be hot and they're no where near as comfortable as you'd expect from Crocs. Some of the reviews were from wait staff in restaurants, and they indicated superb comfort. I suppose this means I should avoid working as a waiter in a restaurant.

The Vibram Five Fingers

I avoided the Five Fingers for a year or more because I was suspicious of all the hype. Marketing has done very little positive for the retail world as far as I'm concerned. However, #1 Son bought a pair, and they changed the way he engages USAF PT to the point that his physician wrote a letter to the USAF to get #1 approved to wear Five Fingers in PT. With that in mind, I bought my own pair. It has taken three weeks to be able to wear them more than a couple of hours a day, but the therapeutic effects is kicking in. I suspect this shoe is going to be a winner.

The Coleman boots

I bough these boots in the spring of last year after a series of events left me hobbling and relatively grumpy. I might have worn them six times since. Mostly, I haven't been anywhere that would favor boots, even for as much as I generally prefer boots to all other forms of foot wear, and they just don't work all that well in our summer heat. Bear in mind that the temperature on the street is substantially above the temperature at your head. To this end, they sit in the closet.

The sandals

I wear these in spells, and often those spells include socks, which makes so many complain. Note: Honey Badger don't care. At this point, I find them relatively heavy, and they don't much work with the mechanics of my steps anymore. What's interesting here is that, back in the early 70s, I started wearing Jesus shoes on the farm during the summer. Yes, the folks back home called them Jesus shoes. I took quite the ribbing from wearing them, but they were better than going barefoot when working in the tobacco barns where I'd be standing on up-turned 2x4s most of the day. They were also far cooler than the brogans everyone else wore.

The Crocs

The worn out Crocs. I love these shoes, which are all worn out from extreme use, and more are coming as soon as I can catch a sale somewhere, and that somewhere will be Zappos because I'm extremely unlikely to step out into the world and shop for shoes. The question might arise as to the color I should get. For as much as I'd like something louder and brighter, I'm oh so certain it'll be another black pair.

And that's it. There ain't no more.


Yes, a bicycle.

I bought this some time back thinking it would provide a reasonable alternative to running and perhaps even walking. Then work and life conspired, along with Raleigh traffic, and it sat idle for a few years. Last year, another try, another rejection. This year, we're doing a little better, though Raleigh's traffic is worse.

This modest success might be because of a better class of NSAID. It might be that I'm a little more ornery than before, which many would tell you is hard to imagine. Perhaps the stars just aligned.

Regardless, it's seen some action in the few weeks. I ride it to Planet Fitness. I ride it downtown for dinner. Sometimes a beer. C'mon! There's gotta be a little immediate reward in there somewhere for me.

I'd like to ride it to work, and that's a 12 mile ride, but it'll be a while before that happens, not so much because of the distance but because of the traffic. There are very narrow shoulders on the roads between here and my office. I'd be mashed flat within the week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New can koozie

Being ever the good boy I am, I rode my bike to fetch a PBR and half-priced nibbles yesterday. This trip involves passing by Central Prison, and you know that's always the delight for me, what with getting to wave to so many relatives.

On the way back, I found this can koozie in the grass by the prison sidewalk. I suppose someone lost it while out on a walkabout.

It certainly won't handle the manly 24-ounce cans (e.g., Four Loko) that I usually get, much less a 40 of Cobra, but it'll be just fine for the daintier, and perhaps more genteel, element that occasionally visits the lake with me. Now to just remember about the pinky.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Brown Turkey Fig tree

Yes, I once planted a tree.

I planted this tree in the late 70s in what was my mother's backyard partly in the memory of the fig tree my grandparents had in their backyard and my fondness for her fig preserves. It grew and made a bush that in some few years found its way under my brother's lawnmower.

The both of us moved away, and the tree recovered. Whoever was cutting the grass let it remain and grow. And grow, And grow. Figs are supposed to be indisposed to our weather and climate. Apparently, this one is an exception.

Now, Mother lives on another planet. I doubt she remembers this tree because it came later in her life. My brother lives in the house now. He usually lets me know when the figs are gone. I've never, to my knowledge, eaten a fig off this tree. Perhaps this year will be different.