Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Popcorn Ball

A Christmas Popcorn Ball                                                      Dec 16, 2010
When I was a small boy, oh not that long ago and living with my Aunt Cora (Cory), Uncle Everett (unk), cousin Everett (Tubby) and younger sister Carol (Sugar) there came a time when, finally Christmas was here.
And in that small war time two bedroom home we were all gathered around the Christmas tree.
There was excitement in the air and I (Dude) was shaking like a dog on point ready to pounce in an instance on those presents all piled under that tree.

Here I must insert a little note about popcorn balls.  Those things were about the size of between a baseball and a softball and while they were actually pretty good I had already eaten my fair share of them and was in no mood for any more.

But now the moment had arrived and Tubby, I think it was, began to pass out one by one those treasures from neath the tree.
Us kids, sis and I, were told to be patient and quite.  Ha, fat chance of that happening as we were about to burst.
Finally, yes finally, my cousin reached in and took his time reading the name tag, and even more slowly he rose up very slowly and began searching the room for the person whose name was on that tag.  He looked at every person; he looked up, down, to the right, to the left, scratched his butt and just did everything he could do to stall.
Then his eyes settled on mine and just as I was to screech he reached out to me.
In an instance, as that arm stretched out I knew for sure what it was.  My heart sank a little, as I looked at it.  The gift was wrapped in red with a pretty little bow and it was about the size of a baseball or softball.  I just knew it was a damn, pardon me, popcorn ball.  I stood up, raised that package up as far as I could and in a loud scornful voice said, hey, any one want a popcorn ball.  Alas, there were no takers and I’m not sure anyone heard me.  They were busy with their own wonderful gifts.
Now in those days, kids didn’t get a truck load of gifts so many the times one gift is all you got.  But I’m sure that I received more than one, probably lots, I just can’t remember them.
What I do remember is that I opened up that red, round gift immediately after shouting to the world my distain for popcorn balls.
Funny thing was that this was a very smooth package and as I peeled back the wrapper a baseball was revealed.  Made of white plastic and painted to look like a baseball it was pretty enough but what was I going to do with a plastic baseball.
A little more investigation and the ball split in half and inside that ball was a genuine Babe Ruth wrist watch.  Golly goldfish, this was something aright.
I jumped up and raised that watch up as far as I could reach then I proceeded to tell the world, look, look everyone I have a watch.
Nobody paid any attention.  If they had they may have seen a very, very red-faced little boy for I was also very, very embarrassed by my earlier demonstration.

Merry Christmas to all of you,  Ben  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Proveth and Zydeco

Proveth and Zydeco                                                                                          May 22, 2010
I was rummaging around in my Webster's II Dictionary looking for the word Proveth with little success.
This compact tome is very handy and I use it often, more often in fact than when they issued it to me when I attended college kind of way back when.
But this time it failed me.  There was no Proveth in it yet spell check didn't red-line it so where it the heck was its identity.
There was prove and I checked down through to proverb to where it ended at provide and continued on through to mischief and rascal but no, I say no proveth
Perplexed I turned the little book over to look at its backside when I read this 'Brand-new entries- from acupressure to zydeco".
Zydeco, ah-ha how often am I asked “what is Zydeco”. Well, it’s plenty of times I thank you. It’s my favorite dance.
Webster’s II Little Dictionary does say that it is a noun and popular music of south Louisiana featuring guitar, accordion and washboard.
Well that didn’t say much so I looked up the word “washboard”.
That was defined as an instatement for washing clothes. 
Well rats, I suppose it doesn’t know that jugs are for drinking and not a noun for a musical instrument or for those beautiful adornments of an equally beautiful adult woman (all women are beautiful)
I gathered from this kind of weak definition that spoons are for eating and not as instruments for music or for the digging of graves for rats.  Those rats that I had trapped in my no.1 traps as a kid.
Baited with jam from the kitchen those traps were sure death for those killers of my pet pigeons.   My evil step-mother did ban me from used her good flatware for anything but eating.

Well, goodness where was I?  Oh, yes Proveth, a word that isn’t a word outside of my own little world. It wasn’t redlined because I was in another program that does have that ability and it wasn’t in my little Webster because the word wasn’t in its vocabulary.
Maybe someday I’ll write a dissertation about it in the future.

Zydeco of course is a lot more than what you found here but I am out of space and the dance and its people deserve a lot more than just a line or two.  Or you can go see for yourself. 
There is a dance every Sunday at the Brickhouse 15th & Main in Vancouver at seven. There generally is a lesson before hand if enough people are interested and the dance continues until 9:00 no charge
A bigger affair is very Wednesday at PPAA (with a big pink neon sign) 7TH &Alder in Portland Ore. With a lesson beginning at 7:15, dance at 8:00-10 $5 for non-members $ 3 for members
Music by cds or on occasion a live band of which there will be several between the end of June and over the Forth.  Check out and be sure to get your butt down to the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival over the forth for a very, very good time.

Until then I wish you well my friends,
Of course Google will give you the answer to proveth.

A Dutch Oven Adventure

A Dutch Oven Adventure                                     July 24th  2010                  page 1

This is not a funny story.....well...  I do apologize for the length of it but this is what happened.

I like cooking, nothing fancy and often not that good.
I like cooking in my Dutch oven although I seldom do and when I do it’s mostly in the summer.  Sometimes on the gas grill, sometimes in a campfire or even buried in the ground. 
I like to keep it simple and nothing spoils an idea like having to run to the store (s) for ingredients.
This mourning I found in the refrigerator a beef arm roast, ha! Just picture an old cow leg sticking out of an icebox.  It was a nice chunk, typical of a chuck roast, a lot of fat and gristle but this time not much bone.

Now this kind of meat takes a lot of time to prepare and to do that it needs lots of patience cooking at a low gentle heat. You can cook it done in an hour or so or use a pressure cooker but lordy it may be tuff, and have a tendency to stick in your teeth with no floss to be had. If your idea of cooking is akin to welding or running a blast furnace then you’d best stick to cooking chicken. Or frogs, some people claim they taste like chicken.

But if you want something that is really good, something you’d fight the dog over and eat it behind closed doors well than you do it slow and low and beef is the game.

So I light up the gas grill, dig out one of the small Dutch ovens (I have four now that I recently acquired two from Mr. Craig Shultz, a renowned authority of D.c.s) and began.
First a little olive oil, then a little wine goes in the pot while it’s heating up to where you could cook a hamburger in it.  Mean while I take that old chunk of leg bone, salt and pepper it then insert small slices of garlic in the meat here, there, everywhere.
With the meat on plate you approach that really smoking pot gingerly and carefully lift the lid.
It’s like you’re throwing the virgin in the caldron where you cast the victim (slowly) to the gods. It’s like in the movies where the monster comes alive.  The pot is just smoking nicely.  It’s when the liquid produces a nice good sizzle when you just touch the meat to it.
 If the meat is good and dry there should be no spitting of hot liquid coming back at you.   Put the cover back on and wait 3-4 minutes then take a peak.  If the underside has a good browned look to it turn it over and put the lid back on, wait another 3-4 minutes.
You can look again but why bother, simply put the hood down (actually I’ve been doing this all along, it really makes things heat up.)
Turn the heat way down, mine was almost out, and step aside for 6 hours)
During this time I will listen to the pot to make sure that sometimes cooking in there and I will smell it.  Oh, will you smell it.    If you hear nothing or smell something scorching your heat is either to low or to high so……..turn it up or turn it down, maybe add a little hot water if you don’t see enough liquid but don’t drown that poor old tuff chunk of arm.

A Dutch Oven Adventure                                                                                   page 2
After the 6th hour (listen to how dramatic that sounds the sixth hour.), I added broccoli (stems and all) and mushrooms, the little white ones.  Careful, people have been known to go weak in the knees at the mere sight and smell of this marvelous beef creation.
Go quickly now for it’s loosing heat and replace the lid and hood.
Wait for another hour during which you can gather up just as much stuff as you will need to dine.  Please no sauces or alcohol, additional salt, pepper or other stuff that will taint the meal.  I did put kosher salt and course black pepper on the broccoli and mushrooms before they went in to you know where.

Wow, I almost forgot.  You’ve got to have sun tea. A search of the cabinet revealed 2 regular green tea bags and 2 mint medleys (whatever).  I shrugged my shoulders, put the bags in a pitcher of warm water and set it on the deck railing there to remain in the hot sun brewing away for three, four or five hours.

After 7 hours I turned the grill off, removed the oven lid and placed everything thing on a platter.  I brought out the ice makers box, filled a glass full of ice and tea and literally dived in, to the meal not the glass.  I ate my dinner where I found it, on the platter.

The meat was so tender that I removed it with a slotted spoon and the veggies were, as they say, to die for.

And I drank glass after glass of that sun tea, with nothing added.  It isn’t allowed.
I think that tea was the biggest surprise of all as I was reasonably sure about the main and only entrée.

Clean up of the Dutch Over was a snap, pour the drippings into a container, rinse with warm, not hot water and wipe clean with a paper towel.  Put the left overs away, wash the platter, fork and knife and I was done.  The tea went in the fridge and the glass was on standby.

I used one chuck pot roast, olive oil, kosher salt, course ground black pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, 2 bags of green tea and two bags of mint medley tea.

While I was eating a blue jay came hopping down the deck rail towards me as if to ask for a taste of my fare.  I told him to shoo brother, stick to your cat food.  He flew off to a big fire tree and sat up there scolding me all the time for not sharing.
I can’t say as how I blame him.

Ben                                 Saturday afternoon the 24th of July 2010. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Kick

The kick

After arriving home from an evening dance tonight I went to make myself a sandwich.

As I bent over the task of sandwich making the mayo jar slipped from my hand, glanced off the counter and hit the floor with a bouncing thud.  For the briefest moment it lay suspended just barely off the floor. I drop kicked it.

The game winning score was on its way.  The entire stadium fell silent.

The jar sailed through the air out of the kitchen, across the living room and cleared the hearth before it landed with another muffled thud into the ashes of the fireplace.
A small mushroom cloud drifted to the ceiling and slowly circled around the room.

The ref raised his arms, a score, the crowd went wild.  The team mobbed me. I was their   hero.

I slowly put my butter knife down, ate a few walnuts, took my pills with a glass of milk, locked up the house and went to bed.

I lay there in the dark with a smile on my face and the roar of the crowd in my head as I drifted off to sleep.  After all, I had won the game, tomorrow will bring another.

Dedicated to the ladies that I danced with tonight, you were wonderful.


Monday, December 6, 2010

In the House

In the house
1. Laundry
It has taken me most of the week, most of the day, most of a hour, most of my free time and a bit of humor to do one load of laundry that is mostly made up of work clothes andddddd I still haven’t put those clothes away. 
2. Dusting
Talk about recycling. By the time I start dusting at one end it’s time to start over at the beginning.  The only true dust free area is the seat of my pants.
4. Wash machines
Ever notice the sound of the washing machines.  There’s a rhythm there if you just listen.
The dish washer in particular rumbles out sounds like, ‘WASH THE DISHES, EAT THE FOOD, WASH THE DISHES, EAT THE FOOD to a deep jungle tune. Makes your butt move.
3. Writing
Act of defiance? Despair? Delonelyness, de waste of time, should be doing something constructive like…..laundry, ugh, dusting, ugh, ugh.
4. Dishes
 I had just finishing washing dishes.
My hands where still wet from the effort.
In an act of foolishness I reached out my right hand to a very pretty girl. 
She took that hand in both of her own and rubbed mine gently with much tenderness until they were dry.
Then she held them for the longest time, forever I think
Ben Dec 6th 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Little Brown Bird

Nice day today this December 3rd 2010.  I walked along the crek, not creek but crek that runs strong this time of year and listened to the water going over the rocks in a miniature rapid.  Rocks that I had gathered up from the field and tossed in just so I could hear the sound the water made...  A little brown bird was there in and out of the bushes and it added a little chirp now and then at the right moment.
Seems like every time I stop for a bit the little brown bird shows up. 
I had my gear with me for a little log cutting so I drove my ATV up in the woods to where a log lay, a victim of a windstorm in late summer.  I sat on my machine for a bit just to listen and then went to the log and started making marks on where to cut.  About half way down the length I noticed my back was groaning under the effort.  Well, I said to myself, that’s about enough of this.
I mounted my metal machine and off to the barn I went.
Once inside I checked to see how my miniature herd of beef was doing with their daily ration of hay.  I was leaning on a top board just looking when Little Cow reached up and stuck her nose close to my face.  I also reached out and gave her a little scratching on her face, up her cheek, behind her ears and wherever while she just stood there.  That was a little unusual; usually she will shake her head and maybe try to butt me.
As I turned to leave I noticed a movement on the dark brown barn floor.  It was a little brown bird.  My fine feathered friend can be hard to spot in the barn but they are always moving which is a dead give away.
Well, I had seen enough of little brown birds and cows for the day so I went to put away things in the shop.
I had my insulated coffee cup the whole time and there was still some left in it.  Nothing to do but have a seat in a chair that is conveniently left in the shop entrance alcove.  Barney the cat, who is always close by, came over and we both basked in the sun for a bit.  She didn’t care for the coffee.

Ben   Dec. 3rd 2010  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Brrrrr.....! hope you are good and warm.

This little old house has a few cold spots in it.

Not to bad under a blanket in front of the fire though.

Doctor said I was on a roll and Fred Meyers was packed.  Didn't go in, rather do with out.... what ever it was that I wanted.  Kind ah ...well, fun.

Went outside to get a few pieces of dense firewood for more b.t,u.s.  Wood stack was froze and had to give 'er a few good kicks.

Think I'll crawl under by the fire then make beef barley soup.

Blue jays keep raiding the cat food dish.  What the heck just let them.

Be dark soon, wonder if the stars will come out.

Ben        Nov 23  2010