Bacon and Coffee; Wonderful Disappointments

It is our family tradition, every other Sunday, to make a breakfast so huge it’s ludicrous. Sometimes there are cinnamon rolls and pancakes. There might be bacon as well as sausage and ham steak. These items are interchangeable but there are several constants. There are always fried eggs, biscuits and gravy, hasbrowns (the rectangular patties that crisp up very nicely on the outside) and coffee.

We never stop to think that perhaps we are being gluttonous, or at least a trifle wasteful, we just cook breakfast and eat and then spend most of the mid-morning doing dishes. I know that today we are adding waffles to the menu (got a new iron, the first I’ve ever owned, last night) so there’s a dish I’m not even sure how to wash.

Anyway, all that was some sort of preamble to the point I want to make. Looking back, it seems a bit much to write all this when it barely connects to what I’m trying to convey. I guess it’s symbolic of our breakfasts. A big buffet of words that almost makes you feel a little guilty for laying it all out.

Maybe it was just my way of inviting you, in some verbal way, to share in our family tradition.

Whatever it was, on to the real idea behind this post.

Bacon and coffee smell amazing. Open a can of coffee and you (or at least I) nearly swoon with pleasure. Get some bacon frying and the smell draws the dogs and the kids and the wife out of their beds so we can all salivate together as a family. Sometimes we sit around the coffee table and link arms and sing a culinary version of Kumbaya as the bacon sizzles and the coffee pot hisses and gurgles and the aromas circulate through the house like some glorious weather front that brings not the promise of much needed rain but the guarantee of an impending party within the mouth.

And then, finally, you sip your coffee and you crunch your bacon and it is wonderful, but, somehow, with those two items something is lost in the frying and the brewing. Their respective tastes, when compared to their respective smells, just aren’t quite up to snuff.

They smell amazing but they taste merely…great. Which is still good. But, just imagine the world peace we might possibly have if coffee and bacon tasted every bit as wonderful as they smell.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…make time for breakfast. Enough said.

A don’t…submerge the waffle iron completely. I don’t know much about it yet, but I sense that a soapy baptism (the full immersion kind, not the sprinkling kind) is not the way to save a waffle iron.

 

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Sheet Cake; What Even Is It?

Until my wife’s most recent birthday earlier this year, I thought I knew what sheet cake was. Apparently I’ve been right and wrong my entire life.

‘Tis a conundrum of paradoxical proportions.

Here’s what happened: My wife and I were discussing her birthday. As the very beginnings of the trip we took (which I blogged about exhaustively), began to emerge in our brains we somehow got on the topic of cake. She said she’d like a sheet cake. I said “Ok, what kind?” and she said;

“Sheet cake.” So I said:

“Yes. But what kind?”

“Sheeeet cake…?” She responded, thoroughly confusing the both of us.

“Ok, but chocolate or white or strawberry or what? What kind of sheet cake?” I asked with the innocent belief that sheet is a shape of cake and not a kind of cake. “What flavor of rectangular cake would you like? And do you think we need a half sheet or will a quarter sheet be big enough?”

“Sheet cake is chocolate.” She unhelpfully explained.

“No,” I corrected, “Sheet cake is rectangular. It’s a shape of cake. Not a kind of cake.”

We argued as I laughed. I repeated over and over that sheet is a shape of cake. She thought I was laughing at her, but I was really laughing at the idea of sheet being a shape of cake and not a kind of cake, even though a sheet isn’t really a shape in its own right, but the shape of a sheet is generally rectangular which is why rectangular cakes are called sheet cakes. They have them at every local supermarket bakery labelled “sheet cake”, and they come in quarter, half or full sheets.

Once my mirthful expressions began to lose their cacophonous quality my wife educated me on the fact that sheet cake is, in fact, a specific flavor of cake and it matters not what shape it takes.

We came to no accord on our own and had to consult the universally renowned internet search engine.

Sure enough, sheet cake is a kind of cake as well as a shape of cake. If you can believe the internet, anyway, which offered evidence to support my wife’s supposition in the form of links to recipes that produce a quite tasty and specifically flavored type of “sheet” cake.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…try the sheet flavored cake sometime, in whatever shape you prefer. It’s good. There are plenty of recipes available online.

A don’t…forget that “sheet” is a shape of cake as well as a flavor. Enjoy this mediocre paradox as you ingest cake of any shape or flavor.

Mothman: Another Misunderstood Monster

As far as I can tell from all the Mothman stories I’ve read and that one movie I watched, Mothman, although menacing in appearance, was after nothing so substantial as our very souls.

I’ll explain. I read no accounts of disemboweled animals. No eviscerated owls or exsanguinated cattle were ever found that I know of. Simply humans. Frightened horrified humans. And what is one thing that all humans, especially suburbanites in the 50’s, have in common?

They have clothes on. Right? No one that I read about was out for a nude stroll when Mothman confronted them. They were out with their families having completely G-rated (and in the case of the teens that saw him/her/it no more than PG, it was 50’s conservative suburbia, for crying out loud). They were wearing clothes!

Moths eat clothes. Men wear clothes. Mothman was either hungry or ashamed of his nudity. He didn’t want to horrify folks. He wanted to eat their Sunday best. He didn’t want to scare them. He couldn’t help that, by nature, he was scary. He wanted to either eat or wear their clothes and he hesitated. He never killed anyone because he just couldn’t decide which clothes looked tasty and which looked fashionable and I think, deep down, he didn’t want to kill anyone anyway. Otherwise, he would’ve.

Now, about that bridge collapse and the idea that Mothman prophesied it. Perhaps he truly did. But I think, in his innocent monster way, he didn’t show up to warn people about it. I don’t think he truly realized that people were dying. I think he simply thought “CLOTHES BUFFET!” And all the carnage was lost on him because it all had this decadent stagnant water sauce on it and he didn’t even stop to think about the terror that had been wrought on the small community he’d been terrorizing. He was, after all, a monster. A hungry, naked, confused monster.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…wear clothes, even though it might attract mothman.

A don’t…stroll nude to repel him. The police are much more prevalent than mothmen and much more likely to complicate your life should they find you unclothed in public.

School Breakfast: Scientific Miracle, Conspiracy, or Simply One Man’s Overactive Imagination?

I think it is worth noting that as I’m writing this, a cup of coffee (Cain’s; black, no sugar and steaming hot) is sitting next to me. I think this is worth noting because it is the first time I’ve ever written anything with a cup of coffee (as perfect as previously described) next to me and it somehow feels right. With that out of the way, let’s proceed:

I went to school with my kids this morning for breakfast. They invite the dads a few times a year for breakfast and guided conversation with their children. I’ve been to several of these but this morning, for some reason, I suddenly realized that it felt like neglect, if not outright abuse.

That last sentence probably begs some explanation. Here goes: We woke up at our usual time but, instead of fixing some pancakes or spreading Nutella on toast we simply watched cartoons and did a little work on the cardboard haunted houses we’ve been building. The kids kept telling me they were hungry and I kept reminding them that we were going to have breakfast together at school. They brushed their teeth, as usual, commenting on how weird it was to brush before breakfast, and we piled into the car. The trip to school was dark and wet and chilly. This morning was a real Halloweeny type of morning here where we live. I didn’t realize it was a fore-shadowing of what was to come. When we arrived at the school we hurried in before we got too rained on or shivered ourselves to death. Once in the cafeteria we lined up and the kids encouraged me to help myself to chocolate milk. I did. I didn’t regret it. We made our way to the end of the line where the trays sat ready to grab with a steaming breakfast (technically that’s exactly what it was; breakfast.) of a single biscuit, a slightly larger in circumference than a half-dollar yet wafer thin sausage patty and a small tub of apple juice. The biscuit looked like it was made of whole wheat flour, so there’s that, but…I hadn’t even fed them and now the school wasn’t feeding them either. We found a place to sit across from some other dads who didn’t have forlorn looks on their faces. They must’ve fed their kids before breakfast.

Maybe my kids eat more than usual. I sat looking at the barely breakfast before us thinking of how my kids usually eat like ravenous pigs in the morning. Two and sometimes three, pieces of toast or pancakes (whichever we’ve made) heavily laden with Nutella followed occasionally by, as my daughter calls them “Canola bars” (although when I call them canola bars she laughs and says “not canola bars, they’re canola bars”). I harassed them to eat it and eat it all so they wouldn’t get too hungry before the end of breakfast. They nibbled at bits and crumbs. My oldest daughter ate three small bites of her sausage patty and, after I’d harassed her sufficiently, tried enough of the biscuit to realize she didn’t like it. My middle child, canola bar girl, didn’t try any of it and got a tub of fruity cheerios, which I didn’t even know existed. My son ate all of his and I was relieved even though he made some sort of weird sausage-upside-down-biscuit by mashing the patty onto the top of the bread. He sat there chomping away with a disturbing ravenous carnivore sneer on his face, oblivious to anything but the dinosaur fantasy I’m sure he was having. I wolfed my own down and was surprised that the taste wasn’t all that unpleasant. I spent the rest of the breakfast ignoring the goings on the administrator initiated such as a video on respect and an opportunity for dads to stand and brag on their kids. I wasn’t disinterested. I was simply worried that their little tummies would be growling before they got to class.

That’s when the idea first crossed my mind that the school gets away with neglect. I understand that it is a parent’s responsibility to feed their children. I wasn’t worried about my own who, even if hungry this morning, wouldn’t have to worry about that tomorrow. But what about the kids whose families can’t afford to feed them and a free school breakfast and lunch are something they look forward to? I know some people have misgivings about the government being involved in welfare and such, but I don’t think kids should suffer hunger simply because their parents can’t afford enough food. I have no problem at all with my tax dollars going to fund free school meals for kids who truly need something to eat. But for crying out loud, I thought, give them something to eat!

As I sat there having these thoughts rather than paying attention to the goings on, I began to realize that I, a full grown man, felt satisfied in my belly. This was nearly three hours ago and I’m still not hungry! Now I’m thinking new thoughts. It seems school lunches are scientifically engineered to swell to the size of your stomach. Maybe my kids really did eat until they were full. Maybe now I should be worried that my son is going to founder rather than starve because he ate just as much as I did and he only has a flat, tiny five year old tummy. I only hope that this isn’t some make-them-feel-full conspiracy. I hope that the little bit of food provided had some disproportionate nutritional value. I hope it wasn’t that we were essentially filling our bellies with cardboard and, though feeling satisfied, were left lacking essential proteins and vitamins and such.

Or, as the title of this post suggests, perhaps my brain was bored and I’ve severely overthought this.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…spend your time with your children enjoying their company rather than letting your mind race to bizarre and distant places. After all, we spend a large portion of our lives hallucinating in the dark. Why do it in the daylight when you could be enjoying your family?

A don’t…let them eat too many school breakfasts if you can help it. I’m not completely convinced it’s real food. It certainly didn’t behave like real food this morning. But it did taste good.

Wallets or Billfolds: Is There a Life Lesson in Considering Them?

I want to share some food for thought. It might not be very tasty to some, however, if we stretch our minds way way way out, we might be able to somehow find some philosophy in it.

The thought, or more correctly, the query is: Are billfolds called billfolds because they fold bills as they close or are they called billfolds because the billfold itself folds while containing bills? It doesn’t seem like it would be worthy of consideration but, as I said be, we might be able to pull some meaning out of it.

First, let’s consider the question without scratching the surface. If they are called billfolds because they fold bills then only the ones that fold in half or in thirds would rightly be called billfolds but could also be referred to as wallets. The longer ones that either clasp and sit in a purse or stick way up out of, most commonly, a cowboy’s or farmer’s pocket could only be called wallets. This creates a situation in which all billfolds are wallets but not all wallets are billfolds. Hooray.

If they are called billfolds because the fold while containing bills they are all wallets and/or billfolds depending upon your preference. Unless someone has invented a rigid item with a slot into which you slide bills without folding the bill or the item. We won’t go into that, however, because then we would have to determine whether, if the item were made of a single piece of material, would it mean that it was simply permanently pre-folded and therefore a billfold? Also, if it were made of multiple pieces, therefore undeniably not folded, with a hinged piece that opens for bill retrieval would manipulating the hinge count as folding? Getting into that, though, would be a nightmare of technical babbling that would render us all confused and angry so I shall avoid this at all costs and stick with the original question which, probably, is confusing and angering anyone reading this more than they’re enjoying anyway.

With that all behind us, let’s look at what, if any, lesson we may draw from the distinctions between wallets and billfolds. This seems weak to me, but it’s the best I’ve got: No matter what they’re called, and whether or not anyone is offended by one term or the other, wallets and billfolds by either name perform their functions impervious to our meanderings. Both are designed for a certain purpose and, though the designs may differ, they do what they are designed to do. Perhaps if we, as people of all different titles and statuses and colors and countless other distinctions, perform our functions impervious to the tags that others may pin upon us, we will be a stronger people more capable of higher thought because our minds are free of the stresses of worrying about what other people think we are or are designed to do.

And so you see, even the most ridiculous of thoughts can be used to edify if we try hard enough.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…be a wallet if you’re a wallet, even if others think you’re a billfold. We are all in this together and have basically the same purpose despite our physical differences.

A don’t…think I profess it to be easy. A wallet is an inanimate object and does what it does due to our manipulation. I understand that we, as thinking, feeling beings, will have a harder time with this. This was all simply my attempt to draw meaning from a random thought I had. I hope it made some sense to you.

 

A Few Unconventional Ideas for the Home; I Bet They Won’t Work

I posted previously about the large pecan tree in my back yard. This tree is close enough to my house to cause some concern on windy days and my wife and I have spent many an afternoon watching the kids play and discussing how much of the house we would lose should the tree topple in the right direction. My dire prediction is that we would lose most of the house. She disagrees, but I think she might be in denial. The tree is huge, the house small. I think she’d compromise and agree that we could lose perhaps 40%. I don’t have a huge problem with it since the majority of our loss would be the kitchen (which I nearly burned down making Halloween decorations. I owe my family a new countertop and some flooring.) and the laundry room. These could stand to be rebuilt and the likelihood of anyone being in these rooms during a massive windstorm is fairly low.

These facts are of no comfort to my wife, however. She prefers that none of our house be demolished by trees. Perhaps she is the sane one. Perhaps…

With her in mind, though, I have begun to design in my head a novel defense. Solar powered roof top wood chippers. Actually, make them wind powered. That way they run without the need to turn them on with very little notice and they won’t be causing a cacophonous crescendo simply because it’s daytime. And trees could fall at night. I’m convinced. Wind is the way to go.

There’s a lot more science to be considered, positioning, weight, strength of roof, attachments, how to get them up there, maintenance, legality of such a device, etc., but I feel the underlying idea is sound.

Again, my wife disagrees, but keep in mind she is also not a fan of my plan to develop miniature smart missile batteries to shoot down stray drones that wander into the restricted airspace around my house. The local airport might not respect the fact that I’ve deemed the air above my property a no fly zone, but at least I could keep some kids’ toy with a streaming hd camera attached from looking through my windows.

Now if only I could convince the woman I love that it is ok to fire tiny warheads within the city limits…and do the science of developing said warheads…and procure the materials…and have nothing to do but sit and wait for someone to fly a drone into my yard which has never, to my knowledge, happened.

Again, perhaps she is the sane one…

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu… think me nuts if you must, but consider this; If my house is destroyed through no fault of my own it is not insane to appreciate the opportunity to rebuild.

A don’t…contact any watchdog organizations. I have no plans to develop tiny warheads. I’m simply a guy with an imagination. I just happen to enjoy imagining mini mushroom clouds and tiny heat seeking missiles zooming around. I’m also not a scientist and couldn’t make this a reality even if I actually wanted to. Also, I’m broke. No worries.

Stay At Home Dogs and Their Mysterious Owners; A Query of the Canine Mind

If you are reading this as a non-dog-owner or as the owner of a dog that isn’t horrified of literally everything, you may not understand the idea that I’m about to present. Allow me to set the stage a little bit for those of you that fall into the aforementioned categories.

I have a very large and stubborn dog. She won’t go anywhere she doesn’t want to go. She is a big weenie. If there’s a broom propped against the wall she won’t walk past it. She’s literally horrified of everything, as I mentioned earlier. When she gets scared her stomach becomes nervous and she can flatulate her way to a house or car free of humans. She’s been on only one car ride with my wife and I. I had to lift her into the car and if it hadn’t been for a random set of earplugs in the glove box that I was able to cram into my nostrils I’m sure I’d have driven off the highway and killed us all.  For these reasons and despite the facts that I love my dog very much and would love to take her to town with us, she’s never been in our car since the day we picked her up. She is a stayin’ home kind of dog.

And there you have a set stage. A whole paragraph just to say “My dog don’t go nowhere.” I’ll now proceed with my thought as I cringe at the triple negative I just committed.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 A.M. and went to the well known 24 hour grocery and goods chain that every town seems to have. I had to get my daughter an apple for school. When I got home my dog greeted me at the door, tail wagging so wildly that her back half reminded me of a derailed train where the rear cars are off  the tracks but still desperately trying to follow the locomotive. She sniffed excitedly at the small bag in my hand and looked up at me with, what seemed to me, an expression of wonder. I had an epiphany. I had a thought I’ve never had before.

Perhaps with the kids still in bed and nothing too stressful looming on my immediate horizon my brain was free to entertain more idle thoughts than it can after a day full of cares, but I realized that, to my dog who never leaves her own house or yard, I’m a mysterious adventurer who travels to realms she’s never dreamed of and returns with things that, sometimes, she’s never seen or smelled before.

That’s an interesting idea to have, but it is also depressing. All this time I thought she was excited to see me because she loves and missed me. Maybe this isn’t the case at all. Maybe she’s just excited to smell the exotic smells that hitchhike home on my clothes and exude from the bags of wonders I sometimes carry with me.

If you are a person who takes their dog with them everywhere and your dog still greets you enthusiastically when you get home from work, I think you can rest easy knowing it is truly you your dog is happy to see. For me, however, I must be content with the thought that my dog is in complete awe of me. Sadly, I’ll never be sure if me dog even loves me. But, to at least one mind in the universe I’m a superhero who travels to strange places and returns smelling of the unknown, sometimes with armloads of alien artifacts.

You’d think she’d be more apt to obey such an individual, but we can’t have everything, can we?

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…think before you take your dog anywhere. Ask yourself “Do I want to spend time with my friend or be a mysterious adventurer to him/her” It’s a tough choice if you have a dog that even allows you to make such a choice.

A don’t…let your status as dog hero go to your head. It’s possible that dogs greet us out of instinct and have no care at all for who we are and where we’ve been.