An Idiot’s Guide to Grilling…

It’s not real difficult…cooking on a gas grill is really a fairly simple thing to do…much easier than trying to cook with charcoal and lighter fluid…unless you’re an idiot like me…

There are just 3 simple things I do before slappin’ the meat on the grill…if the wife wants grilled vegetables or seafood she’s on her own, those aren’t my things…but, before I start cooking the 3 steps required are…

clean the grill grates with one of those hard-bristled brushes…turn on the gas to the burners…press the igniter button…then enjoy some delicious cooked meats in a Jiffy…am I right?…unless you’re an idiot like me…

Last night, my kid’s girlfriend stopped over…what better time to throw some sausage on the grill?…and after wasting 20 minutes defrosting 2 packs of frozen meats, I made my way outside to the grill…

I turned on the gas…I cleaned the grates…and I depressed the igniter button…in that unfortunate sequence…

2F0198F6-2BD2-433B-B0BA-85FAA9430BD1-5608-0000030ABEC69897have you ever heard of the Darwin Awards?…given to people who’s natural selection (unfortunate demise) serves as a warning to others…and if you’ve been paying attention to what you’re reading, by now you know how I almost became a Darwin Award winner…

because while you can always brush…turn on the gas…press the igniter button…you can even turn on the gas…press igniter button..then brush…unless you’re an idiot like me…

don’t ever turn on the gas first…brush the grates second…and press the igniter button last…unless of course you want to catch fire…and you’re an idiot like me…2324E6DC-7D80-435E-80F3-1D51BA44F50A-5608-000003066E1A44CC

I’m okay…my Neo-like-from-the-Matrix-movie reflexes allowed me to bend away from the fireball spat at me from the inside of my grill…leaving me with only some singed hair…which smells really bad when it’s burned…and the subject for another long-winded blog post…and yes I know…I should always keep a fire extinguisher nearby for emergencies…just like me…

I’m No Gardener Either…

Of all the things people have called me…master gardener isn’t one of them. My 2FE43938-E665-468D-868B-37BB2E6FDE85-2145-00000172701E5C7Dhouse…is where flora and fauna of many types go to die…brutally choked out by the things that thrive at my house…the common pokeweed with its delicious appearing, yet poisonous berries, and the ability to climb higher than the 5’11” I am…and how in the name of Jerry Baker…(apparently he’s a master gardener of some popularity and shouldn’t be confused with the televangelist Jim Baker)…did I manage to get Canada Thistle in my Pennsylvania yard?…thistle is migratory?… like some sort of goose?…and yes, I grow the equally annoying and harder to remove, bull thistle as well…my yard has no prejudices.

No spring or summer would be complete without the annual battle with my true F255F762-76BA-4FAA-8213-36971858854D-2145-0000013C14D2C86Anemesis…poison ivy. I pray every day…whatever bird, rabbit, deer, or other woodland animal that Amble onto my property daily and plant that vile weed into my yard…die a thousand deaths for all the pain, itching, swelling…the doctor’s visits…the steroid treatments…all of it…for what they put me through…

That’s right…I’m no master gardener…if it was up to me, I’d mow it all over and throw down grass seed.

Let the Job Search Begin…

I’ve finally decided it’s time to go. No, not this blog… from my current employment situation…You’s can’t get rid of me that easily…

Don’t get me wrong…I have a great boss who has a really cool car and reads this blog in the bathroom…what more could I ask for…am I right?

Fortunately, I can take my time looking since I still have a job that pays my bills…and with websites like Zip Recruiter, I have access to all kinds of jobs in my area that were posted months ago, and to my good fortune, seems they were never filled.

I’ve created a resume with so much Shimmer and shinola…there’s no question in my mind that I’ll have a new gig before the end of the year…so boss, if you’re reading this during your morning constitutional, this is my provisional two-week notice…there may be more to follow depending on my success…

I’ve read where NASA is looking for a new Planetary Protection Officer…wonder how many of the boxes I check off for that job?…

 

Bailey and Us…I Remember When

I remember when we saw him for the first time…his ears too big for his puppy-sized head…his bark short and comical to hear…his hound voice yet to be discovered…his brown eyes and his birthday, both same as my wife’s sealed the deal…

I remember picking him up at the mall…that’s right, we bought him at a pet store, and after 14 years turns out he was a helluva deal…him and the kids went through obedience training, but it didn’t take…God love ’em, those kids were too crazy…

I remember the night we bought him home from the vet’s office…drugged up on pain medication…castration they called it on the bill…responsible ownership they told us…in the back of my mind I still think cruel and heartless…

I remember when curiosity got the better of him…an introduction to electricity and the hazards of chewing electric cords…so that’s what fried beagle smells like…it only ever happened once…I remember how he chewed the rug in our family room…the vote was close…should we replace just the rug?…or him too?…

We all had our nicknames for Bailey…Bailsey, Beagle, Baileydammit…the last one mine, reserved for those times he decided to take a run around the neighborhood…never said we were very creative…

I remember stuffed mallards, rubber balls, and any number of other toys he would fetch and wrestle over…the way he would shake those stuffed mallards as he ran with them…drop a ball at your feet and howl a beagle howl to go again…how he ran up the back stairs in the house, down the hallway to the front stairs, then down and around to the back again…throw it again he dared…

Bailey’s 14 this month…he can’t run the stairs and he only walks when he used to run…he’s come to some kind of agreement with the rabbits in the yard…they don’t even Scamper  for the trees at the sight of him coming out of the house anymore…he walks with a limp…sometime front, sometimes back(?), depends how he slept…he still has most of his teeth, just not all…and apparently there must be male-pattern baldness in his family, how can a 13-inch beagle lose so much hair?…

…he sleeps more now…but as always, there’s never a meal or a treat he’ll pass on…the vet says his heart is good, so we’re looking forward to another year of remembering Bailey when…

 

My Family…Caring And Supportive…Or Batcrap Crazy?

I’ve done more than my share of self loathing lately. But then, I’m what you would truly call a miserab, and disliking myself and my actions are all a part of the experience. But there are other reasons, external forces that help create and when needed, re-enforce my true miserable-ness.

So what is it that drives me batcrap crazy? It would be easy to tell you it’s the political shitstorm we’re all subjected to everyday, but that’s not it, at least not yet. Lack of friends, snooty neighbors…probably, but they’re for another day…

No, the number one thing on my list is family. Don’t judge me just yet, if you’re reading this I’ll bet you’ve said the same thing before, only to yourself and not in print where anyone in your family will read it. I can honestly say I have no worries there…no one in my family has ever read, or asked to read a single word I’ve published. But I’m not bitter. Let me introduce them…

My wife may be the smartest woman I know or have ever known, and it ain’t because she hitched her wagon to this horse’s ass. Her one major flaw…she doesn’t listen, or maybe it’s respect…a word I tell her. Sure she’ll ask for my opinion, but most of her time is spent performing this painful monologue where she speaks and I only move my mouth when she puts her hand in the back of my head like I’m some sick sort of wood dummy. On the rare occasion that I do spout a semi-coherent thought, she chipmunks it away in her brain, only to see the light of day again if someone she actually has respect for confirms it as a good idea. But then it’s, “(Fill in any name here) said this and it seems like good advice.” You’ll notice there is no mention of me as the original author of that good advice. But that’s okay.

Now, my wife, is also a mom, just ask my son. They have this relationship, and I swear they do it to annoy me, where one minute she’s the loving Italian mother talking to the son who would do anything for her, and the next minute I’m looking to hide all the cutlery in the house. It can turn that quickly. There is a saying that goes, “Pick which hill you want to die on”, and there isn’t a hill in our house, in our lives, that isn’t out of their war zone. They’ll debate his grades, his job, religion, politics, food, beer…anything, it’s all up for grabs, and I find it’s best to duck when the verbal bullets start flying. Things get heated and that’s when my wife drags me into the fray. I’m the human shield, I’m that thing that signals to my son that he can’t win this one, run and live to fight another day…and then like that, the relationship is back to loving mom and adoring son (kinda)… I’m left in a state of not ready to let it go yet…next thing I know, their off to a movie, to the mall, to grab a sandwich…and everything is right in their world…it’s me who’s left holding the bag labeled “Hostility”.

My son, God love him, is the most over-confident student currently on academic probation that I know. He’s also a bit of a beer Buff and there isn’t one he won’t try, which might shed some light on his academic probation status. But he has a dream, a vision of opening a brewery and cooking his own brand of beer, a part of society so underserved that as of last year there were only a mere 5,000 brewers in the United States. But I give him credit, it’s his dream and I won’t squash it, there’s already over 5,000 people in line for that job.

I also have a daughter. She was smart enough to move to Florida after graduating college, thereby avoiding all of this familial strife. It also allows us to take our show on the road a couple of times a year, possibly educating other families, especially younger ones, in new and sometimes brutal ways of dumping on each other. Now, my daughter, she’s truly crafty…she has made it known to each of us separately that she enjoys us coming to visit her…one at a time. It gives her more one-on-one time with each of us… and thereby avoids the hysteria that accompanies a full family visit. It’s her brand of divide and conquer strategy…and to be honest, it works like a charm.

I have a beagle. His name is Bailey and he’ll be 14 years old this year. That would make him 75 to you and me, and just like me, he’s got bad feet, he’s a little overweight for his size, and I think his hearing and sight are starting to go, and occasionally he’ll have a senior dog moment when he walks into a room with no clue as to why he wants to be there. He’s a great dog though, except he has his days and nights confused. I also think he has some separation anxiety as well, and nothing cuts into my sleep faster than a beagle howling for attention at 3:00. That’s A.M., after midnight, when we should all be asleep. So for the next half hour, we go outside, we might wrestle over a toy, maybe have a biscuit or two (him, not me), whatever it takes to settle him down.

There you have it, an attempted humorous look at my family, the folks who irritate me, promote self loathing within myself, and drive me absolutely batcrap crazy on occasion,  and with whom I couldn’t do whatever it is I do if they weren’t in my life…

 

Featured Image via from Dorkly via flimsyspoons

The Return of Darth Neighbor

Yes, the name Darth Neighbor is a cheap rip-off of Star Wars evil-doer Darth Vader, but when I was swinging plastic light sabers in the back yard against my 6-year old son and the neighbor kid, I was usually forced to represent the Dark Side of the force. No problem, we all know Lord Vader had the highest Midichlorian count in the Star Wars universe, so it stands to assume the Dark Side would have ruled my neighborhood as well.

Always cast as the villain, I created a dark Star Wars persona of my own, that of Darth Neighbor, the ultimate power not only in my back yard, but possibly in all of the Providence Ridge housing development.

My own interest in Star Wars ended with Return of the Jedi and the destruction of the second Death Star, however the release of The Phantom Menace inspired a new generation of fans in the franchise (not me though), and inspired the galactic battles that raged in my yard after I got home from work. And of course, only after those little Jedi nuts had finished any homework assignments for the day.

The battles usually took less time than it took the Millenium Falcon to complete the Kessel Run, were always un-choreographed, usually just me chasing a couple of pint-sized wannabe Jedi Knights around the yard, through swing sets, around bushes and trees, between cars, whatever obstacle they could run around or hide behind. But unlike Star Wars, in the universe called my back yard, the Dark Side always prevailed.

Just as Old Ben Kenobi had buried the memories of his days as Obi-Wan, I also forgot about my days as the ass-kicking Darth Neighbor. Until this year, when my daughter reminded me of those days when she sent me my personalized magic band for my trip down to see her at Disney World.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Katie is like a Star Wars historian, but she’s also a pretty good athlete. And she knew the one way to guarantee my attention was to pull out the hockey net and it wouldn’t be long before I showed up. To her credit, she also padded up and laced on her roller blades for those father/daughter games in our driveway; so how could I ignore that much effort? 

When my son and the neighbor kid played, the games deteriorated into watching two Tasmanian Devils hitting the ball everywhere but at the net. It was their own out-of-control brand of “dump and chase” hockey, and like two Unmoored ships in a hurricane, they crashed into each other often and knew no boundaries of any kind, and it went on until one of them slashed the other hard enough in the shins or on the hand with their stick. This usually sent the aggrieved party home or back in the house for first aid or to have a sandwich and a glass of milk or some damn thing, leaving just my daughter “Skates” and me to practice our slap shots and our triple deeks.

And when that box with the magic bands arrived, she also reminded me of the times when father/daughter fun was spent just shooting pucks at a net in my driveway…just the two of us.