It All Started With A Spice Rack

Eighteen inches must mean something different to the people at Amazon than it does to me. Like most things in life, the best intentions are paved to hell with a mislabeled spice rack. Today was one of the days this week where I had five hours to myself to write.

spice-rackThen my long absent spice rack arrived and the day went anywhere but writing. I did manage to print out one of the three things I wanted to work on. So here I am looking at the bits and pieces of a spice rack that even I, a dimensionally and spacially challenged person can tell is not eighteen inches long. But the box says eighteen inches all over it. Did I get the lucky box filled with all of the extra parts on the factory floor?

Looking over the box and the well illustrated instructions on the back, I did not get the lucky box. Searching and reading some more, there it is in tiny print…tiny print compared to the eighteen inches, seventy-two inches. Next thought, is my door long or tall enough? Crap! I don’t know. I can’t tell by looking. One of them does look bigger than the other…girth I always heard it was about girth and here is this length problem and I…

A tape measure, several minutes of construction later, I am moving all of the spices for a fourth time since we moved here. Moving the spices created a empty shelf or two, so I should fill them with kitchen equipment. Well, that looks nice, I should see what else I can fix or organize.

Five minutes before I had to leave to get the kids, one knuckle scrape, and two paper cuts later and I have cleaned the floors, the kitchen, and rearranged the office. Most interesting find, two boxes of nothing but things with a cord or cords themselves. Cords to old video game systems, cords that end in multi-plugs, cords to things I have no clue, but two boxes worth. Who in the hell keeps these things, packs these things for a move? Me.

And then I wound them up and packed them up again in one box. What happens if one day years from now I find the thing that needs a cord and I threw it away? That’s right, I would have a device with no cord and I cannot take a chance on that…well I can, but I was so in the zone of cleaning and organizing that I did it without realizing it until I went to put the top on the box and had to organize the box of cords.

I know sad. I know, I could have been writing. I know… However, I have a well organized and clean office and house to work and play in…tomorrow. 🙂

Oh yeah, where was the eighteen inches? Turns out width or…girth. 🙂

Musing About Grilling & Life

So where are we?

Well we are here of course.

From the stand point of where are we, as in me and mine…that is another story…

The good and bad news continue to roll in like the tide. Nothing world ending, that we are aware of, but just enough to make for some bumpy surf and set back most of our remaining summer plans. What are you going to do?  We, we try to ride out the bumps and while we ride we do our best to enjoy what we have.

To that end, last night I have three chicken breasts that need to be cooked. However, I was not feeling like cooking after another day of unpacking and screwing around organizing. Going out to eat, an option, but only as a last resort. Given that there was chicken in front of me, not near last option. What to do?

We are enjoying grilling. I am getting pretty good at making cooking fires. Turns out there is a big difference between a fire for cooking and fire for smores. Once I cook the chicken then what? Kids say make chicken sandwiches, great idea except the children have yet to eat a grilled, read non-fried, chicken on anything. Barb has been jonesing for Moo Goo Gai Pan, but that would mean making a mess in the kitchen late a night.

Have I mentioned there is no dishwasher? Not a big deal, except we had one for the last five years, thus the non-dishwashing crowd (everyone other than me) does not see the big deal about making a lot of dishes. I do. While I do not mind washing dishes by hand, another good sideways thinking time for me, I do not have any desire to wash dishes late at night. What to do, what to do?

Grilling the chicken got my mouth watering and the cook inside me fired up (ha). While the chicken cooked it occurred to me that I would only have to prep vegetables for any wokable dish. That right there cut down the number of dishes to something very manageable. Between checking the chicken, Barb and I prepped broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, snow peas, and made the Moo Goo sauce. I have not had an easier or quicker time cooking in a long time. By the time the chicken was finished, I had the wok heated up and ready to go. Five minutes later, dinner.

Living here has been a learning experience, from figuring out how to cool the place off, to how the rain falls into the windows, arranging for garbage pick up (not something we thought about until here), to how to arrange a kitchen for cooking. I have an awesome kitchen set up compared to the last place; still I have to organize everything for ease of use. I only mention this because, it is raining here and the kids, who I asked to let me know if what raining inside, said to me, “we didn’t feel it.” I’m going to guess they were waiting for the puddle to reach them. Ugh.

Finally, to end this rather rambling post, as we get this place organized the table and floor which was home to Rivet Wars for a few days, will be cleaned off of laundry and NAPLEX books for gaming once again. HOORAY!


Another Day Of Being Patient

Another day of being patient with the process. While being patient I cleaned out one room from top to bottom. Might as well get some work done while being patient. Are you aware of how much stuff accumulates underneath a kid’s bed? I thought I was, until I lifted up the bed. I am positive that underneath each child’s bed is an extra-dimensional space specifically designed to hold toys. Lots of toys. Way more toys than should fit in the space available.

Even better than a Doctor Who like predicament, there were toys under the bed that based on sheer size alone should have caused some very uncomfortable nights sleep or had the potential to flip the bed over if nothing heavy, such as a child or a whole shit ton of other toys were not on top. It is a miracle that the bed did not slam into the ceiling from the stuff underneath or collapse from the shit on top of it.

Simply, amazing.

Floors cleaned, which I do believe is a first in a year or more. Try as we might we have never been able to get either child to pick up everything. Something always lingers and then is joined by something else and before you know it a toy party and parental foot trap has filled the floor. Any way, floors cleaned I took a look at the walls…

…one there was a lot of dirt on the walls and one mysterious stain on the ceiling. The wall dirt, easy enough. The mysterious stain, no clue until the children came into the room to reminisce about all of the fun they had over the last five years. And to tell me about the stain I was staring at, seems that a juicy drop (the really sour candy that has a liquid and solid component) container if squeezed hard enough, will hit the ceiling leaving a very mysterious stain.

Then I noticed the glow-in-the-dark stars. There is a lot of stuff I am willing to leave behind, but anything glow-in-the dark is getting moved one way or another. So out comes the step-ladder. Why the step-ladder, because I am not that tall and I had flipped up the beds. Standing there scraping glow-in-the-dark stars and the sticky shit that held them in place for five years off of the ceiling.

But the gist of the story, is that after a few hours of work one room is completely clean. I may be able to get one or two rooms completely clean before move out. But I’m not counting on it. I will have rooms filled with boxes and bags ready to go.

Now if this move will only happen soon.

And PLOP Went The Sauce

Sometimes my version of comfort food is nothing I want to share with other people. Today was one of those days. Its not that the food is bad tasting. It just looks bad and is crap food. I don’t like sharing crap food with other people, yet there are times, such as today when crap comfort food is needed.

Waking up with a sinus headache will do that. Especially when the sun has been out all day without a cloud in sight. Come on sinuses, only cause me pain when there is rain! Alas, no rain, but there has been pain. Sinus headaches keep me at a low threshold for bullshit and motivation to work, but I planned to do one of those things.

Not feeling “it,” I hopped onto the google doc Big Man and I are working on. If I can’t write at home because my writing space is a box labeled Bento Stuff, perhaps I can write online. Kinda. I’m not used to google doc. Sure it looks like Word and yet it does not at the same time and sure as hell doesn’t behave like Word. So, a lot of my time was spent fumbling through the various controls looking for simple shit like how to change text color. Word has it right, a button.

Still not feeling “it,” but feeling better, I moved onto cleaning. The problem with cleaning while packing and not packing is there is a lot of stuff all over the place. Most of this stuff should be packed away, but for whatever reason has not. Probably because I stopped packing. The result is a huge mess that would not be a mess if I hadn’t started packing in the first place. I want this kitchen back. I’m tired of sub-standard dishes coming out of it. However, because we are “moving” I have not gone grocery shopping: move tip #335 try to wind down your food supply before any move, moving food is a pain in the ass, rarely travels well and is often the first thing to be forgotten about until you open up “that” box. Thus, our kitchen supplies are low, which only reinforces the sub-standard fare and my desire to clean up the kitchen to make some non-sub-standard fare.

Except, it took forever to clean up and all us got hungry. I didn’t want a sandwich I wanted comfort food. Comfort food for me is usually something hot. What could I make that I could heat up, not another bowl of hellbroth ramen…I found chicken strips. Better than nothing.

While the chicken fried, I worked on a spicy hot sauce, I did not measure because when making this kind of sauce for myself, I don’t and it would become an issue…

Into a small sauce pot:

Ketchup, about 1/3 cup

Cider Vinegar, 1 capful

Honey, 1 long squirt (yes that is a measurement around here and the amount depends upon your hand strength)

Brown Sugar, around 1 1/2 tablespoons

Dijon Mustard, 1 quick squeeze

Gochujang #3, 1 giant heaping spoonful, estimate 2 tablespoons worth

Cook and stir. Taste…something is off, not enough sweet to balance the vinegar and heat. Grab the brown sugar with every intention of pouring a small amount in, when a glacier sized chunk broke off from the bag and PLOP into the sauce. I am going to estimate around 1/2 a cup. I could have thrown out the sauce, but that is waste and I do not like to do that. Cook it up and…

a great desert BBQ sauce or for people who like thick sweet sauces. No trace of heat. Was it good, yes. Was it comfort food? It looked like a bowl of chicken chunks in blood, so yes from a visual standpoint, but from that HEAT aspect, not in the least…oh well…


The Walls Our Bear

I love that title.

Packing continues. Despite no signs of home progress I continue to pack. Perhaps this is more magical thinking of mine, in that, if I pack a home will come mindset. Similar to that movie about the guy who turned good farmland into a baseball field, if I make a baseball field, local people will starve…or something like that.

Perhaps this is my desire to get out of here put into action. Some action. Tired of being in the basement where I am essentially taking an inventory of items lost over the past five years of storage I moved to the living room to start packing. Part of moving has been to remove wall stickers. We had a lot of wall stickers. They gave our place its rather distinct character. You knew you were either in a large kid’s room or the people here were different; upon entering you were greeted by a cityscape and various Marvel characters fighting. Love wall stickers.

But they have to go. There isn’t saving wall stickers. Despite the “pull and reuse” label, our experience has been wall stickers tear when removing and rarely re-stick as well as they did the first time. Further, even for those that did not tear upon removal, there is no way to transport or store them. Thus, they served their purpose.

Any idea what part of a move I feel is the worst?

Not the start. Starting is easy. Keeping everything organized is a pain in the butt. Nothing I haven’t done many times before.

Not the move itself. Lots of lifting, but not much more than that.

Not the unpacking. That is the end or near the end, thus good.

The loss of personality.

There comes a time when enough stuff is packed away that it feels no longer like your place. Yet you are there surrounded by boxes. That is where we are headed, rather rapidly. With the stickers gone and all but a few pictures down from the walls, there isn’t much to look at anymore. Reminds me of what this place looked like when we moved in, only cleaner.

Our place, funny I am already thinking of this as the old place even though we are not moving and as far as I can tell have nowhere to move, had a lot of personality. The walls were covered in Marvel, Star Wars, Firefly, Spongebob, a smattering of DC, and lots of glow-in-the-dark stuff. The shelves packed with Legos, movies, books, and knick knacks, most of which had a story attached to them.

Now the walls our bare. The shelves empty other than stuff that needs a special box or a last minute, “put all of this stuff into a box” as we wrap up moving and head out the door. The personality is being packed up for a new place. Can’t wait. 🙂


Back to Normal…?

Our boy, back from school, is showing us an episode of Bill Nye and I am wondering who was on drugs. Good information, but the presentation is a bit much for me.  Oh well, I’m not the target audience and he is interested enough to show us this episode for a science project idea. Just not sure if the idea is in the episode or in the numerous innuendo jokes…”This is a bung. That makes the hole a…” Ugh.

Any way the fifth word is the important word. Did you count?

If you got SCHOOL you were correct.

Last week was Spring Break for the children or as I like to call it the annual wearing away of my sanity and soul. If the weather had not been total crap I had plans to keep them occupied, exercised, and most importantly tired out. Alas, Mother Nature who is punishing me for something I have done in this life or the past few dumped snow, rain, freezing rain, and cold temperatures on us. Meaning that going outside for long walks would have been in the cards only if the adults thinking they were smart had not put away most…all of the winter gear.

In our defense it was warmish out when we put away the winter gear. Plus, I was tired of picking up coats, boots, hats, and gloves from the hallway where children and an adult or two (not me of course) dropped them on the way in. Thus, being smart we put away the winter gear and winter came back…

What happens to children when they have a week off, but nothing outdoors to do? They drive the adult home with them crazy with their boredom. What is sad to me is that there is plenty to do here for adults and children. Between the toys that the kids have and the adult toys, XboxOne. There is so much for kids to do.

Yet, when push comes to shove they claim to be bored.




Board Games?

Card Games?






Holy crap! They have more to do than I do and what they have to do is fun. I didn’t even ask them to clean or shower or anything even remotely related to cleanliness. That is a lie, I did make sure that they stayed clean. As for their room, when bored you clean your room. Guess what, they quickly found something to do…for about five minutes.

And the bickering and fighting and whining and tattle telling and the….AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! If Mother Nature had not been pissed at me they would have been at the parks, long walks around town, the wildlife or make that the stuffed wildlife museum. They would have been anywhere other than here driving me mad. But they were here. And with each passing day my sanity slipped a little more until I found myself up late at night shooting bandits in the face on Borderlands 2 just to make the anger fade enough that I would be more human in the morning.

Then it happened…Spring Break was over. I dropped the last child off, drove off, and the sun came out, rainbows appeared, and glorious music played (I may have had the stereo volume up). They were at school, the routine was going to return, and I felt better or for me more…normal?

500 Words At A Time: Shades of Weather

Nothing better than turning on the weather report to see that winter has arrived an hour away and to know that in an hour…whoops, that weather report was a half-hour old…and winter has arrived in force. There are two seasons here, hot and cold. Between hot and cold is the transition from one temperature extreme or the other.

Hot is the worst and the shortest amount of time. You have survived the mild, but wet season from cold to arrive at hot shortly after the last class of the year ends. Your mind and body are done with classes, done with the cold, done with the wet, and if you are from Michigan done with the ugly transition from white snow, to pollution covered snow, to tiny piles of pollution and snow, then the mud phase, and finally green. Unless you live on campus where the grass takes a bit longer to come in, but eventually by the time you are satisfied that another cold snap, sudden snow squall, or miserable cold rain storm will not show up it is hot.

I have not lived in truly hot places on the planet, but I have been stuck here for four summers. Summers in Big Rapids, in campus housing, are miserable and joyous. Joyous because the students are gone, but I have written about this numerous times. Miserable, because the housing units we are in do not have air conditioning or central air or even old fans. Instead, we have a house fan, which is giant fan the sound of which drowns out all noise, as it pulls air from outside inside and takes the inside air and pushes it out. What does that mean when the temperature is 80 to 90+ degrees?

Are you familiar with a convection oven? You have probably seen the commercials where the hot air circulates to evenly cook the food. I do not want to be evenly cooked. Yet, that is the hot season here. Thankfully the hot season is only a few weeks.

“Winter is coming.”

-Stark House Motto

That is great. Here the motto is “POLAR VORTEX!” I didn’t even know polar vortexes existed until we moved here and we are no where near the polar. Yet, three out of the five years here there has been a polar vortex of varying strengths. Ferris State University is thought of as a walking campus; thus unless you will literally freeze to death stepping outside, the doors remain open.

If you happen to live in the dorms on main campus, I guess I can understand that line of thought. If you live 10 to 15 minutes walking distance from the nearest building, that line of thought can piss off. Polar Vortexes do not last all of winter, which means much like the hot season for a few weeks walking around is miserable as your sinuses freeze. The worst part of winter around here has been how the grounds crew handles the snow and ice.

Depending on where on campus you are the snow and ice removal varies from excellent to “I could die walking here.” Excellent snow removal seems to be reserved for the “special part of campus”-pharmacy, allied medical, and optometry buildings where there are heated sidewalks. Main campus and the environs around main campus seem to have second priority with better snow and ice removal closer to the center of campus. Last on their list is family housing where we have seen inches of snow pile up before anyone comes through to remove the snow.

Every winter we learn to walk on snow packed so dense that it becomes ice. Learned how to drive our car through ill cleared parking lots, to maneuver and park around snow piles in such a way that our car is not mistaken for one of the cars that never moves and is buried under a pile of snow one one of the days that they do snow “removal.” Like the holidays, the weather around here has not directly affected education, but has shaded the impressions of our time here.