Steady Lads

We've cleaned the horse stalls, packed the camper, and vacuumed the house. Gigi even cleaned out the

Boscoe the parrot is already in the travel trailer. The border collies are all set and anxious to get going too.

Now just a final few items and a shower and we’ll be ready to go.

One problem though is I have a client meeting at 3:00 PM. So I’ll make a house call and hopefully I will be hitched up and ready to go by 5 PM.

I figure we can make Sweetwater Campground by dark.

Travel Time

We’re trying something a little different this year. Normally a vacation week for us runs Saturday to Saturday. I like having Sunday for reflection, rest and gearing my brain back for work.

This year we are going to hookup the Travel Trailer, dogs, bird and the misses and get three hours of travel under our belt before we sleep. All of this on a Friday mind you.

The most stressful part of the trip for me is getting through Charlotte and then getting to the other side of Columbia, SC. With Charlotte the issue is traffic. Columbia is just so boring and seems so far away. There is nothing to see.

Ask anyone here how far is Columbia and they’ll say, “It’s an hour.”

An hour my ass. Maybe by bullet train.

We’ll stay over at a little RV park next to a lake in Orangeburg, SC. The place is called Sweetwater Campground. There is a dog there named “Sweetwater Crazy” that checks you in my sniffing you and begging a treat.

This place is actually a farm with cows, and a lake where the owner has put in power and water hookups for RVs traveling down I-26. It makes for a nice convenient and peaceful nights rest.

There is not even a person there to take you money. Once Sweetwater Crazy checks you in, you simply go to the end of the dirt road and drop your money in an honor system metal box. I guess this works well since they still keep the campground open.

The whole point of leaving tonight is we want to avoid a 7 hour drive on I-95 on the 4th of July weekend. Hopefully we’ll wake all happy and refreshed with a 3 ½ hour drive ahead of us.

Once at Jekyll I’ll have plenty of time to set up camp, get the satellite dish pointed, the screen room pitched, etc. Then take the dogs for a beach walk, have evening cocktails and supper. Sounds like a plan. We’ll see how it goes.

Points to Ponder

I was washing the RV this morning and the song by the Temptations, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” kept going over and over in my head.

I thought to myself, “Self, papa is one sorry ass role model.”

I looked up the lyrics:

I said, Papa was a rolling stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home.(And when he died) All he left us was alone."

What shocked me is I always thought papa left them with a loan. Not alone. If he left them with a loan then papa was truly a sorry man.

But since papa was clear a lousy role model how in the heck did I think papa got a loan in the first place. You’d be a fool to loan papa money.

I think my mind just switched over to vacation mode, ya think?


I love high definition TV. It looks and sounds better than real life.

Ask Gigi, I’ll watch about anything on a HD channel simply because it’s so clear and the sound is awesome.

Charmed reruns are fine, anything on Discovery HD is fine, old HBO and Showtime movies with has been dead actors like Lee Marvin hold me spellbound for hours.

I will quickly loose interest on the same subject matter on standard definition TV.

We have had high definition TV for a year now and the novelty has not worn off for me.

I am however very tired of documentaries about snakes. Give it a break.

Women don’t get the big deal about superior TV clarity, and superior sound. They simply tolerate our need for HD and are happy to watch their TV in 4:3 ratio while I’m engulfed in 16:9 ratio.

I guess it’s just a basic man woman think like guys are universally going to like the Three Stooges and woman universally are going to hate the Stooges. Substitute Beavis and Butthead for the Stooges if you are young and reading this.

It doesn’t matter to me, they are both funny and stimulate the same part of my male brain. Adolescence is the universal language for most men.


I got the RV out of dry dock where she’s been moored since last spring. This sounds more glamorous than the truth.

The truth is it’s been parked in the backyard under a tree since our last RV trip which was Jacksonville, FL last April.

The inside is very clean and the AC has been on about 80 degrees for the past few weeks. This removes any musty smell that could build up under our humid conditions.

The outside however is filthy. A good scrubbing is in order tonight or tomorrow.

Our house sitter waxed the RV last February when we were in St Croix. It could be worse I suppose.

A little soap and bleach and it will be ready for the road.

Gigi just said, “Remember to take some funeral clothes.”

I asked, “Why, who’s dying?”

“Well nobody that I know of. You know someone will die if we don’t have clothes. Then it will be 12 hours of driving to get some clothes or we’ll have to buy new ones at Belks”

Leave it to Gigi to take funeral clothes on vacation.

On a side note, I checked the beer and so far no explosions of any bottles were detected. They say it’s a common rooky mistake to overfill a few on the first batch and hence a few bottles may pop under the pressure.

A Word of Caution

Sampling an unconditioned beer is not a good idea.

Last night I had maybe a cup of beer leftover after the bottling. I thought I would give it a quick sample.

“Not bad, good flavor!” I thought.

Apparently there was more active yeast still in the beer sample than I thought.

By morning I was a bloated gaseous balloon.

Cruel and Unusual

Why are executions carried out so late at night?

I just read where some poor soul in Tennessee was pronounced dead at 3:12 AM EDT Wednesday. He had confessed to killing 19-year-old Marine Suzanne Collins in 1985 while she jogged near a Navy base north of Memphis.

Just for me to be awake at 3:12 AM is cruel and very unusual. 3:12 AM is too late or too early for anyone no matter how you look at it.

What does one do after a 3:12 AM execution? I guess everyone headed to the Waffle shop or is there a formal reception?

I am not a big fan of the death penalty. I believe plenty of folks deserve death, but as a society we have proven all too often that mistakes are made.

Beer Update

I bottled my first batch of beer today.

First I washed and sanitized everything. The bottles were new so I rinsed them in sanitizer and rinsed them in clean water.

I then transferred the beer from the glass carboy (5 gallon jug) back into the 6 gallon plastic pale. The plastic pale has a spigot at the bottom for filling bottles.

There was a noticeable amount of sediment at the bottom of the glass Carboy. This is good. The previous transfer to the glass Carboy was intended to clarify and further age the beer.

I boiled some sugar and water while the transfer was taking place. I added the sugar to the beer about half way through the transfer. This sugar is supposed to activate any yeast left and cause the bottled beer to carbonate. Sugar turning into alcohol will emit C02.

The plastic hose fit neatly on the spigot. I started filling bottles leaving 1 inch of room at the top. I would fill eight 12 ounce bottles and then stop to cap them.

Capping is cool. You simply place a cap on top of the bottle and crimp the cap tightly on the bottle with a crimping tool.

I ended up filling and capping 52 bottles.

With the few ounces left in the bottom I decide to give the beer a taste.

It’s likely this beer will taste like a New Castle Ale. It is very smooth, nice hops, and slightly sweet. I figured the sugar will go away with the final fermentation.

The beer will take a few weeks to carbonate and a few more weeks to age. I plan my first tasting on about the 24th of July. I brewed this batch on June 10th when I was a mere 49 years old.

Redneck Report

The stupid redneck neighbor once again has parked his motorhome in the right of way in front of our house.

As stubborn as he is you’d have to say we match his stubbornness.

In a nice Christian way, Gigi just called the NC Highway Patrol on his sorry mouth breathing, mullet wearing ass.

Random Thoughts

Well my cat can no longer claw my chair but she proved she can puke on it this morning. Good for her. The taunting of her daddy continues.

The Verb "to be"

I turned over in the middle of the night and this came to mind.

The verb “to be” cannot have a direct object. I learned this in 9th grade English.

I was always zoned out in 9th grade English. Most of my thoughts were of girls. Yes I would say my brain was utilizing about 95% of it capacity thinking about girls and the other 5% was used to run my heart, lungs, digestive system, and other body necessities.

Miss Tilley (we called her Bulldog Tilley) roped me back into reality and asked me, “Reggie! Can the verb to be, have a direct object?”

I knew I had a 50/50 shot at this so I confidently blurted out, “Yes.”

Miss Tilley then called on a nearby girl known to have koodies and was overall an un-cool individual. She was asked, “Is he right?”

She answered, “Yes.”

I knew I was home free. This girl was smart. After all I reckoned, she had nothing else to do but study.

But apparently she was thinking about boys and she and I were both wrong. We had both taken the 50/50 odds and lost.

Miss Tilley asked us both to get up in front of the class. We were instructed to hold hands and recite, “The verb to be cannot have a direct object.”

Then we were instructed to knock on every classroom in the building, ask the teacher if we could make an announcement on behalf of Miss Tilley. They all said, “Yes.”

We then held hands and recited,” The verb to be cannot have a direct object”, to about 20 classes.

I never forgot this grammar rule. I still don’t know what it means but I know the rule.

Plus, I ended up marrying a girl so all that thinking about girls was worthwhile.


I got up early and made some pancake mix for our RV trip to Jekyll Island.

This recipe makes in my opinion the best pancakes ever. Made correctly these pancakes are the standard by which all pancakes should be measured.

You can find the recipe by going to this link.

They are well worth the extra effort assuming to have a discriminating palate.

Beer Update

After publishing this blog I plan to go next door to the guest house and begin to soak my 54 beer bottles in a chlorine solution to sterilize them.

Tonight I plan to bottle my beer.


My trip to Phoenix was fun. I got in lots of golf, a few meetings, and the obligatory evening cocktails.

My buddy Ty and I were determined to play as much desert golf as possible. We had three tee times booked and were cautiously optimistic about playing in 110 desert heat.

Ty was amazed at the starkness of the desert and how many people were there.

I have never seen the draw to the desert either but million of folks flock to an area that is very similar to Mars. There’s noting but brown dirt, heat and little dangerous animals the exact color of brown dirt.

When you play there the starter tells you to watch for rattlesnakes, scorpions, spiders, and then tells you where the bathrooms and the waters station are.

I thought it strange about the bathrooms. Most golfers just hide behind a tree to relieve themselves. Beer can make you even braver.

Well there are no trees, bushes or anything suitable to pee behind. Second, you do not pee at all playing in 110 degree heat. I think I only peed maybe 6 times during the entire stay in Phoenix.

There are very skinny prairie dogs, rabbits with giant ears and lizards everywhere. Ty even ran over a prairie dog with the golf cart. It was unavoidable.

Once I thought I spotted a rattlesnake coiled up just ahead. Ty slams on the brakes and I about busted my teeth out on the windshield. Turns out it was a big pile of coyote dung.

It was great to get back. Gigi was there at the airport right on time to pick me up. She looked lovely as always.

Then back home and the welcoming crowd of crazy border collies. Haley was so happy that she dropped and peed. Something I was unable to do for the past 4 days.

Slick Meat

I had to get up unusually early to catch a 7:10 flight to Phoenix.

Your mind does strange things when you know you are getting up earlier than usual.

Most of the night I dreamed that I was attempting to bathe in a public gang shower. It was a nice new clean shower and I was the only one in there. The problem was it had uncovered glass windows on three sides. One side was a retail store, one a parking lot for the store, and one window was the ladies shower.

I forgot my soap and shampoo in this dream so I spent a great deal of time looking for soap leftovers that looked clean so I could bathe.

Folks kept coming in to talk to me. They were of both sexes.

Unlike most of my dream nudity, in this dream I am modest. I have been putting on and peeling off damp sticky clothes all night. I’m surprised I didn’t wake up moldy.

Finally at the last my deceased border collie Galaxy was jumping on me and covering my damp sticky slin with black hair. Then I woke up.

The flight to Phoenix was boarding when I arrived at the gate. I had hoped to have time to buy a quick something to eat.

As it turned out they were serving something on the flight. It was a slick meat sandwich on a greasy wet croissant.

Slick meat is what Gigi’s cousin Dianne calls any unidentified shiny meat that people eat in a sandwich. Dianne will not eat slick meat.

The croissant was as big as a pie plate, was literally wet on the bottom and greasy on the top. It was served in a nice clear plastic bag with no utensils or napkins. Plus this sandwich had big slabs of red shiny meat. Dianne came to mind. Ahhh the slick meat sandwich.

I Am Not Making This Up

I took my dog Peaches to the vet to get her final checkup and release from ACL surgery that she had 8 weeks ago. The vet is on the southern industrial part of Charlotte off of HWY 49 or Tryon Street.

The vet had to sedate peaches one more time for x-rays so I had an hour to kill.

I drove north to go get Gigi a mask and snorkel at the local and well equipped dive shop.

Why in the hell we have a dive shop in Charlotte I will never know. I actually think there are several dive shops

Can you imagine the owner going to the bank to borrow money to start this business?

I can hear the banker now, “You want to do what? Where in the hell are people going to dive? Get out of my office you idiot”

There isn’t an ocean for 200 miles and there is nothing to look at in the lakes here. Even so the ocean on the east coast is so murky you couldn’t see 18 inches in front of you. And again there is nothing to see.

But this dive stuff will come in handy when we get back to St Croix in February.

Here is the strange stuff. I passed the York Memorial Park (a cemetery) and there is a big sign out front, “Buy One Cemetery Lot and Get the Second at Half Price”.

Oh this is quite tempting, but no thanks. Lying on my back until the sun burns out on South Tryon Street at any price just doesn’t float my boat.

Then I go to the bank to cash a check for my upcoming travels to Phoenix and decide to use the drive through teller. I usually avoid the drive through because my diesel truck is so loud and it’s difficult to hear the teller.

But it’s hot today and I had my now very drunk dog Peaches asleep on the front seat.

I shot the little container up the tube with my check and drivers license. We exchanged polite greetings.

She shot the container back and swoosh it arrived with my money and drivers license. I opened the case and a whiff of perfume comes out so strong that it wakes up my dog.

Good Lord Lady!

Morning News

Gigi made an observation early this morning around 5:30 AM.

We woke up early as usual. We were talking in the dark. I was trying to get up the energy to make coffee.

Finally Gigi remarked, “Do you want to watch those folks that have taken showers already and put on their suits?”

“Huh?” I replied.

“You know”, she said, “The local news.”

It is amazing when you think about it.

We turned on the TV and sure enough all the news folks were sitting there all clean and shiny with suits and ties and their hair all done. Not a one looked cranky or sleepy.

I don’t mind getting up. But I am slow to get anything accomplished for an hour or so.

One of my old roommates in college, Dusty, could fall asleep sitting straight up in a chair, drinking coffee after a morning shower. It took explosions to wake him up and threats to get him moving. He never turned out to be a morning news caster.

Cat Claws

I can buy me a new chair soon.

Our adopted cat of one year has succeeded in ripping my favorite chair to shreds. Millie in turn had her front claws removed yesterday.

This chair of mine is very old. It has been around since I was a child. Back then it sat in the basement and had the most ugly brown dot fabric covering it. The house cat slept in it then.

Its style is classic however, sort of a wingback and kind of overstuffed with a low back. My grandfather sat in one identical to mine. I don’t think his was ever recovered. It looked kind of shiny and waxy from years of use.

I would guess the chair was at least 50 years old when I was a kid and we know that that’s been 50 years. So I’d guess this chair I’m in now is 100 years old.

I have had the chair rebuilt once and added a matching ottoman. It’s been recovered at least four times in 30 years.

Seriously though I think I’ll replace it with a recliner.

Man chairs are ugly but comfortable so it might as well be the most comfortable ugly chair you can find.


Our 32 foot travel trailer is 10 years old. It is a 1996 Citation that was bought slightly used.

The first couple that owned it bought it, towed it a few miles and then parked it without ever sleeping in it or using it.

A 32 foot tag along trailer takes some skill to tow. From the reports I heard the couple experienced some severe trailer sway. This scared them enough to park it and trade in for a motor home.

Their loss was my gain. We bought the trailer nearly new in the late summer of 1996.

Many times over the years we have been tempted to replace the coach with a newer model. I have kept the RV in top condition, by regular maintenance and cleaning.

This year we did a complete overhaul of sorts. I had the brakes replaced, installed new lighting, rewired the satellite TV for TIVO, installed a flat panel LCD TV in the bedroom, installed surround sound in the bedroom, refurbished the water heater, toilet, refrigerator, and replaced the side table in the living room.

It’s a great old coach with many fond memories of places and people we have visited over the past ten years. It’s been from Maine to Florida, to the Gulf coast to deep into Tennessee.

We have all the comforts of home, heat and air, microwave and hardwood floors, TV and radio, queen size bed and carpet, a full kitchen galley and a dining area, and the living room with a rocking chair and sofa. Plus the tiny but efficient bathroom.

We just pile in the three dogs and parrot, some food, and we head down the road on another adventure.

We don’t go as much as we used to. In the beginning it was common for us to go somewhere once a month if only for a few days. Gradually many of the RV campgrounds we used to frequent have been closed and sold for residential development.

We mainly just go to Jekyll Island, GA and Jordon Lake near Raleigh, NC. Plus if we are called to go to say a wedding in Jacksonville, FL, then we prefer to take the camper and dogs rather than stay in a hotel.

Sometimes we visit Gigi’s relatives in Alabama during Christmas. I can recall three Christmas’ spent in that RV. Winter camping can be cozy too.

So like the Space Shuttle and the Concord, I know that her days are numbered. Hopefully we will enjoy several more seasons and create memories worthy of blogging.

Transportation and Being Naked

Dreams. The playground of sleep.

I dream a lot when I sleep. Last night was particularly fruitful. So good did I sleep in fact that I slept until 7:50 AM which is very unusual.

I am fortunate that I remember many of my dreams. They don’t make much sense but I can recall at least part of my dreams every night.

One of my favorite dreams is when I have the ability to fly. It’s really like floating. It is a conscience effort that I use to keep my body aloft while going forward. It sort of like if you could imagine the body position of a person riding a Segway, then sans the Segway and the helmet.

I don’t fly very high or fast however the experience is exhilarating. Passersby’s are very impressed with my ability to fly.

Running in a dream is virtually impossible even if nothing is chasing me.

Just last night I was attempting to jog and it came off as a subdued and stressful skip. No matter what I do or
how I attempt to gain speed I am doomed to fail in a dream.

I am better off flying now that I think about in the light of day.

In my dreams I find myself naked far too often. Not inappropriately dressed or partially dressed but buck ass naked. Just the birthday suit. It gets embarrassing.

There is no forethought that I am not going to wear clothes then discover it wasn’t a good idea. I just realize that I am naked far too often and have no recollection of why I decided to go naked.

Last night I was at a church picnic. I was mingling when I realized I was causing a stir. I determined that my nudity was the issue and gracefully grabbed two paper plates to cover my front and back.

Now let’s think about this for a minute. Me being naked was okay until I realized I was naked. Then when I realized I was naked I thought it was okay to continue to hang around (no pun intended) with two cheap scalloped paper plates covering my goodies.

As I think back, I don’t recall ever having flown naked. That would be a trip.

The Beer Is Transferred and I'm Aging It!

Today is exactly one week since I brewed my beer. I don’t know what I am doing but I have followed the recipe and instructions as perfectly as I can.

I familiarized myself with the siphon and the concept of transferring the beer to a glass secondary vessel. The idea is to leave the yeast sludge behind and transfer the beer for further, albeit slight fermenting and for the beer to clarify and age.

I cleaned everything that would come in contact with the beer.

I pried open the beer container and saw a dark amber brew. The container had a light brown rig around the tub about 2 inches above the beer. This was formed from the foam that accumulated during the fermentation process.

A very nice waft of beer smell engulfed the room. This stuff smells great! It’s real beer! Honest to goodness real beer and I made it!

The siphon started very easily and the transfer began. The beer was slightly cloudy but looked great and smelled divine.

At the bottom of the tub was a think pasty sludge. This all cleaned up easily afterwards.

I capped the glass container, put the valve on and moved it to a dark, cool closet. I covered the beer container in a pillow case just to make sure it was dark.

Light can ruin beer I am told. That is why you use amber bottles.

So we’ll let it sit for the next 10 days or so and then I’ll bottle it.

I think this is going to be really good beer if the smell has anything to say about it.


Oh wow! It’s Saturday! I’ve got lots of stuff to do today.

Let’s see. I have to cut the grass. It’s long. I need to wash the RV but that could be done tomorrow.

The big beer transfer should go off today. This is when I transfer the 6 gallon plastic bucket of beer to a 5 gallon glass container leaving the yeast and sludge behind. This means reading instructions and cleaning stuff. I’ll do that this afternoon. This would be a good time to multitask and watch the US Open.

I need to get about 8 bales of hay for the horses. This should be enough to cover the period I’m in Arizona. Oh heck maybe I should get 10 bales to be safe.

While I’m out I need to go to Lowes and get a 22’ X 6’ green outdoor carpet cut for the RV. This is the real thin stuff. It’s good to keep the awning area clean and keeps dirt out of the RV.

While I’m there, I could stop by Dick’s Sporting goods. Thomas had a cool hat he got there. I would like to own one myself. It’s kind of an old man hat but I’m rapidly becoming an old man so I might as well get it. It’s the full brim hat that covers your ears. Most of my friends have a lifelong goal of not getting their ears clipped away by cancer like their dads or uncles.

Did Gigi say something yesterday about going out for breakfast this morning?

Did I tell Frank Graham to come over today to service the generator? I guess so. I plan to take the generator July 1 on vacation. Oh! I remembered that I need to get some oil and a sparkplug for the generator before he comes over.

It always nice to have the generator so we can pull over and go into Cracker Barrel Restaurant and leave the animals in the RV. The generator allows us to run the AC for them and me if I want a nap afterwards.

It’s about a 7 hour drive from Midland, NC to Jekyll Island, GA, so we plan to stop if we prepare for the heat. There are many years when we just drive on through. By the time you get there I am hungry, grouchy and tired. So it’s best to stop.

I’m taking an extra 5 gallons of diesel in a container this year. The trip with the load of the travel trailer is about the full range of my truck’s fuel tank. I don’t want to run low on fuel if there are any traffic tie-ups on I-95.

Usually there is a point where we sit on some deserted area of I-95 in Georgia waiting for a wreck to clear. And usually you recognize the idiot in the wreck. He was the guy that flew by you 30 minutes ago with crap all over the roof pulling an overloaded and swaying U-Haul trailer at like 85 MPH. It serves him right.

All this talk of vacation takes me back to The Chronicles of Fireball Hunnicutt. Please follow this link to relive the stories of yesteryear.

Free Bug Spray and Paperclips

I was standing in line this morning at Home Depot and saw a display of OFF! bug repellent. It made me think about our upcoming vacation trip to Jekyll Island, GA.

Jekyll is notorious for their mosquitoes. You have to keep plenty of OFF! nearby and apply it often. The goal is to not come home from Jekyll with little scratch scabs all over your legs.

Once you get that mosquito bite you find the scratching so pleasurable that you eventually tear into skin and this makes it scabby.

Fortunately I haven’t had to buy OFF! in ten years.

Our camp site us usually the gathering place where meals are eaten and bug spray is applied. Inevitably people forget their cans of OFF! At the end of vacation I collect up these partially used cans and save them for next year.

I counted seven cans in the RV just the other day.

Likewise I never buy paperclips. I have a small container on my desk half full of clips. I stocked it in the summer of 1999 with a box of small Gem Clips.

Since then I take a clip when I need it and throw a clip in before I toss a clip in the waste basket.

I never run out of paperclips.

I won’t even get into the issue of hangers. Suffice it to say we are knee deep in coat hangers at home. I don’t know how they breed so fast.

Watching Two Sunrises in the Morning

I usually get up early on most weekdays. I enjoy the quiet time by myself, sipping coffee and trying to get a read on the financial news of the day from my laptop computer.

This time of year you start seeing light here around 5:15 AM.

Directly across from me are two large windows looking out over our mostly wooded property. It makes for a beautiful sunrise. You can see the sky thru the green forest canopy. On misty mornings the light streaks in like a cheap velvet painting of Jesus from the sky.

Then I simultaneously watch the sun rise over St Croix harbor in Christiansted, US Virgin Islands.

Mounted on the boardwalk of the harbor is a web cam. The cam is truly unique. There is an abundance of foot traffic, both tourists and locals. In the background however is the beautiful water and sailboats of the harbor.

This time of year the sun makes a dramatic entrance to the right of the screen.

In the winter my local sunrise is delayed about an hour so I get to extend the viewing time of sunrise. I'd rather be there in St Croix in the winter anyway.

Many times there is an older fellow on the boardwalk sitting on the bench watching the sunrise with me. He has no idea that I am looking over his shoulder. But we are both appreciating the same event.

Here in Charlotte it's just me and my cat watching the local sunrise.

Comfort Food

Boy would I love a johnny cake right now. Lamenting about the lack of hushpuppies the other day got me to thinking about them.

I always get a few Johnny cakes when I go to St Croix. I wasn’t raised on johnnie cakes but I should have been. They are semi-sweet and have a good cornmeal flavor. They taste like a lighter version of a doughnut. But they are not greasy.

I took care of that hushpuppy jones and went to my favorite local barbeque restaurant for lunch yesterday.

Spoons BBQ on South Blvd in Charlotte is one of the few independent barbeque restaurants around. They have good lean, chopped pork barbeque, slaw, baked beans, Brunswick stew, hushpuppies, and sweet tea. This is real Southern comfort food.

Another Southern comfort food that I haven’t had in years is potato cakes. Mom used to take leftover mashed potatoes, add diced onions, an egg and who know what else and pan fry small round cakes on each side until they were brown. They were absolutely great! It would make a fantastic breakfast side now that I think about it.

Oh my gosh! Could I use some sweet potato pie right now too? About once a month Dad used to take me to a pie shop on 9th street in Durham. They had the best homemade sweet potato pie. It was so fluffy. That was back in the early 1960s.

I know this will be freaky to some but I used to love it when Mom made chicken hearts and gizzards with gravy over rice. I could eat a yard of that stuff.

Redneck Report

Our Redneck neighbor boldly tested the waters again last night as the first bands of tropical storm Alberto pounded the neighborhood.

Usually we would have been asleep and his late evening antics would have gone unnoticed. As luck would have it I was late getting in from the coast and Gigi was awake.

Gigi called me on the road about 10 PM and informed me that the idiot had parked again in the right of way and the once a week garbage pick up for Wednesday morning was in peril.

A call to the Highway Patrol and the RV was moved by my 11:00 PM arrival.

Notes While Traveling in Eastern NC

I got up early yesterday. I had an appointment down on the Coast of North Carolina at 11:00AM and another on the South Carolina coast around 2:30ish. The SC appointment was with my sister Etta and her husband Al.

I left the house around 7:30. By 8:00 Gigi was calling.

Gigi told me that Haley the youngest Border Collie had made a protest dump in the dining room.

Haley gets mad when I leave early without giving her enough attention. Haley then imposes self punishment on herself by immediately going to her kennel for a time of reflection. This makes us even madder than if she just did the dump then denied it. If she is smart enough to know she did a bad thing then why is she smart enough to know she is about to do a bad thing and tell us so she can go out to take a dump?

In further news Millie the cat had puked in several places.

How is it that big dump trucks with no mud flaps, or license tags can claim to release themselves of liability by posting a sign on the back of their truck that says’ “Not liable for any rocks that may break your windshield. Stay back 200 feet”.

What would happen if one passed me and then clearly came within the 200 foot unilateral treaty zone and sprayed me with rocks? I think I would have a case.

I passed two places that wanted “clean fill dirt”. This amazes me that you can put up a homemade sign requesting dirt and folks from all over will give you thousands of yards of dirt thereby potentially increasing the value of you property.

I have never been in the position where I needed a lot of dirt nor needed to get rid of a lot of dirt.

We had lunch in Calabash. Calabash used to be a little coastal fishing community. Eventually someone opened a seafood restaurant, then another, then another and so on.

What used to be a quaint little village is now a mile of restaurants claiming to be the original restaurant.

A new place called the Grapevine made no such claim.

It is an unwritten law in Calabash that the menu must be simple and must include fried seafood, hushpuppies, slaw, and sweet iced tea. Only slight variations of this standard are acceptable to a natural Southerner.

Well this place was different. They had an extensive wine menu. Wine with greasy fried seafood? Okay that’s new. I can’t exactly think of the paring. Maybe beer, but wine?

Then to top it off, not a hushpuppy in site! This is blasphemy. Hushpuppies are an absolute requirement for any Southern fried seafood dinner anywhere and especially Calabash. You could even you you leave off someting else like the slaw. People rarely eat the slaw. You just expect slaw. But don't take away my hushpuppies!

The Grapevine is not the place to go for a traditional Calabash lunch or dinner. The paring of a bar, wine, fried seafood is strange. The slaw was a bit funky too.

The Grapevine was neither elegant nor folksy. Please don’t jazz up what doesn’t need to be jazzed up. Please!

The Grapevine - Calabash

Speed Record Set For Blogging!

Listen to Reggie as he sets the world land speed record for blogging. He attains the speed of 63 MPH while making a blog entry!

this is an audio post - click to play
WARNING: Please do not try mobile blogging yourself. Reggie is a trained blogger with many months of blogging experience.

Summer Stress?

This time of year always delivers its own kind of stress. You would think otherwise since summer is my favorite season.

First, it hot as teenage love. The windows at our house are actually steamed and frosted from the humidity. You break into a sweat immediately when you go outside.

I dislike thunderstorms. I am unnaturally afraid of lightening. I fear thunderstorms more than the average person. I don’t crawl under the bed with my dog Peaches, but I respect them greatly.

If it’s not bolts of electricity flying around to kill you then a blown over tree or downed power line might do the trick.

Plus the after storm cleanup isn’t fun. I keep a “stick pile” going in the corner of the pasture for those wet days when I can burn. It’s the only way to keep the storm debris under control. And yes we can burn here in the country.

Currently the financial markets are in a tailspin. It’s most likely just a correction, but stressful never the less. I make my living by up markets and not down markets. Plain and simple.

I have too many planned trips. Poor baby you are saying.

I plan to go to Phoenix in a week, then Jekyll Island, then Jordon Lake. I would love to get up to Smith Mountain Lake to visit my sister and her husband this summer.

Gigi and I have talked about going to Scotland in the fall. Can we get house sitters for the dogs and horses? Oh whoa is me!

It’s almost too hot to play 18 holes of golf. I thought it was just me. I have asked around and most of my friends would be perfectly satisfied to play just 9 in this heat. By number 14 I am shanking and topping the ball from being too exposed to the heat and sweat.

I can’t seem to drink enough water to stay hydrated and alert for 4 hours. And I plan to play golf in Phoenix? At a 110 degrees? What was I thinking?

Well, I am going to enjoy June here in the South in spite of myself and let my stress roll down by back like the recent sweat.

Did I just hear thunder???

I made Beer!

I had planned to get up Saturday and finally make that first batch of beer. I was running out of time to get the first batch brewed and bottled before I went on a conference in Phoenix and then on vacation at Jekyll Island, GA. So it had to be brewed Saturday so the beer would have the 5 to 7 days to ferment, and then the 5 days to clarify, and then the actual bottling of the beer.

As luck would have it, my work location was hit by some powered surge either from a lightening strike or from some other source on Thursday night. It took out all three of my work computers which are critical for us to function. We managed to get by Friday on my laptop computer.

So my top priory Saturday was to get the PCs back up and running. My pal and IT guru Bill Lacy said to bring the PCs over to his house Saturday to trouble shoot and hopefully repair any issues.

I wasn’t too hopeful. One PC started, stank, smoked a bit, and then went dead. One was just plain dead and didn’t attempt to start. The last one moaned a bit then died.

So early Saturday morning Gigi and I headed to my office in Southpark to pick up the PCs.

We had worked ourselves up to eat breakfast at the Original Pancake House. The place is always crowded, the service is good and the pancakes are mediocre. I’m not sure if it’s the syrup or the recipes but they always taste a little funky. The bacon is excellent however. The bacon is thick and smoky tasting with a sweet overtone. And the coffee is good too.

After breakfast and a little nearby shoe shopping, we picked up the PCs and headed for Bill’s house.

In a short time Bill had determined that the power supply on all three PCs had been blown. He happened to have plenty of spare power supplies and in no time had all three PS’s back in service. It’s amazing to see him tear apart one of those PCs and put it back together. He checked out and cleaned most components while he was in there.

One of the PCs runs my office web cam and I had already received two complaints that the webcam was down. So the cam should be back up Monday when I get the PC running again.

So, back to my beer making story.

It was by now late afternoon. The recipe said to realistically block out about 2 ½ to 3 hours to make a batch of beer. This is realistic. It takes some prep and cleaning. It said to expect an hour of cooking and stirring, then a cool down time and loading of the fermenting tank. Then there is cleanup time.

I decide to make the beer at the guesthouse. There is a nice little kitchen and TV.

I followed every step, cleaned, added stuff, stirred, watched golf on TV, sipped a few beers, etc. After a while the brew started to look and smell likes a pretty good microbrew. You could smell the grains and hops. It had a nice dark color.

The brew had a nice foam went I added the water to bring the level to five gallons. I then dumped and stirred in the yeast and capped it off to ferment. There is a small valve at the top to relieve pressure from the fermentation.

I could now provide a service to the community if I was somehow stranded on an island like the folks on LOST. Reggie would be the beer maker and I would be protected and elevated to an important status in this imaginary and primitive community. I don’t think anyone would need a financial advisor on a deserted island. This had long concerned of mine if I was called into action to really have a talent. I can’t build anything, or hunt. I could fish I guess. But now I would be the beer maker. I’m sure I could find something to grind up and boil to make beer. I just don’t want to end up like that fat guy on LOST and be a dispensable parasite.

10:00 AM Update - I checked to see if the vat was bubbling as it should. This indicates that the yeast is working and the beer is fermenting.

Sure enough it sounds like a bong in a college dorm. Bubbles are boiling up from the valve. This is good!

New AC

Our heating and air duct work in our home was 32 years old. It had to be the cheapest money could buy at the time. Having lived in this house for 18 years I know of the cheap building standards of the original contractor in 1974.

So after years of uneven heat and air, dusty table tops after dusting two days earlier, and a reoccurrence of asthma this past December, we decided to get the duct work replaced. While we were at it we had the 18 year old heat pump replaced.

Our contractor Van, is a nice middle aged Jr. Samples type with the overalls and chaw. He and his slightly smaller son with a third boney skinny guy named Randall show up in a beat up pick up yesterday and began tearing out all of the old duct work.

I know you may be wondering where we got this clown. After all our local TV and Radio is cluttered with heating and air ads. This guy is not spending a dime on advertising I can assure you.

Van came well referred by several trusted friends and neighbors. I know that the neighbor A.J. knows his mama and they go to the same church as his own parents go to. This goes a long way in rural settings. And our car mechanic Mark knows him and trusts him even though the Mark has a window air conditioner hanging out the back of his home.

So by the end of the day big ol’ Van emerges from the crawl space under the house (it looked like the house was giving birth to him) with his red clay belly and his face was all sweaty.

Van yelled to the boney guy under the house, “Fire it up!” and the AC was running.

His son (who has a real industrial staple in his ear) showed me the new off-brand compressor that now replaced the familiar old “Carrier” compressor. He explained that these unfamiliar compressors were used in Florida and other coastal areas and they were resistant to salt and rust. He further explained that a dog could could hike his leg and pee on this compressor for 200 days straight before it would begin to rust. I explained that my dogs were girls and they squatted on the ground directly. Even so this was an impressive demonstration.

Gigi and I had become accustomed to cold and hot spaces in the house and bad air. In the summer the air was cool but wet feeling. It was cold in the bedroom and stuffy in the living room.

This morning we woke to a dry and evenly cool house.

Amazing what a little money and a couple of nice bubbas can do for a house.

Crazy Golf Ball

I have a used Titleist DT golf ball with a Mack Trucks logo that I carry with me everywhere. I found it while looking for my golf ball on number 18 at Pine Lake Country Club back in March.

It was buried in the mud and kind of looked like an eye looking back at me. So I dug it out and washed it up and have kept it ever since.

I am not sure why I have kept this ball. I have lost dozens of golf balls since playing golf, but this one has been spared. Go Figure.

It flew with me out to Laguna Beach, CA and rode down to Jacksonville, FL. It even accompanied me to St Croix. It goes to work with me every day. I'll bet this ball has 15,000 traveling miles on it.

It's on my desk now.

By the way I did find my ball that day on 18.

Beer Update

I got my "complete beer kit" off of ebay yesterday. Problem is I need more stuff to actually make it complete.

All I have is a box of powdery stuff and grains with a bag of caps.

I paid $24 for the ebay stuff including shipping.

Now I need to buy a bare basic brewing kit for $78. Plus I need bottles at another $24. I can reuse the kit and bottles. And the grains should cost less if I buy them locally.

The local brew guy was real helpful.

Now I'm up to about $2.40 a bottle for potentially crappy beer.

I Joined AARP Damn it!

Enough said. I am soon to be 50 and I got the AARP letter. How did they know?

I was still basking in the glory of Uncle Sam begging me to join the Army or Navy. That was 1974.

There’s been a lot of water under that bridge. Whew!

I like what my sister Judy said about herself. “I am a brand new old person!” she told me.

So I’m a brand new old person too.

If you look around you'll notice there aren't as many old people around as you used to see. I guess she is right. I'm on deck.

I guess I’m going to have to start getting up at some God awful time now, go to Hardees with all the old men and drink coffee.

Just to be mean I signed up Gigi even though she is 47.

Afternoon Addendum

Yep I am old. I stopped by Lowes Foods for some dog food and peanuts. The bag girl asked me if I needed help taking my groceries to the car. I guess I looked like Walter Brennan to her.

Then I stop by CVS to pick up some pepto bismol for Haley and a prescription. The two girls at the counter were commiting on the taste of pepto bismol. I said, "it tastes like Bazooka Bubble Gum." They had no idea what I was talking about.

Do they still make those bricks of Bazooka Bubble Gum?

Do You like McDonalds Coffee?

Last night while I was sound asleep Gigi asks me loudly, "Do you like McDonalds coffee?"

I didn't say anything. Heck I was roused out of a deep sleep and wasn't sure of my circumstances.

Again she asks me loudly, "Do you like McDonalds coffee?"

I said , "Are you talking to me?"

"Yes," she said.

"Are you asleep?" I asked.

"Yes" she said. Then she broke out in laughter after as she began to realize the dream she was having had run over into reality.

Gigi explained that she had just seen some McDonalds coffee fixed just like I like it with Sweet N Low and cream. Then the coffee was set aside on the shelf because the customer had changed their mind.

Gigi thought this coffee would be perfect for me.

Now I know she hangs out at McDonalds in her sleep.

Fried Baloney Sandwich

Gigi bought some thick sliced Oscar Mayer baloney the other day. We could hardly wait to fry some up for a baloney sandwich.

Sunday lunch was the chosen time.

I actually microwave the baloney now. My sister Judy disputed this technique until she tried it and found the taste to be as good with much less mess and cleanup.

Gigi likes hers with American cheese melted on the hot baloney and mustard. I use mayonnaise and lettuce with cheese. We both like the bread toasted. A tomato slice wouldn't be bad but we didn't do that this time.

I hadn't had a fried baloney sandwich since my sister Judy made them in St Croix two years ago.

This is great southern comfort food and they were great.

Fried Baloney Sandwich

Redneck Update

Well he’s back at it again. The old goober parked his motor home in the right away in front of our house again.

We called the NC Highway Patrol and they will send a trooper to tag the vehicle. This will make it subject to towing.

What an idiot he is.

I don’t think we would be this headstrong about this parking issue if not for the fact he kidnapped our dog while we were out of town and then made light of it when he was confronted by the house sitter.

Updates to follow.

11:00 AM Update

Two NC State troopers came to the Mullet wearing redneck's house and made him move the RV.

What a great role model this guy is for his children.

It's Definitely Summertime

The season of preference is upon us. I really like summer but it does come with its own baggage.

Yesterday I was playing a Friday afternoon round of golf. The whole time we are scanning the sky trying to determine if the distant lightening and thunder is headed our way. I’m usually the first to call a game due to lightening. I’ve had too many close calls and heard too many horror stories about lightening to continue play under the threat.

The storm stayed at bay and we continued play and lived another day.

Gigi had instructed me to pick up some hay for the horses before I got home. So as I delivered the hay I saw Gigi dancing and yelling as she ran out of the stall, manure rake in hand.

“There’s a copperhead in Lady’s stall!” she yelled.

So I went back up to the house to get the 12 gauge shotgun to take care of business. Sure enough there was a nasty copperhead snake coiled up almost hidden in the corner of the stall.

Gigi gets all the horses out of their stalls so they can react to the loud blast.

I’m standing in Lady’s stall with a copperhead and a cocked shotgun waiting for the area to clear. The last thing I want to do is shoot the snake and blast through the wall and hit a horse or dog.

Lady decides she must have her supper NOW! So now I’m in the stall with Lady, Gigi, a copperhead and a cocked shotgun.

Finally the area clears and we take care of the snake.

As I head back to the house I notice tree small blisters on my forearm. Dang, poison ivy. I must have picked that up on the golf course searching for a ball.

As I sit down to fire up the computer I notice the slightest tickle on my arm. Yep, it was the first tick of the season.

Ahhh summertime.