Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dipping of the cookies

Attempted my first batch of homemade Original Nestle TollHouse Chocolate Chip Cookies.

My Mom's recipe.
It's the best.

Yes, I've "tasted" better than Mom's cookie recipe, but nothing comes close to the childhood memories of the experience of my Mom's choc-chip cookies (frozen) dipped in milk. Sense memory is strong, and can supercede common sense or current memory in effect.

I wanted my daughters to have this childhood memory as well, so off to the land of beaten up butter and raw-cookie-dough snackin' I ventured. As both daughters watched, I read, measured, beat, measured, poured, measured, mixed, measured, scooped, baked and cooled.

It was at this point that the cookie consumption controversy commenced.

My wife loves her cookies hot and fresh from the oven, soft and gooey, rich and chewy. She also likes her pudding warm as well.

Me, I'm a cold food guy. I like my fruit cold, my veggies cold and raw, my pizza cold, my pudding, cookies, and doughnuts (yikes) cold.

Besides, if I'm to imbed the same memories I have of dipping my Mom's cookies into milk, they must be cold to do so. Warm, soft, mushy cookies won't tolerate the drastic change in temperature and the sudden submersion into the white, wet environment of a glass of milk.

My brother uses chopsticks to dip his cookie into his glass of milk. A technique developed out of common sense and his need not to get his fingers wet with milk.

I am a traditionalist. I use my fingers, but only dip the cookie in about 7/8's of the way into the milk, leaving just enough cookie above milk level to keep my fingers dairy-free. Sure, the entire cookie is not treated to the taste sensation that comes from a milk bath, but I have learned to ingest the remaining 1/8 of the cookie dry. Sacrifice is my middle name.

So, as I'm quickly bagging up as many cookies as I can to enter the required hour of deep freeze before being eaten, my girls are flagrantly following their mother in violation of the Family Cookie Act of 2005 -- two-handing them right off the cookie cooling rack into their crumb encrusted mouths.

Alas, I was able to "save" a dozen or so of the hearty chocolate chipped confections, and they sit happily being acclimated in the correct cookie consumption conditions -- the freezer.

Let the dipping of the cookies, begin.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Real or toy?

Pulled into our local Love's/Subway gas stop/convenience store/sandwich shoppe the other day.

Saw this upon entering the store...

Take a closer look..

I just hope the clerks are trained to be able to tell the difference between the toy guns and an actual gun being used in a robbery.

Only 26 shopping days left!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Carrion as carry on

My brother-in-law came to town for the holiday weekend to go hunting with his dad, my father-in-law.

After 4 days, the tally came to 1 (one) 200-300 lb. feral pig, 1 (one) 9-point buck, 2 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts, and 4 cups of questionable truck stop coffee.

The majority of the pig (squeal and all) was left out in nature to contribute to the local food chain. Pork chops and the ugliest wild pig head you can imagine, came home with the intrepid hunters. Wanting to keep the skull for a trophy -- enhanced with some major tuskage -- my bro-in-law looked for someone in town who had "those bugs" that would munch the pigs skull clean of flesh and muscle in a matter of days. Didn't find anyone, so he spent an afternoon skinning it, then bagged it and stuck it into his folks upright freezer. It was the highlight of our Thanksgiving dinner.

His buck was a simpler task. After field dressing it and dropping the bulk of the hulk off at one of many meat processing stations in the state, he brought home the head, skinned it, and chopped off the skull cap section where the antlers were attached. I didn't ask, but I imagine the rest of the head went out back for the coyotes to munch on. The antlers and head pelt he'll take back home where he will mount it himself -- in addition to being a talented outdoor writer and PR Director for a national sportman's organization, my humble bro-in-law is an experienced taxidermist.

So, the frozen pig skull (sans skin) is packed up and will go through check-in. The deer head skin and bear pelt (that's another story -- he sent it here to be tanned by a fella he learned taxidermy from, after killing it in Montana earlier this year) will also be checked in.

The buck antlers will be carried on by his lovely and understanding wife.

Would love to see the TSA Officer's reaction when they x-ray the bag with the pig skull in it. Are razor sharp tusks considered contraband?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

YASTM news

In todays edition of our small towns local paper...file these items under "stuff you don't see in print much in So Cal."

Item #1
"Brock Boeckman, the 8-year old son of Bart and Dee Dee Boeckman, reported that he shot a seven-point buck on the opening day of deer season with his new rifle that he bought with his summer earnings from plowing."There are so many points in that last item that boggle my mind, I don't know where to start or how to elaborate. I'll just point them out for effect.
  • "...8-year old..."
  • Bart married a woman named Dee Dee
  • "...shot a seven-point buck"
  • "...opening day of deer season"
  • " rifle"
  • "...bought with his summer earnings from plowing."
  • And before any PETAn's raise a stink, read this quote I found elsewhere in the same newspaper, under the heading, Deer hunters share their harvest"
    "Last year Oklahoma hunters donated 33,227 pounds of venison, that's more than 16 tons, to the Hunters Against Hunger program. That is enough meat to provide nutritious meals for nearly 133,000 people."

    Item #2

    What sort of vehicle is your 5-year old wanting this Christmas? Bet it's not John Deere green?

    The "work light" is my favorite item. I'm picturing a denim overall'd 5-year old named "Bobby" pulling over to the side of his play yard, getting out his worklight and using it to look down to see what his John Deere pedal tractor is hung up on.

    Thursday, November 24, 2005

    The Lion, the Witch and the...

    C has been bugging me to see The Chronicles of Narnia since it's recent release.

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was one of my favorite stories as a young LA suburbanite. My Mom, being the librarian and uber-reader she was, was very careful about what books she exposed my brother and I too. Generally, they were award-winning books (Newberry, etc.) and of the fantasy-genre nature.

    The Hobbit, Wind in the Willows, A Wrinkle in Time, The entire Chronicles of Narnia, The Little Prince, any Roald Dahl selection, Charlotte's get the idea.

    I watched the trailer online and even though I have a really bad jonezing to see TCofN by myself (as I did with HP-TGOF last week), I have deemed the film too intense for a 6-year old (yep, C had a birthday earlier this month) who still has nightmares about monsters, still believes in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairie.

    Then, J (my mother-in-law) reminded me that sometime last year she took C to see a local children's theatre company's production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. She also said that C seemed bored by the entire thing.

    This morning, while watching the girls get more Brummel and Brown spread on themselves than their biscuits, I asked C if she remembered seeing the play.

    She responded,It was about a girl who goes into a closet and is met by a deer, and she meets a Lion who is the king, and I think his name was Leo, and they called it a wardrobe, but I called it a closet.
    The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is rated PG, so it looks like I'll wait to get the DVD and C and I can enjoy it after she's read the book.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    The b-word invades the universe

    bed·lam bdlm (n.)
    A place or situation of noisy uproar and confusion.

    Ask just about anybody in my small town (or my small state for that matter) what their interpretation of the word "bedlam" is and the absolute last and final definition they'll give you is the actual meaning of the word.

    For you see, the b-word has been the unofficial label of the annual football match between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Oklahoma State University (OSU).

    Actually, the media seems to bandy about the bed-word at any mention of any contest at anytime and anywhere whatsoever between the two rival 4-year funhouses. Note - (I'm not sure if that applies to Badminton matches between the two schools. Although "Bedlam Badminton" does have many possiblities for marketing madness due to the b-sound alliteration. Retailers, take note.)

    There seem to be bedlam contests spewing forth from every outlet offering any sort of merchandise or service vaguely related to football.

    Big Bedlam Sales!
    Boisterous Bedlam Announcers!
    Booming Bedlam Radio Ads!
    Brawling, brutal, bold, barbarous, and bloodthirsty attempts to capitalize and exploit the once-a-year event.

    Alas, even C's elementary school has gotten into the fracas. The notice she brought home in her backpack read,"Bring in your Box-Tops for Education, and drop them into the box of whichever Bedlam Team you're rooting for."Sure enough, in the lobby of the school we found two boxes - red/white and orange/black.

    OSU's season is in the toilet, so they're just playing for bragging rights and to spoil any bowl hopes that OU may have.

    We'll be celebrating my lovely and talented wife's birthday all that weekend, so bedlam won't invade our abode at any point in time. Not every day my wife turns 29, er, 39...ah, 39+ again.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Mutant Squirrels

    Recently on our morning walks, PK likes to mimic the squirrels that have taken up residence in the trees surrounding our neighborhood.

    Every acorn she finds on the ground, becomes the property of said 2 1/2-year old toddler.

    She gets frustrated because the size, girth, and weight of the acorns on our block are such that she can only fit a few into each pocket.

    Which explains why the squirrels around here aren't afraid of the cats, opossums, skunks, or medium sized homo sapiens -- they still shudder with fear at the sight of me, but are unphased whenever C or PK approaches them.

    This morning PK wanted to take our Radio Flyer wagon on our walk. Not to ride in, mind you. She just wanted to hoard more acorns and needed to bring in the heavy equipment.

    Least she won't starve this winter when our supply of rice runs out.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Kewl Zoo

    Yesterday, S set aside the afternoon to have lunch with some of her old Pi Phi buddies at a shore side restaurant at Lake Hefner.

    After dropping her off, I took the bundled up girls to the Oklahoma City Zoo. We're fortunate enough to have a relatively good sized and well staffed natural-enviro zoo. They've done away with the concrete jungle habitats and steel-barred cages of zoos of old, and have spent mucho dinero on building/maintaining green and lush living environments for the captive beasties.

    The cool temps (upper 40's - low 50's) made for some spectacular varmint viewing. Slight drizzle didn't hurt in keeping the crowds away as well, as there were maybe 20 cars in the visitors lot.

    We shared the playground, the pathways, the seal viewing seating area, and the Canopy Cafe with very few other families. Mostly weekend Dad's, attempting to balance discipline with offspring bonding. More than a few of them seemed sad beneath their half-hearted smiles of forced indentured weekend servitude to their kids. I even caught one Dad looking through a Bass Pro Shops circular while his sons led him to the elephant paddock.

    C tried out her new MPEG-4 video camera (birthday present via an gift cert. courtesy of her Uncle B in So Cal) and was delighted that all the animals came out for her latest foray into documentary filmmaking. Even the brown bears were out, play fighting with each other, doing their best to make a 6-year old with a new video camera happy.

    The big cats emerged from their leafy forested habitats in force to celebrate the cool weather.

    We found ourselves inches from a huge pacing leopard, his eyes never leaving the tasty morsel my 2 1/2 would have been to him.

    The sumatran tigers were bouncy and playful -- as bouncy and playful as feline mankillers can get.

    An ocelot entertained us as he stalked a cardinal that happened into his habitat. Being cooped up must have dulled his speed, since his master pounce missed the red bird by a few inches. Had he been in the wild, and had he been hungry, I'm sure that cardinal would be nuggets by now.

    While watching a diver vacuum up the seal poop that was littering the bottom of the aquatic habitat, C commented that whale poop must be as big as PK was. That seemed to freak out PK -- her little brain trying to imagine looking eye-to-eye with a piece of dung.

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    Someone for everyone

    Recent wedding announcement in our small town paper. Gander at the happy couple, but don't try to read the text. I scanned it small to save you the tediousness of the written word.

    There was one paragraph that caught my eye however..."The bride's three-tiered cake was decorated with fresh autumn flowers."Strange that the bride's cake only warranted one short line of text. Yet the bridegroom's cake..."... was decorated with a miniature John Deere combine, tractor and grain cart that were replicas of those used in his harvesting business."Ahh. I see. Priorities, people, priorities. Seems however, that the tractor cake wasn't enough for the bridegroom. Read on."Also featured was a three-layer doughnut tree which held a variety of different doughnuts."Party on Mr. and Mrs. Brian Benson!

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Having more in common with a 10-year old

    Sitting at C's tumbling class, I noticed the brother of one of C's tumbling mates was reading the latest Harry Potter novel.

    He looked up and I asked him what part he was up to.

    What followed was a one hour discussion of the book so far, the series, the upcoming film (opening tonight at midnight), and all things Harry Potter.

    It was a most enjoyable conversation, since my daugthers aren't old enough to read, my wife doesn't have time to read, and even if she did, the HP books would not be at the top of her reading wish list.

    Several parents were seated nearby, including this bright young lads mother and father, who had either found interest in our conversation, or were just suspiciously monitoring the situation of a strange man talking to their impressionable son.

    I told them the story of meeting a fella by the name of "Tom Riddle" the other day. My reaction to him, was of course, one of amusement as I completely expected him to immediately come back with a comment regarding his famously villianous name.
    Quite the opposite. This Tom Riddle wasn't aware of the infamy of his literary namesake in the wizarding world of JK Rowling. He had never read the HP books, seen the films, or shown any interest in it.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the young boys jaw dropped and he loudly uttered, "no waaaaaay....Tom Riddle?" I smiled and nodded in agreement, enjoying the proper reaction that any HP fan would display, having heard the name, "Tom Riddle."

    His parents and several other adults in close proximity reacted to the young lads loud reaction.

    I surmised that none of them knew the infamy of the name, Tom Riddle, either.

    10-year olds of the world unite (including my 44-year old brother and 70-year old mother). And if you're reading this and don't shudder (or smile, depending on how much evil fills your heart) at the mere mention of the name, Tom Riddle aka Him whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken, then rest easy knowing those of us who do know the name, will keep the rest of you safe and free from his influence.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    The Red Balloon

    My wife and I got to witness the first time our 2 1/2 year-old daughter lost a balloon to the ugly gods of helium and gravity.

    She's had balloons before and I was sure she had grasped the concept of it floating away if she let it go. The way she held onto the purple ribbon with a firm grip was a clue, as was her fixed stare on the floating orb dangling on the end of it.

    It must have been that momentary lapse in attention when she was getting out of the car that the balloon seized the opportunity to "slip the surly bonds of the earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

    Her reaction was classic and true to form for a 2 1/2 year-old.

    First she screamed, "Oh, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it!" (picture the balloon getting further away as each two-word phrase emits from her scared 2 1/2 year-old voice).

    Once she realized that there wasn't anyway TO "get it," she immediately kicked into the rationalization monologue of "that's okay, we can get another one," repeated about a dozen times.

    The next and final phase saw the sheer and utter sadness that only a toddler can muster, emerge from her downturned mouth, crocodile-tear filled eyes, and quietly empty hands.

    Then she cried.

    And S hugged her, providing the level of comfort only a mommy could provide on such a somber occasion.
    And I kicked into "bad cop" mode, reiterating why the balloon flew away, and how it was a good lesson to learn (okay, let's call it insensitive-jerk mode -- there, happy?)

    And C? Well, she handed over her balloon, secured in her hands from lessons long learned, to her little sister and told her to take hers since she was done playing with it.

    Insert awwws and oooohs here.

    Yep, we must be doing something right with these girls.

    PTO Net newbies

    PTO meeting last night.
    Lesson learned: Don't suggest something unless you're prepared to take charge of the very thing you are suggeting.

    Since parental participation in actual PTO functions seems to be higher than the number of parents who can/do attend the monthly meetings, I innocently suggested that the PTO could create and maintain a website to help those who were absent but interested, stay in the loop.

    You know, a simple site with a calendar of events, contact info, meeting minutes, maybe some pictures from past events.

    I haven't faced so many blank stares since I told my friends back home that I was moving to Oklahoma.
    Crickets chirped. A cool breeze filtered the air. An infant cried in the distance.

    Finally, someone spoke up with an intelligent and appropriate question...

    "How do we do that?"

    Guess I just volunteed to create a website. Sigh.

    The irony of it all was that the PTO meeting was being held, as always, in the school's computer lab. Row upon row of windoze boxes. Sigh.

    To wrap this post up with semi-related panache, I received this lovely popup ad the other day and it has become my favorite. Mac users will see the humor. Windoze users may convulse at the site of the word, "Registry."

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    Seedy underbelly

    I'm not a poker player.
    I don't even play one on tv.

    But last night S and I were invited to a Texas Hold 'em poker night at a friend's house here in town.

    Other than some quarter machines in Vegas. neither S nor I have ever played real, cards-in-your-hand, chips-on-the-table poker. But I knew the basics of Texas Hold 'em (does anyone play any other type of poker anymore?) so after 30 minutes of passing on what little knowledge of the game I had to her, we rustled up a pea and cashew salad for the potluck table, left the kiddies with her folks, got a $20 from the seaweed jar for our "buy-in" and headed east to the poker "barn" on the outskirts of town.

    The poker was fine. The food was good. It's the company that rocked the most.

    We both came away from the evening minus $20, and 1/2 a bowl of pea salad, but also with an utter sense of being a stranger in a strange land.

    Our poker partners, most of which grew up in our small town, revealed sordid information about people, places, events, buildings, and organizations that it would have taken us years of comprehensive Columbo-esque sleuthing to find out on our own.

    Affairs. Criminal activity. Religious fervor. Punishment.
    What's buried under that building?
    Who's their real father?
    When did she become a 36C?
    Where can you get the best onion-fried burger?
    Why are there none of THOSE kinds of people here?
    How did they get away with what they did?

    Anyone remember the tv drama-dy Picket Fences?

    Later that night, as I pumiced S's feet while she bathed, she dryly commented, "we are so naive."

    Indeed. We hardened city folk, me with a lifetime of "suburbic-living" a short 5 miles outside the downtown West Coast capital of the United States (okay, that's not true, but if you're from LA, you must think it's true), came to the realization that we knew nothing about the small town we now live in.

    But at least now we know, that we know nothing.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    A skunkie came a calling...

    Had some warm evenings of late, strange for early November in Oklahoma to be in the 70's after the sun goes down.
    Yet it enabled me to spend some peaceful late nights sitting by an open window with my laptop, enjoying the fresh fall breeze.

    The other night, I heard the familiar sound of what I thought was a neighborhood cat rooting around in the brushy area beneath our kitchen window.

    I profess no great love for cats, especially ones that use my flower beds as their litter box. I stood up to get a good look at this particular night pooper and readied my best scary voice to send it scampering away in the dark.

    What at first appeared to be a familiar black and white feline, to my great surprise, turned out to be a full grown skunk.

    Pepe Le Pew was in the hizzous.

    He/She/It rooted around for awhile, not at all interested in the homo sapien male that was getting ready to tear apart both sash cords as he slammed down a window at the first sign of aggressive skunk behavior. It left without incident.

    Later that night, I heard ol' Pepe get into a tussle with one of the many alley cats that frequent our environs. From the darkness emerged the unmistakeable sound of a skunk assuming it's best defensive position with the cat paying the price. The malodorous melee took place at the far end of our neighbors yard, yet I'll be keeping the windows closed around the house for awhile.

    Good thing the temps turned cold yesterday.

    Wonder if cats like bathing in tomato juice?

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?

    The Dr. Pepper bottling plant is somewhere down in Texas. Can that possibly have any bearing on why Dr. Pepper consumption in Oklahoma (and the surrounding states) is so much higher than the national average?

    7-11's carry Dr. Pepper flavored Slurpees.
    Every fast food restaurant I've frequented has Dr. Pepper on tap.
    Southwest Airlines offers both diet and regular Dr. Pepper in their complimentary in-flight beverage service.

    From a press release I found here
    Per capita consumption is at 456 annual servings of Dr Pepper for every person in the territory served by The Dr Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Company of Elk City, Oklahoma,"

    "In comparison, other areas of the country are under-developed in Dr Pepper consumption, such as in the Northeast, upper Midwest, Northern California and Florida."

    "There is no reason for Dr Pepper consumption in these areas not to be at least at the national average,"

    "When we achieve that goal, Dr Pepper will be well on its way to the billion cases annually set as a goal by the end of 2009. We doubled volume in the last decade, and I see no reason why we should not do that again by the end of the first decade of the 21st century,"
    So, pucker up all you Northeasterners, Midwesterners, Northern Californians and Floridians -- soon, you will be a Pepper too.

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Costume that cracked me up

    Napoleon Dynamite has seemed to have made a lasting impression on the good people of my newly adopted state.

    I've seen "Vote for Pedro" shirts on the backs of people in places where you'd least expect to find them. Not to mention Kip's "I'm training to be a cage fighter" t-shirts and bumper stickers.

    Is this phenomenon taking place in other parts of the country, or it it's popularity isolated here in Native America?

    I must know.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Will had a Mac

    Always knew that one of America's most celebrated writers, typed all this stories on a Mac. Looks to be a 1st gen. 15" G4 Powerbook. I found this pic here. Claremore is another small town a little ways north of Tulsa.