Gary Digs Tales of the holes I dig, the dirt piles I make, and the holes I fill at the B-Bar-Lazy-B

June 16, 2009

Pile O’ $h!t, Pie Transportation, and Hair Weave on the Loose…

Filed under: Eating,General,Humanity,Recreation,Tools,Yard — Tags: , , , , , , , — gary @ 2:56 pm

Pile O’ $h!t:

Apparently it has been 2 months since I wrote the Homeresque blog post about the truck designed to rival Tolstoi in verbosity. You can imagine I needed a long hard rest after that blogging odyssey, and honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten that long hard rest, but alas, I will blog again regardless. The whole thing would probably be a lot easier if I just blogged a little every couple of days instead of bundling a couple months worth of news into a single post. The bundling puts too much distance between me and some of the more significant events of the past 2 months, enough distance that any rendering of those events would seem too contrived and contemplated to have any real value. As such, we’re going to skip the most important stuff and stick to the most entertaining stuff, so put your finger on the scroll wheel and let us begin…

Maya recently encountered a post on Craig’s List by a tree service company offering to deliver wood chips free of charge with a 4 cubic yard minimum. Perfect, we happened to be in the market for a boat load of mulch to finish our comprehensive lawn removal project, so after some foot dragging on my part we gave them a ring. They said they would have about 8 cubic yards and asked how much of it we would like. “Sure, bring us what ya’ got. We’ll take it…” I said figuring we could easily spread 8 cubic yards of mulch. No problem at all.  ‘8 yards will be a perfect start’, I thought to myself when I hung up the phone. Keep in mind, I do have some idea of what a cubic yard looks like having hauled in several of them for filling the holes that I dig. A couple of years ago we had 15 cubic yards of soil delivered for the largest raised bed in the back yard, so I felt like half of that quantity was easily managable. Then they arrived…

In my estimation we ended up with about 20 cubic yards (Maya says 24, so perhaps it is somewhere in between), nevertheless, it was not 8. Nowhere near 8. A whole $h!tload more than 8. It filled the entire driveway (almost, kind of, ok, not the entire driveway, but the entire part of the driveway in which Maya parks, not the part that is ordinarily occupied by my truck canopy and other non-essential goods for which no other suitable location can be found). The funniest thing about the pile was the fact that several visitors shortly after the arrival of the pile expressed an acknowledgment of the pile’s presence in exactly the same phrase: “You have a big pile of $h!t in your driveway.” they would announce in an informative manner as they arrived. We kindly let them know we were aware of the pile and had a certain fondness and actual intention to utilize the pile and that no impending catastrophe should be assumed by the presence of the pile. Maya’s mother was really disturbed by the pile from an aesthetic perspective and inspired me once again to appreciate the fact that in Skyway no one is going to sweat the big pile of mulch in your driveway regardless of how many weeks it sits there. It is simply the case that around here there are matters of much greater importance than whether or not someone is fast or slow about their mulching procedings.

I had a picture of the original pile, but my fancy fricken’ phone decided it needed to mysterious reset back to factory defaults and I lost the pictures, so all I have is this one of the portion of the pile that remains in our driveway oh so many weeks later:

The remains of the giant pile in our driveway

The remains of the giant pile in our driveway

The original pile extended to the right hand edge of the above picture and just past the left hand edge as well as spanning the entire width of the driveway. The other somewhat irritating thing about the pile is that it consisted more of pine needles than anything else. No problem we thought, we spread it in the areas where plants are already accustomed to acidic soils (or where we don’t want plants anyway) and the rains of late May and June should help break them down as to prevent creating a giant fire hazard out of our entire yard. We have now gone 28 days without any measurable rainfall. Should this continue for another full day we will have beat the record (for this time of year, whatever that means, but weathermen need to report something, so I guess that is how records like that get created) set back in 1982. I will spread part of the remaining stuff in a final layer around the back yard where the previous three layers have been sufficiently trompled (along our main walking paths), and the balance I will take to A.’s house (A. doesn’t live terribly far from here and is in Maya’s permaculture class and we met her at a SURF Co-op meeting before that class began). So, soon enough the pile will be resolved. The biggest hurdle being clearing the back of the truck and actually pulling the canopy off again (I’m pretty sure it won’t sit in the driveway for 2 years again, but we’ll see).

Pie Transportation:

As fate would have it, Maya had permaculture class on the same day that she was slated to provide food for her cousin K.’s college graduation party way out in North Bend, Washington which is about a thousand miles from here (or it might be 35, somewhere in there). Maya’s class got out at 5:30pm and the festivities were slated to begin at 6pm (which those of us who had previously graduated from UW and had to sit through and escape from the ceremony at Maya’s mother’s behest, knew was a farce since it easily takes an hour just to get out of the stadium and off campus with the droves of humans and automobiles overwhelming the area following the event), but nonetheless, the food had to be delivered, prepared and presentable prior to the previously determined start time. As such, the task had to be assigned to the person least capable of completing it successfully…me. Why am I the person least capable of completing the task successfully? Well, for starters I have a very fuzzy conception of time and an even fuzzier conception of arbitrary deadlines (note, I recognize a real deadline, but most deadlines I consider arbitrary at best). It is also the fact that I generally lack the motor skills appropriate to carrying, mixing and handling large quantities of food (and really you should have seen the mess I made attempting to mix the 42 lbs of tabouli Maya prepped for the event). But, safe and secure transportation of 7 rhubarb and blackberry pies (which ended up being 9)  was the only part of the task that truly frightened me.

I have failed in the past at transporting exactly this type of pie, and the sadness that befell Maya when I arrived with a broken crust and spilled filling haunts me to the day. Having a deep desire to not repeat the crust breaking filling spilling heart break I had previously deliver upon the woman I love, I set my mind to conquering through technology the pie delivery obstacle which layed before me. I needed to develop a comprehensive pie transportation solution, and I only had a week to do it. So, I spent 5 days thinking about it, and then started working on the solution the day before I needed to have it done. Whilst working on it the number of pies increased and Maya detected a near fatal design flaw which resulted in some last minute adjustments (for the design flaw, not the number of pies, I had already accomodated 8 pies in the design and figure putting one floating pie at risk was far better than starting over and working toward a 10 pie solution). The challenging aspects were to utilize existing materials (specifically existing materials not likely to be useful to any other project in the near future) and to make sure that my design could accommodate both the small aluminum pie tins being utilized for this event and the larger ones that might be required for some future event. I got the inital frame work assembled, glued, nailed and cured and had a solid design to work with after the first day. So during the day of the event I finished off the pie transportation devices and managed to still get out to the event in time to set up the food (with the help of Maya’s Dad and K.’s boyfriend). Also, J.’s arrival just before I completed the second device played heavily into my success as he offered to wrap the pies while I showered and changed to get ready to leave the house (about an hour and forty-five minutes later than I had originally intended to leave, but this ended up being fortuitous for reasons I am not willing to discuss at this time). And so, I present to you, the CPTS (Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution) as it appeared filled and loaded into the Super-Cab of the previously discussed Bio-Beast of an F250 that I drive:

Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution

Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution

Primarily constructed of fir trim removed from our house 4.5 years ago during our massive remodel (and since that time floating around the shed in a huge unweildy mass to be moved to and fro whenever we need to get to something), the CPTS fit the bill with relatively little sliding, no breakage, and most importantly no spillin’ o’ the fillin’. But, I’m really hoping the day we have to transport 12 pies is in the very far future because I am not at all looking forward to the hassle of making another one of these (a lot of awkward corners to wedge the little electric tack nailer into and oh so many little cuts and clamps and frustrations along the way).

Hair Weave on the Loose:

On the day after Maya’s cousin K.’s graduation festivities J. (formerly of JnX) and I took Huxley on a micro walk over to the mini-mart (so I could buy smokes) and to Nevzat’s esspresso drive through (so I could get a dose of my other ‘eine). The mini market is right next to an action packed little bar in our neighborhood that has experienced more than it’s share of massive law enforcement interventions and county sherriff helicopter hooverings. At 2am each weekend we can hear relationships coming to an end as the bar let’s out and final determinations of the relationship status are loudly resolved in the parking lot. So, it was highly entertaining, but not terribly surprising when we found this:

The remains of the night as it were, a portion of a hair weave left trompled and abandoned in the parking lot...

The remains of the night as it were, a portion of a hair weave left trompled and abandoned in the parking lot...

The picture is blurry, but suffice it to say that is a portion of someone’s “Weave“. The picture of the intense “chick fight” that resulted in this aftermath, as well as the words that must have been exchanged at the time, were immediately apparent to J. and I. Fortunately J. had his phone with him and was able to capture this priceless photo. But, wait for it…after I got my smokes and we crossed the parking lot to visit Nevzat’s espresso stand, I thought it would be funny to point the unwoven “Weave” out to him. His response:

“Oh yeah, I saw it this morning when I arrived. EVERY WEEKEND there is one,” and his eyes got really big, “sometimes a whole head of hair out in that parking lot…”

J. and I both almost fell to the ground laughing. This wasn’t a special occassion, I just usually fail to get over to the mini-mart and the espresso stand early enough in the day to see the aftermath of the Skyway weekend nights. So, if you’re looking for your next viral video to post on You Tube, drop me a note and I’ll direct you to a suitable location to set up your night vision camera on a Skyway Saturday night to capture what is apparently the regular sacrafice of the “Weave” that happens here on the hill. This fact makes me realize that each weekend we are probably hearing both the end and the beginning of some relationship out there in the parking lot as to the victor go the spoils and who ever inspired such conflict is not likely going home with the girl who just lost her “Weave” in the parking lot. Just a guess though, now I’m talking out my a$$, so I’ll bring it to a close and wish you well ’til next I bang this keyboard into temporary submission.

December 14, 2008

On the whole…

I suck…

because I haven’t writen a well thought out post in quite a while. My Dad was in town over Thanksgiving weekend, and that was a blast. It’s the first time he has made it out here from Dead Rock, MT since we bought the house, so it was a long anticipated visit. He spent some much needed quality time on the couch with his grand-puppy (Huxley) and met his grand-chickens (the girls) for the first time. We went to the Boeing Museum of Flight and to the EMP together which were both pretty cool. We thoroughly enjoyed an outstanding Philipino dinner at Kawali Grill (just south of Columbia City proper) the night before he left (oh dear oh my, can you say lumpia and crispy pork belly?), and then I spent Sunday afternoon and evening playing catch-up on the work for the week, but it was well worth it.

I also ran across this recently: www.lincvolt.com which is just super cool. If they can currently get of 60 mph out of this beautiful heavy old son of a … well, there’s hope for a much more efficient F250 somewhere in the future (which I’ll be able to afford a decade and a half after it comes out, or when I win the lottery).

In other news…well, I’m kind of ashamed to say it, but I have a MySpace page. Let me explain…

I originally set it up just to poke around at their API, since I occassionally see Craigslist gigs for developing MySpace and FaceBook apps. I figured it was worth at least checking out to get an idea as to whether or not this is something I might pursue in a time of need (which fortunately hasn’t arrived yet). Well, Maya has a MySpace page and keeps in touch with a friend of hers in Louisiana via that to some degree and I added this friend of Maya’s to my friends on MySpace. Little did I know I would soon be invited to join here Mob as part of a game called, well of course, Mobsters, and now I have found an inappropriate venue for idle time that feeds my very minor case of OCD quite well. So, some of my time has fallen into this black hole of mild entertainment value (there is a touch of strategy to the game, but it is basically just a series of apparently unending levels of acquisition and whacking other mobsters). Anyway, I figured I better out myself over this whole MySpace thing before someone else does. I’m on FaceBook too, which has actually been pretty nice as I have gotten some updates on very old friends and acquaintences from many various chapters in my life…I look down the list and realize it truly has been a long strange trip…

Also in the past few weeks I developed a crush on Annie of at Edifice Rex when she posted this splendid rant about consumer culture on the heels of yet another Black Friday trampling at a stinking WalMart. If you are so eager to get into a WalMart that you are willing to sacrifice someone else’s life to celebrate the birth of you’re stinking christ, well you probably deserve a ong painful crucifixion of your own, and if your god does exist I hope he punishes you forthrightly for your trespasses. I suspect I’ll have to make a bumper sticker for this one…”Jesus cries everytime you trample a WalMart employee to celebrate his birthday…“, you heard it here first, but I’ll probably have to take the WalMart part out to avoid a lawsuit (even though I should be covered under Fair Use for both parody and political speech, but hey, given the current supreme court line up, why risk it).

That’s not everything there is to say right now, but at least it is something, and I’ll jump back when my thoughts are a bit more orderly…

October 9, 2008

C is for Cookie….

Filed under: Eating — Tags: , , , , — gary @ 11:51 am

and yes, that is good enough for me.

So, generally, I have to admit…I don’t cook. I suck at it, I don’t enjoy it, I don’t have the motor skills nor memory to keep several things going all at once in the kitchen and quickly get overwhelmed by the simple tasks in front of me. I’m sure there is prescription medication that could help me with this issue, but for now I muddle along and stay generally in charge of “dinners out”.

However, once in a very blue moon, I bake something really simple…cookies (well, once I baked something out of a box and now I can’t recall what it was, some kind of snack bar from a packaged foods company that starts with a K and has a name sounding similar to the clown on the Simpson’s). Last night the moon was as blue as it can get, and I made some cookies (with some help from Maya’s expert eye along the way).

I started with the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Easy Cookies. My hope was that this site would be geared toward children. If it were, then there was some hope I could get through the cookies without showering Maya with too many stupid questions. The very second instruction in the “easy cookies” recipe baffled me and sent me to google to do some research.

“Cream the butter and both sugars”

A concept totally lost on me, but I found some overly helpful and frightening advice at baking911.com. Maya told me most cooking sites seem to be designed to keep you out of the kitchen, and she may be correct. You have no idea how I fretted about the this process prior to Maya telling me to mostly ignore it. I even almost backed out of making the cookies entirely, but since I had mentioned them earlier in the day and Maya said she was already looking forward to them, retreat was not an option. Really, the tone of this stuff had me thinking we would need to rent a laboratory up at the University just to get the correct conditions for this highly technical creaming process. I suspected we might need to invest in some additional tools, or perhaps we should hire the work out to an expert. Fortunately, Maya put my fears at ease, and for the most part, the Kitchenaid Mixer did all the work.

Now, I can’t just make chocolate chip cookies, what fun would that be. Again, Maya helped me out here by telling me that the quatity of chocolate chips recommended by the recipe would leave us with a mess (it seems like all of the recipe was halved, except the chocolate chips). I figured I’d grab whatever leftover nuts, or what not, we had in the cabinet…but the almonds were raw and apparently someone (it was me) ate all of the hazzlenuts that were in an already open bag I had seen in there previously. BUT, I found an open bag of sweetened coconut and some mesolithic Almond extract to add with half as many chocolate chips as were recommended by the recipe.

I am generally in favor of a hint of almond in my snacks. I like Almond in my lattes and many years ago (last time I made cookies) I made peanut butter cookies, BUT not peanut butter cookies, because I used Almond Butter. The result…Hard, Flat, Greasy and FANTASTIC almond snacks. I highly recommend that you try it with your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe, but be forwarned, your cross-hatches on the top will be vaporized in the cooking process. I don’t know the science here, but you have been warned, they will be hard, crispy, flat and delicious.

Which reminds me of a funny story not at all related to the cookies I made last night, so let’s digress from the topic at hand for just a moment…

Way back in the mid-90’s (when the biggest crime our president commited was perjury regarding a blow-job, ahh the good old days) I provided telephone techinical support for Adobe PageMaker 4,5, and 6. If at that time you typed in “hard and greasy” into the knowledgebase you would get an article that contained corrections for the cookie recipe that came as part of the recipe card templates for PageMaker 4. I think the title of the article was “PageMaker 4 cookies are hard and greasy”. I couldn’t find any quick references to this little bit of publishing software history out there on the net, so I thought I’d mention it and hope I’m not violating any NDA I signed last century. Speaking of funny publishing software history stories, as I recall one of the senior techs told me that the first PageMaker 4 release would anounce that “The Space Needle Could Not Be Found” when you first launched it because the default printer at the old Aldus building used to be called “Space Needle” and that setting slipped into the final build. I have no direct experience with that one, but as I recall it was in the database at the time as well.

So, back to the topic at hand, the cookies from last night. It all went very smoothly with Maya’s assistance, and in the end the cookies were really delicious. The recipe made just under a dozen of them (wouild have been a dozen, but some of my cookie wads were bigger than others). So, take the recipe from the website above, add a healthy dash of Almond Extract and about 3/8th of a cup of sweetened shredded coconut and about half the chocolate chips they recommend, and enjoy…

In completely unrelated news…I burned some idle cycles today adding the Amazon link feature to the “Stray Random Quotes” plugin for WordPress. I don’t do PHP, so this was good little project to start dipping my toes into it. I imagine with the economy going the way it is the big MS based projects might run a little thin, so I getter get on the open source stuff to some extent. This was a quick and dirty modification of the existing script to add a spot for my associate id and the ASIN of the product associated with the source of the quote. No where near polished enough to distribute or even recommend as an add on to the current plugin, but it is serving my purposes, so I’m happy with it.

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