Monday, August 15, 2022

THE STORY OF US


23 YEARS AGO (!!!) this month, a chance meeting turned into something a bit more long term, ha.


In February of 1999, I went to a friend's birthday party at a restaurant.  There were about a dozen people there, all friends of friends and after dinner, we all went to a piano bar.  I really hit it off with one of the guys that was there.  We talked about so many things and had so many things in common.  We talked forever (much to the exclusion of mutual friends, ha) and at the end of the night, went our separate ways, forgetting to exchange numbers or contact info.

I asked my friend for more info about the person I had been talking to & he said "oh I think he lives in California and comes into Houston on occasion".  Oh well, I didn't give it much of a second thought.

Flash forward to July of that year.

The internet was still a relatively new thing. We certainly had no smartphones with dating apps like in recent years but there was a national LGBT magazine that had an online version and there were personals ads, like ads used to be in papers and such.  The "I like cats, enjoy cooking, reading, looking for someone to share adventures with, hiking, biking, blah blah...etc" ads like they used to be.  I looked online and only one caught my eye, so I replied.

He replied back to me and we set a time to call.  When we introduced ourselves on the phone, we realized "WAIT, were you at K's birthday party?"  Sure enough, almost six months later, we had randomly met up again, thanks to the new fangled thing called the internet. 

Turns out he did live in Houston, born and raised here, and only worked in San Francisco.  He would fly out on Monday morning, sometimes Sunday night, and work the week in SF, then fly back to Houston for the weekend.  That was just the nature of the contract job he was working at the time.

We made plans to meet in August when he got back into town and had some free time.  We went to dinner at a new (at the time) restaurant.  It was just as it was at the birthday party, we talked forever and had a great time.

He continued commuting for a few more months.  One time, he used his frequent flyer miles to fly me out to SF, first class.  It was my first time to ever fly first class and since this was pre-9/11, they went ALL out.  I chatted with the pilots while the cockpit door was open at times, there were warm mixed nuts in crystal bowls, free flowing wine (might have had a bit much on the trip out, ha), amazing food served on china.  I remember on the return flight, I was dozing off and the flight attendant leaned in and said we were approaching Houston, and did I want a warm chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk while landing?  Um, yes! ha!

After that, we dated, long distance and in person, eventually moving in together and we've been together ever since.

We have always used that first dinner date in August as our anniversary day and when we could finally (and legally) get married a few years ago, and we told our story to the Judge's office, they rearranged some things so we could have our ceremony ON the same date.  It worked out perfectly.

We've had great fun and been on adventures to other places, moved a few times and had the highest of highs and we've had loss that we never imagined (losing my parents 5 years apart).  We've added kitties to our family and of course have lost two of them.  We've changed jobs and bought and sold cars.  And now we have the farm/land and are currently making our final plans for our retirement out there.


We both love the movie Titanic and always quote this scene.  We may look a little different 20+ years on, but that's life and we wouldn't change a thing.  So there you have it...the story of 1st Man and 2nd Man...a book that is still being written.
 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

RAIN FINALLY

RAIN THE OTHER NIGHT!


Very heavy storms moved through the area the other night, including the farm.  That "pin" in this radar image is the house.  2nd Family said there was a little over 3 inches of rain.  Of course there was also very strong winds, crazy lightning and a tornado thrown in for good measure.  The tornado was radar indicated but rural enough that no damage was reported anywhere.

Of course with the high winds, we worry about the pear tree, we might be gathering them all off the ground if Mother Nature or the wild animals haven't beaten us to it.  We'll see!  Today as this posts it's off to the farm to check on on things.  Who knows, there might even be mowing on the horizon.

Updates to come!

Friday, August 12, 2022

CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST TRASH TO TREASURE

 Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found quite a few cool items over the last few years.

Here is one of the latest!

So it was recon time and this time I figured I'd get a picture to let you all see where I look.  This is where people put boxes and recyclable type trash.  This was this past weekend.

A Christmas tree part of some sort.  Hmm, maybe a small tree?  Upon closer examination however, I found  another section under a box and then another and yet another.  I gathered them up and took them to the other end by the freight elevators and laid them out.

It is a pre-lit artificial tree.  VERY large.

Four sections (our current one only has three sections and it seems big, you can see it HERE).

Each section plugged into the other and so I did that and plugged it in.


Beautiful white lights all came on except for one side of one section.  This may be why someone discarded it.  The fact that it's August probably also means they were moving out and just decided "remember, the lights don't work in one section" and so they trashed it.

We're hoping that when the time comes to put it up and use it, we can play around with the lights and maybe find a loose wire that will get them to come back on.  But worst case and they don't come on?  Well, we could just add some lights to that one section.


This is my arm stretched upwards as high as I could reach and it's still not to the top.  This tree is easily 10 to 12 feet tall and a large diameter at the base.


Here is a closeup.

It is a good quality tree with different types of branches and even little pinecones as decorations all over.  The lights are LED and white.

Back when my Mom was alive, we had at least two trees every year.  One with personal memories of things (trips, events, etc) and one with standard collected ornaments (like the ones we use now).

We got rid of those two when we took a break on decorating after she passed and now that we're excited to be decorating again, the trees seem to be falling in our laps.  This will become the fourth tree we've found since we moved here.  We now have:

4 foot
6 foot
8 foot
10+ foot

We're thinking of bringing back the tree of memories by using one in the bedroom, a food/cooking theme tree in the kitchen or dining room, a regular large and grand tree with our beautiful ornaments in the living room and a 4th one somewhere else...theme to be decided!

All free discards!  We'll give them a great future.


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

ELECTRIC SKILLET EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

So 2nd Man has a new favorite kitchen appliance...and it's something familiar...an electric skillet.

Curtis Stone electric skillet
This model is from Curtis Stone (the TV chef).  It came with a rack, a silicone divider and a glass lid.

Electric skillet plug
It's not even anything fancy with digital or LED, it just has the regular old school plug in piece with a rotating knob for keep warm, low, medium and high.

Pork chops and potatoes in electric skillet
Here is a recent meal he did.  Using the silicone divider which just slips in lets you cook two things at the same time.  In this case he just did pork chops on one side and some small potatoes on the other side.  Just salt and pepper seasoning and olive oil on one side and some butter to sauté on the potato side.

Cooking in an electric skillet
It comes out great!
Nice cook on both items.

Sautéing vegetables
He uses it for sautéing veggies when preparing larger dishes and needs a lot of them...

Steaming vegetables in electric skillet
...and for steaming broccoli, asparagus and other veggies when needed for that.

One pot meal in electric skillet
Even one-dish meals like this one with rice, lentils and chicken where it can all cook together at the same time, come out great every time.

It's easy to clean up and while you can put them on the counter anywhere, we just put it on top of the glass stovetop.  We have to smile when we get it out (and it is used very often) knowing that our Moms would be laughing as they said "um, yeah, we used those too..."

Hey, whatever works, right?


Monday, August 8, 2022

FERAL HOGS HAVE ARRIVED

Deer, coyotes and now...

One thing we've never had to deal with at the farm are feral hogs.  In many parts of Texas, they are a menace to yards and properties and are a huge problem.


Then we saw this on the trail cam night vision.  What are those things?  Lots of little animals in the yard.  About a dozen that we could make out in the images.

A few nights later, the camera caught this...


....a mother hog and her litter.  They might seem cute but feral hogs can be aggressive and will absolutely destroy a yard.  They root around looking for grubs and things and can just plow through a yard like a bulldozer.  even flowerbeds too.

Image via Texasfarmbureau.com
This image is from Texas Farm Bureau to show what a couple of dozen feral hogs did to a property in a single night and here is another one...

Image via Texasfarmbureau.com
...the front yard of a home in a neighborhood.
We are hoping though that because we are in a drought, the yard is dry and the ground is hard as a rock, we will be OK, for now.  They are doing what they can to find food and hopefully just passing through.


However, they can also be very aggressive.  In all the time we've had the property, we've never had to deal with this and 2nd Family said they haven't either.  Perhaps the drought is pushing them in our direction but whatever the cause, we're going to have to be careful and stay observant moving forward.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

Sunday is here again.  The days just seem to fly by so quickly.  Still hot here, of course.  Here is some good food and some Hobart, of course.

2nd Man used up some stuff we had in the freezer and pantry.  This is beef stew meat, sautéed and then rice and lentils with tomatoes and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.  Mixed all together with some beef broth and seasonings, it all came together nicely.  Satisfying and best of all, quick and easy.

Here's Hobart!

Sleeping (though momentarily awake for the photo) on another of his favorite blankets, a soft and fuzzy one that he loves to get wrapped up in because...

#notspoiled


Friday, August 5, 2022

FROSTING OR ICING FOOD DEBATE

On Friday in the past we have done a "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some burning questions of the culinary world, ha. We have expanded it now to other fun and different regional uses of words in addition to food related words.

We haven't done one in a while and figured it was a good time to bring it back. 

This week, the burning question is:


Some might argue that the best part of a luscious cake is the covering that is all over the outside.  Fluffy, creamy, sweet, tangy, thick, soft, neat, rustic, it takes all forms but no matter what form it is, there are really only two names for it:  Frosting.  Or icing.

Now after a little research, there IS a technical difference. Frosting is thicker while icing is thinner, almost like a glaze.  Makes sense when you think about it from that perspective but over the years, both words have been used interchangeably and now they have become a more or less regional way of saying the same thing about the cake decor.  Most Southerners say "icing" no matter what it technically is.  

So what do you call it?

Frosting?  Icing?


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

YESTERDAY TODAY TOMORROW SHRUB

In this dry, drought embattled time we have, let's see some flowers and remember what it can look like.

A couple of months back, we posted a picture of this plant, our "yesterday/today/tomorrow" plant (notice the green yard, ha).


It was a gift from a coworker a couple of years ago and and we've been taking care of it on the porch until we can get it planted in a special spot.  She told us she had a huge one growing in front of her house.

She found this picture to show us:


This is what the plant grew to look like in front of her house here in town.  Amazing isn't it?

We can only imagine the incredible scent it gives off when this big.  This is why we want to plant it in a special spot where it can grow big and beautiful and we can enjoy it for years to come.  It's going to have to be in a special flowerbed for sure.  In this drought though, we are not getting it in the ground when we are only available to water it once a week.  They have been hard to find in nurseries and it's come this far.


Monday, August 1, 2022

AND THE BROWN COMES BACK

Had to drop off my Jeep before going out because the battery was acting up and sure enough, it was going out.  In this heat down here in this part of the country, our car batteries last about 3 years if you leave your car parked outside most of the day, which I do.

Once that was done, it was off to the farm.  Wasn't sure if I'd have to mow but nope, what green popped up the prior weekend from some brief rains was quickly gone.


Here is a view from last weekend after we had some rain a few days before.  The green was coming back...


...and here is it Saturday when we got there.
Back to brown.


Here is another view of the driveway from a week ago when the green started peeking out...


...and again, Saturday when we got there.  Now this week there are supposed to be some more chances of rain so hopefully that will happen.


Left about 2:30 when it was pretty much 100 degrees.

Hope you are staying cool wherever you are.


Sunday, July 31, 2022

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

Another week has flown by and here were are, AUGUST is tomorrow?  Where DOES the time go?  Well, time for some yummy food and some funny Hobart!

2nd Man made this the other night.  Chicken and mushroom fettuccine Alfredo.  He makes a simple Alfredo sauce and adds cream of mushroom soup and some sautéed mushrooms.  It was very good.

And here is Hobart acting silly.  When I come home from work he wakes up from wherever he is and comes over to me and falls over on his side and expects a belly rub and a back rub with my foot after I take off my shoes.  He loves it and we love him and so we indulge him because...

#notspoiled