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Archive for the ‘Marvin and Maynard’ Category

Marv Will be in the Tour Bus

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Have the Groupies Clean his Perch

What a day. I got my Telecaster working yesterday, and I fired up the Super Champ XD and the Fat Sandwich pedal and started working on “I Know a Little.” It turned out that the Telecaster, with its long scale and super-tall frets, was actually easier to play than my amazing Epiphone Riviera P93. Slides are somewhat unpleasant, because my fingers smash into the frets from the side, but still, it worked great. It felt like it was harder to play, but I was undeniably playing better.

Today I decided to make a recording to see just how bad I sounded. I figured it would be horrible, because the timing on my last recordings was really jerky and awful. Also, recording makes my timing even worse, because it seems like my joints quit working. I worry about what the mike is picking up, and there goes any hope of playing loose.

Incredibly, it sounds like music. WAY better than I hoped. There are three passages which are still technically not under control, but basically, it’s sound. In a week, I should be able to play it for real. I don’t know that I’ll be able to play full speed, though. Today I cranked it up to 78%.

I don’t know that I like it at 100%. You lose many of the guitar subtleties, and there isn’t as much opportunity to play with the vocals.

I recorded this on a Sansa clip, which is a tiny, cheap MP3 player. And Marv was “helping” in the background. I’m posting it anyway. Whatever the problems are, it proves this is going to work!

I Know a Little, With Marv as Background Vocalist

I have a new wonder pick. My teacher recommended a Dunlop jazz pick, which is a very hard, small nylon job. They’re very fast, but they make a somewhat dull sound, and the tiny size is hard on your hands. Last week I took a Dunlop triangle pick, which is huge, and modified it so it would still be easy to hold, but it would not interfere with my movements or rotate out of position. The result is the greatest pick of all time. I can’t put it down. I’m wondering if I should make my own version and sell it.

Anyway, this is fantastic. When I get it cleaned up, I’ll post a better version. Probably without Marv.

If I can do this, it proves I’ll be able to play decent Christian music.

Splint, the Miracle Parrot

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Sparrow, Parrot…Same Basic Idea

Here’s a wild story.

In 2009, Dave Rodenborn’s parrot Splint flew off. Dave let Splint’s feathers get a little bit too long, and Splint shot out the front door and got away. Parrots have no desire to obey, and you can’t rely on them to do the things you’ve trained them to do, so you can’t just call them back. If they feel like coming back, they come back. If not, tough. And once they’re a few dozen yards from your house, they have no idea how to get back. The general rule is that they stay lost, and they die. They don’t know how to cope in the wild, the North American climate can kill them, and hawks love them.

At the time, I was highly distressed. I know how it feels to lose a parrot due to my own mistake. And I thought about Splint, out there in the wilderness, lonely and starving.

I put in some prayer time for Splint, and when I did, I felt a powerful flow of faith, telling me he was coming back.

After months had passed, I figured my faith had been wrong. Non-spiritual teachers are always telling us not to trust what we feel, which is a little bit crazy, considering how obvious the Holy Spirit’s power and presence can be. The fact is, most teachers don’t get good results from prayer, and they assume anyone who claims to have a better experience is a kook or a liar. They don’t want to set people up for disappointment, so they actually tell people NOT to trust God! How crazy is that?

These days, when I pray, I can literally, physically, mentally feel faith pouring through me. I don’t have to feel it in order to believe, but experience has taught me that when I do feel it, it’s real. I believe it comes from praying in tongues. When you pray in tongues, you deposit power in your supernatural bank account, and it’s there when you need to make a withdrawal.

Last night, I got an unexpected response to a Youtube comment in a thread in which Dave was participating. In the thread, Dave said Splint had returned! Someone yanked him out of a tree near Dave’s house, and it took them a year to find Dave! How do you like THAT?

So here is the position I’m in: I had faith, and God rewarded it, even after I decided my faith was wrong. Is that possible? Apparently so. It has happened to me before. I think your best bet is to hold onto what faith tells you, no matter what, but God may come through regardless of your foolishness.

Faith is a crazy thing. Sometimes you will pray for a thing and be sure you’re going to get it, yet you’ll still be amazed when you see it come to pass.

The Zorro of Bird Poop

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010


Marv’s message for today: “Eat your bird. Big fat.”

Why did I buy this thing?

Marv has gotten so good at tactical pooping, I no longer get mad at him about it. Instead, I feel awe and respect.

The other day we were on the couch, and Marv managed a stealth poop in a location where I later put my face. I had to give him his props for that. It transcended ordinary poop. It was an Improvised Poop Device.

Last night he got off a poop that hit my hand and then the floor without me even knowing it. He did it while I was putting him in the cage. By the time I knew I had been shelled, I had tracked all over the house. I had to get out the mop and the Clorox.

I don’t know how he does it. He’s an artist.

They Fit in Stockings, Too

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

“We are Here to Poop on the Gifts”

Check out the great holiday greeting I received from Peg and Mr. Mollo: CLICK.

That photo will help you understand why people love parrots.

“This Guy is Worse Than Costanza!”

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Time for a Nap Behind the Sacks of Sweet Feed

The other day Maynard and I shared one of those moments you only experience when you have pets that are insane.

We were having a frozen Hershey bar with almonds, and I said this: “I can’t give you too much because it’ll make you hallucinate. Not that it matters when you’re a bird.”

I’m glad no one records our talks.

Mike just called. His pal George Steinbrenner is dead. Mike and Steinbrenner go way back. Mike managed his race horses for a while. He only got fired twice.

Mike says he could write a book about the private Steinbrenner no one knows about. He told me a few horrifying things before I indicated that I was not a big fan of gossip. Also, I wanted to keep breakfast down.

He said Steinbrenner took him to lunch with Red Grange. Seriously. And Steinbrenner and Red Grange started picking on Mike to toughen him up and make a man out of him. I said he should have taken a swing at Red Grange and said, “Yeah, you were a great football player, but now you’re old, so don’t get smart.” But I didn’t really mean it. Besides, Grange probably would have clotheslined him right at the table.

Life is fairly odd.

Good Deeds for Your Friday

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Finish the Day on a Positive Note

Two things.

1. Peg Kaplan lost her pet budgie, Sunny, to an accident the other day. Sunny was perched on top of a door, and Peg closed it. You can imagine how she feels. If you would like to offer a prayer and comment on her blog, she could use the help.

2. Shepherd’s Gate, a California charity which shelters abused women and their kids, found a donor who will give them $5.00 for every Facebook user who becomes a fan of their page. Here is the page.

Happy Birthday to a Bird Who Requires Squeezing

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Teens Coming to an End

I just realized today is Maynard’s birthday. He is 19 years old.

Here he is, in front of a closet door he ate.


Props to Sonny’s Barbecue in Florida City. Mike and I had dinner there, and the manager let me take two ribs home so Marv and Maynard could celebrate.

Marv is Betting Against Me

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Loafer’s Loaf

I decided I had to do something stupid. What a novel experience for me.

I’ve been making pizza without kneading the dough. Today I decided to see what happens when I turn the dough into bread. I took a portion of Golden Tiger flour mixed with salt and pepper, blended yeast and water into it, rolled it into a wad, and plopped it on a sheet of nonstick foil.

If it rises, I plan to bake it. If not, bird toy.

Comforter, Teacher, Housekeeper

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

My House Needs Fiber

I had a moment of clarity last night, unfortunately. It can be very relaxing to be wrong and not know it, so it’s always upsetting when I get an epiphany.

I had the TV on because one of the birds was out of the cage, and I happened to see a show called “Hoarders.” It’s about people who fill their houses with junk, until the rats take over and the kids have to sleep on piles of boxes.

The show bugged me. I’m not a true hoarder, but I’m related to one, and I have lots of hobbies, and I’m absent-minded. Put it all together, and you end up with a person with lots of junk, who puts stuff down in the wrong places and forgets it’s there for weeks or months. Hoarding Lite.

I got up and started relocating things. I had a pile of books and gun parts by my bed. I made room in a closet and stored it. I took tool-related items off the dining room table and put them in the garage. I threw out a number of stupid and worthless items.

Of course, I will need all of those items very badly today. That’s how decluttering works. As soon as the garbage truck drives away, you need whatever is in it.

I hate clutter. It’s like living in a little dirty crevice. It probably raises your blood pressure. But I have a clutter-prone personality. It’s like Felix and Oscar are in my head, duking it out like Rock’em Sock’em Robots.

I have a feeling that the Holy Spirit reduces clutter. Hear me out. When you’re not living for God, you do stupid things with your time and money. You will wander down fruitless paths, involving yourself in futile pursuits. That’s because only God can guide you in the direction you’re supposed to take. Result? You end up with stuff you weren’t supposed to have. Not just stuff, but time obligations. For example, you may give up church because your talented kid has sports practice every day, or simply because you want to squander time watching football on TV. You might end up devoting three hours a night to drinking beer. You may find yourself at a strip bar three times a week, blowing your money.

When God takes over, your priorities and desires change with time. Suddenly, you don’t need an entire closet for your porn collection. Or, like me, you may want to get rid of your delicious Cuban cigars. You find yourself selling things and giving things away. Life becomes more streamlined. You start discarding the things Paul referred to as “dung” so you can make room for the pearl of great price.

I still have a rolling toolbox full of gun stuff by the dining table, and a lot of my canning supplies are sitting on it. I have to move that to the garage. I have to throw out or give away some of the garage objects I will never need. I think it’s safe to throw out my old PC cabinet, and I need to Craigslist my brewing kegs.

I really need to get rid of the Super Genie Lift I inherited from one of my dad’s tenants. A guy at my church said they’ll take it, but it may be ten years before they get around to coming for it.

One of the reasons I don’t like Miami is that there is no space here. I’d like to have a home with an outbuilding for my hobbies. Here, that would run maybe three million dollars. A hundred miles north, maybe two hundred and fifty thousand. Cities are for limited people. If your only hobbies are TV and clubbing, Miami is perfect for you. Add three hobbies, and you’re out of luck. You need to move and get more room.

Last night I thought about my grandfather’s house in Kentucky. It had five bedrooms, including a little spare bedroom that held some of his guns and my grandmother’s sewing stuff. It had a big kitchen, a full dining room, a full living room, a big den, a second den in the basement, a second kitchen in the basement, tons of extra basement square footage, a big foyer, and three baths. It also had a tool shed and a barn, plus a carport and a concrete patio.

Mind you, this was not a mansion. It was just a nice red brick home. It brought $120,000 when the heirs sold it.

THAT is living. Bring your tools. Bring your cooking equipment. Buy three smokers. Get four gun safes. Get a bass boat and an RV and five motorcycles. No problem!

My idea of an ideal home is a three-bedroom CBS house with a big commercial-style kitchen, terrazzo floors, and no curtains, with nothing on the walls except maybe NRA calendars. Put a 1500-square-foot building out back with lots of room for musical instruments, tools, and storage. Give me two acres or more to grow food. I’m done. Let me live there until I die. You would have to hold me at gunpoint to get me to leave that house to go to paradise.

Forget antiques. Forget rugs; they hold dirt and stains and smells. Forget hardwood. It rots, termites eat it, and it makes noise. Put a drain in the kitchen floor so I can spill things. Tile the kitchen walls all the way to the ceiling. Get me white dishes and cups from a restaurant supply house, and put in a deck oven for pizza. Kill every plant that isn’t grass or something that produces food. Give me an entire room for Maynard and Marvin. That’s luxury!

The “stronghold” concept is well known among Christians. Satan has spiritual strongholds we have to conquer. The Canaanite cities Joshua destroyed are symbolic of these strongholds. Addictions and bad habits are strongholds. Bad attitudes are strongholds. A physical illness or poverty may be a stronghold. We’re supposed to break these things down by spiritual warfare.

It has occurred to me that God has strongholds, too. Every human believer is described as a house or a temple or an embassy. We belong to the nation of heaven, even though we live on earth. Within us–within our “walls”–God’s ways prevail. And we have to strive to keep Satan out, and we pray in the Spirit to build ourselves up, so there is something stronger than Satan within us, to repel attackers.

Similarly, a Christian’s home can be a stronghold. It can be an embassy of God. That’s what I want. I know life isn’t supposed to be a breeze, but we’re supposed to live in victory, and it seems to me that within our homes, Satan should be relatively powerless. A stronghold home should be a place where a Christian can retreat and recharge. We have to fight the enemy everywhere else. At home, we should have more peace.

A home should be like a military garrison. You defend it and keep it free from invaders, and from time to time, you make excursions into enemy territory and do damage. Then you retreat back to the garrison and prepare for your next assault.

This is what I want. I don’t want fancy furniture or snooty neighbors or a location shallow people would crave. I want a fortress where I can find a little relief.

Before the clutter show, I say a show called American Pickers, about two guys who go around talking old people into selling them valuable antiques below the market price. They went to visit a man who had twelve buildings full of junk. They had a hard time persuading him to sell them anything. He had to be 75 years old, and this stuff was falling apart, but time after time, they would show him a rusty object and ask the price, and he would tell them it wasn’t for sale. It seemed to me that this guy was in the same boat as the hoarders. He’s going to die, and all that neglected, decaying stuff will be loaded up in dumptrucks and destroyed so the new owners will be able to use the buildings. Crazy.

I also caught a few minutes of a show called Intervention. You can probably guess what that’s about. I plan to record it from now own. It’s helpful to see how tough professional addiction counselors are. It reminded me of an important truth: if you don’t fix a loved one who has an addiction–if you withdraw and wait for them to change, and it doesn’t happen–it doesn’t mean you didn’t try to help. It means the addict didn’t try. Every bad thing that happens to an addict as the result of not trying is the addict’s fault. If someone asks you why you’re not helping, say, “Shouldn’t you be asking why the addict isn’t trying?” Don’t fall for blame-shifting. If you accept even the smallest particle of blame, you might as well be handing the addict a bottle of pills.

It’s funny how I happened to tune in to three very instructive shows, on a night when I was just trying to find entertainment while I communed with my pets. Dang these “coincidences.” They are swarming on me.

Beyond This Place, There be Dragons and a Very Angry Rabbit

Friday, February 19th, 2010

“Shut Up. And Go and Change Your Armor.”

Last night I got what may be the worst downer comment in the history of blogging:

Steve, I have been following your blog for years. I feel like I know you and I like you. You are talented and interesting writer. Over the last year or so, I have become more and more alarmed as I have watched you ricochet from one project to the next, committing more and more of your psyche and your money. I have an awful feeling I am watching a potential train wreck of self-destructive behavior.
I am a retired physician (anesthesiologist), old enough to be your father. Steve, I tell you if you were my son, I would have you in the office of the best psychiatrist around as soon as possible. Please don’t be offended, I just felt I needed to say something in the hope of preventing a potentially bad outcome.
The comment by Carl Williams has encouraged me to write this note which I should have done sooner. Please listen!

I’m sure this guy means well, but that seems a tiny bit over the top to me.

I’m eccentric. No doubt about that. But I’m not crazy. Crazy people see flaming bats flying at their heads, and they do other things, like wetting their pants and claiming to be Jesus. I only have one of those three symptoms.

I’m not nuts. I’m just a pentecostal Christian who has a lot of hobbies. That may be a mental illness, but it’s not a severe one.

I’ve been to shrinks a couple of times in my life. Even given the general ineffectiveness of psychiatrists, had I been truly insane, they might conceivably have noticed.

The first time I went to college, I got very depressed because my family was driving me up the wall, and I went to a doctor who gave me pills which didn’t do anything. Even then, I wasn’t out of my mind. I was just bummed out.

I also tried shrinks for ADD treatment, which didn’t work either. It works in short spurts, but you can’t be ADD-free all day. At least I couldn’t. I got to the point where my base Ritalin dose (the amount I was ALLOWED to take, which doesn’t include cheating before physics tests) was 60 milligrams per day. This is roughly what a team of Clydesdales would require, if they had ADD. I still couldn’t get all-day relief, so I quit.

After that, I relied on coffee. You need Ritalin to study physics. For law, coffee is more than adequate. Law is just not that hard.

Lawyers hate it when I say that. Which is why I say it. Okay, maybe I need to grow up a little. Who can resist needling lawyers? What other professionals have B brains and A+ egos?

I guess I gave people the impression I was interested in advice about whether to open a pizzeria, but I’m not. I’ll either do it or I won’t. It’s nice to get advice on the little details, but the overall issue is well within my decision-making capabilities.

I’m not as excited about it as people think I am. I’m very gung-ho about helping my church sell pizza, but I’m ambivalent about opening my own place. It would be a business, not an amusement park. Running a pizza shop is not quite the same as visiting one on your kid’s birthday. Businesses take up time, and they often fail. And sometimes the proprietors get tired of them, after the businesses succeed. Then they’re stuck.

The thing is, I have this feeling that God wants me to do this, either for the church, or for myself, or both. Doors keep opening. And people are trying to discourage me, which is often a sign that the enemy is disturbed or scared by something a person is trying to do. This can be a powerful indication that God is with you. A voice that rises up inside you and tells you to stop may be from God, but random strangers making irrational, unfounded predictions of disaster are not sent by God. The predictions have to come from somewhere, however.

Remember the twelve spies. They went into Israel and looked around, and ten came back and said the Philistines were going to mash the Hebrews like bugs. Two pointed out that God is a pretty big asset to a conquering army, but by that time, God was highly annoyed, so the Israelites wandered in the desert for a generation. Without pizza, I might add.

If you had to guess, who do you think put the pessimism in the minds of the spies? My guess: the worst loser in the history of creation. The universe’s first loser.

Then, of course, there is the story of David and Goliath. “Okay, who do we have to fight the nine-foot-tall giant?” “Well, we have a skinny guy who can’t wear armor because it falls off.” “Right. And what’s his weapon? A bow? A big spear?” “Hang on, I’ll check.” Pause. “He says he’s going to use a pebble.” “You mean like an exploding pebble? A nuclear pebble? A pebble that breaks up into laser-guided cluster bombs? Are angry angels going to pop out of the pebble and smite these creeps for us?” “No, he says he found it in the creek.” “Fantastic. Is it too late to start worshiping Dagon?”

And what about the guy who buried his talent of silver in the sand instead of investing it? As I recall, his master did not give him a prize.

Last night I was thinking about this, and it came time for me to take Maynard out for his daily bird abuse recreation. I’m not a big fan of Jentezen Franklin, but for some reason I sent a contribution to his ministry last year, and he sent me some CDs I was not really interested in hearing. Night before last, I stuck one in the DVD player, but I didn’t get around to turning it on. Last night I decided to play it while Maynard was out.

One of the first things Franklin said was, “Who has been dumping on your dream?” Man, that woke me up. He started talking about the people who discouraged Bill Gates and Martin Luther King, Jr. and other successful people. He said Dr. Seuss was rejected 43 times by publishers, only to go on and sell 210 million books. The people at Digital (remember Digital?) told Gates there was no reason for anyone to have a computer in their home.

I listened to the entire CD.

When I was a kid, my family dumped on my dreams constantly. In fact, they even dumped on my belief that I was able to accomplish ordinary things which could hardly be called dreams.

They made me feel like my gift for writing was nearly worthless; a novelty talent on a par with the ability to do card tricks. They convinced me I could not succeed in life. They told me what was wrong with me, but they never helped me improve. I even had relatives who tormented me when I talked to girls, to the point where it discouraged me from making an effort. Can you imagine that? That’s pure Eastern Kentucky. Keep your loved ones small, like stunted tomato plants, so you can control them and keep them from taking up your valuable time. Then when they end up bitter and unsuccessful, you can criticize them for that, too. This attitude is one reason Kentucky is the great success that it is today, leading the nation in toothlessness and illiteracy.

Because of the way I was raised, I was very sensitive to the importance of refraining from beating down loved ones. It seemed like every time I wanted to do anything, a voice rose up and filled me with fear and weariness, and I quit, and by my twenties, I understood how harmful misguided families could be. If you ever want to learn how to fail in spite of overwhelming ability and opportunity, move to Eastern Kentucky. We’re the best. We’ll have you failing in no time, and you’ll make your kids fail, too.

When I heard Jentezen Franklin talking about this, it all came back to me. Some of the things I’m hearing and reading now, from people I know and in comments, are no different from the garbage that was poured in my ear while I was growing up.

Funny thing; my dad thinks a pizzeria is a great idea. He has often talked about the high failure rate of restaurants, in idle conversation, so he’s not unaware of the risks. But here he is, talking about how great my pizza is and how opening a shop would be a smart move. He is literally more optimistic about it than I am.

God heals families. God heals lives. My family used to be the biggest problem I had. Now God is working on us. We’re all changing, and my dad is my best friend and a source of strength to me. As the Bible says, God can throw salt into a poisoned well and make the water sweet.

I don’t know where the pizza path will lead. I’m not worried about it. God is going to put me in the right place, now that I’ve quit insisting on running things.

And if I’m crazy, does it really matter? Remember what Dilbert’s friend Wally said when the doctors said he was nuts: “Apparently, I’m insane. But I’m one of the happy kinds!”

Fewer, Better Toys

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

And When I Die With Them, I Keep Them

Last night I watched Jazz with Marv and Maynard, and I enjoyed some Knob Creek and a Coke chaser. Then I went to bed, and while I was getting ready to sleep, I started thanking God for all the little pleasures in my life.

It was quite a list. It seems like the more mature I get, the better I am able to enjoy things. I eat less than I used to. I drink less. I quit smoking cigars. I try to curb my baser appetites, and I try to be more responsible. And I believe God works in me, making these things happen. As excess disappears from my life, the things I enjoy stand out more, perhaps because they’re not lost in the background noise of constant overindulgence.

Let’s see. I enjoy squeezing my pets and conversing with them. I enjoy the food I cook. I enjoy working on my musical skills. I love listening to good jazz and classical music. I love shooting and reloading. I look forward to having breakfast with my dad once a week. I love using my tools. I smile every time I see the ridiculous diesel pickup I bought. Every time I walk into my church, I feel like a kid running through the gate at Disneyland; I always know something good is going to happen.

The time I set apart for prayer and study is wonderful. Every session is a miniature Sabbath. It’s a sanctuary no one can intrude on, and more often than not, I sense God’s presence, and I feel like I’ve gotten a breakthrough.

You can have too much stuff in your life. You can have so much going on, you can’t appreciate any of it or do any one thing well. That’s very natural for me, as anyone who reads my blog knows, so I’m very glad God is adjusting me. Who knows? One day I might actually sell one of my motorcycles or even my flamenco guitar.

I’m keeping the milling machine and the Powermatic 66, however.

Covetousness. That was my problem. It’s not so much that I wanted what other people had; it’s that I wanted things that wouldn’t really bring me satisfaction. I used to buy stuff and then fail to enjoy it, because I thought too much about the things and not enough about the effort and time involved in deriving pleasure from them, so they sat and rotted. I still like to get toys, but now I get good use out of them, and I think that is because God is changing me and guiding me. It’s pretty unusual for me to regret spending money or time these days. I generally get a good return.

Somewhere in the Bible, it says something about how sad it is when a man has something he can’t enjoy. That’s what life without God is all about. You get rich, but you end up in rehab. You become famous, only to find that the thing you want most is privacy. Things like that happen. We don’t know which way we should go or what we should do, so we turn up blind alleys and end up with things that don’t bring us happiness. On the other hand, God promises us that if we’ll listen, he’ll guide us. He says, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.”

We don’t know what we need or what we want. We can’t know. The world is too complicated, and we’re not smart enough to see all the angles. Only God can know. So he gave us a system in which we obey him and listen to him, and he gives us what we should have. He gives us things that are truly satisfying, and which have lasting value. And at the end of our time, we don’t stand before God poor and blind and naked, which is what happens to people who amass the wrong kind of wealth. The stuff we take wrongly, we lose. We only keep that which we were intended to have.

I wish I could go back in time to about 1971 and slap myself. But like the relatives of the rich man in the parable about hell, I would not have listened.

Long ago, when I thought I was about to have a comic strip syndicated, I cut photos of sportfishing yachts out of magazines, and I taped them to walls and so on, to give me motivation to work. That seems funny now. What if I had succeeded? I’d be a big, fat, conceited (more than I am now) lout who thought he made it without God’s help. I’d have shallow friends who drank all the time and never set foot in a church. I’d have no relationship with God, because I’d think I didn’t need one. The yachting crowd is coarse and venal; I know them. I would have gotten sick of them in two seasons. I’m much better off with the folks who attend church on Saturday night.

I thought I knew what I needed, but I wasn’t even close.

I don’t know where I’m going, and I admit, I wish God would hurry up, but I know that things are better than they used to be, and the trend is positive, and it’s a trend I can trust. I’m not building on sand.

I don’t know if buying a cornet was a good idea, but it will be fun for at least two months, and it will cost very little. I actually prayed about it, and I really felt like I should try it. Weird.

I feel like a piece of rough lumber somebody is jointing and planing and sanding into shape. Life gets more enjoyable all the time. I even appreciate the problems and setbacks. Now they seem to have meaning, and every one ends up blessing me. It’s hard to harm someone who walks with God, because God takes everything you throw at him and makes it a help to him.

All that stuff Jesus said; it looks like it’s actually TRUE. That’s wild. I never thought he was lying, but it’s still impressive when I see his words confirmed.

Get me a Cold Drink

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Thanks, Mr. Gore

It’s 47 degrees out! What a relief! Shorts weather at last!

I’m almost serious. After two days of 44 and below, 47 with the prospect of 51 later seems like Hawaii.

Yesterday I had a problem with the space heater I keep near the birds. I flicked the switch that toggles the heater between 1300 and 1500 degrees. It stuck in the 1300 position. That disturbed me, so I got in the truck and went to four stores, looking for a new heater. A Home Depot employee told me nobody in the area has them. They haven’t had them for three weeks.

Whatever happened to capitalism? Isn’t it supposed to fill needs like this?

Maybe it’s time for a run to Harbor Freight and Northern Tool. If anyone can help, they can. Space heaters are extremely unreliable, and if I lose the one the birds are using, I’ll have to start burning furniture.

Pans & Grandpa Aaron

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Man, We’re Old

Someone suggested I fix my dubious Lodge skillet by machining it. I have considered that, but I would have to be able to mount it on my rotary table, and that would be a pretty good trick. The table is not as wide as the skillet, so I’d have to put a plate on it, and the plate’s thickness would have to be extremely uniform. If it weren’t uniform, I’d get a skillet that wasn’t uniform. Which is what I already have.

Not sure what to do about that.

The plate would also have to be perfectly flat and very rigid.

I’m going to try to get a couple of bigger Griswold skillets. Now that my bone-filled head has accepted the time-honored wisdom about cleaning skillets with salt and a spatula, I am not as reluctant to use them as I used to be. I’d go ahead and use the Lodge, but one side gets hotter than the other due to the varying bottom thickness.

Hmm…maybe I should boil a little water in one of my Griswolds and make sure they don’t have this problem. If they heat unevenly, I have less motivation to get more of them.

You can get Griswolds fairly cheap on Ebay, but if you get picky about features, the cost goes up. And the bigger skillets can be extremely expensive unless you get lucky. One thing I can say about them: you only pay once. I’m buying used items that are up to 70 years old and nearly like new.

I want one or two more matching skillets before I give up and go cheap. I think the size 13 jobs (and whatever comes after them) will have to remain an unrealized dream. If I paid over $300 for a skillet, I’d have to have myself institutionalized to find out why. The big ones can cost that much.

I’m really looking forward to church this week. It’s the first week of the month, so we’ll be having Breakthrough Wednesday. This is a fantastic service. It’s not as regimented as the regular services. There are tables up front and in the back for communion, and there are people available to pray for you. The worship is very intense. I love it.

I’m going to be an “armorbearer,” which means I’ll be helping the church out as needed. One of my duties will be to put on a two-way radio and wander around keeping an eye on things. I had to buy my own “surveillance set,” which is what they call the microphone and the earpiece with the squiggly cord that runs up your neck. The church has radios, but the surveillance sets have a way of vanishing. I think people just don’t want to share them, which is understandable. I sure don’t want to. Yech.

God has been so kind to me, helping me to find purpose in life. Works don’t get you into heaven, but they help determine what heaven is like for you, and besides, they allow you to express your love for other people and your gratitude for God. I’m way behind, so any opportunity he gives me is appreciated.

Speaking of God’s kindness, Aaron just had a grandson! Unbelievable! I’ll be praying his mom recovers fast, and that he has a life of blessings and righteousness. Perhaps you will join me.

Another thing you might want to pray about: reader Dave Rodenborn lost his African grey parrot, Splint. The poor little guy wasn’t trimmed correctly, and he managed to fly out Dave’s front door. Dave is in California, so the weather shouldn’t be too hard on Splint. Many greys are recovered; they don’t like to fly far in the first month. I truly hope Dave gets another chance. Nothing is worse than knowing your mistake harmed your pet.

Three Birds

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


I can’t move.

Let’s see if I can critique the meal.

The Showtime turkey was very good, but I found it dryer than a roasted turkey. I got the internal temperature up to 161°, and I knew that wasn’t enough, so I hit it with another half-hour. That came out to about 17 1/2 minutes per pound, which is way above the recommended time. Maybe I did something wrong. The skin was magnificent. It was very dark and loaded with browned-bird flavor. I’ll probably do my next turkey this way, even if it’s not perfect, because it frees up the oven for other things.

Mike told me the texture of a Showtime turkey would be way better than that of an oven turkey. The one I cooked today seemed like every other turkey I’ve roasted.

My dad loved the turkey, so I guess the rotisserie flavor offset the dryness.

I was not thrilled by the mashed potatoes. I tried the ricer again, even though I didn’t like it the first time I used it. I thought it gave the potatoes a heavy texture. I guess that could have been the microwave, though. The microwave makes very good baked potatoes (when I’m in too much of a hurry to do it right), so I don’t see why it would adversely affect mashed potatoes. I guess I could boil a test potato and then use the ricer to peel and moosh it up.

I ate way too much. I guess I can’t be a crusader against gluttony every day. I made a whole bunch of dishes, and a small serving of each would make for a big meal, so there wasn’t much I could do.

Marv and Maynard seem to be enjoying their share. You can always tell when Marv likes his food, because he buries his snout in it and grunts like a small pig.

Meat Feast in Works

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Mere Mortals are Undeserving

Is there anything better than waking up early, spending time in prayer and study, eating a tasty McDonald’s breakfast, and then sticking a prime rib roast in the oven to warm up? If so, it probably takes place in heaven.

I guess I went a little overboard on the prime rib. I bought 10.4 pounds for four people. I figured one rib per person. I wasn’t really hip to the practice of cutting the bones off and tying them to the roast while you cook, so you end up with an easy-carve roast when you’re done. If I had done that, I could have gotten by with a smaller piece of meat. But it’s still, what, a little over a pound per person when you get rid of the bones and the larger bits of fat? Not excessive. Well, maybe a little.

Anyway, it looks better with the bone in it, and the meat next to the bone is really good.

I think two pounds (bone included) is about right for a serving of prime rib or a rib eye steak. The rib eye is the king of steaks, but you can’t eat all of it, so a lot of the weight ends up in the garbage, not in your guests.

I have to get to work on the pie. I’m a little nervous. My recipe–I thought it was in the second edition of my book, but it isn’t–is very good, but because I make it so rarely, I’m not all that proficient with it. And I still have to get lard. The store has disgusting Goya lard, which smells like a hog lot in July. I need El Cochinito. I have a can, but I doubt it’s still usable.

If you’re in Miami and you need El Cochinito, the Winn-Dixie near Ludlam and Bird has it.

Cook’s Illustrated says to sear the the fat side of the meat with a hot pan before you cook it. That’s a lot of work. I’m sure it’s good, but I get fine results by cranking up the heat at the end of the roasting. And I have a MAPP torch.

Here’s something that will make this day a lot easier. I have an apple peeling machine. They run about $25. In a few seconds, it will turn an apple into a peeled and cored coil of pure fruit flesh. That beats spending half an hour peeling apples.

Someone emailed me about Marv and Maynard. They’re still here, squawking to beat the band. I was going to put up a new video to prove it, but I can’t do that until I locate the charger for my camera. Here’s Marv’s most popular video. Please excuse him; somebody taught him some questionable material before his owner cleaned up his own vocabulary.

I am considering getting some 6″ work boots to keep me alive the next time I try to help out with a job at church. The injury to my ankle is still not quite closed. An 8″ boot would have prevented it completely. A 6″ boot would have helped. Hard choice. In any case, the fat is continuing to slide off of me, so I won’t have to buy jeans any time soon.