Archive for the ‘Death by Fork’ Category

Fried Food Grows on Trees

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Squirrel Hunting Success

I had a wonderful squirrel outing today. I chased a number of squirrels, fired on two, and dropped two. Excellent. I think I can now say I’m an okay squirrel hunter, and since hunting squirrels is as hard as hunting deer, I must be an okay hunter, period.

That’s my position.

I’ve decided that hunting squirrels is not hard. It may be hard to do WELL, but doing an okay job is not tough. Here’s what you do: walk around in the woods. When you see a squirrel, shoot it.

The first squirrel was hanging onto the side of a downed tree. I have no idea why. He was just hanging there, doing nothing. He was in an area where I didn’t want to shoot. One neighbor has a house maybe 25 feet from the property line, which is ridiculous, and I want to be a big person and avoid shooting within 150 feet, but this squirrel was taunting me, so I walked up, got in a position where I was shooting onto my own property, and blew him to squirrel kingdom come.

I have spared other squirrels in that area, but if they insist on congregating there, I am not going to let them sit there and smirk at me.

I circled around the woods and came back, and wouldn’t you know it, I heard a squirrel barking near the house. It was farther away, but not too far. It was sitting on a downed tree, all curled up, so I went to my left until I had a safe angle, and I blew him off the trunk. Blammo!

There were a couple of other squirrels I could have annihilated, but I want to take safe shots that are highly unlikely to wound without killing, and I prefer not to be too close to other people, so I let them go. I also chased a few squirrels that vanished.

The second squirrel I blasted may have been responding to my squirrel caller. I took it with me today and used it a few times. For the most part, the results suggested that instead of “Squirrel Buster,” the device should have been named “Squirrel Offender” or “Squirrel Repeller,” but I heard the barks of the second squirrel while I was using the call. I tromped in the direction of the sound and saw him waiting for his ticket across the River Styx, and I obliged.

My best guess is that the caller is a sad hoax, but I will continue testing it.

I don’t wear camo or use a blind, and I am too impatient to sit for 45 minutes in one place, so I am probably not doing the best job possible. I don’t know what the general rules are, but I can tell you this: MANY squirrels don’t give a crap about your clothes or the fact that they can see your face. MANY will sit and stare at you while you walk up very noisily and point a shotgun at them. MANY are too stupid to hide properly when you get close. MANY will let you shoot them not long after you shot a friend of theirs a hundred feet away. Squirrels are not particle physicists. They are not that hard to outsmart.

I suppose the difference between an okay squirrel hunter and a good squirrel hunter is the ability to kill the 30% of squirrels who aren’t utterly stupid.

I feel good about my results. I can say I’m a hunter now, without too much concern about being exposed.

Tomorrow my BugBuster scope arrives, and hopefully, I will be able to use the air rifle on squirrels and increase my take.

I’ve been reading about the gun I’m using (Browning Sweet Sixteen semi-auto shotgun). Apparently, it’s a very nice gun. The Remington 16 gauge is built on a heavy 12 gauge frame (the 1100), so you get all the weight of a 12 gauge without the power. Sounds like a stupid gun to me. The Sweet Sixteen is light and pleasant to carry. I appreciate that after lugging it around for an hour. The air rifle is much heavier.

The 16 gauge shotgun has lost popularity in the US because of some dumb rules in competitive skeet shooting, but that won’t prevent me from hunting with it.

It works great with #6 shot. Squirrels plop right on the ground. I had to shoot one twice, but he came down instantly after the first shot and couldn’t run off.

I can’t wait to try the air rifle scope. I love scopes. With an accurate gun at the proper distance, you can literally see the exact point of impact, +/- 3/8″, while you’re in the act of shooting. With iron sights, you have to be right up against the target to do that. When I use iron sights from 100 feet, all I know is that I’ll be somewhere in a 2″ circle. That’s not good enough for shooting squirrels with an air gun.

I’ll post a shot of the squirrels. Cleaning them was horrible. I read that you’re supposed to cut them under the tail, stand on the tail, and pull on the hind feet, but these little squirrels are very attached to their coats. I had to fight like a tiger to get them skinned. The boot method didn’t work.

My squirrels are not big. I saw a Youtube squirrel-skinning video, and the squirrels the guy was skinning were like 1.5 of mine. Maybe smaller squirrels are harder to skin. Anyway, they’re in the fridge.

It’s funny, but anti-hunting journalists (there is no other kind) are saying mass murderer Nikolas Cruz demonstrated is propensity for killing by putting photos of dead squirrels online. What a ridiculous, narrow-minded thing to say. A murderer is probably more likely to hunt than other people, but hunting doesn’t make you more likely to murder. Why not go back over Jeffrey Dahmer’s history and post a photo of every trout he ever caught?

It occurred to me that I’m posting squirrel photos at a time when squirrel photos are in bad odor, but I don’t care. My people have been killing squirrels since firearms were invented. I can’t be responsible for the provincial notions of hypocritical, ignorant people who think barbecued ribs come from a rib factory.

I will report on the scope after I use it.

Biscuits are a Squirrel’s Best Friend

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Victory is Sweet

My hunting adventures are proceeding well. Today I bagged a third squirrel, and later on, I fried her along with her friends.

The last time I had an opportunity to eat squirrel was probably in the late Seventies. My grandfather either shot some or received some as a gift, and my grandmother fried them. I thought they smelled funny, so I passed. Today I remedied that mistake.

I made a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, paprika, chipotle powder, and garlic powder. The squirrels were all treated in a solution of baking soda and salt, and then I soaked them in buttermilk for a short time. I dredged them in the flour mix and fried them in olive oil (which is what I happened to have) and bacon grease.

I screwed up the first batch and had to re-bread them. The second ones came out much better. I made gravy with the grease, and I also made buttermilk biscuits with half butter and half bacon grease. Then I made gravy.

The squirrels were very nice but not much of a meal. I would say a grey squirrel contains about as much meat as a chicken breast. The meat tastes like the meat you find on a chicken breast alongside the backbone. It’s dark, but the flavor isn’t very strong. It was surprisingly tender.

I think you would need to have two squirrels to make a decent meal for a man.

I’m happy about the results. Squirrel meat is tasty, and it’s rewarding to eat something you killed.

I’m looking at air rifles now. One corner of my property is loaded with squirrels, but it’s close to neighboring houses, and for all I know, some of the neighbors are liberal yankee retirees. I don’t want to get into it with ignorant people who moved here from Long Island. It’s perfectly legal for me to shoot near their property, but northern retirees are idiots about firearms. They wouldn’t know the law, and they might think they were in their rights to waste my time and the time of the local LEO’s. An air rifle will avoid the whole question. No noise. They wouldn’t know what I was doing

It’s hard to choose a rifle. I want something with some power, but I don’t want to spend $700. And if it’s too powerful, it will be an awful lot like the .22 I’m trying to supplement.

The neatest rifles are PCP guns. I forget what PCP stands for, but it means the air is pre-compressed. You don’t have to pump them up every time you fire. You fill them before you go shooting, and you get a large number of shots before you have to pump again.

I don’t want a PCP rifle because it takes forever to pump them manually, and they fill up with moisture that eventually rusts them out. You can drive to a dive shop and get them to fill a scuba tank for you, and then you can use that to fill your gun with dry air, but the pressure in the scuba tank will drop each time you fill the gun, so every refill gives you a different velocity and trajectory. What a pain.

PCP guns are powerful and convenient to use, but who wants a product which is designed to rust out? And I don’t want to spend all day pumping a rifle with air.

You can get around the water problem with desiccants, but it sounds like a hassle.

It looks like the best choice is a spring-powered air rifle that shoots .22-caliber pellets. It will be powerful enough to kill squirrels and even coons, and I won’t have to fool with the Rube Goldberg pump business.

A company named Diana makes a nice .22 that gives a lot of velocity, but it is said that this particular gun ruins scopes. The recoil is too much. Apparently you have to be careful which scope you use with it.

–PAUSE–

I stopped writing last night, and now I’m back.

Yesterday’s squirrel came with an unpleasant lesson. I had learned that I should leave squirrels on the ground after shooting them, to draw out others. This is what I did yesterday. I walked around a bit and came back to get the squirrel. When I looked at it, I was surprised to see movement. It was still breathing.

New lesson: check your game as soon as you shoot it, to make sure it’s not suffering. This won’t prevent me from leaving a squirrel where it lies. I can check it and move on.

I wish I had understood this before I let a live squirrel lie on the ground for 5 minutes. I don’t think it was conscious, because it didn’t react to me, but there is no reason to take a chance. I had to blow its head off.

I have been trying to find out whether I can carry a .22 pistol for the purpose of finishing game off. Game laws can be stupid. In some states, it’s illegal to use a pistol to euthanize a wounded deer. Shooting a wounded deer with a rifle round doesn’t sound smart. It would mess up the carcass, and I don’t know how safe it is to fire a high-powered rifle at the ground at your feet. I also have to wonder if flying bone fragments would be an issue.

Again, air may be the answer. Or at least CO2. A CO2 pistol would finish a squirrel off just fine, and it would be quiet.

I am trying to obey the law, but I can think of 3 illegal things which would have been illegal had I done them. Not saying I did these things. Always the lawyer, and there are at least two people from my past who can’t get over rejection, and who probably read my blog every day and would be happy to try to have me cited. Some people never move on and get lives. I’m not saying I did the illegal things. But I did consider them.

I thought about putting some peanuts down to see if they would attract squirrels. I had done my best to research the law on baiting squirrels, and I had found nothing. I eventually turned up an applicable law. You can’t shoot animals near food (other than crops) unless the food was there 6 months before the season opened. What? I don’t understand it, either. Anyway, I will not be putting peanuts out in the future. At least until March 5, after the season closes. Then I’m putting up a permanent feeder!

I plan to put it at a nice distance from the back of the house so I can sit in my yard and make 75-yard shots with a scope. In Florida, it’s perfectly legal to shoot from your house. You can put a sandbag on your dining room table and shoot deer through the window.

There was an incident in which I could have fired some shotgun pellets over some woods belonging to a neighbor. In Florida, you can shoot in your front yard in the suburbs if you want, but you can’t send a projectile onto someone else’s property. I’m sure no one would care about a few spent pellets up here, but I don’t want to get in the habit of ignoring the hunting laws.

The third thing, well, why talk about it?

Game laws are often counterintuitive, so you almost have to be a lawyer to know what you’re doing. I am a lawyer, and I made mistakes, even after reading up.

The other day I shot at a squirrel and stunned it, and it came down and stared at me from maybe 10 feet up. I was out of rifle rounds, so I just stared back. I had a pistol in my pocket, and it would have been easy to draw and kill the squirrel, but I didn’t do it. For one thing, it didn’t occur to me. For another, the pistol holds 11 rounds. My understanding is that you are limited to 5 in Florida. But what if it held 5? Would it have been okay to shoot? I don’t know.

I am wondering if I should get camo or a blind. Sometimes the squirrels hide, and sometimes they pay no attention to me at all. Do they really know what I am, or is their behavior random? Hard to say. I thought about getting a ghillie suit just for fun. Easier to move than a blind.

No hunting yet today. If anything happens, I will update you.

Fit to be Fried

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Rodent Genocide Continues

I nailed another squirrel today, right in my yard.

I went out at around 7:15 this morning. Yesterday, it was gloomy at that time. Today the sun was fairly bright. I think I should have been there before sunup. Anyway, I only saw one squirrel on my tour of the property, and it lost me.

I decided to try something a website suggested. I sat as still as possible for half an hour, hoping the squirrels would emerge from hiding. Absolutely nothing happened. There goes that idea.

On the way back to the house, I had a funny notion. I got out my phone and played squirrel noises on Youtube. No dice, but it was amusing.

When I got near the house, I heard a squirrel screaming at me. It was really giving me the business. There is something creepy about shooting animals 50 yards from home, but this thing was provoking me, and I had no bodies in my trash bag. I saw it about 10 feet up on a live oak. I walked around it to get an angle that would keep stray pellets away from the neighbors, and I blasted it from maybe 60 feet.

Taking a clue from a reader (and the same website that told me to sit still) I didn’t pick up the squirrel. I walked around, and sure enough, I heard another squirrel screaming from a nearby tree. That one refused to come out, so I picked up the dead one and headed for the house. I am getting blase about touching dead animals. As I was walking, I heard other squirrels yelling in the front yard. I wondered if the sight of their buddy hanging by her tail got them agitated.

I tried to locate the new noisemakers, but the only one I saw was across the fence on another property, so I went back in the house and cleaned the new squirrel.

I noticed a few things. I used #6 shot in the 16 gauge, and it didn’t mess the meat up much at all. I found a few pellets, but no major damage. Also, this squirrel really did not want to give up her fur coat. It was like it was glued on. I have to go watch some squirrel butchering videos.

I was less grossed out this time, although this squirrel smelled worse than the other one. I felt like shampooing it with dishwashing liquid, but I restrained myself. I skinned and halved it, and I put it in brine. Today I plan to fry 2 squirrels and make biscuits. We’ll see if they’re any good.

I think I should add baking soda to the brine from now on. It kills gaminess.

Sitting still does not impress the local squirrels. I think bait and getting up early will change things. I may get a bag of corn and start dumping it in the woods.

The shotgun is wonderful. I love the .17 HMR, but the results are not as good. It tears squirrels up, and it’s hard to get a good safe angle for shooting.

Should I feel bad about killing yard squirrels? In a word, no way Jose. It seems opportunistic and sort of mean, but the truth is, these are the squirrels I want to get rid of. They are not pets. I want to grow berries and things in my yard, and I don’t want squirrel vandalism in the buildings. If I leave the yard squirrels alone, I am responsible for whatever misery they cause in the future.

The squirrels out in the woods are not the ones I have to worry about. In truth, I should be killing the ones near the house first. The people who sold us the house put a bird feeder in out front, and it has a skirt on it for the purpose of keeping squirrels out. That tells you how intelligent people feel about squirrels in their yards.

Squirrels are cute and all that, but so are mice. Some rats are cute. They still have to go. Killing them takes some getting used to, but I have an obligation to do it. It’s the correct thing to do.

I plan to go out again tomorrow (every day I can, until the season ends on March 4), and I hope to dispatch more than one squirrel. I think I can do it, if I get up early.

What will I do when squirrel season ends? All is not lost. First of all, it’s legal to shoot nuisance animals all year on your own property, so if I have some berries and tomatoes growing in the yard, I will have every right to sit on the back porch and kill squirrels. I won’t be able to go out in the woods and shoot, but that just means I get to rest and keep a cooler beside me.

Second thing: squirrels aren’t the only targets.

As I mentioned, an animal dug up one of my blackberry plants and left a giant turd in its place. If my research is right, that animal was a coyote. Either that or someone collecting for Greenpeace. Guess what the restrictions on killing coyotes are? Basically, you’re not allowed to use nuclear weapons. That’s about it. You can kill them all day, every day, with no bag limit. You can use any weapon you like. Kill the puppies, too. Make interesting hats from the hides. Do as you please.

I am reading up on coyote hunting, and it should be doable. We will see.

A coyote serves no purpose here. They are not native. They cause all sorts of suffering. They tear up calves and kids, and they kill dogs.

There are also wild pigs in Florida. Again, no restrictions. Big ones. Little ones. Mommy pigs. Daddy pigs. They are all legal targets. I have not seen any pigs here, but I am told I will eventually run into them.

Coons are nuisance animals under the law, so you can kill them all year. Nothing is worse than a stinking coon. They throw garbage all over. They poop. They kill chickens. They spread rabies. I made the mistake of saving a little coon in the past, and I have even driven them to the Everglades and released them alive. No more. Like the comedian Robin Harris said in his routine about the death penalty, “Gotta go, gotta GO.”

Nuisance animals are bad news. They are extremely annoying. Anyone who kills them is doing the world a big favor. Relocating a nuisance animal just makes it someone else’s problem.

Coons are edible. Not sure I want to try that, but it could happen. My grandmother ate them. Coyotes, being related to dogs, probably taste good, but I am not hungry enough to try one.

Here’s a nice thing about killing nuisance animals: you don’t have to clean them. It’s perfectly okay to leave them for the buzzards. Coyote pelts and coon tails might be fun to take, but the carcasses can rot or go on the burn pile.

I pickled my squirrel tails in salt water. Why not? You never know when a squirrel tail will come in handy.

I have a very, very strong sense that God wants me to get good at hunting. Fine with me. Shooting targets is fun, but if you never take game or varmints, you never use guns for their proper purpose. Guns were not invented for shooting targets. Their purpose is to kill. A man should know how to kill pests and bring meat home, and it doesn’t hurt to have lethal skills that can be used against entitlement-minded looters who might want to visit rural Christians and conservatives if the economy tanks.

Times are good right now. We can’t predict the future. Your typical urban victimhood junkie knows nothing about firearms, except how to use them on weaker people at point-blank range. They would fare poorly against hunters. You should see the things people on Youtube are doing with night vision and scopes. I’ll post a video that will give you new respect for your rural friends.

Cleaning game may never become fun. I have a super-strong sense of smell, and dead animals are pretty fragrant. I washed thoroughly after cleaning today’s squirrel, and I cleaned the kitchen well. I still smell the squirrel on me. Luckily I haven’t showered yet. Soap and shampoo will kill the aroma.

I like hunting. A lot. Wish I had started sooner. I hope the squirrels fry up nice.

I have to go get this smell off me.

It’s Raining Squirrels

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

I’ll Teach You to Eat my Acorns

Success at last. I bagged a squirrel this morning.

I got the idea that late afternoon was not the best time to shoot squirrels, so I went out a few minutes after 7 a.m. Squirrel activity was considerably higher. In an hour and a half of walking, I saw maybe half a dozen squirrels, stalked about 4, shot at 2, and nailed 1.

The squirrel I shot was maybe 50 feet up in an oak tree. That’s where he was when I shot him, I mean. Prior to that, he was moving around from tree to tree, in the canopy. I tried to shoot him in the head, but from the looks of things, the bullet went in the upper rib cage on one side and out the other shoulder. The exit would was ragged. It was pretty exciting to watch him drop. It was my first shot of the day. First shot of the season, for that matter.

He gasped once or twice on the ground, but I didn’t have to shoot him again.

After that, I stalked other squirrels. I learned a few things.

I don’t think squirrels get spooked by human beings or guns. Not to the point where you can’t kill them. In fact, they don’t seem very bright. I nearly got a couple of other squirrels very close to the one I shot, within a few minutes of shooting him. They didn’t seem concerned at all.

I also learned that squirrels drink coffee. I can tell because they don’t seem to be on top of things right after sunup. They wander around up there, looking for the Keurig, and while they’re still waking up, they’re easier to kill.

My ideas about weaponry are changing. The .17 HMR is great, but it cost me some shots. I was only willing to shoot pretty much straight up, to prevent misses from sailing horizontally into other people’s houses and cars. That meant I had to get very close to the squirrels. Had I been able to shoot from farther away, I would have more than 1 squirrel brining in the fridge right now.

I like electronic hearing protectors. I bought my dad some Peltors a long time ago, and he can’t use them now, so I took them with me. You can turn them up so your hearing is better than normal. It helps you hear squirrels. Nice.

I had to say it, but the shotgun is a better tool then the .17 HMR right now. I can shoot horizontally with it, and I’m more likely to hit squirrels because of the wide pattern. An air rifle would also be nice, because I could shoot horizontally, from farther away, but I’m not sure it’s humane, because I would be more likely to wound squirrels without killing them right away.

I nearly nailed a second squirrel today. I took a shot at him, and it stunned him. I guess I “barked” him, which means shooting near a squirrel and dazing him. You can shoot a tree beside a squirrel and knock him down, unconscious. This squirrel reacted by running around the trunk in circles and then climbing down to stare at me. He perched about 10 feet from me, staring at me. I don’t think he knew what was going on. I had only brought 5 rounds with me, and I barked him with number 5, so all I could do was stare back. I was afraid he had been wounded, but he looked fine. Maybe he’ll drop dead from a concussion later.

I sighted the .17 in from too far away. I think I’m shooting a little high. I had assumed there was no real drop at 60 yards (my zeroing distance), but I’ll bet I’m wrong, because I missed 4 times today.

Cleaning the squirrel was not pleasant. I’ve torn a million fish apart, and it never bothered me, but cutting up cute, warm-blooded animals is a little gross.

I didn’t want to hack his head off with a pocket knife. I thought about it for a few minutes, and then I saw the pruning shears. Perfect.

I tried poultry shears on his legs and tail. Worked okay, but the pruning shears put them to shame.

I really did not want to gook up a pocket knife. They’re hard to clean. I found a Forschner filet knife in the kitchen. Of course, other people had abused it since I had last sharpened it, so I had to spend a long time fixing it with diamond hones. When I finally got it working, it worked just fine.

It seems like squirrels are very tough around the collar line. I had to cut some crap away in order to free the skin. I slit him down the belly, which was a bit nasty, and then I peeled his skin off him like a jumpsuit. His man bits went with the skin, so I didn’t have to yank them off with my bare fingers. I was not looking forward to that. His guts and other organs went down the disposal, and after that, I cut his anus out with the filet knife. I washed him down and stuck him in a lidded container full of brine, and now he resides in the fridge.

I would say I got something equivalent to one large chicken breast. I think it will be worth eating. I may go out in a few minutes and see what the shotgun produces. It’s foggy today, so I don’t think squirrels will be hiding from the heat. In fact, I know they aren’t. I went to McDonald’s for breakfast, and coming up the driveway to the house, I saw EIGHT EIGHT EIGHT squirrels. Makes me so mad.

My hands smell like dead squirrel, even after washing them and having two McMuffins. Guess I’m stuck with that.

This has been a great experience. Standing around failing to shoot animals is not that rewarding, but when you kill one and butcher it, it makes you feel close to nature. Many times, I’ve seen people write, or heard them say, that hunting made them feel like they were one with nature. I never experienced that until today. I figured it was hogwash, but it’s true.

I like animals, and it’s impossible to feel completely comfortable, blasting cute creatures with hot lead, but killing is part of life. It’s something a man needs to confront and deal with. A man should hunt and fish, if he has the opportunity. You have to confront the ugly parts of life in order to understand it. You can’t cower in the house and whimper like a woman in a Bambi T-shirt all the time. That’s not love or humanity. It’s shirking. You don’t want to admit you’re part of the cycle of life and death, so you sit back and criticize people who man up and accept their responsibility. Meanwhile you wear leather and eat fried chicken, as if they grew on trees.

Farm animals have it harder than hunted animals. A hunted animal does what it pleases for most of its life, and then it feels something briefly and expires quickly. Farm animals have tags shoved through their ears. Chickens have their beaks cut off with shears. Cattle get dehorned and castrated. Pigs get castrated while screaming their lungs out. Farmhands routinely beat animals with sticks while herding them. Slaughterhouses are only as humane as the law can make them. I don’t have much patience for self-righteous people who complain about hunting, and people who criticize fishing are just plain insane. Fish are so insensitive they will continue to try to feed after you cut them in half.

People should also think about the consequences of not hunting. Prey and nuisance animals overpopulate and starve. They destroy crops. They invade attics and do all sorts of damage. They kill pets. Right now, southern states are being torn up by wild hogs that reproduce at a phenomenal rate. They need to die, plain and simple, and hunting is one of the best ways to get it done.

I feel surprisingly good about hunting tiny ratlike animals. Think about it. Any idiot can shoot a deer, which is as big as a house. A squirrel is very small, and it moves around constantly. If I can learn to shoot squirrels, deer and hogs will be cake. How can you miss something that has a kill zone a foot across? Maybe I’m wrong, but to me, killing squirrels is much more impressive.

On the walk back, I found something disturbing. I planted some blackberries recently, and I found one of the plants sitting beside a neat little hole containing a huge…turd. There is no other word for it. Some filthy animal carefully moved my plant and moved its own project into the hole. I can’t figure that out.

Because of the size, I can’t believe this is a coon turd. I’ve seen those, and they’re about like poodle poo. Coyote, maybe? I think I need to get me a blind and put some meat out for bait.

Why on earth would it dig up my blackberry? Can’t figure that out.

I’m going to see if I can produce a meal instead of an hors d’ouevre. I’m going to get out my grandpa’s Sweet Sixteen. Wish me luck.

Atonement

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Forget Bobby Flay; Eat This

Several typos made it into my cookbook, potentially crippling anyone who tried to use certain recipes. In order to make amends, I will let you know how to make the dynamite dinner I just had. This info is in the book, but it’s slightly wrong.

I made navy beans with ham hocks, plus cornbread.

I learned something interesting this week. A friend of mine works at the University of Florida, where they have something called the Meat Lab. They sell meat to the public. They sell ham hocks. I got ahold of some. They sell them shrink-wrapped, so you can pop them right in the freezer.

Until this week, I had been unaware that some ham hocks were better than others. I would grab whatever they had at the store. The hocks were very nice. But they can’t compare to UF’s hocks. The flavor is better. There is more meat. The fat is delectable. Wonderful things. If you can find top-quality hocks, it will elevate your ham hock game to a new level.

Here is what I did.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. dried navy beans
2 big garlic cloves, sliced
2 tsp. pepper
1 very large yellow or white onion, not sweet
1 tsp. prepared mustard, like Mister Mustard or Gulden’s
salt to taste

Wash the beans and soak them overnight. You need a couple of inches of water over them. They will soak a lot of it up, and you don’t want them to go dry. In the morning, dump the water. Supposedly, a lot of the flatulence goes with it. Rinse the beans. Put them in a pot with two big hocks. Add the other ingredients, except for the salt. You may not need it.

Cover everything with water, get it boiling, and keep it on a very low boil for a few hours. The meat will tell you when it’s done. You should be able to cut the fat on a hock with a fork. The beans will be tender, and they will break down a little. Check the saltiness during the cooking process and adjust it. Some salt will leach out of the hocks and season the beans, so don’t go throwing salt in at the beginning.

Boil a few more hocks in plain water, in another pot. You will need these. You can add pepper and garlic if you want. You don’t want a whole lot of water. Cover them, but don’t use so much water you suck the flavor out of them.

When you’re done boiling them, the water will be a divine, aromatic pork broth you can probably use for something.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups self-rising white corn meal or Martha White cornbread mix
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bacon grease (you can replace half of it with butter, but I wouldn’t)
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 450. Throw your #6 cast iron cornbread skillet in there and get it hot. Meanwhile, mix everything but the bacon grease in a bowl. When the skillet is hot, add the grease and let it get hot enough to smoke. You want the skillet so hot it browns the cornbread when you pour the batter in.

Pour the hot grease into the batter and stir it in. Pour the resulting mixture into the skillet. Bake for about 22 minutes. Invert the cornbread onto a dish or something. Turn it right-side-up. Cut in wedges.

Serve this with sliced tomatoes (heirlooms are best) and vidalias. A mix of red and yellow tomatoes is good. You can have a big glass of buttermilk or iced tea with it.

If you’re really hard core, you can also make collard greens, also with ham hocks.

This is one of the best meals on earth. Butter the cornbread and dip it in the beans. You can also get sorghum syrup and put it on buttered cornbread.

I don’t have any typos this time. You can trust me.

This cornbread is not sweet. Sweet cornbread is for Yankees. Also, black people like it. If you’re determined to ruin it with sweetness, I guess you can add sugar.

Don’t stray too far from your bathroom after you eat this. Don’t make me explain.

You could also make fried apples with this. Slice up some Granny Smiths and fry them with butter, brown sugar, a little salt, and some cinnamon or nutmeg. You could cheat and add a tiny bit of vanilla. Just throw everything in a skillet and fry it. Get the apples to brown a little.

This is so great, I can’t describe it to you. And it’s very easy to make. And cheap. Also, the beans will keep getting better in the fridge, as long as they’re not rancid.

Tips for a Greasy, Pork-Heavy New Year’s Breakfast

Monday, January 1st, 2018

If You Were Drunk Last Night, Don’t Read This

Happy new year, I guess. I don’t get excited about this holiday. I hate staying up late, I don’t like noise, and I don’t get drunk any more. Also, it’s depressing to be reminded that everything we do here on earth is fleeting. I’ve been watching Turner Classic Movies, and some of the films had New Year’s scenes with people singing Auld Lang Syne (an annoying song that makes no sense). It was disturbing to realize all the people in those songs were dead. “Let’s think of all our great memories! Enjoy the moment! Get drunk and enjoy yourself, because we’re still young! Oh, wait. It’s 2017, and we’re all under the ground, rotting in wooden boxes.”

It seems like Americans have a talent for ruining the beginnings of things. We ruin weddings with bachelor parties and prostitutes. We ruin Sundays and church by getting drunk and fornicating on Saturday nights. We defile Lent with Mardi Gras. It makes sense that we would screw up every new year by starting it with a hangover. Nothing says “hope” like waking up next to someone you don’t know, wondering if you have VD, and having to vomit in a wastebasket.

But I do hope the year turns out well for everyone.

Instead of talking about the worst holiday of the year, let me give you a belated Christmas gift. I have been working on my biscuit recipe again, and today it paid off. I read up a lot to get a better idea of exactly what each ingredient does, and I came up with some new ideas.

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cups biscuit flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup starch
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder (not soda)
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbps. bacon grease
2 tbsp. butter

The starch is there to reduce the gluten.

I wanted to add flavor to the biscuits, so I tried a cheat that works with croissants. I burned some butter in the microwave, and then I poured it off of the burnt milk solids and chilled it in the freezer. A lot of the flavor in baked goods comes from butter which has started to burn. Store butter is generally low on flavor, so it needs help. Even the fancy European butter is disappointing compared to fresh-churned.

I put some butter in a Pyrex cup and covered it. Then I nuked it until it started to burn. I poured off 2 tablespoons of the liquid and froze it, and I added it to 2 tbsp. of chilled bacon grease from really excellent bacon.

You mix the dry ingredients (well), and then you cut the fat into them. You can use a hand pastry blender or a fork, but it seems like it works out to be less aggravation if you use your fingers. Start your sink running before you cut the fat, and then you won’t have to get fat on the faucet handle when you wash your hands afterward.

Mix the buttermilk in. You may not need all of it. You want a dough which is wet enough to roll out and so on, but you don’t want it mushy and sticky. As far as I know.

Roll the dough out so it’s a little over half an inch high, and cut out your biscuits. Bake for 14 minutes in a 425-degree oven. I put a sheet of foil on the rack below the cookie sheet to keep the bottoms of the biscuits from burning.

When they come out, brush the tops lightly with salted butter. McDonald’s does this. It’s one of the reasons their biscuits are so good.

These were great. I think part of the reason is that nuking the butter removes the water. Water takes the flakiness out of biscuits.

I used the top of a Mason jar to cut the biscuits out. I need a bigger cutter, but a jar is acceptable.

Preparing the fat is a pain. If you make biscuits a lot, I suppose you could prepare portions of burned butter and bacon grease and freeze them in foil.

I suspect that 450 is a better baking temperature than 425.

I made biscuits several times this week, because I had been having biscuit failures, and it was bothering me. Now maybe I’ll be able to forget about biscuits for a while.

On December 31, bake a bunch of these instead of getting drunk.

My Unlikely Christmas Eve

Monday, December 25th, 2017

Eight Kids, Five Adults, Two Rib Roasts, and One Elderly Chihuahua

I hope everyone who reads this is having a great Christmas.

Yesterday I nearly killed myself and 12 other people with food. My friend Amanda showed up with her sons, and my friends and fellow Miami refugees Alonzo and Teri showed up with their 5 children. I made two standing rib roasts, a cheesecake, and brownies. I recruited Amanda to make Caesar salad from scratch, and I also made Texas trash, which is a snack made from Chex cereal and seasonings.

When I moved up here, I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. I knew I hated Miami. I knew I would get out sooner or later, but I wondered if I was taking the right path at the right time. Maybe God wanted me to suffer a bit longer. I didn’t know if I’d have friends or anything to do. Ever since I’ve been here, friends have been showing up and helping me out. I have not lacked for a social life, and the people I’ve associated with have been good for me, unlike toxic South Florida riff-raff.

We had a real Christmas Eve dinner, and the house was full of kids running around and making noise. Some presents were opened. Alonzo’s kids ran around carrying Pumpkin, their new 12-year-old Chihuahua. It was much better than what I expected: two old men, watching TV in different rooms.

Alonzo and Teri used to go to Trinity Church in Miami, and when we all got disgusted with the pastors’ greedy slavemaster mentalities, we all moved to another church. I’ve been writing about a former pastor who got jailed for child molestation. He ran the second church.

I never saw anything weird about the man, but last night I learned that he had done something strange for one of Alonzo’s daughters. The daughter is the same age as the niece he is accused of abusing. At some point, the pastor gave Alonzo’s daughter a red Christmas ornament. The story is that he told her how pretty she was and that the ornament made him think of her. How about that? Terri says that when she heard about his arrest, they grabbed the ornament and threw it out.

The ornament story was disturbing, but it makes me very happy to know that Alonzo’s daughter was spared. She’s a terrific young lady. She started talking to me yesterday about her experiences as a high school freshman and her ideas for her future. This kid is going to be all right. Other girls her age are sending disturbing texts and pictures to boys all day, or sulking and whining. This one has a college picked out, and she’s trying to decide on a career.

I tried to give her whatever helpful tips I could. You never know when something you say will make a big difference in someone’s life. I am not great with kids, and being reasonably normal, I don’t want to hang out with them for long periods, but I see the need to make an effort once in a while. Dealing with kids for 2 or 3 hours can be rewarding. After that, I need to do something else.

I hate to think about how things would have played out, had this girl become a victim. I should be more disturbed about the niece. I can’t explain why I’m not. I feel more empathy for people I’m close to. I suppose that’s a flaw.

Maybe God is showing me I should not feel as badly as I do for the pastor. I feel sympathy for him, and his punishment makes me think about the sins in my past, but my strong impression, as it has been for a couple of years, is that God does not want me to spend time praying for him. Some people just aren’t good investments. He knows who can be helped and who can’t.

The reason God does not have me praying for him is not that his sins are worse than mine. The reason is that he is too stubborn to let God or anyone else change him. If you will listen, your sins can be worked with. If not, they will pull you under.

There are people who can’t be helped, because they won’t listen. That’s important for me to keep in mind, with regard to my own walk. When I was young, people thought I was a good kid, but in some important ways, I was a useless punk. That’s to be expected, when you’re fatherless. My dad didn’t make any effort to teach me anything, and I learned to think for myself. I relied on my own disastrous conclusions. By my teens, I was a hard person to counsel. When you’re used to getting no advice or stupid advice, you try to figure things out on your own, and you may develop a reflexive hostility toward other people’s suggestions. For the most part, the kids who were here yesterday are teachable. They are better off than I was. I’m old, and I behaved stupidly for decades, so now I’m like a tree that grew in the wrong direction. Reshaping me is a huge job only God can do.

I’m very glad I’m not beyond hope. The Bible compares stubborn people, including the damned, to clay jars that have been fired so their necks are stiff. You can’t change pottery once it’s fired. In ancient Jerusalem, they took misshapen pottery and threw it in the Potter’s Field, which was part of the city dump. That’s a picture of hell. My neck got pretty stiff, but I didn’t reach the point of no return. I’m not sure how close I came, but I think it was pretty close.

I don’t know why God started visiting me and calling to me when I was in my twenties. I never heard from him before that. Why he decided to make contact after I was an adult is a mystery. I didn’t do anything to merit a sudden change. I’m sure there are a lot of people in hell who have sinned much less than I have, and there are surely people who have done more good.

The church with the scandal was very messed up. We had a false prophet who got up and yelled for long periods, predicting things that never came true, and he was never held accountable no matter how often he was wrong. The pastors loved him and honored him because he always told them they were great, they were going to be rich, and that the church was going to grow. The pastors paid no attention to people who told the truth, i.e. that the prosperity gospel is a farce and that internal change is what God wants.

The pastors were odd people. They refused to eat non-starchy vegetables. They said they took vitamins instead. But they were happy to eat rice, bread, sugar, pork fat, and salt. Their attitude toward God was just like their attitude toward food. They only wanted the things that were pleasant on the way down.

When I turned back to God, I was mainly interested in the starch and sugar. I wanted to feel better, fast. He helped me understand that I needed the broccoli and and carrots even more. I don’t have a church now, but that’s a good thing. I don’t have people shoving plates full of Twizzlers and Moon Pies in my face when I show up asking for greens. Instead of a poisonous feel-good church, God gives me private sessions in which he helps me feel bad and clear the air with him. I would rather feel bad here with God than bounce up and down and snort glitter at a church full of boneheads hooked on false prophecy and fake joy.

Christmas Eve was great, and God is helping me be honest with him, so I expect the coming year to be much better than this one. I hope God gets in touch with every one of you and teaches you a thousand times as much as he has taught me.

Pork Crisis Comes to a Sudden End

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Plus More Testimony

I got a nice surprise today. My sliced country ham arrived, and it’s much better than I expected.

I ordered it from Gatton Farms in Kentucky. I quit using them a long time ago, because they sent me a ham that wasn’t smelly enough. A few days ago, I started looking for a new ham, and I decided to try buying a Gatton Farms ham (because the price isn’t bad) and letting it sit around for a week or two before refrigerating it, to see if it improved. When the ham arrived today, I couldn’t resist frying a couple of slices. The last country ham I had was from Cracker Barrel, and it was pretty bland.

The new ham looked promising right out of the box. The slices were vacuum-sealed in clear bags, and the color was dark and nasty-looking, the way it should be. I flopped a couple into a skillet and gave them about three minutes on a side, after adding two tablespoons of bacon grease for good thermal conduction.

When I took them out, I poured off the excess grease, added a little water to the skillet, and boiled it down to make redeye gravy. Some people call cream gravy redeye gravy, but it’s much simpler. Cream gravy is bechamel sauce made from pork grease and pepper, more or less. Redeye gravy is what you get when you deglaze a skillet with water and then reduce it. People will tell you to add coffee to it, but my grandmother never did.

I’m very impressed. The ham and gravy were nicely acidic, the way they should be. The meat wasn’t too dry. It was nice and salty. I didn’t add water to cut the salt.

I don’t know if they’ve improved their curing method or if the disappointing stuff they sent in the past was just bad luck.

My half-gallon container of sorghum molasses hasn’t made it here yet. I look forward to trying it. I want to make biscuits and eat them with ham, butter, and sorghum. I hope the sorghum is thick. I’ve had sorghum so thick it made me want to chew on it.

Things are going very, very well in my prayer life. God has been helping me to spend more time praying in tongues, in several sessions every day. I can’t tell you why, but when I do this, life just flows. Problems solve themselves. Stress disappears. When I don’t do it, problems pile up.

I got a phrase during prayer the other day. It was, “I know the answer.” It just means I need to quit asking God for new answers and start applying the answer he already gave me. In 1986, he told me I needed to pray in tongues for long periods every day. For a long time, I’ve known that it works, but I haven’t applied it enough.

I always say I would be the most boring preacher alive, because I would always say the same thing: get baptized with the Holy Spirit and pray in tongues as much as you can. I keep coming back to it. It never doesn’t work.

It’s a great message. Think of all the effort it obviates. Denominations are teaching people to slave away at unpleasant methods that do not work. They tell them to make pilgrimages on their knees, give all their money to grinning monkeys on TBN, go on long fasts, pray this canned prayer, pray that canned prayer, pray to this or that false “saint,” give up good food for Lent, avoid meat on Fridays, and a whole list of other useless tasks, when what people really need is to connect themselves to God’s power and let him do the work.

Yesterday I had a funny thought. Imagine you dig ditches for a living. One day your foreman comes up to you and tells you to dig a ditch of a certain size. You give yourselves blisters and make your back sore, digging the prettiest ditch in history. Then the foreman makes you and all the other workers assemble to praise him for the great job he did. “You’re so worthy. Look at this great ditch you gave us, o foreman. We thank thee for thy ditch.”

How would you feel about that guy? You’d think he was an parasite and a colossal jerk. But somehow, we expect to do all the work to straighten out our lives…AND praise God for it.

Is God a colossal jerk? Does he want credit for the things you do? If you have to do the work, what, exactly, are you supposed to praise him for?

God wants to do the work. We know this because he wants the praise. He doesn’t want you to praise him for what you do without his help. When you pray in tongues, he does the work. He gives you the words. He answers the prayers. You’re barely involved. It only makes sense that you would praise him when you see the results, because there is no way you can take credit. You had no idea what you were saying!

God fixes people’s problems, and he even wants to do the work of changing your character. Your catastrophically disordered and disabled character is too screwed up for you to fix. You already blew it. The damage is done. If you could repair it, you wouldn’t need Jesus. The crucifixion would have been a waste of time. It’s as if you spent your life mining sin, and while you were a thousand feet down, the mine collapsed on you. You can’t move the timbers and boulders. You’re pinned. God understands that, and when you keep trying to dig yourself out, your pride tries his patience. It proves you haven’t learned anything. It drives him to stop helping you.

We are heirs, not self-made men. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We’re supposed to sit back and let God give things to us. It’s humiliating, but then it should be. Humiliation just indicates that we finally understand what we are.

Here’s something I realized the other day: when God gave his stamp of approval to Jesus, he didn’t say he was proud of him. Remember? Jesus was baptized, and when he rose from the water, the Holy Spirit alighted on him, and God said, “Behold my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Not, “of whom I am very proud.”

Sometimes when I accomplish something satisfying, I think about that. I feel like saying, “I’m proud of this,” but I know better than to do that. The correct thing to say is, “I am pleased that this is done.” We like to say we take pride in our work. That’s wrong. We should say we take pleasure in doing it well, and that we’re grateful God helped us. I think about that a lot. You don’t need pride. It’s a poison. You can be satisfied with what you have and what you do, without ruining everything by bringing pride into it.

God himself is not proud. That’s incredible. The Bible says it’s true, though. God himself, who has more reason to be proud than anyone, is humble. But somehow we, who offend God constantly and live on his mercy, think our asinine pride is a virtue.

I hope things continue to go well. I know from experience that I can always find a way to drop the ball.

I don’t care if anyone agrees with me or not. What I am doing was not my own idea, and it works. I can’t force anyone else to accept it. I wish they would. I’m not going to be disturbed if they tell me how offended they are by “cheap grace” and so on. Maybe they’re so great they can save themselves. I’m not, and clearly, I am not required to.

In Search of Properly Rotten Ham

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Yankees Ruin Everything

I feel like writing about something trivial.

Yesterday or the day before, I decided I needed a country ham. More accurately, I needed some form of country ham. Whole or sliced. I was not sure which way to go. Country ham sellers don’t charge much for slicing and bagging ham, and it’s a big help, but I was thinking I might want to age whatever I bought, and I don’t think hams will age well in individual slices.

My grandmother used to make her own hams. They hung a couple of years, and they were wonderful. They had a fermented smell to them, as country hams should, and because they came from pre-food-hysteria hogs, they had a lot of fat. The nincompoops who run the food industry have ruined hogs. They breed them for leanness, which is obscene. Pork has to have fat in order to work. You can’t make gravy without it, and just try making sausage from lean meat. I tried to make sausage from grocery pork, and it was like rubber. I had to grind fatty bacon into it to make it work. Granny used real pork from properly overweight pigs.

I should have looked for pork belly to grind into it, but as I recall, pork belly was hard to find before the fakes and hucksters on cable TV started using it.

When you buy a ham these days, chances are, you will get an abomination which has hung for six months or less. That doesn’t work. It takes a long time for ham to ferment and get the right flavor.

If you go to Cracker Barrel, they will serve you Clifty Farms hams. Unless things have changed, these are 6-month hams. Plenty of salt, but not much flavor. If you go online and buy a ham, you are very likely to get a 6-month ham unless you make a special effort to avoid it. If you’re going to settle for that, you might as well go to the grocery store and buy their fake country ham.

A long time ago, I discovered Gatton Farms. The company has a different name now. They were in Kentucky. They sold very nice hams. Then I noticed the product had changed. The flavor was gone. They told me they were curing their hams for a relatively short time. I switched to Scott Hams, and they were much better, but they went out of business, probably due to incompetence. It was impossible to get them to answer an email, so they were probably irresponsible in all other aspects of their business.

They sold really good sorghum. They sent me a broken jar, and I was never able to get them to respond to my communications so I could get it replaced.

A cousin of mine swears by Col. Newsom’s hams. He goes to pick them up in person. They’re very pricey. They charge $107 per ham, which is about 50% more than I feel like paying. They say their current hams have been hanging about a year, though.

Yesterday, I gave up and ordered some slices from the Gatton Farms people. It will surely be better than Smithfield or Clifty Farms, and it will put something on the table while I look for alternatives.

Here’s an idea I had: why not buy a crummy young ham and hang it a while? Aging is aging. A ham won’t know whether it’s hanging in my closet or in a barn in Kentucky. I may give it a try. It would certainly make the house smell nice. I can get by with my questionable slices while my project ham grows pleasantly funky.

Because all things are made in China and sold via Amazon, I went to Amazon to see if they had hams. Sure enough, a few vendors appeared there (not really Chinese). The ratings were not helpful, though. It was a bunch of city people, whining because they didn’t like country ham per se. “One star! Very salty! WAAAAH!!!! WAAAHHHH!!! MOMMY!!! GLOBAL WARMING!!!” Hey, if you don’t like country ham, why did you buy it? It’s supposed to be salty.

Some companies are selling neutered country ham. “Our delicious hams are not salty!” Then they’re not country ham. It’s as if Guinness decided to sell dyed Budweiser.

The slices should be here in a few days. I feel like letting them sit on the counter for a week to rot. Can’t hurt.

It’s too bad Scott Hams went out of business. They had great hams, sorghum, and some other interesting stuff. Smoked jowls. Real bacon.

I get very good bacon right where I am. I may have written about it. My friend Amanda works at a university, and the university has a “meat lab,” whatever that is. It must give the hippies the cramps, just knowing it’s on campus. State universities have to support agriculture, so the transvestites, communists, and jihadists can’t do much about the meat lab. They sell “bacon steaks,” which are slices of bacon about 3/8″ thick. Really nice, with lots of smoke flavor. I close my eyes and chew and wish it were non-sustainable whale bacon (which really exists).

I’m not as interested in food as I used to be, but I’m not going to dispose of my entire heritage. Country ham is a must, just like biscuits and gravy.

To get back to sorghum, I found a decent buy on Amazon. If you spring for half a gallon, you can get it for $40. That’s not bad, considering the total lack of local availability. The brand is Oberholtzer’s. I have not tried it, but Kentucky is the best place to find good sorghum, and Oberholtzer’s is a Kentucky company.

Most molasses is blackstrap, and it’s bitter. Sorghum, as I understand it, is not really molasses, but it tastes like it, without the bitterness. No one in Kentucky will accept blackstrap.

I’m giving the ham and the molasses a shot. I will report when I have the data.

Conched Out

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Turkey Vanquished; Lit. Hum. Defeated

Thanksgiving dinner has come and gone. Could have been worse. My friend Amanda came by with her kids, and we shared the load. The turkey came out great, and Amanda supplied pies.

I nearly got a hall pass this year. This morning, a huge blob of thunderstorms went through my area, and I lost electricity. You don’t want to be without power on Thanksgiving morning. I couldn’t cook, bathe, or even wash my hands. Possible down side: highly screwed-up Thanksgiving for two families. Possible up side: no cooking.

The juice returned after maybe 90 minutes, leaving me still obligated yet behind schedule. I did the best I could, and we ended up eating later than I had hoped.

I learned something new this year. Cracker Barrel stays open on Thanksgiving. I called them, told them my power was out, and asked if they were open. The lady told me to come on down and not to worry. I love the people here. She really felt bad about my power outage.

While I waited for the power to come back on, I killed time reading the last of Lord of the Flies. This is the last book on my version of the Columbia College Literature Humanties reading list. I have finally done all the reading. I should look my old professor up and tell him. I really annoyed him. If I went to his office today and told him I had finished my reading, he would probably punch me in the face. He would still remember me; the king of wasted potential.

My conclusion, after putting myself through this ordeal: books that were great for their time are not always great books. Some are very bad. Crime and Punishment comes to mind. Also, Columbia College includes a number of overrated writers in their curriculum for the sake of political correctness, and they don’t mind sacrificing their students’ time or their students’ parents’ money on the altar of diversity.

When you consider what Columbia charges parents, the only reasonable position to take is that every single word a student reads should be important. Jamming Alice Walker down someone’s throat in a course that costs $4000 should be illegal.

Academics are quite possibly the single most likely group to see the emperor’s clothes when they’re not there. Academics are herd creatures, and they are incapable of independent thought. If an academic thinks other academics think Virginia Woolf’s wretched, inept To the Lighthouse is a great book, that academic is certain to agree. Students are forced to read a lot of overrated crap, simply because college professors are incapable of dissent.

It makes sense that professors are afraid to have dissenting opinions. Generally, they are mediocre intellects. They are fungible. Fire one, and you can find a dozen to replace him the next day. When your product is a commodity, not a franchise, you have to be very careful not to make anyone mad, because you are expendable. On the other hand, if, say, a top-flight professional athlete feels like saying what’s on his mind, people will put up with it, because such athletes are hard to replace.

When I was at Columbia, a baseball player named Chris got the idea that someone was after his ex-girlfriend, Carolyn. Chris was maybe 6’5″ tall. Strong guy. He walked up behind the other man, who was much smaller and wearing glasses, and he attacked from the rear, giving him a severe beating. Nothing of significance happened to Chris. He was hard to replace. If a random history professor had done that, he would have been fired.

Carolyn was a babe, incidentally. Really beautiful. She took me aside at a party one night and started talking to me. Good thing I had no game whatsoever, or I could have ended up with a concussion.

I just Googled her, out of curiosity. She died suddenly in 2010. Sad.

Not really interested in what happened to Chris. I hope the guy he beat doesn’t have dementia from it.

Some of the Lit. Hum. books I read were bad, yet important historically or advanced for their times. Virginia Woolf was just bad. For any era. Awful.

Vogon-poetry awful.

I’m glad I did the reading. I learned a few things. I got a clearer understanding of the development of western literature and culture. Nonetheless, I suffered considerably.

As for Lord of the Flies, I read it in a few days, whereas other Lit. Hum. books took weeks. The reason is this: it wasn’t as painful to read. It had a plot. It had action. The characters, though shallow and unappealing, had distinct personalities. Some did, anyway. It was nice to get into a book without dreading the battle to get back out.

If you haven’t read the book, stop reading, because there will be spoilers.

I’ll tell you how the book goes. There is a war. We are told almost nothing about it. A bunch of kids are put on a plane. The point seems to be to get them out of danger, but it’s not very clear. The plane crashes on a tropical island, and the adults on the plane die. The kids have to fend for themselves. They end up electing a leader. A violent rival takes the kids away from him. The rival’s new gang murders two kids and tries to kill a third (the first leader), but before they can get him, a boat shows up, and the kids are rescued by the British navy. Suddenly the scary gang that tried to kill the former leader looks like what it is: a bunch of little kids with pointed sticks.

The book has weaknesses. For one thing, Golding can’t describe anything. If he tried to describe a square cardboard box to you, you might think he was talking about a crystal chandelier. He tries to describe the island and other things, but you never get a clear idea what any of it looks like. You have to give up and not worry about it. You can’t even tell how many boys there are. Also, the characters are very thinly drawn. They don’t have interesting characteristics that make them stand out from each other.

Golding tried to describe coconuts, and he said they looked like skulls. The only coconuts that look like skulls are husked coconuts. With the husks still on, as they would be found on an uninhabited island, they look nothing like skulls. It’s like Golding only saw coconuts on Gilligan’s Island, where they fell pre-husked.

Like most Lit. Hum. books, Lord of the Flies does not contain a single laugh. I’m not sure how anyone can write two hundred pages without saying anything funny or clever, but Homer did it, Virgil did it, Woolf did it, Dostoevsky did it…it’s remarkable, how many Lit. Hum. authors were not even slightly witty or inclined to humor. It’s like they shared a bizarre mental illness.

Cervantes made jokes, but they were cruel and stupid. Here’s the kind of thing Cervantes would have found amusing: a man tries to hit his servant in the face with a club, but he misses, falls, and knocks all of his front teeth out on a fence post.

Lord of the Flies has a plot, which is a nice thing for a book to have, but it’s not intricate, original, or clever. There are no brilliant twists or turns. Kids get marooned. Kids form violent factions. Kids kill other kids. Kids are rescued. I don’t think the plot is what makes the book.

One important character is a dead person. I’m referring to the Beast. Some of the kids think there is a big, hairy creature on the island, and that it may eventually kill them. They make expeditions to find it and kill it. Meanwhile, an aerial battle takes place above the island. A man parachutes out of a plane. His dead body lands on a mountain in a sitting position, with his parachute still attached. When the wind blows, he raises his head as though he’s looking at people. One of the kids sees him one night, and he decides he’s the Beast.

To flesh out the character of the Beast, a kid named Simon has a psychotic episode. A boy named Jack leads a group that kills a pig, and they leave the pig’s head on a stick as a sacrifice to the Beast. Simon looks at the head one day, and it starts speaking to him, saying it’s the Beast and that he’s not wanted on the island. Simon is the first boy the gang murders.

The Beast device taps into some pretty weird, primal notions, or at least it seems that way to me, a religious nut.

The Bible tells us a Christ-hating upstart called the Beast will rise up to try to take God’s place. Most eschatologists think the Beast will be a ruler; a man. My own suspicion is that the Beast is just the spirit that rules the carnal masses. Beasts are ruled by their flesh. Destructive, ignorant people are ruled by their flesh. The word “carnal” means “ruled by the flesh.” Maybe there will be a single man who personifies the Beast, but I think the Beast will be the masses. Think Antifa. Think BLM. Think Pol Pot.

In Lord of the Rings, a boy with common sense tries to lead the group. His name is Ralph. He’s a builder. He gets himself elected chief. He tries to make rules. He tries to make the kids keep a signal fire going. His enemy is Jack, and Jack is neither a builder nor a thinker. He’s a looter and destroyer. Jack leads a troop called the hunters. They kill pigs for everyone to eat. Jack is too dumb to think about signal fires. He is a populist. He appeals to the basest drives of his friends. He tells them they’ll hunt all day and “have fun.” He offers to do away with rules.

Ralph’s consiglieri is a fat kid nicknamed Piggy. In a violent book about kids, you don’t have to be told what will happen to Piggy. Piggy is very smart, and he gives excellent advice, but he is prime bully bait, so he can never be the chief. Piggy can barely see. He wears glasses. Jack attacks him, breaking one lens of his glasses, leaving Piggy half blind. Later in the book, he takes the glasses with the remaining lens, leaving Piggy to be led around like Homer.

Piggy is like a prophet. In the Bible, prophets were sighted, but in other traditions, they had vision problems. Tiresias was blind. The cyclopes gave up binocular vision for limited clairvoyance; they were able to see their own deaths. I’m too lazy to look up other blind prophets.

Like a prophet, Piggy sees the truth, and he is attacked and eventually killed for it. Weird.

The dead aviator is a good choice for the image of the Beast, because he’s all flesh, with the mind and spirit gone. He rots. Carnal people rot, figuratively. It takes effort and gumption to make people rise above hogs and monkeys, just as it takes energy for the body of a living person to fight off disease and decomposition. What do you see when you look at Antifa and BLM? Rot. Human beings acting like animals. New generations becoming less intelligent and less powerful than their predecessors.

The aviator has no power of his own. He moves, literally, with the wind. A beastly (carnal) leader is like that. They don’t really lead. They follow. The voice of the crowd blows them this way and that. Remember Obama? Interesting.

The word “spirit” literally means “breath,” which is a type of wind. We live because the breath of God is in us. The Beast of the Apocalypse will have the spirit of Satan in him, animating and empowering him like a wind in a parachute.

Simon is killed by Jack’s mob as he tries to tell them the Beast is a dead body. They don’t pay attention to anything he says. They’re in the grip of a bizarre, tribal bloodlust, like backward natives jumping up and down in Africa. After they kill him, a wind fills the aviator’s chute, lifts him off the mountain, and drags him over the site where Simon is killed. The aviator then plunges into the sea.

In the Bible, seas symbolize masses of beings. More specifically, they symbolize their combined voices. When a lot of people speak against you, it’s like sinking into a sea. When Peter looked only at Jesus, he was raised above the sea, and it became the platform that supported him. God promised Jesus he would make his enemies his footstool. When Peter stood on the sea, it was a picture of God’s children resting their feet on hostile humanity.

A leader who rose from a sea of carnal voices deserves to sink into a sea. Isn’t that Satan’s future? When he is exposed as a powerless manipulator, the beings he fooled will want some payback, and presumably, he will sink into their midst and be tormented without mercy.

The boys’ adventure made me think about fatherlessness. This is a fatherless world, because we reject the Father and his messengers. Wisdom and knowledge are treasures, and we are supposed to pass them on to new generations, but we reject God, throwing these treasures away. As a result, every generation has to start from scratch, and we never reach the heights we were designed for. The boys in the book had no fathers. They were alone. One adult could have provided them sufficient wisdom to bring them order and peace, but lacking an adult, they listened to Jack instead. They were like modern Americans. We don’t know God, so we listen to doomed imbeciles like Kanye West and the Kardashians. With every generation, we get weaker, not stronger.

When the naval officer showed up at the end of the book, he was like Jesus, returning to order the world. When he showed up, with true authority on his side, Jack suddenly looked very small and powerless. His power instantly vanished, and Ralph’s power reappeared. The Bible says people will marvel when Satan, who scared us so much, is revealed. We will be amazed at how puny he is.

I found these ideas interesting as I read the book. Lord of the Flies was the only Lit. Hum. book that stirred me on a spiritual level. It wasn’t illuminating, but it made me think about things I already believed.

My guess is that William Golding never considered any of these things. I would also guess that my take on the book is nothing like the interpretation promoted by the sheep of academia.

It was pleasant to read a book that wasn’t excruciatingly tedious and which gave me things to think about.

Should I go ahead and read the books on Columbia’s Contemporary Civilization list? I don’t know. They’re horrible. Hobbes. Locke. Macchiavelli. Plato. Yech. Besides, I probably did the reading for that course when I was at Columbia.

I never did Art Humanities (another core course). I believe I started and then dropped it. I don’t know how I would go about recreating that course on my own. It wasn’t just readings. There were a ton of slides. I love slide courses. Sit around in the dark, look at slides, write some BS on the exam, and get at least a B.

If I decide to do any more studying, you will read about it here, if you can stand it.

Hope I didn’t spoil the book for you, but if I did, it’s your own fault, because I warned you.

Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t mention Christmas to me.

Happy Obligatory Fall Meal with People who are not Your First Choices

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Hurry up, Friday

Thanksgiving is nearly here.

Yay. Whee.

My attitude toward holiday cooking is not good at all. I rarely cook these days. If you don’t count the soup I make and freeze in portions for breakfast, I have cooked less than once a week for quite some time, and when I do cook, it’s usually for myself. I quit cooking for my dad. The work was just too much.

I used to cook for everyone I knew. Eventually, I got tired of it. Guests wore me out. They didn’t help much with shopping or cooking. Some guests showed up late or not at all. Some left early, as soon as they were full. Very few helped clean up. And how often did they invite me over for food? Not very.

One day, I heard the obvious notion rattling around in my mind: it is not normal for a single man to bust his hump cooking for 8 people in his own house. Entertaining is for married people. I quit cooking, except for rare occasions. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is mandatory, so I can’t get out of it. We could go to a restaurant, but that would be so depressing, it would be worse than cooking at home. If I were alone, I could skip it entirely and think nothing of it, but I’m not alone.

Thanksgiving is a major undertaking for one person. Even a modest meal takes two days to prepare, unless you serve instant mashed potatoes and a canned ham. You have to do a lot of shopping. You have to store the food for several days before you prepare it. Then you have to clean the house and set the table, and afterward, you have to clean the kitchen and table area. It’s a nightmare.

If you’re married, you can divide tasks with the wife. If you have kids, you may be able to enslave them to some degree. If you have a big family, you may have parents, sisters, and brothers who will help. My mother is dead. My grandparents are all dead. My relatives in Kentucky don’t invite me or my dad to holiday meals. I don’t know if they’re afraid my sister will show up, or if they have some mysterious problem with me. My sister made them suffer a lot, but I have always dealt honestly with them.

Meals with my dad are not that great. His table manners are a problem. You have to look at your plate while you eat unless you want to see what he’s chewing. He stuffs himself, which is off-putting. You have to watch him to keep him from putting his fork or his dirty hands in common dishes, rendering them offensive to everyone else. He spills food on himself. He says, “lotta food,” maybe five times per meal. Because of dementia, he asks the same questions over and over, trying to start a conversation. If I bring up a better topic, he is likely to dismiss it immediately, as if I were stupid to bring it up. He gets upset because we don’t talk, but he makes it very difficult.

He likes to nag me about getting married and giving him grandchildren. He tells me how old I am. Sometimes he starts reminiscing about old times, which is very disturbing. I forgive him for the negative contributions he made to my childhood, and I never bring them up, but I won’t sit still while he talks about how happy I was. I correct him. I say things like, “My childhood was horrible, and I hate talking about it. Every day I thank God I’m an adult.” Then he gets angry with me.

When he’s done eating, there is food spilled on the table and floor, and I have to take care of it. And he likes to put spit on his finger and rub tables and counters with it, to remove smudges and so on. Often, the smudges are really flecks in the granite. He thinks they’re bits of food. He leaves a film of dried spit on things, and I have to go behind him with counter cleaner and alcohol.

His manners upset guests. They work together with me to contain the damage. “You don’t have to serve yourself; let me get that for you. Move so I can wipe that up. Let me get you more napkins.”

Thanksgiving should be a time to relax and enjoy life with people whose company you enjoy, but to me, it’s a huge chore I can’t wait to get behind me.

Another problem: the nice people next door invited us to eat with them. I had to weasel out of that. I don’t want to seem unfriendly (although I am), but I don’t like involving my dad in new relationships. When I’m with him, I’m uncomfortable and very restrained. I’m on duty, as a caretaker. My personality is muted. And he offends people. He told my friend Mike he looked like a fruit in his pink shirt, and he also looked over and announced, “You’re losing all your hair.” He said some troubling things to my friend Amanda when she cared for him over a weekend. It’s not a dementia thing, either. He was always like that.

My dad likes to talk about how serious I am, and he criticizes me for not talking. He says these things in front of people, and they probably believe it. If you come from a sick, dysfunctional family, it’s always best to minimize your family’s exposure to your friends and love interests. You need to be around people who will let you grow, not people who will try to keep you deformed and small.

He has made some effort to improve over the last few years, but dementia patients can’t alter their behavior all that well. He is stuck with his bad habits and flaws because he waited too long to admit they existed.

Amanda has no one to help her with Thanksgiving, so I invited her to come and bring her kids and her dysfunctional mom. We will take work off of each other, and both of us will benefit from the presence of a non-gaslighting, helpful adult. When Amanda’s mom puts her down, I’ll be around to remind Amanda how ridiculous and pathetic her mom’s perceptions are. If my dad empties his nose on the porch in front of everyone, Amanda will be there to step around the mucus and sympathize with me.

The presence of Amanda and her kids will make the ordeal considerably easier to bear, and it may be that my presence will cramp her mom’s style and put her on her best behavior.

When you look after a dementia patient, you have to limit your exposure. You can’t sit in the room with the patient all day, listening to them say the same things over and over. That’s especially true when the patient makes a point of saying annoying things which he knows are annoying, or when the patient keeps arguing about the same things, no matter how obvious it is that he’s wrong.

You can’t cruficy yourself because the patient isn’t entertained 24/7. You have to say, “Sometimes people plan their lives poorly, and when they do, a certain amount of suffering is unavoidable and just and not to be blamed on others.” It’s okay if a difficult patient experiences some boredom and loneliness. People who are not demented experience those things, and no one gets upset about it. It’s part of life. There is no law that says you’re entitled to constant entertainment simply because you’re demented.

I get bored occasionally. Sometimes, for a few minutes, I’m lonely. No one makes a federal case out of it. No one comes running to wipe my nose, and I’m fine. I know my dad would be happier if I sat beside him all day stepping and fetching and making balloon animals or whatever. I would be happier, too, if someone else gave up his or her life to keep me entertained and do my bidding. Doesn’t make it a good idea.

My approach is to ration the time I spend with my dad. I make sure we go out to eat three or four times a week. I check on him. I also make sure I have adequate time alone, to wind down. After bagging ten pounds of wet, reeking diapers and taking them to the dump, you really need time to wash carefully, sit down alone or with friends, and decompress. That’s especially true when the person who wears the diapers has broken through the Diaper Genie bag and has continued pushing filthy diapers into the Diaper Genie anyway.

You have to look after your parents when they need help, unless they’re absolutely unbearable. You don’t have to be a martyr or an enabler.

The stage of dementia my dad is in right now is said to last up to two years, and he is maybe six months into it. The next stage is much worse. Vascular dementia patients typically live about 5 years after they manifest symptoms, and things started going bad for him in about 2015. If my dad lives long enough, the following things will happen to him: we will get an attendant to come here and help him for a few hours a day, and then in the next stage, he will forget who I am and how to get dressed. He will have to go to a facility. At that point, he will have maybe two more years of life left. I want him to be happy while he’s here and reasonably lucid, but it won’t be long until I have to put other people in charge. At that point, I’ll have to get used to the fact that I have nearly no ability to provide him with company or amusement. I’ll have to trust strangers and be at peace with it.

I remember visiting his mother with him, after she moved to a nursing home. The whole place smelled like feces, even though it was clean. You can only do so much to reduce the smell of diapers. An old woman with a blank look on her face was using her feet to pull herself around in a wheelchair. She made unintelligible sounds. My dad leaned over and whispered, “If I ever have to go to a place like this, just kill me.”

I think about that sometimes. Unless he passes unexpectedly, he’s going to have to go to just such a place. Will he hate it as much as he thought? People’s desires and priorities change with their circumstances. No one is going to kill him, so he may have to face a move to a home. I shouldn’t assume too much; nurses and other healthcare providers kill people all the time to get them out of the way, so maybe one day when my back is turned, someone will play God.

The other day he asked me if he was losing his mind. He’s in denial almost all the time, so that surprised me. I didn’t say yes, which would have been true, but I was honest. I told him the condition he has gets worse, not better. I didn’t know what else to say. Pills are available, but his doctor recommended not using them, and he doesn’t want them.

Tomorrow I plan to bone the turkey and prepare cornbread for stuffing. I may cook yams so they’ll be ready to finish preparing on Thursday. I still don’t have a real dining table, so I need to get a second plastic folding table.

The food will be incredible, and Amanda and I will enjoy the kind of bonding friends from dysfunctional families are famous for. Hopefully her kids will be insulated from the holiday misery their father’s wretched behavior has the potential to cause. It will be at least seven years until he is allowed to see them again. That time needs to be dedicated to healing.

When the meal is done, I plan to make Amanda take as much of the leftovers as possible. My dad will complain, but Thanksgiving leftovers make for a big mess during the following week, and my dad tends to keep them until they are rotten. Also, they’re fattening.

If you are lucky enough to have quality Thanksgiving gatherings, enjoy them while you can. I enjoyed a lot of great holidays in Kentucky when I was a kid. I’m glad I have those times to remember. In the meantime, I will grit my teeth and deal with this obligation.

This is the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

There is a Cure for Miami

I am enjoying Ocala to the point where I almost wonder if something is wrong with me.

When I moved here, the movers screwed up badly. My dad insisted on going for a drive and got lost on the day of the move. My dad overdosed on pills he was supposed to let me measure out for him, and he ended up in the hospital for several days. Hurricane Irma hit me with tropical storm winds and knocked over lots of big trees on the farm. The power went out. I had to bathe in buckets of pool water. The main AC unit in the house died, and we had to fork out $6800. A tenant broke a lease in Miami, and we had to pay $5000 to fix the apartment. Hurricane Irma messed up a yacht I really needed to sell.

Plus it was ungodly hot during the day, and the mosquitoes were so big and numerous they practically lifted me off the ground when I went outside.

It was a bad start.

Now I have a lot of my stuff here. I made a trip to Miami, and a friend also went down and brought things back. The boat sold for more than I expected. I have three chain saws, and I’ve learned how to move a lot of wood in a hurry. The air is drying up, and the weather is cooler. The bugs are going away.

Finally I can enjoy this place.

When you join a moronic street gang, they “jump you in” and “jump you out.” That means they give you a beating when you join, and if you leave, you get another beating. Satan seems to work the same way. Simply moving back to Miami in 1997 was a beating. This year I left again, and the God of Losers came at me again. That’s how I see it.

Whatever. The suffering I endured doesn’t really compare to the eternal roasting my enemy is going to get.

Today I went out to the shop to start my day of hurricane mess recovery, and I felt the cool breeze hit me as I stood on the porch (My shop has a porch!) and opened the door. A crazy wave of pleasure hit me. I was overcome. It’s gross and trite to compare everyday pleasures to sex, but that’s what I thought of. Something went through me and left me a little dizzy.

Today I lit up the burn pile again. I also sharpened the pole saw and made my way into the middle of my woods. I have a bunch of big downed trees in there. I’ve been reluctant to take them on because of the bugs, heat, and standing water. Today was the right day.

I found out a neighbor had cleared away 90% of a big oak that had fallen on a fence. That was nice. I don’t have access to the DMZ between our fences, so I was dreading looking him up and asking how I could get in. Evidently he did not consider me accountable for my tree’s behavior. All I have to deal with is the stump.

I found several trees which fell near each other. Some were on top of each other. I took out the pole saw and got to work. I put in around 3 hours. I murdered those trees. Because the pole saw is so safe to use, and because it can reach things several feet away and things that are over my head, I had access to all sorts of branches that would have been a problem for a chain saw. I cut the crap out of the trees and made a giant pile of limbs and logs.

I had my trusty timberjack with me. What a great tool. It makes short work of heavy logs I could not have dealt with a week ago. They used to be a real pain. Now they’re a joke.

Within a week or two, I should have a clear path to the gate on the highway. Once that happens, I’ll be able to use the tractor to take wood out through the gate and dump it for the county to pick up. I won’t have to burn it!

I’m sad that I lost trees, but just about all of them were worthless oaks. I can plant pecans or something.

Maybe I should do something with that lot. I don’t know how many desirable trees are on it. I like the woods, but maybe I should consider a plan with fewer trees and more grass. Maybe there are pecans and other trees there that I could assist by cutting oaks, and then I could thin out the brush and put in grass.

I do not like seeing the neighbors. I’ve read that bamboo will grow up and form a thick hedge in a year or two. Maybe I should plant a couple hundred feet along the fence line. Bamboo looks really nice, and on top of that, the canes are useful for certain things.

While I was hacking away at a tree, I hit something and knocked the chain off the pole saw bar. It was time to quit anyway, so I headed back to the shop. I had two bottles of cold water from the Rockstar fridge, a Pellegrino orange soda, and an egg cream. It’s amazing how much water you sweat out while using the saws. I sat in one of the shop’s entrances in a plastic Adirondack chair, facing the woods, enjoying my beverages. The breeze blew through the shop and kept me cool. Too much. I loved it.

I goofed off. I texted and called friends. The only thing missing was a smoker with a few ribs in it.

I was so right about this place. That tells me the idea came from God. When I have my trees cleaned up and my bamboo installed, I’ll be the big daddy king of all eccentric hermits.

Some day this will be a place for prayer meetings and God knows what else. Until then I’ll enjoy myself getting it ready.

I just can’t hate Miami enough.

Sorry for not taking photos. I was too engrossed. Maybe next time.

Growing Pains Continue

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

Cliff Clavin Would be Proud

Life in Ocala is wonderful, although I still have challenges. My dad sometimes decides he doesn’t have dementia, which actually makes sense. Dementia screws up your judgment and makes you forget things, including your dementia diagnosis. I have also had more problems getting rid of my dad’s yacht.

My dad has gotten worse. Dementia never stands still. Over the last few days he has forgotten his diagnosis, and he has been telling me his mind is fine. I tell him he was diagnosed with vascular dementia, and he says he doesn’t remember anything like that. Then I remind him that this proves the diagnosis is right.

He wants to drive. I told him he can’t drive because he gets lost. Then he wants to know when he got lost. Then I have to remind him. Then he says he wants to drive with me in the car with him, which negates the whole purpose of driving. He says he wants to maintain the skill. This could be useful to me, because he could follow me when I need him to take me to get the car fixed. But it’s not worth it, because it will convince him he’s a safe driver.

In December, he will have to take a driving test. I suppose that will put an end to the controversy.

Supposedly, the stage of dementia he’s in lasts a couple of years, tops. It’s too bad he has a contrary attitude, because he only has a short stretch of relative clarity before him, and he would get more out of it if he didn’t fight the truth. One of these days, he will drop another notch, and it may be a big one. That’s how the disease progresses. It could be tomorrow or three months from now. He would be better off admitting the obvious and trying to get right with God.

He has delusions now. He thinks he used to ride motorcycles. He has no idea how to operate one. He told a friend we used to take his boat to Europe. He said we put drums of diesel on the deck to extend the boat’s range. Imagine trying to lift a 55-gallon drum of diesel on a rocking boat and then using it to pour fuel into an opening on the boat’s gunnel.

I knew another man with a problem like my dad’s, but he was a less argumentative person. He had always been calm, rational, warm-hearted, patient, generous, and cooperative. Even after he was unable to look after himself, he was clean, well-mannered, and very pleasant to deal with. Everyone loved him, and he wasn’t a burden to anyone except possibly his wife. Your preexisting personality can shape the experience you have when you become demented.

I had to get a second fridge because my dad’s food habits were too gross to tolerate. I hid it in a closet in the garage, and I put certain items in it so they wouldn’t be defiled or eaten as soon as they made it into the house. I don’t want to eat pickles after he has put his fingers in the jar. Imagine the things he would have on his fingers. I don’t want to use mustard from a greasy bottle with dried mustard all over it. I don’t want to eat Raisin Bran after he has sat in front of the TV and eaten most of the box with his fingers. I would like a chance to eat some cheese or an ice cream sandwich before they suddenly vanish.

These habits didn’t start when he became demented. It’s just how he has always been. Now that he’s demented, he can’t remember when I remind him he has to think about cleanliness and leave some food for me.

He rubs spit on things now. That’s new. He thinks he’s cleaning things. I have to keep Lysol wipes and a spray bottle of alcohol handy.

It’s a big relief, knowing I can have clean food and that if I buy a bag of miniature Snickers bars, it won’t disappear before I get the chance to open it. He ate a two-pound bag of peanut butter M&M’s the other day. Who does that?

He won’t find the fridge because he can’t find his way around the house all that well. He’s not sure where my bedroom is. He can find the kitchen, the garage, and his bedroom, and he can walk around the neighborhood without problems, but he will probably never know there’s a closet in the garage.

As for his boat, it has been a horrendous ordeal trying to get rid of it. When the insurance came up for renewal, the agent said there was no coverage for damage. Just liability. This was my dad’s idea. I decided to follow suit, because I was listing the boat with a broker. How likely was it that a hurricane would hit Miami in the two months it would be on the market? Yeah, okay.

Irma showed up. She tore up the boat’s canvas and did some other damage, and I thought I was going to take a big hit. I had a stressful week thinking about it. Then one day I started praying for God to get it sold, and I thanked him over and over and gave him glory, saying, “because it’s done.” A few minutes later, the broker said we had two offers for much more than I expected. We accepted one of them. Then the bilge pumps acted up. I wrote about that a few days ago. If you read about it, you know that “Carlos,” our dubious boat mechanic, installed a new pump. I thought the pump saga was over.

Carlos said water was coming from a rotted head hose. He said he couldn’t close the seacock to keep water out while he replaced it, because it was stuck, and if he applied pressure to it, he might break it and let in enough water to sink the boat. This is a lot of BS. You can replace a seacock on a docked boat by having someone go over the side and cover the opening with a toilet plunger while you work. I know this because Carlos has done it. I wrote about this earlier.

You can pound a stopper into a through-hull if the seacock breaks. Everyone knows this. It’s not like mankind has been sailing for thousands of years without coming up with a few solutions to simple problems. It’s not like every boat with a hole in it sinks. Human beings aren’t that stupid.

Anyway, I thought the problem was fixed, but the broker went over the next day, and Carlos’s pump wasn’t working. The broker got it running, closed the seacock, and got the water pumped out.

Thanks again, Carlos.

Why did the broker go over the next day? Because he’s a responsible adult who cares if the boat sinks. He’s not just thinking about getting a check and running off.

I texted Carlos just to have my low expectations confirmed. He did not disappoint. He gave me a bunch of Bart Simpson excuses, including, “It was working when I left.” He started saying he would go over and fix the rest of the wiring. Yes, instead of apologizing profusely, he decided to award himself another profitable job. No, that would not be necessary. The sale was supposed to close the next day, and I didn’t feel much like paying another Carlos bill. I told him not to bother.

I found out I could move the closing up by sending the required documents early, so I jumped on the chance. I got them notarized and sent them the fastest way I could. On Wednesday, I used the Postal Service (You can see where this is heading) to send them by two-day Express Mail. They were guaranteed to arrive by noon Friday.

Hallelujah! Problem solved! The sale would be final on Friday! Not my boat, not my problem!

Then Friday came, and the delivery confirmation text didn’t come.

The Postal Service didn’t deliver the envelope in time. I spent over $80 for nothing, and I was facing two more days with a leaky boat on my hands.

I tried to log into the USPS site to get information. The site said my account was disabled. It referred me to a page to fix it. That page told me to create a new account, which had nothing to do with the problem. I called. The robot said the wait was at least 20 minutes. I tried their email contact page. I filled it out and clicked, and I got a page saying it wasn’t working.

Today I got my dad in the car, and we sent more documents using UPS. This is a real company that occasionally delivers things on time. We spent $91, and then we sat down at Bob Evans for breakfast. Ten minutes later, I got a text. The Postal Service had delivered the documents.

Okay.

The boat has to remain afloat until Monday morning, when the closer signs off on everything and has the money wired to my dad. I have around 40 hours of prayer ahead of me. After that, if it sinks, it’s the buyer’s baby. They had it surveyed. They have a mechanic. They know it has issues. Their responsibility.

Hurricane Irma knocked the boat around. The broker has messed with the wires. Carlos has puttered around with the wires. The buyer’s mechanic has been on the boat. It’s not an ideal situation.

My dad says the boat is in “tip top shape.”

I contacted friends for prayer. I don’t want to take chances. I need this boat gone.

I got an amazing answer to prayer when the offer arrived. Then I had all these problems. Am I getting resistance from Satan? Sure seems that way. But he’s the little one who loses, and God is the big one who always wins. I have to remember that.

I might shoot again tomorrow. Today I got an opportunity to set fire to our huge burn pile, so next week I’ll have an opportunity to clear more wood. Tomorrow it will be hot, so I think I’ll just shoot. Today Amanda and her sons came over, and I made pizza and garlic rolls.

If you have a minute, please pray the boat stays afloat until it gets to the Cayman Islands and that the sale goes through on Monday. I would be very grateful.

Things are going to get better. The current hurricane is headed somewhere where I don’t have land, my dad is not in the hospital, I have sanitary food, and sooner or later the hairs I burned off my legs have to grow back.

Here’s a photo of the burn pile.

I’m Lovin’ It

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Serve me Cold Decaf at Your Peril

The Terror of McDonald’s is at it again.

I have written about my annoying problems at McDonald’s. When I forget to get breakfast food, I end up filling the gap with McMuffins, and then I run into the Perplexing Wall of McDonald’s Incompetence. Chick-fil-A manages to get minimum wage employees to treat customers like royalty, but McDonald’s can’t get them to brew fresh coffee every half an hour or give you what you ordered.

As you will see if you read earlier posts, I found my bad experiences at McDonald’s to have deeper meaning than one would expect. I believe God told me it was a bad idea to drink caffeine, and because McDonald’s employees kept drugging me with regular coffee (because it’s just too hard to keep decaf on hand), I had nights when I didn’t sleep well. I wrote about a day when I felt crabby and irritable because McDonald’s had dosed me.

Today a friend called and asked if he could come over for prayer. I still had not gotten my breakfast supplies together, so I went to Mickey D’s before his visit. There was no one at the register. A girl sauntered by, thumbing her smartphone. She stood at the register, texting. I asked her if she was taking my order, and she said “no” and went about her business. I decided to try again. I asked her if ANYONE was taking my order.

She walked over to a place where she could see into the kitchen, and she started yelling at “Areli,” who was busy in the back doing something the first girl didn’t approve of. She kept saying, “Really, Areli? Really?” Eventually, Areli emerged and took my order, and I went home. I didn’t give anyone a hard time. Not even the classic Miami woman who came in and tried to get in front of me while I was waiting for Areli.

The store was cleaner than usual. Strange.

My friend was hungry when I picked him up, so we went by the same McDonald’s. Areli took his order, and I stood back and waited. A neatly dressed man came up and asked if I had been waited on. I said I was just waiting, and I expected him to place an order.

He approached me again, and I said I was waiting for my friend. “And waiting…and waiting.” To my surprise, he started apologizing and told me he was the owner.

This explained the sudden cleanliness.

I felt like I had an audience with President Trump. I started delivering my laundry list of complaints. No fresh decaf, mainly. I told him the story of Areli and the smartphone. I wasn’t trying to get kids fired. I was trying to let a businessman know what was happening to his investment, and I was hoping some day I might get some decent coffee.

I told him nothing happened when I commented on the McDonald’s websites, and he said that stuff takes forever to get to the owners.

My friend stood and took all this in. We had been talking about the slack attitude of the employees on the way to the store. After we left, he started talking about the obvious way God was favoring me.

Does this mean everything is fixed at the local McDonald’s? I don’t know, but it definitely means I can’t go back for at least a month. Not unless I want boogers in my food.

I don’t feel bad for the kids. They needed to have their butts kicked. A good lecture will make them better employees, and it will result in their making more money later in life. Or it will weed out the hopeless; the stubborn mules who drag everyone else down.

It was a very strange experience. It made me realize I had never been in a really clean McDonald’s before, and that I had never seen a McDonald’s owner who gave a crap.

I thought it was an interesting experience, so here it is for your enjoyment.

Today I bought food, so I’m all set for the next two weeks or so. By then, maybe Areli will have forgiven me.

Fast Food, Transformed

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Let Ronald do the Work

I have decided there is such a thing as food being too good. You don’t actually need to levitate every time you have dinner. Food that’s too good will tempt you constantly. It will be hard to leave alone. You’ll eat more than you should.

That being said, I have a great tip for people who love McDonald’s breakfast food.

I saved some gravy from Thanksgiving. Today before I made my weekly trip to Mickey D’s, I heated the gravy up. When I came home, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I dipped Mickey D’s biscuits in gravy while I ate.

This is probably the worst thing you can eat, short of pure nuclear waste. But it was phenomenal. I give credit where credit is due; Mickey D’s makes excellent biscuits. Add gravy, and you have something truly wonderful.

I don’t plan to do this again, because it’s way fattening, but it was a great experience.

If you don’t know how to make gravy, I can help you out.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp. grease
1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. sage
dash of dry white wine
salt to taste

You will want a couple of tablespoons of grease from a Thanksgiving turkey or breakfast sausage or bacon. Something like that. If you use sausage, forget the sage. The white wine is optional.

Get your grease hot (about 4 out of 10 on a digital stove). Fry one level tablespoon of flour in it. You don’t need to burn it. Just get the raw taste out of it. Stir it and smoosh it with a spatula while you fry it.

Add the milk and seasonings. Keep stirring until the gravy bubbles. It will thicken. Add a small amount of wine and cook the gravy until the consistency looks good. Remove it from the pan immediately.

That’s all you need to know. If you like it thinner, use less flour.

This should be more than enough gravy for two people who aren’t trying to kill themselves.

Enjoy.