Tag Archives: friends

High School Reunion

This was not an official high school reunion. Rather, this was born out of the fact that we are all turning 50 this year! It was overwhelming to see all these guys show up. I can look back over the years and actually recall the interactions we had together. They were not just bodies in a school I never bothered to know. For some, this was the first time I had seen them in 31 years. The consensus was I am the next to turn the big five-o which is startling since that does not happen until May. I am the third one in on the left in the featured image. I’d say that’s a pretty camera friendly shot!

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Pepsi-Cola Chops

I recently came back from a business trip to Atlanta.  One of the meals was a cola marinated beef.  So, I searched for some recipes and settled for one using pork chops. Since the chops were thin, I expected them to be on the dry side but they still had a delicious taste.  I would recommend using thicker chops or beef.  The marinade is simply cola, ketchup, and JD Master Blend in a 2:1:1 ratio. Bake covered. Add your favorite macaroni and cheese and serve it up!

 

Sweet Potato Tacos

I am closing out 2016 with a food post. I found this great recipe on simplyrecipes.com.

This was originally a meatless dinner but I added a little chicken. What a lively meal!  If you make this dish, you will certainly have friends talking.  This is a very healthy dinner open for your own enhancements.

The sweet potatoes really make this meal so take the time to season and cook them properly. I made a few changes. I did not add cumin. Instead, I added a pinch of cayenne pepper for some extra kick!

Next time, I will convert that slice of avocado into guacamole. I think that will hold everything in that taco better. Besides, is it not hard to get a ripe avocado right from the grocery?  I will experiment with swapping the cilantro since it is a little strong for my tastes.  Add a side of beans and rice and you have a beneficial meal.

 

Sundown Hill – Three

Chapter Three

After spending a half day at the veterinary clinic, Cooper was back home with several stitches and a wrapped leg.  The father, Rick, had plenty of time in the clinic’s waiting room to speculate about the black coyote.  He brought home all the ideas the townsfolk had in regards to this aggressive animal.  He gave an open invitation to anyone who may know how to track it.

“Are they going to shoot it?” pouted Maya.

“No. There will be no shooting around this household,” proclaimed Rick.  “I think it is a good idea for us to find the coyote and send it to a safer place.”

“It may have been spooked away from the refuge by a hunter,” said Sarah, Maya’s mom.

The Witchita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is one of the best kept secrets outside of southeastern Oklahoma.  The majestic acreage teeming with animals was just another reason the family moved to the state.  Maya called Cooper over and placed a blue and gold friendship bracelet on Cooper’s right leg as he gently licked the side of her face.

“That will help you heal faster,” said Maya with certainty.

A week had passed and the cold, morning air that crept through Maya’s window awakened her at last.  Autumn was arriving and she couldn’t rely on the sunlight to get her out of bed.  As she pushed the covers off with her feet, Cooper jumped to the floor.  Maya went over to close the window, brushed aside the loose-weave burlap curtain, and looked out to the rolling hills.  Today would be the day, she thought.  She could no longer deny the calling of Sundown Hill.  She went quietly down the stairs, opened one of the cabinets, and grabbed a pair of scissors out of the organizer.  Maya turned an ear to the stairs to make sure she had not stirred her mother to action.  She kneeled down, cut the wrapping off of Cooper’s leg, and tossed it into the trash.  They kept the dog food under the sink.  She poured out a small portion and filled the water bowl.  As Cooper began to eat, Maya grabbed a strawberry yogurt and had a quick breakfast.

“Come on, Cooper. Let’s sneak out before mom gets up.”

At the last second, she grabbed another yogurt and stuffed it into her backpack.  They made their way swiftly up to the hill.  Maya had no trouble locating the go tablet.  She placed her hand on Cooper’s head and touched the center of the nothingness.  However, at the last second, Cooper picked up the sound of mom’s callings and he lost contact with Maya.


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Maya found herself on a ridge trail looking outward to the valley below.  The golden yellow hues of the leaves and the lush greens of the grasses and conifers were weaved together in such a graceful way, Maya shivered out a tear.  She could see railroad tracks extending for miles alongside a river as they disappeared between two mountains.  Farther out, the mountains were topped with snow and the view brought her into the reality that it was quite cold.  There was no sight of a town or even a building.  In that moment, she recognized Cooper, her chaperone and her protector, was not there.  She thought it best to make her way down to the tracks.  The trip down the valley would take a few hours.

When she finally arrived at the railroad tracks, she remembered an old trick her father taught her to determine if a train was coming.  Looking forward, she placed her right ear on the railroad tie and listened.  There was nothing to hear or vibrations to be felt.  She walked for ten minutes, kneeled down and listened again.  This time, she thought she felt something like the shimmy of car with a rough idle. She turned her head the other way to listen.

“Ahh!” Maya lets out a long shriek.

The train was approaching from behind her.  She scrambled to her feet and began to calm down once she realized how slow the train was going. Still, it only took three or four minutes for the train to reach her and when it did the conductor blew the whistle loudly.  The sound was deafening and Maya covered her ears as she watched the engine pass by.  The brakes squeaked and sparked as the cars slowly moved along.  She noticed some of the railcars were branded with Canadian National.  Now she was certain she was in Canada.  The train was still moving too fast for Maya to try and cling to a ladder or hop into an open side door if she could find one.  She spotted one side door open some twenty cars behind her. Only one.  She started to jog along to time a jump.  Suddenly, the air behind her filled with the sound of a coyote’s cry.  Maya looked back and over her shoulder.  It was Old Duffy and he was closing in on her fast.  She stumbled and fell forward.  Her hands kept her from a complete fall and she started to run.  Looking to the left, she could see that one and only one open rail car.  She had to make a jump for it as the coyote was nearly upon her.  Just as she leaped, a man appeared at the doorway of the open railcar and extended his hand as far as he could.  Maya clenched on as Old Duffy grabbed the bottom hem of the jeans on her left leg.  The jeans tore away and Maya was safe inside the railcar.

“What’s a young girl like you doing out here in the wilderness of Alberta?” asked the stranger.

Looking up at the man, Maya noticed his silver eyes and says, “I’m here to help you.”

“Oh, really!” said the man. “How do you intend to do that?”

“First, tell me your name. I’m Maya.”

“I’m Wendell.”

“Well, my dad always said if you want help, you always have to tell people your story.  So, what’s your story, Wendell?”

“For many years, my brother and I were in business together. He owned most of the business. He was the brains and I was the workhorse.  We made custom cabinets. He passed and I did not have the skills to run the business.  The economy slowed down two years ago and the money stopped coming in. I’ve been riding trains ever since.”

“But why? Why not get another job,” Maya said confusingly.

“I wanted to see the beauty of nature before my time came instead of wasting my life in a small workshop,” Wendell’s voice grumbled to a close.  “Besides, jobs are scarce now.”

“I’ll find you a job when we get to the next town,” Maya defiantly exclaimed.

“First, we’ve got to bandage up that left hand of yours,” said Wendell.

Maya looked down at her hand to see the skin all scrambled up and bloodied from her fall while running to catch the train. She faints from the sight and Wendell sets her down gently on the wooden floor of the railcar.  Wendell wraps her hand with gauze and applies a safety pin to keep it on tight.

“You are very lucky to even be on the train,” said Wendell.

“How’s that?” said Maya.

“These days it’s hard to find a freight car with its doors open,” said Wendell. “The yard bulls do a good job of train inspection and keeping riders off of them.”

An outcrop of rocks dotted with scrub trees and bushes came into view.  As the train passed, Maya thought she saw Old Duffy sitting atop one of the boulders.  A minute or two later, Old Duffy darts from the edge of the woods and starts running toward the train.  He is now sprinting alongside the freight car.  Maya freezes in panic as she fears Old Duffy is going to make a jump for it. He does.  Now inside the freight car he heads straight for Wendell.  The coyote bites him on his left bicep.  Wendell lets out an angry yell and Maya shrieks as she awakens rattled.

“Whew! It was just a dream.”

“You keep resting, Maya. We are still hours away from Edmonton.

Chicken Casserole

I have been overdue for a cooking post. About a month ago, I tried my hand at my first casserole. I surfed the web for my best match. Then , I selected someone else’s improvements on the recipe. Well, as we all know, the first try at a new recipe is usually the first trial.  We all want to craft our dinners the way we like them, right? The right foods with the right seasonings. So, this is my second trial.  ChickSpagCassOf course, the dish was a big improvement and post worthy. The original recipe called for both cream of chicken and cream of mushroom. Well, I am not a big fan of mushroom but I was willing to give it a try. I did not like it. The flavor was too dominant and was cut from the recipe. I added a little more sour cream and some shredded cheddar jack cheese instead. I also added peas. I also swapped out egg noodles for thin spaghetti. The noodles ended up too mushy. The spaghetti was a big improvement. There is only one thing I would change to make it perfect. I would steam the broccoli and carrots for about five minutes prior to adding them to the baking dish. This way, they won’t be so crunchy. They were still good. Hey, they are vegetables no matter how you cook them (except overcooked)! This reminds me of the Friends episode where Rachael botched the Thanksgiving dessert by combining parts of English Trifle and Shepherd’s Pie ingredients but Joey liked it anyway! “What’s not to like”, he said.

So, my dish should actually be called Chicken Spaghetti Casserole with Vegetables.

The ingredients for a 2 quart casserole dish. Serves 2-3.

1 1/2 chicken breasts
1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
8 ounces of sour cream
2/3 cup of fat free milk
1/2 cup of Cheddar Jack cheese
3/4 cup Broccoli
One carrot
1/2 cup of peas
1/2 serving of spaghetti (judgement call!)
Pinch of black pepper
Healthy grind of garlic sea salt
Your choice of topping: buttery crackers or corn tortillas
One tablespoon melted butter for the topping

 

ChickSpagCassServedI am not going to go through the preparation instructions. It takes time but look at the results! Otherwise, I will be getting hungry for dinner again as I write this at 11:30 am! I would say it is a rather healthy meal. Exceptionally delicious. Served with garlic bread. One tip. Let the dish cool for about a half hour. This way, the meal will thicken and not be runny. Unless, that’s the way you like it!

 

Baby Glock

Short Fiction – Robert Miller purchased a baby Glock 26 at the gun show on Saturday.  He brought the gun home and set it on the kitchen table.  Alissa, his live-in girlfriend of two years, walked by to start dinner.  She confronted Robert because she did not like guns.  She would always argue about the statistics in other countries with greater gun controls.  He would always counter by pointing out the neighborhood, in fact the world, was not as safe as it used to be. Robert insisted it was for their safety. Alissa did not like how angry he became when they argued. They continued to argue off and on again for an hour.

A month passed and the two of them went to the park.  Robert brought his gun as he just received his concealed weapon permit.  Alissa was incensed.  The day was warmer than expected and Robert took off his fleece.  Alissa complained she did not like the gun bulging out from his tight shirt.  Unwillingly, he took off the gun and the holster, wrapped the fleece around it, then set it on the bench beside him.  They sat on the bench for some time.  Alissa was still bothered and got up to walk down to the pond.  Forgetting about the gun, Robert soon followed.  Returning to the bench, Robert realized his mistake.  The fleece had been unraveled and the gun was gone.  Alissa was happy the gun was gone and they argued for hours. The next day, the argument persisted and Alissa left Robert for good.

Six months later, Alissa and her friend Rebecca walked to the strip mall to get their hair and nails done. Alissa had moved on and today’s salon visit was to prepare them for the engagement party.  Rebecca’s two sons tagged along behind on their bicycles.  The boys, Dean and Dennis, stayed outside to ride their bicycles in the parking lot.  They notice a suspicious man toss something in the dumpster around the back of the building.  They fished through the dumpster and found the bag.  When they opened it, they were surprised to find a gun. Or, at least they thought it might be a gun. It seemed quite small to be real.  Neither one had held a gun before and it even felt too light.  They began to play with the gun.  They were unaware the gun did not have a safety.  Dean pointed the gun at imaginary robbers but never put his finger on the trigger.

Rebecca noticed her sons playing with what appears to be a gun.  She bolts outside to intervene.  As she walks toward them, she instructs Dean to make sure the safety button is on.  Dean looks quizzically at the gun and cannot determine what his mom is talking about.  Looking back at his mom with distraction he is unaware his finger is on the trigger. The guns fires.  The recoil knocks the gun out of Dean’s hand.  Dennis drops to the ground. Rebecca shrieks.  However, Dennis was just terrified of the sound.  She scolds both of them about the dangers of guns.  Rebecca walks back into the salon.  The stylist is on the floor and on her knees, bent over Alissa who is lying in a pool of blood. Alissa was declared dead at the scene.

Later, investigators determined the gun, indeed, was registered to Robert Miller.


 

I wrote this after being inspired by the movie Babel.  Yes, it took me about ten years to finally watch this film!  I think the movie could have a better and more dramatic ending. Would it not have been more interesting if Yasujiro and Susan were connected?  Perhaps, they had an affair and that would explain Yasujiro’s wife apparently committing suicide? Then, Yasujiro’s rifle ends up killing Susan. This would make a stronger connection to the events in Japan. Yes, Susan dying instead of eventually living. Another poor point of the movie is one is lead to believe Susan died until the end. Almost as if the producer changed his mind about the movie’s outcome and never did retakes. It is still a good movie about small actions and their consequences.

Thank You!

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Shouting out a big Thank You to all my followers!
I am burning the midnight oil to give back support.
There are so many interesting blogs and viewpoints out there.
You inspire me every day.

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Come on my Canadian neighbors, put down the hockey sticks!

 

 

New Food Adventures

Lately, I have been on a kick to try foods I have never eaten.  I think I am going to make a better effort to have some variety in my diet.  This inspiration also comes from all of you, especially, Diana of Toast and Tea Together.  She keeps us well supplied with foodie pictures. Of course, I have been known to torture her with some photos, too! This adventure began on December 2nd with sampling Pho Ga. During my four-day business trip, I tried items two and three. By Thursday, December 10th, I was so exhausted from travelling that I hardly ate anything. The next day I went to eat out for lunch because I now had a big appetite. That is where I tried Pad Thai.

NUMBER ONE

Pho Ga. I went to the closest Vietnamese restaurant and sampled this soup. It was fantastic! It had a nice, sweet onion flavor. I think that is the best way to describe it. The chicken was a little dry but at least there was a lot of it. Oops! Was I supposed to put those sprouts in and squeeze some lime into the bowl? Oh well. I was too fascinated with twirling the long rice noodles. Yeah, I am easily entertained. 🙂 A big thanks to Diana for this recommendation!

PhoGa1

NUMBER TWO

SweetwaterBBQTipsSweetWater BBQ Sirloin Tips.  Every year, I have to take a business trip to Atlanta, Georgia. The buffet style food we get served is really not that great. However, there seems to be a new food to try or two. This year, the caterers hit it big with the SweetWater marinade.  The SweetWater Brewing Company is local to the area. I do not know which ale they used in the marinade. The rest of the meal included wild rice and a vegetable medley. I have no idea what leafy greens made up the salad. I suspect it was spinach.

NUMBER THREE

Edamame. They are basically boiled and salted soy beans. Sure, I have had soy products before but not in this simplistic fashion. They were delicious! Just be careful not too eat too many! I enjoy all legumes and vegetables served hot. Once they cool down, they are not nearly as appetizing.

Edamame

NUMBER FOUR

Pad Thai. I absolutely love Thai food! 🙂  I miss going to a Thai restaurant since one of my friends really cannot afford it.  It has been a long time since I had a Thai dish and I don’t believe I sampled this one. I almost always get a dish based upon rice so I went for noodles this time. I have to confess that I did not go to a traditional restaurant. I went to the new Noodles & Company in town.

PadThai

The food was just good but not great.The flavor was HonestTeavery good but the noodles were a bit sticky. The dish could have used another vegetable.  I also had a side of cucumber and tomato salad. I tried the Honest Tea. That was some really good tea! I had never been to the chain restaurant before and one of the workers was very helpful with the selections. Notice in the picture that a piece of egg escaped my wrath!

 

So I hope this post gets everyone up and out to try some new things. Please share your sampling and toss me a back link or two!

Charles

 

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