Visitor to the estate

“Look out the window,” my mom shouted to me. I looked, saw nothing. “You won’t believe this!”

I was unable to figure out what in the world she was talking about – after all, my view out the window includes the pool area and some of the patio, and other than the heat waves radiating off everything, there was nothing extraordinary going on out there.

So I thought.

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More free tips from tech support

1. When we tell you to log into your control panel, this means YOUR control panel. Not the demo account. Not ours. Yours. It’s not a mystery to us as it is to you why you can’t log in if you’re not trying to log in at the right place.

2. Don’t be surprised when we take major offense to your suggestion that we’re not providing the services for which you’ve paid. And don’t think for a minute we’ve misinterpreted your remark and act indignant when we call you on something. If there’s one thing that my time on the brink with cancer taught me, it’s that people spend far too much time just rattling off whatever comes into their tiny brains than thinking about what they’re about to say.

3. If you’re going to sign your emails with the title “web designer” then maybe you should learn some rudiments about actually doing just that. Like properly uploading files to your web folder instead of opening a ticket, telling us you have done just that, and then letting us find that you didn’t. Furthermore, don’t open yet another ticket saying that you can’t figure out how to get files there and then blithely say you’ll just upload them and let us move them each time.

4. When you open a ticket, and we respond to it – and can see that you did receive the response – don’t open yet another ticket, on the same issue, acting as if you didn’t receive that response. The answer isn’t going to change.

5. Finally, don’t ask us when we’re going to change something “as other competitive web hosts are doing” because you don’t want to pay more than you’re paying. There’s a reason people leave our service to go to one of those “competitive” services offering everything in the world for just a couple of bucks a month and then suddenly reappear on our doorstep. In one case, that boomerang lasted less than 24 hours.

That is all.

Leaving your mark

You should always leave your mark on the world, even if it is meant to be fleeting and ethereal.

After the rains came and went, I walked the property in bare feet. I finally killed my old boots a couple of weeks ago and haven’t replaced them, and sometimes you just need to feel the dirt and sand squish between your toes. This footprint lasted a couple of days before it finally vanished into the soil completely.

Life goes on, and my sister the vegetarian requested sub rolls so she could make her veggie subs for lunches while she attends classes every single day. I’ve never made sub rolls, but that doesn’t really stop me from doing much of anything, so I took my tried and true italian bread recipe and adjusted it.

Individual balls of dough, each around four ounces.

The rolls, formed and proofed.

Fresh from baking on the stone.

Cooled, ready for immediate use and also for freezing.

The Boy tells me today I need to make baguettes for french bread pizzas. Hey, I said, there are these rolls in the freezer that haven’t been used yet…

The trouble with barbeque

“Trouble” might be too strong a word, really. It’s more of a minor inconvenience.

The problem is this: the large smoker – which, by the way, I adore – is more suitable for large jobs. A wide expanse of grill area, a large smoker box: it’s perfect for smoking 40 pounds of ribs at a time. Or even about 20. But the smoker is fickle. It also requires babysitting, to keep the fire fed and to try to keep the temperature in the desired range. Things that take quite a long time to smoke, like a pork butt, which can take up to 18 hours, require a lot of fuel and a lot of attention every 20 minutes to keep things where they should be. If the weather changes abruptly, as when a sudden storm rolls up from the west, bringing much cooler with it, even more adjustments have to be made to keep the smoker aimed at its target. In addition to that, for smaller jobs like the aforementioned pork butt, or if I wanted to smoke a chicken or small turkey, or anything else, it leads to a lot of waste (of heat, of fuel, of time) for a smaller portion. This is why we as a family don’t have homemade barbeque more often. And forget about cold smoking anything, like bacon or sausages or fish. It just isn’t suitable for that kind of job.

Continue reading The trouble with barbeque

Gonna be a hot one tonight

Throughout May, there was always a fire burning somewhere in the general area: the huge fire on the GA border that jumped down into Florida, smaller fires in counties around us, a fire in the uncleared area at the commerce center about eight miles away, and at various other location, in various sizes. Late one afternoon, looking off into the distance, we spotted the distinct plume of another brush fire. This one, though, was only about 4-5 miles away, and the wind was blowing in our general direction.

I couldn’t resist. I grabbed the camera, jumped in my car, and went off to find it. Didn’t take much work to do that, since I could already tell where it was.

It was described as a “small but fast-moving brush fire” on the news. This road has houses on it, and when I got there, at one of the last houses on the road, a woman and her kids were sitting on their front step. On their roof was a sprinkler, wetting down the shingles in case the wind picked up embers and tossed them there. The end of the road was closed, but no one was evacuated and the fire was contained very quickly, thankfully – so quickly, in fact, that we never even received any ash falling on the property, as we have with other fires that have burned in the area.

Get your bake on

So, we had our Memorial Day bash on the 27th of May. Remarkably, I took not one picture the entire day of any of the food. One of the reasons for that was because it all disappeared so quickly: about 35 pounds of ribs, 8 pounds of shrimp, a dozen and a half each burgers and dogs, cole slaw, two trays of broccoli gratin, potato salad, carrot cake, homemade bread and butter pickles, corn on the cob, baked beans, and on and on. Unlike last year, it didn’t rain. However, also unlike last year, suddenly, out of nowhere, we had flies everywhere. For three weeks, we’d seen not one of the pesky flying bugs. That day, they were everywhere, and a gigantic pain in the ass. Other than that, the sun was out, the sky was clear, the company was pleasant, and everyone had a great time. And, to top it all off, my aunt Julie flew down from Baltimore for an overnighter to be with us for the party. Everyone finally cleared out around 1 AM, we cleaned up the remainder of the party stuff, and hit the sack.

The next day – well, who needs words?

Continue reading Get your bake on

Barn-raising in modern times

We’ve all seen the movies where someone is putting up a barn and the entire community comes out to help get the structure built. In most of the films I’ve seen, that community is either homesteaders out on the plains of the wide open west or an Amish community. In both cases, the men did all the manly man stuff and the women made lunch and brought them water. It took a day (or two), and in the end, the farmer or homesteader had a nice new barn.

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Big sky, little town

Today is a gloomy, gray day, with rain threatening, and completely unsuitable for working outdoors. Of course, since we are getting into the rainy season, each afternoon has been turning dark and stormy, with rain coming down in amounts anywhere from sprinkles to downpours that result in visibility reduced to halfway up the front of the property.

When the rains came after a couple of months of no rain at all, we were happy. It saves the trouble of watering, and the ground definitely needs it. But there are Issues, as we say. And we’ll get to those. First, we’re going to back up a bit, and wander back into May.

It’s a (very) small town here. Small enough that the actual town in which we live doesn’t have its own post office. The nearest PO is in another pretty small town.

Continue reading Big sky, little town