Happy Birthday, Bud

birthday cakeIn one week, my little brother will be fifty-one(!) years old.

My birthday is twelve days before his special day.  For a million years, he would send me a twenty-dollar bill in a card, and a week later I would mail his card with a twenty in it.  Sometimes it was the very same twenty.

But, one year I had a thought.  What if we stopped the transfer of funds, and tried something new?  When it came time for Bud to send me the annual twenty, I gave my little brother a hundred dollar Monopoly bill (Hey, it’s pretend cash, we might as well go for it).  He could write happy B-day, sign and date it.monopoly hundredMy mom was not on board at first.  But we liked it, and it was our special little tradition.  In three years, the first bill got filled up, so we just took a new Monopoly C-note and stapled it to the first.  This year is the fourteenth year.  Other than a kinda sweet, kinda sappy sibling tradition thing, I love it for a far more important reason.

Bud has the later birthday so, when I send it to him, he’s got to hold on to it for a year.  I only have to keep if safe for about a week before I mail it to him.  If I had to hold onto it for a year, our sweet little tradition would have been a one and done.mailmanEach year we try to find cards that are so rude (Not dirty, just extra snarky), the only person you could send it to is a sibling—they already know you’re a jerk.  Shoot, they had a hand in molding your clay into jerk-like form.

This year my card from him advised me to hold on to all the wax from my candles as there would be enough to wax both my legs and my mustache.lady mustache 2Shows how much he knows; my mustache has gone gray, so I don’t have to wax it anymore.

He was born when we were stationed in Mobile.  When my parents brought him home from the hospital, they brought me a baton.

At the time, I liked the baton better.majoretteI had a few lessons in twirling, but I was never very good at.  It did come in useful when I wanted to whack something or someone on the head—not to hurt them, just to get their attention.

He grew up to be a mechanical engineer, but since birth my brother’s loved to tinker.  We were all sitting around one night watching TV when Bud was about three.  Suddenly, the coffee table collapsed, scaring the bejesus out of us all.  He’d removed all the screws from it, because he could.fixitWhen I was in college, I had some minor surgery.  One evening my folks came to visit me in the hospital, having left my fourteen-year-old brother at home.  The next night when they visited, they told me that the mirror in the bathroom my brother and I shared had shattered.  Nobody knew what had happened, but it was completely busted when they got home.

I looked over at Bud, who had accompanied them.blowtorch“Were you trying to make a blow torch?”

He’d been contemplating his shoes.  He looked up at me, with a sheepish expression, and no eyebrows.  I busted out laughing.

live and let die

“No, Mr. Bond.  I expect you to die.”

He’d seen the Bond movie, ‘Live and Let Die’. In it, 007 made a homemade weapon to kill a tarantula (that’s all the info you get from me; google it or rent the movie).  When my little bro gave it a go, he’d happened to have it aimed at the mirror, and the glass did what it does when subjected to open flame.

He actually did become an engineer.

Happy birthday, Bud.

glennieThanks for your time.

This Little Piggy Went To Market

It’s been a pretty awesome week.Last Friday was my birthday, with all the obscenely frosted cake that it implies.  Then, Wednesday was the first afternoon market of the year at the Durham Farmers’ Market.

Petey worked just about his whole nursing career on the third shift, from 7PM to 7AM, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  And, I’ve something to say about folks who work the night shift.

One Tuesday morning my mom called about 9:30 to check on The Kid, who’d been up in school in Vermont a couple months. She woke us.

It wasn’t the first time, or the second, and I got a little snappish.  And so did Mom.

First, she called me a “lazy thing”, for being asleep at that time.  I explained we’d gone to bed at 3AM.  So, she asked why Petey and I didn’t go to bed earlier on Mondays.  Because when Petey had gotten home from work on Monday morning, he was exhausted and slept until 4PM.And if he switched his sleep to a more conventional schedule every Monday, he’d have to flip it back at the end of the week.  And, I’m no sleep expert, but I’m guessing that after a couple months of poking his circadian rhythm with a sharp stick, he’d be insane or dead.

I will end with this entreaty.  If you know someone who works when the rest of the world is sleeping, have a heart.  Don’t visit during the day.  Don’t ask them to give you a ride, or babysit, or be functional at 1:00 in the afternoon.  It is the same as someone showing up at your house at 3AM on a Wednesday to try to get you to have pizza and binge watch “Stranger Things”.So, have a heart.  That person you don’t bug when you think they should be out and about in the middle of the day might be the person manning the emergency room when Grandma falls and breaks her wrist on a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Anyway.

My point was that the Saturday farmers’ markets are just too early for some (me).  Which is why the Wednesday market makes me so very happy.This year, there’s a plan: each time I visit, I will purchase food that I’ve neither cooked, nor eaten.  I will then pick the brains of both the farmer, and fellow buyers as to preparation.

Last Wednesday, I bought escarole.  It’s a bitter green beloved by Italians and is big in bean dishes and Italian wedding soup.  I chose to sauté it.

Garlic Lemon Escarole

escarole

4 slices bacon, cooked crispy and reserve 1 tablespoon of grease

4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half

2 large bunches of escarole

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup toasted pistachios

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Salt & pepper

Wash escarole by filling sink with cold water.  Swish each bunch and drop into water.  The detritus will drop to bottom of sink.  Wait a few minutes then gently remove escarole without disturbing dirt.

While escarole is soaking put garlic into large skillet with bacon grease and cook on medium-low until garlic browns.  Remove garlic and set aside.  Turn to medium.

Pat dry.  Cut into 2-inch pieces. add to skillet, and cover.  Cook 8 minutes or so until completely wilted.

Remove cover, stir in pepper flakes and pistachios, then cook until tender (5-7 minutes).

Take off heat and stir in lemon juice.  Season, taste and season again, if needed.Plate and top with browned garlic and crumbled crispy bacon.  Serves 4.

Thanks for your time

French Market Bag Pattern by Two of Wands

Birthday Sweet

Who knew death row inmates were so enamored with Pizza Hutt?

I googled “Last Meals” and got 5.3 million returns.

Whether it’s a condemned prisoner, a celebrity interview question, or a parlor game, one’s choice of last meal fascinates.  Unfortunately, the only way to literally preplan your final feast involves either suicide (Hitler and Eva Braun had pasta), or execution (Ted Bundy had steak, eggs over easy, and hash browns).There are lists of the actual last meals of celebrities—not planned deaths, but spontaneous.  Some are mundane to the point of sadness (JFK: boiled eggs and toast, Jimi Hendrix: tuna sandwich).  Some possibly hints at the “why” of the death (Elvis: four scoops of ice cream and half a dozen cookies, James Gandolfini: lots of liquor, two orders of fried shrimp and a full plate of fatty goose liver). And some are their personalities on a plate (Princess Diana: Dover sole, and an asparagus omelet, Julia Child: French onion soup).  And some are just head scratchers; I never would have pegged John Lennon as a Reuben fan.

I’d honestly assumed he was a vegetarian…not a fellow corned beef hound.

In the convict category, there’s a whole lot of pizza, KFC, soda and ice cream.  It sounds like a ten-year-old planned the menu; which makes sense, if you think about it.  These guys are looking at the end of their life.  They want to be as far away from ‘the now’ as possible.  So, they go to their childhood, before it all went wrong.  The backgrounds and palates of convicted killers don’t normally run to fine dining and fancy, expensive ingredients.But the whole subject is a real bummer.  Under normal circumstances, my personality and outlook could give Shirley Temple diabetes.  So, I think a better and happier question that sheds even more light on a person is their birthday dinner.  It’s usually a combination of childhood favorites and flavors and foods discovered along the way.When I have food chats with folks, almost everybody smiles and has a menu already in mind, as well as the dessert (overwhelmingly it’s chocolate cake).

#1-They don’t care about the menu for their birthday dinner.

But if someone tells you they don’t care, or it doesn’t matter as long as they are celebrating with family, just smile and carefully back away.  These anomalies have a screw loose and are mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

My birthday is Friday, and my dinner of choice just screams spring and, “Call 911!”.  If I ate it more than once a year, it would probably stop my heart before long.Crispy-fried boneless chicken breast smothered in extra lemony Hollandaise, potato salad studded with lots of crispy bacon, and fat fresh asparagus steamed and drizzled with butter.My dessert is a large corner piece of Dewey’s cake with extra frosting.  And you’re welcome to a piece, but don’t be coming around looking for another corner, ‘cause it ain’t happening, and the request itself would very likely end a friendship.

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This is the 2018 Birthday cake.  The frosting/cake ratio is approximately 1:1–a very good year.

Even Petey knows to tread lightly around my birthday cake.  My love for my spouse is so deep that sometimes I even offer him a corner.  Petey’s love is so deep that he usually turns it down.I know this all sounds really bad, but if you ask anyone that knows me well, they will tell you that this behavior is a true deviation of my normal personality.  I am normally the soul of generosity.

I would gladly take you to the airport and/or help you move.  I would honestly give you one of my kidneys if you needed one.  If you’re hungry I’ll feed you.

But if you take the last piece of my birthday cake, we’ll soon be talking about your last meal.Thanks for your time.