Sunday, July 5, 2015

John Speaks

Well, after 5 years of blogging and 35 years of marriage, Kim finally asked me to say a few words.

Wedding Day

(Even after all these years of marriage, Kim still introduces me as her first husband). 

Once upon a time, I had her convinced that I looked like Brad Pitt. Then she got these glasses.

As you probably know already, I enjoy golf and cooking.  Kim tolerates both of these hobbies - especially the cooking. I mean, the girl can really pack it away!

Speaking of golf.  Oh, we weren't?  Well anyway ... one of my fondest golf memories was a round at McCahey’s Point in Ireland. I was paired with a couple of older Irish gents who initially called me Mr. Raines. Then John. Then Johnny. 

On the back nine, I shanked a 5-iron, got upset, and started to throw the offending club. Then one of the old guys puts a hand on my shoulder and says softly: Johnny, golf is like sex. You don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it. 

I’ve always remembered that and, since then, have never gotten angry on the course.

In case any of you are curious about Mister Kimbo Polo, here’s a helpful FAQ.

Q: What do you do while Kim is away?
A:  Try new recipes, take care of Doris, and play golf.

Q: What do you do while Kim is home? 
A: Try new recipes, take of Doris, and play golf.

Q: Do you plan to travel in the future?
A: Answer cloudy, ask again later.

Q: How do you feel about your wife being gone for months at a time? 
A: I miss her, of course. But I know she is having a blast, and that makes me happy.

Q: Do you really look like Brad Pitt? 
A: No, not at all. Brad Pitt looks like me.

Q: When will you retire? 
A: January! When that happens, I’ll have nothing to do ... and I can’t wait to get started!

Q: Anything else you'd like to say? 
A: Yeah. Hey - all you guys out there - BACK OFF! She’s taken!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Greetings from the Surface of the Sun!

Aside from the insufferable heat, there’s little to blog about.  As usual, we've been doing a lot of this.

And this.  

A perfect Happy Hour calls for a Perfect Manhattan.  Don't forget the cherry!

We anticipate that this wicked heat wave will pass soon so the usual stifling swamp conditions can return. Staying inside with the doors firmly sealed and the A/C blasting is the only solution. Here, I'm doing a welfare-check on the poor hibiscus from the climate-controlled comfort of the living room. 

Be afraid.  Very afraid.

On a positive note, there is one good thing about summer in the Deep South. The best tomatoes on planet Earth!

Last week John discovered Asian ground bean sauce.  

Holy Moly, is it good!  Add it to stir fry for a depth of flavor that will blow your mind.  We've tried it with both beef and chicken so far.

My favorite chef.

In an effort to keep the house cool, I made cowboy potatoes for our weekend grill. Remember this old camping recipe?  

Place sliced spuds and onion on a sheet of aluminum foil.  Top with some thin slices of butter, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  

Wrap tightly in the foil and cook on the grill for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Great with a side of stir-fried garlic beans and grilled rib-eye.  

BTW, for new folks who come here to read a blog about a girl who travels the U.S. in her camper van …. stay tuned.  I’ll be leaving in less than 3 weeks for a grand Summer/Fall adventure. 

Ahhhh, it feels 20 degrees cooler just looking at that web photo!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Fun

Trip Planning

Sometimes I get a bit distracted. 

Produce Section

Whenever I photograph vegetables, I always think of the Sandy Dennis character in The Four Seasons. It's a little disturbing.

Staying Cool

Nothing much to report other than just striving to beat the heat as wicked Summer has her way with us. On this day, the heat index was 112.  Oy.

This helps.

Even in this inhospitable climate, life IS good!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Looking Forward

Plans are coming together for summer in The Rockies and fall in the National Parks of southern Utah.

Here's one possible boondocking spot:

Every time I begin an online exploration about the towns we want to visit, I end up with a best-burger scouting report.  Yep, my research doctorate is really paying off now!

Speaking of food, all is well here – fat + happy pretty much covers it. John made these insanely delicious bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos yesterday.  

The secret, I think, is using pineapple cream cheese.  The sweet is a nice contrast for the heat of the peppers. 

Sweet and spicy - just like Doris!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Slow News Week

Greeting from the Swampy Southeast.  It’s 97 degrees.  With 40% humidity, that translates to 105.

But it's only for 5 more months!

"I want the air-conditioner!!!"

Time Capsule

My friend, Leslie, sent me an envelope full of blasts from the past.  Like this bumper-sticker.

And this note from me to her.  The kind of thing we used to do in junior high and high school; you know, instead of paying attention in class.

President Nixon is announcing that the crime rate in Washington DC has decreased significantly since all the politicians have resigned from office. 

Not a bad likeness of Richard Nixon if I do say so myself – right down to the jowls and shifty eyes. Thanks Leslie!


Good friend Liz has been visiting this week from Wyoming.  We’ve had a lot of fun with good wine, good people, and good food.  

Daughter Elle and fiance Phill

John and Liz go waaaay back to Liz's freshman year here at Auburn.  This evening, they are discussing either old times or John’s most recent golf round. 

Doris, who loves company, looks on. 

Here’s an odd still-life arrangement on our kitchen counter. Gotta love the weird juxtaposition of produce, vinegar, and sunscreen.  


Of course, no post would be complete without a food foto.  This time the salmon was grilled. 

I’m happy to say this week should be the least hectic one since I got back from the last trip – a welcome development. I have a few more must-dos to tackle before heading west sometime in July.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Thoughts on Some-Timing

One surprising development in this semi-nomadic life of mine is realizing how much work there is to do when I'm home (a total of 5 months in the past 12). 

It makes sense. After all, when you pack a year's worth of to-do lists into 4-5 months, time contracts.  In other words, you are busy. That possibility never occurred to me until it happened.  


Crap! It's almost time to leave again!

When I’m on the road, there is little I have to do aside from routine chores like filling and dumping tanks and re-provisioning. Occasionally I’ll need to wash the GDB, maybe air up the tires, or get a propane refill.  

But mostly ... it's a lot of this.

On a typical non-travel day, I get up, make breakfast, check in with my students, work the crossword, and then set out for adventure – maybe hiking, shopping, sightseeing, or researching a new burger joint.  

Then it’s time for Happy Hour, a call home, then dinner.  I spend the evenings completing classroom work, blogging, and reading.  

But when I’m home, it’s wall-to-wall busy.  For example, this week, I had 3 appointments and we also traded cars. 

And then there is child-care. 

"What have you done for me lately?"

It’s a completely schizophrenic way to live. 

And I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

BTW, we are no longer a 2-convertible family.  Here’s the new conveyance - an exceedingly practical RAV4.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fix, Foot, Food

The Fix
On Monday, I took the Good Deal Bus out of the stable for a 30-mile trek to meet my friend, Debra, for lunch.  Within a 20-minute period, I experienced 3 mishaps.  I scraped the ground effects on a severely inclined roadway entrance.  

Web Photo showing the location of the contact.

Imagine the sound of the iceberg ripping the Titanic open along its steel hull  Fortunately, the only damage was cosmetic and not a mangled battery compartment as I had feared.   

Next this warning light came on.  

I had done my usual pre-flight check before leaving home and the tire pressures were good.  Now the read-out on the left rear tire is not operational.  It took me a minute to figure out it was an instrumentation problem and not a blow-out waiting to happen.

Then I got lost. 

An eventful 20-minutes, but still waaay better than a good Monday at the office!

After lunch I found a nearby Chevy dealer that got the poor GDB right into the exam room.  

The diagnosis: the tire sensor battery was dead.  The dealer had a replacement in stock and an hour and $157 later, the GDB was rolling again.  With a passenger car, I wouldn’t have bothered replacing the sensor but the GDB weighs 9,000 pounds so tire pressure is much more critical. 

The Foot

I woke up one morning last week and couldn’t walk due to intense pain with weight-bearing in the ball of the right foot.  It feels like trodding barefoot over rocks. Ouch.  Right there.  

A visit to a specialist revealed a diagnosis of a neuroma – an benign enlargement of the nerve, something that occurs with age.  Unfortunately, it’s a chronic condition but can be alleviated by cushions and anesthetic cream.  Does anyone else have this? Any advice? 

My biggest fear is that my ability to hike may be affected. The MD reassured me that with the right cushioning and a little luck, hiking shouldn’t be a problem. I haven’t tried walking in my hiking boots yet, but am choosing to be optimistic that I can still scale some mountains this summer.

The Food

We are continuing with our string of new recipe successes! John found this one for Ribs with BlackVinegar Sauce. 

Oh my. 

The ribs turned out sticky and luscious – similar to what you hope for with Korean BBQ.  I developed a special love for Korean BBQ in NYC – a love that remained unrequited, until now. 

I knew we were meant to be together!