Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Redux

We had a very relaxed Thanksgiving in Lafayette California.  Our Nephew and his wife were hosts.  Wife's brother and Wife (Husband and In the Sticks) were there from Ohio.  Of course the entire Daughter #1 clan were there along with a number of 1A's relatives.  I did not cooking which in some ways was good in that I was not all tired.  But on the other hand I suffered a bit of withdrawl.

I rectified that on Saturday when we were at the Nephew's again with hanging out.  The Nephew's kids and the #1's kids get along so well.  I processed the leftover turkey by making a stock from the bones, and a turkey tetrazzini (a baked pasta with a cream sauce from the stock, turkey and mushrooms).  A very chill, relaxed day with family.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks Giving

I give thanks for things large and small

I am thankful that each morning I have hot water and can shower in a world where clean water is a rare luxury.

I thank Wife for making me her partner and for having always accepted me for exactly who I am.

I'm thankful for my wonderful children who were patient enough wait until I got my act together and have turned into fully self-sufficient, productive adults and great partners and parents in their own right.

I'm thankful that my parents gave their absolute best to raising me and wanted only the best for me until their last breaths.

Thank you for my wonderful grandchildren who allow me to return to my own child state.

I'm so appreciative that I won the karma lottery and get to do my time in one of the richest, luxurious countries on earth where we have far more than we need.

Thank you for changing the one letter on my job skill code in my military orders that meant that I stayed in Alabama instead of having to go to Viet Nam.

Thanks for all the very near misses on the highway over the decades that could have led to injury or much worse.

Thanks also for all the mentors over the years who gave me the things I needed to grow and be productive in my work days.

Thank you Gurudev for Shaktipat and the discipline to stay with it.

Thanks for this transition that has allowed me to to drop the illusion of the importance of accomplishment and take a step toward deeper fulfillment.

And thanks for letting me pay back all that I've received by giving a piece of me and life to another.

I hope all of you have as much to be thankful for and can revel in that appreciation today.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Go West Old Folks, Go West

Daughter #1 wanted us to come to California for Thanksgiving.  One of our nephews lives in the same town and their parents (In the Sticks and G) were planning to go there too.  I don't like traveling on Thanksgiving...too many horror trips going up and down I-95 then years of schlepping across country by airplane.  But we decided to make it a 9 day driving trip to take the travel pressure off.

We're driving leisurely to Paso Robles first where we will do some wine buying.  Then going up to Salinas and our friends, Steve and Lady Di.  Finally it's on to Lafayette for four days of Thanksgiving and family.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Have A Dream

It was a pretty rough week.  I needed to go to Colorado Springs for business on Sunday and was going to drive.  But there was a lot of snow in the mountain passes and I at the last moment decided to fly to Denver and drive down to Colorado Springs.  But my rental car's windshield washing system was not operational and while I tootling at 70 mph down the highway I go to clean the muck of the windshield and it becomes opaque!  Really scary.  Fortunately I was able to pull of and use some snow to wash things off.

Then there was two long days of work, the return trip and two long days of work on Wednesday and Thursday.  On Thursday morning I'm clearly not feeling well and by Thursday evening and an evening event, I'm feeling feverish, cold and tired.  I left the event early went home and curled up under my Afghan and watched a Great Course on Geology (really good one I might add).  I went to sleep very early, around 9:30.

Around 2 AM or so, I had this dream.  I dreamed of noodle soup.  Not any noodle soup but the wonderfully flavorful, nourishing noodle soups I had in Singapore. Along with the soup there was this humongous shrimp, perfectly cooked so it was just translucent.  Have I mentioned that I can't ever remember having dreamed of food and food so specific and so real in flavor before?  Well I haven't.  After I awoke from the dream and went back to bed I was still remembering the flavor and getting very hungry.  I had to make myself an Asian style soup for lunch just to assuage the craving.

I had an acupuncture appointment this afternoon (I'm feeling much better thank you).  I had not eaten very healthfully in Colorado Springs and she deduced that the dream was my body craving good nourishment. 

Can't wait for the #2 Pu clan to get o Hong Kong so we can visit and get some of the real thing!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Creating The Monestary

In my last transition post a few weeks ago, I wrote about finally getting to my semi-retired state and the restructuring of my life an schedule.  As I've been immersing myself into that I've noticed that I have had a distinct desire to just be alone.  I've felt very little desire to interact with others.  I don't have any problem when I do interact.  It all can be very pleasant.  But no need to reach out and make that interaction happen.

At the same time, I am feeling very content doing all the little things that in the past would have been distractions from working.  Anything from doing chores around the house to spending all that time playing with grandchildren would have had an element of "I really need to be doing that work that is there." 

And there is more and more of a feeling of open-eyed meditation.  This is something that your supposed to be trying to achieve.  We think of meditation as something where we have to go into a quiet, dark, secluded place so we are not distracted by the world around us.  But as you continue to work and deepen your perception and strength, you are able to carry that meditative state around with you even while you're acting in the world.  That's called open-eyed meditation.  Being at home with Wife and doing our daily life together is an environment where it is very easy to get into the open eyed meditation state.

This was all a bit puzzling to me.  Why didn't I want to be with anyone?  Why did I want to be alone?  Why was I so content doing all these little things that never held any interest for me before?

I had the realization that I had in fact created my own personal monastery.  What is a monastery but a place where people go to get away from distraction, to be able to contemplate, meditate, and pray.  And monastic life always contains the work component.  It acknowledges the value of work without having an attachment to what work it is or the outcome of the work. 

Fortunately, the de-I monastic order is NOT one of these real austere ones.  We still believe in a bit of wine each day :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beware the Droolasaur

It's quite possible that you do not frequent the habitat of the Droolasaur.  And if so you would be unaware of the hazards that await the unwary.  The Droolasaur is one of a number of predators that make use of a combination of camouflage and biological warfare to bring down its prey. 

It starts by looking oh sooooo cute

See you'd never suspect that that drool is in fact carry highly contagious organisms.  Much like the Komodo Dragon which will just give a slight wound and the wait for the disease in its saliva to sicke the prey, the Droolasaur makes you just want to pick it up and cuddle it and moosh it all lovee dovee while in fact it is passing on its infectious diseases.

See.  Here's the Droolasaur in action,
The woman below is fully sucked into the total cuteness

But after just a short contact she's already feeling the effects of the infection as the Droolasaur moves to let the agent do its work.

This may be a very long way of saying I came back from Pulandia with a cold I got from 2.4.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

de-I Sandia Outfitters - Sheneadoah Valley Edition

The Pu Clan was anxious to show us Skyline Drive in the Virginia Shenandoah Valley.  It was Armistice Day so the kids were off from school.  It's about an hour and a half from Falls Church where the Pu's live.  The weather couldn't have been any better in the mid-60's, dry and sunny.

We went for a lovely mile and a half hike and then went to a place called the Apple House in Linden VA near Front Royale for a late lunch noted for their great fresh all the time apple donuts.

The Shenandoah Valley

Wife and Photographic Apprentice 2.2

#2, 2B and 2.4 getting ready to move out.
"Did you say there were bears here de-I?"

A relatively successful family pose.
At least I got the parents looking at the camera

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, I don't believe we're bear fodder on the go.

2B, 2.4 and Moi 
(Only took Wife 20 pictures to get baby looking at camera!)

Famous Apple Donuts
Every bit as good as promoted!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Promoting Pulandia As A Destination Spot

The excitement never ends when you book your vacation at PULANDIA - Country of Mystery.

Join One of Our Adventure Guides 

Indiana 2.3

Get Friendly with the Locals

"Hi there.  Aren't you sweet!"

"Out of my way Lady.  I got places to go."

Gastronomy Awaits

"I didn't tell you there's no heating here?"

Get to Experience Working at a Real Rock Bush Plantation

Don't Forget the Full "Buffalo Bills" Experience
(Complete with end of game collapse)

But Don't Run Afoul of the Local Laws!

Friendly Natives Are There to Greet You Everywhere

Colorful Markets

Pulandia is Noted for Its Sheep Noodles

But Beware of Beggars Looking for Fries!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Back in Pulandia

We're taking trip into the magical land of Pulandia to see the Venerable Pu (#2) and their clan.  They will be heading out to Hong Kong in January so we really want to get as much time with them as possible.

We flew in Sunday and the Magical Unicorn Pony God of Travel was laying low.  I actually suspect that she had a deceptive trick up her hoof.  Our first leg flight to Houston was over sold.  They'd offered $150 on Thursday night to change.  It was upped to $350, then $450, and finally $550 before someone snapped it up.  Wife and I discussed it but only one of us would have gotten the change and we decided it was too important to chance getting way delayed.

I made sure to buy some of the inflatable swords as soon as I got here for engaging with 2.3.  There's already been lots of grandkid time with all three (oldest - 2.1 - is away at boarding school) and we went out to dinner with #2 and 2B last night.  We went to a steak place in Arlington.  Again the price value was way better than anything we see in Albuquerque.

Today, for the first time ever, I get to experience the 2B, Buffalo Bills, Game Day experience!

Hang on to your hats.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

de_I's Helpful Hints To A Successful Marriage - # 16,482

So how does a mellow, easy to get along with, non-opinionated, go with the flow type of guy like de-I keep his lovely Wife happy and content?  Well he pays attention to subtle hints that maybe doing things in a certain way may be inadvertently getting the wrong reaction from said Wife.

When we redid the kitchen we exchanged our ceramic topped electric stove for a nice responsive gas one.  Yes it did take quite a bit more effort to clean the new stove top than the old one but what a small price to pay for the greater cooking efficiency, right? 

Oh, did I forget to mention that in our division of labor, I do the cooking and almost NEVER do the cleaning up afterwards?  Well Wife who does the cleaning didn't quite see things the same way.  After one particular messy post meal clean up she made some mention that couldn't I do something so that the fat spattering didn't go all over the rest of the stove?

The result -

The Solution

This actually works really well (truth be told Wife thought of it).

Happy Wife.  Happy Life.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chicken + Scallions + Capers = Salad Dressing???

This is a tale of culinary transformation.

A couple of years ago, we had friends over to make pizza.  I wanted something other than just a red sauce pizza.  I had some salted capers on hand.  I figured I could saute them with some scallions and a little red pepper flakes and then add some pre-cooked chicken.  It turned out pretty tasty so I put it on the pizza with a combination of cheeses to make a sort of white, chicken pizza.  The whole package was pretty tasty.

Over the ensuing years, I've gotten this little flavor mixture down pat.  I've done it with regular capers and it comes out just as well and with fresh chicken instead of pre-cooked as well.  I had whipped up a batch of this scallion-caper-chicken for our pizza experiment night a few weeks back and ended up with quite a bit left over.

On the Sunday following the pizza night, Wife and I were making our regular big ass salad for lunch and out of the blue she asks, "Could you make a salad dressing from the chicken stuff we had on the pizza?"  I'm like, "Chicken salad dress?"  Really?"  She was insistent.  "I really like that flavor."  So I thought about it.  I started out with some of the basics of a vinaigrette putting some Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and olive oil in a blender.  Then I added some of the chicken mixture and blended away.  You know what?  It was pretty darn good.  I thought it needed something to soften it slightly and having some half and half around popped a little dose of that.  Presto, just what was needed.  It came out like a ranch dressing that was deeper in flavor.  It was pretty hard to distinguish any chicken flavor.

Who would have thought, chicken salad dressing.