Monday, March 25, 2024



I found this boneless prime rib buried in the back lower corner of the freezer last week. Had forgotten about it months ago. Why not try it on the new pellet grill?

Salt, pepper and garlic cloves pushed into the top layer. First hour at 230°F, second hour at 250°F and finished at 300°F. Pulled it at 127°F internal temperature and carved at 130°F. Three and a half hours in total.

Rare and perfect for my wife. She will eat raw hamburger while patting out patties. When she says she prefers her beef rare, I know to deliver it "not done" according to my liking of medium rare. 

A success yes! But will try to sear the next one for that crisp bark and the first half inch underneath medium well.




Last year, we hired a lawn crew to help us with yard work. My wife was recovering from hip replacement and not having to worry about the extra outside summer work was a big help for me.

This year, we are doing it ourselves. Usually takes two days. The outside yard work gets us out of the house and provides plenty of exercise. Plus, we get to take our time working the yard and garden area at our leisure and the opportunity to fine-tune little things. Then, there are the moments sitting in our chairs inside the car port surveying the results of our labor.

We stopped into a larger town Home Depot this past week only to find all of the weedeaters and similar items behind locked barred cabinets. All that used to be out for the looking and inspecting, is now only available with help from an employee. 

We learned that theft is on the rise to such a degree that the only way stores can control this uptick in theft is by putting items behind locked cages. And, the new weedeater we chose was taken to the check outdesk, not left in our basket as we shopped for other items.

Seeing this first hand puts a stamp of reality on the times we are living in.



The color on this blooming canna lilly caught my eye, but trying to bring that to life here in a photo is not working. Some work in photo-editing, but the clarity and pop of the red flower is lost. And it looks different on my laptop screen compared to the other larger computer screen I use. 

While adjusting the red, I have lost the greens and then thought I best quit. And the resolutions between the two different computer screen presentations?

These blooming flowers are magnificent. Moving on.




A neighbor gal who is my wife's best friend came over Saturday morning to help plant our front gate entrance flower container. 

I parked the side-by-side inside the fence and watched these two gals get lost in the artistic world of flower arranging. And they were lost. 

"Petunias, purple fountain grass, creeping jenny, and a yellow flower they liked because it was pretty." 

The small plants were set in place, re-set and arranged countless times. I would listen to them visiting and watched the depth to which they were taken in their artistic world. Very serious, visiting and laughing. No other world existed in this timespan.

When they found the exact arrangement combination, my wife was given the duty of filling in between the flowers with small scoops of dirt. Her friend would adjust each scoop, tucking and filling with loving care. Their visiting never ceased. 

I was sent to mix more dirt for the second container. 

When completed, they both walked to the road in front of the gate, hands on hips, heads tilting and visualizing the flowers in their growth weeks and months from now. A matter of fact remark was made that any of the flowers can easily be replaced if that individual does not live up to expectations. Heads turned often to their masterpieces as they picked up tools and set the job site to completion.

I thought that guys do the same things when working on projects. Our conversations are much different but our head turning and observing a final "build or repair" is similar. We will also pull a couple chairs and quietly look at our work. Also impossible for us to keep heads turning towards our "master piece" as we clean up our tools and mess made. 

Men and women get lost in such things and it is good!



 "11 degrees and 25 mph wind." Mother nature decided to add 17" of snow a few days later.



Over this past month, I have been spending more time grazing headlines and little to no time reading content. It is all the same. Even the most outrageous seems to glance off any caring or depth of concern I have. Am I numb? 

I turn to You Tube shorts and even there go so fast that I can cover dozens of posts in a few minutes. Many of the same people doing the same thing for content. Out of a hundred sites pulled up, I stay with two or three through the full quick video. I give each video a full second to grab my attention before I click on. 

How hard some of these folks work day after day to churn out content!   

I am willing to accept the fact that "it is me." I am the problem. Because I do not get all of this is not the fault of the places I visit. I think there is a message here. 

Appreciate your visit this week. Easter coming next weekend. Plan some time with family and other folks you care about. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024


First cup of morning chocolate coffee is the same cup of coffee brought to me every morning. A routine. My wife does this for me out of love, caring and habit. The moment also is accompanied by jibber jabber of the day ahead and her morning weather report from just having gone outside to feed the cats. Quite often, I comment that the coffee is supreme. Just supreme! She says that it is the same first cup of coffee that she brings me every morning.

I sit, two hands around that cup. Sipping. Another, then another. Trying to extend that first cup through first thoughts of how the day ahead may play out.

After a few minutes she returns to me from her computer with a hand outstretched for my empty cup. She completes the full circle around the kitchen again with a second cup of regular coffee for both of us and we enter phase two of our pre-sunrise mornings, scouring the web. 



Two linemen hang on spurs repairing and restoring power on the backroads of NH this past week. Son has been in the business now for over 20 years. He is very good at what he does, loves the work and is leading this particular crew on this particular day on this particular offroad repair. 

He shared this quick photo with the comment, "thank god for young linemen." He has spent many a day hanging from hooks on poles on cold mornings "getting it done." 

Quite a few years ago, he sent me a text of him throwing a switch on an outage repair while hanging on a set of spurs.  The small neighborhood of homes came to life and the folks outside watching the crew work cheered.  He commented to the fact that all of the hard work and long hours comes with moments of pure joy of accomplishment. This was during one of the big storms up in the northeast. The folks watching these guys work in the evening dark delivered hot coffee and snacks to the fellows as the long night evolved.

And yes, he has also sent texts of folks who yell and complain under similar outage circumstances. 

I smiled to myself knowing how much that simple comment means accompanying this photo. The boy has a birthday coming up. A year older. And the electricity turns back on.

Yep, proud father.


It is amazing to me how much shrinkage happens taking the moisture out in the dehydrating of fresh vegetables. Judging efforts from appearances is a mistake though, as dehydrated squash mixed into soups/stews take back on the moisture of the meal being cooked. They return to almost their original size and flavor.

The upside of taking the time to do this is all of these squash can be easily stored in a large air-tight container in a pantry cabinet. It takes 10 hours to dehydrate a batch like this.

Four-plus dozen squash/zucchini in a jar!!


First solar eclipse in my lifetime where the full event will take place over our front yard. We are not sure yet if it just be my wife and me or if we will gather with neighbors. Hope weather co-operates.

We drove through Pittsburg, TX this past week and found the lamp posts sporting posters to visit their town during the eclipse. Other towns and local farms are offering opportunities for folks to come visit and find a spot to park to watch the full eclipse.

Local news bulletin from February 24th.   Not sure how crazy local areas may get, but best to settle in for the day. 

Texas Officials Warn.....

Interactive map.

I plan to GoPro the event, but not the sun eclipse itself. I am curious as to how a local landmark may look a half-hour before till a half-hour after. 

Will distant chickens start up? How will our cats act? Other sounds that may come and go from light to dark to light. Regardless, this is the one for me/us in our lifetimes and it has landed smack dab in our laps.



Found this on the net. Had leftover parts and pieces in the fridge and put this meal together and then into the oven. It was very good. Next time, I am going to add more seasoning for deeper flavor. Baked for 20 minutes.

I let the dish set for 20 minutes giving time for it to cool and allow some of the juice to re-absorb. Quick, easy and full of flavor. Quick leftover hot meal from the microwave is a plus also. So happens the flavors improved noticeably the next day. In a perfect world, I would make this the day ahead to include baking and serve it the next day, warmed up. 
My wife is always a grounded critic of things I cook.  She is not and never has been a casserole person. I am. 
But when she test tasted this casserole, she commented over and over how much she liked it. She cautioned me not to change a thing in the making when I repeat it.
.............I want to steam several Sam's hot dogs, cut them into bite-size pieces and make this again with those hot dogs. Each cheesy bite with a hotdog chunk. Junk food at its best



We happened on this potted plant last week and could not resist bringing it for the 2024 wheelbarrow display. My wife walked directly to this plant and loaded it on a cart. 



My bet this rockbed at low tide is somewhere along Hoods Canal in Washington State. I am also guessing we are collecting steamer clams.
Appreciate the visit this week.

Sunday, March 10, 2024



The test whole chicken on the new pellet grill just rocked. Best I have ever cooked. I did put more time into the whole project which is part of the fun of outdoor grilling. My wife said that this may be one of the best chicken dinners she has ever had. Game on!!

Having a temperature probe is cheating but there is no going back ever again. No guess work on the done-ness of the chicken. Again, followed Mad Backyard YouTube video demo as a guideline.

Used mesquite packets from the local grocery store with a full TBL spoon of fajita mix. Just because that is what I had and by luck alone worked perfectly. Just under 3 hours cooking and 30 minutes resting. Meat full of juice. Butchered the carving of the whole chicken even though I had a big cutting board and proper cutlery. If I can learn this skill, future whole chickens can be shared with guests.  There is much to be said in presentation.




A few years ago, my wife started calling the above cat "your cat." She thought that I might start acting nicer to the cats if I was given some ownership. Her cat, my cat. Her cat is loving and cuddly. My cat meows often and is standoffish unless she wants something. Food, attention or a quick tickle between the ears. Both cats come when we whistle. I tried that once and now it is a "thang." 

My cat can drop off the edge of the earth on the warm cement floor of the car port. I get it. My wife will often drape a blanket over me when I melt into my chair after lunch. It is like turning out the lights for an hour. 

My cat? 



Passing thunderstorms and showers this past week. Garden soaked with this good Texas rain. Green pepper plants and cherry tomatoes will go in prepped, medium-sized pots today.



Lunch at The Bull Pen Grill and Cantina in Mt. Vernon, Texas a week ago delivered this option for me. Right on the money. What I expect from any lunch offering. Presentation spot on and stuffed full of meat all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Flavor above expectations. Check FB for more information. And stop in for lunch if you are passing through. Good eats, reasonably priced.


Tried planting carrot seeds one at a time this season. Took some time and patience. Sprinkling seeds and then thinning does not work for me. 

My grandmother's carrots were neatly spaced and in rows. Pulling long carrots from the ground and rinsing under the garden faucet was easy and natural. Her gardens gave the impression of "easy to do." I should have asked her a lot of questions with her in my early years. 

I found excellent compost under a long row of leaves at the edge of the back yard. Scraping the inch of soil under a few leaves revealed the perfect black mixture of composted mulch. I filled a small garden trailer full and refilled my compost bin. 

Opening the lid of the compost bin later in the week to access a few shovelfuls for refreshing planting bins found a half dozen wasps flying out. These are the wasps with red bodies . These are the nasty ones. We give them a wide birth. I sprayed the lid with some bug spray to deter them from nesting inside this summer.  I will continue this battle till I win, whatever it takes. I just hope survivors do not carry memories of me being the home wrecker.




A milestone I suppose. Have been averaging 8K hits a week and I still find this all amazing that an old man wishing to share some life history and stories, on a weekly basis, finds a minuscule audience from corners all over the world. 

State of the union address from the president this past week. I missed it. 

I cannot miss, though, the doubling/tripling of our groceries over this past year. Two ribeye steaks for $50. And as troubling, the quality of those steaks are well below the "good stuff." Gristle and a few strings of meat in cellophane wrapped fat. The only choice I go with now is "hell no." Pork, chicken, and fish. 

Actually, changing butchers and shopping at out of the way smaller markets is proving to offer higher quality options at lower prices.

My wife found "on sale" and fresh quality zucchini and yellow squash this past week. She did not hesitate to load up, remarking "get out the dehydrator."

Nine trays full this morning and they will be done around dinner time. Batch two tomorrow. These store well for a few years in airtight containers and come back to life in soups and stews. We have been out for a few months and it is time to take advantage of this process/availability/price.

Enough, huh? Appreciate the visit this week.


Sunday, March 3, 2024



Warm winds are blowing in east Texas. Temperatures testing the mid-80's for a couple days and all of this has brought on a need for me to get my hands in good dirt and put seeds in raised gardens and pots. Two new rose bushes are exploding and projects are yelling at me to get with the getting.

Sitting in our two lawn chairs mid-afternoon looking south at deer and horses grazing and running the fields across the road is more important, though. Call it lazy. To-do projects are not going anywhere.

My wife's cat jumps into her arms and settles in for a long haul. The cat turns her head to her chest trying to get as close as she can. Her claws knead the hollow armrest of my wife and life in cat world is on high. To the right, onions are happy, red potatoes with eyes pointing up are in the dirt and an old potting/growing bench awaits my energy to move it to a better sun/shadow position for this season. Last summer's sun and heat cooked most everything I planted in the current location. We'll see. Gonna try carrots again this year.

Neighbor has onions, potatoes in the ground and is planning lettuce, radishes and spinach. I told him that I will help him eat all he can plant and he commented that he would add a few extra rows. We do enjoy driving into the fields, pulling fresh veggies and eating radishes right out of the land with only a dusting off of dirt. Rinsing fresh lettuce and spinach, shaking off the water and filling a salad bowl for dinner is icing on any meal.

The side by side is in the shop for oil, filters, greasing and a general check up for this coming year. It is my most favorite tool for the yard and visiting folks down the road.

Being outside mowing the lawn and cleaning winter away is getting in the way of sitting on the computer posting. Not complaining, just "splaining." 

Local cattle being turned into new fields to graze. The green grass is coming on but not yet able to sustain herds so bales of hay are still added for a few more weeks.


A good friend in NH has collected a dozen or so gallons of maple sap and after a lot of boiling, produced the above homemade maple syrup. I cannot tell how thick this is but makes my mouth water for a plate of pancakes or french toast dipped in NH maple syrup. I would have invited myself over - which is "tacky" I know - but he would have said yes and I would not have over-indulged.

Backyard homemade stove for cooking the collected maple sap.


His homemade solar-powered chicken coop is now up and running. We talked of having backyard chickens (he and I) for a few years. His plans have finally taken shape.

and this just in 

NH maple syrup batch#2 this weekend.

Proof of what guys do. We build, cook, make, fix and then sit back and watch. Most guys can sit for hours just looking at an accomplishment. Is there a beer in his hands? Go with your gut on this one.



Lunch out last week at BIG SMITH'S in Sulpher Springs. They have a Facebook page but I cannot find a website to link-share here. Regardless, the food is BBQ at its best. But the onion rings are why we go. 

Four of us could not eat this serving. Looks like we can when they arrive at the table, but we cannot w/o over-dosing and becoming overly full. Waitress said that folks new to the restaurant want to put in an order for two but that she advises against that. Besides, this is a starter with brisket, sausage and sides to follow. 

Peanuts in shells on the table and are to be enjoyed waiting for your meal. Throw the spent shells on the floor. Yep!! Do not scoop shells in your hands/napkins and put on a plate to keep things tidy. 

If you ever are close to or are passing through Sulpher Springs, Texas, stop in for wonderful BBQ the way you would expect it to be in Texas.


Along with the warm weather of late, a new pellet grill/smoker followed me home after lunch at Big Smith's. I had found the one I wanted that fit my wants. 

After burn-out, seasoning and a first quick try with a few kielbasa, a 6 pound whole chicken is seasoned and on the roast, as I write. All of this is new to me and everything in the whole process comes with a learning curve. I figured a chicken would be a good first test for learning. I think the worst I can do is over cook it.

I have watched many you-tube videos and done much research on the net asking questions about using a pellet smoker/grill. The technology is surprising.  I have warned my wife that I expect some failures and mistakes in the summer grilling season ahead. A back-up Caesar salad is already in the fridge for her dinner tonight in case this chicken is DOA on arrival. 

I have found videos from MAD BACKYARD  to be on point and helpful. Gets me grilling without a lot falderal.

But damn this is fun.



I have even missed web-browsing the order of worldly events these past couple weeks. Surprising, I am no worse for wear. 

Appreciate the visit and will update this first pellet grill/BBQ chicken dinner next post.