Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Run! Run like the wind!


Or walk like a gentle breeze, if you prefer.

I have been remiss in my responsibilities. Derelict in my duties. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
This weekend has crept up on me quicker than I thought.
But . . . uh . . . I'm gettin' old.
I forget things.
Yeah, that's it.

So, runners & walkers, MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
This Saturday is the 21st annual St. Mary's Home for Disabled Children 5k Run and 1 mile Fun Run/Walk.
Click here for more information.
And if you look very carefully, you will see me in one of those videos that are embedded on that page.
If you don't see me because you don't know what I look like, good.
Not lookin' my best, that's for sure.

But really, you'll find no better cause than our kids and no nicer location for the run.
Fort Story is beautiful this time of year. And, after the race,
you can go up the old Cape Henry Lighthouse if you want an outstanding view of the city.


You can visit the First Landing Cross right across the street for a wee history lesson.


You can go to the beach for some peace & quiet.
Which, by the way, will be practically deserted on account of it is on a very small Army base and it's autumn.


What more could you ask for, right?
What's that? You thought of something? Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot (again).
There will be BEER!

I know this post is woefully late, but you can still register on the day of the race.
So, c'mon down for the fun.
You'll feel good about yourself.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Brief Hiatus

My last post had, I think, a happy tone to it, then there was nothing for over a week. I don't know if I have gone that long without posting since I started this.

But, starting last Monday afternoon, the week started going steadily downhill, so I did what I tend to do when I am feeling overwhelmed by events or circumstances. I pulled into my little shell and turned uncommunicative.

I will get back to this soon, as I did have a nice weekend and would like to burble about that a bit.

So, I'll write something in a day or 2 or 3.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Who'd have believed? (new & improved with added video)


If you were to ask me 20 years ago if I would get excited about watching football and participate in any of the following activities . . .
  • make sure I am wearing all my Hokie paraphanelia on game day
  • rush back to St. Mary's so I can watch the game with a 14 year old boy who loves the Hokies as much as I do. And yes, I am talking about Brandon (BS was in B'burg for the game). And let me tell you, that boy knows more about football than I do
  • beat my fist on the table when the other team scores to the point that I have to cradle my hand for awhile
  • yell out loud to the point that out switchboard operator had to ask me to close the door
  • jump out of my seat and run around the conference table in the boardroom (where I brought the big screen tv) waving my arms around when we score a touchdown. Heck, I do this even when we get a first down
  • pummel said 14 year old boy (albeit ever so gently) on the arm when it looks like we are really going to win

. . . I would have said you were nuts.


WHOO-HOO!

And let me tell you, the last minute of the game was the best I have ever seen:


ps - BS just got home and told me that the Nebraska fans are some of the nicest he has ever met, and (being a bartender in Blacksburg for so long), he has met quite a few. So Nebraska, even though I am celebrating that you lost . . . Even though I know you wanted to win as much as we did . . . Even though I will hope for your crushing defeat the next time we play you . . . YEA HUSKERS!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goodbye Dear Child





I can't write about this one.

ps - I've gotten some questions, so I better clarify this. No, it wasn't Brandon, but it was another one of mine.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Praise of the Pig


My friend from Texas, Buckykatt (not his real name), won't want to read this,
because I am going to extoll the virtues of pulled pork barbecue.

Don't get me wrong. To me, the quintessential piece of barbecue is brisket.
Beautiful, tender, smokey, cooked-all-day, melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket.

http://www.bonappetit.com/images/dishes/dish/dire_brisket_v.jpg

And no one can do brisket like a Texan.
I am especially fond of the brisket at T-Bone Tom's in Kemah TX, just south of Houston.
I have been there with my cousin a couple of times.
She ended up moving to another table so she wouldn't have to claim knowledge of or kinship with me.

"Excuse me, waitress? That woman over there who looks just like me is really annoying.
Could you please ask her to leave? Thank you so much."

I think I probably sounded just like Bill Murray in "What About Bob?"
You remember - the dinner scene.

But, this corner of the country is pig country, and here, we do pork barbecue.
And if you're gonna do the pig, pulled pork is the best.
Sorry Brother M, but pulled pork is far superior to chopped or minced.

A goodly portion of the family was gathering at my mother's for Labor Day eating,
and I wanted to do try pulled pork barbecue. Never made it before.
Always wanted to try, and they were game to be my guinea pigs.

I don't have a smoker, so slow smoking it all day was not an option.
And I don't know that I'd have the patience for that anyway, so I cheated.

It cooked low and slow in the oven. Here's how it played out:

ACT 1 - DRY RUB
Made up a dry rub & smeared it all over the nice Boston Butt roast I got at Harris Teeter on sale for half price.
Whoo-hoo! Or, as Paula Deen would say, after I applied the dry rub, I "rubbed my meat".

The dry rub consisted of brown sugar, onion powder, ground chipotle powder, garlic powder, black pepper, chili powder, sweet smoked paprika, , salt, mustard powder, cumin, thyme, and cinnamon in various quantities.
This is a rub that I made up after looking at a lot of them online.

It also calls for dried cilantro, but my mother is apparently missing the gene, so I left it out.
But that begs the question - why are none of her offspring missing said gene?
So, are we really her kids? Hmmm.

ACT 2 - MARINATE
Tightly wrap the pork in plastic & marinate in the fridge for about 7 hours. Here was my conundrum.
We were going to leave for my mothers at about 10 am, and I wanted the meat to cook for about 6 hours,
so, when I take off my shoes & socks to do the math, this means it needs to go in the oven at . . . . .
WHAT?! 4 am?!

Sigh, nothing is too big a sacrifice for the tummies of my fambily.
So I will lay myself on the altar of their appetites. And just to prove that I really did get up at 4 am:


When I unwrapped the pork, this is what it looked like.
I don't know what's up with that dry spot there at the lower edge.


I added some liquid - apple juice, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce & liquid smoke.
Put tin foil tightly over the top, put the lid on & put it in the oven at 300 degrees.
The alarm was set again for 6 am for the next act.

ACT 3 - BASTE
I hate waking up with the alarm.
It seems against nature to be yanked out of a delicious slumber by an evil noise from hell.
But allow myself to be yanked yet again I did to stumble to the kitchen. It's still pitch black out,
but the house is smellin' guuud.
Grab the potholders, take the big pot out of the oven, ladle the appley juices over the meat, and wrap it back in it's foil seal.

Now, this next part I blame on sleepiness.
I went to put the lid back on, and it looked so innocent sitting there in the predawn dimness of the poorly lit kitchen.
Didn't look like it was hot, ya know? And aren't reflexes a great thing?
I was able to let go pretty damn quick, but not before the seared flesh damage was done.
And you just run to the cold water faucet in the sink without really thinking about it.
Cold water feels soooo good on a burn, and your skin feels soooo on fire after you dry it off.
How was I supposed to get back to sleep with my hand on fire?

Now, I didn't go to college for nuthin'. I filled a big bowl with cold water, laid a towel on the edge,
and slept on the couch with my hand dangling in the water. You know what?
When I woke up at 8 (after not sleeping well anymore, thank you very much), my hand didn't hurt anymore.


ACT 4 - BASTE AGAIN
Actually, I didn't baste it, I turned it over so the other side could soak in the juices.
Put back in the oven - WITH POTHOLDERS!

ACT 5 - SNARF & GOBBLE
Showered, dressed, rousted BS out of bed, gathered everything & drove to my mother's beach condo for a Labor Day feast.
She made brownies & cut up some fresh fruit.
My brother, 2 nieces & nephew-in-law brought everything else.

The lid & foil came off & a couple of forks teased apart the falling-off-the-bone tender meat.
OH EM GEE!


Words cannot describe.
Look at this bowl of heavenly gastronomic delight.


But my brother, bless his misguided heart, wanted to chop & mince it.
I was able to save some from the evil knife of doom, but, alas, not all the pork survived his gleeful maniacal chopping.


And, brother dearest, if you ever take that big knife to my pulled pork again and chop it into oblivion, I'll have to hurt you.

I strained the cooking juices & removed most of the fat.
Then we mixed some of it with a bit of hot sauce and stirred it back into his minced pile.
LEAVE MY PULLED SHREDS ALONE!


It was a feast of crackers & my mother's famous-throughout-the-whole-family cheese ball, fresh fruit, barbecue,
cole slaw, baked beans, rolls, macaroni & cheese, and brownies.
I think I would want all this stuff at my last meal. Seriously. Either this or spaghetti & cheesecake. It's a toss-up.

ACT 6 - THE AFTERMATH

No words are necessary.


Lessons learned:
  • Pots that just came out of the oven are hot.
  • I WILL make this again, however, next time I want the cooking liquid to be less appley.
  • Keep the knives away from my pulled pork.
  • Don't forget the chipotle hot sauce (we had to use regular Texas Pete)

The tourist season is now officially over. I can go back to the beach!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hokies Football & Team Hoyt


Saturday & Sunday were jam packed with fun!!!

That wasn't even sarcastic. It was fun.

First off was the season opener of Virginia Tech football against Alabama in Atlanta on Saturday night. The Hokies started the season at the #7 position, and Alabama was #5. So, a pretty even match maybe? Although we lost one of our best running backs to injury, Tyrod Taylor was there as quarterback. VT did pretty well, but part of our success was due to errors on Alabama's part.

So, guess where I was?


Since we can't take Brandon to Blacksburg this year (damn that Swine Flu!), we are making a concerted effort to watch the games with him at the Home so he doesn't miss them.

I said "we", didn't I?


I have a feeling it's going to be more of "I" than "we". No one else could join us for our big-screen par-tay.


I hauled the big screen TV into the board room so my neck didn't suffer the cricks & strains of last year - looking up at the little bitty tv dangling from the ceiling in the break room:


Brandon had his usual game day noshes of a couple sips of strawberry milkshake & a couple licks of barbeque sauce.
This is haute cuisine for him. Trust me. But I got the rest of the milkshake. There's a method to my madness.
Mwaahahah.

He particularly liked the commercial about drunk driving where the cars were full of beer. Cracked him up each time. We had fun.

But, alas, the Hokies couldn't pull out a win.


The game, however, was an action-packed thriller. VT pulled off a 94 yard run for a touchdown that was a thing of beauty.
Alabama got a lot of flags & penalties. Brandon was so excited, I had to hold him down, lllliterally.


His right arm is his wild arm, usually going off in directions he doesn't intend.
This disrupts his control over the rest of his body, so he likes to have us hold his arm to help keep him steady.
And I just liked the picture of our clasped hands. Makes my eyes get moist.

Here's the thing. The game started at 8. It wasn't over until almost midnight.
He closed his eyes for all of 7.5 seconds during the 3rd quarter. By the 4th quarter, we were both yawning every minute,
but he still wouldn't hear of going to bed.

Darn. Normally, it wouldn't be a darn, but I had to get up at the disturbingly early hour of 4 am
for the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon, and I didn't end up getting to bed until 1 am.
You do the math.

This was what greeted me when I arose at 4.



Team Hoyt VB (Virginia Beach) were able to take 18 young people with disabilities to the race this year.


I've written about them before. Part of their goal is to raise funds for St. Mary's,
and some of us from The Home help them in this noble endeavor.
We get the kids positioned in the jogging strollers and place ourselves around the route
to assist with flat tires & kids that need repositioning.

Here is the water stop just past our station in the wee hours of the morning.


My spot this year, with 2 of my colleagues, was along the median of General Booth Blvd to catch them coming southbound at the 3 mile mark, then again northbound at the 9 1/2 mile mark.
Our gear consisted of the Team Hoyt Flags and a bag of positioning aids - foam, wedges, and the like.
I took a picture both with and without the flash. I love the difference, especially in the reflective part of the barrel.


Looking north, the road is empty.
But soon, the runners would come south on the left hand side of the picture at 3 miles mark,
wind their way through some neighborhoods,
and come back north on the right hand side of the picture as they passed us at 9 1/2 miles.


The first people out of the gate were the wheelchair racers. These guys can fly.
video

Then, even though Team Hoyt were allowed to start next, the elite racers overtook them pretty quickly.
But hey, they didn't have to push 100 pounds worth of jogging stroller & person.
video

video

Then came the initial waves (mobs) of runners.


The Rock n' Roll is a pretty laid back race, and there were the occasional costumes, including Elvis.



And, let me tell you, I caught Elvis on the homestretch. In that hot suit. And the dude was still running.
And hardly sweating. Way to go Elvis!


I used the action mode on my camera for most all of these pictures. Spent - no, make that wasted - a lot of time being fascinated by things like these 3 ladies all in midair at the same point in their stride.


Somewhere around 27,000 people passed us.
The sight of the endless - ENDLESS - stream of runners (and walkers) is staggering.
It took almost 3 hours for everyone to pass us in the southbound lanes.
I have no idea if those last racers (they were actually walkers) even finished.
We left as soon as Team Hoyt passed us at 9.5 and they reopened the road.

This little guy wanted to high-five everyone that passed. He got in a lot of slaps before his mom took him away.


And across the street from us was a group of girls who cheered everyone on.
With chants and dancing and everything. For the whole 3 hours, without stopping.
They were troopers.


The fascinating part was having the runners at the beginning of the run on the right, and the runners on the homestretch on the left. After awhile, the left-hand side stragglers were walking at the 3 mile point, but the right-hand side people were still running after 9.5 miles.


video

Then, finally, the last walkers pass by. A nap is within my grasp at last. My couch is calling me.


Going back to the car and looking out at the course, the sunlight was filtering through the trees,
so I wanted a picture of that too. I like trees. And clouds.


Next, Labor Day pig butt.