Magic Hippies

It was a bit of a struggle to get up today, but I had to get home to shower before meeting my parents to go to the magic club’s annual potluck and Christmas show. We knew Autumn didn’t want to go, but Eaddie changed her mind after originally saying she would go with us. Summer picked me up, and then my parents drove. Phone games kept me occupied for the trip, but then we arrived at a mostly abandoned looking facility.

Larry invited a bunch of his church crew, which was a rather odd looking group of folks. Most of them arrived before anybody I recognized, and then the potluck appeared a bit sparse for that many people. The Walmart chicken was pretty awful, but at least there was plenty of it. At least I don’t think anyone went hungry.

The show was very typical, and then the cleanup went relatively quickly. We didn’t stick around, and loaded up to leave pretty quickly. We stopped very briefly at the Midland market so Mom could look for some stuff, but it was probably the shortest visit I’ve ever seen her make. I picked up a bag of rambutans and some lychee gummies, and then we headed home.

For feeling so tired, we actually got home pretty early. Summer dropped me off at home so I could bring the car back up to her house. Eaddie had Summer quiz her for a test, and Autumn had some laundry going that she left in the machine after I called at her to take them out. Otherwise it was a really quiet, early night to bed.

Fraking gnats, everywhere.

The Host that Smokes

Summer spent all morning getting ready for everyone to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. We struggled to get Autumn to help as usual, and we’re just counting the days until we show her, imperically, that she’s not pulling her weight around the house. In fact, she’s completely delusional, as is often the case.

Summer really wanted to get a table and chairs set up early, so I took out some trash and dumped it at Dwight on the way, and brought back a big and little table, as well as chairs. Then I quickly made the butter and seasoning concoction that I would be injecting into the bird. I made it about a block down the road before I realized I forgot to actually take the turkey with me, so I had to turn back.

The smoker started reliably well, but I kind of forgot how foolproof it was and unnecessarily started it twice. It got up to temperature much more quickly than I prepped the bird. I wished I had done all of that at Summer’s where I had more room to work. I was in and out of gloves to get the grill set up, and then had trouble getting the drip pan in under the grates. I just needed to think my process through better before starting. My syringe clogged during my very first attempt to inject the first breast, but I was eventually able to clean that out and made it work.

The turkey seemed to be rising in temperature pretty steadily, but it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to be done by 4 when we told everyone we would be eating. I eventually had to crank the heat up from the already-high 295 all the way up to about 350 to finish it off, because I wasn’t sure of the accuracy of the temperature probe, and I didn’t think to use my wireless Meater probe alongside the one integrated into the smoker. Ultimately I lost the apparently cool part that I was measuring, and every other part I probed tested over 160.

Just before it finished, I glazed it with some of the leftover butter and seasoning from the injection, and mixed in some honey and bourbon. The skin was super crispy, and I think the glaze softened it up a little bit, but it could have also been the covered ride back over to Summer’s.

Mom, Dad, Bác Vân, and Doug were all there with the girls. Julie was somehow last after I told her not to rush on account of the turkey. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait any longer than it took me to carve the turkey, and we all dug in.

All of the food was great. Summer made a bunch of sides and a ham, and the turkey was at least done, and I thought it presented well. I thought it was a little bit salty, could have used some more smoke, and ended up not being as moist as I expected. I assumed that was all because of my cook time and temperature, so next time I’ll take much more care to start earlier. Hopefully we can pick up some more turkey on clearance in the coming days.

After we ate, Julie wanted to play a game, so the girls brought out Phase 10. She had to teach Mom how to play, and the game wasn’t entirely without drama, but I think most everyone had a good time while Dad, Bác Vân, and Doug watched from the couch. We played through more phases than I expected, and then everyone filed out relatively quickly. Summer was proud of how quickly everything broke down and cleaned up, and then she was off to bed while the girls started on another jigsaw puzzle before bed.

Less heat; more smoke!

Pumped

I came in and out of sleep pretty early this morning, but kept making myself go back to sleep until Summer got out of bed. As everyone else roused, she made a small batch of pancakes for breakfast. I played Into the Breach for quite a while between poking around on the computer. I got my first call from an actual human being at Tesla to confirm my delivery appointment.

My parents called for some help with Bác Vân’s iPad, but I couldn’t do much remotely. Summer ended up taking a nap, so I went home to clean up. My parents were still next door, so I walked over to see what I could do. The iPad wouldn’t support an iOS version compatible with the YouTube app, so that was a bust.

Once my parents got home from running around town, I ordered some pizzas from Little Caesar’s and went to get the girls. We loaded up the pumpkins, stopped to get the food, and then made it to my parents’ house to eat and carve. I was surprised by how little food was left, so I was glad I actually ordered enough.

After we ate, Autumn said she was too tired to carve a pumpkin. Dad preferred to wait until closer to Halloween, but Eaddie didn’t want to come back to do it after school. She and Summer just carved theirs together, and we left the other three for later. They turned out really good, so once my carving kit comes in on Monday, I’ll have to really think of something good to carve.

We loaded everyone up to go home, and brought the two pumpkins worth of seeds along for roasting. Summer cleaned them up and simmered them in some water for a few minutes before we had to dry them out. We ended up drying them in the oven on its lowest temperature setting, since leaving them on the counter would have taken days. She seasoned them with some olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper, and they turned out great.

Everyone settled into their rooms after that, but Noah was supposed to come over after work. I didn’t stay up for that, since we had a full day of driving in the morning.

36 hours!

Birthday Bucket

I went home for a little while this morning while the girls went to see a gospel quartet with Dad at church. After a while, Summer asked me to get Eaddie from her father’s house in Clarksville since she had to finish up the desserts while Autumn mowed her parents’ lawn. It was a really pretty drive out in the country, and I enjoyed how quiet it was out there.

I got gas on the way back since it was significantly cheaper in Clarksville. Then we picked up Summer and the desserts to head to my parents’ house for Dad’s birthday dinner. Eaddie had been eaten up by chiggers, so I had her take a dip in the pool until Julie showed up with a bucket of KFC. As soon as Autumn showed up, we came in to eat.

We didn’t stick around very long because the girls had homework. We had Eaddie drive me home in the Matrix since she needed the practice before her next attempt at the driving test on Tuesday. She was super nervous at times, but she did great once she shook out her nerves. From then on, it was a really quiet night. I don’t know how many hours I played Into the Breach today, but it was probably a shameful amount.

At least I have chicken.

Is It Bussin? Is It…?

I spent the entire day working on that stupid computer for the bus shop, and I still didn’t finish the job. Dale didn’t have backups of any of the installation media, and of course none of the manufacturers supported any of that stuff any longer. I was actually surprised at how much help I did receive. I received a call back within minutes from one of them, but I suppose we actually pay them for fuel. The other tried to be helpful, but I could never figure out how to import the old data into the new installation.

Zach and Greg were busy pulling cable out there, so I never heard anything about lunch. Both Tammy and Kelsea made noises about going out to eat, but Kelsea didn’t have her debit card and Tammy said she would eat there. I had just started on a Soylent when she came around the corner beckoning me to go to Brangus with them. Evidently Tammy folded and decided she was going to pay for Kelsea.

When we got to Brangus, they noticed Thomas’s truck in the parking lot. We sat right by them just as they got up to leave. I let peer pressure get to me, and we all three ordered the hamburger, which didn’t impress me much. The burger patty was small, but thick, and it was overall messy and just barely adequate. Tammy was going to have all of us rung up together, so I jumped up to pay first because chivalry isn’t dead.

The afternoon went by pretty quickly after taking a late lunch, but I still never had a chance to get out much. I talked to Thomas about it a bit on my way out, and I think he’s going to investigate whether we need to bite the bullet and upgrade some of their equipment.

I went home just briefly to package up an Echo to trade in to Amazon, and then dropped it off at UPS on the way to New China. Noah wanted to have his birthday dinner a day early, so everyone met there separately. I thought after a disappointing lunch I would be hungry, but I still felt slightly ill from Western Sizzlin the other day. I ate anyway, but mixed it up from my usual routine a bit. Afterward, I had to get some gas in the Murano since Summer had been driving it to Conway and Little Rock all week.

Noah came back to the house to spend some time with the girls, but Autumn just immediately started watching YouTube, and Eaddie had homework. I felt a little bad for him in the same way that I feel bad for myself when I’m here. He hung out for a bit longer while Summer took a shower, and then I wound down pretty quickly after he left.

Too tired for games. Depressing.

I’ve Got a Yankee Doodle Sweetheart

I slept through an anxiety attack early this morning, and then slept late afterward. We eventually got up and showered before going to Walmart to pick up an online order I had placed the night before. They had a Bodum glass and tea strainer on sale, similar to the glass that Suzanne had accidentally broken when we had them over a while back, so I took the opportunity to re-complete the set. They didn’t offer a way to pick it up inside, but I wanted to take a peek through the clearance section while we were there. Just as we got into the store, they called and asked what stall I was parked in, which seemed to be a mistake in the app setup. I don’t know why they have you check in when you’re just “on the way” if they’re going to assume you’re already there.

I drove over to the pickup section to get my glass, then went back to the garden center to finish shopping and fetch Summer. We were out relatively quickly, and headed on to my parents’ house to start grilling. I was super hungry and was anxious to get the burgers done, but Dad had only just lit off the charcoal. I helped patty the burgers, and then got things cooking as quickly as I could. All total, we had burgers, corn on the cob, shrimp, and finally a rack of ribs to grill. I tried using my smoker tube, but I guess I smothered it with all the smoke from the charcoal. Mom had some beef for kabobs, but I told her to wait until tomorrow since we were out of coals after the ribs anyway.

After we ate, Summer and I went for a swim to cool back off. It was so hot and humid that I could barely walk outside without breaking a sweat. She enjoyed the heat, but I absolutely loathed it. I felt smothered by it. The pool helped, but she still wanted to go to the train depot for the holiday entertainment.

We drove back to my house to wait out the sun a bit, and then went up to her house to check on the cats and set out some pork for dinner later in the week. One of the cats pooped on the shower matt, and it just reminded me how much I hate having pets.

From there, we made our way downtown for the festivities. We actually got decent parking, and some clouds came in to block the sun. There was a light breeze that kept things just barely bearable for me, and I was glad to see some friendly faces in the form of Boundy and her husband, Mike. We chatted for a bit, and then we wandered over to a crêpe food truck. While we were there, something happened to one of the band members, and the singer announced to the crowd that “somebody” should call 911. I don’t know if anyone ever did, but the bicycle cops at the back of the crowd didn’t appear to be in too much of a hurry to get up to the guy. At some point, another band member announced that their keyboardist was also a cardiologist, so I guess things worked out?

Back at the food truck, there appeared to be a pretty long line, but we learned that everyone there was actually just waiting for their food. The line to order was actually very short. I frustrated Summer when I said I didn’t really want to eat much of one in the heat, and she took off back to the car. We went home, talked about it a bit, and I explained my struggles with sticky foods and drippy sweat. We discussed going up to Nebo like I had suggested earlier, and then ultimately decided to go back downtown on the Shadow, since it had cooled off considerably by then, and we could park more flexibly.

We made it back to the Peter’s lot and parked, marveling that our vacated parking spot from earlier was still available. We wandered back to the music area, decided against waiting in any of the ridiculously-long lines for treats, and walked back to, and across Arkansas to where someone was selling kettle corn. Fortunately there wasn’t a line there at all, so we got a bag of that, when out of nowhere Boundy showed up with a half-eaten bag for us. We took it, and then found a seat at a picnic table right beside them. I ended up running back across the street to bring the bike over so we could have an easier getaway, and it worked splendidly.

Summer enjoyed the show, though it was weird to watch one from so close with absolutely no music or any kind of rhythm to it. The show lasted a bit longer than I expected, and then we took off as soon as it was over. We made it home in record time, and I couldn’t have been more pleased on a night before going back to early days at work. Summer went straight to bed with incredible nerve pain, and I wrapped up my usual deal hunting as quickly as I could.

I DECLARE INDEPENDENCE! I didn’t say it. I declared it!

Fauxther’s Day

I woke up early in the bright bedroom this morning, and didn’t allow myself to go back to sleep. Instead, I sat on the couch with the cat for a while, until I figured it would be a good time to wake Summer up. She got ready for her hike, and I made a hamburger. I was really wishy washy on whether I wanted to go to Petit Jean as well. Noah showed up, and I decided I didn’t really want to go if I wasn’t going to add anything to their day.

They went to get the girls from Hannah’s house while I went home, but then I decided I would ride the Shadow up the mountain with them, rather than sulk in the house all alone all day. I met them all at Casey’s to fill up, and we made our way to the mountain. Our first stop was the bear caves, and they climbed around on the rock formations while I puttered around on the ground.

Next up was the Cedar Falls overlook for some pictures. Autumn said she wanted to hike all the way down to the falls, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to, and Summer decided she didn’t want to either. Our last stop was the overlook and grave site. They sat on the bluff while I stayed out of the sun. Then the kids wandered around one of the old buildings there before we headed home.

I went straight to my house to get beach towels, and then met them at my parents’ house to swim. Dad had just started the grill when we got there, and threw on some ribs while we swam. Then I started the chicken wings, along with a kielbasa, and some hot dogs for Autumn. We fought the flies to eat outside, but Mom and Julie ate inside.

After a long day, the girls took Noah back to the house and I headed home. Tomorrow starts our three weeks of a modified work schedule that nobody seems to be able to justify. I guess some idiot in a tower just thought it would be a good idea.

to me?

Nurse Normal in the Monoverse of Happiness

I slept pretty well after lacking so much the day before, and eased into the morning before showering and taking the girls to KFC to pick up a bucket of chicken to take to my parents’ house for Mother’s Day. We didn’t stick around for very long after we ate, since we had to make it to Little Rock for the movie. Mom didn’t want to go, so it was just the three of us.

We stopped in Conway to wash the car, and let Summer chat with the crew for a bit. I got some sweet tea over some pellet ice, and then we made it to The Promenade. We walked the length of the strip, but only stopped in Lululemon so Summer could spend her gift card. The number of women bringing their children into that store was absolutely alarming, but I guess I just don’t know what it’s like to live that kind of lifestyle.

From there, we headed to the theater super early. The seats were just about perfect, though not super comfortable. They were worn, and basically stuck tilted forward. I wish we would get a proper Dolby theater nearby. I wouldn’t mind the wear if it was my neighborhood theater, but for the drive and in that neighborhood, they should really have better. The movie was great though. I wish I didn’t have to take a restroom break near the end, but my eyes were floating. It was quite a bit darker than I had imagined, but maybe the MCU has just matured into something very different from where it started.

After the movie, we went across town to the Star of India. Eaddie was down to try all of the food, so we got the Chef’s Special and an appetizer sampler. We didn’t really need to order a third item, but I felt bad sharing everything, so we got Eaddie what ended up being a huge plate of rice as well. She’s not upset to have leftovers for lunch at school.

The drive home was uneventful, though there had been pretty regular traffic all day. We let Eaddie DJ the drive, which started out with George Michael too loud, followed mostly by modern boy bands. When we got home, the girls left to pick up Autumn and head to their house, and I touched base with a few mother friends. Overall, I think today was a success.

Mr. Weird, I don’t feel so good!

Scheduled for 2022

I got up this morning and got the okay to make breakfast, so I got the grill out and started heating up the griddle. I’ve been wanting to cook breakfast on it for so long just to try cooking on a flat-top to see how I would like it. The cast iron was a new adventure too, but I thought it turned out pretty well. I had some garlic and herb French bread in the freezer that I threw onto the top rack to heat up while I cooked a bunch of bacon. The bacon cooked a bit slower than I expected, but I think bacon always does. I’m so used to just cooking an entire package in a pot now that I forget what it’s like cooking a single layer. After that was done, I could set it on the grill grate to drain, and then fry up some eggs.

Summer enjoyed her sandwich, but Eaddie took one bite of hers and complained that the bread was too hard, and then said she was leaving to go out to eat with her father. He showed up moments later to pick her up, so I just sat in a computer chair with my ghetto fan box as a table, and ate by myself after Summer ate in bed.

We laid around for a while, and I kept trying to drift back to sleep, but couldn’t without my CPAP. I finally got up with a pretty bad headache when it was time for Summer to leave for her employee’s baby shower. I got around to clean up a bit, and missed a delivery confirmation call from Lowe’s while I was in the shower. We’ll finally get our new refrigerator tomorrow.

Summer and Eaddie came back over in the evening so we could go to my parents’ house for Mom’s birthday. I loaded up my old Denon receiver to set up for them since they haven’t been able to use the speakers I brought them after their receiver blew a component. On the drive over, I got another call from Lowe’s. This time it was an automated call confirming my delivery was scheduled for between 10AM and 2PM on Monday, April 11th, 2022. At this point I was just glad it wasn’t going to be 2023.

When we got to my parents’ house, we chatted for a while about housing. I explained my plan to build a workshop to house everything while we renovate, and finally got some traction. For some reason, Mom still thinks it’ll be cheaper to buy land and build somewhere, but that just sounds like too much for me. I would literally spend the rest of my entire life trying to plan out the perfect layout, and would never build anything. I can handle a simple workshop. What I can’t handle is my need to over-design and wire a custom home with too many custom rooms with a fully climate-controlled data closet, solar, house batteries, home theater wiring, storage, and anything else I think up along the way.

Autumn got off work a little late, and we had her pick up some Pizza Hut on the way over. We ate, and then she took Eaddie home. Summer was stuck with me while I set up the home theater receiver again. The power and input controls never work like I want them to, but I think I got it set up well enough for Mom to figure out. We headed back to my house after that, and Summer helped me move some stuff before she left. Then I did some last minute cleaning before the big delivery day.

Taxes, taxes, taxes. Taxes are next.

Crystal Clear

I was in and out of bed all night, but managed to get up in time for some breakfast with Summer before the girls got up. Then she went down with Autumn while I started getting ready for the day. Eaddie was the last one out of bed, and then we loaded everything up to head home.

Autumn wanted to stop at a crystal shop on the way home, so we went to Miller’s Rock Shop. They had a couple anoles in a sunlit window, and evidently they just hang out loose there, and they put food and water out for them. Autumn picked up a slice of rock, and then we continued to Iron Springs.

The girls were less enthusiastic about the thought of hiking, but Summer coaxed them across the wooden bridge and just off the path to dig in the dirt a little bit. Summer found a decent sized crystal, and then we continued home. She took the girls home as soon as we got to my house, and I got unpacked.

My parents were at Burger King before their trip to Eureka Springs, so I ran around the block to see them. Then I loaded up some leftover chicken strips and went to Walmart for salad to take to the girls.

The chicken lost a lot of its water to ice crystals, which caused some trouble as I tried to split it up into smaller bags and then fry. I ended up having to take the deep fryer outside, and also melt the ice in the toaster oven before frying the chicken. I eventually had a decent system, but it was a huge pain in the ass, and in the end none of the girls were really hungry. I made Summer and myself salads, but was frustrated that they watched me spend a lot of time making a lot of food for everyone, knowing that they didn’t have a refrigerator to keep any leftovers.

After Summer and I ate, they wanted to play a game of Uno Flip. Eaddie gave up after Summer won first place, and then Summer won again finishing Eaddie’s hand before Autumn gave up. Then the girls went to their rooms for the night, but stayed up either tinkering or moving and cleaning up their rooms. Summer went to sleep really quickly, and I was tired enough that I didn’t stay up much longer.

I can’t like anything out loud any more.