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Why I like swimming more than jogging.

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Time trials.

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Sunday marked the fourth or fifth anniversary of technology bitch-slapping yet another of my favorite annual pleasures- the end of daylight savings time.

The end of daylight savings time used to be a big day in my year because I wouldn’t set my clocks back the required hour right before going to bed, nor would my anal retentiveness awaken me at 2:00 am to reset my clocks and be painstakingly precise.

Instead, what I would do each year was leave my clocks and my time alone and un-reset until at some point on Sunday when-decided on by me- I would TURN BACK TIME.

That’s right. I could TURN BACK TIME.

It was heady and god-like and fun. I’d leave the clocks alone until either I didn’t want Sunday to end or, more likely, when I wanted to repeat a particularly fun part of Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon or, even more likely, when I wanted that particular hour back.

For example, say Miss Carol made me go to church (um, it could happen) and I felt like I’d just wasted an hour. I could TURN BACK TIME and voila!, it was like it never really happened.

Or say that me and Miss Carol were sharing some afternoon delight (um, it could happen too) and were having so much fun that we wanted a repeat. Eazy peezy, just TURN BACK TIME and bingo- instant reset.

But what usually happened was that it would get to be late afternoon with the sun setting and the cold, hard reality of another Monday looming over my mood and outlook on life when I’d glance at my watch and go- Whoa there, big fella! We gots us another hour yet!, and laughing heartily- I would TURN BACK TIME.

*sigh* Those were the good old days.

But now they’re gone. Smart phone engineers and computer programmers and technology in all of it’s forms have gone out of their way to rob me of one more of life’s simple pleasures.

So this Sunday as soon as I woke up and before I could take steps to insulate myself and my idea of time to myself, I picked up my iPhone and automatically glanced at the lit up lock screen proudly proclaiming the hour-adjusted proper time and ruining what little is left of joy and happiness in my life.

 

Good deed indeed.

The other day, as soon as I entered the hospital where I frequently work, a little old lady approached me looking confused. She was one of those little old ladies that are still trying, that haven’t yet succumbed to old lady clothes and old person hygiene habits and even though her wig wasn’t on quite straight and her lipstick was applied a little outside of the lines she was nattily dressed- just a cute little thing.

Anyway, she approached me and asked if I knew the way to the Emergency Room parking lot where she had left her car the night before. I thought about giving her directions through the hospital and out to the E.D. but figured the number of turns would probably confuse her and get her lost and decided right there and then to go the extra mile and escort the cute little old lady to the E.D. my-own-self. (You have to realize, me being a Type-ME personality, this was totally aberrant behavior) So, gently placing a hand on her shoulder, I told her I’d be happy to take her to the E.D.

The look of radiant relief washing over her wrinkly little face could’ve melted snow.

As we walked, the cute little old lady told me that she had had to bring her husband into the E.D. the night before because of some internal bleeding and that their doctor was going to perform a colonoscopy later in the day. I tut-tutted and oh-noed in all the right places and told her that I hoped her husband would be all right- all the while wondering what all this escorting was doing to my already busy schedule and why I’d even bothered.

But then we reached the E.D. and a weirdly wonderful thing happened.

When I opened the door to the E.D. for her and she saw, and clearly recognized, a familiar space within all of the unfamiliar uncertainties of the past several hours, she looked up at me with the warmest smile of thanks I have a ever seen and a little thing cracked in me just a little and a little flickering light lit in me and after she had left and I was walking back to start my day the flickering little light warmed in me and grew into a resolve to do something for someone else each and every day.

But, as usually happens, my reality slapped me and my flickering little light guttered.

I work largely alone, especially when I’m driving the big truck so my interaction with other people is pretty limited, meaning that a good deed every single day might be a bit too much of a challenge. I mean,  I could probably keep escorting the cute little old lady if she kept showing up and forgetting where she was when I was working at the hospital, but what are the chances of that?

So then I thought that maybe weekly might be a more attainable goal- until it occurred to me that there are 52 weeks in the year. That’s still a pretty big number of good deeds to be doing.

So monthly. Surely I could find one good deed a month to accomplish and feel good about myself. How hard could a monthly good deed be? But then I remembered how busy my schedule is and how hard it is just to post a stupid blog once a month or so.

So finally I’ve settled on an annual good deed. Once each year, I’m going to find someone who needs my help and, gosh darn it, I’m gonna help that person and stop thinking about me-me-me all the time; just like I did with that cute little old lady the other day.

And while I realize it’s a rigorous goal, I think it’s one I can meet. I mean, I’m already good to go for 2016 and I figure that since my first good deed was in November which is close to December which, let’s face it, is right around the corner from 2017, I’m thinking I’ve pretty much filled up my good deed dance card until 2018- leaving me plenty of time to find a good deed to do and someone to do it to.

Wish me luck.

 

Surviving Matthew.

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The storm that wasn’t supposed to be a storm for us until it became a storm for us swept in on Saturday night.

As late as late on Saturday morning, Matthew was forecast to trundle north as far as Cape Hatteras and then make a sharp right and barrel out to sea sparing us more rain.

He didn’t.

Instead, Mr. Matthew decided to mosey on up the coast and check out what Miss Carol and me were doing for the weekend.

Saturday morning, Weather Underground was predicting 20 mph winds and a 60% chance of rain. By afternoon the prediction had changed to 45 mph winds and a 90% chance of rain. By midnight I awoke to torrential rain pounding the house and winds that were rockin’ and rollin’ her on her stilts. I lay in the heaving bed and bedroom and silently cursed Matthew.

Because we live on an island the power almost immediately goes out in any storm and Matt was no exception. We lost power Saturday evening and didn’t get it back until Wednesday night, a full day after our generator arrived and I hooked it up.

In those long powerless hours I learned a lot about myself and life-

Being without the internet is truly a hardship. As much as it pains me to say that, it’s true. I can do without some things, but it turns out that facebook and e-mail and youtube aren’t among them.

No water equals no toilets. Who knew? Or maybe I should have. All the years living in Sandbridge we had city water so no matter what you could at least go to the bathroom when the lights were out. Not now, not when we get our water from a well whose pump requires electricity. (Side story- no water equals no showers which equals zero sexual attraction- apparently something about the smell?)

Camping in your living room is fun. It is. For about the first 10 hours and then the newness and excitement rapidly declines and resigned suckiness sets in. You can only make so many meals on a small propane stove before your repertoire is exhausted.

Reading by candlelight is frustrating and can lead to book fires. ‘Nuff said about that.

But the biggest, most important thing that I learned in the aftermath of MattMan the hurricane?

ORDER THE GODDAMN GENERATOR!!!!

That’s right. A couple of weeks before the storm that wasn’t supposed to be a storm and became a storm, we had a different storm and lost power for about 36 hours. After that little stint, I swore I’d buy a generator and hook it up to our house panel. I even did the research and decided on which one I wanted, which generator would be the best bang for the buck.

And then I sat on it.

I figured, what the hell? It’s mid-October, hurricane season’s almost over, right? I can wait, right?

Right?

 

Her name is NO!

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I had just sat down with a cocktail and a book when Cutter stumbles up to me yelping and panting.

Get her off, he says, and half-turns, yelping at little Lola.

I shift slightly and lean slightly so I can see around Cutter and I see Lola latched onto one of his rear legs.

Grrrrrr, says Lola, shaking her head back and forth, trying to pull Cutter’s leg backwards towards her.

NO!, I yell, jumping up and knocking over my drink and clapping my hands together to get her attention. (Actually it used to be LOLA NO! until our prissy little vet told us we should never include our pet’s name in a reprimand, but only when we call her to come or when we are praising her because it confuses the pet and makes her anxious. Anxious? Really?)

Fuck, I say, scooping up my glass with one hand and reaching for Lola with the other.

Arf!, says Lola, happily letting go of Cutter’s leg and latching onto my finger instead.

NO!, I yell again. (This is pretty much how it’s been going nowadays. From the time we get up in the morning, getting ready for work and walks and feedings; and then again in the evenings until Lola grudgingly and exhaustedly falls asleep, it’s been a fairly constant fusillade of NO!!- Except when we slip or when we’re really angry and then it’s LOLA NO!!! again and screw anxious)

Freed, Cutter clambers up onto the couch to escape Lola and I clean up my spilled drink and make another. I had just sat back down to relax and read when one of my brand new $89 flip flops rockets across the living room, Lola’s stumpy little legs pumping furiously.

LOLA NO!!!!! I scream as I leap up and give chase, knocking over my drink again.

 

 

 

Meet Lola.

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WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT???? Cutter said.

This is Lola, your new little playmate, I said.

arf, said Lola.

Cutter stopped staring at Lola and turned his gaze on me. Whatever made you think I’d want to play with a rat? he said.

I sighed. It’s not a rat, it’s a puppy.

Cutter looked back down at Lola. It’s a rat, he said.

It’s a puppy.

Rat.

Puppy.

Rat.

Puppy.

Cutter paused and said, Ok, let’s suppose it is a puppy. Whatever made you think I’d want to play with a puppy?

Well, I, I mean we, Miss Carol and me, thought you might be lonely, I said.

Cutter looked over at Lola, watching her teethe on one of the metal barstools. He sat and cleared his throat.

So let me get this straight, he said. A year and a half after you take Tug somewhere and don’t bring him back, you figure I might be lonely so you bring me a rat to play with.

It’s a puppy, I said.

And, well, um, yeah, it does seem kinda silly when you put it that way, I said.

Indeed, Cutter said, as we watched Lola wrestle with the welcome mat, dragging it across the hallway floor.

grrr, said Lola.

 

 

Makin’ Bacon II. or 2.

So, does bacon really make everything better?

Hellthefuckyeah.

I’d thought I’d be updating the makin’ bacon experiment earlier, but it takes a surprising amount of time to cure, cook, and eat four pounds of bacon unless you’re doing nothing else with your life.

This is what happened.

I brought the big slab of pork belly home and un-rolled it carpet-like and stared at it. Then I cut that big slab of pork belly into thirds. And stared at it some more. Then I cut the thirds in half and figured maybe I was onto something. I wrapped four of the pieces for the freezer and considered the other two double pounders.

First I had to cut the skin off. Pigs have a really tough, really thick skin that you don’t want as a part your bacon experience. I think the skin’s good for either pork cracklins’ or making your trash smelly.

I chose smelly trash.

Using a fish filet knife I urged the thick skin off of our slabs of bacon and by the time I was done, Miss Carol had the curing spices ready and we coated them and settled them into gallon-size zip-lock bags and put them in the refrigerator and high-fived each other.

We were makin’ bacon, baby.

We flipped the slabs daily to spread the curing and waited impatiently. I decided to name them Test Slab 1A and Test Slab 1B and Miss Carol rolled her eyes.

After a week I decided Test Slab 1A was ready so I pulled it out and rinsed it off. I thought the flecks of pepper looked cool and tasteful and left them. Big mistake. By not rinsing off all the pepper I also didn’t rinse off all the curing salt.

Oh my.

The bacon was very, very, very, very, very salty. Think a Virginia country ham kind of salty. Or, if you’ve never had a Virginia country ham, just imagine very, very, very, very, very salty. It was salty. And yet good. ‘Cause me made it and it was freshyfresh. But very salty.

Test Slab 1B was better. Miss Carol elbowed me aside and rinsed it thoroughly and we cut it thickly and grilled it and even though the coals were too hot and we kinda burned it, it was still fucking awesome. The meat was fresher and saltier than any other bacon we’d ever eaten and the fat was incredibly juicy.

So what’s next?

Test Slabs 2A and 2B are currently curing using more brown sugar to maybe cut the salt level and our dehydration down a notch now that we’re committed to the experiment.

We will rock this.