Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thinking Inside The Box

I have yet another addition to my ever-growing list of Loftily-Envisioned-Yet-Bound-To-Become-Barely-Functional-And-Nothing-More projects, a sub-category of the Do-It-Yourself genre in which I was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement award.  (The award is widely considered as an apology for the travesty of justice incurred when my now-legendary 1983 “Homemade Cycling Wind Trainers” effort was snubbed.)

My current work is in preparation for an anticipated greater commitment to and reliance upon my bicycle(s) for excursions on which I would normally convince myself to drive with little, if any, resistance from any internal agonist advocating health or environmental benefits.

I’m serious this time, dang it!  Quit giggling!

I have had, for several years, one of those child-carrier trailer thingies that attaches to the rear axle.  The Live Acorn, of course, is well past the age of wanting to be seen with her dad needing such transport, and my original plan of using it to garner the sympathy of comely lasses at the park by borrowing a friend’s baby and explaining that the mother had died during childbirth never really came to fruition, and so it’s mainly been employed to haul beer and peanuts home from the store.

But no more!  “It’s time to get serious!” I said to myself in a stern, lecturing tone, and then chuckled, because I always try, unsuccessfully, to raise one eyebrow when I speak in a stern, lecturing tone, and I find my persistence at this task amusing.  But apparently I was stern and lecturing enough, because I set about ripping all of the nylon fabric that comprised the child carrier off of the trailer frame in a chaotic fit, my thought (or whatever it is that passes for thought in the midst of a chaotic fit) being that if I destroyed any transportational capability that existed, I would be forced to replace it with something.

And sure enough, it worked seems to be working:

Above:  I really hope that neither Ernesto Colnago nor Eddy Merckx reads this … it’s enough that I lose sleep knowing that I’m using one of the great classic Italian road frames as a utilitarian grocery hauler.  I don’t need either of those two showing up and kicking my ass.

I write “seems to be working” as technically, I have not reached the “Barely-Functional” part of the project yet, though all it really needs is to be connected to the frame.  In my younger days, I would have opted for a duct tape-based approach to minimize effort and time, but alas, I am not the impatient flibbertigibbet I once was, and am committed to a hardware based solution involving bolts and lockwashers and other hardware-y types of things.  I also plan on painting flames on the side, and perhaps Thomas The Train on the front.

I showed this picture to several people, and there seemed to be a common reaction of “umm … it’s quite … large, isn’t it?  Are you opening a catering service?  You ARE joking when you occasionally mention getting rid of dead hookers, aren’t you?”  And yes, while it may seem a bit excessive, I’m simply erring on the side of caution.  Plus, the lid is going to comprise two pieces that slide together with a hole for Indy’s neck, akin to the tables used to serve the eastern delicacy “brains of live monkeys” (that would be the east side of Dead Falls, North Dakota – I’m pretty sure outside of there, that’s just a rumor).  She loves it already:

Above:  She’s now part boxer.

Well, crap ... it just occurred to me that I didn’t measure the front door …

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pasta Point Of No Return

As her boldness grows, so does my fear.  Never did I dream I would long for the days of her waiting for me to succumb to slumber before she executed her ravenous raids; yet what I would give now to go back to that time, when I could lay at least part of the blame on myself for nodding off with some (or all, in certain cases) of my meal sitting seductively at the exact level of her mouth, as if I’d intentionally left it there for her to consume.  I couldn't really fault her, much less ascribe malicious intentions on her part.  The food wasn't technically being guarded, after all.

Those days are gone.

(NOTE:  This is yet another hell-hound based post, as my existence in and of itself remains bereft of sufficient goings-on to merit putting to pixels, and generally serves best as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to Halcion.)

As some of you may know, my lifestyle is one that lends itself to making large batches of various foods and storing them in an appropriate fashion such that individual portions may be prepared with little effort and time, and without regard to the societal and somewhat arbitrary norms of when meals should be taken.

That is to say, I live alone, and make giant pots of spaghetti sauce, freeze individual servings, and eat at midnight in my jammies.  It’s quite pathetic, in all honesty.

Nevertheless, it is as such.  While I do have certain “go-to” menu items, such as the aforementioned spaghetti sauce, and chicken breasts (which can be used in a nearly infinite number of dishes, of which I cook exactly three), it occurred to me the other day that I had not made lasagna* in quite some time.

“O widest of noodles commonly found in grocery stores, how I have forsaken thee!” I cried upon my realization.  “Your ruffled edges so lovely; ‘tis shame ‘pon me that I have forgot, but I will boil you on the night next, so that right will be made, and you shall be layered twixt cheeses of four and the thickest of sauces!”

The next day, I ventured off to the store, and got all the fixin’s: various tomato sauces and pastes, some Italian sausage, peppers, onions, tequila numerous cheeses, and a couple of boxes of noodles.  I was set!  Never had I been so prepared for a culinary endeavor.

Well, as is my norm in such projects, I made entirely too much sauce (I really should write down a recipe and actually use it), but fortunately, I had bought two packages of noodles.  “Not to worry!” I told myself.  “You can just make two batches, and maybe share with friends, who will then pass on an act of kindness to others, and world peace will be achieved and it will have originated in your very kitchen!”

As it happens, there are 18 noodles in the boxes of the brand that I purchase (homepage:, and I use 16 per pan of lasagna.  This is perfect, as there are a couple of spares for the inevitable torn-beyond-use-even-in-the-middle-layers noodles, and I cooked up a box, rinsed them, and laid them out on some towels to dry off a bit.  The whole operation was proceeding swimmingly.

Alas, my elation was short-lived.  I had turned away from the noodle-bearing counter to momentarily give attention to the Sudoku puzzle that appears in the local newspaper, for the day was Sunday, and only it remained to be completed for me to notch the rare Sunday Trifecta of crossword, Jumble, and Sudoku.  Such was my rapt focus that the slurping and chewing had grown quite loud and had apparently gone on for quite some time without my noting, for when I finally turned, there remained only 9 noodles, with Indy giving a strong effort toward reducing the count even further.

#~!!@*&%$,” I screamed, as that is the normal protocol for alerting her that she has done something objectionable and that she should retreat to beneath the bed for several hours.  This time, however, proved to be shockingly different.  She turned, front paws still on the counter, and seemed to contemplate the situation, as if mulling over some difficult decision.  “#~!!@*&%$,” I said again, though with nowhere near the authority as I had just moments before.  “#~!!@*&%$?”  She stared for a moment longer, then dropped to the ground and walked off slowly toward the backyard, glancing back one last time with a menacing sneer before exiting through the doggie-door.

And so it is a new world for me.  The delicate balance we had crafted seems to have been shattered, and she appears to have moved from the planning stage to active implementation in whatever hostile takeover scheme she has concocted  Worst of all, I had to boil another pot of water to cook enough noodles from the other box to finish the lasagna, and those noodles seemed to be defective and didn’t reach the entire length of the pan, but I didn’t realize that until I had poured out the water, so I had to boil water a third time just to cook half a noodle to patch up the bare spot in the corner.  And now I have ¾ of a box of noodles, and I’ll never get back on a proper noodle schedule, always having a partial box sitting on the shelf as a reminder.  And I messed up the Sudoku.

I hate Italian dogs.

* Is it "lasagna" or "a lasagna"?  I really don't know.  I imagine the battle will continue to  rage long after I have expired.