Sunday, May 20, 2018

Father's Day Because Day of Person Laying On Couch Yelling 'Close the Door' Just Loses Something.

So here we are again.  Me with my computer and you reading this article wondering, "What in the world is wrong with that guy?"  A lot has been going on since we last met.  I have been working on yet another federal grant, and for anyone wondering, yes they are painful.  I also have taken the time to pull the trigger and purchase myself a Lang 48" Patio Model Smoker.  That's right boys and girls!  I actually spent money on a real smoker and not bodged together something on my own.  Granted, the Frankensmoker Mk. 3.2 served me well for many years, and if it weren't for a 'slight miscalculation' on my part, I'd still be using it.  Alas, time waits for no man.  While I'm not a father and have been called a 'mother' on many occasions, I felt it was high time for me to treat myself to something that didn't involve 23 trips to Lowe's, profanity that would make a sailor blush, numerous bandages, and many long hours of wondering, "Why didn't that fit right?"  What better time to do that than Father's Day.  My little baby is currently in gestation for the next 5-6 weeks.  I won't lie, I'm a bit excited about my new little one.  Will I get back into competitions.....probably not.  Will I try to do more cooking?  Probably yes.  I've been researching the Lang smoker for quite some time now.  Yes, I understand a stick burner isn't exactly 'fire and forget', but I still look forward to that wood smoked flavor.  I've always liked the theory of a reverse flow versus a direct flow smoker.  Being the nerd that I am, I've been doing comparison research, and I believe the Lang is the best choice for me.  Maybe not for you, but I'm the one at the keyboard so there's that.  I'm also giving my pellet smoker (Igor Mk. 1.1) to my father-in-law since my lovely wife has 'gently suggested' that I need to make some room in the garage.  I'm sure I'm the only one who has ever had to have that discussion.  I'll keep my juice can since it takes so little room.  Kind of makes me worry if we had kids.  Can you get to the point you have too many, and you have to get rid of the biggest one?  Same principle right?   Probably not.  I'm not even good at feeding fish much less a totally dependent human being.  Anyway, I've enlisted my good friend Forrest Dilmore to teach me the ways of the Lang.  He has one for sale you know.  I also have been following the Memphis in May BBQ contest.  Congrats to The Shed for winning it all.  I've had the pleasure of dining there.  Pretty good BBQ if I do say so.  I heard Melissa Cookston on The BBQ Central Show, and I was totally mesmerized by the fact she is working on breeding her own breed of hogs just for doing whole hog competitions.  I don't care if she didn't win the whole hog part, that folks is dedication pure and simple.  I'm doing good to make sure it is actually pork I'm cooking and not some mutant raccoon, but that's just me.  Greg Rempe did a great interview, and he makes my commutes on Tuesday and Wednesday a bit more tolerable.  I also believe he is a father of three.  With that, I salute all of you fathers out there.  It can't be easy to do one of the toughest jobs in the world.  I still remember my dad showing up at baseball practice, and he and mom sitting behind home plate each and every game.  Did I give him fits?  Of course I did.  I was his son, and I was supposed to do that.  At least, that's my story and I'm sticking with it.  I'm thankful to still have him, my grandfather, a great brother, a wonderful father-in-law, and a rockin' brother-in-law.  All of which are great fathers, and they seem to tolerate me....mostly.  Anyway, y'all take care and give your old man a break.  After all, Father's Day comes around only once a year.  Riley says, "Hello and shut the door.  What are we trying to do....air condition the whole neighborhood?"

Sunday, May 13, 2018

This Day In Which We Celebrate Mom and the Stretch Marks We Created.

So I'm sitting at the old computer again trying to cobble together some cohesive thoughts which, on a good day, can be a challenge let alone after a day of bobbing in a pool and enjoying some quality time with the in-laws.  I'm pooped.  I'm just plain old, worn out, pooped.  It was a great day though.  I consider myself Blessed beyond measure with the in-laws I have in my life.  They are kind, funny, warm, welcoming, and actually seem to enjoy having me around.  I would say it's the liquor that helps, but alas they are not partakers of the devil's brew.  Pity.  Anyway, on this Mother's Day I'm struck with many thoughts.  Obviously, I miss having my own mom around.  She went home to be with the Lord on August 10, 2014, so roughly 3 1/2 years ago, or as I call it "seems like yesterday and 50 years ago all at once."  There are many good things I could say about my mom.  For instance, "To the best of my knowledge, she never tried to overtly kill me or sell me to gypsies"; "Mom was great!  She never got too horribly mad if I left the toilet seat up....or wrapped the toilet bowl in saran wrap"; and "I always knew mom loved me and her family."  The hardest I ever saw her cry was the day she took me to the bus station to go to basic training.  I guess a lot of us can say the same things....maybe not the wrapping the toilet bowl in saran wrap thing or going to the military, but you know the important parts about not overtly trying to kill us, not selling us off to the first bidder.  You know, the important things.  In my case, I probably deserved a good killin' once or twice or more, but here I am pecking away on this keyboard while she redecorates Heaven.  God help Himself.  But I guess one of my fondest memories of mom was at the Tri-State BBQ Festival in Dothan, AL.  It was the year Kerry had reorganized the People's Choice to reflect a vote based upon how well each team fed the public with an additional category of "Most Welcoming Site".  We prepped for weeks collecting food boats, getting ideas, and dreaming of how we would finally win something other that the admiration of my followers for my hourly port-a-potty updates.  That year, we made lemonade, little brownies, pulled pork with optional sauce, and pieces of brisket.  Everyone loved what we put out.  Heck, I even had some grass clippings in the lemonade from the water hose.  Nice touch I thought as it surely reminded everyone of their water-hose-drinking youth.  We didn't win, but we had a blast, and mom was right there with us.  To her credit, mom didn't throat punch the lady that roamed into our site, came under the easy up, scanned the tables, only to ask, "Y'all got any left."  I did offer a remaining brownie.....and to shelter her from mom's piercing glare which was nice on my part I thought.  It was hot, I mean South Alabama hot and we were tired, but we had a blast.  Mom, ever aware of her appearance, helped us clean up and immediately went to filing her nails.  She was class incarnate.  We didn't win that year (shock of shocks) but we walked away with something more than a ribbon, trophy, or money....we left with memories that will hopefully never fade from my memory.  Mom continued her support on the BBQ trails always showing up to help clean up or at least show up for the awards.  No matter how well or poorly we placed, she was proud.  Many of the other teams got to know her, and I have been proud to get to know a few mothers of other teams like Forrest Dilmore's mom.  Some knew my mom, and one even knew my Grandmother Stone from Abbeville, AL.  Your mom was a sweet lady Ed.  That's how it is in BBQ.  Yes, we all want to win, but the reality is there can be only one 1st place, and all the other places are academic.  I like to think we all came away a little bit better because we chose to enjoy the time together and make something money could never buy....memories.  I can't say enough about my mother-in-law, and yes I pester her in my own way now.  No, the toilet seats are safe from getting saran wrapped.  She is a wonderful lady, and she and her husband gave me the greatest wife imaginable.  I can't thank them enough.  My mom gave me life, and I gave her stretch marks.   Seems like a fair trade in the end.  If you are fortunate enough to still have a mom, call her, go see her, tell her you love her.  I wish I could.  Y'all take care, and Riley says, "Hello."