Monday, June 26, 2017

Update as of June 26, 2017

The last of our belongings arrived today on a second truck.  And wouldn't you know it, there wasn't enough room in left in the 10' X 20' X 14' high space to take it on.  So we had to quickly rent another space that was 10' X 15' X 14' high.  And three hours later it too was full.  We just barely squeezed in the last item, our securely bundled up Select Comfort Numbers Bed.

With the additional space for climate controlled storage, we're now paying near $400 a month just for storage space.  Add that to the moving company charges and we will have spent $8,000 before we get to move into our new home.  And that will probably cost another $1,000 to $1,500 before we can start opening the boxes.

No matter, this was something that needed doing, no matter the cost.  And we're really looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, we are settling into our temporary house, even to the point of becoming comfortable with it.  Two nights in a row I cooked on the Big Green Egg, and although it was done in a 'make-shift' way, it was fun and turned out to be delicious.

The only mishap so far was the electrical plug prongs got smashed and broken on my power recliner.  Judy got on the phone right away to Gallery Furniture's Customer Service Department in Houston.  Before long, a replacement power adapter was being FedEx'd to us.  Talk about customer service, THAT's customer service.

As tired as we were we decided to celebrate the events of the day, so we went to try the last Mexican restaurant in Covington left to check out.  Actually, it was better than the other three, which were only so so and way too expensive for the quality of food.  This one is closer and better.  But their margaritas, although delicious, were way too expensive for us.  Next time, 'just water, please.'

I have a feeling we will both sleep well tonight.  And tomorrow we can start thinking about the actual close on the lot purchase and construction loan scheduled for Thursday morning.  By noon we should be land owners in Covinton, Louisiana, and our builder can begin construction, hopefully by Jyly 5th but probably closer to July 15th.

So I've already started the first in a series of videos as the house takes shape.  This first one is just showing the lot before anything happens.  Here's the link to the video:

After this week, we wait patiently, or as close to patiently as we can.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Update as of June 14, 2017

We closed on our house sale and within the hour, were on our way to our new life and new adventure in Covington, Louisiana.  We arrived at our rental house about 7 hours later.

It feels like it's out in the country, but we're only about ten minutes from shopping.

This will be home for the next five to six months while our house is built in Terra Mariae.  

And this is the one we put up for sale only a month before:

The next morning we met the manager of the storage place to make arrangements for the bulk of our belongings to be stored, then we waited for the first truck to arrive.  Yes, it will take two trucks to move us from Texas.  It's a LOT more than when we moved to Texas 30 years ago.

The movers were here and gone within about 4 hours total.  

Now we have to sort through the boxes to find where they put everything.  The boxes we so carefully packed and labeled were put into larger boxes, thereby spoiling our foolproof method of knowing where each and every item was located.  Now we begin to search.  I can't see that it will be an east task.  But we have six months to do it.

Updates will follow.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Update Three Days Before Closing And Moving

Another day, another day closer to the confirmed date of our closing on the house, June 14th at 10:00 am.  By Noon on June 14th we will be homeless and the movers will be half loaded with all our stuff onto their trucks.

We're excited.

Meanwhile, the buyers are equally excited and equally involved in packing 44 years worth of their stuff for the short move here.  We will see them at the closing.

Our agent emailed us a copy of the document breaking down the closing costs.  It's a sizable sum coming out, for sure, but we're very pleased with how things are turning out.  The Buyers are nice people who should fit well into this house and its private setting, and its good neighbors.

Because they opted to purchase our refrigerator, one large Big Green Egg, our kitchen table and kitchen hutch, our packers will have that much less to load and unload in Covington.  But that means we will have to purchase another refrigerator, one large Big Green Egg, a kitchen table and a kitchen hutch, but not until we're ready to move into our new house.  Could be we won't have room for some of it.

Meanwhile, Judy's sciatica pain is not going away, she was worried that she could not drive the car while I'm driving the truck to Louisiana.  Brother-in-law, Allen, came to the rescue.  He flew over Saturday morning, we loaded the car with some fragile items (the big, gaudy French Mirror and the glass art piece we had hanging over the fireplace, the elephant statue, along with a small TV) and some other items until the car was full.  Allen was on his way home before noon.  That was a relief, and another relief when he emailed that he had arrived home.

We're down to the wire packing stuff that we can pack.  And we're slap worn out from doing it.  The professional movers who do this kind of work every day are to be commended.  It's really hard work.

The remaining items are items too large for us to handle and include some of my tools (especially the larger power tools) that I have no clue as to how to pack.  Not to worry, the movers know exactly what to do.

Meanwhile, Judy suffers and I keep looking for items that I can pack.  We hope to be done with all that we can do on Tuesday.  That's the day we will deliver all the devices back to Comcast.  So on Tuesday, we will no longer have access to the Internet until we get to our rental house in Covington.

The only way to reach us will be by phone (voice or text).  Most everyone who needs it already has the number.  The old house phone number will no longer be in service.

I feel like I could sleep for a month.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Update on the sell of our house

It only took 11 days to sell our house.  The folks who offered to buy it 'knew' the moment they came inside that 'this was it.'  How do we know this?  Well, they told us so.

Yes, they called asked if they could drop by without the agent and look at some of the items for sale. They only live two minutes away, so we said yes. come on.  They were here two minutes later.

Larry and Sheryl.  They immediately told us how much they liked our house and knew it was exactly what they wanted after a few years of searching.

They have lived a few blocks over for 44 years.  It's a two-story house with all four bedrooms upstairs, as was the custom back when it was built.

But Larry said he is 70 and climbing the stairs is getting to be more and more difficult, as is maintaining their over sized lawn.  Our house fit their their needs perfectly, including their 'back-yard' lifestyle. (just like us)

We had included the Mini Big Green Egg in the sale just so they could start out as 'Eggheads', so one of the first things we did was to go to the outdoor kitchen (formerly known as The Coop) so I could show them a little about how to cook on a Big Green Egg.

I had already fired up a large Big Green Egg (formerly called Lulu) and placed some Magnum Loads on it to cook.  That way they could actually see the Magnum Loads cooking indirect on the Egg.

Meanwhile, Judy and I showed them around, taking care to point out important details about where controllers for the outdoor lighting and irrigation systems were located, showing the path of the underground French drain and clean-out ports, and other things they should be aware of.

Larry was curious about the hot water circulating pump and actually climbed into the attic to see it. I also explained how to drain the hot water tank periodically using the drain valve I had the plumber install.

I also pointed out the ring binders I had assembled for the various appliances, controllers, devices, etc, including a hand-drawn map showing locations of underground pipes and wiring, along with water spigot locations and the French drainage network.

By then the Magnum Loads were ready so I showed how we cut and serve them to guests.  They loved them.  We gave them the remaining cooked Magnum Loads to take home, and told them there were more in the outdoor kitchen freezer for after they move in.

As  we got to know them more, and them us, it became clear that we could have become good friends years ago had we met.  They are just very nice people who basically want the same things as us - a comfortable home, a private back yard and a happy life.

They were here almost 3 hours.  That should say a lot about how nice their visit was.  We hated to see them go, but we had more boxes to pack.  So did they.

They later called to say they not only wanted to buy the refrigerator, but also the large Big Green Egg that we cooked the Magnum Loads on, the kitchen table and hutch.  We agreed and we feel they will appreciate everything that is as much a part of this house as we were.

We told them the story of the Chicken Ranch, the Coop and the many videos we've made over the years.  We also urged them to join the Big Green Egg forums so they could ask questions about their new cooking device - the Big Green Egg.

Meanwhile, agent called to confirm the closing date of 6-14-17.  The movers will also be here loading up that same day.  We will depart and they will move in when they can.

And two families will start their new adventures.

Larry and Sheryl are going to be so happy here.  We can feel it.  And as sad as we will be when we leave, we know our home will be in the good hands of people who will enjoy, appreciate and take care of it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Update on our Selling our house

Our house has now been on the market just over a week.  During that time we've had four prospective buyers tour the house and two more are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.  So far, only one has expressed a strong interest, mostly because she entertains a lot and likes the private patio in back with no houses overlooking the back yard.  I don't blame her at all.  It's the very reason we chose this lot.

And if she is looking for a place to entertain friends, well this was what we've been doing for 29 years for as few as two and as many as sixty.  We've even held a couple of 'mini Eggfests' here.  It was fun and never once did it get so crowded that guests were uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, we've taken apart the Coop and removed anything and everything that made it 'Ours.' We truly want the new owners to make it 'theirs' as they get settled in here.  Oddly, as bare of a lot of Coop artifacts as it is, it still looks like a fun place to hang out.  Someone is going to be very happy they bought this house.

As we stack box after box of our accumulated items in the garage for later transport to Covington, Louisiana, we can't help but wonder how this place held so much 'stuff.'  It's absolutely amazing!

Our latest professional moving service was a nice gentleman named Paco.  He came highly recommended by some Egghead friends.  He certainly seemed sincere while also being very business like as he went around looking at what all would need to be carried to Covington, whether to a temporary apartment or to a storage facility until our house is finished.  We fully expect a fair price, but we know it will be well into the thousands of dollars.  It's just one of those expenses that must be incurred if you want to move all of your 'sacred' belongings to your next home.  I often wonder how it would be to just sell everything and buy new on the other end with the money we would save by not paying a mover.  Well, that's certainly not going to happen this time.  We've got some pretty comfortable things that we have grown attached to during the past 29 years of living here.

Although things seem to be going slow, at least when we're in a hurry, it's all part of the process. We'll live through it and adapt to our new adventure with little thought given to the journey getting there.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Space City Eggfest 2017

It took a long time for Houston to get its own Eggfest.  The first one was held last year.  It was held in Old Town Spring , just a couple of miles from our house.  And it was good enough that the sponsoring company, Alspaugh's Ace Hardware, wanted to do it again, only better and bigger.

Here's the video I put together for last year's Eggfest: Space City Eggfest 2016

Judy and I will be there for this one too, but this will likely be our last Eggfest.  As noted below, we have decided that it is time for us to make some major changes to our lives.  Not only are we cutting back on our involvement in Big Green Egg related events, we are selling our home of 29 years and moving to Covington, Louisiana to live out our remaining years closer to family.

But on this day, May 20, 2017, we will try to perform at our best while serving samples of Egg-cooked food and having fun introducing the Big Green Egg to curious attendees.  If my count is complete, this will be the 78th Eggfest or Big Green Egg related event we have been a part of since 2003.

And it has been a lot of fun.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

First Showing

We had our first showing today.  They asked for an hour from Noon to 1:00 pm.  So we went to lunch and ran some errands, arriving back home at about 1:20.  They were still here.  So we drove up to our nearby shopping center and parked for about 15 minutes and returned home.  They were still here.  So we parked on the street and waited about 10 to 15 minutes before they left.  That's almost 2 hours.

I take that as a good sign.

We hope they aren't the only ones to take an interest.  Time will tell.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Our House Just Went Live on the Market

Today started out hectic and got hecticer.  I think 'hecticer' is a word.  If not, it is now.

We wanted our house looking its best when the photographer came to get those all-important photos that entice potential buyers to say, "Wow!  Save that one to go see."

And here's what will make them say that:

510 Moggy Ct

Or if you prefer the video version:

Our Home

Our Agent said we went with the right price at the right time.  It should sell fast.

We certainly hope so.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

As I sit here having my first cup of coffee and pondering the virtues of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, I am, possibly for the first time in my life, realizing what those words actually mean and why they are so important.

“Life” is something you have or you don’t.  You’re either alive or dead.  Or perhaps never existed in the first place.  Life could even be an illusion in a cosmos of nothing but illusions.  But, Life as we humans interpret it, is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”

I believe the sequence of the words, Life, Liberty and Happiness, is equally important.  Happiness is a progressive result of Life and Liberty toward the Pursuit of and achieving Happiness – the ultimate goal.

As such, all living things are likely seeking Liberty to Happiness in their own way. 

It is within the realm of consideration that without the Liberty to pursue the ultimate pleasure, Happiness, then there is no point in continuing to live.  

So what is Liberty and Happiness?  It’s nothing without Life to give it purpose.

I am, by any definition, alive.  I possess Life, and I do not need a Declaration of Independence or Constitutional Law to tell me that I should expect, demand and protect my Liberty in order to pursue Happiness.  It is implanted in my DNA.  I am bound by Life for Life to pursue Happiness.

So where does Liberty fit into the scheme of things? 

I think Liberty is the catalyst that connects Life and Happiness.  It gives all life forms the freedom and the time to pursue Happiness any way they wish, and at any time they wish.  And to interpret Happiness as whatever makes all life forms happy. 

We humans are not alone in this pursuit, but we may be the only species that has to occasionally remind ourselves that Happiness is the goal.

The road to Happiness
can be daunting and formidable
 but it is my choice as to how to travel it
 no matter where it takes me
 as long as I am Happy  

Judy and I have lived as wife and husband for 15,870 days.  Throughout all of them, we’ve managed to achieve various levels of Happiness, sometimes punctuated with challenges typical to all humans, but nonetheless, happy.  As some would say, We are “Blessed” with happiness.

Now, once again, our Happiness is challenged, this time by time itself.  We are growing older, which we appreciate very much, but with the aging process comes the realization that we cannot continue to live where we are most happy.  It is a growing struggle to maintain our lifestyle here, both physically and emotionally. 

In addition, our happy place has seen an increase in criminal activity, something that stresses us even more.  Our home is being encroached upon by other life forms that we cannot accept and will never accept. 

After 29 wonderful years we have found ourselves at odds with our surroundings and its inhabitants.  It is time to pursue Happiness elsewhere.

Our home, our Happy Place, goes on sale tomorrow.  Ironically, the person or persons who purchases it, will also be seeking their own Happiness.  And we sincerely hope they too feel the love and magic of this special place as we did for over 29 years.

And once again we continue to seek the ultimate goal in life worth seeking: just to be happy.

We believe we have found our new Happy Place in Covington, Louisiana.

I sure hope we don’t have to move again.  It’s a real pain in the ‘everywhere.’

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Major Lifestyle Change In The Works

A lot has been happening in our lives lately, so we took a hard look and decided to make a substantial change in every area of our life that needs attention.

For one thing, we have decided to step back from our participation in Eggfests.  Ultimately, that means cutting them out altogether. The last one we will be attending is in two weeks here in Spring, Texas.  It’s just three miles from our house and it will give us a chance to say our goodbyes to a lot of friends.

The burdens of physical work and expense has become too great for us now that Eggfests have grown substantially in number and in size.  And that translates into non reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses for us that averages well into the thousands of dollars each year.  We are on a fixed income and can no longer afford it without sacrifice to ourselves.  We feel we’ve done our share.  It’s time for others to have fun.

Then there’s the age thing.  I turned 76 on May 8th.  And although the calendar says 76, my brain says I’m 56 while my body says I’m 86, and some days even 96.  There’s nothing seriously wrong or life threatening with me, but I’m starting to feel ‘old.’  

That being said, we also can no longer ‘keep up’ the Chicken Ranch.  The constant need to repair or improve something has literally surpassed my capacity or my desire to do it.  I can no longer climb or crawl or even see well enough to tackle some jobs.  And with me liking to stay busy, I'm often without a project to tackle, at least not one that I can complete well.

Add to that, a considerably increased crime presence in our neighborhood has made us very uncomfortable in our own home.  We’ve already had one incident where someone went into our garage and stole some power tools.  I’m certain they would have stolen more had it not been for the vehicles in their way. 

But other nearby homes and vehicles have been broken into in spite of an increased police presence.  Add to that, armed robberies at nearby businesses, and even a murder just outside one of them.  Prostitution is so bad that the police opened an office and assigned a large number of police officers to ‘get it under control,’ whatever the hell ‘under control’ means.

So we decided to sell our house and move away from here while we can. 

The decision to move was made much easier by the fact that Judy’s sister in New Orleans retired last year and her husband will be retiring in a couple of months.  They too wanted out and away from the big city and decided to build a home in Covington, Louisiana, a small town about 25 miles away from New Orleans.  Its population is shown as 9,686 but it is fast growing as ‘the place to live’ for those wishing to get to high ground from flooding, and to safety from crime. 

Along with the increased population is a fast growing economy that has brought in new shopping malls, excellent medical facilities, and the infrastructure to support them.  At most, we will be about twenty minutes away from all of them.

So, we decided to seriously look around in Covington ourselves.  And we found what we were looking for.  We instantly knew where it had to be:  Terra Maraie.  See 'Covington, Louisiana' post below).

We had already fallen in love with Terra Mariae, so we didn't have to search, just decided whether to buy an existing home or build a new one.  After looking at one for sale, we decided to build.

And this is the lot we decided on.

Terra Mariae Phase I and II consists of about 70 homes that are limited to people 55 years old and older.  The homes are all individually designed but French influenced ‘garden homes’ with zero lot-lines.  That means the right windowless brick wall on my house will be precisely on my lot line, and will also serve as a garden wall to the house to my right.  Yes, they will have a private professionally landscaped 'garden' between their house and my wall.  Entrances on most of the homes are on the garden side through a beautiful brick and gateway and down a pathway to the 'front entrance.'  

Being the last house on the street, we won’t have a house to our left, just a small unobtrusive wrought iron fence to help keep out deer and small animals.  Beyond that will be green-space and trees.  The view looks much like a golf course.

With a garden home, we just take care of our garden area.  The homeowner’s association has a crew to maintain all the ‘green-space’ areas outside our property, including our front yard.  And there is a substantial amount of green-space making for some comfortable views from our home.

If we wish, we can pay the crew to mow any grass we have inside our fence.  The charge is $10 per cut.  We're not likely to have much grass by the time we get through adding our touches to the garden's collection of plants, fountains, and shady seating areas, but $10 sure sounds better than me doing it.

We have already set in motion to buy the only lot we want, a larger than average lot that is the last lot on the dead-end/cul-de-sac street.  We will have green-space beyond our garden side and back, with a substantial over size driveway that leads directly into our garage.  Our front view will be of a similar garden home on the other side of a huge cul-de-sac turnaround.  So we will be ‘the last house on the right.’  I’ve always liked that description of where we live.

We’ve also selected our builder and made minor changes to the architectural drawings to get the necessary approvals from the homeowners association and county housing commission.

We’ve met with the bank to obtain the construction loan, which will convert to a small mortgage once we sell our house and apply the proceeds to the down payment.

So, as you can imagine, we’re anxious to get our house here sold as quickly as possible.  And we’re already actively removing any and all ‘personal’ items to box and place into a rental storage facility so that we can show the house to prospective buyers.  We’ve been told by a top real estate agent that it will sell quickly at a premium price once it hits the market.  I would hope so.

Selling quickly means we will have to move out fairly quickly and into a rental home or apartment in Covington while our house is being built.  We’re fine with that because we will be close to family and new friends, and we will be able to see the construction as it is being built.  Yes, I will document every step of it and make it into a video.

I will keep everyone up to date here as things progress.

We can't wait to move into our new home...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I Lost Another Uncle

I learned yesterday that my Uncle Charles Raymond 'Charlie' McMillin died. I have no details of his actual age, birth and death dates but I think he may have been born in 1922 or 1923.  And he died recently.  So he lived a full life for pretty close to 95 years.

I know that he was in the Navy during WWII, and drove a landing craft to carry soldiers from the ships to the shore. But he never talked to me about it in spite of my inquisitive nature about anything military.   But I know he always had an easy smile and relaxed way about him, and stayed skinny all his life.  He dearly loved his family.

After the war, he became the other brother in McMillin Brothers, a very successful mercantile type store in Harrisonburg, Louisiana that my father, Leroy, the oldest sibling, started with a $300 loan from a family friend, and an empty newspaper printing building my mother inherited when her father died.  Her father was the publisher of the Catahoula News, a weekly newspaper that could trace its roots back to 1852.

But Charlie had a good mind and lots of ambition, which greatly added to my dad's 'hard work' ethic. Between the two of them, the store prospered and expanded into other products and services the small village of Harrisonburg had never experienced.

Then one day, Uncle Charlie got the chance of a lifetime to go to work for a national business that specialized in farm products.  He was first sent to New Orleans, but later transferred to Memphis.

He and his wife, the former Faye Huff of Harrisonburg, and a distant relative of my mom's Sargent family, both loved it in Memphis.  I actually visited them one time when I was there on business.

They eventually moved back to Louisiana after he retired.  But instead of returning to Catahoula Parish, they decided to live in Pineville.  He continued to live there after Faye and two sons died.

And then it was his turn.

He is survived by a son, Miles, and a daughter, Barbara.

My Aunt Margie called to notify me of his death.  We talked for two hours. It was a good talk that brought back a lot of memories.

After we hung up, I remembered the photos I took of the McMillin Family Reunion back in 2000.  I brought up the old digital photos that were actually stored on old floppy computer disks.  They were still in great shape, so I decided to make a slide video of them.  I made Aunt Margie a CD Disk that will be in the mail tomorrow so she can easily watch it anytime she wants.  I also posted it on YouTube so anyone can watch it or share it with others.  I'll wait until she watches it before I post it on Facebook where I know there will be people who will enjoy seeing those old photos.

Here's the link to the video:  McMillin's of Catahoula Parish Family Reunion

Rest in Peace, Uncle Charlie.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Covington, Louisiana

Covington, Louisiana, a 200+ year old town on the 'other side' of Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, suddenly became a popular place to visit when the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was built in 1956.  Just the trip over to Covington was an adventure in itself because the Causeway was now, and still is, the longest bridge over water in the world.

A growing number of New Orleans citizens found it pleasant enough to visit often and even move to Covington.

But when Hurricane Katrina made a mockery of most flood control efforts in New Orleans, Covington became VERY popular.   So popular that it became The Place to move to.  As always happens, that inspired a lot of growth that continues to this day, and probably well beyond the next two or three decades.

The current population is shown as 8,765.  But that number is quickly changing upward and outward. New homes are being built all around the fast growing city and its suburbs.  Equally impressive is the number of new business, hospitals, and shopping centers.  It is clearly a community alive with excitement.

That was what attracted Judy's sister, Joyce, and hubby, Allen,  to build a beautiful new home and retire here.  And they moved in last week.  We drove over to help them move.   We will be returning to our home in Spring Texas  in a couple of days.  It has been an adventure for us too.

Meanwhile, we've also come to like this place and its people and its beautiful old and new home communities, especially a subdivision just a few miles out of the downtown area.  It's a small, very friendly, close-knit community for those 55 years old and older.  It exhibits a strong French flair in the home designs, and devotes a great deal of the land to 'Green Space' which looks more like a manicured golf course.

Another important element of the location is that its elevation is 60' above sea level.  Most of the surrounding area, including downtown Covington, is 30' or less, making some of them subject to potential flooding.

It didn't take long for the residents to know that we are in town and looking to move.  We've made multiple trips to the area over the past four days.  A number of the residents saw us coming and eagerly came out to greet us.  They freely answered our asked and unasked questions, and offered to show us their homes.  Two are hoping we buy the very generous size lots next to theirs because our side wall will serve to wall off their courtyard thereby making it even more private for them.

Here's one of the existing homes that got our attention.  The lady who owns it wants to move up north to live with her daughter.  She took very good care of it, as we would do ourselves.

Most of the homes in the community are similar, with private courtyards.  All of the area outside our own property is maintained by the homeowner's association.  We need only take care of our courtyard area.  I could cut the grass with a pair of scissors there's so little of it.  Or just plant flowers.

This one is ready and requires nothing but the owner moving out and us moving in.

Or, we can buy a very generous size lot and build a similar model home with any adjustments we would like.  Both have their advantages.

Lots to think about.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Athens Eggfest

Once again Judy and I attended and cooked ar the Athens Eggfest in Athens, Texas, also dubbed the 'Fellowship of the Fire Ring.'

As in years before, it was held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.  It was wonderful, of course, made possible by the dedicated folks at the fish hatchery, and the crew at Morrison Supply Company, with the generous support of  Brookshire's Market folks and First State Bank, along with the always welcome participation by Big Green Egg distributor, Paragon Distributing out of Dallas.

But when it comes to individual effort, Allen and Darlene Forshage, the founders of the Athens Eggfest event four years ago, returned to ply their magic.  Although both are now retired, they continue to step forward to help make this one of the premier Eggfests in the country.

Like all of the Cooks, I was too busy to take pictures, but I was assured that photos would be forth coming.  But I did make some tokens.

It was fun...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Texarkana Eggfest 2017

Judy and I drove up to Texarkana to cook at the Texarkana Eggfest on March 25th and had a good time.

But before the Eggfest, we drove to Lewisville, Arkansas, about 35 miles east of Texarkana, and stayed the weekend with our Egghead friends, Charlotte and Richard Harris.  Their home overlooks a private lake that only a select few even know about.  It is full of fish year round, ducks in season, and alligators pretty much anytime they want.  It is also home to some wood ducks and other rare feathered critters.  Very private...

Before we even left to drive up there, numerous weather reports ranged from heavy rain, high winds, possible large hail and tornado's were expected with the arrival of the front on Friday night.  And it was expected to arrive right while the pre-eggfest Meet & Greet was going on.  And it did....  But, only with rain and wind, no hail or tornado's.

The storm proceeded eastward and knocked the power out sometime during the night at the house, but was back on within four hours.  (I really don't know how those power guys can get the power back on so quickly while a storm is still in progress.  But I sure appreciate it.)

Saturday turned out beautiful, and the Eggfest went on as scheduled.  People started showing up hungry and looking for something to eat about 9:00 am, so us Cooks had to be cooking by 8:00 am.

Actually, in spite of the weather the night before, everything turned out really nice.

Although by Eggfest standards these days, it was kinda small with only about 15 Cook Teams cooking and serving an estimated 200 Tasters (my estimate) that drifted in and out throughout the day.

As usual, many came to 'just sample' the food and stayed all day.  Some returning three and four times to 'taste' the latest food off the different Cook's Eggs.  And there was a wide range of treats to select from, all of it good and most of it absolutely delicious.

We cooked our famous Magnum Loads and received a lot of comments about them being the best treat there.  The reason is probably due to there being 3 layers of sausage wrapped in bacon.

Yes, it's good...

Of course, we Cooks stayed busy until we ran out of food to serve.  I'm pretty sure no one went away hungry.  And I know for a fact that many went away amazed at what can be cooked on a Big Green Egg, and how it makes food taste so delicious.  I know because the last I heard, 30 Big Green Eggs were purchased, and others returned later to buy one.  And even more asked questions about recipes and just general information about the Egg.

I suspect many will add a Big Green Egg to their wish list.

Thanks to Charlotte and Richard for putting us up for the weekend, and feeding us breakfast.  It was fun.

Thanks also to the management and staff at Dot's Ace Hardware for really going all out to make it an enjoyable Eggfest for everyone.  The Cook's Gift Bags were very nice and much appreciated.

Finally, there was a photography/video crew taking lots of photos and videos, and conducting interviews with Cooks and Tasters alike.  I think they plan to make a video that can be shared with those who could not be there, or just to play in the store for customers who wonder what Eggheads do for fun.

With those guys doing all the camera work, I didn't even break out my camera, allowing me to have fun just cooking and tasting other Cook's treats.

Here's what their version turned out:  Texarkana Eggfest Video

It was a good weekend.  Now we prepare for the Athens Eggfest in two weeks.

I love being an Egghead.....

Sunday, March 19, 2017

St. Patrick's Day

We pulled off another fun St. Patrick's Day by wearing our 'green' to the H.E.B. Super Market where we got lots of smiles and comments, then to our favorite Mexican restaurant where we probably looked a little out of place, but who cares...  Then to Lowe's where one of the checkout ladies insisted on having her picture taken with us.

Meanwhile, I had been cooking a corned beef brisket flat in the sous vide for 48 hours to sear and cut up with some cabbage for a traditional Irish Dinner.  I also baked some Irish Soda Bread to go with it, and naturally, I had to make me some Irish Coffee.

It was a fun day, and I made videos to prove it.

Here's the dinner video: Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner

And here's the Irish Soda Bread video: Irish Soda Bread

It's fun being Irish.

Sunday, March 05, 2017


Sushi has always been one of those foods that just never appealed to me. And it was really my fault that it didn't appeal to me. I never tried it, nor did I even care to see what it was other than some rice and raw fish wrapped in seaweed.

Well, my ignorance and unwillingness to to even try it or learn more about it was totally unfair to what I now know to be a delightfully delicious food that can be a welcome change of pace to the foods I have eaten all of my life.

Granted, I haven't tried all the many variations of sushi and probably never will. There are many recipes that take culinary genius to a new level. I'm probably going to remain a novice at it so I'll likely stick with the sushi that has ingredients I'm somewhat familiar with, albeit prepared very close to a stove of some kind.

Our favorite grocery stores H.E.B. and Kroger have sushi counters where you can purchase a wide range of sushi that is freshly prepared before your eyes. The sushi chefs even encourage you to taste some of their products, freely offering samples to try. So for no investment in time or money, you can experience the flavor of sushi right there in the store. I urge you to do just that the next time you are in a grocery with a sushi bar.

That being said, I'm one who likes to take a food idea and run in a different direction with it. So I decided to see how I could combine the Magic of the Big Green Egg with sushi. Yes, I know it's a stretch but the old adage, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained" kept urging me to try. So we did....

And, I made some video's of what we (Judy got involved as well) decided to try. Although it is not exactly 'Sushi,' or even close to being sushi, our creations were sushi inspired. Here's some of what we came up with:

BLT Sushi Roll

Sushi Breakfast - Chicken Ranch Style

Meanwhile, I'm learning how to make the sushi rice (it's not regular rice at all), probably the main ingredient in sushi, and how to add other ingredients including smoked salmon, fruits and vegetables that enhance the overall flavors of the sushi roll.

I'll probably practice using my chop sticks too, and maybe learn a few Japanese words along the way.

It's all fun anyway, so why not make it tasty by learning something new?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My First Acupuncture Experience

I try hard to keep an open mind about everything.  I figure most things have a reason for being what it is or doing what it does, including humans.  Some of those things may not set well with me, but quite often they are popular with others.  And I certainly don't have to accept them if I don't want to.

For example, just a couple of weeks ago I had never tried chiropractic treatments.  Frankly, I didn't even know how to spell it, much less know anything about what it involves.  And for years I paid no attention to it at all as a possible treatment for my ailments.  I was likely indoctrinated by traditional medical practitioners who convinced me that it wasn't 'real medicine' no matter that millions of people relied on chiropractic treatments for ailments that regular doctors could not successfully treat.

Because of my Sweetie, who was being successfully treated by a chiropractor for an ongoing and painful leg injury, I too became a believer.  I wrote about it below in an earlier post.

Well, eventually, even the chiropractor could not completely rid me of some back pain that appears to have resulted from a worn out mattress.  So we ended up purchasing a new, hi-tech, mattress that offers considerably more support for my large body than the old mattress.  Even so, I still have some residual pain that I would like to see gone so that I can return to my exercise program.

So today she presented me with a visit to a local acupuncturist.  And once again, my life changed as I learned first hand that acupuncture is not just sticking needles in people's bodies.  It is a traditional form of treatment that has been successfully used for thousands of years.  And today I became another acupuncture patient.

My wife made the appointment because of the pains in my hips, lower back and front, and legs, and feet.  The visit included a hot-oil/hot and hot stones treatment to my back.

First, the young lady acupuncturist asked a number of questions regarding my current and former health.  She even asked to see my tongue and check my pulse, saying my tongue color suggested I had a fatty liver, but my pulse suggested a strong heart.  I suppose that's necessary information before being stuck with pins.

Before you ask, yes, I opted for naked because part of my pain was on my hip/buttock area.  But I had a towel over my tail feather area until she needed to get to the points where she was sticking me with the pins.

The entire process, including the questions she asked before going into the treatment room, was really not so different than visiting a regular doctor.  She just wanted to know where I was hurting, and questions about my health in general. 

She even discussed the problem of drinking cold water and cooling down too quickly after exercise is a no-no, because the cold water or cold air closes up my skin's pores and does not allow the toxins to leave my body through my skin.  As a result, the toxins have to remain in the body until absorbed by the kidney and liver, or something like that.  So I’m to just ‘air dry’ after exercise from now on.

But the acupuncture itself was painless, well except for one place on my ankle that hurt a little.  She explained that the pain there was because it was an area that really needed treatment.  Once the needles were in, there was no pain associated with them at all.  I suppose they were working like little antennas, broadcasting my pain from my body.

I actually believe the acupuncture helped relieve the pain in my hip and back.  Not all the way, but it could be gone by the end of the day.  It is noticeably less than this morning.  Even if it takes another treatment, I think I’ll go for it.  After reading about acupuncture, I’m pretty much convinced that it’s not all quack doctoring. 

She suggested some hot tea (which she made hot for us and we ended up buying some).  It wasn't sweet like our tea with it's two packets of Splenda.  Oddly, this tea tasted healthy.

I’m kinda anxious to see how this one trip there does for my back and leg pain.  Now that I know what acupuncture is and feels like, I won’t hesitate to go back when needed.  I think the total bill was $80.  Well worth that.

2-16-17  Update:  Well, it appears that the acupuncture did not work.  So I have an appointment with my regular doctor tomorrow.  I'm sure he will want to run some tests.  I hope he does.

2-17-17 Update:  I saw my primary care doctor yesterday just to make sure I'm covering all the bases. He checked me over and concluded that I probably have a pinched nerve that can repair itself with some rest and staying away from strenuous activity.  He also gave me a hip shot to help with the pain and inflammation.  I feel better already.  But if it doesn't go away soon, I probably should see my back surgeon again.  So for now, I'll just relax and see what happens.  Actually, I'm sorta relieved that he didn't find something wrong with my internal organs.  But he did have me do a urine test just to make sure.  I should know the results next week.  Aced the urine test.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Our New Bed

We finally, after a year of trying to make a decision, purchased a new California King Select Comfort Numbers Bed to replace the one we bought many years ago.

The warranty on Select Comfort beds is 25 years, and we had ours for probably 16 years before we started to notice that it was just not providing the support as well as in earlier years.  So we replaced some of the internal foam pieces (each has a different density and serves a specific purpose).  That helped, but only for a while.

The fact that we (mostly me) weigh more than we did years ago is probably a major factor in the foam not performing well.  I'm working on the weight problem but we needed to make a decision on getting a new bed.  And as of Friday, February 10, 2017 we're sleeping on a new Select Comfort bed.

It feels great, much better than our old bed.  So we're pleased and are looking forward to many more years of joyous sleep comfort.

The old bed still had plenty of life left in it so we offered it for sale on our neighborhood internet chat room to the first person who wanted to buy it.  Within five minutes of posting, a nearby neighbor/friend rung our doorbell and said he wanted to buy it.  He paid the asking price, but because it requires special California King sheets and comforter, we threw in for free a complete set that I didn't particularly care for because it was too light weight.

He said he had three possible places where it may end up being used: to replace his and his wife's bed, replace his athletic son's bed, or replace the bed he hates in their beach house.  No matter where it ends up, I think it will be welcomed and appreciated.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that our new bed is loaded with technology that actually measures our time in the bed, the amount of 'restful sleep,' 'restless sleep,' and even periods when we may be out of bed during bathroom breaks or can't sleep moments.

Once our Age, Height and Weight is programmed, the app will help to determine our best setting for a good night's sleep.

It even measures and records our heart and breathing rates (don't ask me how), and precisely how long if takes for us to actually fall asleep once we climb into bed.

The results of all this data is calculated to be our nightly 'SleepIQ.'  That number can accumulated and then be used to help determine which number setting (air mattress is best for each of us).  My number is 40 now but will likely be lowered to 35 in a few nights because 35 provides the softer bed that I prefer.

But the real number to look at is my SleepIQ.  97 for last night.  I got some great sleep.

Judy's SleepIQ will probably suggest a higher number because of her age, height and weight and personal preferences suggest a firmer bed.

But if either of us decides for whatever reason, that we want to sleep at a higher number for the night, we can just instruct the wireless controller to take us that number.  In a few seconds the mattress will be providing additional support on just our side.  And by simply pressing the Favorites button, it will take us back to our preferred support.

This is so cool.  Instead of just thinking, "I feel like I slept well last night" we can actually see a graph of exactly how well it was.  It's one of the first things we check on our computer and smart phone every morning.

We're going to love this new bed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My Chiropractor Visit

I'm almost 76 years old and I've never visited a chiropractor.   That is until Friday, January 13th, 2017.  Dr. Shane Hancock at Hancock Family Chiropractic.  And a genuinely nice guy.

I didn't set out to become a patient but my Sweetie has been having some serious and unrelenting pain due to a fall a few months ago.  She visited an orthopedic doctor we know and he diagnosed it as an inflammation in L-4 of her back.  He recommended some exercises and ice packs which she religiously does.  At least he didn't suggest back surgery or even epidurals to get the pain relief she needs.

Weeks later, the pain continued, and on some days she was in agony.  So in desperation, she called for an appointment with a chiropractor our neighbor recommended.  His office was nearby and he takes Medicare, so she went there by herself.  And she came home feeling better, both physically and emotionally.

Needless to say, I decided to go meet this guy who made her life better.  So on her follow-up visit a few days later, I watched and listened closely to what he was doing and saying.  It all seemed to make perfect sense, that something in her was not exactly where it should be in order to align perfectly with the rest of her body.  A few snaps, or as he referred to them "alignments" or "adjustments."  It was all very fast and she was smiling even more than before.  The pain was clearly gone or going away.  She was comfortable and definitely more relaxed than just a few days before she visited him.

She asked me if I might want to schedule an appointment to see if he could help me with some of the pains I've been suffering for years.  I said yes and after some paperwork and discussion, he had me on the table.  He performed a few (three or four) alignments.  There were some clearly noticeable 'snaps' or 'pops' sounds.  But no pain.  And he was through.

I didn't immediately notice any difference in anything but I felt like something good had happened. He wanted to see me again the following Tuesday and I was eager to be there.

Meanwhile, I spent much of the weekend reading about chiropractic, including watching a number of videos of patients actually being treated.  It was an eye-opening experience.  I could easily see that many of my lifetime collection of painful events could probably have been successfully and more quickly treated than whatever method I decided to use.

On Tuesday, (yesterday) I was back for my follow-up visit with our newly discovered chiropractor. Judy was also there for her follow-up visit.

We actually spent more time talking than being ‘popped’ back into alignment.  The reason for all the talk, mostly questions, was because I had been spending a lot of time watching YouTube videos of chiropractors treating patients for a wide range of conditions, including some I would never thought to be ‘body-alignment’ related.  Like acid reflux problems (which I don’t have), and cramps/tingling/burning/stabbing-pain problems with my feet, along with restless-legs, mostly when I lie down in bed (which I do have).

After actually seeing Judy’s instant return to mobility-without-pain, I’m thinking chiropractors can fix a lot of problems that conventional medicine cannot.

Oddly, when I mentioned the problem I have with cramps/tingling/burning/stabbing-pain problems with my feet, and restless-legs, he didn’t jump with joy that he just hit the “Magic Money Button” for expensive treatment to correct my problem.  Instead, he just said, “Take magnesium supplement pills.”  Yes, that's it, and he went on to explain why.  And that led into a discussion about the Centrum supplement vitamins we’ve been taking for years, to which he explained that we were throwing our money away.  He said told us to take a Centrum pill and put it in a cup of vinegar and see what happens.  He had our curiosity up, so he went on to explain that even a couple of days later you can still read the name Centrum on the side of the pill.  And that’s in spite of the vinegar’s acidity being stronger than our stomach’s acidity.  That means the pill can easily go through our body without even being dissolved and absorbed.  He said the pills can actually be so clear in X-rays that they can sometimes read the name on the pill.  Thus, no value whatsoever to us. 

So needless to say, we stopped at a health-pill store on the way home and had yet another interesting conversation with the store manager about the products they sell.  She agreed about the Centrum pills, and said they call them ‘bedpan bullets’.  Realizing that much of it is hype and some may or may not work with certain people for all problems, we still came home with $30 worth of pills.

But not one to intake anything without first reading up on it, I looked up possible side effects and conflicts with me taking Magnesium, and sure enough I should not take it because it will diminish the effects of the thyroid pills that I take daily.  So no Magnesium supplements for me.  

But Judy being Judy, she emailed my regular doctor to ask him if I could take the Magnesium.  She soon received an email reply that I could take them for up to ten days.  Great!  It takes about that long for them to start taking affect.  I just can’t take them at the same time as the thyroid pills.  We’ll see if they work or not.  If they do work there still may be a way I can take them without reducing the effects of the thyroid pills.  Or maybe a ‘buffered’ version may work.  Or maybe something else altogether.  Worth a try.

Sometimes ‘Medical Ignorance’ is a good thing, but in the last few years I’m starting to realize that many of my ‘self-diagnosis’s’ and ‘over-the-counter’ treatments were totally wrong.  I was just wasting time and money, and quite possibly making things worse.  

Thanks to the Internet, I can not only look up symptoms, I can respond accordingly, including knowing what to say or ask when describing my condition to a doctor.  “I hurt!” is no longer a definitive statement when my doctor asks why I’m there.  I want to be able to tell him where and how it hurts.  I want to tell him I’ve taken Tylenol for it and it works or not, or that I’ve experienced something recently, seemingly unrelated, that could or could not be a factor.

But what really ticks me off is that I’m just now learning all this stuff when I’m on the down-side of the mountain of life.  At least I’m becoming a bit more proactive in it.

This morning Judy is up and feeling great.  So the chiropractor definitely did good for her.  I’m still undecided on me.  I don't want to say it's working for me until I absolutely know that it's working for me.  But it was worth the try and the learning experience is and will be invaluable.

We go back in a couple of days.  By then I should know if it's good for me.

Update:  It is now 2-5-17 and I haven't been back.  After three treatments, he and I both agreed that he can't fix my tingling/cramping/burning sensations in my feet, but he suggested I take Magnesium supplements.  I purchased some but I know to check with my doctor first about taking any kind of supplements or medicines, prescription or over-the-counter.  He said I could take the Magnesium pills for up to 10 days but that's it. Magnesium reduces and counters the affects of my thyroid medication.
So I tried the Magnesium for 10 days and I really couldn't tell if it helped or not.  Although I didn't have any serious spasms or cramping/burning events, the tingling was still there.  So I opted to remain off the Magnesium rather than risk causing more thyroid problems.  The thyroid can be a serious problem if its not functioning right, with or without pills.

As for Judy, she also finished her last treatment with him.  She is very happy with the treatments he gave her.  Although she isn't all the way back to normal, her leg/hip is no longer a serious and painful problem like she was before seeing him.

Another update: 2-13-17  During Judy's visit last week she mentioned to the chiropractor that my back really hurts.  She told him that I keep saying it started after my last visit when he did something to my back.  I initially said I didn't want to have any more adjustments but he explained that the symptoms suggest that my hip is out of alignment.  He convinced me to have another adjustment to see if it would help.  He used the drop table and pushed hard in the middle of my back.  Although I didn't hear or feel any shift in my bones, he said that treatment should take care of it.  And to return on Monday (today) to see if it helped.  I'll be there later this morning, but in the meantime we purchased another Select Comfort Number's Bed to replace our old Select Comfort Numbers Bed which we thought may be a contributing factor to my back pain.  I feel somewhat better but I'm not sure whether it is due to the 'adjustment' or our new bed.  I'll know more in about three hours.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


One of the nice things about living in the South is that extremely cold weather is a rarity.  Here in Spring Texas, we didn't even get below freezing last Winter.

But last night, it got cold. really cold.

I haven't been outside to check the pipes yet, but I took the precaution of letting them trickle all night hoping that would keep them from freezing in the predicted "27°" weather.  

The problem is, their prediction missed by a mile because this morning we woke to what is probably record-breaking low temperatures:

I'll update this later but right now I'm just thankful to have a warm house and toilets that flush.

Monday, January 02, 2017

The 2017 Diet/Exercise Program/Effort

Two words in the English language are absolutely hated by some of us.  That would include me.

The first word, and most hated of all, 'Diet' actually starts out as 'Die' and someone long ago forgot to add the hyphen before the 't,' which I believe was an abbreviation for 'tomorrow.'  The tomorrow was put in there as sort of a grace period just in case you came to your senses.

The second word, 'Exercise' is just another word for 'voluntary punishment' for something that humans are programmed to do by those who compete in sporting events or sell exercise equipment, or by doctors and pain-pill companies who probably make more money off you by treating your aches and pains from, guess what - Exercise...

I think the funeral industry is in on it too.  As near as I can tell, everyone, whether they exercise or not, will die (see paragraph above about the Diet/Die connection).  The funeral home will eventually get you, but may get you sooner if you exercise yourself to death.

Think about it - how many other Planet Earth animals voluntarily exercise?  Take your time, and you still won't be able to name a single one that ordered a gym set from Amazon, or built a wing in their hole-in-the-ground for exercise equipment.

No, we humans are the only ones who eat so much, drink so much, sit on our ass so much, smoke so much, and generally do too much of nothing to stop ourselves from becoming overly fat and underly fit.  I know, I'm one of 'em!

So on December 31st 2016 I decided to employ those two words, Diet and Exercise, in my life, but with a bit of caution.  Too much could kill me and not enough may also kill me.  So 'how much' of each had to be just right.

Come Sunday morning, January 1st, 2017, I climbed aboard my treadmill and took a little stroll.  I set no goals and no limits.  In route to nowhere, I decided at the 3/4 mile point that I should stop.  I had set a pace of 96 steps per minute and it took 27 minutes to reach 3/4 mile, which meant that I had racked up 2,592 steps under controlled conditions.  The recommended number of steps per day is 10,000 but that's if you really give a rat's ass about being in 'perfect' condition.  I just want to feel a little better. So I'm fine with the 2,592 steps, plus any additional steps I accumulate going between the refrigerator and my recliner.  Well, it's a start...

But wait, I also dusted off my Total Gym and set it up in the garage and did 100 reps each of 6 different sets of exercises to make my legs, arms and gut better.

And I did the same thing again today just for good measure.  And I plan to do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next day.......

Is it working?  Well, I'm down 4.8 pounds from when I started yesterday.  And I ache all over.  And I feel good about it.  So yeah, I think it's working.  We'll know for sure in a few weeks.

1-9-17 It's still working.  As of today I'm down 7.8 pounds.  Feel better too.
Here's a breakdown of my daily exercise/BP/Blood Glucose/Weight (I'm not diabetic) steps:

                  115/57             68              291.6°°®
                  Blood Glucose Before Breakfast 99
                  Treadmill      .75 miles @ 2.3 mph
                   2.5° incline   101 Steps Per Min
                100 Reps of 10 lb arm curls
                100 Reps of 6 Sets on Total Gym (legs and arms)