Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014 in New Orleans

Once again, Judy and I drove to New Orleans for Christmas with her sister's family.  And that family is growing by leaps and bounds lately with Nephew # 2's marriage in November, and Nephew # 1's upcoming marriage in May.  Both come with lots of in-laws and maybe even some out-laws.  But, so far, all those we've met have been nice-laws.

On the way over we also stopped in Lafayette to have lunch at Gator Cove.  It is operated by a long-time Egghead friend and his wife.  They insisted that it was on the house.  So we arrived in New Orleans full of shrimp PoBoy and Seafood Gumbo.  And guess where we went for dinner... Yes, a Cajun restaurant that sold, you guessed it, PoBoy's and Gumbo.  And then we had some Sister-in-Law Gumbo the next day and Left-Over Gumbo when we arrived home.  Yes, we're pretty much Gumbo'd out at the moment.

One of the first things we wanted to do was show the videos I assembled of Nephew # 2's wedding last month.  They all seemed to have liked it.  Sorry,but the videos are too large to post on YouTube.

We had a lot of fun with people, food and presents, including some upcoming birthdays.  We returned home on Friday, the day after Christmas to avoid the heavy traffic.  Glad we did.  Lots of rain after we got home, and is still raining.

I took over 400 photos.  Quickly culled those done to about 350, and the remaining ones I edited out which ones to put in a video/slide show that would last less than 8 minutes (the maximum time humans can look at photos before losing interest).  I posted the video on two Egghead Forums and Facebook, but you can click here and see it...

Now to ride out the next couple of months and into March for the first Eggfest - The Salado Eggfest on March 14th.

Time sure flies when you're having fun.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Nephew # 2 Wedding In Baton Rouge

We attended Nephew # 2's wedding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on November 14th.  We drove over a couple of days earlier to get set up so we could take some rehearsal and rehearsal dinner photos.  It was definitely worth going over early.

Yes, Chase Ranlett finally decide to get married.  We always knew he was 'picky' about everything so it stood to reason that he would also be picky about who he married.  Well, it paid off well.  She is Cheryl Campesi.  And she is beautiful in so many ways.  We loved her the first moment we met her.

They wanted a big Catholic wedding and they got it.  Everything was first class from the proposal, to the bridal showers, to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, to the wedding ceremony itself, to the reception and even to the morning after breakfast.  And it went off without a hitch.

Lots of photos and videos, much of which I did.  So I'm working on editing the photos and videos for a movie that they can keep on a computer and watch anytime they like.

Update: I finished the videos and they turned out very nice.  We will be showing them over the Christmas holidays in New Orleans.

Okay...  I finished the videos and everyone got to see them in New Orleans over the Christmas holidays.  They liked them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jefferson Eggfest

We learned about the Jefferson Eggfest only about three weeks before the scheduled date, October 11th.  We had always wanted to go to Jefferson so that was a plus.  Then we learned that Morrison's Supply Company was the host dealer responsible for the Eggfest.  And their reason, it was a fund raiser for the Jefferson Carnegie Library, a historical landmark dating back to 1907.  It was one among many that Andrew Carnegie built across America.

So we volunteered to join with a few other Eggheads to help with the cooking.

We drove up Friday the 10th so that we could attend the Meet & Greet at the Library.  It turned out great and we got a chance to talk openly with the people who headed up the library fund and organized the event.  They fed us quit well.  And we were all ready to kick things off Saturday morning.

We drove around some of the neighborhoods to look at the magnificent old homes Jefferson is known for, then we visited some of the shops on the main drag.  Jefferson is definitely a great place to spend a weekend.  Bed & Breakfast places dominate the lodging market and each has some unique quality about it.  But it was also the weekend for the annual burn drive, a fund raiser for the burn centers in Houston and Galveston.  Lots of people in town for that.  We ended up staying at a hotel.

Then it started to rain. And it was still raining Saturday morning, although much less than the storm that came through during the night.

Somehow through all of this, the Morrison's crew, along with some volunteers, managed to get the tents and tables set up and the Big Green Eggs assembled and moved into place.

We fired up the Eggs and started cooking.

Then we waited and waited and waited for the crowd to arrive.  Only a few locals and a few out-of-towner's ventured into the rainy day.  Needless to say, everyone was disappointed, but we vowed to return next year and do it again.

After just one weekend in Jefferson, we love the town, its people and their enthusiasm for keeping a grand old library alive.

I borrowed a few photos to go with the ones I took and made it into a movie.  Here's he link:

You might also check out the blog site I made for the Eggfest(s).

And to show our appreciation for being invited to participate in the Eggfest, I made them a few commemorative tokens:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Junior Joined The Army

Junior (that would be me) was what people called me for the better part of 18 years.  That's because I was Leroy McMillin, Jr.

But when I joined the Army, I was called everything but Junior.  On a good day, I was called by my last name: McMillin, and in 1962, I got pegged with the name Zereaux as I was directing the unloading of our ASA vehicles off a C-130 at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky during an untimely hard rain.

Our Lieutenant yelled 'Come On Zero" for me to jump in the truck.  I did as instructed and landed on his lap. The name stuck.

It started out being 'Zero,' but being from Louisiana, a buddy, Gary Gallatin from Dallas, suggested I call myself 'Ze-roe.'  So I revised the spelling to accommodate my desire to be, let's just say, different.

I even designed my 'mark' for it:

But most of the time I just used this to indicate that I had read something or had been there, sometimes accompanied by 'was here.'

I still use it when reading books to mark that I've read it.

Anyway, here's an accounting of my three years in the Army.

How I became a Soldier

My name is Leroy McMillin.  I'm from a small town in northeast Louisiana.  I was born in May of 1941, so that makes me a 'pre-war baby'  and old enough to remember some of it.

It wasn't long before I was hearing the talk about war and how our troops were dying.  I didn't know what it all meant, of course, but there was both an element of fear and excitement in the telling of it by the people who came into my Dad's cafe in Harrisonburg.  It's a historic village on the Ouachita River, having been settled in 1714 or thereabouts.  Our population was about 500, counting those off at war.
As I grew older I would sit and listen to the talk or stand on the front sidewalk in the evenings watching the local militia march up and down the street with their shotguns and sticks.  I loved how they yelled commands and turned when told to do so, or change the position of their guns as they marched.  It was magical.  I liked marching a lot.

Then they would come into my Dad's cafe and drink coffee.  Even though coffee and sugar were rationed and hard to come by, my Dad always had some to share.  A nickel a cup.  I can still smell it as the water was poured into the top of the big silver coffee pot, creating a big plume of steam.

But the best part of my day was to sit and listen to the men folk talk about the war as some of them sipped the hot coffee from their saucers.  I so wanted to be a soldier.

A decade and a half later I was standing naked among a long line of boys and being checked inside and outside, front and back and top to bottom.  Those doctors saw parts of me even my Mama never saw.
Next thing I know my buddy and I were on an airplane flying from Shreveport to Dallas.  I'd never flown in a big airplane before.  A DC-3 the pilot said. Then with the precision I expected of the military, we were met at the airport by an Army driver who zipped through traffic like I had never seen before on highways ten and twelve lanes wide.  My eyes were popping at the sights.

It wasn't long before we arrived at the Army Processing Center.  We were introduced to an important looking person in uniform who told us we had scored very high on some tests that we had taken in Shreveport and he wanted to talk to us about our future in the Army. 

He explained that the Army allowed some enlistee's to pick and choose what they would like to do. We wouldn't be sent to the Infantry or Armored or other  combat units unless we requested it.  Instead, we were qualified for the Army Security Agency and we could select from two programs the ASA had a strong interest in at the time: Computers and Morse Code.

I asked, "What's a computer?"

He said, "Well, I don't rightly know, but I do know the Army is interested in it."

I said, "I was a Boy Scout and I know about Morse Code, so I'll take that."

About a hundred signatures later we were lined up with some others and sworn into the Army.  And within minutes we were on a bus headed north into the cold night for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. 

We arrived about 3:00 am, or as I soon learned differently: 0300.  There was snow on the ground and we were in summer type civilian clothes.  My teeth were chattering, as were everyone else's, along with toes and knees. 

We were in the Army now.

The next eight weeks were, let's say, different.  All of us were 'maggots' to some guy who wore a lot of stripes.  He reminded us of it every day up to and including the day we graduated basic training.

But one day I was told to report to a building where I found out that I was to be interviewed.  Some guys in suits asked me a lot of questions and warned me that if they found out I was not telling the truth I would be in a lot of trouble.  They gave me a lie detector test.  A few days later I got a letter from my parents saying the FBI had been to Harrisonburg asking about me.  They asked if I was in some kind of trouble? 

Then all of a sudden I was home again for a few days, but I had to be in Massachusetts by a certain date in April.  After a very long train ride I reported to ASA at Ft. Devens.

Much of the first day or two I was being explained the importance of keeping our mission secret.  I likened it to be an updated version of the "Loose Lips Sink Ships" posters I had seen in the Post Office during WWII.  Later I learned that it was much more than that.

I was assigned to Company B, USASA Training Regiment, and just like that I was a Spivey's Tiger.  Lt. John Spivey was our Company Commander.  I liked him the moment he zipped in front of the barracks one day in a bright sports car, leaned over and kissed a beautiful woman, then smartly walked into the barracks office as she drove away.

As a Spivey's Tiger, we marched three abreast over and back to the ASA Quadrangle.  We always tried to be the last group in, and we always broke rank with a very loud "EeeeeYaaaTTTTT." 

We were special and we knew it.

I immediately began training in Morse Code.  I have to say, I wasn't expecting what would come of it but it turned out to be the ideal assignment for me.  Except for three guys, our entire class was assigned to the 317th ASA Battalion in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  We would be a support group to the 82nd Airborne Division.  What an honor and privilege that was.

We trained a lot, including tactical training for front-line support when needed.  We set up field operations, often close and sometimes very far from where the 82nd was training.  Because we were considered tactical, we had the option to go to Jump School to get our Jump Wings.  Some of my buddies did and I wish I had also, many times.  But I wasn't in nearly as good a shape as I thought I was and probably would have been kicked out of the program.
Suddenly, we were instructed to pack up our entire company and return to Ft. Devens for two months of Cold Weather Training and to help train some National Guard troops.  That was a really fun adventure.  Then we returned to Ft. Bragg and set everything up as before.

Then Operation Swift Strike happened.  We were assigned to support the 18th Airborne Corps in some of the most realistic simulated war exercises in years.  It covered two states.  That was interesting to say the least, and lots of fun.

In the Fall of 1962 I was in a small advanced group who flew up to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky with some equipment to demonstrate our mission support capabilities to the 101st Airborne Division.  Apparently, we impressed them quite well.  We returned to Ft. Bragg and were instructed to load up again and move our entire company, lock, stock and barrel, to Ft. Campbell.  At the same time, the 317th ASA Battalion was de-activated and we suddenly became the 313th ASA Battalion.

Like most combat ready troops, we were in place and ready to go to war in October 1962.  The Cuban Missile Crisis put us all to the test.  Fortunately, the only thing that came of it was a readiness check.  We scored high.

Then on February 28, 1963, my three years were up.  I decided not to re-enlist and accepted my discharge thinking the military wasn't for me.  I drove home wondering if I had made the right decision.

Ironically, I joined the Naval Security Group two years later because I was bored to tears in Harrisonburg, Louisiana.    That's another story in itself...

Here's the 'Movie' if you care to see some photos:  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Judy's Birthday Weekend

Starting right now, it's Judy's birthday weekend.  Her actual birthday isn't until 9/2 but because of the Labor Day weekend, we always celebrate it over the weekend.

It should be an interesting weekend too.  Family will start arriving this afternoon.  Of course, that means lots of eating, drinking and drinking.  There'll be some cooking going on too.  But tonight, a visit to Las Cascadas, just up the street to satisfy our Mexican flavors cravings.

The Coop will be busy tomorrow evening after an afternoon surprise adventure for everyone.

And wouldn't you know it, the weather forecast for tomorrow is 70% to 100% heavy rain.  But hey, we'll just get wet.

More to follow...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Colds.... I hate colds....

Have I ever mentioned that I hate colds?  I probably did.  I've had enough of them to write a book.  And I hated every one of them.  But who wants to read a book about hating colds?  Surely not those who hate colds too, and for the same reasons I do.  But one of the luxuries of having a blog site is I can post in no uncertain terms that I hate colds...

But my colds are different (aren't they all).  Mine turn into bronchitis, then severe bronchitis.  And for some reason I wait until it's at the severe stage before I threaten to go to the doctor.  Yes, the same doctor who has repeatedly told me to come see him at the first onset of cold symptoms.

No doctor for me.... No sirree Bob, I always elect to tough it out.  And day after day, night after night, I do just that - cough, cough more, hack up a few globs of chest crud, cuss, and cuss and cuss, the return to what I was doing, or not doing, or not doing, or trying to sleep, and wait for the next round.

2:00 am and I'm on the Internet looking up coughing spasms or something, only to read for the umpteenth time that I probably should go see a doctor.  $&#@*

Finally, it starts to wear down.  Not 'wear out' mind you, just down.  I still cough and still hack up 'stuff' and lose sleep and can't enjoy anything or do anything or go anywhere because I'm afraid I will have another coughing fit.  And to make matters worse, my coughing is so violent that my blood pressure goes sky high, my head feels like its going to burst and I wet my diaper.

I'm retired, but if I was working, it would take all the fun out of calling in sick.

Colds are not fun, and that's why I hate colds, and associated conditions that result from them.

And now I have to live with my wife who caught my cold.

And you don't even want to get me started talking about mosquitoes and flies, especially right now while I'm still recovering from this *#@!%&#@^&( cold.

Thank you for listening.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shelby Hughes Beasley - RIP

Everyone has a relative who has helped shape their life.  I have had about five such uncles.  One died many years ago.  Another one died last Friday.

Shelby H. Beasley Obituary

Date of Birth:

Wednesday, November 5th, 1930

Date of Death:

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Shelby Beasley

Shelby H. Beasley, 84, peacefully passed away the afternoon of Friday, July 25, 2014 surrounded by his loving family.

Shelby was the pillar of his family, a devoted father and grandfather. He had an unselfish and forgiving heart and most enjoyed storytelling with his friends and family gathered around. He will be remembered for his love for God, his sound advice, his country heritage, and his passion for the outdoors.

Shelby was born November 5, 1930. He is preceded in death by his parents, George Shelby and Cora Alice Beasley and his grandson, Jeremy Tyler Bump. He is survived by his beautiful wife of 64 years, Margie Jean McMillin Beasley; his daughters Charlotte Ann Bump and husband Milo of Tampa, FL; Shelley Jean Edmonds and husband David of Birmingham, AL; Margie Marie Butler and husband Glenn of Alexandria, LA; and his son Brent Beasley and wife Cindy of Coppell, TX. He is also survived by his eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Shelby was a lifelong resident of Harrisonburg, LA, a graduate of Harrisonburg High School and Louisiana State University, College of Agriculture. He began his lifelong career as a farmer and also worked at the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s department. He was a passionate member of his church, Pleasant Grove Baptist, where he graciously served as Director of Music, Deacon and Sunday School teacher.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, July 27th from 5-8:00 p.m. at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church located at 385 Hwy 126, Jonesville, LA 71343. Funeral services will be held on Monday, July 28th at 10:00 a.m. at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church with Rev. Craig James and Rev. Mickey Hudnall officiating. The family will receive visitors at 9:00 a.m. Burial to follow at Harrisonburg Cemetery. Reception to follow after burial at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. 

That's what the obituary says, but there was so much more to the man. The kind of 'stuff' that makes you proud to be a nephew or a friend or even an acquaintance.  He just came across as a person everyone instantly liked the moment they met.

Judy and I drove over to Louisiana for the funeral.

It was only about a 500 mile round trip but it involved a lot of stressful stuff, including driving mostly 2-lane roads, seeing people I haven't seen in decades, listening to Baptist preachers go on and on about how wonderful a man Shelby was, followed by the parade of cars, walking up steep hills in the Harrisonburg Cemetery and standing in the dreadful heat listening to the preacher say some final words. And that was followed by the traditional eating the huge amount of wonderful food that everyone brought to the church.  And then saying goodbye's to people we may never see again. 

But it was worth it. 

When it was over we volunteered to drive Uncle Charlie (another of the five) back home to Tioga so a cousin could return directly to Baton Rouge rather than have to go to Tioga first.

We also stopped by my parent's and my sister's graves to place flowers. Taking Uncle Charlie home added another 30 or so miles and at least a couple of hours to the trip, that included visiting an ancient cemetery in the hills between Manifest and Jena where my g-grandparents were buried.  They came to America from Ireland with nothing but each other and hope for a better life than what they had in Ireland.  We didn't get out of the car but I'll one day return to spend some time visiting their graves.

As for my Aunt Margie, she was noticeably happy that we came.  I was a favorite nephew and knew it all my life.

Naturally, I saw a lot of people who knew me from childhood who just wanted to say hi. . 

All in all, I'm glad we went.

Funerals in Catahoula Parish haven't changed a bit in my lifetime.  If you belong to a church you get the full package, but you get even more if you were someone who was obviously liked and loved as much as Uncle Shelby. 

Cars and trucks didn't just slow as the funeral procession passed, they pulled over and stopped and waited until all of our cars passed.  Even a tractor in a field came to a full stop, the driver obviously someone who knew Shelby and respected him.

I worked for him one summer driving a combine to harvest the hundreds of acres of soybeans on his farm.  I had never driven a huge combine in my life but he showed me how and turned me loose on his field.  It's not easy.  But one day he said I was his best combine driver.  Hot, dirty and really tired, I was extremely proud to hear that from him.  I think it was a few days later when I realized that I was his 'only' combine driver.  Even so, when I see a combine working a field, I take great pride in my knowing how to operate one.

Life now goes on without one really nice person, Shelby Hughes Beasley.

The Road to Enterprise - A book about success

My life long friend Emmilee Green in Harrisonburg, Louisiana gave me a book to read that was written by a former Harrisonburg resident, Arch Aplin, Jr., who now lives in Freeport, Texas.

The book is a detailed accounting of his life from when he was a child in Harrisonburg, followed by dangerous years as a Sailor in both the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns in WWII, and on to a successful career, each step of the way making good use of employment and business opportunities as they came his way. He went on to instill that business savvy in his son, Arch Aplin III, who came up with the idea for the highly successful Buc-ee's chain of conveniently located stores throughout Texas.

I took a picture in front of his old family home in Harrisonburg, with me holding a copy of his book and wearing a Buc-ee's shirt.

It didn't take long to read it, mostly because he wrote about people, places and events that I grew up knowing and experiencing myself, only a few years later.

I'll write a full review of the book later.  I'm still trying to catch up on a lot of things going on right now, including writing to him and thanking him for telling his story the way he did.  It's a good read.

Well, I can now add to this post.

I wrote to Arch Aplin, Jr., explaining who I was and that I enjoyed his book 'immensely.'  I also inclosed a photo copy of a picture that my uncle Charlie McMillin gave me shortly after my visit to Harrisonburg. The picture was of Arch Aplin, Jr's maternal grandparents, William Sanford Terry and Nancy Catherine Scarborough Terry.  As it turns out, my grandmother was a Terry, and sister to Arch's Mother.

Small world...

He wrote back saying that it was a surprise and a pleasure to receive my letter.  He went on to say he was very familiar with my Dad and Mom, and some of my aunts and uncles.

He closed by saying we should keep in touch and meet in the near future.

Needless to say, it would be a thrill to sit and talk to him.  So that's high on my plans.

I can fully understand why Emmilee and Joe Green thought so highly of him.

A Visit With An Old Friend

After driving the Natchez Trace Parkway, Judy and were in Natchez, Mississippi and very close to where I grew up in Harrisonburg, Louisiana.  So we decided to call my life-long friend, Emmilee Johnson Green, in Harrisonburg so see if we could stop by to see her.

Not only did she say yes, but invited us to spend the night and cooked a wonderful dinner of fish and shrimp, made even more perfect by the abundance of memories told and re-told of our growing up.

We ended up staying two nights.

Here's a short video collection of some photos.  They include visiting with my brothers.

Natchez Trace Parkway

On the return from the Porkopolis Eggfest in Cincinnati, I decided to do something I always wanted to do - drive the full length of the Natchez Trace Parkway, all 444 miles of it.

Historically, the Natchez Trace was the first 'Interstate Hwy' of any significance in America.  People of all walks of life traveled it for hundreds of years, perhaps even thousands of years.

I grew up in Louisiana near Natchez and spent a lot of time exploring the Natchez end of the Trace after a short segment was made into a Parkway.  Eventually, the Parkway extended all the way to Nashville, Tennessee and became, in my opinion, a treasured asset for the future and a wonderful way to explore the past.

I  took lots of photos along the way and I'm still sorting them.  I will add them to this post very soon.  I promise.

I'm back.  It took a while but here's a little 5 minute video collection of some of our photos of the Natchez Trace Parkway drive.

By the way, it was worth every mile of it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Porkopolis Eggfest - Cincinnati, Ohio

We go to a lot of Eggfests around the country. Over 50 so far.  All are different with totally different personalities.  Naturally, we've met a lot of people over the years and we see them often on the Eggfest circuit.  But we also meet a lot of new people too.  And since we all share the same enthusiasm for the Big Green Egg, we get along great.

We were told by many people that the Porkopolis Eggfest was a good one and we should attend as soon as we can.  So this year we decided at the last minute to go.  We left Tuesday morning last week and drove to Lewisville, Arkansas to spend a few days with our friends Charlotte and Richard Harris, aka Kolb Driver.  You can read about that part of the trip in the previous post.

Then on to Cincinatti, via Memphis to Nashville where we stopped for the night, and then on to Cincinnati.


After arriving and unpacking in Cincinnati, we found a grocery store and bought a few items to cook at the Eggfest.  Simple stuff, just some bourbon meatballs.  We really hadn't planned to cook but quickly jumped in to assist when a friend didn't have time to pre-process the items she wanted to cook.  We just kept the Egg warm for about an hour, served it, and then spent the rest of the day meeting people and tasting food.

I took about 800 photos and almost immediately edited those down to 400 (mostly duplicates and really bad shots).  I'm still working on a video collection of the remaining photos and will add the YouTube link here as soon as I finish it.  Meanwhile here are a few memorable moments.

I'll be back with more photo and updates as soon as I finish them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

First Stop on the Road To Porkopolis

We have had many Egghead friends tell us that we should attend the Porkopolis Eggfest in Cincinnati, Ohio.  They said it was a lot of fun and it would give us a chance to meet people we've chatted with on facebook and the forums.  We always said maybe one day.

Well on Monday of last week, Judy said, "Let's go to Cincinnati and the Eggfest."  We quickly packed and left the next morning for the 1,057 mile trip with planned stops in Lewisville, Arkansas to stay a couple of days with Charlotte and Richard, aka Kolb Driver.

They fed us well, took us to Texarkana to the Mall to shop for candy, then a tour of the town to show us the famous Town Hall that sits on both Arkansas and Texas soil.

Richard drove us all over Texarkana, telling us the history of many of the places.  It was definitely an interesting tour.

They also took us to a restaurant right on the Red River near their home.  I was roaming around looking at the assorted stuff on the walls (mostly Arkansas Razorbacks related) and happened on a newspaper article about a huge catfish caught on Tew Lake in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, right where I was born and raised.  I told the restaurant owner about what I found and she asked if it was a true story.  I told her no, but it was a fun story, and that some folks back in Catahoula Parish still think it's true.  In truth, it was just a couple of local boys having fun.  The Catahoula News, the local weekly newspaper there ran the story and it instantly became the stuff of legend.

By the way, the Catahoula News (now called Catahoula News Booster) operates out of Jonesville, Louisiana.  But it's roots can be traced back to the mid-19th century (1854 I think).  My maternal grandfather was the owner and publisher back in the 1930's.  The offices were in Harrisonburg, Louisiana at that time.

On Thursday left them there at their house on the lake and headed to Hope, Arkansas to pick up I-35 to Memphis and then on to Nashville by dark on Thursday.  We made it and slept soundly in the hotel.

The next morning (Friday) we drove on up through Louisville, Kentucky to Cincinnati.  Found our suite at Residence Inn on the north side of Cincinnati and went looking for a grocery store to purchase what we needed to cook the next day at the Eggfest.

The story about the Porkopolis Eggfest picks up in the next post, hopefully with a video collection of the many photos I took.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

New Smart Phone

After many years of see-sawing back and forth over which new smart phone was a good replacement for our First Generation iPhone (yes, first generation), we finally decided to go with a Samsung Galaxy S5.  We already had our account at AT&T, so we kept the account but had to contract for two years.

It's pretty cool.  Definitely cooler than our iPhone I.  And it's larger too, something both of us need really bad these days.

It's taking a bit of adjusting to the latest Android technology but we're coming around.

We get so few calls on our cell phone that when it rings (Rooster Crowing ring tone, naturally), we look at each other with that, "What do we do now?" look.  It's even funnier when we're in the car with the cell phone and car phone speakers ringing at the same time.  

And being as though I'm driving, I'm not about to answer the thing.  By the time I collect myself enough to turn off the ringing sound coming out of the car speakers by using the button on the steering wheel, Judy has pressed the wrong button on the phone and we're disconnected anyway.  Fortunately, nine out of ten of the calls are from someone trying to sell us something.  If it's someone we know, they know enough to call us back and be patient while we figure it out.  

Maybe the new phone is smart enough to recognize that old people are using it and automatically switches to "Old Phart Mode" or something.  

Heck, we still talk loud because our brain says the caller is from far away and may have trouble hearing us.

We didn't buy any accessories yet but if the standard battery starts to lie, I might upgrade to one that doesn't lie.  I hate it when the phone says it won't rain and then it rains.  Lying SOB!

I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Georgia Mountain Eggfest 2014

It was a long, almost 1,000 mile trek but worth it to attend the Georgia Mountain Eggfest for the third time in as many years.  I'll have lots more to say about it and the 1,800 people who showed up to eat and check out the EGGciting Big Green Egg in action.

Overall, we were gone 11 days and were EGGhausted by the time we got home.  But we're back in form now and ready for even more adventures.  I'll bring this post up to date when I get some time.

First things first, I have to edit about 2,000 photos of all we've been doing this Spring .

Now we're talking about going to Ireland and Scotland next year.  We're really looking forward to that.

Created Some More Eggheads

We packed the Toyota and headed toward Hiawassee, Georgia for the Georgia Mountain Eggfest.  But we had a couple of things to do in Baton Rouge and Metairie, Louisiana first.

We went over to see Nephew Chase and fiancee, Sheryl.  We said we wanted to see the new floors they installed in their home.  But Judy and I had a surprise for them.  And after some excited moments we were all on our way to the Big Green Egg dealer to bring home their new Large Big Green Egg.  Yes, they are now Eggheads.

That done, we headed to see Judy's sister, Joyce in Metairie to celebrate mine and her birthdays.  Yes, same day, but ten years apart.  It was fun.  It was also Mother's Day, so Joyce doubled up on gifts.

More information and some photos will follow soon.

We headed out early Monday morning for Hiawassee, Georgia.  We stopped for the night just north of Atlanta.

Texas Eggfest 2014

The 11th Texas Eggfest was a hoot this year.  Bigger and Better that ever.  This year for the first time it was held at historic Camp Ben McCullough a few miles south of Austin.  A beautiful setting.  I took a lot of photos there and I'm still working on some of them.  I'll get back here when I've got some time.

I'm back, and this time with video proof that we had a good time.  Here's the link to YouTube:

aka Spring "Fifteen Year Egghead In Training" Chicken
Spring Texas USA

Athens Eggfest 2014

No sooner than getting things back in order around here after Roger's visit and the Salado Eggfest, we began packing again, this time for the Athens Eggfest in Athens, Texas.  And, as is easily predicted, we had a great time again.  Cooked a lot, ate a lot, and enjoyed a lot.  More information to follow as soon as I get some time to sort photos and recall stories to write about.

Salado Eggfest 2014

Once again the Salado Eggfest was great.  We had a lot of people attend and it would seem that all were pleased that they came.

Our friend Roger "IrishRog" Beck from Limerick Ireland joined us and fit right in among all the Eggheads.

I'll have to add more to this post later because I'm way behind and wanted to get something posted in order to maintain the proper chronology of all that we've been doing lately.  It's a lot...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Real Irishman Visits

Have you ever met someone on-line and felt comfortable with them?  Roger Beck, aka IrishRog on our GreenEggers forum, is an Egghead like us, but he happens to live 'across the pond' in Limerick, Ireland.  There was very little chance that we would meet in person unless one of us crossed that pond.

After years of inviting him, he decided that 2014 was the time to make the trip and timed it so that he could attend the Salado Eggfest on March 15th in Salado Texas.  But he arrived early enough for us to show him around Texas and let him taste some real Texas BBQ.  We think we selected the right agenda, at least from a 'food' standpoint.

Tuesday, on the way home from the airport, we stopped at Texas Roadhouse.  We all ordered the Chicken Fried Steak, and as it turns out, he loved it.

He slept well but was up early in order to soak in as much 'Texas' as he could.

Wednesday, I cooked my famous EggMcMillins for breakfast.  He loved them too.  Judy and I pretty much decided that the man loves his food.

So we joined our neighbors, Tom and Pam, and had lunch at Papadeaux's, a favorite Cajun restaurant, and, not surprising, he loved the food there too.

Early the following morning, Thursday, we headed toward San Antonio with a stop at Buc ee's in Seguin and a detour to Lockhart where we ate at Black's BBQ, one of the famous BBQ joints on the famed Texas BBQ Trail.

Naturally, there was a line and we made good use of the time to talk to others in the line.  It only took about two seconds for folks to figure out that Roger was not from around there.  We had a great time and ate a lot.


Bearing in mind that we are Eggheads, our critique of the meal was more negative than positive.  As others later told us, it must have been an off day for Black's BBQ because it is usually quite good.

An hour later we were driving in front of The Alamo on our way to our hotel along the famous San Antonio Riverwalk.  After checking in and getting settled, we walked along the Riverwalk for a short distance as we headed for Mi Tierra Restaurant to meet our friends Mike "Lawn Ranger" Schweitzer, his wife, Sharon, and daughter, Marina, for a true Mexican dinner that was outstanding, complete with the wonderful music of a strolling Mariachi band. Then the Market to shop for authentic Mexican items.  Roger was visibly fascinated by all that he saw.

But he also got to experience the noise and excitement of a real Tejano Festival with a full-blown 'Battle of the Bands' going on, all at the same time.  It was extremely crowded, extremely noisy and a whole lot of fun.

The hotel bed was a welcome sight by the time we returned to our hotel.

Friday morning came early because we had to be on the road early in order to reach our next stop, Franklin BBQ in Austin, the Capital of Texas.  His BBQ is so famous that if you expect to be served at all, you need to be in line by 8:00 am to 9:00 am at the latest.  We arrived at 8:15 and were 125th in line.  Fortunately, the weather was cool and dry, and the crowd pleasant.

I had emailed Aaron Franklin a few days earlier to see if he would be there and asked if we could introduce Roger to him.  He emailed back that unless something came up he would be happy to meet us.  But so I could come bearing gifts, I made some wooden tokens to give to Aaron.

We got in line like everyone else, arriving about 8:15.  The crowd was very laid back and there were no 'cut-in-line' jerks at all.  It took us until about 11:15 just to get inside, and another 25 to 30 minutes before we could sit down to eat.  Long time waiting, I know, but it was worth it.  The food, especially the brisket, was delicious.

Aaron Franklin himself came over to talk to us and invited us out back to see the smokers in action.

There's more photos to see of the visit at Franklin BBQ but it's easier to watch the video.

After leaving Franklin's, we headed straight up to Salado, Texas where the Salado Eggfest would be held.  We arrived early enough to visit the Big Green Egg dealer and visit with some other early arrivals before heading to the Meet & Greet Party.

This is where it's easier to watch the video of the Salado Eggfest but I haven't compiled it yet.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Unusual Winter Coming To An End

This winter has been one for the books.  Endless days of sub-freezing temperatures, icy conditions, and generally, 'stay inside' conditions, most of the time.

But now we're having some really nice weather and we are taking full advantage of it to clean-up and fix-up what needs cleaning and fixing.

Among the long list of things-to-do, I'm down to two final 'fixes,' both involving outdoor lighting.  One is a simple bulb change that requires some getting down on the ground like a reptile in order to reach under the step fixture to pull and replace the bulb.  Piece 'a cake.

But the other has turned into a major project.  A few days ago we noticed the bulb was not burning at night.  I gave it a rather low priority because it was a three minute fix at the most.  Just change the $#@* bulb.  So I took out the old 'cloudy and obviously burned out' bulb and went to the garage to get a replacement.  None to be had, so off to Lowe's to buy a bulb.  Judy went with me, and $160 later we were home with 20 bags of mulch, a bunch of flowers, garden plants, and my bulb.

So I once again postponed fixing the light while I unloaded and placed the truck load of stuff in position for later doing.  After all, I had the bulb and only needed to insert it and replace the cap.

Finally, I went to replace the bulb but when I went thru the side gate, it would not latch.  It had been giving me problems forever and this time I had had enough of dealing with it.  So I got my tools and removed some boards that apparently had rotted in an invisible spot, thereby making the gate sag.  One thing led to another and another and another and I eventually got it to close and latch with the slightest touch.

Then I had to put the tools away and clean up the sawdust and store the leftover pieces of lumber in the leftover lumber pile.

Then I headed directly to the garage to get the bulb to fix the light but on my way out, Judy said, "You need to light the Egg to cook the chicken."  So I went to the Coop to light the Egg, only it needed cleaning out a bit and new lump charcoal added, which I did, but I had to go get the trash can to put the ashes in.  And on the way to get the trash can I happened to notice that the other gate, the really pretty one, had a gap at the top which would require some weather proof glue and overnight clamps to fix.  So I did all of that but when I got ready to go back to fixing the light it was time to put the chicken on the Egg.  That meant cleaning and cutting the backbone out of the chicken so I could spatchcock (butterfly) it.  Then stand by while I cooked the meaty side directly over the flames for one minute before converting the Egg to indirect and flipping the chicken over for the remainder of the cook,which I did.

Then I headed back to the task of replacing the bulb.  I inserted the new bulb and checked it by turning the light controller to manual.  Nothing!!!!  So I shook it, my usual first attempt at fixing stuff.  Nothing!!!!  Then I banged it a little, my second approach to fixing stuff.  Suddenly, I saw a very faint orange glow... WTF!!!  So I go into my troubleshooting mode (and mood) and after some long and difficult minutes I determined that the fixture itself was bad and in need of replacing.  So that project is on today's list of things-to-do after another trip to Lowes.  Meanwhile, I used my meter to check the bulb I took out and it was fine in spite of being a little cloudy.  #$&@!)$$$!!!

So I'm starting off today with a yesterday project.

Then it started to rain......

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Floors Project

A couple of years ago we had new floors installed in all rooms except the guest bath and our office.  We're glad we waited for those two rooms because we finally saw the type tile we wanted to put down.  But we would probably still be putting off the decision had we not received a call from the tile guy who did the other rooms.  He said he was between jobs and was looking for something to do until his next job.

We thought about it for a couple of seconds and said come on...

By the next morning we had the tile, thin set, and grout waiting for him to do the guest bath.  No sooner than we started to see how the new tile looked, we told him to do the office too.  And off to Home Depot for more tile.

It took him all day to take up the old flooring (tile in the bath and wood parquet in the office) and install the new tile.  But he did each room in a single day.  We were quite pleased.

He came back the next day and laid the grout and cleaned everything.  He also replaced a couple of broken tiles on our porch and repaired some missing grout.

Here's some photos:

We really love the grain texture and light color of the tile.

Two more projects out of the way.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

8 Days into the New Year

About four weeks ago my Ophthalmologist determined that the pressure inside my right (bad one) eye was getting too high and scheduled me for a laser treatment/surgery to reduce the pressure.  It's called trabeculoplasty and only takes a minute or less.  There are some zapping sounds as the laser burns away tissue that is clogging areas of the eye where fluids drain.  It's not the tear ducts which perform an entirely different function. I was given some numbing drops before hand but I still felt a sort of 'mild mosquito bite' each time I heard the zap.  I was able to drive home and never suffered any pain or blurriness.

I returned today for a routine followup visit and pressure check.  The right eye seems to be doing what he expects at this point.  It will probably drop another point or two over the next six months.

But the left (good one) eye also has some pressure buildup and he doesn't want to take any chances that it might damage my eye.  So I'm set to go back Saturday morning to have it treated.

Good way to start the New Year - surgery within the first few days.  But I'm very lucky that I have a doctor that pays close attention to something that blinds thousands of people around the world who do not have access to either the doctors or the treatment.