Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What Year Is It?

Sure, it's 2009. You may even know it's the Year of the Ox.

But for our pal Pat, it's The Year of the Sandwich. As of this writing, there are no commemorative t-shirts to be purchased. The Conductor recently sat down with Pat to see how the Year is going. The interview took place at Findlay's Main Street Deli.

Editor's Note: The Conductor has memory problems and may have, in fact, made some of this stuff up.

Conductor: You're mid-way through the Year of the Sandwich. How would you say it's going?

Pat: It really hasn't cut the mustard. I've been really busy. I'm spread pretty thin.

Conductor: So to speak. What's your favorite so far?

Pat: Could you be more specific?

Conductor: Ummm..maybe...

Pat: Do you mean meat or non-meat?

Conductor: Wow, this is really complicated.

Pat: Could you hand me another napkin?

Conductor: Sure, here. Ok, what's the best meat you've had. I cannot believe I just said that.

Pat: Are you blushing? The award has to go to a stellar reuben I had in San Antonio. It was at this great deli. The corned beef was warm, thick and not too salty.

Conductor: Yeah, I am blushing. That sandwich you're working on now looks pretty darn good.

Pat: This? It's the 8-21 and it is a close second, I must say. It's pastrami, turkey, green pepper with a thin layer of dijon mustard. I chose black bread, which was a fine choice, I must say. Hey, give me that back!

Conductor: Mmrnnmen nrgh gerd.

Pat: I know it's good but I'd like to eat the whole thing!

Conductor: Sorry. Could I have another napkin? Let's move onto the non-meat category.

Pat: Mmerreghgh....ggerrrnnrgh.

Conductor: Hey! That's my tuna reuben!

Pat: And a darn good one. Unfortunately, it's not a contender. Now where were we? The non-meat? Hey, put down that knife! Really - aahhhhh!!!

Editor's Note: the rest of the interview is illegible due to what (we hope) was a smear of ketchup.

Another Candidate for the Bitter Hall of Fame

Sure, we say we're bitter. But we know it. We joke about it. Most importantly, we're bitter and fun.

Kate Gosselin.

Really bitter. Really not fun.

While not a fan of the show, inevitably images and headlines forced me to be aware of them during grocery store check-out lines.

May I suggest that if one would plot on a graph the rise and fall of the Gosselin marriage, then plot the weirdness of Kate's hairstyles the lines are the identical!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Weekend---A Photo Essay

Plarn goes first class.

Sexy shoes for Magaret and me. Wow, my feet sure are big.

Margaret---feeling no pain.

The Bride and Me. Isn't she beautiful?
P.S. How sexy is my necklace?

As if marrying Ellen wasn't enough---James becomes an honorary member of the class of '84. How can any man stand the excitement?

We look just like we did when we were roomies!
I don't even remember what this was about, but whatever it was, it sure was funny. I didn't really use my stash of tissues during the wedding ceremony, but I had to dig a couple out of my purse after this episode to dab my eyes.
Off to bed for me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"No Dipping, No Crunching, No Throwing Up"

Are these the bizarre rules of a very strict gym? Oh no, these are the rules for a very different type of athlete. That's right - Major League Eating. The most recent event was just two miles down the road at the Harrod Pork Rind Festival. My apologies for the fuzzy pictures. Really, it is not grease from snacking on pork rinds.

Never does the Pork Rind Festival get the due it deserves. I mean, twenty years of pork rinds, made three miles from Harrod (why is it not in that town? I do not know, but it's probably pork politics), and never has it been featured on any Travel Channel show. But this year was different. This year, they had a competitive eating event for pork rinds. And the competition was fierce. Some "ranked eaters" (you heard me) found their way to Harrod to compete to be the first ever Pork Rind Eating Champion.

Unfortunately, one competitor experienced a break-down (apparently of the vehiclular kind, not mental, but who knows, maybe he ate his first pork rind and cancelled). So, Mr. Keating from NYC, the emcee and time waster from MLE (Major Leage Eating), asked the crowd if anyone would like to fill the spot. Oh my, I nearly jumped out of my seat! Suddenly, I wanted to be on stage with the 350 pound man who brought his own cooler and dipping sauce. At this moment, I'm still not sure if it was the fear of making a poor showing or discovering that my secret talent is indeed competitive eating (long suspected).

Below, the judges are being "deputized." I kid you not. They held up their hands and everything. Secretly, I too held up my hand and recited the pledge, so I'm all set.

Pat and I picked our horses, I mean "gurgitators" (not my word, it's from MLE). Pat's pick came in first, mine second, and the walk-on took home an impressive third (good thing I remained in my seat).

Maybe now the lowly Pork Rind Festival will get some respect.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

But Wait, There's More...

How many entries will there be on Frankenmuth? As many as it takes.

Not every parking lot has "trash can" labelled in multiple languages. However, at Bronner's, the World's Largest Christmas store, it's a necessity.

Pat's vacation is really working. Do you see college students wearing professional pharmacy coats? That's ok because Pat probably doesn't see moles when she's hitting them with a mallet either.

What was the most overhyped feature that disappointed? The glockenspiel.

However, the Bitter Train would like to make the Pied Piper an honorary Conductor. The glockenspiel's story, though tediously told, was about the Pied Piper, who was misunderstood by the Burgermeister and the people of whatever backwater German town from which they hailed. Apparently they thought the Pied Piper used divinery and witchcraft to lead the rats away, not just his good whistle-blowin'. So when they made their accusations, the PP was filled with "bitterness and rage" (musicians can be so moody). And that's when he stole their children. All except the "crippled and blind" children who couldn't keep up. Let me just tell you that the figures who whirred around on the giant face of the clock representing the crippled and blind children was downright distressing. No wonder the PP didn't want them.

Bitterness and Rage. If I ever questioned my German heritage, that pretty much puts it to rest.

The Guilty Pleasure of Frankenmuth

You've seen the pretzel making, the plarn, and heard about the entertaining company and delicious food (and really, can you split a peanut butter cup four ways? NO!). But what you haven't heard is that there was something very special hidden away in a huge mega-Christmas store.

Not unlike a needle in a haystack, specialty ornaments really run the gamut at Bronner's, the self-proclaimed World's Largest Christmas Store. Sue and I spotted a billboard for Bronner's back in March on I-75...in Florida. At the time, I mocked it. As in, "That's one place we don't need to bother with." Even then it was calling me. I just didn't realize it at the time.

Look at them - sock monkeys!! They're everywhere!!!!

As soon as Sue has time to plarn one up, I'll have a snugli for the little guy.

A sock monkey's home is his castle indeed!

Now, if only those "Wind-up Hopping Lederhosen" fit the sock monkey, it'd be a complete experience.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oh the Places Plarn Goes!

Perhaps there has already been an entry with the same title, but darn it, plarn keeps going places. Plarn can not be contained!

The whole gang enjoyed a fine time at Bronner's (world's largest Christmas store - you've probably seen the billboards no matter what state you're in). More on Bronner's later.

That's me with Santa. It sort of looked like Mrs. Claus extinguished her cigarettes in Santa's cheeks, but I still love him.

The Artist with one of her plarn creations.

"Give me your tired, your downtrodden, your plarn appreciaters..."

Plarn - durable at the North Pole

Let Freedom Plarn!

Gnomies hang with plarn. Frosty the Plarn Man

The Fourth Wiseman - not well known due to plarn purchase.

Elves know that plarn ascends all gifts! The Nose Knows good Plarn.

The Fourth Wise Man got there eventually...

Please note this American Indian is considerably different from the Cayman Indian. Somehow.

Where Do I Begin?

I'm just trying to get my head around the entire Frankenmuth experience. I've come up with a three pronged approach: 1. lists, 2. photos and 3. leave the rest for Lynne to explain.
How we did with our assigned tasks:
Lynne---Driving A+
Pat---Snacks A++ (oh...the bag of chocolates...)
Sue---Crafting C (plenty of supplies, minimal execution)
Brad---Car games C (this grade might have been higher if prizes had been involved)
But, don't worry, despite the poor grade in car games, we had plenty of laughs in the car.
Best lines/stories from the car:
Brad's childhood nickname. We've been sworn to secrecy on the details.
The re-telling of Pat and the Cowboy Boots. I know it's a painful tale for her to recount, but it cracks me up every time.

Best photo that involved a cut-out:

Best Catch Phrase:
Gettin' Our 'Muth On (Major kudos to Lynne for this one).
Oh geeeez---I can't believe that I totally forgot about our stop(s) at Tony's I-75.
Yes, we went twice. On Monday we stopped for lunch before entering The 'Muth proper. Had to get our strength up for all that Bavarian Fun. The sandwiches were gigantic and the BLT did not disappoint. However, I'd have to say that the Reuben (which I ordered) was the best of the four (burger for Lynne, BLT for Brad and cheesesteak thing for Pat). Onion rings and fries were ordinary.

We went again for breakfast the next day...the only other option was Bob Evans and though we are all fans, we can get that here. For me, the best part of breakfast was the giant Italian Bread toast with homemade strawberry preserves. Lynne was happy with her egg white omelette---which isn't something you'd expect to find on the menu of a place that deep fries their bacon and serves sausage in a basket.

Other food awards:
Best Condiment: The Cherry Rhubarb preserves from The Bavarian Inn.
Best Cookie: Pat's Molasses Cookies from Zehnders.
Best Chocolate: Lynne says it was the giant peanut butter cup she got at Zehnders. The rest of us will just have to take her word for it because it was clear that this was one time when there would be no sharing. However, the euphoric look on her face pretty much said it all.
Best Side Dish: The Dried Cherry Salad at Zehnders.

Celebrity Sighting, Best Photo and Best Cooking Experience---all "rolled" into one. We made our own pretzels at The Bavarian Inn and while we were there Betty Zehnder came through. I just thought she was an older lady who worked there, but Pat knew her right away. Check out the look in Pat's eyes. Betty Zehnder is the Queen/Owner of the Bavarian Inn. I still don't understand all the family intrigue between Zehnders (which has the same name as our new pal, Betty) and The Bavarian Inn. However, I didn't think that it was wise to ask while I was wearing a hair net.

I have no idea why my hair is sticking straight up. I'm blaming the hair net.
Best Line (Lynne was on a roll with the one liners): It's 3:30, I've got $2 left and my pants won't button. It's time to go home.
Stay tuned for---plarn sightings, sock monkeys, Lynne at Bronners and much more.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Found Objects, Country Style

Living in the country can be an unusual experience. Sue has already had a number of "challenges" to her new abode, not the least of which was the puppy who slept next to her with an unknown bladder issue. The problem with the dog has been fixed, but she's also not back on Sue's bed, wisely.

Outside of the house is a whole different world. Like the other day while we were out walking the dogs, we discovered this bowling ball. On the side of the road? No. It was embedded in a planted farmer's field, with baby soy bean plants sprouting around it. We plucked it out and brought it home. It was a dilemma of whether we should carry it or roll it. However, after I rolled a gutter ball (it went in the ditch-ewww), it was carried.

How did it get there? Angry wife, jealous of how much time her husband spends with said bowling ball, chucks it out the window? It was pretty heavy for any chucking? The man bowled a bag game? A moving van dropped it? Space Aliens? Your theories welcome.

Then, this morning, I walked by this pint of pickled peppers. I'm pretty sure Peter picked them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Countdown to Frankenmuth

If the flurry of emails are any indication...this is gonna be one big laugh fest. I might need to get some of the astronaut diapers just to make sure I'm not offensive (at least in a smelly way) to my fellow travelers (I'm not sure if that's the right phrase to use).

So far, plans include the following:

A stop at Tony's I-75 restaurant for giant servings of food. Tony's was on The Travel Channel which featured their BLT that contains 20 slices of deep fried bacon. 'nuff said.

Pat has purchased a variety of new, hermetically sealed, golf shirts for the trip. She says a variety of colors...I don't know how many shirts she thinks she'll need in 36 hours, but maybe she knows something that I don't.

We are working on rules (perhaps we should call them behavior suggestions). Here's what we have so far:

1. No changing shirts in the car.

2. No lederhosen.

Suggested activities:

1. Changing shirts in the car (Brad is the only one who is really pushing for this one)

2. Hitchhiking (again, Brad)

3. Karaoke (ditto)

4. Fun car games with prizes (you guessed it)

And, that's all before we even get to Frankenmuth. We might be worn out before we even get to Toledo.

The one thing that would really make this special (and the shirt changing more comfortable) would b a conversion van.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

All About Me

Please---enough with the emails, phone calls, and text messages demanding an update on my life. I've been busy, but here are the highlights of the last couple weeks.

I'm all moved in here at Lynne's. If I didn't have books or all my crafting supplies (yarn, plastic bags and plarn take up a lot of space and can't be stored far away...I need constant access) moving and unpacking would be quite easy. On the other hand, if I didn't read or craft, who'd want to live with me? I'd be totally dull.

Interesting things about moving in with Lynne: When I run into people around town who ask me "what's new?" and I tell them I've moved in with Lynne, their responses are nearly identical. "Oh, you guys will have fun," they say with a smile. Then they get a concerned look on their face and ask "Do you have any pets?" They seem relieved when I say "no".

Email has lost a tiny bit of its lustre since most of my email correspondence was with Lynne. However, I did just email her from upstairs to downstairs because I'm too lazy (and focused) to get up and ask a question.

Why living with Lynne is better than being married (at least to the two buttheads I married): She has no expectation that I'll cook or clean for her and is excited and appreciative of any minor effort on my part.

In addition to plarn and other recycled crafts, I have a new obsession: field rocks.

This picture is sideways, but it shows the rocks I collected all by myself, just for Brad. I also learned that there's a difference between rocks (smooth) and stones (not smooth).
And this is the big monster rock that I want to get, but it will require special tools beyond my work gloves.
So, all in all, life is very exciting. More later.
And, next....Countdown to Frankenmuth....