Friday July 3, 1999 The Pepper Mill and the Blaze
Friday July 03, 1999 - 11:35:11 PM

I am, since yesterday, the proud owner of a new pepper mill.

I've always wanted one. When I was a little kid, I never liked salad (still don't) but I thought that thing they cranked over everybody else's salad was neat. Then I got older and figured out what that thing was and since, even though I don't like salad, I like pepper, I still thought pepper mills were neat. I never actually thought of owning one, I just had an abstract appreciation of them. When we were watching Emeril Live the other day, I made some passing comment to the effect of "Man, see that? I need a pepper mill like that one Emeril's using!". Evidently my wife heard and remembered this comment.

My wife's mother's cousin Pat is in town this week. She lives in Arizona and is visiting for the big family reunion we are all going to tomorrow. My wife (and Isaiah, of course), her mother, and cousin Pat have been making the most of their time together. Yesterday they took a road trip to central Illinois to visit Amish country. That's where my lovely wife found my pepper mill: in a dry goods store in Amish country. It's not an Amish pepper mill, it's made in Taiwan just like 75% of everything else these days, but I love it anyway. She got me a small bottle of hot black pepper to go with it. By the way, if someone gives you a pepper mill and some black pepper and you can't wait to try it out, put the pepper on something as seasoning. Don't just grind some into your hand and then eat it- especially not just before going to bed...

Yesterday evening before I had tried my pepper, but after everybody was home from work and the land of horse-and-buggies, we all went out to dinner at one of Ruth's folks favorite restaraunts. Walking through the door of this place is like being translated through the interior design time continuum about 30 years- dark panelling all around, one wall mirrored with little diamond Xs every ten inches in the kind of light bronze colored translucent ink that was used to put little diamond Xs on mirrored walls in previous decades, and a little ceramic squirrel on the wall in the corner I was facing. The music in the place was totally bizarre. On fridays there is an old dude (He seems half sloshed most of the time. He's funny.) who plays an organ, but yesterday was Thursday and the music was not live. The overhead speakers (actually the overhead speaker) was playing medleys from musicals- The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, etc., but they weren't the actual songs from the musicals- they were cheap knockoffs! Imagine waiting for your food thinking to yourself "'la-la la la-la... these are a few of my favorite things' Hey, that's not Julie Andrew's voice!" My only question is where did they even find these records?

Today the same road-tripping quartet plus Aunt (Ruth's mother's sister- we call her Aunt) made the round of the local and not quite-so-local antique stores. Later in the evening, we had a cookout at Ruth's folk's house. Steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, and, of course, baked potatoes to to use my new pepper mill on. There was enough to feed an army. The ladies had brought home from the store not only the food, but also one of the little bags of charcoal that you just tear open and light. In the past, I have had decent success getting fires started quickly with these things so I gave it a whirl. My success today, though, was hard fought. I think the intense humidity had infected the bag and was preventing it from flaming up like it should have. After lighting the corner and several areas of it, the bag would smolder a little and go out while the charcoalized chunks of wood inside it boiled out dense, chemically clouds of slimy-white smoke. I knew something had caught in some manner or another, but I didn't see how this prolific vaporous breath would serve to light the regular briquets piled on top of the lite-n-go bag so I hunted down the last few drops of lighter fluid on the premises and did what any sensible barbecuing husband would have done in such a situation. I squirted the lighter fluid onto the hot coals. Flames shot up! Huzzah! They, didn't last long, though. I did this a couple of more times and then realized that the "fire" was plenty hot even though it didn't look like it was going and pretty soon, it was very hot. It was so hot that it was difficult to flip the burgers because the radiant heat was so great. I don't know what it is about their grill, but I can put in less charcoal than I do in mine, and still get a hot dog blackening inferno that requires close attention and fast reflexes to yield a non-carbonized meal. Luckily, at least according to everyone at the table, my skills were up to the task.

Now it's time to go to bed so we can be at Aunt's house by 10 AM to ride with her the hour or so it'll take to get to the ancestral home of Ruth's mother's side of the family. I'm glad I got a couple of library books yesterday evening as I travelled between my home and Ruth's folk's house while the ladies were on their way home from the farm land. I got ripped off on one of the library books, though, and it kinda steams me even if it was my own fault, but at least I'll have something to read on the ride.

Technical Note 1: All my CSS properties specify font sizes in pixels now, so my Mac friends should see these pages much more like I see them as I write them.

Technical Note 2: To my friends using Netscape, I apologize for the coding glitch that causes the parent page to scroll to the top whenever you spawn a child page. Please bear with me as I investigate and eliminate this annoyance.

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