Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is It Autumn Yet?

Have I told you that Autumn is my favorite season?

It is, you know.

Yes, Spring is wonderful, and if I lived in the Northern confines of these United States, I'm sure I would look forward to Spring and relish it for the rebirth that it brings. But lets face it. I live in South Texas. Winter here is rarely harsh, and never long. There are many years were it never falls below freezing. In fact, on more than one occasion I have successfully planted a vegetable garden in January. Spring is nice, but it's not that big a deal down here. Besides, Spring is short, and to me it has always been the harbinger of the blast furnace that is summer. I'll take Autumn, thank you very much.

Autumn in South Texas doesn't have the color of New England, or the rush of the harvest, rather, it is the time when the humid, overbearing heat of Summer gives way to dryer, crisper air. Granted, in early Autumn it can still be hot, but a 91 degree afternoon is a lot more bearable if you had a crisp 65 degree morning to go with it. The yards green back up after their late August wilt, fall gardens deliver tomatoes and peppers, and the farmers market starts to fill with winter squash.

Well, of course that means it's time for a hearty chili, right? Yes, it will be at least 2 months before there is even an outside chance of frost on the grass, but just knowing that the days are getting shorter and (relatively) cooler makes me reach for the soup pot. I assure you, it will get a workout between now and Easter.

The following recipe is roughly translated from a recipe I found on the Internet several years back. It was supposed to be a knock off of Wendy's chili. It's not really, but the boys love it, and it is much healthier than the Texas style chili I also make. But that's another post . . .

3 Bean Chili

2 lbs. fresh ground chuck
1 46oz. can of tomato juice
1 10 oz. can tomato puree
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed*
1 large onion (at least 2 c.), chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely minced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 c finely minced carrot
Beef Broth (about two or three cups, see below)
2 Tab. Ketchup
1/2 cup chili powder, divided
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I use fresh, 3 cloves minced – see directions below)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sugar (yes, it needs it – shush!)
cayenne pepper to taste

In a pan, brown the ground chuck, season well with salt, pepper, half of the chili powder, and half of the cumin. When it is starting to brown, add half of the onion, half of the pepper, half of the garlic, and all of the celery and carrot. Slowly sauté until the beef is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the beef into the chili pot with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the fat behind. There should be very little liquid, just clear red fat. Add the rest of the seasoning, and the ketchup to the pot. Add beef broth until just covered. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. This step is essential if you use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. After it has simmered for 20 minutes, add the puree, the crushed tomatoes, the rest of the vegetables, and half of the can of tomato juice. Cover and bring to a bare simmer for 45 minutes. Add the beans and as much tomato juice as needed to bring it to the consistency you would like. It should be substantial, but a bit soupy. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

*I use Ranch Style Beans, undrained in place of pinto beans, but they are probably not available if you don’t live in Texas.

This is great with cornbread.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I stand In Awe

Atonement, the film.




. . . . .That is all.

Oh, and I want to have sex in a stogy British Library, but then, who doesn't?

I Got Nothing

I'm going to skip the cross country meet tomorrow for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I'm going to drive to Houston and see Scottie. Then, instead of driving to Houston on Sunday, I can stay home and clean my filthy house, attack the pile of laundry from hell, and actually cook a meal. Second, my allergies are in full swing and spending 4+ hours outside in a field would insure me a miserable 3 or 4 days of itching, swollen eyes, mucus-ie lungs and nose, and headaches. Oh, don't worry, I'll have those anyway, but not quit as severe if I stay indoors. Thirdly, (OK - I know I said a couple of reasons, but I didn't wake up prepared to do math), the boys don't have anywhere to be on Sunday, and we can spend a day together at home for the first time since mid-August.

So where's my head these days?

McCain is a bigger douche than I ever imagined, and believe me when I say I have a huge imagination.

I am still missing Rene' a lot. It is only a couple of weeks away from one year since I ended the relationship, and I still miss her. I've seen her several times this week, and it still hurts. I still get (quite literally) weak in the knees when I see her. If there is a silver lining to all the bullshit in my life right now, it's that I simply don't have time to be overwhelmed with Rene' induced depression. Doesn't mean it's not there, mocking me from my sub-conscious, but the immediacy of the Scottie crisis and having to fit it all in between work, kids, and household responsibilities is keeping it from crushing me as it has in the past.

I finished Atonement this week, and now I'm dying to see the film. Yes, I loved it. I started Midnight's Children yesterday. It's too early to tell, but I think it might be alright. I confess, I was a little afraid of it. Have any of you read it? Or read any Rushdie for that matter?

The boys are good - Cross Country, Football, and the Fall Play are keeping us very, very busy.

Here's a little music to get you ready for the weekend - can this song really be 12 years old already? Shit, I consider this some of my "newer" music. I gotta get out more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's happening around here . . . ..

Sorry to keep you dangling all this time – between trips to Houston and trying to keep the house and the boys in order and on schedule, I’m spread a little thin.

Scottie is showing limited improvement. He is showing (very) small amounts of responsiveness. He is still on antibiotics for secondary infections. He is breathing on his own (through the trache), with only a little added oxygen to give him a boost.

My biggest fear is that he will stay exactly as he is – alive, probably conscious of his situation and his surrounding, but unable to interact with them. That makes any pending decisions impossibly difficult, as if they weren’t already. His neurologist says he is not progressing as rapidly as she would expect to see at this stage. That being said, it’s wonderful to see those bright blue eyes of his open, even if it is for only a couple of minutes at a time.

On the home front –

Homecoming is this week, and we are all engrossed in Mums and plans for the event.


OK – I know, it’s a big deal to the boys, but it just seems frivolous to me right now.

In order to run this Blog like the McBush campaign, I will now hope to distract you from the lack of substance here by providing a bit of fluff. Here are a few pictures from our evacuation weekend.

Brave Sir Robin needs to quit wearing the same shirt every time someone snaps his picture.

This is where we had lunch Saturday, The Gristmill River Restaurant, in Gruene.

Yes, beer is served by the bucket.

Inside Gruene Hall, (the oldest dance hall in Texas), Dylan won a bet by finding Leon Russel on the wall.

I met this lovely young lady, a local, in the hall as well.

I hope to visit you all soon, I'm trying.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good News!!

Finally! Something good to report.

Yesterday, Scottie opened his eyes for a brief time. He was able to follow his daughter across the room with his eyes, and squeeze his ex wife's hand.

I'm trying hard not to be too excited about this, but it's hard not to be. This is the first sign at all of responsiveness since the accident. That's 19 days.

I'm going to head that way in just a little while. The parking lot at the hospital re-opened yesterday, but fuel is still a major issue. I will top off my tank before I leave, and I should be able to make it most of the way back before needing to refuel.

While this is an encouraging development, we are by no means out of the water on this one.

Thank you all again. My meager ability with words is totally inadequate to express my thanks for the support I've received from the blogosphere.

I'll report back soon.

Meanwhile - Here are the boys Saturday in front of Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Rene'

Today is Rene's birthday. It will be the first one in three years we haven't spent together.

Happy birthday Rene' - I wish for you peace, and that you'll find whatever it is you're so desperately looking for.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Post Evacuation Blues . . .

I'm back home.

Port Lavaca was spared the brunt of the storm, but friends in Houston were not so lucky.

I worked today, for only the second time since the 28th of August. I spent most of the day putting my office back together from the hurricane preparations.

On top of everything else, I've had a wicked chest cold for about a week.

Scottie has progressed physically to the point where he is out of I.C.U. He has still shown no signs of responsiveness.

We wait.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Evacuation Ike - Postcard from the road . . .

I'll try to have some pictures tomorrow - I have to find where I packed the cable -

The boys and I are in Seguin. It is actually very, very nice. We are in a large rented house on the lake, with a boat dock, three levels of terrace, and HD TV's.

I'd rather be in the hospital with my baby brother. His Trache has taken, and the hospital has put up it's flood walls, and prepared to ride out the storm, which has shifted slightly in that direction.

I love you guys, take care.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update . . .

I found a connection here at the hospital.

Scottie is not well, at all.

We are going to trache him today, and prepare ourselves and the girls for the reality that he is gone.

Meanwhile, I am under mandatory evacuation starting tomorrow because Ike is heading straight towards my house. The kids are with Dave and Lisa, but I am going to have to get clothes, computers, pictures, etc.... packed and ready.

It just never seems to get any easier, does it?

I'll try to stay in touch, but it may be a few days.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Things Like This don't Happen To Me . . .

. . . . Until they do.

Last Friday, August 29th, my brother was in a motorcycle accident. He sustained massive head trauma. He has been in the N.T.I.C.U. at Herman Memorial Hospital in Houston since that time.

Yesterday, his doctor told us that if he hasn't come out of the coma by Thursday, the family needs to be prepared to either accept along term care solution - i.e. feeding tube and tracheal ventilator, or to disconnect all life support.

I can't imagine anyone ever expects to be put into this position.

How does one decide what to do? Neither choice is appealing.

He has two daughters, 17 and 15.

Anyway, that's where I've been. The kindness shown throughout the blogosphere has been overwhelming.

Thank You all.