Monthly Archives: July 2011

Great hot beef sandwiches!

Mrs. Poolman and I tried a new recipe this week that was passed to us by Writer Princess. It originated with her mother-in-law. It is easy; tastes fantastic; and not very expensive. This is a crock pot recipe that takes about five minutes to put together. Then you just let it cook all day and assemble the sandwiches when you get home from work.

Italian Beef Sandwiches

3-4 lbs of chuck roast
1 jar banana peppers
1 can beef broth
1 T. Oregano
1 T. Basil
1 T. Crushed red pepper (less to taste.)

–Spray Crock Pot with Pam
–Place roast in pot and cover with banana peppers (with juice), beef broth and spices
–Cook on high 6 hours or on low all day
–Shred beef, removing fat. (You may want to chill it overnight and skim off congealed fat when it is cool.)
–Serve on lightly toasted hoagie rolls with melted provolone cheese
–Put juices in small bowls for dipping sandwiches

Very yummy!!!

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On choice

On the way to work this morning, I started thinking about the concept of “choice.”  What prompted this was a report I heard on NPR on the death of a very conservative Georgia state legislator. They had a comment from a more liberal legislator who said that she liked and respected the deceased although they had very different ideas about the role of choice in government and society.

There was no question the legislator was referring to the abortion debate when she mentioned “choice.” The deceased legislator was famous among his colleagues for trying to attach an anti-abortion amendment to every bill he came across, whether it had anything to do with abortion or not.

I started thinking about the different ways liberals and conservatives view the role and importance of choice. It appears that both sides have multiple views.

Liberals promote the value of a pregnant woman’s right to make a choice whether to deliver or have an abortion.  Conservatives disagree.

Conservatives promote the value of a person’s right to choose to purchase and carry a gun without many restrictions. Liberals sincerely wish that choice was not an option.

Many conservatives think people should have the right to choose what public schools their children will attend. Most liberals believe that would be a detriment to public school systems.

The value of choice, it seems, depends on whether you agree with the choice or not.

Not surprising when you think about it.

Random annoyances

Things have been slow here this summer, and I haven’t felt very inspired. But I do feel an obligation to “feed the monster” as we used to say in my TV news days.

There has been good news and bad news sitting in front of me at work these past two days. The good news is that my laptop computer has finally reached its well-deserved retirement age and has been replaced by a younger model. The bad news is that the new laptop came with Windows 7 and Office 2010.

New and better? Perhaps.

Different from what I have been using for years? Definitely.

I have spent some frustrating times searching for a missing button “…that used to be right HERE!”

It will smooth out, but in the meanwhile I’m getting a headache.

*    *   *   *

What is it with people who need to talk all the time?

We have several friends who have this compulsion, so I have seen (heard?) a lot of it. A couple of weeks ago we visited some family and ran into a serious contender for the world championship.

After a child-relative’s birthday party, many of us retired to our niece’s house. We had a small group of extended family sitting around the table on the patio, exchanging news and catching up. However, the flow of conversation was almost entirely one-sided. The girlfriend of one of the family members grabbed the imaginary microphone and just would not let go. She was energetic; she was opinionated; and she was argumentative. That’s not always a problem, but  this woman wouldn’t let anyone else get a word in edgewise.

I enjoy a good discussion, even a debate. I think of a non-personal argument as a good sport. But I hate to try to out-shout someone just to participate. At one point, she was ranting about some political issue and asking questions like, “Why does this make sense?”

I tried to inject myself several times, but I don’t even think she could hear me over the sound of her own voice. Finally, I raised my voice (for which I am still ashamed) and said, “Hey! You are asking some questions. I’d be happy to provide some answers if you would stop talking along enough to listen.”

She looked at me like I had just landed in a space ship and was speaking Martian.

It was just a short while later she went looking for her boyfriend and announced it was time for them to go home.

Oh well. It was nice to hear what some of the other guests had to say.

Gettin’ ready for some football…

It’s been pretty slow here in my world for the last couple of weeks. However, one of our favorite past times is right around the corner — college football.

My friend, Neil, sent me a link to a new Web site,  and this article on why everyone else in the country hates the Southeastern Conference. I thought it was hysterical…and right on target.

Sometimes it is great to be hated.

 

Ode to a swimming pool

I have often thought of our swimming pool, which we had installed in 1994, as our 7th child (after two natural children, two dogs and two cats) because of the amount of care and attention it requires. I ran across this description of a pool today. I can relate.

“Swimming pools need things. It isn’t enough to invest in the pool, the pool will require constant care, a cover, extra lounge chairs, extra towels, and plenty of poolside umbrellas. As soon as you think it is all taken care of, a storm will blow the umbrellas into the pool and rip the liner. You’ll replace the liner just in time for your children to have parties that you will get to cater. Afterwards you can spend the evening laundering your towels. Then the pool will want toys – slides, floating chairs, LED lights. You’ll want the pool to have self-cleaning robots that you just toss in…”

There is a great deal of truth in that paragraph. However, we still love ours .

 

A little OCD can be good for you

Mrs. Poolman thinks I am slightly neurotic. She is probably right. I am a little obsessive-compulsive. Most of my OCD revolves around turning off hot appliances. An hour or more after using it, I’ll ask myself…

“Did I remember to turn off the oven  /grill / iron?”

Mrs. P makes fun of me, but actually there have been a number of times I have discovered the oven left on overnight. Usually this has been when one of our children had been using it, or we had a party and a guest used it to heat up a dish. All the same, I may be neurotic, but I’m not completely crazy.

I have a way of compensating so I don’t drive Mrs. P or myself totally bonkers. When I turn off one of these appliances, I “tell myself” to remember that I have done so.

“You are unplugging the iron, Poolman. Remember this later.”

I’ll have a solid memory of performing the act to fall back on.

As I have told Mrs. P, “Not all neuroses are bad.”

I thought of this last Sunday, when I sat at Mass and listened to the lector read an entire set of readings that were entirely wrong. I felt sorry for her because she was the only person in the church who didn’t realize she was “on the wrong page.” She read the readings for the same Sunday in the next annual cycle. She wasn’t off by a week; she was off by a year. Ignorance is bliss, at least for awhile. She probably figured it out eventually.

I’ve had just about everything go wrong that possibly can go wrong when I have been a lector. Painful experience has encouraged me to get to the church early and double check everything — the Gospel book, the announcements, and especially the page-marker in the lectionary. I hate unpleasant surprises in front of large groups of people. So I”m pretty OCD about making sure everything is lined up properly.

I don’t know if a little OCD can be contagious. Why should I be selfish and enjoy all the benefits?

A truly uncomfortable experience

My blog friend, Terri, posted a story today describing an awkward conversation with her 18-year old son about his new girlfriend. This reminded me of an incident when I was about his age that was a seriously painful experience.

The summer after my junior year in college in Florida, I returned home to Pittsburgh for my last summer at home. My only serious girlfriend in several years, “Melanie,” was left behind in Gainesville where she was taking summer classes.

About a week after getting home, I walked in the house after work. My parents were sitting in the kitchen and greeted me with:

“We’re glad you’re home. Sit down. We have something we need to discuss.”

Conversations that start that way go only downhill, and this was no exception.

“Karen, your friend from Florida, called a little while ago looking for you. She said that your girlfriend, Melanie, has a COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, and she thinks you ought to get a blood test.”

My mind wasn’t running in the gutter, so I was thinking of diseases like small pox, diphtheria, or some weird tropical thing that no one has ever heard of.

“Really? I wonder what that is all about?”

My mother had the answer. “Obviously she has the CLAP! Have you been SLEEPING with that girl?”

A brilliant 20-year old and a master of snappy comebacks, I responded:

Ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…”

For the next several minutes, I made a concerted effort to assert my rights under the 5th amendment to avoid incriminating myself. I’m not sure I was entirely successful. I was 100% positive that whatever “communicable disease” had Melanie in its grips, it was not venereal in nature.  However, I had no objective evidence to put before my parents. (“I don’t know any Karen or Melanie, so they must have the wrong number.”) Finally, I said I needed to call someone in Florida and get to the bottom of the story.

This was at least 10 years before the first cell phones were developed and 25 years before they became as common as wristwatches. I left messages all over Gainesville, without being able to track down Karen, Melanie or anyone else who knew what was going on.

When I returned to my parents, my mother began to tell me how much she and my father had wished they had been able to sleep together before they were married. I think she wanted to put me at ease. It didn’t work. I tried prayer.

“Dear Lord, just take me now. Put an end to my misery.”

Apparently, God was taking the night off, because I remained fully alive and conscious throughout the conversation.

Eventually, with no additional information on my end and far too much information from my parents, the encounter ran out of steam.

It was several hours later when I finally received a return call from Karen.

“I’m so glad you called me back. You really need to checked out because  Melanie has….MONO!”

I was both relieved and so angry I wanted to reach through the phone and grab Karen by the throat a thousand miles away.

Melanie recovered from the mononucleosis just fine. We stayed in touch over the summer and resumed dating in the fall. We had a good laugh over it. We dated for another year and then split up. We both ended up marrying our next serious relationship and both marriages are intact today. If she reads this, I hope she gets a laugh.

I don’t know what ever happened to Karen. Let’s hope she didn’t go into the communications business.