The Smoke House & The Blizzard, Rudolph & The Cowboy, Winter & The Eclipse

Greeting to all and welcome my new friends to the East Wing

Last Sunday, December 12th , it started to snow as I drove to town to teach my CCD class at Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in North Judson.  The wind had not yet started to blow. By the time my class was dismissed, over an inch of snow was on the ground and 30 mph winds made me think we might be in for one of those special days. On the way home after mass, the radio described the conditions in which the Chicago Bears would play football at 3 p.m. local time. The conditions were not good for the Bears and it turned out the game would be even worse than the weather for those Bears.  But at that time I had no idea how much of the that bad weather I would personally touch before I went to sleep that Sunday Night.

With the volume of sales at our new business, Bubs’ BBQ, in Demotte Ind.  keeping my oldest son, RJ, cooking for what seems like ‘round the clock, with me and the She helping out in the evenings,  the She decided to bring home the ribs, pork roasts, and chickens and cook at home in her oven. And so she did. All went well with the pork roasts, after several hours of slow roasting they were just where they needed to be. After dinner she would do the ribs and chickens as they don’t take as long as the thicker roasts.

As I went downstairs to the West Wing to watch the late Sunday Evening football game between the Eagles and the Cowboy, the She  started to cook the rest of the meat for Bubs BBQ Monday Menu.

It was half time that I decided to go upstairs for something to drink. I walked upstairs into a smoke house. My first thought was Oh my goodness, the house is on fire. Running up the stairs, I noticed the She laying on the couch as if nothing was amiss, watching TV. I walked into the kitchen and saw smoke rolling from the oven vents, much faster than the exhaust fan could handle. Going back into the living room and through the thickness of the haze asked her if she noticed any smoke. She said yes, she did notice some, and it was just grease smoking from the oven.

Asking how much longer to cook the meat and finding out another two hours, I made a unilateral decision to stop the cooking process right then and there, lest we die of smoke inhalation, the house continues to fill with smoke and they find us both dead along with the ribs which by that time would be reduced to your  bacis carbon. The She agreed that it was time to end our slow suffocation and get on with living.

The She opened the oven and what a surprise, 12 chickens and 20 or so slabs of ribs all nicely wrapped in foil, and most all dripping fuel for the smoke.  More food at one time in that oven than it’d ever seen in its whole life. We’re talking loaded down here, it takes a lot of ribs and chicken for Bubs BBQ.

The venting of the smoke from the house  introduced us to the magical powers of a Northern Indiana Blizzar. The wind was blowing with such force from the west, the only thing needed to rid the house of smoke was simply open windows on the west side of the house and open the doors of the East Wing. And just that quick the 75 foot house became a wind tunnel.  The only drawback was the force of the wind along with the amount of snow in the air. That and a 45° drop in inside temperature.  It’s truly suprising how fast ya can cool the inside of your home in a raging blizzard, and at the same time get rid of lots of smoke as a by product of the cooling process.

When I was a little kid in Kentucky my dad used to work as a safety inspector of coal mines. I remember hearing him talk ‘bout the importance of proper air exchange in a coal mine, to assure the miners don’t die from “bad air”. Good thing me and the She got the air exchange thing going, else we’d be goners from “bad air”.

I never thought I’d see it snow in my upstairs bedroom, I did. Never thought there’d be snow in the East Wing, there was. With the wind whipping through the house at 30+ mph, the smoke was dispursed in short order, blown thru the open doors of the East Wing and into the waiting arms of the  nighttime blizzard winds, then carried along and blended into that white darkness of the night. It just disappeared.

With everything now in  chaffing pans it was necessary to go outside and put the pans in the van. Turning on the outside lights on the front porch, I saw for the first time the full fury of that storm. The van was hardly visible and it was less than 50 feet in front of me. Up and down seemed to go away.  Right there, just outside my front door, it was snowing west to east, not up and down like it’s suposted to snow , snowing west to east. Between me and the van stood a 2 ½ ft snow drift that had to be breached to get to the van, and the She didn’t look like she was gona go shovel.  Good thing I don’t have chionophobia.

As I stepped into the blizzard the first thing I felt was the sing of snow flakes striking skin as I went about clearing a pathway to the van. The thought crossed my mind, that’s the first time snow’s ever hurt.  A total of six trips it took to get everything into the van.  By the 4th trip my shoveled trail was over half closed by the wild wind.  By the time the last trip was made thru the blizzard, the pathway was memory. It weas as if I had never moved the snow to start with.  The foresite to bring the shovel into the house that night  paid off Monday morning when it was time to dig out my outside cats, but that’s another story by it’s self.

Eeveryone  knows ‘bout Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, those little  fellers, the elves, Yukon Cornelius, that singing snowman that looks like Burl Ives, and even sounds like Burl Ives, yah that bunch.  We all know ‘em. But did ya ever know ‘bout where Rudolph really came from?

Back in 1939 a fellow by the name of Robert L. May thought up the idea of Rudolph during his lunch hour, of all things.  Bob May worked in the advertising department as a copywriter for the Montgomery Ward Stores.

Now back then Montgomery Ward done all their advertising in house.  In fact, they supplied damn near the whole world a copy of their print advertising. Called it the Montgomery Ward Catalog, ya could order anything they had to sell, and they had a lot to sale. In addition to bringing the store into your home, the Montgomery Ward Catalog  was used for other purposes as well. The catalog provided a renewable source of sheet paper before softer sheet paper became readily available on rolls.

 Bob May came up with the Rudolph idea for a Christmas pamphlet as a promotional thing for Montgomery Ward,  and the booklet was used for several years for that purpose.

In 1947 the chairman of Montgomery Ward gave the copyright of  Rudolph to its creator, Bob May, it may well have been a Christmas present. He found a publisher for the story and sold over 100,000 copies the very first year

The story was put to music  couple years later by Bob May’s brother in-law. Then Bob and the brother in-law  set out to find somebody to sing the story.  They thought they had Perry Como, yes,  Perry Como lined up to sing the Rudolph story.  But Perry Como had a line in the song that he insisted be changed. They refused to change anything ‘bout the story, and Perry Como missed the chance of his lifetime.

They approached Gene Autry to sing the story but he thought the song was too childish for his image.  Now can ya just imagine that, a feller who makes his living playing a cowboy in the movies, wearing a white hat that never gets knocked off during a fight, saying Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer is too childish for his image. No wonder he hung around with Pat Buttram, two Einsteins make good cowboy movies.

I think they somehow got to Gene Autry’s wife and she told him to sing the story, ‘cause his wife wasn’t a cowgirl like Dale Evans and when non cowgirls spoke Gene Autry listened.  The best decision that singing cowboy ever made was to sing the Rudolph story. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was the largest sales of any Gene Autry record ever made.

Before we visit again in the East Wing, two really neat things for star gazers will have occurred, and the really cool part ‘bout the whole deal is they’re both on the same day.  In the star gazing world having two things on the same day is kinda like having your cake and eating it too. It just don’t happen too often. It’s the official start of Winter 2010 and on the same day a total lunar eclipse. Now it’s just coincidentally they happen on the same day, but they just do.

 What’s really neat ‘bout this eclipse is that everybody in North America who wants to see the eclipse can do so. Now that assuming wherever you are,  it’s not cloud covered during the time of the eclipse.  If it is, oh well, there’s not a whole lot I can tell ya ‘bout it, ‘cause a lunar eclipse is  kinda like listening to 4th of July Fireworks on the radio, there are some things in  life ya just gota put your eyes on or else they don’t work out well for ya. A lunar eclipse is one such thing.

This whole eclipse thing starts at 12:29 a.m. EST when the moon begins to enter the Earth’s outer shadow and the whole deal gets done several hours later at 6:06 a.m.

While these eclipse things, both sun and moon, occur on a regular basis they’re not always seen by everyone.  It has to do with angles and orbits and time of day and stuff like that. And sometimes even if you’re in a position to see an eclipse, and ya got cloud cover. Just turn on the radio, close your eyes and think fireworks…..

The last total lunar eclipse for North America took place on February 21, 2008, and the next isn’t anticipated until April 15, 2014. Now eclipses are one of those things that are so predictable if it should come before or after April 15th 2014, we’re in a world of hurt.  Ya don’t even want to know what that would mean.

One look out the window Monday morning and it was  obvious, we wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while, maybe a long while. Sown at least 18 inches and maybe more, winds of at least 25 mph and maybe more,  meant an extra day of play time with the 2girldogs, Bentley,  Spike, and Sophia the Republican Cat.  A fun day to watch it snow and play on the computer while I enjoy the company of friends of mine.

 Nothing is more pleasant than watching a snow storm from the comfort of  the East Wing.  When such times as that  do occur, I’m reminded of how truly blessed I really am, both me and those I hold dear.

After a full day of doing nothing  but talking to the animals, messing around on the computer, reading a bunch of star gazing stuff, a full day of having fun with nothing to do. At 6:30 p.m. the She comes to the East Wing and says “I’ve got a plan, you go get the ribs and chicken from the van, and I’ll finish cooking ‘em” I looked at her and we both started laughing as she said “no more smoke, I promise”.

The trail to the van was blazed once again and the carrying process was in reverse order. The cooking was completed  and once again the snow was shoveled to allow food to be transported to the outside freezer, and oh yes the She kept her word, on this second go around, the smoke didn’t  roll

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing, The Smoke House & The Blizzard, Rudolph & The Cowboy, Winter & The Eclipse

I wish you well,