More Summer Recipes

As the oppressive heat and humidity continue, I remember the Boston Cooler I served my Brownie troop years ago.

 

The Boston Cooler originated in Detroit. To make this refreshing drink, put two or three scoops of vanilla ice cream in a tall glass. Add Vernors Ginger Ale®. To add a spicy kick, stir with a peppermint stick. The more you stir, the more flavorful the cooler becomes. Yum, yum.

 

Another refreshing summertime drink is fruit infused lemonade. Put the juice of three fresh squeezed lemons in a tall glass, add cold water and ice. Stir the lemonade with a frozen strawberry Outshine Fruit Bar® until it dissolves. Optional: Add sugar to taste or stir in a second fruit bar. More flavors are available. Perfect.

 

For a tasty smoothie, put cut fruit in a blender with crushed ice and add Pom® Pomegranate Juice. Fruit suggestions include oranges, unpeeled honey crisp apples, seedless grapes, peeled kiwi, fresh or canned peaches, and pineapple. Blend the mixture to make a healthy smoothie. If you wish to add a banana, consume immediately. Otherwise, the drink looks unappetizing. Delicious.

 

Craving relief in this scorching heat? Think ice cream and fresh fruit. Do you have any suggestions for a cool, summer drink?

Key West

Late in the afternoon, toward the end of March, the Azamara Quest pulled out of Miami Harbor heading for Key West, Florida, and then on to Cuba. The air was hot and humid. My husband and I went out on our balcony to watch the land pull slowly away as we sailed out of the harbor. We could hear the music playing from the upper deck.

 

Key West is located on the southern tip of Florida. It divides the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico. It is known for many things but the one I found most interesting is that Ernest Hemingway lived there for almost eight years from 1931 until 1939. But he kept the house until he died. I often wonder if he was sorry he didn’t stay or expected and hoped to go back some day?

 

The time that Ernest spent in Key West was one of his most prolific periods for writing. During that eight year period, he worked on Death in the Afternoon, Green Hills of Africa, To Have and Have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls and some of his short stories. The Snows of Kilimanjaro was written during this time.

 

Why am I talking so much about Ernest Hemingway? Because that was why I was looking forward so much to our one day stop in Key West. I’d arranged for us to take a tour in the morning after breakfast and then we’d spend time walking around on our own.

 

Once the tour was over, the first place we headed for was 907 Whitehead Street and this is what we found: Ernest Hemingway’s home.

Memorial Day 2018

By William Garvey, Guest Author

Memorial Day 2018

I rise early, dress, eat, brew a coffee and drive alone to the cemetery. This year, unlike most, I am prepared. The flowers are bought, the shepard’s hook already pounded into the ground. A plastic bucket with hand shovel and grass clippers is in the back of the Escape, as are the tiny American flags, and the one Canadian, along with several old towels from the garage, the cigars I use to toast my grandfather, and Pat’s garden kneeler, a reluctant  concession to old age.

The cemetery is two miles away, in the heart of the once outer-ring suburb of Detroit we have called home for 30-odd years. The house my parents had built for them in 1959 is likewise two miles away, but in a different direction. I drive by the house now and then.  Occasionally the new owners are on the front porch. I wonder if they wonder who it is that drives that car back and forth so slowly.

The cemetery has some nicely treed acreage. But my parents and grandparents were laid in a treeless spot near the ring road, which misses by several dozen yards the shade of the ancient oaks, and turns to desert brown every July. In recompense, there is a water spigot pounded into the ground several hundred feet away, with a big ‘Do Not Drink’ sign. I take that advice. There should be another sign that says ‘Raise Handle Slowly Or You Will Drench Every Piece Of Clothing Beneath Your Knees’, but there is not. I think that is a joke the staff plays on visitors.

Our usual flowers are geraniums, which do fine in May, but crumple and die in late June. I try to tend to the cemetery plots every summer day, but usually fail. This year Pat bought moss roses for the shepard’s hook. They are reputed to be drought tolerant. Reputed, not guaranteed. I assume they could use some water. Since I need water for my grandfather’s flowers (more on this later), I traipse over to the spigot, carefully raise the handle, and dowse my jeans and shoes.  It is now part of the tradition, so I don’t mind.

My father and mother share a plot and a grave marker. Mom has been gone almost 13 years, Dad nearly seven. They were high-school sweethearts – separated like so many by World War Two. Dad joined the Navy. He spent two years on a cargo ship in the Pacific. I have a set of his winter blues in a box in the back of my closet, along with an old cardboard box of letters and photos.

My maternal grandfather was Canadian, and fought with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I. I have his medals in a steel box in the basement. My grandmother was a small town Pennsylvania girl he met on a wild swing through the US after the war. The story was that he and some friends went to New York, ran out of money (who could believe that?) and went west to find work. ‘West’ ended up being southwest Pennsylvania, where grandma worked in a coal mining company’s store. They married and had a family just in time for the Great Depression. Their wedding present, a fake Tiffany lamp, sits on our living room desk. Apparently these were quite the rage back in the early ‘20’s. The glass shade has a few chips, but still looks elegant. My wife, Pat, tells me it is a reverse hand-painted lampshade. I doubt I will have another opportunity to write ‘reverse hand-painted lampshade’ in an essay or story, so I have included it here, twice.

Grampa merits his own flowers. His metal grave marker has a vase you can pop out of the ground. I see those only on older graves, apparently the vases interfere with grass cutting. For the past several years I’ve made an arrangement for him. This year it is red and white flowers for Canada, with a bit of blue for accent. Grampa smoked cigars. I place two in the vase, along with the flowers and a small Canadian flag. I brought two cigars to smoke graveside. Unfortunately, these are big, strongly flavored cigars bought at a tobacco shop from a young man dressed in black. He invited me to sit in a special glassed-off section of the store and savor a cigar, but my time was short and Pat hates tobacco smoke, so I just bought the cigars and left. I manage to smoke about an inch of one cigar, but it burnt my throat. I douse it in the spigot – drenching my shoes – before throwing it away.

I walk around the cemetery, introducing myself again to the inhabitants. The Crowes, husband and wife, lie to the right of my family’s graves. Someone had given them potted geraniums on shepard’s hooks. I hope they last. Helen Kern lies alone and apparently forgotten in the grave to the left. She died in 1957, her grave marker is a weathered gray. I have never seen a flower or hook. I get the sheers and cut the long grass around her marker. I am certain she was a respectable lady who kept a clean and straightened house.

As I prepare to leave, a large SUV pulls in behind the Escape. An old man – noticeably older than me – sits at the wheel. I am annoyed, it is barely nine o’clock and there are only ten, maybe eleven cars in a cemetery that can hold hundreds. The old man stays inside, engine running. I pull away, the SUV follows. The hell? I turn left, into a small loop road that goes up to the mausoleum. The old man follows, right on my tail.  I speed up. The SUV heads back to my old spot, and parks facing the opposite direction, its two left wheels up on the grass. I stop and look back. The old man remains in the seat, still belted. He opens the window. There is a grave marker a few feet from the driver’s door.  He stares down at it, takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. I put the Escape in gear and leave the old man to his memories.

 

 

Random Moments in Gaming

While video game programmers put a lot of work into making their creation suitable for the public, there are very few games that are perfect upon release. There are some titles that can present you with an developmental oversight that not many gamers come across. Or you can create a situation within the game that is unique to you.

I’d like to share my list of WTF moments I’ve either encountered or instigated in some of the games I’ve played. Each entry will feature the game title and a subtitle summing up the situation.

1) Far Cry 3’s The driver must really hate these guys – When it comes to first-person shooters or role-playing games, I am someone who prefers stealth or killing from a distance. In the case of Far Cry 3, this approach allowed me to see something extremely unexpected and funny. I was positioned on a cliff overlooking a beach, and there were a couple enemy soldiers patrolling the area between me and my objective. I was ready to take them down with a bow and arrow when I saw a jeep – being driven by their comrades, I might add – turn the corner and start driving through. I quickly chose to bide my time and wait for the vehicle to pass by. What I didn’t expect was for the two guys on foot to get run over and killed instantly. To make it even more hysterical, the car didn’t even slow down or deviate from its path. Of all the moments that made the list, this is the only one I could easily build a story around.

2) Skyrim’s Because I literally didn’t see the bridge – Generally, I am a very observant person – a trait that’s served me well in my everyday life and in video games. That doesn’t stop my keen eye from occasionally failing me. One of my biggest blunders occurred when I wandered into Sovngarde, the mystical realm in the fantasy adventure game of Skyrim, for the final fight of the game. It should have been impossible to miss the giant bridge leading to a temple in the center of the map. I somehow developed tunnel vision when I got to this stage and ended up walking off the edge of a waterfall in an attempt to get to the building.

3) Skyrim’s Magic-user turned creepy stalker – One mission in Skyrim entailed that I sneak into a library, grab a magic scroll, and get out by any means necessary. This proved difficult when a sorceress and two guardsmen entered the library the instant I grabbed the scroll. I was determined to try to get out undetected and spent some time sneaking my way past the patrolling guards. I thought I was home free when I turned into the entryway. I was surprised to see the sorceress seated between me and the door, but I quickly backed away into the shadows. Thankfully, she didn’t see me even though the movement made her get up and wander into the library. However, she did see one of the guards, which worked in my favor thanks to a wacky game glitch. For whatever reason, she started dogging the poor guard as he moved back and forth across the room and repeatedly said to him, “You need to leave.”

4) PUBG’s Yes, I am this easy to kill – I have only been playing the online multiplayer deathmatch game, Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG) for about two months and am still very much an amateur. My general tactic is to sneak my way through the match and avoid conflict as much as possible. There are two things that need to be said so that the following anecdote makes sense. First, any player can get a speed boost by finding and consuming energy drinks or painkillers. Second, I am not very good at paying attention to my surroundings. That being said, I was running through an open field and was feeling fortunate because no one was shooting at me. The next thing I know, another player with a speed boost sprinted up behind me and beat me to death with a frying pan before I could react.

5) Fallout: New Vegas’ A deathclaw’s hidden weakness – Ever since I started playing the Fallout series, I have been terrified of deathclaws – the deadliest creatures in the game. I am scared to face just one of them, let alone a horde. In Fallout: New Vegas, one mission entailed that I clear out a quarry that had been taken over by 7-10 of these monsters. After several failed attempts to take them out without getting killed, I inadvertently discovered a game exploit that worked in my favor. They were virtually unable to get near me if I climbed onto one of the boulders spread throughout the quarry before they saw me. The one time I attempted this tactic after being spotted, the deathclaws easily followed me up there. One thing’s for sure – it’s funny watching them run in circles while I slowly gun them down.

6) Resident Evil Revelations 2’s Boss forfeits the fight (spoiler alert) – RE Revelations 2 isn’t the best game in the series, but it is more suspenseful and horrific than most of the recent entries. The game has a variety of different monsters that are hard to put down. Especially Neil, the traitorous human rights employee who sold out his co-workers for genetic experimentation. Unfortunately for him, Neil is in turn betrayed by the person who put him up to this and is transformed into a formidable hulking creature. I faced a bit of a problem trying to defeat him on the medium difficulty setting for the game. After getting killed by Neil several times, I decided to switch tactics and I ran underneath an overhang on the eastern edge of the map to avoid one of his jump attacks. Oddly, this resulted in Neil flat out disappearing and my playable character, Moira, speaking a line of dialogue that signified the end of the fight. I couldn’t immediately comprehend what happened, so I reloaded the game from the last savepoint and started the battle over. I was pleasantly surprised when the same thing occurred when I ducked underneath the eastern overhang. I don’t know if this exploit would work for everyone, but it is an easy way to bypass a tough fight.

7) Dead Island’s Being cautious just bit me in the ass – In addition to the zombie populace in Dead Island, you must also contend with criminals who will fight you for needed resources. At some point in the game, I ventured into the stockroom of a distribution company in search of food. I’d fought my way through a horde of zombies to get here, and I had to eliminate the criminals shooting at me before I could enter the stockroom. I thought I was perfectly safe firing from the cover of the entryway. I had only one hoodlum left to take out when I suddenly heard a noise behind me. I turned just in time to see one of the exploding zombies had crept up on me unnoticed. It blew up a second later and took me down with it.

I’m sure there are other games where I’ve either done something or witnessed something unexpected. I have other WTF moments in previous blogposts – referenced below – I’ve written. For now, here are the scenarios I remember that really stand out. I hope to collect many more good anecdotes from future games that I can write about.

I hope you all enjoyed this article. If so, be sure to tune in next month for my list of the worst games I’ve played.

For more of my video game follies, check out the following blogposts.

http://deadwoodwriters.org/2018/01/05/first-impressions-of-not-a-hero-and-end-of-zoe/

http://deadwoodwriters.org/2017/06/05/first-experience-with-mass-effect-andromeda/

http://deadwoodwriters.org/2017/02/05/the-top-ten-things-i-love-about-the-mass-effect-series/

http://deadwoodwriters.org/2016/07/05/fallout-4-wtf-moments/

http://deadwoodwriters.org/2016/06/05/fallout-3-wtf-moments/

 

 

Summer at Last

The summer heat finally arrived. In preparation, my husband repaired and cleaned our outdoor gas grill for the summer season. He always does the grilling while I enjoy preparing the food.

 

I found different recipes for ribs, chicken, turkey burgers, salads, and vegetable skewers in preparation for different dining experiences. The recipes from the various magazines needed adjusting to satisfy my taste buds. My husband is much easier to please and enjoys eating the new dishes I prepare.

 

For the first time, I parboiled pork ribs to help tenderize the meat prior to sprinkling them with Weber Steak Seasoning. Next, my husband grilled the ribs and finished them with a coating of Johnny’s Firecracker Sauce. Delicious!

 

One of my favorite recipes was the vegetable skewers. I soaked wood skewers in water while I cut red onions, yellow onions, green, yellow, and orange peppers, zucchinis, and summer squash. After putting the vegetables on the skewers, I coated them lightly with a no-stick cooking spray and sprinkled them with Weber Veggie Grill Seasoning. This was a perfect dish we’ll repeat in the near future.

 

We’re ready to try more grilled foods now that indoor cooking isn’t our only option. Do you have any grilling recipes to share?