Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Greatest Sound Known To Man

The hot and humid days of Summer have arrived in earnest to The Land of Palm Trees and for the entire Eastern-half of the Nation so it seems. In fact, my heart goes out to friends and family in the State of West Virginia this morning who endured a hellish string of thunderstorms and straight-line winds yesterday evening while we were enjoying a walk on the beach. Reports this morning suggest that over 500,000 people are without power and the Governor has issued a state of emergency in the Mountain State.

Yesterdays heat and humidity reminded me of a couple of things that I love about Summertime. I am not a beer snob, not by a long shot. In fact, the love of beer is at best an acquired taste and I have just never succumbed to the craze. Now that's not to say that I don't enjoy a beer now and then, especially with dinner if the menu includes: burgers, brats, oysters, shrimp, ribs or even barbecued chicken. But when many a beer aficionado will drink many beers, I am usually pressed to drink two, I just don't savor the taste and feel for hops and grains the same way that I do grapes. There is however, one exception to that rule. To this day, there is NOTHING that I can drink that is more satisfying after lawn work in the hot Summer sun, or a round of golf in near one-hundred degree temperatures than an ice cold beer. In fact, I was reminded yesterday morning during my pre-noon round of golf on the 15th hole when a member of my foursome pulled a cold brew out of his cooler pouch on his golf bag, perhaps one of the greatest sounds known to man is the opening of a beer can by tugging mightily on the tab, "clickssssshhhhhh". Ahh, that is heaven in an aluminum vessel.

Speaking of enduring heat and humidity, I tell my friends and family as well as visitors to this blog, "don't come to Charleston during June, July, August or early September UNLESS you are coming to spend time at the beach or in the pool." I might add to that, if you want to play golf when you visit, please come prepared for a tee-time no later than 830am. But, if you enjoy the beach, the Lowcountry has some of the best, so come on down. We are hosting my wife's sister and niece this weekend and yesterday they did make an early day journey to King Street for some shopping, but they were home shortly after lunch for some air conditioning and pool time. Even though yesterday was the hottest day of the Summer thus far, with heat indices into the 112 degree neighborhood, after dinner last night on Sullivan's Island at Taco Mamacito we headed two blocks east to the beach for a twilight walk. It was nearing low tide and the HUGE sandbar that forms at low tide was accessible by some of our party, including me who weren't afraid of hiking our shorts, and shirt dresses (good job Michelle) and wading through the mid-thigh deep salt-water to reach the sandbar. We were rewarded for our efforts by the sight of a LARGE container cargo ship slipping out of the Charleston Harbor into the open sea of the Atlantic Ocean. But the amazing thing was that even on a 100+ degree day, it is comfortable on a South Carolina Beach.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tomato Pie

Even though I am a transplant to The Land of Palm Trees I have always considered myself a Southerner since I was born and raised South of the Mason-Dixon Line and after all the family cemetery plot in Southeastern West Virginia does have a couple soldiers of the Confederacy buried within. The differences between living in the South versus other regions of the country are stark. It simply goes beyond sweet tea. As natural and logical as the Southern lifestyle seems to those of us who were born and live South of the Mason-Dixon Line it probably baffles those from the Midwest or the Northeast. But that's okay with me. No, this isn't going to turn into a geography lesson, and certainly not a history lesson even though there are "huge" divides in perspectives on how certain aspects of American History are taught "down here" versus in the chilly "Nawth." But it's true, there are differences much more lighthearted than historical slants and the colors of states on an election night news network.

For instance, a humorous quote regarding differences in religious tolerance in the South versus the North; "in the North people say you worship in your way and we will worship our way, in the South we say you worship God in your way, we will worship God in His way." Humorous? Yes, Accurate? Absolutely.

But yes, there are differences, perhaps the greatest difference is in the way food is prepared and presented. For instance, if I were to tell a New Yorker about the great tomato pie that my wife created last weekend with heirloom tomatoes he would immediately tell me that "nobody can make a tomato pie like you can get in Brooklyn." And in a way he might be correct, however what he refers to as tomato pie doesn't come in a deep dish apple pie plate.

Tomato pie, the Southern version, is one of those things you either love or hate, there simply is no middle ground. This has been a bumper crop year for tomatoes in our kitchen garden and my wife had been admiring the tomato pies for sale at the Farmer's Market for the past couple of weeks saying that she had never made one but would like to try. So when she opened her current issue of Southern Living and found a feature on tomato pie, the deal was sealed.

The recipe she wanted to try called for two pounds of heirloom tomatoes, and it just so happened we only had a couple heirloom purple cherokee tomatoes ready to harvest so off we went to the Farmer's Market. It just so happened that our friends from Gruber Farms had a nice selection of various heirlooms that would work just fine for the pie. For her maiden voyage Michelle prepared quite a tasty dish, a definite keeper for the family recipe box. She served the piping hot pie with some local South Carolina steamed peel-and-eat shrimp. It was a perfect summer supper, oh so good.






Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Am Everyman

I have always taken great pride in my organizational skills at work. Throughout my career in pharmacy management and hospital administration I have always managed to keep my files organized, accessible and efficient. I learned very early in my professional life, you don't have to know everything, you just need to know how to find the information. Although I have given up administrative pursuits, at least for now, I still remain very organized. My Outlook account at the hospital is impeccably filed and organized, making it very easy for a busy night shift pharmacist to find critical clinical information and protocols leading to quick and efficient care for my ICU, OB, and ER patients at three o'clock in the morning while most of you are dreaming of sandy beaches and lush green fairways (at least that's what I dream about).

But the "at home" version of Doug, not so much! Much to the chagrin of my wife. Recently while walking my black lab throughout the neighborhood I have started walking down the alleys of the neighborhood to enjoy the backyard landscaping/gardening efforts of my neighbors. An added benefit to the back alley jaunts has been the opportunity to rubber neck some of the neighborhood garages. For me, a well organized and efficient garage is a sight to behold. I sometimes stare in awe at the creativity and neatness, I guess I am somewhat of a "peeping-Tom" of garages, a grease rag voyeur of sorts. Ewww! That sounds creepy, well maybe I am not so much of a voyeur, but more of a curious fan of the ultimate garage, you know the kind of a garage that could be termed "a man's man garage." The kind of garage that meets the definition of "finished living space" but yet also serves as a living, breathing and functioning tool to meet the family's mechanical needs.

On the other hand, my garage? Well let's just say, I like to think of my garage as an
"every-man's" garage. Some organization, a smidgeon of order but quite a bit of chaos and more than a few "piles". Yes I must admit, I fumed for months that somebody had stolen my variable speed Craftsman Drill "right out of my garage" only to find it stowed away in a box where I had placed it. Now, I am not saying that my garage isn't functional. There is room for my wife's car. The tools and machines that I use on a weekly basis to maintain my lawn and gardens are easy to find, they just aren't hung on nice plastered walls. I do have the standard peg-board wall above my makeshift work-bench, it just seems like somebody comes in periodically and takes all of the tools off of the pegs and piles it on the bench. I often find myself hurriedly pushing the garage door button to close the door before my neighbors driving through the alley have the chance to see my pitiful den, with the sheepish attitude of an anxious teen who discovers a pimple on his forehead two days before the junior prom. Contrast my demeanor with the confidence displayed by the man up the street perched upon a high-back bar-stool near the back of his lair with the garage door open for all to see as he assuredly admires his epoxy coated floor. You know the kind of haughty exuberance surrounding a car owner at a classic-car show as scores of admirers parade by to appreciate the hours of work put into restoring his candy apple red 66 Nova SS with Hooker headers and a polished chrome Spectre air-intake.


You may be tempted to interpret my diatribe as bitterness, however nothing could be more inaccurate. In fact, "everyman" admires the overachiever, he envisions his own garage with those same appointments and has an appreciation for the time and effort that it takes to create and maintain a garage with such high standards and taste. In fact, "everyman" understands that the motivation and pride that drives the custom garage owner to painstakingly create such a masterpiece. So much so, that on a recent walk when I encountered one such man's man in his garage, spending some quality time I stopped to tell him how nice his garage looked. Before walking away on this Friday afternoon, I couldn't help telling him that "he had a lot of competition throughout the neighborhood, but his is probably in the top five." Hope I didn't ruin his weekend plans, you know striving to be the boss of custom garages in the hood. You know the old saying: If You're Not The Lead Dog, The View Never Changes.

So, today, Mr. Custom Garage Owner, I salute you. You are the one who puts the MAN in
"man-cave", you are the envy of the neighborhood, keep doing what you do. You have inspired Everyman, today I will... er, aw screw it, I'm headed for the beach, my garage can wait.