The Things in my Cupboard: College Edition

Is it wrong to have a “College Edition” of something for which I have no other edition? Probably, but I’m not going to stop now. Not when I’ve come so far (What? Titles and first sentences can be hard to come up with).

So, my sophomore year at Western Michigan University found me living in one of the His House Campus Ministry houses, a stone’s throw from the center of campus, even closer to my classes than when I lived on campus the previous year. Plus, I was just around the corner from The Den Partystore, which sells 32 oz. fountain pops for 65 cents (though it was only 50 cents when I lived there).

One of the rules of living in a ministry house was always being hospitable. Our doors were never locked and there were always one or two non-residents hanging out on the main floor or in the basement. One of the purposes of the His House Campus Ministry was to be a safe and welcoming place, an expression of love to people in need, namely college students in need of somewhere to go between classes.

The residents (me and the three other guys who lived there) were supposed to be available to pray and talk with people whenever we were needed. We kept the house clean (more or less (less than more, if we’re being honest)). And there was always a get-together at the house after the main worship time on Thursday nights, usually accompanied by donated day-old bagels from Big Apple Bagels.

The problem with living in a house that is never locked, a place that is known for hospitality and free food, is that sometimes people would help themselves to the contents of the kitchen’s cupboards, which is where we residents would store the food that we bought with our own (precious!) money. Of course, I also know that the worse offenders were the other three residents, not the folks who were coming around for the free bagels and prayer.

And so, my cupboard was mostly bare but for a few essentials:

1. Kraft White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese Dinner

Why settle?

Why settle?

Let’s face it, the White Cheddar version is just better than the orange cheese that comes in the original. I mean, sure, they are both made with some kind of powdered cheese packet so they can’t be all that good or good for you, but still. Why settle when it is only a difference of 10 cents.

2. Dinty Moore Beef Stew

dinty_moore_beef_stew

Pre-cooked = Pre-delicious

How many people were disgusted when I would grab my can opener, open some beef stew, and dig right in with a spoon sans heating? Too many to count. How many probably thought that I was eating some kind of fancy dog food. The same. But come on, I can’t afford that fancy dog food.

3. Pork Brains in Milk Gravy

porkbrainsbig

If the taste doesn’t kill you, the cholesterol will.

Why would I keep this in my cupboard? Not for eating, I’ll tell you that! Did you notice the cholesterol? 1170% of  your daily allowance. The reason I kept it was because I wanted people to be wary of the type of person they were stealing food from. Would you really take food from someone who ate brains? Also, the can had a recipe for Brains and Eggs, I’m guessing for someone who wanted to commit a cholesterol-related suicide.

4. ‘Coon Urine

coon_urine

Just go to the urologist already!

Is it food? Heavens no. But if someone saw the Pork Brains in Milk Gravy and was still debating whether to steal from my cupboard or not, I wanted this in there too. For those of you who don’t know, ‘Coon Urine is a thing that hunters use to mask their scent from the animals they are hoping to kill. You spray some on your boots and pants and instead of thinking, “There’s a human with a gun around here,” a deer or whatever will think, “There’s a raccoon with bladder issues around here.” Also, I would tell people that it was good on potatoes.

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Chubz

On the weekends lately, my wife and I have been using the poor man’s treadmill, i.e. our neighborhood. When the weather is nice, we grab the dog’s leash and the double stroller and go on a family walk. Call it exercise, call it quality family time, call it a way to tire out the dog so he isn’t so annoying for the rest of the night; it’s all true.

The weather was beautiful on Sunday, so after mowing the lawn (this is where you find out that I live a scandalous life of lawn-mowing on Sundays), we got our gear and headed out for a nice, long walk. We ventured along paths that we normally didn’t use, and after hitting construction we turned around.

Like this, but smaller.

Like this, but smaller.

We were commenting on the houses and the neighborhood when my wife saw a home with a monstrosity of a back yard treehouse. It had multiple levels and stood at least as tall as the real house beside it.

“I wonder if we gave those people $5.00, they’d let our daughter play on their tree house for a while,” she said.

It was a pretty impressive sight, and I admit that I would have chipped in $5.00 for myself to join my daughter. You can never be too old enjoy tree houses, right?

On we walked, our dog mostly tired out, our girls enjoying the breeze, when we noticed that we were being followed… by a beagle.

We kept walking, hoping that he would get tired of following us and return to his home, but as he got closer, I noticed that he was wearing one of those invisible fence collars and that if he pushed through the pain to get to freedom, he wasn’t likely to give up and go home so quickly. The problem was that he was following us toward one of the busiest streets in town, and we didn’t want him to get hit.

Like this, but bigger.

Like this, but bigger.

I coaxed him over to me and saw that in addition to his shock collar, he had tags that listed his owner’s address and phone number. It also told us that the beagle’s name was Chubz. Chubz’s owner told us that he was out-of-town attending a family funeral (it hadn’t been a good week for him) and that the people who were supposed to be watching the dog must not have noticed him slip out. He asked if we would be willing to bring the beagle back to the kennel behind his house and that he’d be sure to reward us when he got home. I assured him that we would love to bring Chubz home.

After a bit of quick thinking, we used a strap from our daughter’s backpack (which we tried to discourage her from bringing on the walk, but no were super glad that she did) as a leash and walked Chubz home. And which home do you think it was?

Bingo. The one with the giant tree house.

I have a feeling that Chubz’s owner is going to try to give us money, but I wouldn’t feel right accepting money for something that any neighbor should do. Instead, I’m going to ask if we can come play in his back yard.

I am in trouble.

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and I’m going to pretend that people still care about fatherhood and the celebration thereof for at least a few days following the designated day, but if I’m wrong, you don’t have to keep reading. Of course, maybe at the end of the post, I’m going to tell you what tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers are or something equally advantageous like that, so do you really want to take the risk of not reading?

I didn’t think so.

Anyway, my family goes to a small church. The building is small. The attendance is small. The only thing not small is the actual people, but that’s beside the point. This is America and we have an image to uphold.

Boy, that got off topic quickly. I wasn’t even “on topic” yet. Sorry.

So, at church, we have an extended time of hand-shaking and catching up. This is one of the advantages of a small church. People generally know each other and can remember things about you from week to week, enough to ask how things are going and such.

mosey_family_photoAs my pastor made his rounds, glad-handing the congregation, he made a comment to the effect of “Happy Father’s Day” and “You know, with as cute as your kids are, a redhead and a blonde, both with bright blue eyes, Josh is in trouble.”

My wife agreed.

“But it’s okay,” my pastor continued, “because Josh can be pretty intimidating when he wants to be and he’ll just scare off most of the guys that come around.”

Good. That’s what I’m going for. Intimidating.

It isn’t easy to intimidate when you have a teddy-bear physique like mine and generally rounded facial features (seriously, when is the last time you saw a Disney villain with a bulbous ski-slope nose like mine, not to mention the slight double-chin?). I have to rely on unpredictability.

No one knows what I will say or do at any given time. And when I do say something outrageous, am I lying or telling the truth? Am I bluffing? Can you take that chance?

Of course, I can’t rely wholly on unpredictability. That’s why I own a replica of a Viking sword. I’ve heard the stories about fathers who are polishing their shotguns when suitors come to call, but I think it is more intimidating to sharpen a sword. I mean, guns are mostly long-range weapons. A sword says, “Hey, I’m going to look you in the eyes as I spill your guts on the porch.” Why the porch? I’m not going to do that in the house where I can’t just hose it off!

Right now, you might be thinking, “Boy, he’s put some thought into this. I don’t know if I should take him seriously or not.”

See? Unpredictable.

I really do own a Viking sword, by the way. So if any boys are reading this blog right now, doing their homework on the Mosey family, trying to establish the best way to approach my daughters, know this: I love my daughters more than I love any of you. And if you give me reason to dislike you, I’ve been itching to test my sword’s edge.

viking sword

Any other fathers out there have advice on becoming more intimidating?

More Innermost Secrets

Although I exhausted the Innermost Secrets that were written in my little book of the same title, I have not plumbed the depths of my secrets. And so, here are more.

The mess in my office is deliberate; I am actually a very tidy person who wants to convey an air of creativity.

Perhaps I am doing too good of a job in pretending to be messy, as that is one of the things that has worked its way into the Baker Book House Summer Reading Program cartoons. I should probably take care of some things. You know, so I can be more comfortable, being the tidy person that I am.

a_messy_situation_comic

of_monsters_and_scaredy_cats

My hamster, Bigfoot, was not named ironically for his overall size, but for the insanely disproportionate size of his genitalia.

True story. They were huge. At-least-as-big-as-his-brain huge. The same could be metaphorically said of most guys, I suppose.

I don’t shave my head; I electrocute myself regularly.

I’m not going to pretend that it isn’t painful. It is. Excruciating. But is it worth it? You bet it is. I look handsome.

My eyebrows and facial hair are drawn on.

Because of the electrocutions, obviously.

I have a penchant for going to the zoo and telling the koalas that they aren’t real bears.

Is it mean? Probably. Am I going to stop? Not any time soon.

On the Origin of Tuckered Out

Tucker cars were ahead of their time.

Tucker cars were ahead of their time.

I used the phrase “tuckered out” recently and, as it happens from time to time, I wondered what on earth I was really saying. I mean, was there a guy named Tucker who was famous for being lazy or tired? Did it have anything to do with the now-defunct car company of the same name? Where did it come from?

Well, according to the internet (and you can always believe the internet), it comes from the Old English root word “tuck” which means “punish or torment”. So to be tuckered would be the same as being punished or tormented. Kind of harsh, but I can see the correlation. If you work hard all day, punishing your body with strenuous activity, of course you are going to be tuckered out.

This is a plum. Not a plumb.

This is a plum. Not a plumb.

The phrase gained popularity in the vernacular of the Old West, where it is seldom used without the prefix “plumb”, as in, “Diggin’ in that gol’ danged gold mine has left me plumb tuckered out!” And since plumb means “whole or entire”, it just amplifies the meaning of being tired to mean “completely worn out”. This isn’t to be confused with plum, which is a fruit.

Torture Devices Not Pictured: Country Music

Torture Devices Not Pictured: Country Music

So the next time you use the phrase “tuckered out” or “plumb tuckered out”, remember that you are really saying that something was torturous, so maybe refrain from using the phrase if you are tired because you just got done doing something enjoyable. Like mowing. Or something else you might enjoy that takes significant amounts of energy.

What? Some people really like mowing.

The Melted Owl

One of the fun things about being a parent is watching your kids experience new things for the first time. Unless it is the first time they wake up screaming from some kind of strange nightmare involving an owl that lives under their bed and they refuse to go to sleep for hours, even though it is the middle of the night. That isn’t as much fun as you’d think.

This, unfortunately, was the situation a few nights ago when my oldest daughter started screaming like a banshee at 2am. Of course, it wasn’t until the afternoon of the next day that she told us about the owl.

“Did something scare you last night?” we asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

“What was scaring you?”

“The owl,” she said.

“What owl? Where did you see an owl?”

“Under my bed,” she said, nonchalantly, “in Cole’s bedroom.”

“Hmm,” we said.

Cole is our dog. We have an unfinished basement divided by a concrete support wall, one side of which is reserved for our dog, and it is the side directly beneath our oldest daughter’s bedroom.

“There are no owls under your bed or in Cole’s room,” we said. “We’ll take a look together.”

And so we looked. I didn’t see anything. She didn’t see anything. There were no owls to find.

“He’s gone?” she asked.

“Yup,” I said. “He’s gone. No owls are going to trouble you tonight. He probably went back to his house on the other side of the world, far away from your bed.”

“Okay,” she said.

The next night, we double-checked under the bed and in the dog’s room for owls. We didn’t find any, but my daughter insisted on sleeping with her door open (something she hasn’t done before) before she agreed to get into her bed.

Around midnight, she woke up screaming again. It took a few minutes to get her calmed down, but once she stopped screaming, we asked her about the owl.

“Did you see the owl?”

“No,” she said. “He’s safe?”

“Um,” we said.

“He’s safe in his house?”

“Yeah,” we said. Somehow, my daughter went from being afraid of the owl living beneath her bed to concerned for its well-being now that it had been kicked out and sent to it’s own house on the other side of the world.

And then things got weird(er).

“He’s empty?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

“He melted?”

“Um. Yeah, but he is very happy in his new form. Very happy.”

“Hm. Okay.”

Man, kids are strange. I have no idea where she got heard about owls in the first place. So far as I know, none of her books feature owls as characters (other than Winnie the Pooh, but it has been quite a while since we’ve read that to her), not to mention the fact that owls don’t usually melt. Ah well.

At least it is happy in its new form. I just wish it would leave my daughter alone.

melted_owl

A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

Continued from here

So, I have been losing weight recently. Thanks to the head start came from having a cold/sore throat, I dropped about ten pounds without trying.

On the upside, my pants aren’t fitting well anymore. On the downside, I’ll need to get new pants and I hate spending money (on things that aren’t Lego sets or books).

But if I’m going to get new pants anyway, I might as well try to get down to a reasonable weight and buy pants for that size rather than waste money on intermediate pairs. And so I am becoming less of a culinary hypocrite.

By “culinary hypocrite” I mean that my wife and I make sure that our kids have good, balanced meals with fruits and vegetables, protein and very few sweets. Heck, we even water down their juice because most juices are too sugary to actually be healthy (also, it makes it cheaper when you can stretch it farther). But my own meals looked nothing like my kids’. As soon as I started preparing foods for myself, I pretty much ate what I wanted to and as much of it as I wanted to without considering what would actually be healthy for me.

Ah, the care free days of gaining weight.

Now that I have decided to start losing it, I want to do it smart. I don’t want to go on a diet, but that doesn’t sound like any fun. Nor do I want to shun the foods that I have grown to love. Instead, my wife and I have started trying to balance our meals a bit more, making them more closely resemble what we feed to our kids. We eat more fruits and vegetables. We put smaller portions on our plates (which also helps us have more leftovers for easily made lunches for work). We limit ourselves to one small dessert a day. And I’ve been trying to limit my pop/soda intake to 44 oz. per week (this allows for two 22 oz. drinks, a 32 oz. drink and a 12 oz. can, or one 44 oz. thing and I like having options).

Curse you, Speedway, with your delicious and affordable drinks!

Curse you, Speedway, with your delicious and affordable drinks!

On that last point, I should tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with Speedway gas stations/convenience stores. Speedway has the absolute best frozen Cokes around. Their stores are all over where I live (locations within walking distance of my home and work).  And this month, they are having a special on all their fountain/frozen beverages where any size is 99 cents. And I would naturally love that special, but for the fact that I’m trying to lose weight. Why couldn’t they have down this when I was blissfully ignorant of the sickening number on my bathroom scale?

Anyway, it’s probably a good thing, because a few years ago when I took full advantage of this type of special, I ended up in the hospital with kidney stones. So, I guess it isn’t all bad that I’m trying to cut down. Don’t get me wrong, the morphine that I got in the hospital was great, but the kidney stones kinda stunk.

So, I’m trying to eat healthier. I’m not dieting, but I am more aware of the things that I’m putting into my body. I guess the next, logical step would be to exercise more. Fortunately, Craigslist is brimming with practically unused home gym equipment from other well-meaning but not-motivated people trying to get rid of the physical evidence that they aren’t working out. My wife and I are hoping for an elliptical for cheap.

And then, once I finally get down to my goal weight (I’d like to be around 175 lbs), I’ll be happy to get new pants and abandon my 38/30’s. Until then, maybe I should invest in some suspenders.