Monday, September 29, 2008

And the Oscar goes to...

I awoke this morning to find that my friend and fellow Slave Driver, Stace, had bestowed upon me a prestigious award.

I was surprised by this because I didn't have to fill out any Publisher’s Clearinghouse type form to win it. She just awarded it to me. That was very nice of her, although I don’t think I deserve it. After all, I have, in the past, won numerous awards, some of which I did and some of which I did not deserve. Anyway this award comes with a list of requirements, which I will get to in a minute.

The most recent award I won, not counting the one from Stace, was this:

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “What the hell is that piece of crap?”

I’m going to tell you. Occasionally the youth of Salt Lake get together and roam in packs. One on one dating is frowned upon until such an age as you start looking for your life-mate. So for the 16-19 year old set the approved dating ritual is en mass. Or, as we like to call them, Free-Ranging Teenagers.

Late one fine Saturday afternoon in July several years ago, ~A~ and I were making our way to South Gate to begin our evening shift as Carriage Drivers when, at the corner of South Temple and West Temple, we were stopped by a crowd of the afore mentioned Free Ranging Teens. They asked us to wait for just a moment as they conferred, then one girl stepped up and handed me the above trophy.

“You win!” She said as a cheer went up from the crowd, and my horse danced in place with enthusiasm.

I looked down at the thing she handed me. It was a Soccer trophy with the name scribbled off and “Carriage Driver” written in the margins.
Clearly, they had been to DI and had stocked up on awards and trophies that had been languishing in the “Miscellaneous” section.

I thanked the young lady and ~A~ and I continued to South Gate, where I showed her the honor that had been bestowed upon me by my adoring public. I then advised her that for the remainder of the day she was to address me as “Your Majesty.”

The carriage horses do not belong to us, although we do have our favorites. I have a horse of my own, his name is L.P. PrairieDreamer; Dreamer for short. I used to show Dreamer on the “A” circuit but it’s really hard to find a babysitter willing to start at 4am so I quit the club sanctioned shows and just putzed around with him in fun shows. “Fun” or “Barn” shows are more relaxed and entertaining anyway,(especially when combined with a few cocktails) as evidenced by the awards I won at those:

I won this for a game called

"Bozo Buckets" where you sat on your horse and had to throw wiffle balls into a 5 gallon bucket, which was moved further away with each toss. The game is not hard, but the horses don't like the noise the ball makes when it drops in the bucket, so they tend to dance around a bit. It's a really fun game to play when you've had a few cocktails.

I won this at a Halloween Party at my boarding stable in Illinois. Ah, good times. Anyway, I dressed up like Jane, you know, Tarzan's Jane, and I cut up an old set of sheets that were Zebra striped to costume-up my Appaloosa.

Yeah, he puts up with a lot of crap. But this is nothing compared to when he was dressed as a Uni-Peg-Aloosa. Anyway, this is us:And keep in mind we've had a few cocktails.

And finally, these are two more we won after we moved to Utah. They had a fun show at the place we board now.

Okay, now, back to the Arte Y Pico award:

There are some Rules that come with the Award:
1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.
2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3) Each award-winning, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4) Award-winning and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y pico” blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5) To show these rules

So, here are three of my five award winners, with two more to be chosen at a later date:
Right back to Stace because she posts a lot of pictures and video and has been blogging about her mare to help track her training and because she loves her so much that her mother has to ASK about her husband during phone calls (Yes, Stace, Paul got an earfull from your mom the other day...)

Jen at Cake Wrecks because she is f*cking FUNNY and I wish I could meet her and we'd go out drinking then stop by the bakery department at Walmart and mock them. Repeatedly.

Mel the Great because she posts such useful and funny stuff about being a writer. And did I say she's funny? And, she's a writer. And we should go drinking with Jen from Cake Wrecks and then stand at South Gate and mock everyone.

So, anyway, that's my three and when I find two other blogs to bestow it upon I will, but I don't get out much and during the time I was writing this blog I was supposed to be editing chapter 3, so...for the fine art of procrastination when I should have been working I will now bestow upon myself the following Major Award!!!

And, it doubles as a lamp.

And, yes Stace I do remember that man. We were waiting in the parking lot of Cuccina Toscatta for a double ride. You had Wes, and I had Tony, I think. We pulled into the parkling lot and took up/blocked almost all the spaces. And it was cold. But we had fun. We always had fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yo ho ho and a bottle of WTF?

September 19: This day in history:

1985: Mexico City was hit by the first of two earthquakes that would devastate the area.
The second earthquake arrived 36 hours later; both would take thousands of lives.

1982: The first Emoticon was used by Scott E. Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University.
It was this one : - ) . He suggested it be used to indicate a joke, which just proves that Geeks have no sense of humor. You know, when you have to tell them it’s a joke?

1955: Juan Person, the president of Argentine and husband of Evita, the inspiration for a mega-hit Broadway musical, was deposed by a military coup and sent into exile.

1928: The first talking cartoon, Steamboat Willie, premiered in New York. It starred the soon-to-be world’s most favorite rodent, Mickey Mouse.

1881: President James Garfield would die from a gunshot wound he received from a disgruntled voter twelve weeks earlier. Ouch!

September 19 is also National Talk Like A Pirate Day.


In the four years I have been a carriage driver I’ve done a lot of weddings, many of them routine and forgettable. Most often we are hired to take the newly married bride and groom away from their reception, usually to their hotel. In my carriage I’ve dealt with the young and scared, (“Yes, please drive us around for the entire time you’ve been paid for. Drag it out as long as possible until the last minute when we have to go to our hotel room and figure out what comes next.”)

This is Utah. The only thing they teach in Sex-Ed is abstinence. Members of the LDS church don’t watch ‘R’ rated movies. I’ve had young adults so scared they look green.

I’ve had the young and horny (“Heck no, go RIGHT to the hotel. Forget this slow crap. There’s an extra twenty in for you if you get the horse to gallop.”)

Sometimes we take the couple from the wedding to the reception. This doesn’t happen as often, and is mostly for photographic purposes. It makes a nice wedding picture, and you get the bride and groom together before they’re all sweaty from dancing or icky from smearing cake in each others face.

Occasionally we bring the bride to the ceremony. I’ve taken the bride alone, the bride and her father, or the bride and her attendants. It’s a great show, arriving at the church/park/whatever in a beautiful white carriage. Gracefully exiting the carriage, bouquet in hand, the bride gets out to walk the plank…

Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say walk the plank? Usually one would call that a metaphor. Not so on Friday, September 19.

Remember? National Talk Like a Pirate Day?

I had a trainee on Friday. We call trainees “Monkeys”, as in “A monkey on your back,” and I was happy to have one on that day, if nothing more than to be a witness to the appointment I had.

My monkey and I arrived at the Marriott for our 6:30 appointment. I was advised that it was a wedding, so I wore my Tux jacket, and when we arrived there was a bride and her three attendants standing under the canopy by the stairs. I pulled up and waited, we were a few minutes early. No one waved, no one smiled, no one indicated that they acknowledged me at all, but that’s not unusual. Some people treat us like an ugly cousin. They know were there and why we’ve come, they just don’t want to deal with us. And I understand, weddings are stressful. After a minute or two the bride and her girls went back into the hotel.

“Okay,” I said to my monkey, “maybe they forgot something. Or they feel compelled to check their makeup one more time…Whatever. We’re early.”

So we wait, and wait, and…wait. Finally the doorman gets a call and says, “Your people will be down in a minute.” So we wait, still. I’m scanning the crowd in front of the hotel, looking for a bride when a middle-aged woman and three teenage girls stride up to the carriage.

They are all dressed as Pirates.

The woman looks at me and says, “We’re here, and sorry we’re so late.” I’m just about to say “I’m sorry but I have an appointment.” But not quite knowing what’s happening, instead I ask for the name (on our drivers sheets where we record our rides there is a space for “name” when you have an appointment. We always check to make sure they match because we have had people get in the carriage and say they have an appointment, when in fact they don’t. The appointments are pre-paid, so giving away someone’s pre-paid ride can create a messy situation.)

So she tells me her name, and it matches. With a sweep of my arm I indicate they are to get in. Driving Jerry, my horse-work partner for the evening , out on the street I turn and say “Okay, I gotta ask…”

The woman laughs and says “September 19 is Talk Like A Pirate Day. I’ve already had a traditional wedding. I’m a fun person, and I wanted a fun wedding. So we decided on a ‘Pirate’ theme.”

“Well,” I tell her, “this is my first pirate wedding.” So we go around the block and end up at The Gallavan Center, where I’ve been instructed to go up on the plaza, over the small bridge, make a loop, and drop her and the girls off.

When we arrived, there was a crowd of about fifty guests.

Every one of them was dressed in pirate attire.

And as we dropped off the bride and her attendants to walk the plank, they gave us a hearty “Arggggg” and a wedding experience I will never forget.

Sorry the quality is so poor, but I was 1) using my phone 2) standing up, turned around backwards and 3) driving a carriage, so , you know, multitasking...

Monday, September 8, 2008

What to do with those pesky leftovers...

Potato Skin Casserole

Yeah, I know. Who do I think I am, the Galloping Gourmet? Not exactly, because I don’t let the carriage horse gallop. Intentionally. However, I was at one time a lunch lady for the high school in Smithville, Missouri. So I am a professional. Kind of.

Anyway, now that you’ve made the baked Potato soup you probably have some potatoes, green onions, bacon bits and cheese left over. I know I do. So, here’s how you use them up.

Yes, yes, I know, another high carb, high calorie, chocked full-o-fat recipe. Do I look like I’m a member of weight watchers? I did not get this way by noshing on celery, ya know. I only eat celery when it’s stuck in a Bloody Mary. Otherwise why bother. It’s like eating crunchy water full of dental floss, and the only flavor you get from it is when it’s dipped in ranch dressing.

So, here is what you need:

Shredded cheddar cheese
Diced green onions
Bacon Bits
Ranch dressing
a casserole dish and an oven.

Boil the potatoes until they’re soft. They don’t have to be mashed potato soft, but when the skin cracks it’s a good indicator that they’re ready. Take them out of the water and let them cool.

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a casserole dish with Pam or the generic equivalent. Trust me, whoever does the dishes in your house will thank you. When your potatoes are cool enough that you won’t get 2nd degree burns handling them, cut them into quarters. Leave the skin on. It has more calories that way. Layer the casserole dish with half of your potatoes. What’s that? I didn’t tell you how many potatoes to use? How many people are you feeding? Use two potatoes per person. And if you have leftovers, so what. This makes a great breakfast item, too. So shut up already!

So, layer of potatoes, on top of that sprinkle ½ of the cheese, green onions, bacon bits, and them squeeze a bunch of ranch dressing on it. You know, it really doesn’t matter how much you use of any of it, with the exception of the ranch dressing. Use enough of that to make it moist but not potato/ranch soup. Although that doesn’t sound half bad.

Repeat the layering process with the rest of the potatoes, green onions, bacon bits, cheese and top it off with another long and healthy squeeze of Ranch. Put it in the oven for about a half an hour, or until the cheese melts and the whole thing is hot.

Serve. Eat. Repeat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why Lunch Ladies Don't Make Good Home-Ec Teachers

Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup

4 large or 6 medium potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
1-3 cloves of garlic
4 green onion stalks/clusters/bunches or whatever the &*%% they call them, diced
½ cup cooked bacon
¼ c. sour cream
½ “brick” Velveeta Cheese “Food”
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
½-1 c. heavy cream

First, bake 6 or so potatoes. Wash them first because you will not be peeling them. Do not wrap in foil, it’s just a waste of perfectly good foil. I’d use Idaho. While baking, play “Private Idaho” by the B52’s. Yes, it is an essential ingredient. It creates ambiance. Plus is drives any pesky teenagers who listen to Bayside right out of the house.

When the potatoes are baked, remove them from the oven. I’d use hot pad or an Ov-Glove, but whatever floats your boat. Allow them time to cool. Give them their space. Remember, if you set a potato free and it comes back to you, it’s 130 calories 0.3 grams of fat and 42grams of carbohydrates that will stick to your ass forever.

Now, if you’re Supermodel thin, and are worried about things like fat, calories and carbs, I suggest you throw all those potatoes you just spent 90 minutes baking out, because the rest of this recipe will make you hurl that corn flake you had for breakfast. This recipe is so loaded with things that are bad for you the food police should be stopping by to confiscate it off your computer screen any second now.

Was that a knock I just heard?

Anyway, let them taters cool. In the mean time, in a large pot, heat up some chicken stock. That’s right, I said chicken. What? You’re a vegetarian? Then go make a salad and leave my omnivorous friends and I alone. Chicken stock should be used in just about anything most people would use water as a base for, like rice. Although I must admit I wouldn’t add it to pancake batter. That would be yucky.

So, a couple cans of chicken stock, add another can of water, and then to this mix add the following:

Finely dice a medium yellow onion, and smash or dice up some garlic cloves (2 or 3, depending on how offensive you’d like you breath to be) and cook them in the chicken stock/water mix on medium for about a half an hour or so. Now add some salt and pepper. How much? However much you want. Does your spouse have high blood pressure and you want to help them go towards the light? Then add a lot, otherwise “Season To Taste.” You can throw the bacon in now for flavor. I don’t actually fry up bacon, drain it let it cool and then dice or crumble it up, I buy Hormel real bacon bits in the salad dressing aisle because I’m an uber-lazy slacker. I also purchase pre-shredded cheddar cheese, those jars of minced garlic and I never make my own chicken stock by boiling the hell out of a chicken carcass. Why? I just freakin’ told you why. Pay attention!!!

So, after about 15-20 minutes of cooking this on medium turn it to a medium-low and add ½ of your already diced green onions. What’s that you say? You didn’t dice them yet? Well you’d better get busy and dice.

Let all of this (which is basically a veggie with bacon soup right now) simmer for a little while, and then do the following:

Carve that ½ brick of Velveeta up into chunks that will melt in a reasonable amount of time on medium/low. You want to be super-lazy and throw the whole thing in? Fine, but it’ll take 4 hours for it to melt, so…we don’t want to burn the cheese because that’s nasty, and we will be using dairy products pretty soon here so we don’t want the heat too high and have them curdle because that’s just gross. Velveeta, BTW, is not considered a dairy product. I don’t think it’s even considered a food product but it is a nice binder/thickener. If you have any left over mashed potatoes in the fridge you can throw them in too. Elmer’s Carpenter’s Glue also works but it’s the wrong shade of orange. Your dinner guests might become suspicious.

So, toss those chunks of Velveeta in, let them melt, and add a ½ to 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese. Now, cheddar cheese tends to be a little oily so if you don’t like rich, oily food go get a Fresca and quit making this soup because when you eat it you’ll be able to hear your aorta squeaking closed with each spoonful anyway.

Mmmm, can you smell all that cheese-y onion-y bacon-y goodness? No? Then stir it once in a while.

Okay, remember those potatoes? You know, the ones we cooked for the BAKED POTATO SOUP? Ah, yes, those. Well, now that they’ve cooled you can dice them into bite size chunks. Set aside.

Once your cheese has all melted add the sour cream and the heavy cream. Mix the sour cream in with a whisk until the globs are all gone. Keep the heat low.

Let that simmer on low now for a while longer then add your baked potato chunks. Let the potatoes heat up a bit and VOILA! Serve as follows: dress the soup in the bowl with shredded cheddar, bacon bit and diced green onion. Serve with crusty French bread.

What’s that? I didn’t tell you to buy crusty French bread? What are you, a savage? Even cannibals know to serve bread with their soup. OMG do I have to do everything around here? I tell ya, try to teach a bunch of Neanderthals how to cook soup and then they screw it up by not serving it with French bread. For the love of Pete…

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This Song Has No Title (You have to be an EJ fan to understand...)

I just spent twenty minutes on a blog reading posts about the merits or disadvantages of something called “Cowboy Dressage.”

Let me tell you, I don’t want to know.

“I don’t want to know” is a common theme with me. I see someone on the street, they have on a costume/uniform/organ grinders monkey on their shoulder; They might be wearing a sign/fright wig/stripes with plaids and polka dots and carrying a telescope/candle/component stereo complete with turntable and tuner, and I say to myself “Whatever’s going on, I don’t want to know.”

Okay, the last one is real. Two guys were walking down the street one night carrying a turntable, tuner and speakers. I said, “Hey, you know they make these things called ‘Boom Boxes’ now and you don’t need a long extension cord to listen to music.” It occurred to me later that we could have been witnessing a burglary, but then again, “I don’t want to know.”

I do have an addendum I use the with “I don’t want to know.” It’s titled “He/She/They must have lost a bet.” So when one of our drivers showed up at South Gate with the most hideous looking “cowboy” hat on that it makes him look like the Quaker Oats guy, and someone turned and asked me “What’s with the hat?” I said, “I don’t want to know. He must have lost a bet.”

Two weeks ago The Fabulous Todd had a trainee that we just knew would be a 95%er, so I must admit that our training of her was lackadaisical and sub-par. At the barn his trainee, while picking Libby’s feet, was casually tossed across the barn by a flick of Libby’s hoof. The trainee landed on her butt, which broke her phone. Todd, braiding Libby’s tail, inquired if she was all right, never once letting go of the braid.


Because he would have had to start all over again, that’s why. Tail braiding is labor intensive, and it’s not like we get paid extra to do it, either. It just keeps the tail out of the poop bag and then when the horse you’re driving gets all pissy about something and wants to exact some revenge they can’t flick shit in your face.

Like they usually do.

Upon telling me the story I agreed, I would have done the same thing. Why? Because there is an inherent assumption of liability one agrees to when they work with horses, and you have to pay attention to what’s going on or risk a boo-boo. Within one of The Fabulous Todd’s first few weeks Jerry stepped on his little toe, turning it a vibrant shade of purple. Last week Jim stepped on Kar’s foot and broke it. Once, many years ago, my Appaloosa, L.P. Prairie Dreamer, “Butt Head” for short, kicked me in the jaw, narrowly missing my throat, teeth, eye, etc. and left me with 11 stitches as a reminder that horses are dangerous.

Saturday night a front blew in and the wind kicked up to gale force gusts for a while. Jerry, who I was driving that evening, suddenly saw monsters everywhere and would jump at a piece of newspaper crossing the pavement in front of him. This was particularly jovial as the train was passing us and I thought we were both going to meet Jesus. Luckily the carriage was empty and I kept Jerry from committing a double murder/suicide. But still, it happened the same night that:

1) I was propositioned by two girls (which would have been very complimentary if they hadn’t both been incredibly drunk)

2) Jerry, the horse, was propositioned by a male human. (Jerry is neither gay nor interested in a cross-species LTR. Come to think of it I’m not either.)

3) An idiot decided to play “Go around the carriage by driving on the train tracks to pass it while the Trax train is coming” which is truly an imbecilic move because A. it could get you killed, B. It could get ME killed, which is much higher on my “Not To Do” list, and C. TRAINS CAN’T SWERVE! This all after Stace sent me that link to the carriage horse that ran amuck in New York.

(Slave Driver waves to Stace sitting in the sunny state of Hawaii and hollers “Yeah, you’ll be the jealous one the first time I post pictures of me & ~A~ skiing this season…”)

Oh, yes, and for anyone that wants to know what the definition of “Pulling a Stace” is, drop me an email.

Of course you might want to follow my lead and say to yourself:

“I don’t want to know, she probably lost a bet.”

And now I must go and chase the Free-Range Children out of my front yard.

You don’t want to know.