Monday, July 26, 2010

Win Some, Lose Some

I just finished watching the movie "Patton", with George C. Scott.  I know -- it's been around for a long time and it's even been in my Netflix instant watch queue for a long time, but I had not seen it until now.

It must be said that from the time I have sentient memory of the subject the name "Patton" was spoken by my father with the same reverence others might use with the word "God".  My dad served in the Pacific during WWII so never served under Patton.  After the war, he returned to civilian life in Cedartown for a couple of years but when I was around 6 (sometime before 2nd grade started in 1949, but after 1st grade was over) he decided to re-up and was assigned to Fort McPherson in Atlanta, which was and may well still be 3rd Army HQ.  Patton was no longer in command, of course, but the base HQ was a lovely, white building with stately columns that was called Patton Hall, so he certainly was not forgotten.  He was a hero to my dad, although I have no memories beyond the fact.  Because I was so young and impressionable, some of that hero-worship seeped into my blood and I still can't see the 3rd Army emblem patch without feeling stirred.  Dad served at Fort Mac a couple of times, and we lived on base both when I was maybe 8 and again when I was edging toward teenage-hood, so the 3rd Army was part of my youth in a big way.

Later, as a horse-crazy kid, Patton became a hero of mine when I saw the Disney movie "Miracle of the White Stallions" many years ago.  By the time I saw this, I had visited the Spanish Riding Academy in Vienna and seen the horses, although we weren't able to see them perform that day.  Coincidentally, I recently watched this movie again and realized that it was filmed a year or two after my visit, and the horses I was watching in the movie might well have been the ones I saw and petted.  Patton, of course, saved the stallions and liberated the mares from Czechoslovakia where they'd been sent for safekeeping during the war.  By doing this he saved not only an ancient institution, but may well have saved the breed from extinction.  In watching the Disney movie recently I learned that Patton had competed against the director of the Spanish Riding Academy as part of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team, so he was really a many-faceted man. 

After yesterday's post about success, I thought I'd mention a couple of less successful recent efforts.  With humor.  Since washing the down comforter worked so well, I thought I'd try washing my two down pillows using the same setting. They're 5-6 years old and in need of cleaning.  Well, let me tell you that you should never wash a down pillow labeled 'dry clean only'!  They washed just fine, but during the drying process (which still isn't over a couple of days later) the down core developed a really nasty, sour feather smell and guarantee you, it's not something you'd want to rest your head upon. These particular pillows have a stable down core of some kind that is supposed to stay in place in the middle of the pillow to avoid a flat spot.  This is apparently what's not drying and what's stinking up the place. I suspect they may eventually hit the compost pile, if that doesn't go away.

And -- yesterday morning I reaped a large harvest of San Marzano tomatoes and got one of my wild hairs, this time to dehydrate the tomatoes.  Remember, we have been in the midst of a heat wave, complete with daily heat advisories, and I don't have AC in this house.  Never mind.  I set my oven at 200 degrees, halved and seeded the tomatoes, put them on a rack and let them sit all day.  I think the oven had been going 11 or 12 hours when I finally turned it off, only to turn it back on this morning for an hour or so.  When I got home today, they weren't quite completely dehydrated and I'd learned my lesson about letting the oven run in hot weather.  I swear, more heat comes out of the vent of that thing than stays inside the oven.  Or, so it seems. I guess it'll be great in the winter. I tasted one of the tomatoes, found it OK, but then I began to wonder if they were safe since they'd been in the oven unheated all day, and were still a tiny bit moist, so I dumped the whole mess into the compost pile.

So -- win some, lose some.  I lost these two but they're minor.  I think I need to get a real Excalibur food dehydrator in order to preserve garden produce, particularly by next year when I should have more.  I could take advantage of all the lovely summer peaches we have here, too. And apples, and cherries, and maybe, even plum tomatoes.

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