Next week will be my dear old daddy’s birthday. His parents nicknamed him Buzz for being an incessant chatterbox…..or perhaps because his real first name, Alsdorf, was a tad unique they felt compelled to provide an alias. But he fancies himself to be a Mister Fix It but let me tell you how life was through the eyes of a child. Buzz likes to say his greatest accomplishment was that he raised seven children and none of us ever went to jail, at least that he knows of.
With eleventy million children my parents opted for an oversized jailhouse to keep us little hellions contained from roaming the streets. But, Buzz’s solution to maintaining the prison gray color was to paint one side of the house every year as his summer project. He was positively gleeful on the years he got the “short end of the house. His daytime gig involved working as an executive for a company that produced roof shingles. His came up with a winning solution for creating a basketball court for the little thugs to burn off energy. He would take the roof scraps, spread them in the backyard and they would compact into a hard surface. Ah no, it was like dribbling a ball in wet sand.
His mad skills translated indoors as well. A small plaster crack in the staircase turned into a bit of a cluster. Buzz accidentally bought outdoor stucco but thought heck, how different could it be. Very different. When it adhered like concrete, he opted to create a textured swirling circle pattern up the entire stairwell. If you brushed up against it you could actually draw blood. Dad likes nice hearty meal so here’s this week’s gig.
Beef and Ravioli Soup
½ pound sirloin steak cubed
2 tablespoons butter
1 rib celery chopped
½ onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 clove garlic minced
½ teaspoon thyme
2 cans beef broth
28 ounce can whole tomatoes chopped
½ teaspoon salt
9 ounces tortellini or ravioli
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Flour steak and brown in olive oil and set aside. Melt butter in Dutch oven. Add celery, onion, carrot, garlic, thyme and slat and cook on medium for 5 minutes. Add broth, steak, tomatoes and bring to boil. Continue cooking on medium for 20 minutes. Add tortellini and cook for additional for 10 minutes. Ladle out a bit of hot broth and combine with cornstarch to make a paste. Return to mixture and stir until soup thickens.
We could talk about the time he decided to paint his aged faded Cadillac, himself. He decided to use his old college colors to honor his alma mater . The body was red, doors, trunk and hood black. With a paintbrush, leaving big giant streaks. He was so proud, we were horribly embarrassed. It was better to walk home in the rain at midnight then be subjected to that little humiliation. One time, when he went to fetch his lovely bride from the airport, a gang of hoodlums laughed so hard that my mom refused to acknowledge him and¬¬ called my brother to pick her up.
The thing that attracted me the most to the Big Tuna was how incredibly handy he was, the polar opposite of Buzz. Something incredibility sexy about a man with a hammer and his own air compressor. But Dad’s the man, compassionate, volunteering in his community to help others. The thing I remember loving the most was riding in the giant station wagon singing songs with his deep bass voice harmonizing with ours. So here’s wishing you a happy day from far away, Happy Birthday Dad.