Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wednesday

Wednesday night after work, I decided to get serious about the Christmas tree. Took off all the ornaments that I was so proud of leaving on last year. Rolled up the living room rug and pulled the table the tree stands on into the center of the living room (so I could work on all sides with ease). Then I took each branch and made sure all the ends were straight and looked right. This took about an hour. Stopped there for dinner.

Heated up the rest of the turkey and the potato fennel gratin (last of all the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers). Tasted great, still!

Did one load of laundry (my "mid-week" load). Watched TV until I got bored, then read until bedtime.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tuesday

I took Tuesday night off... Putzed around the house, ate leftover hamburgers for dinner and watched TV until 11:00... Even more boring than usual, lol!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Missed this one by a day, but...

For all you IT workers and geeks in general:

November 27, 1852

Lord Byron's daughter Ada died. She had assisted Charles Babbage with his "analytical engine" and is credited with inventing computer language.

Monday, again...

Woke up to the alarm for the first time in four days... groan... I was very busy at work, so the day went by fast, which was nice.

Got home, changed clothes and got to work. Finally getting around to cleaning the ash out of my self-cleaning oven. Washed it all out then turned it on to 350 degrees F. for a bit to dry it out.

Next came restringing the wood beads. As I said before, I only have one needle to my name, and the eye is way too small for the string. So, got creative and lit a candle (no, not praying for inspiration, lol) and dipped the end of the string in the wax. That gave it just enough rigidity to easily go through the beads. Got them back on, the strings tied and then hot-glued them back together and to the end of the existing string on the tree.

Now to dinner. Warmed up Carla's mac and cheese and two hamburgers. Not bad!

I called my Mother and chatted with her, then called my brother Jim with an unrelated question.

Watched some taped TV and went to bed.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday

Made pork sausage, fried eggs and toast for breakfast, then got to work. Deep cleaned the main bathroom. Ran out of two of my cleaning products, which I hate! Why? Because it costs so darn much to replace them!!

Quick trip to Farmer Jack's for bread (too many turkey sandwiches, lol) and feta cheese (have to start eating more salads after all the food I've been chowing down on). On the way back, I stopped at the car wash and washed the car, then vacuumed it out. Got home and dried it off with a towel. Looks pretty good!

When I watched the weather this morning, I was pleased to see it would be another day in the 60 's, but the long range forecast scared me: By next Friday, highs will only be in the 30's, lows in the 20's and snow is probable. When I had talked with my friend B___ yesterday, he said they were putting up their Christmas tree, because his daughter would be leaving for college again and she wanted to be part of that. Which led me to my next thought. This is the last weekend it will be warm in the attic. So I decided to get down the Christmas tree and "stuff" today. Not decorate, you understand, just get it all down.

Now, long time readers may remember last year's ill-fated decision to keep the artificial tree together and just cram it up through the attic opening. This actually worked pretty good until a string of wooden beads caught on the stair mechanism and they broke, showing the downstairs with red wooden beads. I gathered and saved all I could find (I actually was finding them for weeks afterwards in the weirdest places - man, those suckers could bounce!)

So, this time, pulling it back through the opening caused a few more to let go, and bent up one of the branches, but all in all it was okay. I did put the tree in place, found the end of the string that broke (it was actually two strings that got severed) and put all the beads and strings on the table for re-stringing later. I don't have a needle big enough for the job, you see.

Then, I got down the two plastic tubs that hold the rest of the Christmas "stuff" and those, too, went into the living room, to be emptied later at my leisure. My daughter Melissa called and we talked for a while. BTW, her tree is up, too. But the weird part is they always get a real tree! I asked her if the needles didn't fall off before Christmas, but she said no... it has something to do with the kind of tree they buy, but I forget which variety she said.

Started the last load of laundry for the extended weekend and swept the kitchen floor. Then I mopped it (I had tracked in gunk yesterday when I was cleaning the grille out). Took a break then, and tried to take a nap, but didn't fall asleep.

Got out the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers for Sunday dinner. Warmed up the turkey and the stuffing (that's all that would fit on my plate - they gave me a LOT of leftovers!) in the microwave and opened a jar of turkey gravy. Delicious!

Watched my usual TV shows and went to bed around 11:00 PM. Nice time off...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Saturday morning, over easy...

Woke up at 7:00 AM and felt quite decadent, sleeping in that late. Made coffee and some oatmeal for breakfast. Set about figuring out today's chores.

I did have to go to the grocery store for some trash bags (all out as of yesterday). Its supposed to be 55 degrees F. later today, so got some hot dogs and buns for what seems like the last cookout of the year.

Got home and blew the last of the leaves off the porch and driveway. Using some oven cleaner to get the grease out of the grille (the grates are still in my oven, as you may recall). Took down the Fall porch decorations and wreath and hung up the Christmas stuff (but I won't turn on the lights in the wreath for a couple of weeks). Called my brother Carl, who had called and left a voicemail.

For lunch? All of the leftover green bean casserole. Excellent!

Got the blower and cleaned off the back patio and the surrounding gardens. Blew all the leaves under the arborvitae. Cleaned the house, but only washed the kitchen floor (downstairs is where I put the microwave). Saving the main bathroom for Sunday.

Took a break and read the microwave installation instructions... very intimidating! I have to cut down the cabinet over the stove four inches, and these are not your bolt-on cabinets, but were actually built into the wall. Then there's cutting a hole in the ceiling, and through the roof for the vent, not to mention adding an electrical circuit for the thing. Scary...

Talked with my friend, B___ who called to chat. Rinsed the oven cleaner out of the grill with buckets of hot water. Then built a huge charcoal fire to dry it out and prevent rust. Around 6:00 PM, put the grates back on and made hamburgers, hot dogs and brauts. Ate one of each and the rest went in the fridge for next week's dinners/snacks.

Decided I was done for the day. While I was grilling, I noticed my neighbor's across the road (the couple in the townhouse with the dog) were putting up Christmas stuff. Looked out in the dark and they have a big, lit Santa, their bushes are covered with white lights and they have what appears to be reindeer, pulling a sleigh, also outlined in white lights.

Watched TV (mostly boxing, a few cooking shows and finally the movie, XXX, for the second or third time). Typing this up, then going to bed...

Books I have recently reread...

I am going through the classics again (I still haven't found the Redford library since they've moved, you see). So, some of the books I've reread are:

-Herman Melville's Moby Dick
- Jack London's Call of the Wild, White Fang and The Sea Wolf
- Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (my Friend B___ turned me on to this one - He liked it so much, he actually bought the book for me to read. First published in 1889, its still a fresh and funny read today.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday after Thanksgiving...

Woke up in a fog... No, I didn't drink too much, it was just very foggy outside. I noticed it when I got up to pee around 3:00 AM. And, it was still foggy when I got up for good at 6:00 AM.

Toyed with the idea of another turkey sandwich for breakfast, but settled on the more-traditional soft-boiled eggs instead. That, plus two cups of coffee and I was good to go.

And, go I did! For those of you readers not living in the US, the Friday after Thanksgiving is the number one shopping day of the year, here. Each store has tremendous discounts on several items (usually in limited quantities, though). They typically open at, like 6:00 AM, so there are long (and I do mean LONG) lines of people who get there at say 5:00 or even 4:00 AM to try and get the cheap stuff first, before its gone. We are talking crazy sh*t here, folks: sleeping on the sidewalk, fistfights breaking out, etc. I am NOT exaggerating, either. And, add in the release of a Play station 3 or the TMX Elmo and people can get seriously hurt...

Me? I typically see a lot of stuff I would like, either for myself or for Christmas gifts, but don't usually go. It's just too nuts...

But, today, I did go to Lowe's (a lumber yard/hardware place and not so nuts...) I got a toaster oven (regularly $39.97. I got it for $19.97) a stainless steel Rival crock pot (regularly $19.97. I got it for $9.97) and an over-the-stove 1,000 watt microwave and vent (a planned part of my "upgrading the house" program) (regularly $158.00. I got it for $99.00) So, in one trip, I saved $89.00! Only problem? Microwave box did NOT want to go in car. Tried everything, but no-go, until another elderly gentlemen (who said we old folks need to stick together) helped by holding the end up outside the car while I man-handled it in from the inside.

Stopped at the Post Office to get some Christmas stamps. I have a personal tradition: Since I have 4 days off for Thanksgiving, (Thursday through Sunday) I always fill out all my Christmas cards this weekend, rubber band them into neat stacks and mail them on December 1. The lady said, "You only want one sheet (20 stamps)? I said, "Hey, I don't have that many friends, okay?" She looked embarrassed, but I smiled...

Got home around 11:00 AM as the fog was starting to burn off... Just as much trouble getting the box back out, but I finally got it. Owner's guide and installation booklet for the microwave is as thick as a real book! Intimidating...

Printed off the labels for the Christmas cards and got them ready to go. But, I am three short! Apparently I have more friends and relatives than I thought. Oh, well... I still have time...

Ate leftover Chinese for dinner. Watched some TV, then read until bed time (early as I was pooped, for some reason).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Okay, so I screwed up....

Since Lu left at 5:00 AM, I had a bit of time before I needed to get ready to go to Jake and Carla's. So, I made scrambled eggs, grits and bacon in the oven for breakfast. After eating, here's where I screwed up...

Decided it was a good time to use the self-cleaning oven feature. And, while I was at it, decided to put the charcoal grill grates in there, too (recommended by the manufacture).

For a few hours, no problem... Then each smoke detector went off. Opened the kitchen window, turned on the kitchen fan, and disconnected each smoke detector. Instead of getting better, it got worse!

Acrid smoke filled the house (you could look up the word "acrid" but trust me, my nose started running, and my eyes started watering). Gave up on the original plan, and opened every window in y house (WIDE OPEN). Retreated to the bedroom (and turned that fan on) and tried to get Scruffy in there. But, Scruffy was glued to the living room window and wouldn't budge. (Smart cat!)

Not sure if it was the grille grates, or something in the oven, but it seemed to burn off by 11:00 AM. Still, the stink lingers. I'll give it another half hour, then start closing the windows...

Took a shower and headed over to Jake and Carla's. It was nice to see Tiara (Carla's niece ) again. She is a very smart, very funny, lovely young woman.

Dinner was fantastic, of course. Not sure if it was the brine he used, the way he smoked it, or the fact they bought a fresh (instead of frozen) turkey this year, but that was the most juicy turkey I think I ever ate. Sides made by Carla included a potato and fennel gratin, cornbread stuffing with apples and sausage, collard greens and macaroni and cheese.All excellent.

We watched a movie after dinner and then I left, ladened with leftovers.

I got home, slipped into something more comfortable and watched some TV. At 10:00 PM, I had my first turkey sandwich...

Wednesday...

Wednesday at work seemed to drag on forever! Odd thing, but short weeks seem to take forever to get through... Probably something in the space-time continuum...

Luanne showed up about an hour after I got home from work. This is her last night before returning home, after helping out at my Mothers for over two months. We had a frank and engaging discussion about the current familial situation, then went to dinner at a recommended Chinese restaurant.

Food editor's review on the restaurant: Soup was lousy, egg roll good, entree excellent, fortune cookie lame. I took home leftovers for the 4 day weekend.

More discussion when getting home, then we both read a bit. I was exhausted by both the slow pace of the day at work, and the subsequent familial discussions, so went to bed (and sleep) at around 8:00 PM.

I woke up like clock-work every hour or so to pee (too much Chinese tea, I suppose). Alarm went off at 4:30 AM. Luanne was already up, so I stayed out of her way and made myself some coffee. Helped her carry out her two suitcases and then she roared off, homeward bound...

I grabbed another coffee, and my book and went back to bed. No sleep, but a nice, relaxing time...

Happy Thanksgiving, all you turkeys!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday Night

I made the mistake of stopping at Meijer's after work to pick up a few things I'd missed grocery shopping last Saturday (plus, they had bird seed on sale). Why a mistake? Place was JAMMED! Didn't get home until after 6:00 PM.

While I was there, I picked up some new furnace filters. I figured with all the cleaning, air-blowing, etc., the old ones would be clogged and should be replaced. I was very surprised to find the ones I took out of the furnace were as clean as the ones I then put in. That vacuum So-Clean used must be pretty powerful!

I had to cook a steak for dinner. I'd thawed it out for Sunday's meal, but then changed my mind. So, I used my stove top griddle pan (which works great, but always makes a mess). While it was cooking, I sauteed some onions and the rest of the mushrooms (from Saturdays pork chop stuffing). When they were done, I added a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar and let them carmelize. Topped the steak with them... very good!

Putzed around putting things back in order from yesterday's upheaval. Watched a little TV, but turned in early.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

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The other livingroom cold air return - GROSS!!!

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Main cold air duct in livingroom after 50+ years without cleaning!

Monday night

Raced home from work at 4:30 PM so I could be there before the So-Clean guys showed at 5:00. Sat and waited until after 6:00 when I called the company to ask where they were. The lady said they were scheduled to come _between_ 5 and 7, not _from_ 5 to 7.

She did check and called back to say they would be there around 6:30 and, sure enough, they were. Problems, though. The vacuum is mounted in their truck, so they need to leave the front door open to drag in a giant (maybe 12 inch diameter) hose as well as an air compressor hose. So, I locked Scruffy in the downstairs for the start of their visit.

Alright. First thing I didn't know: They have to remove every register, and to do it in a timely fashion, they take a razor knife and cut the paint around it. Not real attractive! Then they stick a semi-flexible plastic tube up (or down) the duct, attached to the air hose, wiggle it around while blasting air up it, with the huge vacuum hose next to the opening. The warm air ducts are relatively clean, but the cold air returns are just disgusting!!! Took some photos, but can't post them (yet). Just gross!!!

Anyway, I trailed behind them with a broom and dustpan, and each room they completed, I swept up the area, then moved the furniture all back.

When it was time for the downstairs, I went and got Scruffy (hiding behind the dryer) and put him in my bedroom. It took them a little over an hour to do the whole house. They recommended they spray all the ducts with something ("It's like Lysol, but its not Lysol") for extra sanitation ("Usually $189, but we'll do it for $90!) but I declined. They also recommended having this done every 3 - 5 years. Total cost to me $127.00 and honestly, after seeing the dust, hair and "gunk" in the cold air returns, I think it was well worth it!

The living room was the last room to put back (and the worst, of course), but I finished around 8:30. Heated up some bean soup I'd frozen two weeks ago. Still tasted great. Watched TV and went to bed.

Problems with Blogger

I have some pictures I wanted to post, but they are NOT going through (again), dammit! My ever-vigilant Webmaster keeps threatening to build me a new website where this will not be a problem, but it hasn't happened yet...

Hopefully, Blogger will get its sh*t together soon, so the photos are still relevant.

Sorry...

Late Night Reflection...

Its like when you get in the car on the Ferris Wheel, and the tattooed carnie with bad teeth, bad breath and dilated pupils leans in too close to secure the bar across you and your date's lap. He pulls the lever and the car jerks up one position to let the next car load. You sit there, your car swinging back and forth from that jerk, half terrified, half excited, waiting for whatever comes next...

Monday, November 20, 2006

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Early Winter in Wolverine, Michigan
(photo courtesy of my daughter, Melissa)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Snowing Sunday...

Okay, so it's just flurries, nothing like Melissa and Dave got blasted with last weekend (see Photos). But its still SNOW!!!

I have a lot to do today, so made a big breakfast with fried ham, eggs and grits. Then I started moving furniture. I have So-Clean coming Monday at 5:00 PM to clean out my heat ducts and cold air returns. I doubt this has ever been done since the house was built in 1950. The only thing I have to do is get everything moved away from all the registers, but it is not as easy as it sounds.

Checked the weather and saw its supposed to snow and rain today. But I still need to get the last of the leaves out of all the gutters, so stopped moving furniture, got dressed for outside and grabbed the step ladder. Cleaned them all out and dumped a bucket of hot water in each to make sure the down spouts weren't clogged (only one was and I managed to push out the gunk with a section of garden hose). It began to snow before the last gutter was done.

Got in, undressed and popped everything (including my coat) into the washer - gutter cleaning is a messy, messy job. Popped myself into the shower.

Okay, so fresh and clean, went back to pushing my furniture around (and sweeping the areas where they came from, of course). Turned on the NASCAR race (last one of the season, and one of our guys has a slim chance to win the championship). When I got done with the rearranging, I took a break. I usually have the race on in the background and check it now and again while cleaning the house, etc. But this time I thought I should watch it...

Boring! Switched from the race to a movie (Rambo III) and back again until the movie ended. Then switched back and forth from the race to the Lions game (we got beat - big surprise). Finally the race ended. Spacely Sprockets didn't win the championship this year. :o(

For dinner I made ravioli with a light cream sauce. The sauce was excellent (I made it) but the ravioli was frozen, store-bought, and not so good. Later on I watched my two Sunday night shows, Extreme Makeover and Iron Chef America.

At one time when the snow was coming down a bit harder (it never did stick, though) I saw a beautiful red cardinal sitting on the bird feeder, under the roof. I noticed he wasn't eating at all, he just seemed to want a little shelter from the storm...

Don't we all?

Saturday

Used the other half of the mushroom-onion mix and some cheddar cheese to make a omelet for breakfast. I had all my errands done by 1:00 PM (grocery shopping, gas in the car, a bit of banking and a trip to Target)

Jake and Carla came over around 2:30 PM. We visited a while, then started playing cards. I made a dinner I've been wanting to try - pork chops with cornbread stuffing and apple cider gravy. Well, I let Carla make the apple cider gravy as she is MUCH better at gravy making than I. Dinner was okay, but lacked the "Wow" factor I was hoping for.

Jake cleaned up the dinner dishes, pots and pans, while Carla and I talked in the living room. We would occasionally go check on the Michigan/Ohio State football game on TV in the bedroom (Michigan was behind, then and eventually lost 42 to 39, I think it was). Jake joined us and played my guitar for a while, then they took off.

I fell asleep around 9:00 PM. I did wake up several times during the night, but never turned the lights on and fell back asleep after a bit.

Friday

I picked up some Liquid Plumber at lunch, so when I got home I used it in the laundry tub (Lu's suggestion) and the main bath (my own idea) - anywhere either Scruffy's or my hair might build up in the trap.

Sauteed the remaining button mushrooms (from last weekends veggie tray) cut in big slices and a medium onion , sliced, in butter. Used half of this mixture to top a medium rare hamburger steak.

Its been a very depressing week for me. Insomnia was at its worst Friday night. I was up from about 12:30 AM to almost 5:00 AM. I just could NOT fall back asleep...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Feast Day

Today is the Feast Day of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a thirteenth-century patroness of bakers, who was canonized for miraculously turning bread into roses.

Coming to a sky near you this weekend...

The annual Leonid meteor shower could produce a strong outburst this weekend for residents of the North America and Western Europe.

A brief surge of activity is expected begin around 11:45 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 18. The outburst could last up to two hours.

At the peak, people in these favorable locations could see up to 150 shooting stars per hour, or more than two per minute.

I used to love this when we lived out in the country. Too many lights in Redford, though...

Thursday, and more of the same...

Gray skies, rain, cold...

Dinner was chicken noodle soup (out of a can) and grilled cheese sandwiches. Did a load of laundry, watched some boxing and then read until bedtime.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wednesday

Well, I have been asking for a weather change, and I got it! Now, it's cold, dreary and... raining!

Had various telephone calls last night so I didn't get dinner started until after 7:00 PM. Needed to make some corn bread for a pork chop dish this weekend, so, since I had the oven on anyway, made a meatloaf and baked potato for my dinner.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Today's Birthday

Erwin Rommel
1891-1944, German Field Marshal.

He entered the army in 1910 and rose slowly through the ranks. In 1939, Adolf Hitler made him a general. Rommel brilliantly commanded an armored division in the attack (1940) on France. In Feb., 1941, he took the specially trained tank corps, the Afrika Korps, into Libya. For his successes there he was made field marshal and earned the name "the desert fox." In 1942 he pressed almost to Alexandria, Egypt, but was stalled by fierce British resistance and lack of supplies. A British offensive overwhelmed (Oct.-Nov., 1942) the German forces at Alamein.

Rommel was recalled to Germany before the Afrika Korps's final defeat. He was a commander in N France when the Allies invaded Normandy in June, 1944. Allied success led Rommel, who had lost his respect for Hitler, to agree to a plot to remove Hitler from office. Wounded in an air raid in July, he had just recovered when he was forced to take poison because of his part in the attempt on Hitler's life in July, 1944.

Tuesday

Tuesday was another raw, dreary day. My body's aching, my mind's depressed. I don't know how I am going to get through an entire winter of these days.

Made sausage, onions and fried potatoes for dinner. Insomnia was bad again...

Interesting thought...

from the novel "In the Moon of Red Ponies" by James Lee Burke:

"The mystics may have found solace in the meditative life, but I think there are days when memory and solitude are not one's friend."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

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Reflecting pool fish, wintering in the house

Monday Night

I took Monday night off. Finally got a picture of the goldfish (see photos) that started off as a 1 inch feeder goldfish and lived by himself in the reflecting pool without fish food.

Ate leftovers, but I came up with a neat trick: Used the mini pitas, cut in half, and filled them with the sloppy joe mixture. Tasty and I used up two leftovers in one try!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday

Sunday brunch was the remaining French Peasant bread (bought for the shrimp chowder yesterday). I cut it into 1 inch slices and Lu made them into French toast. Delicious!

When she was out yesterday, Lu picked me up one of those big glass jars of cooked beans. Added it to my soup, tweaked the seasoning a tad, and finally, the soup is done. Froze it.

Lazy day... Luanne said she didn't sleep well, so she mostly read on the couch during the early afternoon, while I watched TV in my bedroom. Then she started to wrap Christmas presents she had bought (so she can leave them here and not transport them back in a month).

I made Pasta Puttanesca for dinner and Luanne made a salad. Then we watched a movie (Snow Walker - excellent, BTW) and Extreme Makeover. After that, she went to bed and I read in my room until after 11:00 PM.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Saturday

Woke up with an upset stomach... No time for that, have to get the fixin's for today made up. Started by making basically a shrimp chowder or potato and shrimp soup, if you will. Cooked a pound of shrimp in their shells, then peeled and coarse-chopped them added to potatoes, onions and celery that had been cooked in milk, butter and cream. Very, very good!

Made up a veggie platter with the fresh vegetables I got at Westborn yesterday: Green peppers & red pepper slices, celery sticks, baby carrots, radishes, cauliflower and button mushrooms with a vegetable dip. Also made a platter with mini-pitas and two toppings: spinach dip and spinach with artichoke dip (both also bought at Westborn).

Luanne showed up around 11:00 AM. Jake and Carla were supposed to come around 2:00 or 3:00, but Jake needed more parts for Luanne's computer (he's adding a new hard drive and a CD-burner) so they didn't get here until after 4:00 PM. I still wasn't feeling so hot, so before they came, I took about an hour nap.

We snacked, talked, then played a board game (the Game of Life) which I lost (makes perfect sense to me, lol!) and three games of Eucher.

Coming in from the porch after waving goodbye to them, it dawned on me they didn't take their ham! No Sunday morning ham and eggs for them!!

Luanne went to bed and I retired to my bedroom and read until around midnight.

Friday

After the beautiful day on Thursday I wasted because I was at work, took Friday off as a vacation day. Did all my Saturday chores, cleaning house,doing laundry, grocery shopping, etc. Luanne's coming for the weekend to see Jake, Carla and myself.

Wasn't nearly as nice a day, but got everything done, as well as a haircut and lunch with my friend, B___. When I got home, I divided the remaining ham up, some for me, some for Jake & Carla, some for my Mom and some for Luanne's Mother, who just got out of the hospital after being diagnosed with chronic lung disease.

Took the remaining ham bone and made bean soup. Taste is excellent, but texture all wrong. I used the blender to puree the soup, but did too much. Now I need to add more cooked beans to get it to look and feel right. Geesh...

Ate leftovers for dinner and went to bed early.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday night...

... and all the leaves are GONE! Got home around 5:15, grabbed my camera and took pictures, but noticed in dismay that it was already getting dark.

Had leftovers for dinner and did a load of laundry. Nothing on TV that sounded interesting, so I dragged out the "Master and Commander" dvd and watched it again. Fell asleep before the end, (but I knew I would)

Thursday, November 9, 2006

An Autumn Poem, republished

This is in the poetry section, but I think it bears repeating...

Autumn

The bite of the air and the crackle of leaves,
The smell of the woodsmoke as it curls 'round the eaves.
As the lead goose calls, the rest honk their consent
While the frost wilted flowers nod a summer's lament.

And I, too, nod and lament the late summers passing.
And relish not the winter's soon trespassing
Into my yard, my life, my love and my rhyme...
For winter and death close the circle of time.

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Front yard, leaves gone, grass cut for the last time, ready for snow... (sob)

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View from the back garden, leaves gone...

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View from the patio, leaves all gone and grass cut for the final time this year...

On this day in History...

1888 - Jack the Ripper killed his last victim, Mary Jane Kelly.

1938 - Nazis burned and looted temples and Jewish-owned stores and houses in Germany and Austria in what became known as Kristallnacht (Crystal Night-referring to broken glass on streets).

1953 - Author-poet Dylan Thomas died in New York at age 39.

1965 - A switch at a station near Niagara Falls failed. The Northeast and parts of Canada went dark for more than 13 hours.

1970 - Former French president Charles De Gaulle died at age 79.

1989 - Borders between East and West Germany were opened and the Berlin Wall began to be dismantled the next day.

Wednesday

Got home and found the leaves half blown off my yard. Puzzling! Did he run out of gas, did he run out of time? I dunno. Will wait and see if it changes in the next few days, if not I'll call down the road to see what's going on.

Tried making an appetizer I want to use this weekend. Not bad! For dinner I made sloppy joes. While they were simmering, I got a call from my daughter, Melissa, who was all enthused about a book she is reading. She didn't mention the name, but it's non-fiction and concerns the O. J. Simpson trial. She said she can't put it down. While we were talking, my front doorbell rang (this never happens at night, BTW). I went and checked and it was the wife of my landscaper, who wanted to tell me he did run out of time and would finish it up later. Nice of her to stop and let me know, but a little scary, too. Finished my conversation with Melissa and headed for the kitchen.

Ate the sloppy joes on wheat bread while watching TV. Tasted great, but... woke up around midnight with a terrible acid taste in my mouth. Me and tomato just do not get along anymore.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Interesting Factoid

On this date in 1895, the German physicist Wilhelm Konrad von Rontgen (1845-1923) accidentally discovered the electromagnetic rays he called X-rays - also initially know as Rontgen rays.

Tuesday Night

Stopped on the way home and picked up a ham. Split pea soup was just that (split pea) and tasted good, but I was looking for split pea with ham soup. So, I diced up about a pound of ham and put it into the soup. Now, it's perfect. Had two bowls for dinner and froze the rest.

Kept checking election results while I watched TV. Hmmm... didn't turn out even close to what I wanted, but that's democracy for you. At least it was a record turnout in Michigan, and that's a good thing (even if the majority voted wrong, LOL!)

Happened to look out the window and saw fog creeping into my yard, around 9:00 PM. Interesting as, unlike living in St. Clair, I rarely see fog anymore. Got up to go to the bathroom around 2:30 AM and it was so dense that all the streetlights and shop lights were no longer visible, just multicolored glows surrounded by white.

It had all dissipated by the time I left for work...

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Voting Reminder

Today is Election Day, so don't forget to vote! Michigan has a lot of problems and sadly, while the rest of the country's economy is booming, we are sliding backwards. But we can't fix it by sitting idly by and just complaining!

In case you are wondering, I voted at 7:10 AM this morning. I was the 9 person to vote in my precinct, there were only three other voters there at that time (lol! there were more precinct workers than voters) and I was in and out in under 10 minutes.

GO VOTE!!!

Monday Moanin'

Okay, its official, my back is killing me! Got steadily worse throughout the day until, at 2:30 PM, I took a pain pill at work. That settled it down so I could walk, but when I got home, I tried that roll-on "Bio-Freeze" stuff my Mom gave me. Not sure if it worked, but I could feel "something."

Needless to say, didn't do too much. Deboned the ham hocks and put the meat back in the split pea soup. Had a bowl of that and two hot dogs for dinner.

My daughter, Melissa called and we talked politics and real estate trends for a while. Then I went and laid down to watch TV and fall asleep.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Sunday morning, coming down...

Got up around 7:00 AM (late for me) and sorta eased into the day. Made coffee, but didn't feel like breakfast (yet). Watched the Weather Channel: hmmm... not too bad of a day shaping up. Shaved and showered and started doing the little things on my ToDo list. Filed all the paid bills and insurance forms (the pile was getting a bit large), sewed a button on my fall coat that had popped off last week, put a pound of split peas on to boil, then simmer for two minutes and let it rest for an hour (gonna make split pea and ham soup). Went out and took pictures of my leaves this year (I'm pretty sure it's less than half of the leaves I had last year, but I don't know why). Sprayed the squirrel feeder with polyurethane. Filled the bird feeder. Filled my medicine holder (called in for two prescription refills), and so on...

Then it was almost 11:30, so, time to go grocery shopping (For Sunday shopping, I think you need to get there between the time people are coming home from church, you see).

Got what I needed, including the prescriptions, came back and unloaded the food. Since I had all these nice plastic bags from the groceries, decided to use Plan "B" to get rid of the old brown sink. After putting on safety glasses, used a hammer to break the sink up. Then filled the plastic grocery bags up (maybe 10, total) and put them inside heavy-duty plastic bags I'd saved from the Spring's garden mulch. Those went into a normal garbage bag and will got out to the trash Tuesday morning. Bye, bye, brown sink...

Got down the step ladder and cleaned out the front gutter. A LOT of up and down and, shit, my leg was hurting when I got up this morning (oh well, it has to be done, ya know?). Last thing I did was dump a full bucket of hot water at one end of the gutter and made sure it all came out the downspout. Bingo! Success! Got the leaf blower and cleaned off the porch and garage pad.

Came back in and did the last load of laundry for the weekend. Then, I got serious about this split pea soup. Finely chopped an onion (1 cup) carrots (1/2 cup) and celery (1/2 cup) and sauteed them all. Added the ham hocks I'd previously boiled for 20 minutes and the split peas. Simmered everything for over an hour, then removed ham hocks and let cool. When it was cool enough, I used my blender and pureed the soup, about 2 cups at a time. What a mess! (My God, I really, REALLY need an immersion blender!!!) Put the ham hocks (which I still need to dig the meat out of) and the pureed soup in the fridge.

Remember the roast beef and weak gravy from this past week? Well, I cut up the remaining mushrooms and 1/2 an onion and sauteed them in olive oil and butter. Then, I added flour for a roux. Then I added the remaining roast beef (cut up) and the watery gravy. Tasted it and decided to add some more Worchester sauce, a little salt and a LOT of pepper. Had two helpings, on top of toasted whole wheat bread. That served as my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Delicious!

Took the time to clean up the messes from the soup and the beef gravy stuff. Got the dishwasher going and retired to watch Extreme Makeover and Iron Chef America. Went to sleep, but woke up after 1:00 AM, and finished this draft. Going back to sleep now...

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I know I had a sidewalk under there, somewhere...

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Leaves are starting to bury the chiminia firewood

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Backyard leaves from the play structure

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Backyard leaves from the horseshoe pits

Stay at Home Saturday

Saturday, I never left the house, except when I got on top it. You see, the leaves have mostly fallen now. I even called my landscaping guy this morning and asked to get on his list for a Fall cleanup (sometime late this week or early next). So, now I need to deal with the leaves on the roof.

Got the ladder and the electric leaf blower. Getting up there was easy, moving around with the blower was not, but I did get it done. However, climbing back down was WAY scary (I kept picturing falling onto the patio and breaking either my head or my legs).

Made a big pot of chili for lunch/dinner. Ran into a problem, but made a nice save: When I went to add in two cans of chili beans, found I only had one. Now, I actually like more meat than beans in my chili, but this looked more like taco filling, not chili, lol! What to do? Thought about chili and what goes with it (crackers, cornbread, cheese, etc.) then made up my mind and added a large can of sweet corn. Nice taste, nice texture (added a little "crunch"), nice "look," so, nice job John. Ate a bunch and froze the rest.

Watched a show about exorcism, a comedy special (not that those two went together, BTW) and ended my night watching boxing.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

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Hey, isn't that Jake's car down there?

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On the roof in back

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"Up, on the roof..."

Quote from a book...

"...he tried to empty his mind, a trick he'd learned from a man who taught transcendental meditation. It didn't work this time. Come to think of it, he wasn't sure it had ever worked, because he now understood something he hadn't understood at the time: He could really fool the shit out of himself."

from the book "Play Dead," by Anne Frasier

Pork Sausage

In the ongoing (and seemingly unending) battle of the breakfast pork sausages between Jimmie Dean and Bob Evans, I say: "Gimmee Jimmie!!!"

Friday, November 3, 2006

Two things I forgot to mention...

1. Regarding last Sunday's turkey breast: As I normally do, I made an offering to the wild things with the carcass. I set it outside so the birds could peck at it, the neighborhood cats could gnaw on it or whatever. But, about 10:30 PM that night, the motion detector switched the spotlights on, and I saw my old, weird friend the opossum waddle over and drag the carcass away....

2. I completely forgot to mention I told TruGreen Chemlawn they could aerate my lawn. They bring in some kind of machine and it punches like, 1/2 inch holes, three inches deep everywhere. You're "supposed" to do this every three or four years to keep your lawn healthy. Well, I never did it since I lived here, and since most of the lawn "improvements" seem to have happened on my watch, I assume it's never been done. I will see if there is a marked improvement in my lawn next year. Right now, though, it's covered with leaves and little dirt plugs (that look like dead slugs or something).

Friday Night Fights...

... no, no fighting, but I've always like the Friday Night Fights!

Anyway, left work about 20 minutes early. My boss came around about 15 minutes prior to that and said, "Hey, it's been a long week, so why don't you knock off early." But, I had some information yet to get and a phone call yet to make. Still, 20 minutes early was nice.

Today was payday, so stopped and filled up the tank, bought some chewing tobacco, then went to Murry's Auto and got some "de-icer" windshield washer fluid and some gas-tank additive that was supposed to lubricate moving parts, clean the fuel injectors, eliminate any water in the gas tank, ensure my erections (wait, I made that part up), etc. Threw that into the full tank of gas (see, I normally do add this stuff each time I get my oil changed, - easy to remember it that way - but somehow missed it the last time) and, so now, I fear no Mr. Winter!!!

Got home and it was still light enough, so grabbed the leaf blower and cleared off the patio and under the bird feeder (the birds get confused trying to find the spilled seed under the leaves). Probably still a week's worth of falling leaves before I can talk to the guy down the street and have all them blown away and then I can clean out the gutters, one last time...

Sauteed onion slices in olive oil and butter and then added smoked sausage, cut on the bias. No potatoes, this time. I figured if I needed the starch, I could always heat up the leftover dirty rice.

Did a few more clean-up chores... For example, put the 19 inch TV that was Carla's, back in the attic (tricky bit of balancing, but I kept forgetting to ask Jake for help) and then called it good.

Bad night for insomnia... I was awake much more than asleep, all night long. It's currently after 9:00 AM and, in spite of the chores I must do, I wish I could just get some sleep...

I am SO tired...

Congratulations!!!

to Sadie's daughter, Stacey and her husband, James on the birth of their daughter, Rachel Elizabeth, at 2:35 PM today. Rachel weighed 8 pounds and 9 ounces, and mother and daughter are doing fine (no word on how the father, James is doing).

In this new-age, new world order, she's kinda my granddaughter (kinda-sorta), so, as Grandpa, Papa John, I have one piece of advice for her Mom and Dad: Teach her sign language, quick! (See Blog entry of 11/1/06) The Terrible-Two's are NOT that far way!!!

Congratulations, again!

Thursday

I was supposed to have company tonight. Tracey and Samson were coming over for dinner. So, Thursday morning, I peeled carrots potatoes and onions and threw them in my crockpot with a nice sirlion tip roast, mushrooms , sprigs of Rosemary and Thyme. Turned it on Low and went to work.

But, she called around 4:00 PM and said she had an unexpected guest from up North show up at her house and now she couldn't make it. Hmmm... that's a LOT of food plus a LOT of leftovers for just me. So, I called Jake and let him know that he and Carla were welcome to come help me eat this. He said he's check with Carla when she came to get him at work.

As luck would have it, they did decide to drop over. I thought the potatoes and carrots were a little tough (although they both said they like them better than the mushy ones) and was very disappointed in my gravy (Carla said she thought I didn't use enough corn starch). But, tough veggies and watery gravy aside, the taste was still excellent. Jake cleared the table and got the dishwasher ready to go, then they cleared out.

Did a load of laundry and watched some TV, but went to bed around 10:00 PM.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Wednesday Night

After all the excitement of Halloween (NOT!), I took Wednesday night off. Dinner was New Orleans dirty rice, topped with hot sauce and eaten watching TV. I did talk with my daughter, Melissa, for some time, and got all the details of her trip. She says her upper respiratory infection is better, but she still sounds awful!

And, that was my night!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Okay, some more weird shit...

Okay, so I talked to my daughter, Melissa tonight. She just got back from North Carolina and a visit with her grandson, Gavin, who is now 13 months old. Now, I admit I have never heard of this, but his parents learned that teaching an infant sign language supposedly leads to less problems in the "terrible twos" so, they have.

According to Melissa, Gavin has learned to sign the following:

Done
More
Grapes (he's apparently a "grape" a-holic)
Cheese
Bread
Food
More
Tree
Baby
Car

Pretty damn impressive, if I do say so myself!

Quick check on who's out there...

Just curious, when i saw there were 2,617 visits to my site in October. So, I used my little counter that the always gracious webmaster installed for me. From top, to bottom here are the places from where people have visited my website in the month of October. Bear in mind that the computer is not infallible and 8.61% are listed as "Unresolved". These go from most visits to least visits, BTW.

US
Canada
Germany
Poland
Belgium
France
Portugal
Italy
Netherlands
Austria
United Kingdom
Switzerland
Seychelles
Hungary
Argentina
Brazil
Colombia
Spain
Korea (South)
Tokelau

Okay, so I have to admit there was only one visit from Tokelau. I had no idea where that was, so I Wiki'ed it. Here's what I found:

Tokelau is a non-self-governing colonial territory of New Zealand that comprises a group of three tropical coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. The islands are occasionally referred to by Westerners by an older colonial name, The Union Islands. Until 1976, the official name was Tokelau Islands. The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes Tokelau on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. It is, according to the CIA World Factbook list of countries by GDP, the poorest country in the world.
Hey, I don't care what your gross national product is, Tokelau, all I can say is welcome and I hope you get a little something from your visit!

Your friend, Captaink.

Another disappointing Halloween...

Raced home, made a pot of coffee and a turkey sandwich (Halloween begging is supposed to be between 6 and 8:00 PM around here) so I wouldn't get distracted by hunger pangs. Got a book and my second coffee and settled in on the couch, with my porch light on and my candy bowl ready...

Got my first customer around 6:30. A very small little boy (who could hardly walk) and his dad. His costume? He was wearing his dad's fedora. He looked cute, but was obviously scared to death. Reminded me of the Johnny Plesz photo from years ago.

Next three 12 year-olds came around 7:15. No costumes.

Got the last one just after 8:00 as I was about to turn the light off. I assume that she lives down the street as a car heading that way stopped and she popped out. Another 12 year-old, no costume. She said, "My Mom wants to know if you got a lot of kids tonight." I said, "No," shoveling about half of the candy in her pillow case.

So, that was it... Stuck with half a bag of M & M's (the bag I feared would be too small) and my dashed hopes at seeing some kids dressed in costumes.

I miss the old Halloween...