Thursday, May 31, 2007

On this day in History

May 31, 1889 - Heavy rains caused the South Fork Dam to collapse, sending 20 million tons of water into Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA. Over 2,200 people were killed and the town was nearly destroyed.

Wednesday's child is full of woe

I checked the Internet during the day to see if I could find out troubleshooting tips for my air compressor. I didn't find any, but did get to the Bostich site and found out two things. I have a one year warranty if the store warranty has expired and there is a repair place near my house. So, I called there asking for troubleshooting tips. The guy I talked to said, "Is it the model blah blah blah?" and I said, "Yes!" He said, "Well, I can tell you what happened, you broke a valve. I have two of those compressors here right now, waiting for parts. I shouldn't say this, but that's the crappiest compressor they ever built! I can fix it for you, but there's no telling how long it will last before another valve breaks!" Now, I am REALLY unhappy!

So, the first thing I did when I got home was to dig out the Lowe's receipt. I bought it on May 6 and it has a 90 day warranty! Hurray! I'll take it back, get my money and buy a good compressor!

Well, the plan tonight was to cut in the walls in the kitchen. I had just started when Melissa called. We talked, but this time we talked too long. When we hung up, I realized how late it was and since I had to water the grass seed and grill dinner, the kitchen painting got put on hold.

Watered the front and back gardens and the seeded areas of grass. Then I took three buckets to the back and watered the roses (which are showing signs of life now) the tomatoes (growing like weeds in this heat) and the rhododendron (which still has no signs of emerging blooms, although the one at work has been blooming for a week now - did I buy a dud?)

Remember Saturday's entr�e "40 cloves and a Chicken"? Well, both Jake and Carla told me to save the oil and the now-roasted garlic cloves, so I did. Tonight I added about a cup of white wine vinegar to it and used it to marinade three bone-in pork chops. I grilled them, along with six bratwurst for some other dinner and heated up one of the leftover baked potatoes (also from Saturday's dinner). Very tasty!

I read until bedtime.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I owe, I owe, so back to work I go!

It seemed weird to be back to work today, after four days off. When I got home, I found I'd tricked myself. Yes, I had put all my painting clothes in the washer, but never put them in the drier. So, while they were drying, I put masking tape on the fan and the hall light. Then I warmed up a burger and ate it and a little potato salad for dinner.

I lugged the chop saw out to the patio and cut all the trim Jake had taken off into one-foot sections. Next I started a fire in the chiminea to burn them all. It was a little tricky as 50 year old stained and varnished wood burns pretty hot. So, you had to put enough in to keep the fire going, but not so much that the flames shoot out the top!

I talked with Luanne for a bit (I had a question about "nicking" morning glory seeds). It's over 90 degrees F. in Virginia these days and they have been busy moving goats, bush-hogging pastures, etc.

Clothes finally got dry, so I changed and began painting the ceiling. Finished at 8:33 PM, got everything cleaned up and then watched "House" and "Boston Legal" then went to sleep.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Quote

"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything and the young know everything."

~ Author unknown

Kitchen Refresh Project, Monday - Day 4

I woke up at an incredibly late 8:13 AM. I made three pork sausage patties to go with the three leftover KFC biscuits. No coffee, so I washed them down with water. Now onto work! I checked, and the ceiling where I had cut in looks pretty good, but I need to get back to the cupboard doors.

Took all the cabinet doors and primed the fronts. I had to inspect them and sand as needed as some of the primer on the back had run onto the front and those drips had dried. I'm using the garage as the paint area and the back room for drying again. This is a much slower process as I have to cut in the lathe strips, and then roll the door.

Carla called and we solidified today's menu. Then, Melissa called and we talked briefly (well, briefly for us, lol!) When I confessed my back was killing me, but I didn't want to take my strong pain pills, she suggested three Tylenol. I checked and I did have generic Tylenol so I ate three of them. I hardboiled some eggs for today's potato salads.

I finally finished up the doors, so I shaved and showered. Then I made a quick trip to (where else?) Home Depot (at 12:30 PM on Memorial Day, it was a mob scene). I stopped at Farmer Jacks and picked up some ground round, Kaiser rolls, tomatoes, sharp cheddar from the deli, a chunk of blue cheese and more mayonnaise. Yesterday, I invited Jake and Carla to come over for some grillin' and chillin' but NO work today for them.

When I got back home, I cut up 5 pounds of redskin potatoes and put them on to boil (I'll explain why so many potatoes, later). Jyl had left a voicemail telling me to check out her niece's wedding photos she'd emailed me, so I was looking at them (You're right, Jyl! She did look beautiful!) when Jake and Carla showed up (they had a bet on whether or not I'd be sleeping!)

The potatoes were almost done and Carla showed me a neat trick. You drain, then leave them in a metal colander and cover them with a towel and they will steam themselves until perfectly done!

We went outside for a hotly contested horseshoe game between Jake and Carla (I was the cheering section). However, the game was called when Carla's allergies kicked in. So, we went back inside and started preparing dinner.

I had seen two recipes for potato salad and couldn't decide which sounded better. So, we were going to make both and have a taste test. Carla made the dressings and ingredients for each. One was called "Creamy Horseradish" and the other was called "Deviled Eggs." She got those done and we put them in the fridge to get cold. Then she cleaned a pound of shrimp and she and Jake made a marinade for them. Jake made up the burgers, while I lit the charcoal. Carla put the shrimp onto the wooden skewers I had soaked in water.

Excellent food! We ate the shrimp on the front porch as an appetizer, and then went inside to eat dinner. The burgers were so big I could only eat one (and Carla couldn't finish hers).

And the results of the potato salad taste test? Carla and Jake both voted for the "Deviled Eggs" type. Jake explained that while the "Creamy Horseradish" was good, it was also just one-dimensional: All you noticed was the horseradish. The "Deviled Eggs" had more layers of flavor. I liked each of them, so my vote was split, and "Deviled Eggs" was the winner!

They cleaned up and then left about 6:30 PM. My back was still hurting and now my right shoulder was also complaining (probably from rolling all the doors), so I decided to take the rest of the night off as well. Got all the work clothes from the last four days into the washer, filled the bird feeder, and so on. Then I watched a little TV and ate a little more potato salad until bedtime.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Kitchen Refresh Project, Sunday - Day 3

Got up at 5:30 AM. Three hours before Home Depot opens. So, cleaned off the counters and stove in preparation for sanding the cabinet faces. Then I re-spackled the ceiling around the new attic stairs and few spots on the wall (especially where the phone used to be) I didn't like. Ran a load through the dishwasher. I had to throw away one of my dinner plates. Jake found it had a crack almost all the way through it yesterday.

No coffee today (pot's put away) and no shaving. Just showered and headed out. Left early enough to catch a quick breakfast (and coffee) at the Coney Island next to Home Depot before they opened. I spent another small fortune, mainly because I bought the new faucet I was going to put off until later. But, these things never seem to go on sale, and the Memorial Day weekend special 10% off made it worthwhile to get now.

Started by assembling the last five doors (yes, I know I said four, but there were actually five). Problem: a 5/8 inch brad is too small for my fat old farmer fingers. Tried holding it with needle nose pliers, no good. Finally found the end of my wire strippers would work. Really miss that air gun. I think it took as long to assemble these five as the first 10.

Next I moved to the kitchen (after blowing all the saw dust and plaster dust out of the garage). I can't do ceiling or walls as the spackling compound I applied early this morning is still drying. So, I pulled out the stove and used the orbital sander to rough up the cabinet faces, sides, etc. Big, BIG mess, but necessary, I'm afraid. I tried to contain the dust with two vacuum cleaners. Next, I taped off the cabinets, in preparation of painting them.

It was almost 1:00 PM, and Jake and Carla said they would be coming over, but my back was killing me, so I thought laying down for a bit would alleviate the pain. I woke up to noises at 3:00 PM. It was Jake and Carla, sanding the cabinet doors (okay, I felt stupid). They'd already followed my lead and painted the cabinet faces with the tinted primer. So, we got another production line going. Jake sanded the doors, Carla used the vacuum cleaner to get off the dust and then wiped them with a sponge and I primed the back side.

Amusing anecdote: I was carrying one of the pantry doors (the biggest doors) from the kitchen to the drying room (downstairs) and slipped on the stairs. The door bobbled and got yellow paint on the walls and on my face! Jake got the paint off the walls, but for the rest of the day I was a pirate, the dreaded "Yellow Beard!"

We came to the place I feared, but knew would happen eventually. The spackling on the ceiling and walls was still damp, the backs of the cabinet doors were drying, so there was NOTHING to do for now. So, (I think gratefully) they went home.

I went back and washed the kitchen floor and counter, then took a shower (no more yellow beard). I am out of Copenhagen, so got dressed and headed to the corner gas station. Since I was out anyway, I stopped at KFC and got a bucket of chicken for dinner. Came home and ate some chicken, watching a rerun of Extreme Makeover.

Then, its 9:00 PM and it's back to work! Dug out Jake's old halogen work light and plugged it in. I sanded the (finally) dry spackling compound on the walls and ceiling. I vacuumed up the dust and then, I used primer on all the spackle spots.

Next, I cut in the ceiling. I am using this great ceiling paint I found when I did the living room. It goes on pink, but dries flat white. Why is that important? Because you can easily see spots you miss. I am following myself with the Swifter, wiping up drops before they dry.

Now its 11:20 PM and I am wimping out. I know I would be sooo much farther along if I took an hour or so and primed the fronts of the cabinet doors, but I am beat. What happened to the guy who used to pull all-nighters to get something done? Apparently, he got old...

I tried to wash all the paint off me, but not much luck. Gave up and went to bed.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

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A completed (minus the hardware and paint) cabinet door

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The damn broken air compressor!

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The drying room

Kitchen Refresh Project, Saturday - Day 2

I woke up at 6:13 AM. I reheated a cup of coffee and this time, opted for breakfast. I'd bought some onion bagels and cream cheese, but apparently forgot that yesterday when I buried the toaster oven in the office. So, dug it back out and had a toasted bagel. I shaved, showered and got dressed for the public heading out to Home Depot.

I had determined yesterday, after much soul and wallet searching, that NONE of the cabinet hardware Carla so carefully saved for me could be reused (I had hoped to save the hinges, at least). I could have gotten a hooker for what I paid for the knobs, pulls and hinges (and right now, oh, never mind...) I've always said I wished I had more cabinets. Today, I'm glad I don't!

Got back home, changed clothes and got to work. First item of business: filling in all the holes in the doors with spackling compound. Based on B___'s advice, with the humidity (its still raining like hell here) I turned the back room into a drying room (see photos). Finished up at 11:00 PM.

Before moving on, I want to get dinner in the oven. It will be some baked potatoes (recipe from "Gourmet" magazine) and Alton Brown's "40 cloves and a Chicken" only instead of using a whole, cut up chicken, I'm using 6 bone-in chicken thighs. But then, the doorbell rang...

It was Jake and Carla again! (Won't these people leave me alone?) Seriously, they came back to help and I appreciate it. Gonna make it tough to brag how I finished the project all by myself in four days, though... And, I'm gonna owe them BIG TIME when they get their house!

I'm keeping it brief: Jake took off the wall and door molding (a messy, ugly job); Carla removed all the switch and plug plates and the heat register; I spackled the cabinet faces. Somewhere in here we decided to order a pizza for lunch and save the chicken & potatoes for dinner. Then Carla washed the walls and ceiling while I started sanding cabinet doors (used a belt sander on the flat surfaces and the orbital sander on the rounded edges). Meanwhile Jake was cutting and attaching the wood lathe (see photo). Carla switched to priming the walls (Jake would give her a hand when he had the time). Then Carla got dinner in the oven.

Then the compressor broke, and door production ground to a halt. Yes, the brand new compressor stopped working (It was running, just not making enough air to work the gun)! Carla read the troubleshooting section (she's a college graduate now, so we leave those sorts of things for her) and I took it apart and retightened the head bolts, but no, no go. Four doors left, so I finished sanding them and Jake finished cutting the lathe, but I don't have any 5/8 inch brads so it's another morning trip to Home Depot on Sunday (but they don't open until 8:30)!

Also, I bought that unit a long time ago and it's just been sitting in the house ever since, unopened, waiting for this project. I hope to God the warranty is still good!

I started spackling the nail holes and corners of the assembled doors, but Carla wanted to do that. Dinner was done, so we ate and then they left. I didn't notice the time (8:00? 8:30?) I cleaned up a bit and went straight to bed. I fell asleep before I could decide if I hurt enough to take a pain pill.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kitchen Refresh Project , Friday - Day 1

Woke up at 6:30 without the alarm. Just made coffee and no breakfast. Shaved showered and got dressed. I backed the car out and hooked up the trailer, then tested the lights. Left for Home Depot.

Got the big items: 20 feet of bead board and the top and bottom molding for them, some stain, rubber gloves and, finally, the 1 5/8 inch x � inch lathe strips for the cabinet door refresh. Those were the big problem. I thought they were 12 feet long. Not true! They were 16 feet long! I kept running into people and things on the way to the checkout.

When I got to the checkout, the lady informed me of their true length. I said, "Well, then I don't need twelve of them!" Fortunately, she had an engaging personality AND a calculator, so we eventually figured out I only needed 9 16-footers. Another nice surprise was that Home Depot is giving a 10% discount for the Memorial Day weekend, so I save $22!

Next problem was the trailer. It's only 8 feet long and I couldn't have 8 additional feet of lathe hanging over the back. So, I used bungee cords to make them into a bundle, put down my rear seats, opened the trunk and stuffed them inside. It was only a two mile ride home, but it got very, very interesting every time I turned.

Unhitched the trailer and pulled it inside the garage. I am thinking I will be parking outside for the next few days. I was doing some basic cleanup to the kitchen when Carla called. She said she was bored and wanted to come over to help. I said I'd be back home after 1:30 PM and she said, "Great!"

I left then to pick up my friend B___ for lunch. I told him of my morning adventures and he particularly laughed at the lathe strips in the trailer and the car (it almost sounded like a cruel laugh, BTW!)

Lunch was quite different, as the restaurant we went to had sent him an email saying he was eligible for a free Jamaican Jerked Chicken Wings appetizer, which we both devoured (spicy, but not too "hot")

Next, we went to Lowes (my other home improvement home-away-from-home) where I picked up a 3-step ladder (easier to use in the kitchen than the real step ladder) and a 50 foot non-kink garden hose (I needed that) both on sale, BTW. I also got some 5/8 inch brads for the nailer/stapler gun and air compressor I bought a while ago (for this project).

I dropped him back at work, and headed home. I stopped at Farmer Jacks to get some shrimp that were supposed to be on sale, but weren't there Thursday night. They still were not there! Bastards!

I got home and found Carla had beaten me there. She asked what she could do to help and I said, "Please empty the hutch and put its contents in the office." So, she did. Then, I picked up each end and she put the sliders under it. Then, we slid it into the office. Next, I took off each cabinet door with the electric drill and a straight screwdriver bit, and then she removed the hinges and the pull handles with the portable drill and a Phillips bit. She tagged and bagged the hardware so I can reuse them, if I need to. We finally got everything done, so we switched to the wallpaper border.

She was a tiger with the Paper Tiger (it scores the wallpaper so the glue can absorb the water/Dif mixture) while I made the water/Dif mixture. She followed the directions exactly and, after the four applications of DIF, I scraped off the wallpaper with ease. Then it was 4:30 PM and time for her to go get Jake from work. Hey, Carla! You forgot the Doritos Habanero for Jake (I bought them but they are too hot for me to eat)!

I called B___ with some project questions, then I went out to the garage to get my work areas established (the only way this might work is to do it like a production line). Once that was done, it was time to finally open the Bostich nailer/stapler tool and compressor combo pack.

I had heard horror stories of people buying these and having to put a lot of things together. But this particular brand is basically plug and play. I screwed on the correct ends to the air line and four rubber feet to the compressor and that was it. It took longer to read the instruction manuals for the gun and compressor than to put it together. Too bad Bostich doesn't make 4' x 8' folding trailers!

So, I checked the clock and it was 8:45 PM. Decided that was enough fun for one day, so I reheated the last two brats and ate them watching the start of the Friday night fights. Need I mention I wasn't awake for the end of the Friday night fights?

Friday, May 25, 2007

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Back garden - view 1. You can see them better if you click to enlarge, then use your browser's "back" button to return (you can even see all the clumps of my grass)

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Back garden - view 2

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Back garden - view 3

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Back garden - View 4

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St. Francis of the ferns

Lest we forget

Yesterday (Thursday) was Tommy Chong's birthday. He was 69 years old!

Hey, I remember him! I used to play with that dude, man!

Thursday

Another hot one! Not sure if we broke the record (we were supposed to) but high was predicted to be 87 degrees F.

Finally 5:00 PM and I start my four-day, all-work weekend! First thing on the list (and if you know me, you know there's a list, lol) is a serious grocery shopping. I have just been picking up odds and ends for almost a month now while I worked on the trailer. So, its stop at Farmer Jacks and an hour later (and a $150 US poorer) I am completely restocked and ready to rock!

I put away a trunk full of groceries. Then I changed clothes and disassembled the table, then reassembled it in the living room (Hey, I need someplace to sit, right?). Next I carefully pushed the refrigerator into the living room as well and plugged it in. Now my house is starting to resemble Lu and Sadie's, so I took some pictures and posted them.

Then I started first project: taping and mudding the new drywall in the ceiling. I am actually using spackling compound instead of mud as I had to buy a big tub of it for other things this weekend. However, I've used it on drywall before and, as long as you don't have to sand it, it works okay. So, I put up the tape (I use the mesh kind instead of the old paper, BTW) and then added the spackling compound. Smoothed it out with a six-inch blade. Cleaned up the work area and realized it was after 8:00 PM.

So, I raced outside and watered the places where I'd put the grass seed. Then I carried two buckets of water to the back for the roses and the tomatoes. Came in the house at 9:10. Warmed up two more brats in the microwave, ate them with mustard and onions: and then went to bed.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

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My God! This is starting to look like South-side Virginia!

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The kitchen moves into the living room...

Wednesday

The weather continued to be hot here. Today's high was 86 degrees F. (30 C.) so I turned on the air conditioner when I finally got home at 6:00 PM (I had to stop at the Credit Union to get some cash for this weekend).

Cleared off a space to work in the kitchen and cut the drywall into 2 3/4 inch wide strips. Then fit it into space, each one taking three strips, but I could never use the full 2 foot length. I was right! By using two half inch pieces, I just about matched the plaster and lathe. Next comes the spackling compound, but I noticed it was getting late, so stopped to go out and water the grass seed.

Got that done and heated up some chili I'd made and frozen back in January. That, plus two bratwurst, was dinner. Tried to watch some TV, but fell asleep almost immediately.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Forgot to mention...

... the garbage was still not picked up when I got home. I called Monday for a "big Item" pickup (the old attic stairs), but only got to leave a voicemail and nobody returned my call. So, when the garbage truck finally showed up, I asked them if they would take the stairs. The guy said they weren't supposed to, but how long would it take me to get it out. I said 5 seconds and he said go get it.

So, I got a LOT more room to work and the stairs are gone!

Tuesday Night

I picked up a 2 foot x 2 foot piece of 1/2 inch drywall at lunch, along with some drywall supplies. On the way home, I stopped and picked up the last three bags of mulch I needed and some more basil and Rosemary to replaced dead plants.

I got home, changed clothes and started the laundry. It was very hot today (80 F. or 27 C.) so the grass clippings (actually clumps of grass) had dried out some. I got out my blower and tried to blow them down the side lawn (where I'd reseeded) to help retain the moisture for the new seed.

While I was doing that, I noticed there are actually spots in the front lawn that were "scalped" so, I put down seed there and covered them with clippings as well. As I was doing that, the neighbor lady who cut my grass drove up and, with tears in her eyes, began to apologize profusely. She said the trimmer had run out of string, she couldn't get the blower to start and when she told her husband how bad it looked, he said, "You did raise the deck height, didn't you?" She said to me, "I swear, he never told me to do that!" I told her not to worry about it. Once she starts cutting it every week (and, with the deck raised) it will be okay. (yeah, right - maybe in a year or two)

After she left, I dragged the hose to the front, watered the spots I reseeded and the flower beds, and then worked my way around to the back, watering as I went. I planted the replacement herbs and watered those beds; trimmed a few ferns in St. Francis' garden so I could see him and finally carried buckets of water to the back to water the two tomato plants and the two new roses.

I got in the house at 7:55 PM and reheated the pasta and sausage from yesterday. I watched TV until 9:00 PM, then shut it off and read until bedtime.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Monday's Moanin'

Stopped at Home Depot after work and spent another small fortune for the primer, the paint, painting supplies, spackling compound, etc. I also picked up 5 5-inch lag bolts and a 1/4 inch drill bit, six inches long. Mixing the paint took forever, and it wasn't until about 6:30 PM when I got home.

Jake was concerned that the deck screws I used to put in the 2 x 4 spacers and the new 2 x 6 joist were not sufficient for the load of the attic stairs and me, too. After he kept saying that, I started to worry about it as well. So, after getting home and unloading the car, I stuck the electrical extension cord up through the hole and climbed up the other ladder with my drill motor, the lag bolts and a ratchet and socket. I'd hoped to use the nut drivers I have to install the bolts, but the biggest one was a 7/16 inch and the lag bolts had 1/2 inch heads.

First thing I did when I got up in the attic was to open both windows. The heat was stifling! The next thing was to bang my head on the roof supports. Ouch!

So, I drilled through the new joist, through the 2 x 4 spacer and through the old joist, and then tightened each bolt by hand. I got done just before 8:00 PM.

For dinner I sliced up the grilled Italian sausages and added them to a jar of pasta sauce. Made some penne pasta and mixed the two together. Ate it watching TV and fell asleep just before 10:00 PM

This Day in History

May 21 boasts two aviation firsts (and my Mom was there, man!)

1927

Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly across the Atlantic (from New York to Paris) in his monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis.

1932

Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (from Newfoundland to Ireland).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Victoria Day!

to all my Canadian friends...

Slowed down on Sunday...

Woke up, as I said, sitting on the love seat at 5:30 AM. When I could function, I heated up and ate the half of Carla's patty melt for breakfast.

I had vowed before doing anything else I would clean Newt's tank. I have been very busy with the trailer, etc., and let it go too long. In fact, Carla' upon seeing it all covered with algae, threatened to call the Newt Protective Services and turn me in. I took her seriously, as she's a social worker and knows just who to call. So, I've got work to do...

I like warm weather as you can do these kinds of things outside. I put the infected gravel in the chiminea. Then I scrubbed the aquarium out with salt and baking soda and rinsed it with the hose. Put in the new gravel and then used the baking soda and salt mix to wash off every bit of the fake plants, the climbing stick and the filter. Put in a new "bio-bag" filter and added water. I let the system run for about an hour before putting Newt back in. He seemed very happy and I don't have to worry about some call from an agency, now. Take that, Carla!

Next I checked on the bolt Jake said he stripped. It's a problem, but I'm not sure it's a big one. Ate somebody's left over chili dog for lunch. Cut up the scrap from the demo and started a fire in the chiminea (I'll use my magnet to pull out the nails, later.)

Watered all the container gardens (they needed it). I started to empty the kitchen (got all the chairs out) and was ready to disassemble the table when I decided taking a nap would be a better idea (I needed it). Laid down and started watching the movie Jeremiah Johnson (I love that movie) and it was so engrossing I never slept at all. Got back up and took the weedwacker and trimmed the front and around my patio, so if the lady does cut my grass tomorrow, it will look nice. It took a long time and I had to add more line once.

I grilled a steak for dinner (on the two-burner grill pan). Since I was messing it up anyway, I also grilled some brats and some Italian sausage for dinners during the week. I baked (in the microwave) a sweet potato to go with the steak and ate it watching my Sunday night shows. I went to sleep at 10:00 PM.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

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New stairs, but I will have to fill in the space with drywall.

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Old wood folding attic stairs

Saturday and the big sleep

Didn't sleep much during Friday night, so I woke up at 8:00 AM, tired. Shaved and showered and got to planning. I'm going to my Mom's and making lunch for her and my brother Carl. Nothing as elaborate as the bacon wrapped meatloaf, this time. I thought I'd keep it simple and make an antipasto salad and my shrimp scampi served over linguine.

I thawed a pound of shrimp, then cleaned and deveined them. I was a little distressed they were so small (35 to 40 count) as I like to use 25 count shrimp in this dish. But, it's all I had. Assembled the stuff I would need, and then headed out.

So, first stop is Westborn for the salad ingredients. Bought proscuitto (Mom, that's Italian ham that's cured but not smoked), Genoa salami, provolone, fresh mozzarella balls, fresh basil, some olive oil, Romaine hearts, a mixed variety of olives, marinated hearts of artichoke, a Italian baguette and some Giardiniera pickled vegetables.

Got on the expressway and was doing good until I hit the construction on I-94. Down to two lanes and stop and go as they were working. So, big truck with gravel, front-end loaders, etc. kept stopping traffic. So, the trip that usually takes about an hour took almost two!

Got to Mom's at 1:00 PM and started making lunch. Cut the salami and provolone into strips, rolled the proscuitto and put them on a platter. Drained the fresh mozzarella and drizzled them with olive oil and added chopped basil. Put the olives, artichoke hearts and Giardiniera in little bowls. Chopped up the Romaine lettuce and dressed it with balsamic vinaigrette.

Put the pasta on to boil and made the shrimp scampi. When everything was ready I told Mom I'd better call Carl. He answered and said he was trying to come in the driveway, but my brother Joe was in the way. He was dropping off his boat trailer for the summer.

So I set the table, invited Joe to eat, but he declined. After we were done, Carl did all the dishes while I packed up. I have to get home before 4:00 PM, as Jake and Carla are coming over to help me install the new attic stairs.

I notice the West-bound I-94 was moving pretty good (during the stop and go of the East-bound ride to Mom's) so took a chance and go back on the E-way. Got back home just after 4:00 PM. but Jake and Carla had beaten me there. I made some quick hellos and headed for the bathroom!

So, Jake started the demo of the old stairs. That accomplished, we had a problem. Old wood stairs had a 25 inch opening. New one said it fit both 22 or 25 inch opening. But, it meant adding another 2" x 6" stringer and spacers. Fortunately, I had the materials in my scrap pile. Unfortunately, I will have to try and match thickness of the wet plaster and lathe with drywall. I took a picture and posted it Sunday morning so you can see what I'm talking about. Anyway, I installed that while Jake and Carla went to the store.

They came back with food, but I wasn't hungry. I cut the boards that held up the frame (twice) and while Jake and Carla were working, I sat down on the loveseat, tired as hell. I dozed off, then woke up and could hardly move. I checked the clock and it was 5:30 AM!!!

Problems: My back is killing me from sleeping sitting up all night, my ankles are swollen so bad I can't get my slippers on and there was an email from Jake, telling me NOT to open the ladder as a bolt was stripped during assembly. But, on the plus side, for the first time in days, I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Vacation Day on Friday

After being up half the night, I woke up late (almost 9:00 AM). Bad way to start a vacation day I took to get work done! Then, instead of getting to work, I spent the next few hours having a panic attack, just thinking about everything I had to do.

Finally headed out to Lowes and dropped $350 on the first (but definitely not the last) of the supplies I need. Ate a Greek salad at the Newburgh Grille for lunch. Stopped at the gas station by my house and had my "slow-leak" tire fixed (tired of filling it up every two days). Nothing in it, but a definite hole. Cost me $15 (This was the same guy who charged me $30 last time - go figure.)

Got home and started installing trailer hardware (anything but having to face that kitchen) Got everything but the back hinges on (the one's I bought are too short to allow for the 3/4 inch add-ons). I should just buy two more 1" x 12" x 10' boards and do it right, I suppose. I dunno...

Again, I had visitors while working in the garage. One neighbor across the street came to tell me how nice the trailer was looking, and then my next door neighbor came over to tell me the gang-bangers across the street have moved out (good news!)

I finally went inside and finished up my laundry. The doorbell rang. It was the wife of my lawn service guy (who cut my lawn on Monday, not the 14th, but the 7th and then never came back.) I was actually going to call them tonight, but she saved me the trouble. She said she would be back to cut the lawn on Monday and then every Monday. She apologized, but she and her husband are getting divorced, so she's taking over cutting the lawns on this street. It's a shame. They were a real nice couple and have several kids.

Took down the kitchen phone. I got an open box deal at Best Buy on two cordless phones so I can put the extra handset (that doesn't need a phone line) in the living room and the main unit in my bedroom (all part of the "master plan" for the kitchen, you see)

I made smoked sausage, potatoes and onions for dinner and quit for the night.

From the book...

"The Devil knows you're dead" (a Matthew Scudder novel) by Lawrence Block:

"Afraid things would fall apart, because they always do. Afraid it would all end badly, because it always does. And afraid, perhaps more than anything, that when all was said and done it would all turn out to have been my fault. Because, somewhere down inside, somewhere deep in the blood and the bone, I believe it always is."

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Trailer, after adding hardware to make sides easily removable.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Another gloomy day

Cold again, intermittent showers and cloudy all day. I stopped at Home Depot on the way home and bought the rest of the hardware for the trailer. $47.00 US. I really need to add up what all I've put out for this "bargain" trailer.

Since I am taking tomorrow (Friday) off as a vacation day and starting on the kitchen upgrade (which I hope to finish at the end of the Memorial Day weekend - aggressive timeline? I know.) And, because I've worked every night since forever on that damn trailer, I took tonight off.

Really. Took it off. To the point of ordering a delivery pizza for dinner (hand tossed, cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms and yellow banana peppers) which, along with Labatt's beer, was my supper and several snack interludes.

Watched some TV, dozed, read my book and am currently writing this at 3:00 AM. Going back to sleep now...

No pages in a book, here...

I have a friend who describes his relationships with people as "pages in a book." In other words, you come to the end of the chapter, its over and you move on.

But, I'm not like that. My relationships never seem to end; they just take on a different form. Why? I don't know...

I do know I like my way better.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Scruffy has read and approved this entry...

* Excerpts from a Dog's Diary *

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


* Excerpts from a Cat's Diary *

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am.

Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly.

I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now...

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The trailer!

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Another view of the trailer

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Trailer, to date

Wednesday

Gloomy, drizzely, damp and chilly day. Got home and got to work on the trailer sides. Would have been a lot easier with two people, but I finally got it done. I still need to add some hardware (the handles to pick up the sides, etc.) but for all intents and purposes, it's done. Took some photos to post and then cleaned up at 9:10 PM.

Dinner was pan fried catfish with wild rice again. Quick to fix, yet delicious, I think its becoming my favorite weekday dinner. Went straight to sleep.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thunderstorms on Tuesday

It was a beautiful morning and early afternoon (80 degrees F.). But, then it all went downhill. We had wicked thunderstorms moved through our area after 3:00 PM. The rain had stopped briefly; so on my way home I stopped at Home Depot for another 1" x 12" board, 10 feet long (for the trailer sides). Most of it fit in the car and the rest I just let hang out the trunk on the two mile trip home.

Changed clothes and got to work. Fortunately the rain was coming from the West, so I could open the garage door and let a little cooler air in. Tighten all the remaining bolts, then did my trick with the bar clamps and magic marker again for the front piece of plywood. This time, though, one hole was off and I had to re-drill it. Crawled under the trailer and tightened all the carriage bolts.

Next I took off the brace on the front where I want to mount the spare tire I bought. I used the Dremmel tool to grind out two notches so when I attach the big u-bolt that holds the spare tire on, it won't slide around. Then I sanded it down and painted it (several coats) so it won't rust. Looked at the clock and it was almost 9:00 PM!

So, I cleaned up, warmed up the brats from yesterday and heated some Or Ida French-fries Jake and Carla left in my freezer in the oven. Went to put some catsup on the fries and found I was almost out. No problem, I always have spare everything in the pantry. Checked - NONE! I was shocked. My inventory system has always worked. How did this slip by me? Now, I don't use a lot of catsup, its true. Usually only to make seafood sauce. I prefer the bite of mustard to the sweetness of catsup. But, I am baffled about not having a spare... Oh well, it probably dematerialized like the dozen eggs.

Ate dinner reading a book and didn't even try to watch TV. I was beat, so I just went to bed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

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The two Roma tomato plants

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Hard to spot, but the two new roses are where the darker wood chips can be seen. Old rose is between them.

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Front bush in bloom

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The ornamental grass (supposed to grow to 4 feet!)

Monday, Monday

I bought some interesting footwear at lunch today. They are called Crocs and are made in Canada. I got the "beach" kind. But they had ones that had soles more like boots (with big lugs) and a Velcro strap. I assume those were for gardening. BTW, Paul James, the host of "Gardening by the Yard" also wears Crocs. Anyway, I wore them after work and noticed my legs didn't hurt as much, even though I was working in the garage on the cement floor.

I got home and left the car in the driveway, to give me more room in the garage. First thing was to get that one side marker light working. I took off the electrical tape and the connector and found (as I suspected) the blade had not pierced the wire covering. So, I cut through it and put on another connector, taped it all up again and tested it. Bingo! I have a light!

I took a break to water the new roses and the two tomato plants. Took some pictures while I was at it.

Next I installed the bed on the rear section. I put it in place, secured it with three bar clamps, and then crawled under it with a magic marker. I marked all the holes, took off the bar clamps, flipped it over and drilled the holes out. Put it back in place and used a hammer to tap in the carriage bolts. Then I crawled back under it and using lock washers and nuts, secured the wood to the metal frame.

I checked the time as I was hungry and it was 8:10 PM. So, I lit some charcoal in the grill, cleaned up my work area, and then grilled a small steak for tonight's dinner and six bratwurst for Tuesday's dinner. I ate the steak with two ears of leftover corn (from Saturday's non-dinner). I started watching TV, but fell asleep after the first show.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday Morning, coming down

Woke up annoyed. I didn't like working on dinner for over 4 hours, but then not eating it. Also, my whole plan was to try and help with Jake and Carla's jet lag. I figured they would have a good meal Saturday night, and enough leftovers so that Sunday, they wouldn't have to cook, just relax, eat turkey sandwiches and eat pasta salad.

Tried to call my Mom at 9:00 AM - no answer. Called Jake and asked him if they ever ate last night. He said yes. I asked him why they didn't take home the leftovers. He said he didn't think that was right without asking me and I was asleep. I said I have to go back to Block's Nursery, so how about if I drop some leftovers off this morning. He said, "Great!"

So, showered and shaved, got dressed and then divided all the leftovers up 1/3 (me) and 2/3 (them). Packed them in the cooler, with the little round watermelon that was supposed to be for dessert (diabetics are not supposed to eat watermelon - too much sugar), the leftover ice (from their margarita's) and a half a loaf of Italian bread. Tried calling Mom again - no answer...

Dropped the food off at their house and then took Ford Road to I-275. I-275 took me to Eureka Road and I drove past the airport forever until I got to Middle Belt and the Nursery at about 11:00 AM. I thought it might be less crowded (don't these people go to church?) but then I remembered it was Mother's Day and these people were buying plants for their mother.

I bought three trays (12 total) of coleus for Jake's patio garden, one tray (4 total) of dill for the herb garden, two big Roma tomato plants, another spike (the squirrels broke the first one), two rose bushes and, on a whim, a purple-colored ornamental grass (I saved the tag, but can't find it now).

Got home around 12:30 PM and called Luanne to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. Then I finally got through to my Mom and talked to her for a while.

Next, I got to work. First I planted the moss rose seeds in the front garden (so I still have flowers when the pansies die off). Then I planted the 1/2 flat of Impatiens I had left in the one corner of the front garden that wasn't completed. Then I planted the ornamental grass in the tree garden and then the coleus in Jake's patio garden. I watered the grass seed again, and then went inside for a late lunch.

The turkey was GREAT! Ate two turkey sandwiches and some pasta salad. I talked with my daughter Melissa for a while and heard about their vacation adventures. Somewhere near the end of the phone call, the power in my house went out briefly, but enough so my phone quit working. She called me back, we talked a bit more, then hung up. I went around resetting all the clocks that were flashing.

Then, I went back outside to finish planting. I put in the two roses in what will be the rose garden in the back. Then I planted the two tomato plants, also in the back garden, and put their cages around them.

I took all my tools, and buckets, etc., back in the garage and cleaned up everything. The only thing now left to plant is the dill, but that will have to wait. Cleaned myself up as well, made two more turkey sandwiches and went in to watch my Sunday night shows. If I had more time, I would have taken some pictures, but I'll have to do that another day.

Before I forget (again)

We did have some great appetizers on Saturday. Carla brought her world-famous deviled eggs (the ones with bacon and cheddar cheese) and I supplied jumbo green olives, stuffed with blue cheese.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Smokey Saturday

Hooked up the trailer and drove to Home Depot at 7:00 AM. Trailer was pretty bouncy and noisy. I had them cut the 4 x 8 sheet of � inch treated plywood in half. Thanks to Jake I have LOTS of straps, so securing the load to the trailer was easy. Treated myself to breakfast at the Coney Island next to Home Depot (I came to regret that, later).
Got the trailer back home (rode much better with just that little load on it, BTW), took a photo and posted it, unhitched it and pulled it in the garage.

Got to the barber's at 9:00 and got a haircut. I was sitting in the chair when I realized I need to use a bathroom (revenge of the breakfast) so when I was done, I drove back home instead of to Westborn, used the facilities, then went back to Westborn for the veggies I need for the pasta salad. I was standing in the checkout line when the revenge returned. So, I asked the checkout lady where the restroom was and could I leave my cart with her. Finally made it home and put the rotini (12 ounces of tri-color rotinin and 16 ounces of plain) into boiling water. At "Al Dente" I cold shocked it and put it in a big bowl in the fridge.

Next, I got the grill set up for indirect heat smoking. Put in an aluminum drip pan with some water in it covered by two grill sections at the end with the chimney. At the other end, I had charcoal lit, but no grill sections as I will need to keep adding the wet hickory chips and more charcoal. While that burned down, I prepared the turkey breasts. I brushed them both with corn oil, then completely covered one with Creole seasoning, and the other with my house seasoning (salt, pepper and garlic powder). When the charcoal was hot, I put them on the grill. I put in my instant read thermometer and found a problem! It said the internal temperature of a cold turkey breast was 194 degrees! Damn, this is the second one I've owned that has gone bad! Well, if I take the probe out, the juices will run out. So, I left it in and decided to use time as my guide, and when I thought it should be done (4 hours), I'll use my old-fashioned meat thermometer to check (I need 165 degrees internal temp).

So, back to the pasta salad (I want it nice and cold before we eat it). I diced up 4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced 6 fresh radishes, one whole seedless cucumber, cut into small chunks, diced two celery stalks, one yellow and one red bell pepper, diced, grated three carrots and added fresh parsley and garlic chives from my herb garden. Then I put in a big can of sliced black olives (juice and all), a cup and a half of shredded Parmesan cheese and a bottle of Italian dressing and tossed everything to coat it well. Covered the bowl with Saran Wrap and stuck it back in the fridge.

Oh, also, I went out and used my pitchfork to work up the horseshoe pits, in case we want to play outside later.

I started cleaning the house, but I have to keep checking on the grill through the open front door. Whenever I don't see smoke, I go out and add more wet hickory chips. I also had to add charcoal twice during the four hour smoke.

Jake and Carla showed up about 3:30, with a big sack of limes, a fifth of 100% agave tequila and the other fixings for making Margarita's. I checked the internal temp on the turkey, it was 180 degrees! I was worried I had cooked it too much and it would be dry, but Jake said it would be okay. So, I pulled them off and onto a cookie sheet, covered them with foil and put them in the oven on warm. Jake and Carla weren't hungry yet, so we postponed dinner for a while. We had some drinks and they told me of their Seattle adventures. More drinks, more adventures, etc., etc., etc.

Carla went out to roast the corn about 7:30 PM. Jake was busy doing something on the computer, so I laid on my bed, thinking a short nap might help... (you see where this is going, don't you?)

I woke up at 2:30 AM, wondering where everyone was and why I was so hungry. I checked the fridge, and there were two turkey breast carcasses, a hug bag of sliced turkey, my pasta bowl with a little bit of it gone and the untouched watermelon that was supposed to be dessert!

I ate some turkey (delicious, but I couldn't tell if it was the Creole or the regular) and a big bowl of pasta salad (good, but needed more salt and pepper) and then went back to sleep.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

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The first trip for the trailer, getting the wood to make the bed and sides.

The Great Ball Hunt

Got home, changed clothes and went out in the garage to install the ground wire on the trailer. Dawned on me (a little belatedly, I admit) to check and see what hitch ball size this trailer takes (remember, I plan on going at 7:00 AM tomorrow for the wood). Takes a 1 7/8 inch ball. I check, and the one they gave me is a 2 inch ball. Not a problem, I have lots of extra balls from when the Buick LaSaber had a hitch. I look and I look, no balls! (How many times have I heard that!) Then I remember, I gave them all to Luanne to use on the farm a while back (because I didn't have a hitch, so why would I need them?). No problem, I'll go to Murray's Auto across the street. Change out of my shorts, back into my used, sweaty work clothes (ugh!) and drive over. They're out of 1 7/8" balls, but got a shipment in this afternoon they will restock overnight. "What time do you open?" I asked."8:00 AM," she says. No good! Blows my timeline!

Head down to an auto parts store I know at Plymouth and Farmington - Closed! Go to the Hitch House at Plymouth and Levan - Closed at 5:00 PM (now, remember, I am pulling across Plymouth, during rush hour, to get in and then finding out they are closed, then have to pull BACK across traffic to get out. Not simple, fast or fun!)

Ended up going to the other Murray's at Newburgh and 6 Mile (about 6 miles from home). They do have them and for $16.00 I got to take one home. Finally arrived back home at 6:45 PM, changed clothes and finally got to work.

Drilled hole and bolted in the ground wire. Replaced ball (damn near broke my wrench loosening the one they put one. They must have used an air wrench with LOTS of PSI). Got the license plate on and hooked trailer to car lights. Driver side running light not working (its those stupid connectors where the two wires run though a plastic thingie and you crimp down a metal thingie to make contact.), but the rest of the lights, brakes and turn signals all working. I go inside. It's 9:30 PM.

Took the two turkey breasts out of the brine, patted them dry and they are now air-drying in the fridge for 8 hours (its supposed to make the skin crisper when smoking them). Have abandoned all hope of cleaning house tonight. Have also abandoned any idea of eating a real supper tonight. Make a bowl of microwave popcorn and start watching the fights.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Legend

One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "The battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil: it is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good: it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought for a minute, and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins this battle?" The old man replied, "The one you feed."

Trailer Thursday

So, stopped on the way home and got some wire ties and more electrical tape. Changed clothes after getting home and went to work. I didn't like the little clips they gave me to hold the wire harness in place, so at each spot I was supposed to put a clip, I drilled two small holes in the side of the frame, then I sanded them smooth and spray painted them (so they won't rust). Then, when they were dry, I used the wire ties to secure the harness. I finished wrapping the wires with electrical tape and, other than attaching the ground wire to the frame and putting on the license plate, the trailer is done. This weekend, I'll get the wood for the trailer bed and sides and install those.

I came in the house at 8:30 PM and started dinner. It was catfish filets, dipped in cornmeal and pan fried along with some rice. Read my book and fell asleep.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another wet Wednesday

(It's good that it happens on Wednesday as the alliteration works well, don't you think?)

Yes, we had downpours of rain, thunderstorms, sprinkles, etc., all day long into the night. I checked the rain gauge this morning and found I got just over an inch of rain at my house all told.

I changed clothes when I got home, went out to the garage and turned on the radio and then opened the garage door. It reminded me of my old neighbor, Mr. Dupee, from Palms Road. His garage door faced East (towards my house) and when it rained in the summertime, both he and his wife would go out to the garage, open the door and sit on lawn chairs, watching the rain.

But, I don't have time to sit and watch the rain. I have a trailer to wire! So, ran the wires through the frame to their intended locations. Next step in the wonderful instruction booklet? Put four carriage bolts into square holes to strengthen the casters (the ones it rolls on when its folded up). Why am I doing that now? Why now way back when I was bolting the caster brackets on? Because, now, the holes are off! Used a hammer on three of the bolts to force them through (worrying about messing up the threads while doing it), but got the nuts on and, with great difficulty, tightened them up. Did I mention they are all in hard to get-to places?

The last one was more of a problem as the holes lined up, but they were too far apart. So, I got a big "C" clamp and tightened them closer, then bolted them together. Now, back to wiring. Got both stoplights wired and one sidelight. Noticed the wire harness was coming apart in places, so took a roll of electrical tape and started wrapping it. Got the one side done and checked the clock. It was 8:15 PM, so I quit for the night.

I had thawed out some pulled pork I made back in March, so I heated that up and had two sandwiches on 12-grain bread with dill pickles.

Watched one taped TV show and was asleep by 10:00 PM

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sad News

I must regretfully mention the death of one of my favorite boxers, Diego "Chico" Corrales. He died yesterday at the age of 29 in a motorcycle accident. His fight with Jose Luis Castillo in May of 2005 was deemed the fight of the year after he survived two 10-round knockdowns to win it. It was, indeed thrilling to watch. I will miss Chico.

I need a Japanese gardener!

Come on, wouldn't that be great? The two of us could bounce around ideas for each garden, then he would go and plant them and take care of them. I, as the Lord of the manor, would just have to enjoy them...

Weather was beautiful Tuesday, sunny and almost 80 degrees F. I decided the trailer was gonna have to wait, so I could plant the remaining 2 flats of flowers (pansies and Impatiens).

I raced home, changed clothes and headed outside. First task was to reseed the garage side lawn and some in the back (it's supposed to rain in the next few days, which will help keep my water bill down, lol!) I gave the fresh seed on the lawn a good soaking as I dragged the hose up to the front of the house.

Then I worked up the front garden, pulling out the few weeds that had trespassed there. I added a generous helping of slow-release fertilizer and raked it smooth. Next, I started planting. Pansies (which I learned last year die in the heat) in the front for color and Impatiens (a deep red) in the rear.

Bending over to plant the back and kneeling to plant the front (I know, I know, but it was quicker that way) really took its toll on my back and knee. I got the whole front done, but checked the time (8:15) and gave up before planting the last corner (see photos).

Came in and got cleaned up. I reheated the half slab of baby back ribs and the two remaining ears of corn for dinner. Ate two pain pills for dessert and read my book until I fell asleep.

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Here's the spot I didn't finish Tuesday night

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Before planting

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After planting

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Before planting

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After Planting

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Before planting

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After Planting

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

So much for Monday

Alert readers may have noticed that one of the many things that did not happen last weekend was my grocery shopping. So, I stopped on the way home at Meijer's to pick up the stuff I had on my list. This made my arrival time at home much later than normal, as I got home at 6:15 PM. I changed clothes and got back to work on the trailer.

I picked up some bolts, washers, lock washers and nuts at lunch, so I can put on the side marker lights. I drilled out the holes in both the lights and the trailer rail. I installed the one with no problem, but those stupid "self-tapping screws" they gave me had broken out a piece of the one light. I tried using a larger washer, but that didn't work. There was still a thick plastic piece on the edge of the now-enlarged hole, so I opened a can of mushrooms and, with some tin snips, used the top to make a folded-over tab, then drilled it out, painted it black and installed it.

Put on the two tail lights and the license plate holder. I had to remove and re-install one of the cross-members (I had it on upside down, I belatedly noticed). Checked the time and it was 8:05 PM, so I decided enough was enough.

Warmed up the bean soup I'd thawed out over the weekend. Watched one TV show, but never made it to the end before falling asleep.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Unsatisfying Sunday

Never got back to sleep, so when it got light out, I made some scrambled eggs for breakfast (I got tired of waiting for the dozen eggs to re-materialize, so I eventually bought 12 more). After breakfast, went out to work on the trailer. Yes, I know I have about two flats left to plant in the front gardens, but the trailer takes precedent today.

Using the lock washers I bought yesterday, I got the axle on. Then got on the hubs and wheels (wheel bearing grease is god-awful! Learned my lesson after wheel/tire #1 and used a rubber glove for tire/wheel #2).

Realized the sun was just about perfect, so went out and took pictures of yesterday's plantings (not too impressive now, but give it a month and we will revisit. You will be amazed!) and posted them.

Ran into some major problems on the trailer. Once I pulled the pins so I could flip over the trailer to do the lights, the holes no longer lined up. Used a magic marker and then my Dremmel tool and ground them out so that would work. Then, the same problem putting on the hitch: front holes were perfect, back holes were maybe off an half an inch! Used my drill, then the Dremmel to get them right. Luckily, I had both red and black enamel spray paint, so rust shouldn't be a problem. But, once again, it's slowing me down...

While waiting for the paint to dry, I sliced up the one remaining yellow onion and half a valadia and put them in some Canola oil to fry. When they were translucent, I added a pound of hamburger, browned that and added a big can of beans. I warmed up the two chicken legs I had left and more of the baby back ribs and had a late lunch/early dinner.

Back to the trailer. Paint is dry, so finished putting on the hitch. Then started putting on the lights. The "self-tapping" screws they gave me don't work (too loose) so I need to go to a hardware store and get some screws and nuts. So, its after 8:00 PM and I'm done for the day.

Watched my usual Sunday night TV shows and then went to bed (annoyed that I didn't get either the trailer finished and/or all the flowers planted).

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Trailer, from the rear

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Trailer, to date...

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Here's whats left to plant

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Inside of one of the hanging pots

Sunday, May 6, 2007

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Mail box garden

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Gerbera Daisies (thanks again, Canada Cathy, for the idea!)

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Tree Box

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Chair pots, up close

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Chairs and chair pots

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Hanging Planters

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Metal Planter (new this year)

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Standing Flower Urn (or, whatever)

Sweet (corn) Saturday

Woke up around 6:30 AM. Watched the weather (still supposed to be good this weekend) and then slowly addressed the day. Took a shower, but did not shave (I am such a rebel), got dressed and left to go to the nursery for this year's plants. My brother Carl, who lives about an hour north of here in Mt. Clemens, drove all the way out here and beyond to get his plants at Block's Nursery (on Eureka and Middle Belt - southeast corner of Metro Airport). He said the selection was huge and you pay about half what you would normally pay anywhere else. So, I'm headed there this morning. First, I stopped to get my car washed. Some birds at work apparently thought "Volvo" meant "toilet" in Swedish, because they left me ten or so "deposits" on my car. Now, off to the nursery!

Got there at 9:01 AM. Apparently, they open at 9:00 AM. There was a HUGE line up of people waiting to go in, and all the parking spaces were gone except for three, way out in bum-f*ck Egypt. There also were NO wagon's left, so I armed myself with a shopping cart and went to fill my list.

On-site report? Friendly, knowledgeable staff (with two-way radios, so if they didn't know something , they could ask), huge variety of plants and, while I missed about three items I needed (not enough room in the shopping cart), I got most of what I wanted for $67 instead of the usual $100 - $120 I normally spend. And I was there less than � an hour. And, (I timed it) it took me 20 minutes to get there. Now onto the Secretary of State's "Super" facility in Livonia.

I thought it would be smart to go to the "Super" SOS office because I wouldn't have to take off work (the "Super" means this particular facility is open 9 - 12 on Saturday). Weird setup. You have to get in a long line and wait to get your number, so you can wait. Want me to say that again? I'm not kidding. I stood in line for over 20 minutes, finally got to the front, they asked what I was here for and I told them to get a title transferred and a license plate for a trailer I bought. She handed me a number (09) and told me to go wait until they called it (they were on number 73, so I figured I had 36 people in front of me. Found a chair, and sat and wondered why in the hell I hadn't thought to bring a book (me, of all people!).

Finally, it's my turn, and there's a problem. I had the title, but needed the bill of sale to prove I paid the State sales tax on the trailer. I explained that I bought it from Harbor Freight (as shown on the title) which is a store, not a person, so, of course I paid sales tax on it. And, that I had already waited for over an hour and I was NOT going to leave now to go home, try and find my receipt and come back again, okay? She fussed about it but then said she had processed another on of these Harbor Freight titles the other day, and the guy did bring his receipt, so she would process mine "THIS TIME" but, next time, bring the sales receipt.

Got out of there at 11:30 or so, and drove down Farmington a mile to O'Malley's Bar and Grille (I was starving by this time). None of their lunch specials looked that appealing, so I had a cup of split pea soup and a Rueben sandwich. After eating, I walked across the parking lot to the hardware store to get the lock washers I needed for the trailer.

Headed back home, but stopped at Westborn first. I had a tip they had some bi-color sweet corn come in from Florida (Farmer Jack is out and Meijer's will have it on sale Sunday - 10 ears for $2.00). Sure enough, I got 7 beautiful ears of corn for $1.99. I also grabbed two valadia onions, since I was there.

Now back home and unloaded the plants. Put the sweet corn in a tub of water, changed clothes and went out to work. Went out way in the back and put three shovelfuls of dirt from the bottom of my compost heap in the wheelbarrow (cleaned out the sticks, roots, stones, etc., on the spot). Took it to the garage and emptied all my containers into it as well (I pull out the roots each fall, but leave last year's dirt in them). Used a hoe to break everything up, then added about a half a bag of good potting soil. Mixed that all in and I'm ready to go. Set up a "table" with two saw horses and a piece of plywood, got a bucket of water and got started.

Here's this year's lineup:

Mail Box Garden: 6 multi-colored pansies

Tree Box: a spike, two asparagus ferns and two sweet potato vines (not too thrilled with the sweet potato vines this year. The one's I used to get in St. Clair were pale green, shot through with pink and blue lines. These are just a bright light green/yellow and not that interesting).

Four hanging pots: four Impatiens each, with an asparagus fern in the middle.

Chair pots: A geranium, and asparagus fern and a sweet potato vine in each.

Standing Flower Urn (or, whatever) Two asparagus fern in back, two geraniums and two sweet potato vines

Metal Planter (new this year, it's a metal container I rescued from a Christmas fruit basket at work. I drilled holes for drainage and now it sits on the porch rail): Two asparagus ferns and four Impatiens.

Re-reading this, it doesn't sound like a lot. But, this took me from about 1:00 PM until 5:30 PM to accomplish. I did take a break at 2:00 to get a load of laundry in and dinner started.

Dinner will be my famous Sweet Bourbon Baby Back Ribs and roasted sweet corn. I know, I know, it's a lot of food and usually involves me inviting Jake and Carla over to help me eat it. But, they are dining on gourmet food in Seattle, so why should I starve here in Redford? So, it's a cup each of bourbon and apple cider on top of baby back ribs, then seasoning rubbed in and popped in the oven at 250 degrees F. for 3 1/2 hours.

I had the container gardens done at 5:00 PM, so I dragged out the hose and re-watered everything. Then I put charcoal in the grille and fired it up. Cleaned up all the mess from today's planting (seedling trays, plastic flats, etc.) while the coals got hot.

Put the corn on the grill and mixed another 1/4 cup of bourbon to a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's original BBQ sauce. Okay, so Jake and/or Carla are always making their own BBQ sauce. It's always different, always good and ALWAYS hot and spicy. But, this is one area of cooking I haven't gone into. I like Sweet Baby Ray's original BBQ sauce. It tastes like it should to me. So, why try to reinvent the wheel? Maybe someday, but not today.

Corn came off the grill. Put it in the oven on "warm" while I grilled the ribs. 15 minutes on the grill, basting with the sauce over and over while it carmelized and made a nice thick crust. Then pulled those off to rest and got washed up.

Ate the ribs, the roasted sweet corn and some of yesterday's potato salad. Ate like a King (some might say, like a pig, lol!) Fantastic!

Cleaned up most of the mess, it was almost 8:00 PM and my back was killing me. Stupidly, I thought that laying down on the couch for a bit might fix my back and let me get back to work on the trailer. Woke up at 2:45 AM, and decided that Saturday was all done.

Lackadaisical

I've always wondered about that word. Because, if some said that about you, it would be bad, right? But, in 58 years, NO ONE has ever explained exactly what a daisical is, so how do I know if I have one? And, why is lacking one so bad?

This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Friday Night Adventures

Raced home after work, only making one quick stop: Murray's Auto store, for wheel bearing grease (I think I will need it for the trailer). Changed clothes in a flash and was out to the garage. Turned on the lights and the classic rock station on the radio and got to work. My goal is to have everything but the trailer lights finished tonight.

Worked along getting the casters (used when the trailer is folded up in half) on, the fenders, the leaf springs and then was about to install the axle when it all came to a screaming halt at 7:30 PM! The axle is held on by four U-Bolts. The U-Bolts are held in place by 8 lock washers and the (almost) universal lock nut. BUT... no lock washers! Went through everything, but, no, no lock washers... Hmmm... what to do? If it was, say, the fender, I might forget about them. But it seems pretty important to me that the axle remain secured to the trailer, right?

Went through all my fastener drawers. Found two lock washers that would work, but two is not eight. Decided to err on the side of caution and pick some up tomorrow. So, this evening's blitz build is officially over... (damn it!)

When I first got home I had put the zip-lock bag with the remaining 6 frozen chicken legs in a bowl of cold water to thaw. I also thawed out a container of my bean soup, (either for a late night snack or my main meal if this experiment goes horribly wrong, lol!). And, when I came in one of many times from trailer building to pee, I put some redskin potatoes on to boil, which they did. So, now I am going to attempt to recreate Acenter's (Carla's Mom) Southern fried chicken with a side of homemade potato salad for my Friday night dinner.

So, with the trailer build on hold, I went to making dinner. This being impromptu, I didn't have any green pepper (which I like) for the potato salad. But what I did put in was redskin potatoes (with skins on), a chopped valadia onion, diced celery, and two cut up hard boiled eggs, all topped with a dressing of Miracle Whip, yellow mustard, milk, salt, pepper and a splash of vinegar.

The chicken I made the same way as Carla's Mom (even the stove setting) but I must confess: It was good, but not as good as hers. The skin wasn't as crunchy. I think if I had the oil a little hotter, it would have worked. Oh well, next time.

Now it's really late (almost 10:00 PM) and my arm is killing me from working on the trailer. Skipped TV AND reading and went to sleep.

Friday, May 4, 2007

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My brother Carl sent me this, thinking it might be something I would need. Hmmm... Let me think about it... Where do I send my check?

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Jake and Carla sent me this picture, taken as they were flying over the Rocky Mountains on their way to Seattle and a week's vacation (Jake's graduation gift to Carla)

Thursday child is full of woe...

Once again, my homestead is in danger...

You know, I had only one real personal dream. I wanted to live in a house, one house, for a long time until I died, like my Dad. I thought I had it when Luanne and I moved in with my Mom on 24 Mile Road. But, my sister Anne's suicide changed all that. Then there was Palms Road, my mini-farm. But, everybody told me it was too small to raise the kids. North River Road in St. Clair seemed the next perfect answer (it was no mini-farm but I loved to watch the freighters go by) but that had problems, too. Then, I rented this house, and, lo and behold, I got a chance to buy it. Problem solved?

Maybe not! I got a letter from the township about a variance that I really didn't understand (I did read it, but couldn't make heads or tails out of it. All legalize gobbledygook). Tonight when I was outside, putting out the turtle, the wind chime, the birdhouse, etc., I'd gotten down from the attic, my neighbor asked me if I was going to the meeting tonight. I said, no, I didn't understand what the hell they were saying. He confessed he didn't, either, but another neighbor clued him in. Seems like the empty lot next door (the one I keep cutting down the weeds in and picking up the trash) is zoned R2, meaning the owner could build one story duplexes on it. He is asking for a variance to build 10 two story apartments on it! So much for enjoying the serenity of the back yard! I really have to finish the trailer, but my neighbor assured me that at least 10 people on the street are going to the meeting to oppose this. I hope it works... But, now I am worried...

Before I forget, I got a lovely card with two school pictures from my granddaughter Riese today. Not sure where the envelope has been though, lol! I almost threw it out because it was all muddy and ripped (sad, too. It looked like a nice envelope). Luckily, the card and the pictures inside were intact. Thanks, Riese! You are a cutey!!

So, as you can tell, I got all the rest of the little knickknacks out of the attic. Everything survived the winter, except for the tiki torch. Not sure why, but it had fallen apart. Got everything situated, and then went to work on the trailer.

Worked from around 7:00 PM until just after 9:00 PM. The back of trailer is now together and joined to the front. Next comes the suspension, tires and wheels and then wiring the lights. BTW, my arm is killing me from using that ratchet. Each nut is a lock nut, so you can't spin them on and then tighten, you have to crank on them all the way.

Since it was now after 9:00, a real dinner seemed like a lot of work, so just scrounged the fridge for food (cheese, crackers, part of a tomato, etc.) Read until bedtime (which wasn't far off. I was beat!)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sticking with song lyrics...

I have always identified with the song, "Sunday Morning, Coming Down," written by Kris Kristopherson, but popularized by Johnny Cash:

Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
Then I washed my face and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I'd smoked my mind the night before
With cigarettes and songs I'd been picking.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid
Cursing at a can that he was kicking.
Then I walked across the street
And caught the Sunday smell of someone frying chicken.
And Lord, it took me back to something that I'd lost
Somewhere, somehow along the way.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk,
I'm wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
'Cause there's something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there's nothing short a' dying
That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk
And Sunday morning coming down.

In the park I saw a daddy
With a laughing little girl that he was swinging.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school
And listened to the songs they were singing.
Then I headed down the street,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing,
And it echoed through the canyon
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk,
I'm wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
'Cause there's something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there's nothing short a' dying
That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk
And Sunday morning coming down.

My life summed up in a song lyric...

With full acknowledgment (and a tip of the hat) to the Grateful Dead, and their song Truckin'

"Lately it occurs to me,
What long, strange trip it's been..."

Wednesday, and starting the trailer...

Beautiful day, so grilling should be involved. Stopped at Farmer Jack's and picked up two yellow squash, two zucchinis and one eggplant.

Got home and changed clothes. Put the last cedar board in some water and took out a salmon filet from the freezer (not a beautiful, big one like I had for Jyl's birthday dinner, but a thin one I get in bulk from Farmer Jack's). So while the board was soaking and the filet was thawing, I hurriedly filled the bird feeder with seed and the squirrel feeder with some peanuts. Then, out to the garage!

I stated assembling the trailer. Remember the guy who said it took him a week? Well, the instructions say it takes three hours. But, now I understand that disparity. Interpreting each step takes an hour, but then doing it takes 15 minutes! Worst instructions I ever tried to follow!! Anyway, by 7:30 PM I had the front half assembled. It was then I noticed that the bar on the tongue for the spare tire was on upside down. Oh, well, I'll fix it later. Time for food!

Lit the charcoal in the grill. Cut the squash and eggplant on the mandoline into long, thin strips. I put them in a bowl and drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar on then. Added salt and pepper and tossed them about. Put the salmon on the plank after rubbing it with the potlatch seasoning. Put everything on the grill. I had to keep turning the veggies as they quickly burn (especially the eggplant). I think I pulled them off a bit too soon, because while the eggplant was perfect, the two types of squash were a bit crunchy.

The salmon, too, had a little problem. I put on about the same amount of seasoning I did for the thick filet, but on this thin filet, it was a bit strong. So, I scrapped it off with a butter knife. Much better. (God, I hope the seasoning on Jyl's salmon wasn't too strong and they just didn't tell me!)

Watched a little TV, but tired of it quickly, so went back to my book, then bed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tuesday's Great Easter Egg Hunt!

Okay, so it isn't Easter, but still...

Weird things have been happening around here. Remember how I lost my phone last week and my friend B___ went out in the rain to look for it? Well, of course the next time I was in his car, I, too, felt under the seat and all around. No phone. Got a loaner and then yesterday got my new phone from Telecom. Then, I got a phone call from B___. Seems that when he was coming to work, he was, shall we say, driving "aggressively" and my old phone slid out from under the seat!

Then, over the weekend, I stopped at Farmer Jack's and bought a dozen eggs, milk and few more items that all fit in one bag. I took them into the house and carefully set them on the counter, because the quart carton of milk was tipping over. I put the groceries away, reminding myself to take the dozen of eggs out of the carton and put them in the carton that holds 18 eggs, because there were still some eggs in there. (I normally buy 18 eggs in a single carton, bring them home and immediately hard boil 6 for snacks or whatever. Those go in a 12-egg paper carton that has "Hard Boiled" written on it in magic marker and sit nicely on the 18-egg foam carton.) Then I went about my business.

But, when I made my catfish Monday night, I took out the 18-egg carton and there were only 4 eggs in it. "Oh, I must have never put the new eggs in here," I thought. So, I looked in the fridge and... NO EGGS! NO NEW 12-EGG CARTON!! NOTHING!!!

I mentioned this to my friend when we were at lunch Tuesday and he suggested that, based on the phone and now the missing eggs, I may have unknowingly developed the power to transport objects into another dimension for a short while, so they might just come back, like the phone did. His alternative suggestion was based on his observation that his wife occasionally gets distracted while putting groceries away and puts thing in the wrong, or odd, places. So, maybe I should look around the kitchen before they start to stink.

Good advice! So, even though I CLEARLY remember putting them in the fridge along with the milk (which is still there), when I got home I started opening cupboards, drawers, the oven, the oven drawer, the microwave, all the doors in the hutch, etc., etc., etc. STILL NOTHING! I might have suspected Scruffy if he liked eggs, but he doesn't.

I guess I'll just have to wait until they materialize again...

We had terrible thunderstorms during the morning, then again late afternoon. In fact, Jeremy called me and said they were talking about golf-ball sized hail in Redford and was everything okay? I told him I hadn't seen any hail, but it was sure pouring rain.

I had to use up some mushrooms, so dinner was a small steak, topped with said mushrooms and fried onions and a baked potato. I watched some TV, then switched to reading until bed time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Another Nice Day...

Weather-wise, Monday was just a repeat of the weekend. I went outside just to enjoy it and to check on the back gardens. Took some photos and posted them.

Got out the weedwacker and cleaned up around the patio area. I am not sure when the guy is gonna start cutting my grass, but I hope it's soon!

Dinner was catfish filets dipped in egg then cornmeal and then pan-fried. Catfish cooked that way I always top with some red hot sauce (it's a Southern thing). I made wild rice for the side dish.

Watched a little TV, but gave up and went back to reading. Eventually fell asleep.

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Carla, walking up to get her diploma!

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Me and the Graduate

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Me, Carla and her Mom, Acenter

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Me, Carla and her Mom