Monday, June 30, 2008

Sunday

I woke up at 7:00 AM Sunday morning. Its overcast and sprinkling outside. I don't think we really need the rain anymore! I have a cup of coffee and post the Blog.

Next, I clean up all the pots and pans from last night's dinner. Then I got out the pork loin I thawed yesterday. I took off as much of the white membrane I could and then was about to make a dry rub. When I was getting out my spices, I noticed I had two mixes in the cupboard already: a Jamaican Jerk rub and a Creole rub. Decided to go with the Creole and massaged it into the meat. That went back on the platter, covered with Saran Wrap and into the fridge for later. Since I am going to have the grille going to smoke this bad boy, I also took out some ground chuck and boneless, skinless chicken thighs to thaw (for weekday dinners).

I got out the vacuum cleaner and the broom and attacked the bedroom ceiling, walls and floors, getting down all the spider webs and dust, and then vacuuming it up. I have (reluctantly) decided that, before I can paint this room, I need to wash the walls (remember, I did NOTHING to this room, just moved my furniture in 5 years ago). So, I got out my wall-washing mop (yes, I have one mop that is only used for this purpose) and washed the walls. I finished up at 12:30 PM and, since the walls need to dry, I got cleaned up and made a quick trip to Meijer's.

When I got back, I ate a quick sandwich and then I took off all the doors in the bedroom and stored them in the living room. Then I covered all the remaining furniture in the bedroom and the closet openings with drop cloths. I got out my step and cut in the ceiling paint (killer on my knees, BTW - get up on the step, paint two feet, get down, move the step, and repeat, all around the edges of the room.). Then I got out the roller pan, a roller with an extension handle and rolled on the first (and hopefully last) coat on paint on the ceiling. I'll be able to tell better tomorrow after work. I cleaned everything up and it was 4:30 PM.

I started taping the windows with masking tape, and then I realized I better get the grille going. I set it up for indirect heat and smoking, taking off two grilles so I can easily add wet wood chips and more charcoal if necessary, and added a drip pan (I took a photo so you can understand what I mean). I put a bag of mesquite wood chips in some water and lit up the charcoal. When they were hot, I added some of the wet wood chips. In the house, I rubbed vegetable oil on top the pork loin and then took it outside. I put my digital probe thermometer into the thickest part and set the alarm for 150 degrees.

Since I was out there anyway, I took down the old flag and put up the new one I just bought. This one is a bit sturdier, with a wood pole instead of cheap metal and has a cotton flag. So, maybe it will last longer. We'll see!

So far the morning showers have not returned, but I just noticed it's getting a lot darker as I write this. Please, please don't rain on my new grille! Also, since I was outside, I took the time to wash off some sap (or whatever) that had gotten on my truck lid. I used a non-stick surface cleaning pad and some of Jake's Blue Car Wash and dumped a bucket of warm water on it to rinse it off.

The internal temp of the pork loin is 140 degrees F, so I went inside and got the burgers and chicken ready. This time, instead of using the peanut butter jar lid to make 1/4 pound burgers, I had bought some extra large buns on sale yesterday, so I made the burgers to fit them (nobody, least of all me wants a mouthful of just bun - lol, that sounds dirty, but I can't say exactly just why!) So, I only got six burgers instead of eight. I hit them on both sides with my house seasoning.

Next I took the four boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I usually go for bones - more flavor, but these were a half-off manager's special) and ran each of them through with two wooden skewers I had soaked for a couple hours. Why two? It makes them much easier to turn. I had about 1/2 of a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Hot and Spicy BBQ sauce, so I added about two shots of Jim Beam bourbon to that and mixed well.

The internal temp of the pork loin reaches 150 degrees, the alarm goes off, so I pull it off and wrap it in tinfoil to rest. I add more charcoal, remove the drip pan and replace the two grates I had taken out earlier. I raise the level of the charcoal so I can get a nice sear.

When the fresh charcoal is ready, I baste the chicken with the BBQ sauce on one side and put it directly over the coals. I baste the other side and flip them over when the first side looks good. When the second side is nicely seared, I baste the first again, flip them over but move them to the outer edges of the heat to continue to slow cook. Now I add the six burgers, right over the coals, and let them cook for about three minutes on each side. When I flip them, I also flipped the chicken, again basting the top. I pulled everything off and took it in the house. It looks so good, I took a picture for you!

Meanwhile, it's on to tonight's side dish. I drizzled extra virgin olive oil over some fresh, trimmed asparagus and salted it liberally. After I cleaned and oiled the grates, this goes onto the grille. I go back inside and finish poaching an egg. I flipped the asparagus several times, so it's roasted, but not burned. Finally, I take it back inside and plate it. I cut two one-inch slices of the pork, add the asparagus and top the asparagus with the poach egg. Then I start to eat my Sunday dinner! Delicious! The pork is spicy, but not too hot, with a wonderful smoky taste. And the egg yolk and asparagus is just, well, decadent!

I shut up the grille and close the garage door for the night. I put everything into large Ziplock bags and the pork loin goes into the freezer, while the chicken and burgers go into the fridge. I leave all the platters and tongs in the sink for the night and go watch TV (after clearing off the drop cloths) until 11:00 PM, when I go to sleep.

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Chicken and burgers, fresh off the grille

Sunday, June 29, 2008

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New flag up and flying! My Dad would be so proud!

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Grille set up for indirect heat/smoking, with digital thermometer set at 150 degrees inside the pork loin, which is over the drip pan.

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Drop cloths protecting the closet

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My bed's under there, somewhere!

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Bedroom doors in the living room

Saturday and behind schedule

I woke up at 6:30 AM, started a pot of coffee and posted yesterday's Blog. It is an overcast, gloomy day this morning. Be that as it may, I have things to do and appointments to keep. I stripped the bed and threw the bedding into the washer.

Next, I shave and shower, drink a cup of coffee, get dressed and head out to Lowe's. My plan is to get there between 8:00-8:30 AM. Why? Well, I have a theory (longtime readers know I ALWAYS have a theory, lol!) and my theory is the die-hard enthusiasts and/or contractors get there at 7:00 AM, right when they open. Then the weekend warriors who are not on the clock get up, eat breakfast, have a second cup of coffee and get there between 9:00 and 10:00 AM. So, if you slip in between the two groups, you're golden! And, I was! There were maybe 15 cars and trucks in the parking lot.

I walked right up to the paint counter and got served (try that at lunchtime or after 10:00 AM on weekends, lol!). I had brought a panel of the drapes I bought on Friday and, after much inner debate, decided on a color that I thought matched the drapes the closest. So, I bought one gallon in that color and two gallons that were two shades lighter. I also bought a gallon of my favorite ceiling paint (the one that goes on purple and then dries white? Come on! You remember!). Add in the paint tray covers, rollers, brushes, a couple of drop cloths, etc., etc., etc., and you are starting to be talking some real money! Oh, I also bought a new flag and flagstaff. Last weekend, both Jake and Carla remarked at different times on how frayed my current flag was getting.

When I left, there were probably 50 cars/trucks in the lot and more coming all the time! Damn! I am so clever, (sometimes)!

So, I raced home and dropped off the stuff. I disconnected my cable box (DVD-R) and threw it in the car. Then I headed out to the barber shop to try and make my 10:00 AM appointment. Which, I did.

After that, I went to the cable company store. Apparently, I also need to figure out when these folks ain't busy as I had to get into a line of about 10 people, holding onto my cane in one hand and the cable box in the other. I finally got it exchanged for a new one (I think the hard drive went bad) and, since I was there anyway, I paid my bill. The lady went and got a huge bag to put the DVD-R box into; telling me it was to protect it from the rain. I turned around and looked outside and it was POURING!!!

Well, rain or not, I got things to do. So, next, I hit Kroger's and did my grocery shopping. Thankfully, the rain had stopped by the time I was walking out. I got home and put everything away. I filled in this post and it was 1:30 PM when I was finished. Now its time for breakfast/lunch, so I made a sandwich of salami, Swiss cheese and deli mustard on whole wheat bread, accompanied by a pickle.

Then, I adjourned to the office and took a nap on the daybed. I woke up at 3:00 PM, refreshed and ready to go. I started to disassemble the bedroom. Down came the pictures, and one of the two curtain rods.

Oh, wait a minute! I need to dye the bedspread. Not having that much luck the last time I tried this, this time I really studied the instructions. I knew one box dyed about 1 pound of material and the bedspread was close to 3 pounds, so I had bought three boxes. So, I followed the instruction carefully, warming up 6 cups of water with one cup of salt added. I mixed in the dye and then added one tablespoon of laundry detergent.

I checked the bedspread for loose threads and cut off the ones I found. Then, I put it in the washer, set the water level for medium and the water temperature for hot. Once it was agitating, I slowly added the dye mixture. I set the run time for "super" which is 18 minutes and set the timer on the stove for 15 minutes (It has to be in the dye for a total of 30 minutes, you see). When the timer went off, I ran out and turned it back to 18 minutes more. Now I just have to let it rip until the washer is done, dry the bedspread in the dryer and then try and clean up the washer. Hopefully, the end result will be a bed spread that matches (or at least is close to) the drapes and the accent wall.

Back to deconstructing the bedroom. I took off the other curtain rod and then (gingerly) attempted to take off the big mirror I had mounted to the wall over the dresser. That didn't work so well. The small Phillips screws are all stripped. So, even though I don't like it, I think I will have to just tape it off and paint around it.

I just heard on the radio we are under yet another severe thunderstorm watch until 10:00 PM. But, right now, it's just sunny and HOT! (82 degrees F or 28 C.)

I slid the two nightstands into the office and then attempted to do the same to the small bookcase I had made. Not sure why, but about half way across the floor, something started to scratch the surface! Damn! I got it in there, but now there's just another thing I have to deal with, later. I got out the vacuum cleaner and, with the attachments, got most, if not all, of the cat hair out of the room.

It's almost 7:00 PM, and I am thinking I should stop now. I am bummed because, according to my project plan, I should have the ceiling painted today and all the prep work around the windows (taping) done. But, I'm not even close. Damn taking naps anyway!

Back to the bedspread, the final rinse still was a deep blue (almost purple) so I decided maybe I should wash it in cold water to set the dye (I am making all of this up at this point). So, I did. I also noticed that I have purple crap around three of my fingers and somehow I'm thinking I resemble Boy George (Do you really want to hurt me?). So, I wash my hands in the hottest water I can stand, but, damn, its still there! I will have to come up with a GOOD cover story for Monday and work! (hmmm... I was doing some volunteer work for the Purple Heart this weekend and thought this was a good advertisement?) I dunno...

So, I reluctantly decided to stop for the day. I put the bed spread into the dryer and went about cleaning out the washer. BY the way, WCSX is playing my song: "I'm on the highway to hell!" For you folks who decide to dye something, here's the recommended way to clean the washer: Highest level of water, hot water, detergent and 1-2 cups of liquid bleach and run it through the entire cycle. No word on my fingernails, though... (sigh)

Also, even though I hooked up the new cable box, it's not working. So, I call the Brighthouse repair service. I am on hold... still on hold... still on hold... Two phones calls to them and one to the Webmaster (to make sure the cables are hooked up right) and finally I have a picture and sound. However, I do not have my DVD player or the VHS player attached and working, so it's a temporary fix, at best.

Now to think about dinner. I'm kinda bushed and an elaborate dinner is definitely out. So, I make pasta and a simple sauce. I would have liked using angel hair pasta, but it seems I don't have any, so I go with fettuccine, cooked al dente. The sauce was just 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a saut� pan. When it was warm, I added four garlic cloves, chopped, one shallot, diced fine, and the leaves stripped off of three long stalks of my homegrown oregano (I waved to the neighbors when I went out to pick it). BTW, you just want the garlic to sizzle here, not to brown or burn! I also threw in a big pinch of red pepper flakes for heat. I added the pasta to the sauce and let it get happy and, as an afterthought, I threw in 1/2 of a can of drained, small pitted black olives. I topped my bowl with Parmigiano-Reggiano
plus a little salt and it was GOOD! Note to self: Next time chop the olives! It's not that easy to spear a round, oily olive with a fork!

I watched a little TV (too little for all the fuss it took, lol!) and then went to sleep.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday

Today was almost a carbon copy of yesterday! Muggy, hot, occasional showers and thundershowers.

I stopped at Meijer's on the way home and bought some dark blue tab-top drapes. They are for my bedroom. My bedroom is the only room in the house I have never done anything to since moving in. So, the plan is to paint it this weekend.

I made up my shopping list for Lowe's on Saturday. I went outside and took a few photos, then posted the three best ones. Next, I made dinner (a simple salad and a Marie Callender's Beef Pot Pie).

I watched some TV, read a little and then went to bed by 10:00 PM. Just after 1:00 AM, the thunder woke me up. So I put on my bathrobe and went out on the porch. I sat and watched it rain for a bit, but then the strong winds shifted and the porch started taking on water. I retreated back inside and back to bed.

I checked first thing Saturday morning and we got just over an inch of rain in the last 24 hours.

Friday, June 27, 2008

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The honey-suckle vine (from Virginia) getting a little "fence-time"

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The squash hills, growing strong!

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The vegetable garden, after all this rain

Rainy Days and Thursdays always bring me down

What a day! It was hot (88 degrees F. or 31 degree C.) and muggy. Then, just before going home, (and just after I Instant Messaged Jake that I hoped him and Carla would get a chance to take a swim tonight) the clouds rolled in and the National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties until 6:30 PM.

The wind was amazing, and the few raindrops here were blowing sideways. I took Five Mile Road home to Inkster, rather than get on the expressway. I am not a fan of driving 70 mph (or 113 kph) when all the tall trucks and SUVs are blowing around!

Even so, wrist-sized branches were blowing across the road as I gingerly made my way home. But I got there (10 minutes late) and gratefully pulled into the garage.

I got inside and immediately turned on the radio for the living room and the TV for the bedroom. I am feeling a bit blue today and noise (I have found) is the best antidote for that when you live alone.

I went out on the porch and watered the hanging baskets and the urn (as I mentioned before, these are under the house eaves and do not see the rain at all). I then dead-headed all the "wave" petunias. I love the way they look (I personally think this is my best year since I moved here) but they do require a lot of maintenance.

When I got back inside, I was just in time to hear that the fast-moving storm has left trees down, streets flooded, traffic lights out and more than 50,000 users in the general area without electrical power. The part about flooded streets amazed me, so I went out and checked the rain gauge: I didn't even get 1/8 of an inch of rain, here!

The next story on TV was on the Michigan "One-State" recession. With unemployment at the highest in the nation, GM stock now the lowest than since 1953 (I pity my brother Carl) and today's stock market's dive of over 350 points (the stock market's Dow Jones was at 14,000 a year ago. It's less than 11,500 today) we are really f*cked! So, I have lost almost 20% of my piddley 401K in one year. Add that to home prices having fallen over 20% and new home sales timing being projected at least 18 months before you sell, you not only can't afford to live here, you can't get out! It takes me back to my original retirement plan: Like my Father, I work until I die, and then I retire!

Now I am no longer "blue" and am just out and out bummed! I warmed up the last of the hot dogs and the last two ears of sweet corn for dinner and go watch TV (pure escapism) until I went to bed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just before it rained...

Well, as you may remember, I need to cut the grass tonight. But, there is a 50% chance of rain. It did, in fact, rain during the early afternoon (and my heart sank), but it was just a brief shower.

So, under overcast skies, I raced home after work. Well, raced as much as I could, as President George Bush was at the convention hall just across the way (the same one we used to have company Christmas parties at and where Jake and Carla had their wedding reception). So, there were cops and closed roads, and frustrated drivers, etc., everywhere.

But, I did get home, changed clothes, threw treats at the cats and checked the oil and gas in the mower. I started cutting the front lawn first, figuring if I did have to stop because of rain, at least it would look nice from the road.

Then I got out back. About half way through, it started to sprinkle (enough to get my t-shirt wet, but not enough yet to "clump" the grass). So, I soldiered on. I finished it up about 7:30 PM. I changed clothes (again) and started warming up my dinner. I had the last of the meatloaf patties, the last of the mashed potatoes and the last of the radish and cucumber salad.

I just realized we never discussed my additions to the radish and cucumber salad, BTW. Taste-wise, adding the scallions was a good move and it added just a little zip to it. Presentation sucked, though. You couldn't really see the scallions, and what you could see (the green parts) looked bad, almost like the cucumbers skin had sloughed off.

My next attempt will be to add some sliced red onions. Those should give it the punch and be more visible. If it works, we christen it the CaptainK Radish Salad and publish it. We'll see...

I was watching TV when the real rain hit so hard I could hear it. I went out in the kitchen and it looked like somebody was throwing buckets of water at the kitchen window! When I woke up Thursday morning, I slipped outside and checked the rain gauge. I got just over one inch of rain!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quote

"The first thing they teach kids is that there's a God - an invisible man in the sky who is watching what they do and who is displeased with some of it. There's no mystery why they start that with kids, because if you can get someone to believe that, you can add on anything you want."

~ George Carlin

Trimming Tuesday

Weather-wise, Tuesday was an absolutely gorgeous day.

I decided to take a chance that I will be able to cut the lawn tomorrow (they are predicting scattered or occasional showers for the next five days) since I normally cut it on Thursdays. Instead, I grab all the extension cords I can carry and head out back. This time I trimmed everything on the South side of the yard, all the way to the back. I did the back and then finished up the stuff on the North side I couldn't reach the other day. So, everything is done in the back!

I went back inside and it was 7:25 PM. I warmed up two hot dogs and two ears of corn for dinner. I watched TV for a while, read for another while and then went to sleep.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Three Coins in a Fountain...

When I woke up Monday morning, I found it did rain overnight. So, putting the grill on the front porch was a good idea. I checked the rain gauge before leaving for work and found it had about 1/8 inch of rain in it. I put the grille in the garage and went off to work (as the Seven Dwarf's used to sing: "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go")

After lunch, with threatening skies, I stopped at Lowe's and got a 3/16 inch masonry drill bit (to work on the cement fountain). I picked up some 1 1/4-inch sized cup hooks as well.

The afternoon at work brought several showers. The one at about 4:00 PM had thunder, lighting and 1/4-inch hail! I was concerned because I still remember living at the River Road house when we got 1/2 inch hail that "dimpled" the truck lid, top and the hood of my Buick LaSaber. The Volvo was okay, however, and the storm had barely subsided when it was time to drive home.

Once home, I installed two of the cup hooks for the two new whisks. I hung them next to the fridge, by the immersion blender (see photos). Since I had to pull out the fridge to get access, I washed the floor underneath it, let it dry and then shoved the fridge back.

I checked the rain gauge, but, even though they were dramatic, today's storms were very fast moving, and I only had an additional 1/8 inch of rain since this morning (or 1/4 inch of rain so far overnight and today).

Moving along, I got out the drill motor and my new masonry bit. I went out and tried to determine the best spot for more drain holes. I am gonna take it easy. I'll drill a couple and, if that's not enough, maybe a couple more. I don't want to wreck the effect, you see...

I ended up drilling three holes. I hooked the pump back up and tried it. Much better, but there is still a lot of splashing onto the patio. Hmmm... Maybe its the height the water has to fall? So, I removed the fountain and took one of the two-inch patio blocks out. I put the fountain back together and tried it again. Better. But, its getting late and I'm hungry, so we will play with this another day.

When I came inside, it was 7:10 PM. I warmed up some meatloaf patties, half the leftover potatoes and all of the gravy and ate that for dinner.

Nothing seemed that exciting on TV, so I watched a taped movie, "In the Line of Fire" with Clint Eastwood. When it was done, so was I and I went to sleep.

Monday, June 23, 2008

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The new whisks find a home in my crowded kitchen.

A Balanced Sunday

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday. I reheated yesterday's coffee and had a cup while planning my day. First order of business is breakfast.

I scrambled up a couple of eggs and then split and toasted an English muffin. When the muffin came out of the toaster, I immediately put a slice of American cheese on the bottom to melt a little. I put some mayonnaise on the top half and filled the middle with the scrambled egg. It tasted so good I repeated the process with another muffin, another slice of cheese and the last of the scrambled eggs.

I refilled my weekly pill box and called in for two prescriptions I found I am low on. Then I went to work. First I took apart the water fountain until I was just down to the bare tub. I dumped a bag of leveling sand out and, after a long time, had the tub more or less level. Then I put it all back together (the three cement stepping stones, the pump, the river rock and then the fountain. I filled it back up with water and turned it on for a test run. Better, but no cigar. The topmost outer holes still project water outside the tub. So, after I let it drain, I plugged those with caulk. I'll test it once that's dry, but I think I may have to drill more holes to compensate for their loss. We'll see.

Next, I got the retaining stones and built a little wall next to the driveway. I filled it in with gravel, left over from the sidewalk project just down the road. I tamped it down and leveled it. Then I rolled the mailbox over to its new spot (It would have been in the driveway when they pave the road, which would have been a problem).

Next, I used Miracle-Gro and fertilized all the container gardens, including the mailbox. I dumped extra water around the mailbox to help the gravel mix to settle better. By the way, I didn't set it exactly level; I leaned it towards the road a tad, figuring when the rear settles, it will be perfectly plumb.

Then I got the extension cord and the line trimmer and went out back. I trimmed all around the patio, trees, etc. as far back as I could go (well, it would have been exactly 100 feet, lol!). I put everything away at 12:15 PM and got cleaned up. After a shave and a shower, I got dressed and went to CVS for my meds.

Since I was out anyway, I stopped at the quarter carwash and hosed off the car. I parked it in the driveway, went and got a towel and dried it off before I pulled it in the garage.

I cleaned up the sweet corn (trimming off excess corn silk and stalks) and put them in the medium stock pot, covered with water. I had a nice bunch or radishes I was going to clean and serve yesterday, but I forgot those, too. Hey, that just proves I am truly my Mother's son! My Mother was famous for always forgetting "something" out in the kitchen at Holiday meals.

So, I made a variation of that Sweet Cucumber and Radish salad. I cut up the remaining cucumbers and the radishes into mostly the same size chunks. But this time I added 5 nice size scallions, sliced fine. Then I put 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of ground pepper in a small pot and brought it to a boil (to dissolve the sugar) and then added 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, whisked it together and poured it on the cukes, scallions and radishes. I mixed it well and covered it, and then put it in the fridge for tonight's dinner.

It's almost 3:30 PM and I decided to take a break. I never did really take a nap, but dozed here and there while watching TV. I got up at 5:00, got the one-inch thick T-Bone steak out of the fridge (left from that quarter of a cow I bought last Fall), cleaned it up, sliced the fat every inch (so it wouldn't curl up on me) and rubbed in a generous amount of Montreal Steak Seasoning (my favorite, so far). I took the corn out of the water and put it on the dish rack to drip off a bit; I put the oven on "Warm" and started the coals in the grille.

I have about a two-inch layer of charcoal, at on the lowest setting I can go. I add the corn and check and turn it, at first every five minutes, later on more often. I want the husks to be a dark brown (or even a little black) before I pull the corn. I strip off the husks outside (having learned my lessons of the potential mess in the kitchen in the past) and put the corn on a half-sheet tray in the oven on warm to hold it while I grille the protein. BTW, it usually takes about 25 minutes to get the corn just right. If you haven't been paying attention, I LOVE roasted sweet corn!

So, I raise the charcoal up three notches, clean and oil the grille and take out the steak. I also took out another dinner plate (with two pats of butter on it to avoid cross-contamination) and my instant thermometer (I want this steak PERFECT, dammit!) I seared the steak on the one side for about three minutes. I flipped it with the tongs and seared it another three minutes. I checked the internal temp and it was only 120 degrees F. So, I slid it off to the cooler side and watched the thermometer slowly climb until the alarm went off at 135 degrees F (a perfect medium rare). I pulled it off and set it on the plate with the butter. I took it inside, put another pat of butter on the top (this is how the best restaurants finish your steak, if you didn't know), covered it with tin foil and let it rest.

I took the coal shelf down three notches and started grilling some Dearborn Natural Casing hot dogs. These have now replaced my 20-year love affair with Kogel's Vienna hot dogs. They have the same "crunch" but just taste better!

When I had the hot dogs done, I opened up the two dampers (to burn up the coals) and went inside. I sat down to eat. OMG! This steak was delicious!

I did eat two ears of perfectly roasted sweet corn after the steak (with butter and table salt), but I completely forgot about my salad (See! I told ya! I am my Mother's son!) I left the leftovers to cool down and waddled to the bedroom.

Eventually, during the evening I did put the leftovers away in the fridge. Since we still have a chance of thunderstorms, I rolled the grille onto the front porch; if I roll it back into the garage when its warm, the carbon dioxide (or is it monoxide?) sensors in the house go off!

I watched all my Sunday night shows and then shut everything down at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

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Original location of tub mailbox, right on the driveway.

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New mailbox location (four feet OFF the driveway)

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Retaining wall for the new mailbox location

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Temporary safe-haven for Peace Lily (still working on final spot)

Saturday Sandwiches

As you may have noticed from the post times of the photographs, I had a spell of insomnia again last night. I finally did get back to sleep and slept until 7:30 AM. It had rained overnight, according to my damp patio, so I checked the gauge and found we'd gotten about 1/8 of an inch of rain.

I stripped the bed and started the washing machine, then I made a pot of coffee. I decided that the Peace Lily was in danger of becoming a casualty of the cat wars, so I put the smaller plant out on the porch for the summer, moved out the fake tree and put the plant stand over in the corner, with the Peace Lily on top. Hmmm... not sure I like it... looks a little weird.

Next, I started cleaning the house and doing more laundry. Midway through the morning, Carla called, suggesting playing cards at my house this afternoon. Sounded like fun, so I said yes. Now I have a deadline (3:00 PM) gulp!

I had planned on going out to "Linen's and Things" as they are going out of business (yet another victim of Michigan's suckey economy) so I stopped and thought about an appropriate "something" we could munch on while playing cards.

Not sure why or how, but I came up with tea sandwiches. So, I put the bedding in the dryer and the kitchen and bathroom rugs (along with some kitchen and bath towels) in the washer. I took a shower and headed out, after getting four ounces of cream cheese out of the fridge and letting it warm up to room temp. I was looking for like three things at Linens and Things: Two were already sold out and the third (whisks) were only on sale for 15% off. So, not much of a deal, but, I got two of them anyway.

Next I went to Meijer's and got almost everything I needed. The little cocktail rye bread (but baked fresh by the Meijer's bakery), Braunschweiger (German liver sausage), an English cucumber, whole wheat bread, little pretzels, Cheez-its, a dozen large eggs and some sprouts.

The sprouts were just insurance in case I can't find watercress, BTW. So, I left there and went to Westborn Market and did, in fact, find watercress. I bought that and 8 ears of Florida sweet corn (I can't help myself!) and then I headed back home.

It's now after 12:30 PM. So, I made the bed up and put 9 eggs on to hard-boil. I threw the next load of clothes in the dryer. When the eggs were done, I shocked them with ice water and, once dried, I put them in the freezer to chill out. Then I started to assemble my tea sandwiches. Using stuff I had on hand and the stuff I bought, I made:

- Deli rye with salami, Swiss cheese and deli mustard
- Deli rye with salami, Monterey Jake cheese and deli mustard
- Open face deli rye, buttered and topped with a thin slice of Braunschweiger (the way my Father ate it and the only way it tastes "right" to me)
- Tuna fish sandwich (one can of tuna fish, drained, three hard-boiled eggs, chopped, one teaspoon of mayonnaise and (my substitution for a cup of fine chopped celery) three scallions, sliced fine (both white and green), salt and pepper and served on whole wheat bread (with the crusts cut off - tea sandwiches, remember?)
- Egg salad sandwiches (6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, put on toasted sourdough bread (crust cut off) and topped with watercress leaves
- English cucumber, sliced thin, topping the softened cream cheese, after mixing it with two tablespoons of small, snipped fresh chives. That was spread on fresh sourdough bread (crust cut off).

I was finished by 2:30 PM, so I went and laid on the bed to rest my legs and read. A little after 3:00, I heard the front door open and got up to greet my guests!

First we toured the back yard and my vegetable garden. Back inside, they had brought poker chips, cards and the game "Skip-Bo." I filled two bowls with little pretzels and Cheez-its, we fixed drinks and began to play Texas Hold-em. I was doing okay at first. Winning hand after hand, in fact. I got all Jake's chips, but then my luck turned and Carla kicked my butt! So, I switched the game to five card draw poker (something us old farts actually know). Again, I did okay, but eventually Jake cleaned me out. Carla explained I don't have a good poker face and they always knew when I had good cards or bad. Damn! It's the only face I got!

There was a Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 8:00 PM for our area, but all it did here was a slight sprinkle.

I got out the sandwiches (they were on three platters, covered with Saran Wrap, in the fridge). We all tried some (I forgot to put out the dill spears and/or olives, BTW) and the results were mixed. For example, Jake liked the Braunschweiger, Carla hated it (she said it tasted "wild, like blood"). We all agreed the egg salad was good, but nobody could really taste the watercress effect. Apparently either the mayo or the Dijon mustard canceled it out. It seemed the overall winner of the night was the tuna sandwich. It really was damn good!

We switched to Skip-Bo and played that for a long time. Finally, we headed out to the front porch for a smoke and chatted a while about things. Carla eventually excused herself and went inside. Finally, Jake and I went inside to join her, only to find she had cleaned everything up and also loaded the dishwasher. They left at that point (around 8:00 PM) and I went in to write all this down.

So, now its 10:00 PM and I am going in to watch boxing on HBO.I got through the first fight and half of the second before falling asleep.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yet another wild Friday night on San Jose!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today! Earlier this week, I thought of taking today off (but didn't) so, today, I sure wish I had!

When I got home, something weird happened. Caley was there, on the downstairs steps, to greet me, but Scruffy (who has his own spot he is always at) was nowhere around! I checked and he was still on the couch, sleeping.

I got the cat treats and shook it in his face. He stirred a bit and slowly walked out to the kitchen. I gave him a handful of treats (like always) and then led Caley into the bedroom and dispensed her treats. I went back into the kitchen and Scruffy had already walked away, eating little or none of the treats! Caley gratefully filled in for him after she was done in the bedroom. I talked to Scruffy in the living room, asking if he felt okay, but he didn't really respond, other than a little meow. I am not sure what's going on here, but hope the Scruff-Butt is okay!

I changed clothes and started the weekend wash. I watched the news to see the weather for this weekend and then headed outside.

First I hooked up the square sprinkler and watered the raised bed garden for 20 minutes. While that was going on, I got my 100-foot extension cord set up to do some trimming in the front yard. First I got out the hedge trimmer and cleaned up the two bushes I'd noticed were getting a little wild (see photos). Then I got the line trimmer and cut the ditch, edged the yards and trimmed around all the trees in front.

I had gone back and turned off the sprinkler some time ago, of course. So, now I switched the sprinkler for the watering wand, dragged the hose out front and watered the front garden, the mailbox, tree box, and all the other container gardens. I know it's supposed to rain this weekend, but these plants are dry and droopy NOW.

I put everything away and went inside for dinner. I was inspired by something I wrote yesterday (I often am, LOL!), so tonight I peeled the last of the Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed them and put them on to boil. I steamed a handful of frozen sweet corn for my side and warmed up a jar of store-bought beef gravy. While I mashed the potatoes, I heated up two hamburger patties in the microwave and then put everything together to make: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy!

In this context, they tasted great, by the way!

I went in and watched the last Top Chef Reunion show I'd taped. When that finished, I could have turned on the Friday Night Fights (which I also was taping) but I know it runs late and I was tired, so I switched everything off and went to sleep.

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The Pig, with his ivy coat

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Bush #1, Before

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Bush #1, After

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Bush #2, Before

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Bush #2, After

Friday, June 20, 2008

A working Thursday night!

I raced home on Thursday night. I have a lot to do (and miles to go before I sleep). So, I got home and changed, threw the cats some treat, grabbed some vegetable oil and a clean kitchen towel and went out into the garage. I rolled the grille out into the driveway (not the garage apron, where I usually grille) and oiled it inside and out, covering all the metal.

Then I laid in a bed of charcoal and lit it. I need to season the grille with a slow fire for at least two hours, before I can use it. It's supposed to be right around 200 degrees F, but I can't get it less than 300, no matter how I adjust the vents. Oh, and the heat warms the oil and it drips, so that's why its on the driveway, not the cement.

Then I checked the oil and gassed up the mower. I cut the front, side and back lawns, mentally noting all the things I also should be doing (that bush needs trimming, that garden needs water, etc.) A large yard can be a thing of beauty, but it's also a pain in the ass. There was a brief shower, not enough to stop cutting grass, but enough to get my clothes wet.

I finished up just before 8:00 PM, got out of my damp clothes and cleaned up. And, here's where I made my mistake. I like my hamburgers to be just meat (ground chuck to be exact). Now, I may play around with condiments (occasionally steak sauce or barbecue sauce, but usually just yellow mustard and mayo) or toppings (slice of onion or no?), but the burgers are just meat.

But, tonight I had a wild hair and mixed the ground chuck with a medium-sized onion, diced fine, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and an egg. I made the mixture into patties and put them on the grille.

Report: Instead of my usual, perfect, medium-rare burgers I had meatloaf on a bun. I was so not impressed!

I finished eating at about 9:30 PM and decided I was whipped. So, no TV or reading, but I went straight to bed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, working on the grille

Another cool day, but none of the scattered showers they predicted fell in my neck of the woods.

I got home, changed clothes, made a couple of phone calls to answering machines and then got to work on assembling the grille. I got it altogether and tightened by 7:45 PM.

I called my brother Carl to get a family address. He seems to be doing fine. He, too, is waiting for his English Cottage garden to fill in.

I made a Marie Callender's pot pie in the microwave for my dinner and watched some TV, but I only made it until about 9:30 when I fell asleep.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday and tired...

I successfully managed the morning garbage and it was gone by the time I got home. Neither event is noteworthy, but sometimes things happen, you know?

So, I did the usual routines and, after changing clothes, immediately went out to the garage and hooked up the air compressor. I checked and filled the air in all my car tires and, as I suspected, the right front tire was a little low. Which explained the car's tendency to drift towards the curb for the last few days.

Then I carefully pumped up both bicycle tires. I say carefully as that air compressor puts out a lot of air and it's easy to over-inflate something. I didn't want a tire to explode in my face!

I went back inside and was weighing my options for tonight's project when the phone rang. It was my daughter, Melissa. She asked how Father's Day went and said that they are going to close on their house next week. So, the issue now is: try and move before the next months rent is due (probably have to either pay movers or rent a big truck and hurt themselves, racing against the clock) or just pay the rent and move slowly in their van. It a conundrum!

When we finished, it was almost 7:00 PM, so I decided any project will have to wait. I warmed up the catfish and rice and ate that again for dinner (still an excellent repast!) I watched TV and noticed my recorded shows are all acting up! I think my DVD-R must be on the blink, so I'll have to call the cable company tomorrow and see. Damn!

Oh well, I watched regular TV until 9:30, snacking on the Hunter Sausage, and then switched to reading. Books, at least, don't screw up!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

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Wild rice pan, cast iron skillet with floating potato slice and mis en place for catfish

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Catfish mis en place

Monday

I got home late (about 5:45 PM) as I had an errand to run. I changed clothes while debating what I could accomplish tonight and still have a relaxing evening.

So, in the end, first I raised the seat on my bicycle, to the correct height for me (I still need to add air to the tires before I actually try and ride it). I had lowered it several years ago for Carla to ride. Next, I grabbed my garden gloves and went out back. I patrolled the rear garden for weeds and then thoroughly weeded the raised bed vegetable garden. I filled the bird feeder and dispersed the leftover hot dog buns, for the squirrels. I measured the amount I would have to have of sand to level the new fountain (almost 2 inches!) and then went back inside at 7:00 PM.

I started making dinner. I got the correct ingredients for the Uncle Ben's Original Wild Rice mixture in the pot and headed for boiling. Then, I turned that to Low and set the timer for 25 minutes (I am still not convinced the quick-cooking version tastes as good). Next I put a half inch of canola oil in my biggest cast iron frying pan and heated it up. I threw in a slice of potato (when the potato slice floats and bubbles, you are ready to fry).

Next I prepared my mis en place, using the breading trays Luanne and Sadie gave me. The first held flour, the second three eggs and a bit of cream, whisked, and the third, yellow corn meal. I took a couple of photos so you can see what I mean.

I got out the three catfish filets and rinsed them off in cold water. I checked for bones, and then patted them dry with kitchen (English) or what we call paper (USA) towels. When the potato floated, they went into the flour, then the egg mixture and finally the corn meal. I seasoned them on one side at this point. Using (for the first time) my fish spatula, I turned them over after three minutes and then seasoned that side. Three minutes later, I took them out and put them on a plate, covered with kitchen towels, to drain. I tented them with foil and put them in the microwave, waiting for the rice to finish.

When the rice was done, it was almost 8:00 PM. So, I fixed my plate (again, eating the catfish like I prefer, Southern-style, with hot sauce as opposed to, say tartar sauce). I took my plate into the bedroom and turned on the TV.

I went to sleep at 10:00 PM.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

I woke up at the usual time (5:30 AM). I had a cup of coffee while I wandered around, planning the morning. Then I made scrambled eggs and toasted English muffins. I ate the eggs Southern-style, topped with red hot sauce and finished my meal with another cup of coffee.

Now it's time to clean Newt's tank, yet again. This time, instead of replacing them, I am washing the rocks in my biggest stock pot. Once the water is running clear, I plan on boiling them on the stove to try and kill the algae.

Midway through the project (about 9:15 AM), the phone rang. It was Acenter, Carla's Mom, wishing me a Happy Father's Day. Thanks! Back to work, the stones are boiling on the stove (for a minimum of 10 minutes - they look like dried beans actually. I keep wanting to add the ham hocks!) and I am washing off the plastic plants, filter, etc. Once the stones were done, I put the pot on the patio and ran cold water into it to both rinse and cool the stones off. Finally everything was done, pans and bowls washed and Newt was back in his tank just before 11:00 AM.

Now I am cleaning the house. Riese just called to wish me Happy Father's Day, too. I finished with the dust mopping and am mopping the kitchen floor. It got trashed this morning, from me walking back and forth from the wet patio to the bedroom. Letting that dry, I shaved and showered for my mystery trip. Jake and Carla are taking me somewhere for Father's Day, but they won't tell me where! I got dressed and put my feet up for a bit, tired from all the standing this morning.

He had sent me several "clues" which were basically an image of boxes. I couldn't understand what the hell I was looking at. Finally, after the 5th clue, I realized it was a photo, but blown up. So, I reduced it to 25%. I could see it was a chef, but the picture was two small to make out his face. So, this morning he sent me three photos of a wolf, a picture of a street gang and a hockey puck. Duh!

I have had many chef heroes, since starting down this foodie road. But my first inspiration was Wolfgang Puck. I loved his early Food Network shows, where he taught techniques, rather than just how to make a dish. In fact, the bacon-wrapped meatloaf in my recipe section of the Blog was inspired by him. He is an Austrian, but has almost the same accent as my Father did. He has been an overwhelming force in American cuisine since the early 1980's. And, he recently opened a restaurant in the MGM casino here in Detroit.

So, they picked me up at 12:30 PM and we headed for Detroit. We got to the MGM Grand and parked. I was fascinated by the casino we had to walk through as I must confess, as old as I am, I have never, ever been in one before. One thing that really struck me as odd, most of the hundreds of people playing slots, blackjack, craps, whatever, did not look happy or relaxed. I thought gambling was supposed to be fun! They all seemed a bit tense, or even desperate. I could not believe how big and packed the place was!

Once inside the restaurant and seated (we had reservations, of course) the waiter did something I had only happen once before (on Mackinaw Island at the Grand Hotel, a long time ago when I stayed there with Luanne); he opened my napkin and placed it in my lap. We took a long time, debating over the menu, but finally decided to share two appetizers (the Caesar Salad with White Anchovies and Tomato-Basil Bruschetta and the Sauteed Crab Cakes with Marinated Tomatoes and Basil Pesto Aioli). We all had a glass of Chardonnay. I let the two of them pick it out as the wine list was like a small book!

For our entrees, Carla decided on the Lobster Club Sandwich with Smoked Bacon, Garlic Aioli and Walnut Bread although she asked to substitute the walnut bread with crusty sourdough (she's allergic to nuts, it you remember). Jake immediately picked the Fresh Angel Hair Pasta with Wild Mushrooms and White Truffle Oil. I was torn between that and the Rib Eye Steak Sandwich with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Horseradish. I finally decided I could grille a steak anytime, but Fresh Angel Hair Pasta with Wild Mushrooms and White Truffle Oil? I don't think so!

About that time, Carla said, "Hey, that's Fanchon Stinger!" I usually watch on Channel 4 news, myself, so I didn't know who she was, but she is an anchor on Channel 2. It looked like she was there with her mother and father, her daughter and son-in-law and her grandchild. They were seated at a table about 25 feet away from us. Her celebrity status was confirmed by the Executive Chef Marc Djozlija, who came out and talked to them all.

So, first came the appetizers. The salad was whole leaves of Romaine lettuce, dressed lightly and topped with four or five white anchovy filets. And the crab cakes were tall stacks, about the size of a 50 cent piece, topped with some breadcrumbs and sitting in individual pools of green pesto. Jake carefully cut the bottom off a crab cake (pesto has nuts in it, too) for Carla while I cut the Romaine leaves into more bite-size pieces.

The salad was excellent, and the anchovy tasted fresh and nothing like anchovies on, say, a pizza. Unlike the hamburger patty-size crab cakes, mixed with breadcrumbs and other goodies, that I am used to (and also love), these seemed to be mostly crab meat with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs on top and the crab flavor nicely balanced by the pesto. Four stars for the appetizers, Wolfgang!

After a refill of the bread try, the entrees arrived. Carla's looked beautiful: a sourdough hoagie-style bun filled with lobster and bacon. She had a small salad on the side, but they forgot the French fries she ordered. One strike against the wait staff!

Our angel hair pasta looked and smelled fantastic. A variety of wild mushrooms topped the pasta and it was drizzled with white truffle oil. I think I even said it out loud, but that was the best food I ever tasted!

Carla's fries arrived and she dug in. She offered me a bit of her sandwich, but I said, "No, I just want to eat this!" She insisted, and I must admit, it was excellent as well. I was the only one who finished their meal. I topped my dinner off with a cup of coffee.

When the waiter cleared the table, Jake asked that the other half of Carla's sandwich and her fries be boxed. So, the waiter took all the plates and then brought back the leftover in a box, in a small bag. Later, he discovered the waiter messed up and saved the little bit of pasta on Jake's plate and threw away the half of the lobster club sandwich! Another strike against the wait staff, but also another four stars for the food! Thanks, guys! A truly unique dining experience!

Then we tried our hand at the slot machines. They wouldn't let me use my own money, so I blew five bucks of theirs in about three minutes on the 25 cent machines. They didn't have any better luck, so we wandered around a bit more and tried the 2 cent slots. We lasted a lot longer there, but still all went down to defeat in the end.

After an amusingly long trip, trying to find the right exit, we did eventually get to the car and headed home. They dropped me off around 4:00 PM. I thought about what I should be doing and decided to change clothes and take a nap. I did check the caller ID when I got home and found two calls for "PCS Phone" or something. Thinking it was some company wanting me to change my long distance carrier, I didn't bother to check the voicemail. I just went to sleep.

The phone next to my ear in the bedroom woke me up and I answered it without looking. It was Riese, who said "Papa John, when you get home, there are some Father's Day presents on your porch." I said, "I am home, where are you?" She said, "In your driveway!" So, I got up and let Riese and Jyl in. Riese had a card and another mystery plant as my present (this one twice as big). I later took a photo and posted it. If anybody knows the name of it, please tell me! Jyl also had a card and a present of a pound of Hunter Sausages from the Smoke House! I also got three school pictures of Riese.

We visited a little bit (Riese got all A+s in school this year, Joe's report card hasn't come yet) and then they had to leave. I think it was around 6:00 PM. I was in no way hungry, but decided to make my dinner now, so it could cool, and I could eat it later, watching TV. I made Jamie Oliver's dish he modestly calls "The Best Pasta Salad."

I cooked a box of rotini (I couldn't find the tri-color stuff, there was none on the grocery shelves) (all the graduation parties, I presume) with three whole cloves of garlic and then drained and shocked it. I took a pint of yellow and a pint of red grape tomatoes and cut them all in half. I diced a half of a cucumber and added a small can of sliced black olives to the mix. I added about two tablespoons of fresh-snipped chives and a handful of fresh chopped basil. For the dressing, I mixed 7 tablespoons of olive oil, 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, some salt and fresh ground pepper. I took the boiled garlic, sprinkled it with some kosher salt and, with the flat of my knife, I mashed them into a paste. That went into the dressing as well and then it all got whisked. I folded that into the bowl with the pasta and it all went into the fridge to get happy.

I went in to watch the first of my Sunday night shows. Some time during the second, I got a small bowl of pasta (good, but the best? I dunno...) I went to bed at 11:00, a happy and contented father. Thanks everybody!

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Sunday Night's Pasta Salad

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Riese's Mystery Plant!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunny Saturday, Shopping...

As you can probably tell by the Blog entry times, I woke up WAY too early on Saturday morning. So, once everything was posted, I did go back to sleep.

I woke up again at 8:30, starving. So, I opened up a can of corned beef hash and heated it up in the skillet. Once that was done, I plated it and put it on the microwave to keep warm. Meanwhile, I took the last three eggs (grocery shopping this morning) and, adding a bit of butter to the pan, cooked them over easy. They went on top of the hash and I toasted an English muffin to go along with it! A little salt and pepper and: Yum-o!

I stripped the bed and put the bedding in the washer. I did a quick inventory which turned into my grocery shopping list. I swept the kitchen floor and then took a shower. I was getting dressed when my nephew, Steve, returned my call and gave me the answer I needed. After dressing, I hit the road.

I stopped at Home Depot to get some leveling sand for the fountain (those sand bags are heavy suckers!) and then I went to the Feed store for birdseed and suet cakes. I also stopped and filled up my gas tank (groan). Next came Kroger's, where I did the bulk of my shopping. Last came Westborn for my herbs and veggies.

I was back home and had everything put away (except for the sand and birdseed) by 1:30 PM. I threw the bedding in the dryer and changed into my shorts and T-shirt. I want to get some outside work done while it's still relatively cool (it's supposed to be a high of 80 degrees F. today, but with low humidity).

So, first I got the wheelbarrow and transported the two bags of sand and the 40 pound bag of birdseed to the back. I was once again struck with how beautiful the clematis is this year, so, I got the camera and took more pictures of it and the container plants. I apologize if you are sick of them (I suppose I would be) but this really is the best year EVER for that clematis (and I've watched it grow at least ten years, now). I filled the bird feeder and suet cage, then came in and posted my pictures.

I went back outside and weeded all the front gardens. This is much more difficult than usual, as in the past, I planted all plants and laid down a covering of Preen, which (as you gardeners will know), prevents most seeds from sprouting. But, this year, I planted moss rose and sweet allysium seeds, so I couldn't use the Preen. The sweet allysium is coming up, but it appears NONE of the moss roses sprouted. I wish I could say that about the maple seeds! I cleaned up out front and took an exploratory trip out back (camera in hand). I checked the rain gauge and found that all the storms yesterday had produced less than 1/2 inch of rain, here.

I came in and found the dryer had stopped, so I cleaned up and made the bed. I was about to make dinner when my daughter Melissa called. She wanted to be the FIRST this year to wish me Happy Father's Day and pooh-poohed my suggestion that calling the day before might be cheating a bit. We talked for a long while (as usual) and, since I was going to be on the phone, I gave up on a real dinner and made a sandwich, instead. After we hung up, I went in and started to watch taped TV shows. I got bored with that and read until bedtime.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

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Hanging plant on the garage and the urn

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Hanging plants on the front porch

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Clematis, #1

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Clematis #2

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Clematis, #3

This song always makes me smile!

Keep your hands to yourself

~ Georgia Satellites

I got a little change in my pocket, going jingle lingle ling
want to call you on the telephone baby I give you a ring
but each time we talk I get the same old thing
always no huggin no kissin until I get a wedding ring
my honey my baby don't put my love upon no shelf
she said don't give me no lines and keep your hands to yourself

Cruel baby baby baby why you want to treat me this way
you know I'm still your lover boy I still feel the same way
that's when she told me a story 'bout free milk and a cow
and she said no huggin no kissin until I get a wedding vow
my honey my baby don't put my love upon no shelf
she said don't hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself

you see I wanted her real bad and I was about to give in
that's when she started talkin' true love, started talkin' about sin
I said honey I'll live with you for the rest of my life
she said no huggin no kissin until you make me your wife
my honey my baby don't put my love on no shelf
she don't hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.

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This photo was taken on the day I wrecked the bike (and me!)

Wet Friday

I woke up this morning at 5:30 AM with dire predictions on the TV. Severe storms were ripping through Michigan. What worried me the most (because they were not evident here) was that they said they were going through Lake Orion!

I did see a lot of lightning on my way into work, but no rain, yet. I was safe inside and drinking my first cup of coffee when the rain came. It rained like hell for about 15 minutes, and then cleared up.

It didn't start raining again until I was headed home. So, I drove through it, banging the Friday night drum yet again, but wetly. So, outdoor work tonight will have to be suspended (I was going to trim the yard, if given the chance).

I suppose I should do some inside work (clean the house, assemble the new grille, etc.) but I am tired, cranky and a bit out of sorts. So, instead, I decided to start writing another "remembrance" for the Blog (Hey! Did I hear somebody out there groan just now?) I was doing well until I came up with some facts I couldn't remember. So, to get them straight, I called my nephew, Steve (my oldest brother George's oldest son) for the first time in my life. His wife Michelle answered and said that Steve wasn't home from work yet, but she'd have him call me back.

So, I thought I would check on the hanging plants and see if they needed water. When I opened the front door (which nobody ever uses) I found a box stuck between the door and the screen door. It was from Sadie and Luanne, and God knows how long it's been there. Suspecting it was a Father's Day gift, but not wanting to wait, I opened it up. Inside were a very touching card and a pair of cocoa-colored Crocs!

So, I called down there to thank them but just got the answering machine, so I left my thanks on it. Then I called my Mother at Lake Orion. She said if there was a bad storm early this morning, they didn't notice it! We reconfirmed where to send the Blog each week (to Betty, her neighbor) and I told her I'd be out to visit as soon as I can.

Now it's almost 7:30 and I am debating whether to take a nap, with the alarm set for 9:00 PM and Friday night Fights or just stay up. But, hunger won out over sleepy. I had thrown away all my leftovers this morning and took out some catfish filets to thaw in the fridge, but they are still a bit frozen. So, I decide on simple pleasures and to just make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (good tasting, fills you up and easy as hell!).

So, I heated that up and went off to the bedroom to watch some taped TV, and then the Friday Night Fights. Of course, I fell asleep before they were finished, but it's taped and I can watch the end over the weekend. When I woke up, I checked the phone but Steve hadn't called back. I assume when he got home, he decided that it was too late to call me (and I appreciate that!) I shut everything off and went to sleep.

Reflection (or, how the Vietnam War saved my leg)

As Sonny and Cher used to sing, "the beat goes on..."

If you need to refresh your memory, go to the archives and search out November 14, 2007. This is where I tried to explain Jimmy Hay's death and what he meant to me.

But, in spending the two plus hours cutting the lawn on Thursday, for some reason I was thinking of those days. So, I will continue with the story (or as much as I can, as the future does go on).

So, if you remember, I am laying on an ant hill, with Jimmy pressing down, incredibly hard, on my leaking artery. B___'s call for help came through and the Richmond EMS unit showed up. We were way too "off the road" for them to drive in, so they sent in a Jeep and a stretcher. They relieved Jimmy with some sort of a blow up leg immobilizer that they slipped on and inflated, put me on the stretcher, put the stretcher on the Jeep and, with two guys steadying me, slowly drove to the road.

Once in the ambulance, they hit the siren and headed for Mount Clemens. I couldn't care less as they also hit me with a couple of shots of morphine. Now I have had both legal and illegal drugs in my time, but, I gotta tell you, morphine is the best. You are laying there and thinking, "I am going to die? Cool..."

We get to St. Joe's and they unload me. Once inside the Emergency room came the most traumatic event of the episode: They cut off my pants with scissors! Now, today, they are quite common, but back then, they were quite unique. I had six pocket pants, each with a brass button, so you could go riding and NOTHING would fall out of your pants. And, they cut them off with a pair of scissors!!! I begged them not to, (they were expensive back then) but the doctor reminded me they were already shredded from the left knee down (I blame that oversight on my part on the morphine).

After some consultation, the doctors came back to me and said they would have to cut my leg off, just above the knee. If you remember, I did see my leg, just after the accident, and knew just how bad I was f*cked up, so I said, "Okay" and signed their papers to have my left leg amputated.

So, here's where it got a bit strange. From what I was told afterwards, I was in the operating room and my doctors were reviewing my x-rays, trying to decide where, exactly to amputate my leg when another doctor walked by. Unfortunately, I cannot now remember his name, but he had just returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam as an Army medic. He asked what they were looking at and they explained. He said, "Hell, I patched up legs more screwed up than this, after soldiers had stepped on land mines. I can fix this kid!" So, they let him.

So, I awoke, expecting to have just one leg and found I still had two! I did have a hip to ankle cast, though, and then thought, "Hmmm, that's odd," and then I asked "WTF?" when this new doctor came in.

What he told me was he had saved my leg. He had reassembled it with wires, plates and bolts and nuts. But, he cautioned me, I might never bend my left leg again. Right about now, that was still a pretty positive diagnosis!

At that point, they didn't have a room yet for me, so I was in a hall alcove with another patient, both of us shielded from curious passersby's by rolling screens. The bed next to me was the weirdest thing I ever saw as it seemed to be mounted on two huge chrome metal circles. I was told it was called a Stryker bed and made for paraplegics and quadriplegics so they could be turned and not get bed sores. In it was an absolutely gorgeous young girl with long brown hair.

At first she just stared at the ceiling, refusing to talk. But, with my boyish charm, I eventually broke through her depression. It was the usual story. Late night on the way home after the prom, the driver had been drinking, they crashed, he was killed and now she was paralyzed from the neck down! We flirted a lot and eventually made a pact to go to the movies together, even if we were both in wheel chairs, once we got out.

After a couple of days, a room opened up and I got moved. I asked the nurses about her, but they told me she had been transferred to another hospital, in another state. Sadly, I can't remember her name, but I will always be grateful to her. I think we helped each other through a very difficult time.

Now, this tale ends. Of course there is a lot more to tell, the hospital experience itself, friends I made, nurses I was fond of, the bone infection that plagues me to this day (apparently opening your leg up with a rotted stump is not what you'd call a "sterile incision," lol) and the most painful of all, the skin grafts (I still cringe when I here that term!) But it's late and I am tired, so we will leave all that for another day...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday, mowing

Today, we were back to hot and muggy in Michigan. I stopped on the way home and filled my gas can. Thursday night means grass cutting!

So, after changing clothes, I went out to the garage. There is, of course, the small matter of a 4 x 8 foot trailer blocking the mower in! So, I got some wrenches and put the front wheel/stand back on. Then I stuck the wood sides back in their brackets (but did not screw them down). Finally, I got a padlock and made damn sure I had the key for it! Then I locked the receiver and dragged the trailer out and around to the concrete slab in back. I didn't put the tarp back on, but since I covered the whole thing with Thompson's Water Seal last year, it can take a few days in the weather.

I checked the oil and filled the mower with gas, and then fired it up. I got all the lawn cut (but not trimmed, of course) by 8:20 PM.

I warmed up the last of the hot dogs for dinner. I checked the TV listings and nothing caught my eye. So, I read in bed until I fell asleep.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Three Coins in a Fountain

Another day of nice weather. A little warmer than yesterday (high 86 degrees F.) but with enough of a breeze it wasn't uncomfortable.

Tonight's project is to start the fountain/birdbath set up. If you recall, Jake had one at his house he did not want and gave it to me. The original was in a pool of water, created by rock, cement blocks and a 40 mil rubber or plastic shower pan liner (hey, the guy was a contractor. I understand where he was coming from!)

So, I stopped at Home Depot on the way home. I couldn't find round stepping stones (I couldn't find them at Lowe's, either) so I bought three 12-inch square stepping stones. Cost me less than $5.00 US.

Got home, did the usual rituals, yadi, yadi, ya, and started the Wednesday night laundry load. Then I went outside.

I had previously bought a round 7-inch deep, black plastic tub (one of those you use when making a series of pools in your yard). I laid out the liner (figuring the plastic tub would last longer if it wasn't rubbing on the concrete patio) in the corner of my patio where I want it. Then I laid two of the retaining stones (dug out from the old mailbox); one on the house side and one on the garden side. Then I put down the tub against them and, with a razor knife, I cut the liner in a semi-circle.

I cut a piece of the liner to put under the stepping stones, and put it, then the three stepping stones, in the middle of the tub. Then I added the base and top of the bird bath. I inserted the pump and filled the tub almost 3/4 of the way up with river rocks. I filled it with the hose and turned it on (after getting an extension cord. If I decide to go ahead with this project, I need to get another pump that has at least a four foot longer cord).

Three things became apparent. One, the river rocks had not been washed, so the water is now dirty. And, two, the patio itself is angled and so the tub itself needs to be leveled (I can buy some leveling sand for that). And, three, some of the outlets for water are still beyond the tub's radius, so I will need to get some caulk to shut those down. But, all of these will have to wait for another trip to Lowe's or Home Depot.

I sat there for a while, enjoying the sound of falling water and then went inside, tuning off the outdoor plug at the switch. It was 7:30 PM. Also, I still need to calculate how many of the retaining wall stones I will need to encase it and buy some filler rock (I am thinking red lava) for the corners and edges.

Now for dinner! I have had the ingredients for tonight's dinner (or a snack) for some time, but never got around to using them. But, tonight, I took three Thomas' English muffins and split them, then squeezed on some pizza sauce (from a catsup-like bottle) added three pieces of pepperoni to each slice, topped it with a handful of mozzarella cheese and put them in the toaster oven on some tinfoil at 400 degrees F. As soon as the cheese got nice and gooey, I had 6 individual pizza slices!

Now, some of you might remember I did a similar pizza thing with flour tortillas a while back. Obviously, they would taste just about the same. The only difference would be if you like pizza with a thin crust or a thick one. Since I prefer thin crust, these were good, but not that great. I loaded them up on a paper plate (for easy cleanup) and went in to watch TV.

After the end of the season finale of Top Chef, I went to sleep.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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Fountain, in tub, on block but no river rocks and water.

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Fountain, running with dirty water and not level

Quote

"Only in growth, reform, and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found."

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Tuesday

It was raining as I went to work. It came down pretty hard after 9:00 AM and let off just before lunch (thank goodness!) So, after getting home and performing the rituals (cat treats, change clothes, sort the mail, etc. Oh, and now a new one, applying lotion to my shoulders, neck and head, lol!) I went out and checked the rain gauge. I had just less than one inch of rain! So, I think this may be yet another week where I don't have to spend the money and water the grass.

Now, it's onto cleaning the gutters. I waited until all the maple helicopter seeds were done falling, of course. But that meant that some of the first ones to land in the gutter have sprouted! It looks like I have window boxes on my eaves, with plants in them. I took a picture for you. I also took a picture of the clematis, which, if you click on it to enlarge (use your browser's "back" button to return) you can see, not only do I have a lot of blossoms this year, but I also still have a LOT of buds that will turn into blossoms! Beautiful!

So using a trowel and (mostly) my hands, I dug out all the maple seeds. Next, I dragged the hose up front and washed it out. Of course, the downspout was clogged with them, too. So, I got out the little snake and fished around until I got that freed up. I shoveled up the mess and threw it in the field next door. Last came the hose again, washing down the garage cement apron.

I repeated the same process in the back (but now getting up and down the ladder over and over is taking its toll). I finished up and put everything away. Back inside, it was 8:20 PM and I was hungry. I didn't feel like leftovers, so I got out my two burner grille pan and grilled some hot dogs.

I had set my DVD-R to record two old Charlie Chan movies they were showing on the Turner Classic Movie channel. So, munching on two hot dogs, I started watching one, but fell asleep before it was over. When I woke back up, I shut everything off, took my plate to the sink and rinsed it, then went to sleep.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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Gutter gunk, on the ground

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Gutters, with maples starting to sprout

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This year's Clematis

Monday

Another scorcher today, with yet another chance of severe thunderstorms this evening. I called the "Large Item Pickup" number during the day and told them I had an old charcoal grille I needed picked up. She nicely reminded me I was supposed to call "several days" in advance of my normal garbage pickup (Tuesday) but that they would squeeze me in.

So, when I got home, I took off the utensils and the hooks I'd screwed in to hold them and rolled it out to the road. Maybe not having a grille will force me to put the new one together. Then I went out back and weeded the raised bed garden.

Once inside, I changed clothes. But, before I put on my shirt I rubbed Gold Bond Medicated Cream on my poor shoulders (I know, it should have been something with aloe in it, but that's all I had in the house).

I started to de-bone the grilled chicken when the phone rang. It was Luanne and we talked for a bit. They are having a heat wave down there, too, but they are in the 100+ temperature ranges.

After we hung up, I called my Mom to see if she had any problems with the recent storms. She weathered them well (she would) and said she's going out to Orion on Thursday.

Finally I return to the chicken. I took the meat off all the thighs, leaving me with one breast left. I cubed the chicken meat and made it into a simple chicken salad by adding mayonnaise, diced celery, salt, pepper, tarragon and two tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon. I put a nice mound on a romaine lettuce leaf and ate that for dinner.

I watched TV until I got sleepy, then shut it off and went to bed. Oh, when I went to the bathroom before bed, I looked outside and the old grille was gone!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunday. turning red...

I had an absolutely frustrating morning! I told Jake I'd get my trailer hooked up and pick up something he needed from Lowe's. In return, I was gonna get to swim in their pool. Sounds, sweet, right? So, after a shower and a cup of coffee, I got dressed and went out side. Note: It's already hot and humid and it's only 8:30 AM!

Well, I went out to get the trailer with what I thought was the key to the padlock (I had chained the boat trailer to the "trailer" trailer last fall when I set it outside for the winter, so nobody would steal it). But, not the right key! So, I went back in the house and tried to find it. NONE of the keys in the key box worked. So, I started looking elsewhere. I tore up the garage, my bedroom dresser, etc., NOTHING. These are two brass locks I bought specifically for this, both keyed the same. I shouldn't, couldn't, have lost the keys, could I?

Finally, I gave up. I got the 100 foot extension cord and Jake's cut-off grinder. I plugged it into the outdoor plug, fed the extension cord out and plugged in the cut off wheel. Nothing happened. So, I went back and jiggled the plug. What I didn't know is that the cut off tool has an "On" lock. So, I heard the grinder start up. I quickly unplugged it and went out to see what happened. I had set in on top of the canvas covering my sailboat. It chewed through the canvas and into the fiberglass boat! Dammit!

So, I moved on. I cut through the chain and dragged the trailer out front. I had to take the sides off first, and then I backed the car out and tried to hook the trailer up to the hitch. I had installed a swing-up front trailer wheel last fall. I'm not sure why, but now it won't swing up! So, I got out some wrenches and took it off the trailer. I'm now about and hour late, my shirt is soaked through with sweat and I ain't happy at all!

So, I changed my shirt, tossed some tie-down straps in the trunk and head out. I made my pick up and got to Jake and Carla's around 10:30 AM. Nobody answered the bell, but their car is in the driveway. I can hear a lawnmower, but the fence is too high to get anybody's attention. However, for a change, the gate is unlocked, (Jake did that on purpose) so I get inside that way. We offload the cargo and I check out their gardens with Carla while Jake finishes the lawn.

They have had all kinds of problems getting the pool up and running (including having to buy a new pump) but its ready today. Jake is vacuuming the pool and Carla and I change into our suits. Then its Jake's turn and we all go out into the pool. Yeow! It's cold near the bottom. But, in a few minutes, you adjust. So, we swim and frolic for a long while. I noticed that Jake's neck was getting red and I though, "Uh, oh..." So, I got out, dried off and changed into my street clothes. I made my apologies and left for home.

Once home, I started the last laundry load of the weekend (wet swimsuit and towel, sweat-drenched shirts and pants, etc.). I rearranged the garage so I didn't have to screw with the trailer today; I just unhooked it and pulled it inside. Then I took a shower to get the chlorine off me and was unpleasantly surprised that the water hitting my body hurt. I think I got sunburned, BAD!!!

About 5:00 PM, the sky darkened and I had to turn lights on in the house. Sure enough, there's a storm blowing in. So, I grab the sunflower and pole beans seeds and rush out to get them planted before it rained. I checked and emptied my rain gauge, and found I had gotten about 1/4 inch of rain overnight on Saturday. I didn't hear the rain, but I did notice the patio was wet when I woke up this morning.

I think the squirrels or birds ate the first seeds I planted, but my Mom said it wasn't too late to replant them. Just as I finished, the rain came down, so I ran into the house (well, as much as I can run these days, lol!)

Dinner was a warmed up piece of the Cauliflower Cheese Pie and, later, a cold piece of chicken. I watched my usual Sunday Night shows. I fell asleep at 10:30 PM, woke up at 11:00 and went to sleep for real.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

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The Cauliflower Cheese Pie

Steamy Saturday

I woke up at 7:00 AM, still amazed at the increased light in my bedroom. It really is quite different! I put on a pot of coffee and stripped the bedding. Into the washer it went, while I went into the office and wrote Friday's Blog entry. I stopped midway through to get a cup of coffee and turn on Saturday Morning, Over Easy. I went outside and took some pictures that I also posted.

So, I had a lot to do today and am having a rare debate with myself. Since I just took a shower less than 12 hours ago (to get off the grass and sweat) do I really need one this morning? Not sure of the "real or correct" answer, but my basic belief system kicked in and said, "YES!" So, I took a shower and got dressed.

First stop on the journey was Lowe's, to buy another grille. If you remember, I am now down to only two of the four original cast iron grates Or one half of my original cooking surface). I was gonna just buy four new grates ($25.00 plus shipping and handling - and what would shipping and handling be on four heavy cast iron grates?) but my grille is four years old, the charcoal rack is all bent from the heat and cannot be raised or lowered, etc., and they only cost $99.00 US. So, (reluctantly) I went and bought another one. My God, that box is heavy!

Since I was there anyway, I also picked up some Windex Outdoor Window and Surface Cleaner. This is a bottle that you attach a hose to and spray the windows and/or the outside of your house. I used it with GREAT success back at the River Road house. Now, I don't have the second story windows you can't reach here, but, with the construction, my house is covered with a fine dust and all the windows I cleaned in the spring are spotted.

I then stopped at Kroger's to get a few things I need for this weekend. As usual, I had some interesting interactions with my fellow shoppers (I can only assume I look "approachable"). Then, I headed home. When I got here, I noticed a black lady who had pulled into the townhouses across the road and was going from door to door, talking to the residents. I am thinking she is a representative of the owner (I am pretty sure the owner is the middle-aged, attractive blonde who comes here once or twice a year, always in a new Mercedes convertible).

So, I walked on over and asked her if she knew what happened to the gang banger who lived in the front with his Momma? (Yes, I know, "She Who Must Not Be Named" would take offense at this label, but you all now know who I mean, right?) If you remember, he had a daughter last winter and was going to bring her over to show her to me this spring. But, that never happened!

Her eyes got all cold and she said, "Well, there was a warrant for his arrest for drug selling (Carla, you had it right!) and the whole family skipped out in the middle of the night. Why? Did he owe you money?" That really pissed me off! I said, "No, but for the past three years, they have had a picnic in the vacant lot next to me for his Momma's birthday and I told him this year I'd make the collard greens and some of my baby back ribs!" Her eyes softened and she said, "Well, you could always make them for me." Still pissed, I said, "I don't think so!" and limped back across the street.

I unloaded the groceries and the stuff from Lowe's. My plan is to put the grille together in the downstairs room (in the air conditioning, lol!) this afternoon. But, before I can get to that, I take the bedding out of the dryer, make the bed and start another load of my work clothes.

At 2:30 PM, I hung up the clothes, started the third load and began working on the grille. I am a little daunted, BTW as, when I bought the first one, both Jake and Carla helped me put it together and it still took like a half an hour. God only knows what it will take with just me doing the work!

LMAO! I just walked into my bedroom and found both cats are sound asleep on the fresh-washed bed spread. Apparently, I am not the only one around here who enjoys a fresh, clean set of bedding!

BTW, I checked and the thermometer says it is 87 degrees F. (30.5 degrees F) outside. I also checked the rain gauge after talking with Jake earlier. He said they did have thunderstorms last night, but my rain gauge was dry.

Once I got everything unwrapped and set into specific sites in the back room, I stopped to make the brine for tonight's barbecue chicken. Because I am using bone-in, skin on breasts and bone-in, skin on thighs I'd saved and frozen from the "economy" packages I had bought in the past, I doubled the recipe. So, I used 4 quarts (16 cups) of water, four tablespoons of kosher salt, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, four garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a chef's knife and eight sprigs of fresh thyme. This is a Tyler Florence recipe, BTW. I added the chicken pieces and put the small stock pot into the fridge. Then, I went back to the grille assembly. Oh, why bone-in, skin-on? The only way to get the best flavor!

Okay, so I admit it! This looks daunting and I am daunted. I decided it might be better to take a short nap and then tackle this. So, I joined the cats on the bed. I wake up and find it's after 6:00 PM! Oh, no! I must start dinner!!!

In addition to grilling chicken tonight, I am also making a Cauliflower Cheese Pie. Since, after all the work, I was not that impressed, I'll spare you all the details. But basically you grate up two cups of raw potato and squish it in a towel to remove as much moisture as you can. Then you mix it with chopped onion, egg, salt and flour and form it into a crust in a 9-inch pie pan. You bake it for 30 minutes, brush it with oil and bake it 10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, you are making the filling by slowly saut�ing chopped onion, garlic, basil, thyme and paprika. When that's all happy you add a coarse-chopped head of cauliflower and cook that for another 15 minutes.

Finally, you added shredded cheddar cheese to the crust; add the filling, more cheese, a milk and egg mixture and finally a little more paprika. You then bake that for another 40 minutes. You can see why I didn't have time to put the grille together, right? It did look pretty good, so I toke a picture and posted it for you.

So, I lit the charcoal in the old grille. When it was ready, I took the chicken out of the brine, patted it dry and started grilling it. When it was just about done, I mopped it with yet another first tonight: A non-tomato-based barbecue sauce. It's supposed to be an old Southern recipe that uses a cup of Worcestershire sauce mixed with a melted stick of butter and the juice of two lemons.

It's almost 9:00 PM and I am starving. So, I fix a plate and go in to watch some boxing on HBO. But, I am disappointed! The pie was bland (maybe a sharp cheddar cheese and some red pepper flakes?) and I wasn't that fond of the barbecue sauce. Well, as I told Scruffy, you can't hit a home run every time!

I fell asleep thinking, hmmm... what might have happened if I told that lady I would make her some collard greens and baby back ribs?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

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North side evergreens (looks like always, right?)

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Trimmed evergreens #1

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Trimmed evergreens #2

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Little Rose bush, in bloom (planted last year)

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Cottonwood lawn litter #1

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Cottonwood lawn litter #2

I only use charcoal, myself, but...

...I thought this was a great tip

KITCHEN TIP: Checking Fuel Level in a Tank

There's nothing worse than running out of fuel halfway through grilling. If your grill doesn't have a gas gauge, use this technique to estimate how much gas is left in the tank. Start by bringing a cup or so of water to a boil in a small saucepan or glass measuring cup (if using a microwave). Pour the water over the side of the tank. Next, feel the metal with your hand. Where the water has succeeded in warming the tank, it is empty; where the tank remains cool to the touch, there is still propane inside.

Hot as a firecracker Friday

Hot today, as was predicted. What wasn't predicted was the Severe Weather Alert for all of Southeast Michigan: Thunderstorms, 70 mph winds, large hail and possible tornadoes until 10:00 PM. God help me, all I was thinking was, "Good! Maybe the winds will blow those damn cottonwood seeds back to Hell and gone!"

I had planned on stopping at the nearest Aco hardware and picking up some stuff on sale, but with the weather coming in, I decided it wasn't worth it and I'd just go home. When I got home, I had to dodge between piles of sand, dump trucks, back hoes and workers, just to get in the driveway. Apparently, the construction has gotten to me!

I changed clothes and went to get a drink of water. It came out of the tap a muddy brown! Fortunately, I had filled my second biggest stock pot with water last week. So, I scooped a cup of water out of that.

I had left the watering can out on the counter last night to remind myself to water the container gardens. So, figuring the muddy water wouldn't hurt them, I fill up the first of seven jugs and went out and watered the hanging plants, the chair containers, the big pot by the garage and the mailbox tub.

In the middle of that, my neighbor called me over. I figured he might want to chastise me for watching his wife swimming in their pool earlier (Hey! Give me a break, okay? I'm old, but I ain't dead, yet!!) but, no, he wanted to know if I objected to his trimming my evergreens on the North side of my house up over the roof line. I told him Jake had been trimming the branches to keep them off the house and roof for years now, but that's all, so, go for it! So, he got a chainsaw and his ladder and went to work. Later on I checked. It looks a little weird with tall bare trunks and then the evergreens above the roof, but the amount of light that now comes in my North windows (bedroom and office) is amazing!

Meanwhile, I went over to a construction worker and asked him what the plan was to connect the West side of the road (me) to the new water main. He said there is a 12-inch main that runs down the center of the street that all the West-side people (me) are hooked to. There was an additional 10-inch main the Eastsiders were connected to. They are eliminating the 10-inch main, so for me, there will be NO torn up lawn, etc. I told him about the brown water and he said to just flush the toilets a few times, turn all the faucets and it should go away!

So, I'm feeling pretty lucky, tonight! I watered all the container gardens and deadheaded all the flowers. It's almost 6:30 and I am sweating like a pig! But, its time to trim the front yard, so I hook everything up. At this point, I make a decision I really need to smoke a cigarette (I understand it's a weakness. But it only occurs two or three times a year). So, I fixed a drink and sat on the front porch, smoking a very old, stale Pall Mall, watching the chaos of construction.

Enough lollygagging! I start trimming and get it all done by 8:00 PM. BTW, the winds are still quite strong, but I haven't seen any rain or hail or tornadoes. I got inside and decide I really should take a shower, so I do.

Now I'm clean, tired and hungry (and sick of leftovers). I don't feel like making dinner, though, so I heat up a can of Hormel chili. I ate it watching TV and barely finished it before falling asleep. I woke up later, turned everything off and went to sleep.