Thursday, December 31, 2009

Irony or Prophecy?

I live on a dead-end street...

Wednesday, Visiting...

I woke up at 7:00 AM on Wednesday. I shaved and showered and got dressed. Then I started the Wednesday wash (I figured the washer and dryer are at the other end of the house, so it shouldn't wake my houseguests up).

I made a pot of coffee and sat in the living room reading (again) until they woke up around 9:00 AM. Then I filled in the Blog.

We sat in the living room, talking and eating breakfast for a while. They had their usual unrecognizable "stuff" and I made myself scrambled eggs. After a while, they took their showers and took care of miscellaneous things (a couple loads of their laundry, etc.).

The plan was to spend this day playing cards and Scrabble so we each had several snacks to contribute and Lu was going to make a Pumpkin and Black Bean soup for dinner.

But, Jake called Lu around one o'clock and invited us over for a visit and so that Lu and Sadie could see their house. I called him back and told him not to plan for any snacks as we had tons and would just bring ours. So, we did.

We got there at 3:05 PM (five minutes late, but nobody busted Lu and Sadie's chops, like they do mine) and got the grand tour. Then we set out all the snacks and ate some of it. Lu and Sadie gave Jake and Carla their Christmas gifts.

Then Jake and Carla suggested playing a game called Phase 10 Twist. They had gotten a book about that lion that was returned to the wild (you probably saw it on YouTube, when the previous owners met up with him in Africa), so I volunteered to sit out and look at the pictures.

The pictures were numerous and fascinating, so I read a few of the chapters near the end to see how it all turned out. They were still playing, so I started reading the first few chapters. After the game ending they switched to that card game, Skip Bo. So, I kept reading (I was quite comfortable, lying on the couch with classical music softly playing). The next thing I knew, I had finished the whole book!!!

Jake offered to put on a movie, or let me sit in on the game, but I declined both. I just lay on the couch, petting the dog, until it was time to go. We packed up our stuff and left about 8:00 PM.

When we got back home I was tired so, I got ready for bed. Lu and Sadie were organizing they stuff and then began to read in the living room. I began to read in my bedroom until I started nodding. Then I shut off the light and went to sleep.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Garbage Day, again...

I slept badly on Monday night. I suspect it was just from having people in the house, although they weren't noisy. I finally gave up and got up at 6:00 AM. I shut off the alarm (set to go off at 6:30 for the garbage and therapy).

I took out the trash (damn it was cold out there: 18 degrees F. with a bit of a wind) and then came inside and made a small pot of coffee. Next I shaved showered and left for therapy.

I did my usual two different sets of exercise and then left. I stopped at the Value Market and got a jar of molasses, then CVS to get three cards. Believe it or not, all the Christmas cards were already put away and they had Valentine's Day cards in their place. So, I headed up Inkster to 6-Mile and the Walgreens. They at least still had cards left.

I got back home just before 10:00 AM and the ladies were up. So, I filled in the Blog and then sat and we chatted in the living room.

They left about 2:30 PM to go to Lu's mother's for that family's Christmas party. I had originally planned to use my alone time to make the now long overdue Christmas cookies (hence the need for molasses). I had had all the ingredients out and sitting on the counter (sitting in everybody's way as well) since Sunday afternoon.

But the more I looked at it, the less I felt like it. This would be the first year I couldn't give some of them to my Mom. So, after much deliberation, I slowly put everything away. Maybe next year I'll feel like it again...

I watched some TV and then ate some leftover hotdogs for dinner. I had a Clementine orange for dessert.

I switched over to reading later and read until midnight (still no sign of Lu and Sadie - must have been a good party!) Then I went to bed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, Getting It Done

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Monday. I stripped the bed in the office and started the wash. Lu and Sadie should be showing up sometime this afternoon. I shaved and showered and then dressed. I want to get to Westborn Market for some veggies before it gets too busy.

Mission accomplished! I think I have enough salad fixings, fruit and seedless grapes to last for the next few days. Back home I started sweeping and vacuuming. Lu had called earlier and said they had just gotten onto the Pennsylvania turnpike and were probably still a good seven hours away.

I got the bed made up in the office (the cats were now banished from that room) and then made the one in my bedroom.

About 4:00 PM, I started some soup in case they were hungry when they got here. I saut�ed some chopped leeks (white part only) and a couple cloves of garlic in olive oil on medium heat until they were tender (about five minutes). Then I added 32 ounces of chicken stock, two 16-ounce cans of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), two bay leaves and two teaspoons of ground cumin. I brought that to a boil, then reduced the heat to low. I stirred in 1/2 cup of whole wheat couscous. I covered it and let it simmer for another five minutes. Finally I stirred in two packed cups of fresh baby spinach and seasoned it slightly with salt and pepper. Bingo! I have a vegetarian dish, "Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup" that, along with one of those Rustic Italian bread loaves should do the trick (if they are hungry).

They called around 5:30 and said they were in the driveway. So, I opened the garage door and we all started the long process of unloading ten tons of "stuff" from the Explorer.

They presented my birthday gifts (a huge sea salt grinder - so huge it couldn't fit under my cupboards on the counter) and some soap, including one that is like a sand mixture (which I have never seen before). Sadie said its great for washing very dirty hands, but still leaves them soft (unlike say, Boraxo soap)

We finally did sit down to supper. They said the soup was great and they both had two bowls. As usual, I was unable to finish my first.

About 8:30 PM, both Sadie and I were yawning our heads off, so we got ready for bed. Lu said she wanted to read on the couch for a while. I read in bed for a bit, and then turned in.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday morning

I woke up at 7:00 AM on Sunday, disgusted with myself. I wasted a whole day! And, at 61 years old now, I ain't got that many days left.

I cleaned up the kitchen and put some eggs on to hard boil. My dish can hold six, so I always make seven. Why? Because one of them will always have the yolk too close to the edge and it splits. This way you get a perfect six (well, usually...)

I shaved and showered and then got dressed. The eggs were cool enough then to cut up. So I sliced then up, and put the yolks in a bowl. After mashing them with a fork, I added mayonnaise, horseradish and a little pinch of dried dill. I covered them with cling wrap, put them in the trunk to keep cool and headed out for my Christmas dinner.

I was headed for my friend B___'s house. Today is the first day his kids, their beaus and his brother were all available. So, today is Christmas!

So, we ate and drank and generally partied down. The menu included ham, scalloped potatoes, Brussels sprouts (with capers) and biscuits. We also had a delicious currant wine with dinner. B___'s wife appreciated the deviled eggs (I knew she would as Germans and Polish people share a lot of the same likes and dislikes in food). There is, however, no explaining French people's tastes...

I left there about 5:30 PM and drove home with a dinner plate of food and my now empty deviled egg dish.

I called him to let him know I made it safely home (I think that's just polite) and then started reading. About 8:00 PM, I ate a lot of the leftovers (still good the second time) and read until bedtime.

I had a great time (thanks for letting me borrow your family) and went to sleep a much more content and happy man!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Boxing Day!

I woke up late on Saturday morning. I warmed up a cup of leftover coffee and made two pieces of rye bread toast. That kept me going through most of the day.

I'm not sure why, but I was very depressed today. Everything seems to suck! I had a list of things to do, but I didn't do any of them. I just watched the History Channel or the Military Channel and drank a lot.

I ate leftovers (God, I loved those rutabagas) whenever I was hungry and finally ended up reading a book until after midnight.

And, that was my Boxing Day...

Interesting Tidbit

If you know me at all, you know I am fascinated by snipers. Especially the marine snipers that operated in Vietnam. Why not the Army snipers? Well, its a long and ugly story, my friend. But...

Here's one for you. Did you know that the Soviet Red army snipers did NOT have crosshairs in their scopes. Rather they used a pointed aiming post.

And, at say twelve-hundred and fifty feet with maybe a twelve mile wind, you would have to aim thirteen feet away from your target to actually hit it.

Now, that's freaking shooting. I've done some damn fine shooting in my time (a clay pigeon in the air with my 22-caliber rifle and a running rabbit with the same gun) but nothing like that...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I think this is done...

I was thrilled back in the day when Jake made the first website for me. I could share my poetry, my songs and my occasional insightful thoughts. But, recently, I realized all we were sharing is mundane tasks and what i made for dinner that day.

So, I am thinking on January 1, 2010, I will shut this damn thing down. Now I haven't had any lessening of viewers (according to Stat Seeker) but, I feel this is no longer the representation of what I am. And, as such, I think this is done and I should shut it down.

Unless I get an overwhelming response, I think this is it and I appreciate all the love and grins I got over the past ten years. I love you guys, but I'm tired now and I think we should call it good.

The Pope and the Nut Job

The Pope was assaulted by some crazy-ass bitch on Christmas eve. The official press release said: The Vatican identified the woman involved in Thursday night's incident as 25-year-old Susanna Maiolo, a Swiss-Italian national with psychiatric problems.

Now, I know as well as you do, I suck as a Catholic, but, by God, you don't fuck with the Pope!

What the fuck is going on with the world?

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas (oh... no I'm not)

Needless to say, I slept in until 9:00 AM on Christmas Day. Between midnight mass and early morning blogging, I was beat! Checking through the windows on the weather, I don't know if we got the freezing rain during the night, but it was raining like a bitch out there when I woke up.

I put on a pot of coffee (on the advice of both my brother Carl and my son Jeremy, I only make four cups these days. That translates to a couple of mugs each morning) and then I cleaned up from last night's wild birthday bash (two saucepans, the griddle pan and a plate. Crazy, man! What was I thinking?)

I started a load of laundry (yes, even on Christmas, duty calls). I had WNIC on (all Christmas music, all day with NO commercial interruptions) and, despite the stupid weather, I was trying to get into the Christmas spirit.

But, I must admit, repeated assaults of the same Christmas music seems to have the opposite effect. The fourth or fifth time they played "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" I snarled and said, "Look outside *ssholes! It looks like an early Spring day and a depressing one at that!"

Jake called around 11:00 AM to wish me a merry Christmas. Then Lu called just after noon and wished me the same.

After that, I started on my Christmas dinner. I had thawed out the other turkey breast I roasted a while back and put that in a skillet with a cup of chicken stock to slowly warm up. I clamped a lid on it and prayed to the kitchen gods it would warm up without drying out.

Next I peeled a pound of Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed them and got them cooking. Then I also peeled a rutabaga, cubed it and cooked it in some salted water as well.

Sidebar: I think rutabagas and parsnips are currently the most under-utilized vegetables. I don't know why. They both have a distinctive, fantastic taste. But, that happens. I can remember for a period of at least 10 years when NOBODY used cauliflower. But, now its back (witness my cauliflower and goat cheese gratin) so maybe there will be a resurgence soon for rutabagas and parsnips.

Anyway, I put a jar of turkey gravy in a saucepan for my potatoes. Then I opened a can of jellied cranberry sauce and threw that in another saucepan (I am running out of cooking vessels, here.) While that melted, I threw in a big handful of dried cranberries. Now, I can't duplicate Carla's cranberry and strawberry relish. But, I think I can come close!

So, I finally plated everything. I cut the turkey breast across the grain and topped it with the warm cranberry sauce. I spooned on the potatoes and added a deep well of gravy. The rutabagas were added, topped with butter and salt.

I found another channel showing Bing Crosby's White Christmas (I love Vera Evans, but you know that). Christmas dinner was fantastic!

When the movie was done, I went out and cleaned up the kitchen. My friend B___ called around 7:00 PM to wish me a merry Christmas. His kids were all scattered, so they spent the day just making Christmas cookies.

Hey, despite the diabetic in me, I understand and can relate to that. In some of my most memorable holiday seasons, I think my recent favorite times were when my friend Tracy and her little dog Samson came over and we baked cookies together. That was fun! Now, the damn cookies are just another chore.

Anyway, with everything done and all the little ones snuggled in bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads (okay, its just Caley and Scruffy and they are probably dreaming of tuna fish, not anything sugared) I bid farewell to Christmas 2009 and wish you a merry and prosperous New Year. I love you all, but you know that already (I hope). God Bless!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

I woke up at 5:30 AM on my birthday. I started a pot of coffee and then started watching the news (mostly for the weather). It really ticked me off when they mentioned it was Christmas Eve. No! No, its not! In my house, as a child, the rule was it wasn't "Christmas Eve" until after 6:00 PM. Until then, it was "John's Birthday"! I am thinking about calling the local station and complaining...

But, bitching aside, I showered (I refuse to shave today) and got dressed to go to therapy. Jake and Carla called, BTW, to wish me a happy birthday. So they win the first telephone birthday call.

Once there, I noticed a huge invasion of people. Then it dawned on me: these were all the Friday morning folks, rescheduled. My therapist, Maureen, was slammed! Fortunately, I know all the moves, so I just did them without her. She did, however, confide in me that she was in trouble. Her 15 or 16 year-old dog had a restless night and she had gotten very little sleep. But, she forgot to bring in some tea, so she only had one tea bag of caffeinated tea left. Therefore, her being awake for the next eight hours was in doubt.

Anyway, once I finished my work out, I went over and worked on my shoulder exercises (they are gracious enough to let me use their equipment when nobody else is using it). I left there about 9:15 AM.

Then I made a terrible mistake. I thought, since I was out, I might as well go to Kroger's to get a few items I needed. The parking lot should have been my first clue as I had to drive around and around until an empty spot cleared. Once inside, it was a mob scene! I got what I needed and then stood in a long line to check out. People were bagging their own groceries, etc., but I refuse to do that. I figure I am paying for somebody to put the damn stuff in a bag and in the cart. So, I stood there and waited for the checkout guy to bag it up. He looked a bit frazzled, but I wished him "Happy Holidays!" He grunted...

I swung back over to the therapy joint on the way home and dropped off a small box of regular Lipton tea for Maureen. Then I went home, treated the cats and unpacked the groceries.

I noticed there was a package in between my front door and the storm door so I retrieved that as well. It was a Christmas present (judging from the wrapping) from my daughter Melissa and her husband Dave. So, now I have something to open Christmas morning!

My friend B___ called to wish me a happy birthday and we solidified our holiday plans.

My granddaughter Riese called (about 2:00 PM) and sang me "Happy Birthday" accompanied by Joe on guitar (i'm guessing here. Of course, Eric Clapton might have stopped over, but I think it was probably Joe.

I got a beautiful birthday e-card from my old friend Canada Cathy as well. Thanks! Ditto!!

Then my daughter Melissa called to wish me a happy birthday and she asked me to open the package (it apparently was a combination birthday and Christmas present). So, I did. There were actually two presents inside. One was a glass ornament with a picture of Waconda on one side and a picture of my mother on the other. I had to laugh when she told me she "Photoshopped" her Uncle Carl out of her grandma's picture (sorry, Bro, you gotta go!) She said it was a bitch to do, and she'd never do it again. But she did, and I got it!

The other was a DVD from the Orion Neighborhood Television (a very local cable company) that has a segment about our cottage and an interview with Mom. I decide to save that and watch it Christmas morning. Thanks Babe!

Luanne called (around 5:30 PM) to wish me a Happy Birthday. She said Sadie had called earlier and left a voicemail (it still wasn't there when I checked after we hung up - I get crappy voicemail service, BTW). She's had the flu, so that has curtailed their holiday activities.

After we hung up, I began my birthday dinner. Now, we had a tradition in my family that, on your birthday, you got to choose the dinner you wanted. A co-worker recently told me of his tradition that each of his family gets to choose the restaurant of their choice for their birthday, so I suppose this is now a modern twist on that idea.

As I recall, I usually asked for roast beef (I loved my mother's roast beef: the beef, the potatoes, onions, carrots and the gravy... God I loved that gravy! I wish I could make gravy that tasted like hers). But, I digress...

So, tonight, I decided I really wanted chili dogs with French fries. So, I got out my griddle pan and grilled the Dearborn natural casing hot dogs while some frozen crinkle-cut French fries were toasting in the oven. I fine diced a yellow onion after putting the Hormell No-Bean chili in a sauce pan to heat up. A small call of Bush's original baked beans went in another pan.

I plated two of the chili dogs (topped with the chili, onions and yellow mustard) with a generous amount of fries and some beans. I went in to see what was on TV. Now, I admit, I only made it through one hot dog (I just can't eat that much anymore) but it was damn tasty! Happy Birthday to me!

An odd Catholic sidebar: I dozed off watching the news at 11:00 PM on Channel 4. When I woke up, they were showing the Christmas Eve mass from the Vatican. Now being a lapsed, or ex or just a crummy Catholic, I have been through a number of masses, but I was entranced. I watched the whole damn thing until it ended about 1:30 AM!

Another sidebar: I woke up for a bathroom break at 3:00 AM and decided to write this all up, so I did. I also checked the phone and, sure enough, there was a voicemail from Sadie, singing Happy Birthday from like noon...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunshine on the Snow

On Wednesday, it was still below freezing all day, but the sun was out for a change. Since it was "nice" out, I got out the push mower and started it up. Why? Well, I always start adding Stabil to the gas can in late September. That way, no matter when the last time I use the riding mower, it's protected for the winter.

However, my right shoulder operation occurred in August. So, the push mower (which requires considerable strength in your right arm to start) was never treated and I was a bit worried about storing it all winter like that.

It had about half of a tank of gas. I added a little Stabil to that, and filled the tank with the Stabil-treated gas in the can. After two tries, it started running and I let it run about 5 minutes. Then I shut it off and put it away for the winter.

Again, since it was so nice, I went out and refilled the bird feeder, rather than waiting until after work and darkness.

At home after work, I made up a short grocery list of items I'm out of or need for a dish (I mean, since I have to go out tomorrow anyway). After that, I looked around and started thinking of what chore I might accomplish. Then, it hit me. I am off work for the next 11 days! There isn't one damn thing that important that it has to be done tonight. So, I took the rest of the night off.

Oh, I made my mother's Tuna and Peas and served it on top of wide egg noodles for supper.

Oh Holy Night - a Remembrance

When I was like in fourth or fifth grade, in choir, I was selected to sing the solo of "Oh, Holy Night" at the Christmas midnight mass. My testicles still hadn't descended, so I had quite a pure voice, lol.

And, thank God, Dean Asselin (sp) had moved to another school. Who was Dean Asselin? Well, he was the hero of the school early on because he was on the syndicated Arthur Godfrey TV talent show. He sang "Oh, Danny Boy" and it about broke your heart... he was GOOD!

I practiced and practiced under the tutelage of Sister Marie Aquin. Now, I must confess here, she was not like most of the other nuns (short, fat, unattractive and mean). She was tall, slender, lovely and, well, okay, still mean. But, I think most of my classmates (as did I) got their first boner looking at her (what exactly did that habit hide?)

Was she a perfectionist? Well, when we sang "Silent Night" (and we were little kids, okay?) She used to scream at us: "'It's not 'Holy infantso tender and mild' It's 'Holy infant (pause) so tender and mild'")

Anyway, it was Christmas Eve, about 9:00 PM and I got sick. I started throwing up and my parents called the church and explained I wouldn't be able to make it. Looking back over some 50 years, I'm guessing it was nerves, but they decided it was flu and left me at home.

Mark Hartner was my replacement and for years I resented that (I'm serious!) That was my gig, man!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Forgot to mention...

I actually have to go to therapy on my birthday! I can't remember the last time I "had" to do anything on my birthday, since I always get Christmas Eve off.

But, no, now I have to set the alarm, shave, shower and show up there at 8:00 AM!!!

Maybe I'll treat myself to a birthday breakfast afterwards...

Me and Jesus

Now, I personally believe astrology is a joke. But, since both me and Jesus are Capricorns, when i saw this on MSN yesterday, I clicked on it. I was expecting to be amused, instead I was amazed...

Capricorns

When it comes to professionalism and traditional values, Capricorn wins hands-down. This practical sign loves to tackle life in the most conventional of ways, leaving no stone unturned. Considered the most serious-minded of the signs, the Capricorn possesses an independence that allows for considerable progress both personally and on the job.

Friends and Family

Combining a strong wit and a love of humor, the Capricorn makes terrific company for those they choose as friends. They will surround themselves with people who are honest, loyal, and like-minded when it comes to working values. They cherish loved ones and will go any distance to help a friend or family member. Traditional by nature, the Capricorn loves nothing more than holidays, such as Christmas, that bring people together with a variety of activities. Although a Capricorn isn't apt to have a large social circle, those included in this sign's life will find someone who is steadfast and true. Emotional displays are not common for a Capricorn. They would rather show how they feel through deeds than expression with words.

Career and Money

Ambition is the key word for this sign. The key phrase for Capricorn is I use. The Capricorn possesses a real knack for finding the right tool for the job and getting down to it. Starting at the bottom of the ladder and working their way to the top doesn't scare the Capricorn off. They will go the distance once a goal is set.

In addition to setting high standards for themselves, honesty, perseverance, and a dedication to duty make the Capricorn an excellent manager. Loyalty and a willingness to work as hard as necessary are qualities that this sign values greatly within themselves and in those around them. Careers in management, finance, teaching, and real estate are excellent choices.

Capricorns are resourceful and manage their time and money well. Every now and then, the urge to spend some hard-earned cash can see this sign packing some large shopping bags with fun and frivolous items out of the store. But as a rule, caution goes hand in hand with the Capricorn making practical purchases more likely than anything else. Multifunctional items are definitely favored.

Love and Sex

The Capricorn is most often a serious lover, preferring to take things slow and steady. You won't see this sign jumping into anything head-first. Taking relationships one step at a time is the way of the Capricorn. Words can be few with this personality, yet actions speak volumes. The Capricorn values deeds and will go to great lengths to express their affections through them. They're great gift givers and don't bat an eye at the cost of spending a fantastic night out. Genuine and sincere, you can take what few words a Capricorn does say to the bank.

CAPRICORN TIDBITS

Likes:
Family, tradition, quality craftsmanship, understated status, music

Dislikes:
Almost everything at some point

Famous Capricorns:
Michelle Obama, Mary J. Blige, Nicolas Cage, Tiger Woods, Jon Voight, Denzel Washington, Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali

Strengths:
Responsible, good managers, disciplined, self-control, dark sense of humor

Weaknesses:
Know-it-all, unforgiving, condescending, expecting the worst

Tuesday

I got up on Tuesday to the alarm, took the trash out to the road (brrr), put a pot of coffee on and then shaved and showered. After that, I left for therapy.

When I got back home at 9:15 AM, I changed my shirt and shoes and made two pieces of rye bread toast (I love rye bread toast). I buttered the toast and ate it, drinking a cup of coffee. Then I left for work.

It never got very much warmer today (low of 28 degrees F., high of 32) but the sun did pop out now and again, which was nice. The snow and cold doesn't bother me much, but the gloomy, gray days do...

I got home at 2:15 PM from work (just four hours today), changed clothes and started a load of laundry.

My daughter Amy called about 3:30 PM to check on my correct address. She wants to send me a photo of my grandson, Carl V and my Mother I. We chatted for a while until I had to hang up to hang up the laundry.

After that, I spent a good half hour cleaning the downstairs shower. It's still not perfect, but it's a lot better (the soap scum is still there, but the mildew is gone).

I decided to treat myself to a movie, so I watched (again) another personal favorite: Master and Commander. That ended about 7:00 PM, so I set about making tonight's dinner.

If you remember, I put as many of the florets of cauliflower into the casserole dish on Saturday as would fit. So, tonight, I took the rest of them and steamed them. Meanwhile, I heated up a couple of slices of ham in the skillet. Then, the warm ham went on two slices of sourdough bread, along with two slices of American cheese. I buttered both sides and then made a toasted cheese and ham sandwich. I plated it all and went in to see what was on TV.

I topped the cauliflower with just some salt and butter and that, along with the sandwich, was just about perfect!

I ended up watching some taped TV shows and switching to reading a new magazine about 10:00 PM, then going to bed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, Monday...

When I woke up on Monday for work, the snow was still there. It did melt on my road yesterday, though (probably from the sun). But, with it being only 28 degrees F., I suppose the dreaded "black ice" is something to consider this morning.

Fortunately, (did I just say "fortunately?") it had snowed overnight and the roads were covered with crunchy white stuff, rather than black ice.

On the way home from work, I stopped and picked up a loaf of rye bread and some sliced Swiss cheese. I still have a lot of ham to work through.

My daughter Melissa called around 6:00 AM and we chatted for a bit. She said that big snowstorm out east was west of them (in the mountains) and all they got was a lot of rain.

I snacked on the last of the deviled eggs while I assembled my ham sandwich dinner (I used spicy brown mustard, this time). I added some olives and wandered in to see what was on TV.

It was about halfway through the sandwich (delicious, BTW) when I remembered I like olives with turkey sandwiches. This ham sandwich called out for a dill pickle, instead!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quote for the Day, with addendum

"If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart, and if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no head."

~ Winston Churchill

I would like to add that "If you're not a cynic at 60, you ain't been paying attention!"

Slow and Easy on Sunday

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Sunday, but didn't get out of bed until after 7:00. I was warm and cozy and a little lazy, so why get up?

I finally did, though, and made a small pot of coffee. I had a cup with my breakfast, four slices of the Mincemeat-Cranberry Tart!

Then I washed up the casserole dish, the roasting pan and rack and the inside of my crock pot (I had that soaking in the laundry tub since Friday night and had forgotten about it). I did a lot of little chores (refill my Meds case, fill the birdfeeder, etc.) Since I cleaned the whole house yesterday, there's not too much left to do.

Except, I wanted to deep-clean my bedroom. The floors and bedding are good, but I have a lot of dust and cat hair on the bookcase, dresser, nightstands and the TV stand. So, I got out the vacuum with attachments, my feather duster and some Endust and got to work.

I worked on one piece of furniture at a time, taking things off, dusting them and returning them. Between that and making frequent trips to the front porch to shake the dust and cat hair out of my duster, it was just after 1:30 PM when I finished up.

I decided to take a break (and maybe a nap). So, I filled in the Blog to date and went in to watch some TV. I never did fall asleep, but started thinking about dinner. At first, I thought I'd make ham and eggs (I occasionally like breakfast for dinner), but then I remembered a recipe I'd come across for Horseradish Deviled Eggs. If you know me, you know I LOVE horseradish!

So, I hardboiled six large eggs. Once they had cooked and cooled, I cut them in half and put the yolks in a bowl. I broke those up with a fork and then added a heaping 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, two tablespoons of horseradish, a half teaspoon of dry mustard and a pinch of dried dill. I mixed that all together and then put it in a small baggie. I worked the mixture down to one bottom corner, cut the tip of the corner off and then piped the mixture into the eggs.

I wanted to take a picture for you, but the white egg and pale mixture didn't exactly stand out. So, I sprinkled paprika on them for the photo, snapped it and posted it. I covered the eggs with cling wrap and put them in the fridge to chill.

About 6:30 PM, I sliced up the last six little redskin potatoes and started to fry them. When they were done, I set them aside to keep warm and fried three ham slices.

While I was doing all that, I was snacking on the Horseradish Deviled Eggs. They were very good, BTW. I could have used just a tad more horseradish (I like it when your eyes water and your nose runs from it) but they were definitely tangy and had a lot of zip!

I plated the food and went to watch my Sunday shows. The first one was preempted by a Christmas show and the second one was a rerun!

Supper seemed especially filling, but it could have been all those eggs, LOL!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

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Horseradish Deviled Eggs

How Sunday Dinner Turned Into Sunday Supper

I woke up at 7:25 AM on Saturday. I finished the Blog entry and posted it, then hopped into the shower. We picked up one to two inches of snow (I can't really tell from inside, but you can't see the lawn anymore) overnight, BTW. I'll regret saying this in late January or February, but it looks pretty.

Now I gotta get cranking! I invited Jake and Carla over for dinner at 2:00 and I need to clean the house, prep the food, etc. So, I swept the kitchen and downstairs floors, vacuumed the area rung and the two walk-off carpets, swept all the wood floors and then dry-mopped them with Endust, etc., etc., etc. About 12:30 PM, I was done with the house cleaning and more or less done in!

So, I thought a 30-minute nap might do me good. It probably would have, except I slept until just before 2:00! Yikes!

So, I prepped the Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin. I cut the cauliflower into florets and put as many as I could into my casserole dish. I coated them with heavy cream and then mixed in 1/2 pound of shredded Monterey Jack cheese and two cups of grated Parmesan. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and then cut up 6-ounces of goat cheese into chunks. Those went on top and I set it aside to bake later.

Jake and Carla showed up about then with a bottle of Spanish wine (Marques de Caceres - Crianza) and the mystery dessert. The dessert turned out to be a mincemeat-cranberry tart. They also brought some appetizers (good thing, too, since dinner would now be late): Artichoke-Asiago Dip, Spinach Dip, small pita rounds and blue corn chips.

So we munched on appetizers while two pounds of baby read potatoes, cut into chunks, boiled. I made the basting liquid for the ham (1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1/2 cup peach nectar and five chipotles, minced. I put the spiral cut smoked ham cut-end down in my roasting pan on a rack. I spooned some of the liquid over it and in between the layers.

The ham went into a 375 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes and I basted it every 10 minutes or so with more of the juice. I mixed up the glaze (1/2 cup of dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup of honey) and reserved that for later.

Meanwhile, I made the potato salad with 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped celery, two tablespoons of jarred pickle relish (drained) 3/4 cup mayonnaise, two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup shopped green onions and one tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley leaves. I folded in the potatoes and six hard-boiled eggs, cut in big chunks, and then asked Carla to season it with salt and pepper (she's better at that than I am).

I pulled the ham out, glazed it and stuck it back in the oven, along with the gratin for another hour (it takes that long for the glaze to caramelize).

We talked and set the table and then finally ate about 5:30 PM. Everything tasted pretty good (I especially liked the Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin). Carla cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher and then we had dessert.

That was excellent! Now I love mincemeat pie, so it was a real treat for me. This was like a regular mincemeat pie but with the added tartness of cranberries and a perfect, flaky crust.

My brother Jim called during that time and chatted for a bit. I loaded Jake and Carla up with leftovers (I'd never be able to eat all that stuff) and they gave me the rest of the tart! They left about 7:00 PM and I got busy on my own leftovers.

I cut most of the ham off and stuck it in a baggie in the fridge. The ham bone went into another baggie and into the freezer for either split pea or bean soup. The rest of the gratin went in the fridge as well. I soaked both the roasting pan and the casserole dish for cleanup on Sunday morning.

So, let's review: I was two hours and three minutes late at their house on Thanksgiving and now late for my own dinner party. While I did put out some good dishes, I never made the black-eyed pea salad, the biscuits or even put on a pot of coffee. And, I'll get some good-natured ribbing about this for a while... Sigh...

My friend B___ called and we talked for a while, catching each other up on things. I was going to watch TV but decided to read instead. When I started to nod, I took off my glasses, shut the light off and went to sleep. For a change, I didn't notice the time.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

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The front yard, off the porch

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The backyard, through the kitchen window screen.

A Busy Friday

So, it was Friday morning and today was the IT Department's Christmas Brunch. Now, in the summer, when it's the Department picnic (okay, so we no longer rent a park space, like back in the day, but we still all get together and chow down), I usually make an elaborate dish. I forget what it was this year (maybe I was off and missed it with my operation). But, two year's ago, I made my macaroni and cheese and people loved it.

But, with just a week before Christmas, I got too much to do to invest time and money in some all day dish. So, two or three years ago, I decided on Swedish meatballs. Now, I know (and so do you, probably) these are meant to be served over egg noodles. But, I never could figure out how to keep the noodles warm and transport them to the party.

So, I just went with the meatballs and the sauce. People loved them and ask me every year if I'm going to make them again. I always say, "Sure!" and am really glad nobody's ever asked me for the recipe. Why, because I am basically honest and would have to tell them the truth. Well, not necessarily with women; with women, I am usually frank and earnest. In St. Clair I was Frank, here in Redford I'm Ernest! (Okay, I stole that from the movie "The Long Kiss Goodbye" but I always loved that line...)

Anyway, I digress... back to the Swedish meatballs. In the interest of saving time, I go to Gordon Food Service (GFS) and buy a bag of their pre-cooked meatballs and a big-ass can of Swedish meatball sauce. I combine the two in my round crock-pot (not all the meatballs will fit, though - it's a big bag) and dump in the sauce. I turn it on low when I leave for work and then swing by the house just before the party (about four hours later). I hit that with a good handful of fresh chopped parsley (it seems to freshen it up) and take it in. Everybody loves them!

So, that's what I did this year. I may suck as a foodie, but people damn sure like it!

I have one BIG complaint, though. Ying, a female programmer from China, signed up to bring Jelly Fish Salad. I went out of my way to tell her how much I was looking forward to trying that!

Well, today, she changed her offering to cookies! It seems another programmer convinced her that Americans wouldn't eat Jelly Fish. Okay, so I can sorta understand that (but I really wanted to try it!). But, at the party, she brought in one packet of them from a local Chinese grocery store. She walked right by me (shit! Dammit! I even gushed!) and gave it to Jake, apologizing for not making it for everybody!!! WTF? It appears he anticipated some resistance and emailed her, urging her to bring it. Now, I sit about 15 feet from her and told her how much I was looking forward to it, but his damn email was more important? That sucked!!!

All I can do now is to wait for his report, I guess...

I left the party with about 1/3 of the meatballs and sauce left. I stopped by home and plugged in the crock-pot and set it on warm. Then I dumped in the rest of the thawed meatballs and went back to work. I'll make some egg noodles and have a real dinner, tonight.

Once home, cats treated and clothes changed, I started into working. First item of business was cleaning the downstairs toilet (hey, who doesn't like that? What? There's better ways to spend a Friday night?) I got three more items checked off the list (oh, there's always a list) and then hit a snag.

It was already almost 7:30 PM, I haven't eaten any dinner and I have this movie to watch (Inglorious Bastards - I'm a big Quentin Tarantino fan). I borrowed it from a friend who'd rented it and she needs to pick it up tomorrow morning to return it. I really wanted to watch it, but the damn thing's 2 1/2 hours long!

So, I quit. I made a serving of wide egg noodles, topped them with the Swedish meatballs and went in to watch the movie.

Of course, I fell asleep about halfway through the movie. I woke up at 12:30 AM for a bathroom break and realized what I had done. The movie was already off, of course, so I "fast forwarded" it (now I say that and maybe I do something wrong, but I can't "fast forward" a DVD like I used to a VHS tape) to the last scene I remember (this took forever). Then I finished watching the movie.

I finally got to bed just after 1:30 AM...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dizzy Days!

I woke up after just four hours of sleep Thursday morning. At therapy, when I got up after lying on the hot pads for 20 minutes, I was dizzy. So, Maureen took my blood pressure. It was 98/60 which she said was low, but not dangerously low.

One funny thing happened. When she was putting on the cuff and pumping it up, I said to her, "I always hoped we would play doctor one day, but this isn't really what I had in mind!" I said it loud because she had the stethoscope in her ears, but I didn't realize how loud until the entire room (therapists and patients) cracked up!

Anyway, when I got home from therapy, I undressed, climbed back into bed and slept until 12:30 PM! When I got up, I started the now-late Wednesday laundry. I also had to do the bedspread as one of the cats coughed up a hairball when I was gone this morning (Thanks! Nice!).

While those were working their way through the washer/dryer cycle, I emptied the dishwasher, washed down the counter and the stovetop and did other miscellaneous chores. Finally, the clothes were hung up, the bed re-made and I was hungry. I ate two bowls of that chili (I need to get the pan out of the fridge. I need the room!)

I watched a taped show (Top Chef Reunion) but turned in early at 10:00 PM.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday

So, it was Wednesday morning and back to work for my half day. It was cold outside, below freezing, but its supposed to be below freezing for the high for the next several days. Nothing like Alberta Canada, though. My friend sent me a screen shot of her weather: -33 degrees C. (or -22 degrees F.) for their high!

When I left work at 11:00 AM, I went to Meijer's. I got the few remaining items on my list and was back home by noon. Before changing clothes, I went outside and refilled the bird feeder.

Inside, I cleaned up from the chili-making and then started the dishwasher (it's time). Then I took a nice long nap.

I made a turkey sandwich for my dinner. I ate it along with some green olives (my favorite combination) and checked out the TV listings. I saw that TCM was having a Bogart festival tonight, so I watched the Maltese Falcon and Casablanca and then went to bed just after midnight (letting the next two tape).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snowy days and road trips...

I woke up to the alarm at 6:30 AM on Tuesday, dressed hurriedly and took the garbage out to the road. I forgot to mention this yesterday but a road crew came down the street and put some soft gravel (my friend B___ later informed me that, from my description, it was slag) on each driveway to make a ramp up to the road. Thanks, guys! It's kinda squishy right now, but I imagine the rain, snow and my car will help to pack it down.

Back inside, I put on a pot of coffee and got ready for physical therapy. When I left the house it was 34 degrees F. (today's high).

On my way home from therapy, I stopped at Westborn for some veggies and herbs. When I got home, I noticed that the "slag" on the driveway to the townhouses was compacted from all their traffic. Since it rained or drizzled or fogged (whatever) all day yesterday and is supposed to go below freezing this afternoon, I spent the next 10-15 minutes pulling in, moving over a tad and backing out onto the road (my neighbors must have thought I'd went nuts - but that's not the first time, I suppose). I did compact it a LOT, however!

So, today I had the final checkup on my rotator cuff surgery at my orthopedic doctor's in Mt. Clemens. Since my brother Carl lives about a mile from the doctor, I deliberately left 1/2 an hour early so I could drop in and see how he was doing. Yes, that was my plan...

As I normally do, I took Inkster up to 8-Mile and 8-Mile to Groesbeck, which is then a straight shot into Mt. Clemens. It takes anywhere from 45-60 minutes and you don't have to deal with the damn construction on all the freeways.

Sidebar: I understand that construction thing is lightening up a LOT. Oh, not because the roads are fixed, you see. Michigan just doesn't have the money to fix them anymore, that's all. So, along with all the school teachers, firemen and policemen that have been laid off, we can now add laid-off road construction workers and bad roads... The hits just keep on coming!

Okay so that was my plan until I was stopped about one mile away from the train track at 8-Mile and Groesbeck, waiting on what had to the be longest, slowest train EVER!!! By the time I got to the doctor's (and I will admit to speeding just a little - okay, a lot!) I had less than five minutes to my appointment (sorry Carl!)

Okay, so let's review: I drove 1 1/2 hours to get there (in and out of snow-showers), I had a brief discussion with the girl at the counter about my new (and certainly not-improved health coverage) and in less than five minutes I was in a room. I waited maybe two minutes more and the doctor came in. He congratulated me on finishing physical therapy, asked me to raise my arm up and told me that between my knee replacement and the rotator cuff surgery, I was his official miracle patient. He said to call sometime next summer and we'd review. He left and in less than 15 minutes, I was back on the road.

So, I drove 1 1/2 hours to get there and then an hour back home to get a 10 minute visit. What's wrong with this picture? Jake, of course, has an opinion.

I'd told my friend B___ that I would be in the area and suggested a visit. I told him I would call when I was done, probably around 2:30-3:00 o'clock. Instead it was 1:45 PM. He reminded me to call first (he won't answer the door). So, I dug out the cell phone from the console and tried to turn it on. It was dead as a doornail! I drove through sleet to his house.

So, as you can tell, I decided to take the chance and stopped by. I rang the bell several times and finally he opened it (it was still sleeting then and now much colder, BTW). He said I was lucky he looked outside (and I believe it). He offered me both food and/or a beverage, both of which I refused. I had a glass of water and we chatted for an hour or so. It snowed off and on during that time.

He mentioned that cell phones should be charged about one a week (like I know that? I don't like or even use cell phones unless it's an emergency - in fact, they even took away my company cell phone a while back when they discovered there were NO minutes on it for several months - I personally think that's what the damn desk phone is for). I believe the last time I charged it was a couple of months ago. But, it did scare me into recharging this damn thing more, because I always count on it in case I have car problem on the road. If I'd had an accident or even a flat tire today, I would have been toast.

So, I left there about 3:30 PM. Because of that damn train thing, I took I-696 instead of going to 8-Mile. That worked out pretty good until I got to Southfield Road. That was stop-and-go, sitting through several lights and just inching forward until I got to the Southfield freeway. Then I flew home and made it in less than an hour.

When I pulled in, I saw several areas that my tires hadn't touched the slag (as I now know it's called). So, I repeatedly backed up and pulled in, hoping to smash it all down. This seemingly infuriated Caley, who was pawing at the picture window (she knows my car and wanted her treat). I finally got inside, treated both of them and settled in for the night.

Somewhere on that snowy, cold ride home, I decided the only acceptable dinner tonight was home-made chili, so I took out two pounds of ground beef and the last stew meat from last year's shared cow. I put that in the dish rack to thaw and started filling in this rather lengthy Blog entry.

Okay, so for the chili, I'm gonna wing it. So, I heated up a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease and saut�ed two large yellow onions, medium diced (I want that smoky flavor). I tipped the Dutch oven off to one side of the burner and put all the onions there. The other side, on the heat, I put the two pounds of semi-thawed ground beef.

Meanwhile, I thawed the beef stew meat in the microwave ( I would have used a chuck roast, cut into 1/4 inch chunks, but it's a little late in the day for thawing). I took that out of the microwave and cut it into 1/4-inch chunks. After the ground beef was cooked, I added that in. I like the taste of pure hamburger, but miss the texture of beef.

I seasoned it with salt and pepper and then added the seasonings (I am NOT measuring this); some hot paprika, a handful of ground cumin, a shit-load of chili pepper and some cayenne pepper.

To that, I added a cup of tomato paste and 28-ounces of whole tomatoes (I put that in another bowl and squished it before adding it). I opened up a small can of green chilies and then some beans (black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans - none drained).

I added the small can of green chili peppers I fine diced and a handful of jalape�os from a jar. (Had I thought of this earlier when it was warm outside, I would have brought fresh jalape�os at Westborn). I taste tested it and took the cover off and let the chili to reduce for a while.

At 8:00 PM, I plated a bowl of the chili, topped it with shredded cheddar cheese and some green onions (or scallions), turned off the burner and went in to watch some TV.

Whew! In spite of all my constant taste-testing, it was a little spicier than I would have liked, but it was damn good. The cheese toned it down a bit. I put the now-cooled pot into the fridge and then went to bed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays...

The weatherman kept talking about fog Monday morning, but I had none of that on my way into work. At lunchtime, though, it was here and more like a fine drizzle than traditional fog. I had some errands to run (Kroger's and CVS) and by the time I was home I was damp, miserable and my right leg was throbbing. I think I would have really rather had snow that this! I made myself a turkey sandwich for lunch.

After work, I got home and got busy. Well, I planned on getting busy, but first I took a call from my daughter Melissa. Then, I got busy...

I cut off one whole turkey breast, wrapped it in tinfoil and stuck it in a Hefty freezer bag. That went into the freezer. I cut off the rest of the other breast and stuck it in the fridge for more turkey sandwiches. I considered making some stock with the remaining carcass, but then decided it would make a great Christmas present for the possum. So, I went out into the mist and left it just off the patio (Enjoy, little brother!)

I warmed up the sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes for dinner while I loaded up the dishwasher. I still had time, so I switched out the cat litter for tomorrow's garbage day.

I still had the roasting pan and rack to wash, but it was getting late, so I ate dinner instead. I watched TV until 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Slippery Sunday

When I woke up at 5:00 to go to the bathroom, I could hear freezing rain hitting the windows. So, I went back to bed. I got up for real at 7:00 AM and it had changed to just rain (it was 34 degrees F.). Still, I was glad I had nowhere to go today...

I had thawed out a turkey breast yesterday, so this morning I put it in my stock pot with some brine (equal parts salt and sugar in cold water, whisked together). I put a lid on it and stuck it out in the garage to keep cool for the next eight hours or so (24 or 48 hours would be better, but it wasn't thawed in time).

Back inside, I washed the kitchen sink (its stainless steel, so I used a Brillo pad) and a few of the knives and wooden spoons I used yesterday. Then I emptied the dishwasher.

I checked my email and found a great birthday e-card from my brother Carl! Thanks, man! That Radio Flyer took me back...

Weird! It's after 9:00 AM, but still dark outside. It's a dreary, dreary day...

I took the last four strips of thick-cut bacon from those BLT's and warmed then up in a skillet. Then I made two over-easy eggs in the bacon grease and ate breakfast.

I didn't have much ambition to do things, so I didn't. I am blaming it on my right leg (hurts like hell today) but it may be I'm just a slacker.

About 3:00 PM, I bundled up and went out to fill the bird feeder. Since I was out there anyway, I got in yesterday's mail and picked what looks like the last of the herbs. The rosemary's still okay, but about half of the sage leaves are brown. The thyme is totally gone, BTW. Back inside, I chopped up about a tablespoon of rosemary and another tablespoon of the good sage leaves. I added a teaspoon of dried thyme (Lu's "Thyme in a Bottle" from last Christmas). I put all that in a bowl and added 1/2 stick of room temperature butter. Using a fork, I sort of mashed and smoothed it all together. I let that sit and get happy while I watched a Martha Stewart Christmas special.

At 5:00 PM, I retrieved the stock pot with the bone-in turkey breast from the garage (also bringing in an acorn squash and the last of the russet potatoes from my homemade root cellar). I rinsed off the turkey breast and patted it dry with paper towels. Then I worked my fingers under the skin and stuck in the herb butter. I set that in my small roasting pan (with the rack), breast side up.

I rough-chopped a carrot, some celery, a yellow onion and a whole head of garlic and put all that inside the cavity (not to eat, so I didn't peel any of it and I just cut the top off the head of the garlic, BTW. It's all just to perfume the meat as it roasts.)

Then I drizzled the turkey breast with olive oil and seasoned it with a LOT of kosher salt and even more fresh ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, I cut the acorn squash in half, seeded it and then added a pat of butter to each side. I threw in the remaining sticks of rosemary and a generous dash of dried thyme and stuck the squash in the oven (I decided to forget the mashed potatoes). Lastly, the turkey went in and I set the timer for two hours.

I basted it with the pan juices every 15-20 minutes or so. When it was finally done (closer to three hours, BTW) I took it out to rest and used the pan juices to make a nice gravy. Then I plated everything and ate my Sunday supper.

The turkey was fantastic! Moist and juicy with an excellent flavor!! The squash was good too and the gravy tasted so good I was wishing I'd made mashed potatoes like I'd originally planned.

I watched the rest of my Sunday night shows and then hit the sack.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, Low and Slow

I woke up at 7:00 AM on Saturday, after a rather restless night. Since the cats were still absent, I stripped the bed and started the wash. When it was just the sheets, pillow cases and the bedspread, that was always one load. Add in the blanket and now its two.

I ground up some coffee beans and made a pot of coffee. I posted the Blog, answered a couple of emails and then went and lay on the couch (Saturday Morning, Over Easy, remember?) Nice...

It ended all too soon. It always used to end at 11:45 AM, but for some reason, now it ends at 9:45 AM. WTF? But, I continued to lay there (the fireplace was memorizing) and eventually fell asleep. A phone call from a friend woke me up and I was back in gear.

I switched the sheets into the dryer and then started the blanket load. When the dryer stopped, I made half of the bed (waiting on the blanket). Then I started on tonight's dinner.

I decided to kick it up a notch and put a tablespoon of bacon fat in the Dutch oven. To that, I added a large yellow onion, diced fine. While that cooked, I cut up about two pounds of the remaining Yukon Gold potatoes, diced in large chunks. I put those in the pot and stirred it all up with my wood spoon.

Then I cut open and added a bag of sauerkraut (I hate the canned stuff - it tastes "tinny"). Next I took a pound of smoked sausage and cut it on the biase. That went into the pot and I turned it on to simmer (low and slow, baby!)

Around 4:00 PM, my daughter Melissa called and we talked for a short while (only about an hour or so). I finished making the bed. Then I checked on dinner and it was ready. So, I plated it and wandered in to watch some TV. I watched a few taped cooking shows but then switched to AMC and my all-time favorite movie: Jeremiah Johnson. I wanted to BE Jeremiah Johnson!

When that finally ended, the next movie was an old John Wayne/Dean Martin classic, Rio Bravo. I watched that, too and, as a result, didn't get to bed until after midnight.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

TGI (chilly)F

Friday morning, I did something I hadn't done in a long, long time: I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep! I woke up at 7:45 AM and freaked!! I am supposed to be at work at 7:00 AM, you see.

So, I shaved, took a quick shower and hurriedly got dressed. While dressing, the phone rang. It was Jake, checking up on why I wasn't at work (I appreciate that!) I reassured him I was still alive, just late. It made me laugh, because when I got to work, I still beat both my boss and the department Director in.

It was another long, boring day (this is the traditional time of the year in the automotive world where everything is on hold, waiting for next year's budget, so major programs are few and far between). But, it was finally 5:00 PM and the weekend officially started.

I grabbed the mail, got in the garage, closed the door against the cold and then treated the cats.

I changed into my thick robe and started the weekend laundry (shirts, pants and socks from this week's work). I finished loading the dishwasher and fired that puppy up. My furnace was valiantly fighting to get the temperature up (its 21 degrees F. or -6 C. out there) so when I put the clothes in the dryer, I set the stove timer and covered up in bed, watching some taped shows.

When the timer went off, I went out and hung up my shirts and pants. I started thinking about dinner, but wasn't really inspired. So, I opened a can of Hormel chili instead and warmed it up. One nice thing about eating that for dinner is, an hour or so later, the cats leave the bedroom for the evening. It's good to have some alone, "me" time.

My friend B___ called around 9:00 PM and we caught each other up on the past week's events. I watched a couple more taped shows and went to bed at 11:30 PM.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chillin' on Thursday

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Thursday. The forecasted snow apparently is north of here. But the wind is still stiff and it was 20 degrees F. (the high for today).

So, I posted the Blog, showered and got ready for therapy. I chugged down a cup of warmed-over coffee on the way out the door and was damn glad I did. It was freakin' cold out there!

Maureen busted my balls today. I told her that I'd loved the hot pack and the interferential current stuff last time; why did we move on? She just laughed (Physical therapists are evil, if you didn't already know that). So, after the hot pack and electrical current, we switched to exercises to "strengthen my core muscles."

Jesus!

None the less, when we finished, I voluntarily spent another half hour on the big machine, working out on my shoulder. Medically, (and more importantly insurance-wise), I am supposedly cured, but I am NOT happy with my current situation. I left there and headed for home about 9:30 AM.

Now, I still have about half a pound of cooked elbow macaroni (from when my stomach was upset last week) in the fridge. I had been trying to think of what I could do with it (besides eating it with salt, pepper and butter, as I did last week). It dawned on me that Lu used to make something her people called "goulash" back on Palms Road with elbow macaroni (I knew even then it wasn't really goulash).

But, I couldn't remember the ingredients. So, I gave her a call and luckily, she was in. She was pretty sure of most of the ingredients (browned hamburger, onion, a diced green bell pepper) all of which I had. She was little less sure about the tomatoes (whole, diced, stewed, tomato sauce, tomato paste?), but was pretty damn sure about the last ingredient: V8 Juice. Crap! Then I remembered I had a brief period where I would drink a glass of V8 juice every night after work (for some silly health reason or another). So, I checked the closet and I had two bottles of it left!

So, after we hung up, I started making today's lunch/dinner. I saut�ed two medium-sized chopped yellow onions and then added the thawed ground beef. When that was browned, I kicked it up a notch by adding four cloves of chopped garlic (not in the original recipe).

Since nobody is really firm about the tomatoes, I decided to take the rest of the tomatoes I bought for the BLT's (I'm sick of them, now), seed them and fine dice them. I added them and the V8 Juice to the right consistency (You don't want a soup nor a stew. It's kinda like what Rachel Ray calls a "Stoup") I let that get happy and then dished up a big bowl.

Hmmm... Not bad! I had another half bowl just to make sure, LOL.

As I said before the wind is still strong and the temperature is slowly falling (it was like 16 degrees F. the last time I checked) so, rather than turn up the heat (wasting money) I got into bed and covered up, and read a new magazine.

Of course, I fell asleep. I woke up and checked the TV guide... Hmmm... Nothing much on. So, I got out my DVD of "Tears of the Sun" and watched that (another of my favorite movies).

You may have noticed a comment on the Blog from my daughter Amy who mentioned it was -1 degrees in Minnesota. I did feel bad about whining then, but felt worse when I got an email from my old friend Canada Cathy. She sent pictures of the snow depth (unbelievable) and mentioned the high on Sunday is supposed to be -30 degrees!

Unimaginable!

I had another bowl of the "goulash" for dinner, but the elbow macaroni were now falling apart. So, into the trash it went.

I went back to bed, covering up and shivering and watched TV until bedtime.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sealing the Deal

When I woke up on Thursday morning, the snow had apparently just changed to rain (it was 41 degrees F. here, BTW). We apparently dodged the winter storm here in southeast Michigan, but have a "High Wind Warning" until Friday, with rain changing to snow and significantly lower temperatures coming in this afternoon.

Sure enough it was noticeably colder with a wicked wind when I left work at 11:00 AM. After I ate some lunch, I put a blanket on the kitchen table and started today's project: resealing the tile and grout on the kitchen countertop.

So, I took everything on the counter off and put it on the table. Then I thoroughly washed the counter top and backsplash, using a scrub brush and a rough sponge. I rinsed that off about four times to ensure all the soap was gone. I wiped it dry and let it sit and dry further for a couple of hours.

Then I slathered on a TON of grout sealer. I worked it in with a three-inch brush and used the extra to apply it to the backsplash, paying attention in both cases to the grout lines. I let that sit and soak for 15 minutes, and then I used copious amounts of paper towels to wipe the sealer off the tops of the tile (trying to avoid the grout lines, this time).

I let that dry for about three hours. BTW, weather-wise, it was below freezing then and the snow here was still minimal, but the wind was amazing (20-30 MPH, with gust up to 50 MPH).

So, it was 6:00 PM and I was back to work. I washed every damn thing on the table and dried it before it went back on the counter (the toaster oven, the coffee pot, the bread box, the toaster, the French press, etc.). Slowly, but surely, my kitchen came back together.

I finished up about 7:30 PM and was starving! So, I reconfigured the oven for broiling (rack at the highest level) and set up a cookie sheet by covering it with tin foil and installing the now-cleaned rack again.

I peeled a pound of parsnips (that was fun to say) and cut them into rounds. They went into a saucepan with water and kosher salt. Then I took out a rib eye steak (one of the four or five items left from last year's meat purchase) I'd thawed and seasoned it. I rubbed both sides with softened butter (instead of the usual olive oil), put on salt and pepper and then pressed in some dried thyme (mistake - I should have went with house seasoning).

I put the steak on the rack and under the preheated broiler. While it was doing its thing, I drained the parsnips, added some butter and fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and covered it to keep warm.

I broiled the steak for five minutes per side (I'm looking for medium rare here) and then I pulled it out and let it rest for five minutes to redistribute the juices. Speaking of juices, my mouth has been watering for the last half hour or so...

Finally, I plated dinner and went in to see what I'd missed on TV. I watched a part of an old favorite movie, "The Hunt for Red October" until 10:00 PM when I switched over to the season finale of "Top Chef."

The steak was flawlessly done and the parsnips were perfect. My only complaint was that the dried thyme (while giving great flavor) was unpleasantly "crunchy."

I put the plate out on the newly sealed counter to deal with in the morning, locked down the oven and turned it on "clean." I like to do this at night, because the heat thrown off is unnoticeable and helps reduce the time the furnace runs. Then I went to sleep.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Send in the Clowns...

I woke up with the alarm (set to 6:30 AM) on Tuesday. I got dressed in my work clothes and assembled the garbage. I took two bags and some cardboard out to the road in the frosty air.

Back inside, I shaved and showered and got ready for therapy. It took a little longer than I thought to post the Blog (while drinking some coffee) so I had to race to PT. I got there two minutes late.

Maureen checked me out. She mentioned Dr. Pop's suggestion that I have bursitis in my hip that is shooting down my leg. I told her my hip has NEVER hurt, it's just my damn thigh bone.

She said, "Well, I think it's your back!" So, she had me turn around and started rubbing her thumbs on the small of my back. YEOUCH! She said I had a huge knot on the right side at the base of my spine (and, believe me, when she pressed on it, I felt it!) Then she put her hands on my hip bones and had me bend over a few times. She said my right hip bone was significantly higher than my left and when I bend over, my left hip moves much sooner than my right.

We tossed that idea around for a bit. It could be my left leg is shorter than my right from the initial injury and the two knee replacements (my theory) or that I started to walk funny when I had to give up my cane (her theory and probably right, as I never had this damn pain before).

So, first and foremost, came a heating pack. She wired me up and used interferential current around the area as I laid down and let the heat soak in. Afterwards, she showed me some exercises I could do at work and the session was over. Since nobody was using it, she let me do the few shoulder exercises on the big machine that I cannot duplicate at home. I stopped at the front desk (they asked me to) and found that, under our company's new insurance, I now have to pay a co-pay on each therapy treatment (Gee, Merry Christmas to you too, Mr. Scrooge!) Then I headed home.

I did stop at Westborn and picked up a loaf of French bread, two big tomatoes and some lettuce.

Back home, I treated the cats and took a call from Jeremy. I cleaned up the kitchen from last night's dinner and mostly putzed around (I'm not supposed to over-do it today). I had the rest of the Spaghetti alla Carbonara for lunch. I took an hour nap in the afternoon (first time in a long time). When I went out to get the mail, I did coil up some extension cords and hung up the step ladder and my bike (I've given up on cleaning those other gutters this year).

I was checking out the TV schedule for tonight when I came across "Sinatra at Carnegie Hall" (from 1980) on the PBS station at 8:00 PM. So, I made my dinner and then settled in for an hour and a half of my kind of music.

I sliced up some of the French bread and toasted it. I should give a shout out to "Breadsmith," a local Livonia bakery who makes this and many others of my favorite artesian breads I buy at Westborn.

I sliced a tomato, stripped off some of the lettuce leaves and heated two strips of thick-sliced bacon in the microwave (I like warm bacon on my BLTs). I added some mayo, assembled the ingredients (salting as I went), cut the sandwich diagonally and went in to watch the show.

A few observations: I loved it when someone handed him a Jack Daniels and he lit a cigarette before singing the next song (smoking it throughout the song). It reminded me of the old Dean Martin TV show, where he drank and smoked while performing. God, I miss those politically incorrect times!

And, I think it was his phrasing and timing that made him great, not necessarily his voice. They did say he was the only singer ever to have an album in the top ten for seven decades!

Also, for some reason, I kept thinking of my old neighbor, now deceased, John Plesz. He played sax and did a lot of those old tunes.

Finally, I thought Sinatra's rendition of "Send in the Clowns" was damn near perfect! I actually clapped at the end (scaring the crap out of Scruffy!)

Finally, since it was PBS, I had time during one of their pitches for donations to make another BLT! Nice!!

Speaking of pitches, am I the only one who's bothered that Wikepedia is now soliciting donations? WTF?

I went to bed at 10:30 PM. When I woke up a midnight for a bathroom break I was amazed when I looked outside. Other than deep under the trees, my entire lawn was covered with white snow!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finally, a Good Dinner!

So, back to work on Monday... I was at a staff meeting in a conference room with windows about 10:00 AM when somebody remarked it was snowing. It was a very light snow and just melted when it hit the ground. But, when I drove back to work after lunch, I had to turn on my windshield wipers.

When I got back, I got a hot assignment. I needed to provide a tricky quote by the end of the day, if possible. I got it done by 4:00 PM and, I must say, it did make the afternoon fly by.

Driving home, the snow had ceased and the roads were dry.

I decided I needed to make the dinner I kept postponing all weekend (or else throw away a pound and a half of thick cut bacon). I'm making Spaghetti alla Carbonara (I've made Pasta alla Carbonara, but this is a Tyler Florence recipe I'd wanted to try for a while now).

So, I put a big pot of salted water to boil. I cut 1/4 pound of the bacon into lardons (about 1/3 inches wide strips) and put them into the skillet to render down. Note: You can also use thin-sliced bacon or even the more traditional pancetta. I just happen to have the thick sliced stuff. Meanwhile, I mixed two eggs with one cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

I cooked the rest of the bacon in the oven for use at another time on a rack in a tinfoil covered sheet pan; 400 degrees F. for approximately 15 minutes (thin-sliced) up to 25 minutes (thick-sliced). I cover mine with fresh black pepper, first, BTW.

I minced four cloves of garlic and set that aside while I got the spaghetti in the boiling water. Also note: timing here is very important. The pasta must be hot enough when adding the egg mixture, so the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs to make the sauce.

About one minute before draining the pasta, I added the garlic to the bacon fat and let it saut�. When draining the pasta, I reserved about two cups of the pasta water. This is also important, because you must use it to thin the sauce to the right consistency.

I added the spaghetti to the saut� pan and tossed it about two minutes, to ensure each strand is coated. I removed the pan from the heat (also important or you end up with scrambled eggs) and added the egg and cheese mixture. I mixed it quickly to disperse it (and not scramble the eggs) and then added some of the reserved water (this time I used about 3/4 cup of pasta water to get the right consistency). I seasoned it with fresh ground pepper and some chopped flat leaf parsley and then plated it.

I topped it with some fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and took it in the bedroom to relax. It looked and smelled so good I opened a bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon (2007) to accompany it.

It was fantastic!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Clean Sweep

I awoke Sunday morning around 6:00 AM. I posted the Blog Entry and made some coffee. Since I had such a nice time Saturday morning, I decided to repeat the experience. So, I grabbed a blanket and lay on the couch, drinking coffee and listening to "Sunday Morning, Over Easy." But, this time I got even more comfortable by turning on the fireplace. I stayed there, watching the sky lighten until the sun finally rose.

Then it was time to go to work. I took my shower and started cleaning the house. I worked steadily at it, stopping around noon for some food (crackers and cheese) that I ate watching a cooking show.

I had all the floors washed, the sinks and toilets cleaned, the wood floors swept, carpet vacuumed, etc. The only thing left to do was to dry mop the wood floors (sweeping doesn't really get rid of cat hair). But, my daughter Melissa called (it was about 3:30 PM).

This time we mostly talked about office Christmas parties and the problems working in a very small office that still has all of the big corporation office politics going on.

I just set the phone down when it rang again. It was a friend and we talked for a considerably shorter time! When we hung up; I checked the time to see if I could still make my planned dinner. Nope! So, I saut�ed some fine diced onions and then added a can of roast beef hash.

I ate that watching my Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

FYI

It's hard to imagine, but yesterday would have been my sister Anne's 59th birthday.

I still miss her...

Saturday, Getting It Done

I got up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. Finally, a good night's sleep!

I started the weekend wash after putting on a fresh pot of coffee. Since I didn't do the mid-week wash, I have three loads to do today. I was lying on the couch, drinking coffee and listing to "Saturday Morning, Over Easy" when a thought occurred to me: how the hell did they make cove ceilings, back in the old days?

Now, my house was built back in the 50's and is wet plaster, not drywall. So, did they curve the lath strips and then plaster them, or did they just use a ton of plaster and shape that? I dunno...

Another random thought (couches are good for that): I've seen a lot of little planes pulling banners in my time. But, I've never actually seen a sky-writing plane. When did they stop doing that?

I hung up the first batch of laundry, transferred the second to the dryer and then took my shower. After I got dressed, I washed the third load (my bathrobe, the bath towel and the bath mat from the downstairs bathroom)

I did a little straightening up in between making the bed and hanging or folding laundry. Then at 5:30 PM I started watching the movie "The Rock" starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage. When that was over, I made my dinner: tuna and peas served on egg noodles.

I went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wanker! My second remembrance......

BTW, Jake reminded me of this; apparently its one of his favorite memories.

For some reason, I had to meet with a international software company (I think maybe they converted training programs to CD's or something). I was all dressed up in my best suit. I was feeling cool. During the meeting four of the five people left the conference room to get something and left me alone with a very attractive English woman.

Now the week before, Jake had convinced me to watch "Train Spotting" (an English film. If you've seen it you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, don't!)

Anyway, to make small talk, I mentioned watching the film and said to her, "The one thing I didn't understand was why everyone called each other a "wanker." What does that mean?"

She blushed a deep red and then finally said, "Well, that means somebody who masturbates."

That was the end of our small talk.

Comfortably Numb, a Remembrance...

Lyrics from Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb"

"When I was a child I had a fever,
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am."

This brings back a memory...

I was just 20 years old when something weird happened. I couldn't breathe when I lay down. After spending a week or two sleeping sitting up in bed, I finally consented to my wife Fran's entries and went to the emergency room. BTW, she was nine plus months pregnant with my daughter Melissa.

I was immediately rushed to the Intensive Care unit. Now, back in those days, this was just one big room with like 20 beds in it and one nursing station. The only thing separating you from your neighbors was the curtains and they were only drawn when they were doing something to you. So, it was like a coed dorm.

The diagnosis was pericarditis (an inflammation of the heart sack, which then squeezes the heart) and, at that time, there was no cure. You either got better or you died.

Now, I may have mentioned I have shitty veins. So, in their first attempt to give me an IV, they missed and my left hand swelled up like a balloon (hence the memory). So, later that day, they put it in my right hand. Nope, now my right hand was now also a balloon! In the nurses defense, as I said they have like 20 dying people to watch over. So I understand.

Be that as it may, they came back and said, "Damn! We'll have to put it in his foot!"

That was the only time ever I cried in a hospital (not even six year's later when I signed the paper to allow them to amputate my left leg). I begged and pleaded with them not to put it in my foot and they finally relented. They used a baby's IV needle and finally got it in one of my veins in my arm.

So, I know that feeling...

Sidebar #1: It was during that 14 day stay in Intensive care when my daughter Melissa was born and I first saw her.

Sidebar #2: When I first got there, they explained that if anything went wrong, they would call a "Code Blue" and a special team would rush in and save me. Well, the first night I was there, my next door neighbor flat-lined and, sure enough, the special team rushed and hit him with the electric paddles (I forget what's that's called). They didn't have the time to close the curtain, so I watched it all. Unlike what they show on TV, his body actually jumped off the bed. They did that about three or four times, then the doctor announced the time of death. Then they closed the curtain. That was the last time I ever really trusted a doctor...

Sidebar #3: That's why anytime on a TV show they show them using those paddles, I have to turn off the TV and take deep breaths...

Sidebar #4: I spent a total of 89 days in the hospital for that.

TGIF, again!

It was cold when I woke up on Friday. When I went home at lunchtime, it was sunny, but felt even colder (if that makes any sense).

Before I came inside after work, I did rig up a timer and extension cord for the wreath. So, now all the Christmas decoration, inside and out, are done.

My daughter Melissa called and again we talked for a long, long time. I was recently reminded that I always say that, but never exactly what we talk about. Well, some of it is just private Father/Daughter stuff, but most of it is the usual: Kids, grandkids, work, funny things that happened, sad things that happened, work around the house, the weather and so on.

It was late when we finally said our goodbyes, so instead of cooking something for dinner, I made a big salad with ranch dressing. I ate that watching TV and then went to bed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thursday

I slept lousy last night (my leg was killing me). I woke up almost every hour and finally got up at 5:00 AM Thursday morning.

I was afraid to make coffee as I'd taken a pain pill in the middle of the night and my stomach was upset.

I cleaned up the kitchen mess (from yesterday's baking). Then I showered and got dressed.

I lay back down and watched the local news and then the Today show, hoping to fall back asleep. That didn't work, so I got back up, determined to finish the Christmas decorations today.

I had gotten everything down over the Thanksgiving weekend and really wanted to go back to using my big tree this year. But, the bottom string of lights weren't working. I tried everything, even taking each bulb out and putting them back. Nothing!

Disgusted, I hauled the damn thing back upstairs (not an easy task) and got down the little one. I changed around some decorations so the coffee table wouldn't look so bare, hooked the tree and the glass block up to a timer and set the timer to go on at 5:30 PM and off at 11:00.

We'll see how it looks tonight when it's dark. Finally, I carried the two big tubs of decorations back upstairs (not easy, either).

Somewhere in the middle of all that Lu called. She was just leaving Florida and entering Georgia. She had spent a week visiting her step-mother for Thanksgiving. We talked awhile, comparing our respective holidays, Thanksgiving dinners, my leg, her soap, etc.

Anyway, I finished with the decorations (I hope!) around 11:30 AM. I was really hungry, but still feared my queasy stomach. So, I settled for the mildest thing I could think of, egg noodles and butter. After I ate, I was in the kitchen cleaning up at the kitchen and looked out the window. I noticed the bird feeder rope was broken and it was lying on the ground (again). I am now wondering if the squirrels chew through it.

So, I put on my heavy coat and went to fetch it. I took it into the house and then the garage, cut off the old knots and rethreaded new rope. I tied the knots and took it out back. I refilled it and hung it back up.

Since I already had my coat on, I went back into the garage and got out the snowplow markers (I've been meaning to put them in before the ground freezes). I got them stuck in the dirt, walked out to the mailbox and got today's mail (nothing special).

Back in the warmth, I hung up my coat and then hung out, watching some TV still trying to catch a nap (I'm really dragging it today). I checked at 5:30 PM and, yes, the Christmas lights did come on. Whew! But, that reminded me, I still need another timer and to hook up the outdoor wreath.

I had breakfast for dinner, still babying my tummy. I made some scrambled eggs and oat-nut toast.

I watched TV until 11:00 PM and then went to sleep (hopefully!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thought for the Day

(Thanks, Melissa!)

Fact of Life:

After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says W T F!!

photo

Second Bread Attempt

Another Wet Wednesday

I woke up and went to work on Wednesday. I put in my four hours and then headed home again.

I went back to making that bread. I kneaded it and put it on top of the greased parchment paper in my 12-inch skillet. I covered it lightly with cling wrap and set the time for two hours.

I went back to check on it and - nothing! Dammit! I mentioned to Jake how annoyed I was that once again the bread didn't rise. He asked me where I had it and I said on top of the stove. He suggested that since my furnace automatically turns down to 66 degree F. during the day, maybe I should put a pan of boiling water on the low rack in the oven, turn the oven on warm and then stick the bread on the high rack. Sounded logical, so I did.

In two more hours, the dough had indeed doubled. So, I heated the Dutch oven in a 500 degree oven, dropped the dough and the parchment paper in it, put the lid on and turned the heat down to 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Then I took the lid off and baked it another 20 minutes. I never got the instant read thermometer to register 210 degrees, but it started to burn on the bottom around 208, so I took it out.

This one looks much better, (see Photos), but I fear I will have to cut off the bottom crust to eat it.

It started to rain around 4:00 PM, just about the time I walked out to get the mail (Good timing, John!)

I heated up some frozen tortellini's for dinner and watched TV from 8:00 PM to 11:30.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And, now it's December...

I woke up at 4:00 AM on Tuesday, December 1. I guess I went to bed too early last night. I tried falling back asleep, but finally gave it up and got dressed to take the garbage out. You may have noticed this is a big event in my life right now (sigh).

After assembling the real garbage, I emptied the kitty litter pan and then refilled it. I remarked to myself that the full moon threw a beautiful light through my east windows. It was not so beautiful trudging out in 33 degrees F. with three bags of garbage, though.

I ground up some coffee beans and made a pot. While that was getting ready, I laid back on the bed and read the food magazine I got in yesterday's mail. I dozed off (of course) and woke up for real at 10:30 AM.

I still want to make some homemade bread, so I redid my mixture using "fast rising" yeast. It now has to sit for 8-18 hours.

I shaved and showered and then dressed for my evaluation at the Rehab place. I had some difficulty with the change (as of today) with my insurance. She never did get through to see if I owe a co-pay (I didn't before), but we agreed to decide that on my next visit.

The therapist put me through hell and decided I need at least three or four weeks of therapy, so here we go again...

I cooked a frozen pizza for dinner, after adding some red pepper flakes and more mozzarella cheese. I ate about half of it watching the new Celtic Woman show on PBS. I was ticked because, according to the TV listing it ended at 10:00 PM, so my recorder shut off. But, it really lasted until 11:00 PM, so I missed taping a whole hour of the show!

I went to bed disgusted and then had the weirdest dream.

I dreamt I was a knight and living in New Haven, Michigan. I rode my horse to the local gas station and, after removing all my armor and weapons, donned a hooded cloak and borrowed an old horse to do some spying with my Captain for tomorrow's battle.

I got back to my farmhouse and was just getting ready to go to sleep when it dawned on me I'd left all my weapons, my armor and my good horse at the gas station! I woke up in a panic at 4:00 AM, here in Redford. It took a long time to calm down and go back to sleep...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Caley and the Whisk

As I think I said before (but I will say it again as I think its very clever),"Nature abhors a vacuum and so do my cats!" So, when I pull out the vacuum, while Scruffy slowly trudges away (he has his pride, after all), Caley runs like a frightened schoolgirl.

But, here's the weird thing. Whenever I get out my whisk, Caley freaks! I doubt her previous owners beat her with one, but at the sight of it, she runs and hides. I inevitably find her crouching behind some piece of furniture a couple hours later, still shaking in fear...

November's End...

I woke up (reluctantly) to the alarm on Monday morning. I shaved, showered and drank the last of the coffee watching the news. Then I headed out to work, bearing all this year's Christmas cards (I think I forgot to mention that I filled them all out this weekend - I always do over the Thanksgiving holiday).

Speaking of the Christmas cards, I must mention that I was talking with a friend and remarked on how impersonal it's gotten with the computer. Everything's a sticker; outside of writing "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" and signing it either "Love, Dad," "Brother John," "Uncle John," "John," or in the singular case of my old neighbor, Sue, "John in the front," (Its an old joke), the rest seems so impersonal.

He suggested I write a personal note to each recipient (I have friends who do that - my old friend Connie, Chrisse Campbell up in Alaska, Kim and Leon). So, I tried that for the first two or three cards. But with the after-effects of my shoulder operation (I think I mentioned I cannot hold a two-pound dumbbell at shoulder height without violently shaking) that didn't work so good...

My handwriting seems like its getting even worse. So, those of you who get my cards and wonder what the hell "Hopqy Halidoys" means, I apologize in advance. It's just not working for me this year... I tried...

At lunch I did my two-week grocery shopping at Kroger ($41.82) but bear in mind I have a full freezer of beef, a couple turkey breasts, homemade frozen pasta sauce, frozen soups, pork, chicken and a full four shelves of canned goods. I am in "siege mode" here! They may take my house and car, but I will not starve!

I refilled the suet cages and the bird feeder. Then I went back to work.

Back at home at 5:30 PM, I checked the mail ("stupid," "stupid," "interesting," "stupid," etc... and treated the cats. I briefly ran the last load of laundry through the dryer again, so I could more easily fold it.

I got a call from my friend B___ who was making tonight's dinner, split pea with ham soup. He lamented that he didn't think there was enough ham. So, I related to him the last time I made that soup for my Mother. I, too, had used a sparse ham bone and the little bit of scraps of ham left didn't seem near enough, so I bought a "ham steak." I cut that into 1/4-inch cubes and added that to the soup.

My Mom's reaction? She said, "This tasted fantastic, but I have to tell you, there's WAY too much ham in this soup." Our parents really made soup with just the damn leftovers and loved it!

Speaking of leftovers, I ate them for dinner and then cleaned out the fridge for garbage day tomorrow. Again, I must relate, cooking for "one" is damn near impossible and then throwing away leftovers embarrasses me, when there are so many people who could have used the food...

I watched some TV, but turned in early.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday (all day) Over Easy...

I woke up just after 7:00 AM on Sunday. I turned on the radio (Sunday Morning Over Easy) and made a fresh pot of coffee. Then I posted the Blog entry (it's hard to write when you didn't really "do" anything...)

At 9:00 AM, I had an incredible urge to smoke a cigarette. So, I dug out my year-old pack of stale Pall Malls and lit one up with a cup of coffee, sitting on the couch. Now, normally I would have smoked out on the porch (I do this two or three times a year). But, the temperature was right at freezing and frost covered everything. So, I stunk up the house, instead...

I stripped the bedding and started the Sunday wash. I got a few more items checked off the ToDo list, but my heart wasn't really in it. It was dreary and rained off and on most of the day. I did manage to get the holiday decorations down from the attic. I hung up the sled and Father Christmas out on the front porch.

I read a lot on the couch after making and eating a turkey sandwich for lunch. I had just enough turkey left to heat up (with the rest of the other leftovers) for Sunday dinner. At 7:00 PM, I started warming up the food. So, I had Thanksgiving Dinner all over again and, you know, I was pretty thankful. It still tasted great!

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and then turned on a Lewis Black special I'd taped about surviving the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year's. It had a ton of other comedians, as well, and was pretty funny. I watched that until 11:30 PM and then went to sleep.

It had been a nice four-day weekend!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Morning, over Easy

[I first heard this song in a smoky lounge in a Mt. Clemens hotel in 1974. It was played by a husband and wife team with a back-up band. The wife sang the lyrics and beat time with a tambourine while her husband played an acoustic guitar. I didn't know at the time this was a Bernie Taupin/Elton John song. But, I still can recall her haunting voice...

And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City
Until you've seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge while people run you through
And I thank the Lord there's people out there like you
I thank the Lord there's people out there like you

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can't and that is why
They know not if it's dark outside or light

This Broadway's got
It's got a lot of songs to sing
If I knew the tunes I might join in
I'll go my way alone
Grow my own, my own seeds shall be sown in New York City
Subway's no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found

[repeat chorus]

And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City
Subway's no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found

[repeat chorus]

Ummm... Blue, no Purple Saturday!

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. Hmmm... if yesterday was Black Friday, what color is today?

I wrote and then posted the Blog entry. Next I wrote out the ToDo list for the remainder of this weekend. I shaved and showered, then left to get my hair cut.

I was back home by 10:00 AM. I looked long and hard at that ToDo list but I decided to watch a few of my Saturday morning cooking shows, instead. I made myself a turkey sandwich for brunch (Damn that smoked turkey tastes wonderful!)

My daughter Melissa called around 2:00 PM and we talked and talked (Mom was right!) When we finally hung up, I looked at the ToDo list again but after that sitting on the couch and having a drink or two (or was it five?) I was NOT inspired to work. Instead, I went to my Grandmother's barrister bookcase and got out a beloved old book. It's called "Scouting on Two Continents," written by Major Frederick Russell Burnham, published in 1926 and was given to me some twenty or thirty years ago by my Mother.

It details his life as a scout, both in the American Southwest and then in the wars in Africa. I found it fascinating as a kid and still do today. I made myself another turkey sandwich and headed to bed to do some serious reading.

Eventually I fell asleep. I woke up after 8:00 PM. I turned on the computer and had an email from Jake (no message, just the subject line: "Your meat's in the freezer!") I checked and it was! Caley also thought it was important to run into the garage. I tried for several embarrassing attempts to get her and then said, "Screw you, B*tch!! You want to be in the garage, you can just stay in the garage!"

Anyway, I want to thank Jake and Carla for dropping off this year's beef. I apologize for being asleep (blame it on your sister Melissa). I hope the Halls are doing well. I do have some friends and neighbors here, but nothing like I had back in St. Clair.

Oh yeah, back to Caley...

I let her meow piteously for a while and then finally relented and opened the garage door. She shot back into the house, jumped on the bed and stayed there the rest of the night.

Me? I made another turkey sandwich, with two more pepperoncini and read my book until I fell asleep for the night (at page 163). That makes like five sandwiches so far! Did I mention Jake was very generous with his leftovers?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday

I woke up on Friday morning at the usual time, not necessarily bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I posted the Blog entry and then went back to bed. I woke up for real at 10:30 AM. I checked my outside thermometer and it was 35 degrees F. (with a pretty strong wind); Nothing that inspired me to get outdoors!

So, instead, I warmed up some of yesterday's coffee and ate the pumpkin cheesecake for breakfast. OMG! Yumo!! Now I wish I hadn't fallen asleep so I could have eaten a piece last night! It tasted like pumpkin pie, only much, much lighter.

I had to run out and buy some more postage stamps, so I stopped at a nearby little market and paid too much for some Miracle Whip and white bread. Why Miracle Whip when I only use Hellmann's Mayonnaise? It's probably something from my childhood, but a turkey sandwich never tastes "right" unless it's on white bread with Miracle Whip and lots of salt.

Back home, I made a sandwich and added a couple of pepperoncini to the plate. It tasted so damn good I made another one and used the last two pepperoncini. So, displaying a huge amount of inner strength, I put off eating the next sandwich until I opened a fresh jar of pepperoncini, took out two and replaced them with three cloves of garlic and added some Italian herbs. I screwed the lid on tight, shook up the jar and put it in the fridge to get cold. Then, and only then, did I eat the second sandwich!

I watched TV off and on while doing chores. There was a "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" marathon on the Food Network. I watched that until 7:30 PM, when I switched to an uncut version of the "Ninth Gate," one of my favorite Johnny Depp movies. Then I switched back to the Food Network until bedtime.