Sunday, May 31, 2009

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The marigolds in the mailbox planter

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The tree box

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The Gerbera daisies

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One of the four hanging baskets

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This year's urn planting

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Planter that sits on the porch rail

Saturday's Story

I awoke at 6:30 AM on Saturday. It was cloudy outside and rather chilly. But, it's supposed to get up to 70 degrees with just a chance of isolated thunderstorms.

I put on a pot of coffee, posted the Blog and double-checked the grocery list (I found two additional items I missed last night). Then I shaved and showered.

I left at 9:15 AM for a haircut. After that, I hit the Feed Store for bird seed and more suet cakes. Next I went to Gordon Food Services (or GFS) for two bags of lump charcoal. Finally, I drove to Kroger's for my main grocery shopping.

I got home around 11:15 AM and started unpacking the car (after giving the insistent cats a treat). I put everything away and checked the turkey breast I'd taken out last night to thaw. It's still a little frozen, (it's a big, seven pound bad-boy), but I think it will thaw the rest of the way in the fridge, so I put it there. I'm gonna give it a Honey Glaze and smoke it tomorrow for my Sunday supper.

I took a package of frozen shrimp out of the chest freezer to thaw for tonight's dinner while I was at it. I put away the new dozen eggs and took out the old. Now, I know the charts say raw eggs will keep in a refrigerator for three to five weeks, but I switch them out every two weeks. Whatever is left of the older ones, I hard boil (today there were eight of them).

So, I filled my saucepan with cold water, and the eggs, brought them to a rolling boil, took them off the heat and let them sit for 12 minutes. Then I drained them and covered them with cold water. After they cooled a bit, I took them out to cool further sitting on my metal dish rack.

Since I was in the kitchen anyway, I emptied the dishwasher while waiting on the eggs.

Sidebar: I forgot to tell you this yesterday, but I did contact St. Mary's Mercy Hospital nearby (I've been there before and like it. Plus, I've always had good luck at Catholic hospitals, lol!) I asked for a name of a general surgeon who performed colonoscopies (Dr. Pop said I didn't need an oncologist). They said they had an excellent doctor, but would have to spell his name, as they had no way to pronounce it. He is Dr. Mowafak Asbahi (I assume that's Polish?), so I called my doctor's office back and spelled his name to them and gave them the phone number. So, I am waiting to hear when this wonderful test will be along with my "open" MRI.

But, back to today, I finally got outside at 1:00 PM. First, I went out back and filled the bird feeder and suet cage. I also tore up and spread the last of my old bread and buns.

Then I went out front and watered all the container gardens. I grabbed the camera and took pictures of them for my Mom. You will notice that I went with a deep purple "wave" petunia this year instead of my usual reds and pinks. After I did that, I pulled all the blossoms off. It looks like crap, but will help the plants to grow and they will blossom again, later.

Then I got out the 100-foot extension cord and the line trimmer and trimmed out the front yard (it needs cutting again - damn rain!) Since I had the cord out anyway, I switched the line trimmer for the blower and blew the maple seeds and cottonwood fuzzies off the porch and garage apron. Then I proceeded to go down the driveway and cleared that off, too.

Next I blew off the front garden (also loaded with maple seeds and fuzzies). Then I put away the blower and coiled up the extension cord.

I went and got the mail and found some recipes from my brother Joe. He and his wife Kathy are on another cruise, so he sent them to Mom, who gave them to Carl, who mailed them to me! Thanks!

I warmed up two hot dogs for my breakfast/lunch/early dinner. While they were heating up, I chopped up a small yellow onion. I topped the two hotdogs in their buns with yellow mustard and chopped onions and ate them watching a taped Food Network show.

Back outside, I started working on the front garden. Now, the north-side of the front entry has always been a problem. Other than the first morning sun, it's always in full shade. So, every year, I've planted it with Impatiens and every year, they've done poorly. So, last fall, I planted two hostas there (on either side of the gutter downspout) and transplanted some of the vinca that has been so successful on the south side of the garage as a ground cover.

So, today, I weeded that area (I have a LOT off grass in this garden for some reason) and then worked up the soil. Then I went out back and got some of my free mulch in the wheelbarrow. It actually took four wheelbarrow loads, but I mulched it all. I'll top it with the cedar chips I normally use out front tomorrow, so it all looks the same.

BTW, I think I may have complained in this Blog before about the amount of long pine needles in the mulch I got. Well, my friend B___ told me that that's supposed to be the best kind of mulch, as the pine needles help keep the mulch loose and prevents it from compacting. So, I stand corrected.

I went back inside for a bathroom break and saw it was 7:30 PM! So, I put everything away and closed the garage door for the night.

Once everything was buttoned up, I started making dinner. I am making Shrimp Scampi with Linguine, BTW. I shelled and cleaned the shrimp I'd thawed. These were 30-40 sized shrimp, BTW - a little smaller than I usually get, but I suppose they were on sale or something. When I had them peeled and de-veined, I got out my 12-inch saute pan (I also pulled off the tails. I know a lot of recipes and chefs say to leave them on for "presentation," but I hate having to deal with them when I'm trying to eat!)

I put in two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Meanwhile, I filled my pasta pot with water and turned it on high.

To the saute pan, I added two shallots, finely diced, four cloves of garlic, minced, and a good pinch or red pepper flakes. I cooked them until the shallots were translucent (about three to four minutes). I seasoned the shrimp with salt and pepper and added them to the pan. I cooked them until they were pink (about two to three minutes). Then I pulled them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl to keep warm (I put the bowl in the microwave, as always - I think that's the perfect place to keep something warm).

The pasta water was at a rolling boil, so I added salt and a pound of linguine. I cooked that until it was al dente (about seven minutes).

I added 1/4 cup of white wine and the juice of one lemon to my saute pan and brought it to a boil. Then I added another two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. Once the butter had melted, I returned the shrimp to the pan and added the cooked pasta. I tossed it all about, using my tongs and then plated some. I topped it with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

I took my plate of food and wandered into the bedroom to watch some TV before going to bed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friday, Finally

My God! What is that bright round thing in the sky? Oh, I remember now, it's called the sun! So dawned Friday morning... Okay, I confess, it's supposed to cloud up in the afternoon and there's a 30% chance of thunderstorms, but right now, it's glorious!

At lunch, I stopped at Westborn, for next week's veggies. While I usually have some sort of rough idea of the following week's menus, today I did not. So, I know I still have apples and lemons aplenty, and my celery, lettuce, carrots and parsnips are all still good. So, I got some fresh, flat leaf parsley, a container of Brussels sprouts, a huge bunch of beautiful radishes (not sure just what I'll do with these, but they spoke to me!), a pound of button mushrooms and six ears of Florida bi-colored sweet corn. It cost me $18 and change.

When I was home, I cut off the silk on the sweet corn and any long stems and then put them in my medium stock pot, covered with cold water. Then I ate a bite for lunch.

At 5:00 PM, I headed home, banging on that drum! It's now cloudy and very windy. And, the wind is ushering in my biggest nemesis: The cottonwood seeds!

Now my neighbor to the north has cut down his two huge cottonwoods. But my absentee neighbor to the south has one huge cotton wood tree out in the back. I hate these bastards! The fluffy seeds are everywhere, clogging up my air conditioner screens and making my roof look like it snowed! This is the tree my north neighbor has threatened to girdle, BTW (Apparently, the seeds clog up his pool filter).

I checked my email and instant messaging and then moved on to create my grocery list. Then I made the ToDo list: Groan, it filled every slot! I may not live through this weekend!

But, I dragged out the grille and lit a wad of newspaper under the charcoal lighter chimney. Then I took the two remaining flats of flowers and veggies, along with the four extra plants and set them on the back patio. I sprayed them down with a gentle mist and have resolved that they will stay out here until they get planted! I think they need the sunlight!!

Back inside, I divided my ground chuck into two pounds (the other pound went into the freezer). After a little bit of trouble, I created eight quarter-pound burgers. I seasoned one side with Montreal Steak Seasoning, and the other with just salt and fresh ground pepper. I'm getting tired of the house seasoning on my burgers, you see.

I cleaned the grates and put on the sweet corn. When the husks were all burnt, I put them on the cool side of the grille. Then I put on the burgers. I deliberately undercooked them because they are for the following week and when you microwave them to heat them; you cook them a little more. So, to get them medium-rare when you want to eat them, you have to grille them rare. I also grilled some hot dogs and a package of brats.

I left the grille outside and shut everything up. It was already after 8:00 PM, so I fixed myself two hot dogs and two ears of corn for my dinner. Then I watched TV until bedtime.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"On the road again..."

It was Thursday and a big day for me! Today was my semi-annual doctor's checkup (you might remember me getting my blood drawn last week).

So, when I left for lunch, I reminded everyone I wouldn't be coming back. At home, I had a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch and then prepared to leave.

I left at 12:30 PM. Now, I know I don't need to be at the doctor until 2:15, but my plan was to stop at Mom's for a half hour on the way there. But, Fate (in the form of rain) intervened. Instead of the usual 70+ MPH, the constant sprinkling and occasional downpours kept everyone driving between 50-60 MPH.

By the time I got to Mom's exit, it was already doubtful I'd get to the doctor's on time. So, I kept on going. Sorry, mom!

I got to the office with five minutes to spare. I got right in, BTW. All the blood work results were perfect! Good and bad cholesterol, my blood sugar, my PSA, etc., were all excellent.

Only problem is my right shoulder. She agreed with Dr. Hanlon (my orthopedic surgeon) that, if the problem was arthritis or bursitis, the cortisone should have eliminated the pain. Since it hasn't, she wrote me a script for an MRI.

She also finally talked me into getting a colonoscopy (damn Austrian women and their ways!) I have to provide her with a name of a doctor who works in the hospital down by me so they can schedule that.

I was out of there at 3:15 PM (the start of rush hour traffic), and I hit the road. I did run into a bit of stop-and-go traffic in downtown Detroit. But, there was no rain, so I got home at 4:20 PM.

It was way too wet to work outside (dammit!) so I putzed around the house until I was hungry. Then I warmed up the last of the ribs. I made two small russet potatoes into "baked" potatoes in the microwave for my side dish. I went out on the patio and got some chives. After adding a dollop of sour cream to the split potatoes, I topped them with snipped chives (I just use a pair of scissors), salt and pepper.

I took everything into the bedroom and watched the various Food Network shows they are showing this week about grilling until I went to sleep.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wet Wedesday

There was a lull in the rain when I went to work on Wednesday, although it came down hard again during the morning.

I lucked out at lunch, too, so I popped into Meijer's and picked up some Swiss cheese, deli ham, hoagie rolls and pickles for tonight's dinner. I stole Jake's idea and will use some of my pulled pork leftovers to make Cuban sandwiches.

Since I was there anyway, I went to Home Depot, too. I got three bags of mulch and two plants for the urn: "Artist Blue" Ageratum hybrid.

I took out the plants and just left the mulch in my trunk. Then I warmed up some of the ribs for lunch. Delicious, but messy. I had to wash my face and hands before going back to work!

It rained again in the afternoon, so I knew it would be too wet to work outside tonight. I did plant the two flowers in the urn, though. I also filled the bird feeder and the suet cage. I checked the rain gauge and it had almost one inch of rain in it!

Inside, I decided to address a chore I've been letting slide with all the outside activity: cleaning the house. So, for the next two hours, I did everything I normally do (but haven't) except for washing the floors and sinks.

By then I was getting hungry, so I got out my little George Forman grille (I use it now as a Panini press). I put yellow mustard on both insides of the hoagie roll and added a layer of pickles on the bottom. Next came the pulled pork, some ham and finally the Swiss cheese.

When the grill was hot, I buttered the outside of the hoagie roll and put it in the grille. I kept pressing it down until the cheese melted. It was golden brown and about one inch thick.

I went in and ate dinner watching TV. It was excellent, BTW. In fact after a couple hours, I made another one!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Could this be the answer to the mysterious missing

According to Scientific American, incidents involving bears are rapidly increasing.

The scientists reported that in the last 30 years, the number of problem bears killed in Alaska have almost doubled, and the number of complaints in Nevada have gone from almost nothing to 1,500 per year, according to the Associated Press.

Here's the part I thought was interesting: It's also about bird seed. "Bears are like drug addicts," Hank Hristienko of the conservation agency in Manitoba, Canada told the AP, "Once it gets hooked on sunflower seeds...it'll hit six or seven feeders, get 20,000 calories, and be quite happy."

You read that right: bears can eat up to 20,000 calories per day!

So, is that where my bird seed is going? A crack (well, sunflower seed) addict?

P.S. Thanks to Jake for providing this research...

Back to Work Work...

Well, it was back to work on Tuesday morning. At lunchtime, I stopped at Office Depot for some envelopes and the Home Depot for that last trellis board I needed. It was threatening rain, so I wanted to get my extension cords back inside.

Before I did, though, I got out the drill and installed that last board. I took everything back inside and put away the tools and the extension cords.

My luck held, because it still wasn't raining when I got home from work. So, I just changed my shoes, grabbed a jacket (it was only a high of 68 degrees and a little chilly in the wind) and then cut the front lawn. I let it go too long and should probably have raked it, but I didn't.

Still no rain? I started planting the hanging baskets. Then I did the container that sits on the porch railing, the tree box and the big urn. Looks like I'll need a couple more plants for the urn, BTW.

I checked inside (do I have time to get some compost for the raised bed?) But, it was already 8:20 PM and I was hungry. So, I quit for the night after watering the rest of the unplanted plants. It was getting too dark for photos, tonight.

I sliced the Ciabatta roll in half. I put a big handful of the pulled pork and added more of the vinegar sauce (the saucy-sauce) before heating it up in the microwave. Then I built my sandwich. I buttered each side of the roll with some Bullseye barbecue sauce Carla had sent home with me and piled on the pork. I topped that with some coleslaw. Excellent!

I warmed up the last two ears of roasted corn and had them as my sides. It was a very filling, but soul-satisfying dinner. Then I went into watch some TV before going to bed.

I was awakened by a loud boom of thunder. I looked at the clock and it was just after 2:00 AM. This time I did put on my robe and went outside. I sat on the front porch, watching the storm. It was a very gentle rain and the thunder was of the "rolling, rumbling" kind rather than thunderclaps. After about a half hour, I went back inside and back to bed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend, Day 4

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Monday, Memorial Day. I put on a new pot of coffee and went to finish and post the Blog. It's sunny outside and the forecast is for a high of 68 degrees F. Perfect weather to work outside!

I didn't have room in my basket or my car on Friday, so I need to go back to Block's Nursery and get a rose bush or two. So, I shaved and showered and then took off. I got there at 8:40 AM and found a parking space! They don't open until 9:00 AM, you see. So, I sat in the car listening to NPR (National Public Radio, Mom) until I saw people getting out of their vehicles and heading in. So, I did, too.

I went right to the spot where the lady on Friday told me she had found her beautiful rose bushes, but there was nothing there. So, I found one of their "helpers" (distinguished by their green shirts and constantly squawking walkie-talkies) and asked where the roses were. She said, "Oh, I'm sorry, we sold out of the roses on Saturday!"

Dammit!

So, I headed back home, discouraged. I drove 27 miles round trip for nothing...

When I got home, I had to treat the cats. Then I called Luanne to wish them a happy Memorial Day. I just got the recorder, so I left a message. Then I called Carla to tell her I wouldn't be dropping off the roses she asked me to get. I went in the fill in the Blog and the phone rang. It was Lu, and we talked for a while. Stacey and James (Sadie's daughter and son-in-law) are expecting another baby (this time a boy) in September. The goats and their bi-products are still selling well and so forth.

Then she told me something I didn't know (or have even thought about)! She said "You know how you say you have to brush Scruffy now, because he doesn't seem to keep himself as clean as he used to?" I said, "Yes, the lazy bastard!" She said, "No, as cats get older, the rough texture of their tongues wears off, so they can't clean themselves like they used to!"

That explains why Scruffy's tongue feels just a little abrasive, while Caley's feels like sandpaper! Who woulda thunk it? My apologies, Scruffy!

When we said our goodbyes and hung up, it was 10:30 AM and time to get to work!

So, I got out the herbs I bought (two basil plants, six flat-leaf parsley and three rosemary plants). I raked off the old wood chips and then spaded up the area to the depth about eight inches. I got a bucket and an old coffee cup to add the water and then got a bag of fresh wood chips.

I planted all the herbs (dig the hole, fill it with water, insert the plant, drag the nearby soil into the hole, pack it tight and repeat). Then I covered it with fresh wood chips. I swept up the little messes and then got out the hose. Note: I am well pleased to see that the vinca (a ground cover with purple flowers in the spring, that I have growing next to the south-side of the garage and that I had (hopefully and lovingly) transplanted around the reflecting pool has now really taken root. Oh sure, it needs to be weeded this year (I got maples and grass growing in it) but at least one third of the reflecting pool no longer needs mulch!

I watered the hell out of everything and then moved on to the raised bed vegetable garden. When the patio dries out, I will take a photo or two for you. I backed out the trailer and pulled it (and all its contents) back to the raised bed.

Using spacers, I cut out of the remaining four-foot 2 x 4, I secured the two end boards to the sandbox (first with the air gun and then, after drilling a pilot hole, with my drill and deck screws). After leveling, I added the center board and screwed that on. Then I added the four 1 x 2's, starting at the top and moving down every eight inches. I realized (belatedly) I could have used one more 1 x 2. So, I marked where it would go and left the 100 foot extension cord outside (I'll pick that board up tomorrow or the next day).

Then I got the shovel and dug up the entire area. Next I need to dig up and sift some several wheelbarrows full of last year's compost. But, it's already 6:30 PM, I'm tired and I think I'm done for tonight. So, I loaded everything back up and pulled the trailer around the front and into the garage.

I'll be honest, I am disappointed in my work output this extended weekend, but I did my best. I guess I just over-estimated how far I would get.

I took pictures of everything and then went inside to post them. I worked on this while enjoying my nightly cocktail. I had been researching the relationship between sodium (which I love) and potassium (which I don't get enough of).

Now, I have checked this out and, apparently you just have to offset your sodium intake with potassium. Potassium? Number one on the charts is bananas (which I FREAKING HATE!) But, number two was low-sodium V-8 Juice. So, I bought a couple of jugs of it. I now drink eight ounces of it per day. Yeah, that's me, Mr. Healthy.

I got washed up and then started thinking about dinner. "Making" something seemed like a lot of work, so I dished up a salad plate, consisting of the rest of the potato salad, some pasta salad and some of that coleslaw. I wandered in to watch some TV before going to bed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

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The raised bed garden, before.

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The tomato trellis, on Monday night.

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The other iris, out back

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The iris out back, #1

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The reflecting pool

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The other herb garden, before the basil.

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Basil, after.

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Herb garden, before

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The parsley and rosemary, after!

Memorial Day Salute...

...to all our veterans out there!

I know the freedoms I enjoy (and sadly sometimes take for granted) are dearly won by the sacrifices of you, your families and loved ones.

Freedom isn't free, as they say, and that I do not take for granted nor do I forget!

Thank you and God bless!

Memorial Day Weekend, Day 3

I woke up at 6:30 AM, on Sunday. I heated up the last cup of coffee and sat on the couch, watching a gentle rain. It was very pleasant, until I remembered the grille was still sitting outside! So, I went to fetch it (in my robe). Sure enough, it got soaked. Hopefully it will dry out before it rusts!

I washed my hands and changed the bandage on my thumb. I slipped a rubber glove on that hand and started to assemble the baked beans.

So, I drained the water they had been soaking in overnight. Then I rinsed them (they say that cuts down on the "gas" effect, but I've never noticed that to be true). Of course, as you probably all know, you can eliminate the overnight soak by boiling them hard for one minute and then letting them sit for an hour before draining. But, I was going old school.

So, to the drained beans, I added 2/3 cup of chopped red onion, three tablespoons of dark molasses, 1/4 cup ketchup, two tablespoons of yellow, prepared mustard, a good pinch of salt and a splash of Frank's Red Hot sauce (well, maybe more than just a splash - I do like my heat!)

I took five pieces of thick-sliced maple-smoked bacon and cut them lardons-style (maybe 1/4 inch thick) and added them in. Finally I poured in three cups of Labatt's beer (or two cans). I stirred it all, covered it and stuck it in the pre-heated 300 degrees F. oven. In the recipe, you bake it five hours, and then check it. If it's still too wet, you bake it another hour uncovered. But, it's already 7:30 AM, so I think the last hour will be done over at Jake and Carla's.

It's still raining (well, maybe sprinkling is a better description) so my outdoor plans are all on hold. So, I mixed up the pasta salad with the fresh mozzarella, tossed it and filled up my one last remaining Tupperware bowl. I still have about an equal amount in my big stainless steel bowl, BTW. I covered the Tupperware bowl with its lid and the metal bowl with cling wrap. After a taste-test (yummo!) they both went back into the fridge.

I took a shower and got dressed. At 11:30 AM, I put the pasta salad on the front seat of the car and put a thick bath towel on the floor. I took the Dutch oven out of the oven and set it on the bath towel. Then I hit the road.

I was about 15 minutes late, but that was okay as they had been trying to call me to tell me dinner would be later.

Jake had been up until after midnight, smoking a pork shoulder (for the pulled pork sandwiches) and then got up early today to get the spare ribs on. But the spare ribs needed more time, he said. I put my beans in their oven to reheat and cook a little longer.

So, we played Jeopardy on the DVD. I don't remember who won (I just know it wasn't me!) Then we sat outside for a while and visited (nice day, BTW). Every now and then Jake would go mop his ribs and declare they needed more time.

We watched a couple hilarious episodes of Family Guy. Finally, at 5:30 PM, Carla started getting her sides ready. She made a great potato salad (with bacon in it) and really excellent coleslaw (the kind I like where its not soaking in a ton of dressing). Jake cut up some Ciabatta rolls for the pulled pork sandwiches and finally brought in the ribs. We all dug in like we hadn't eaten for weeks!

The pulled pork sandwich was nice and smoky and the vinegar-based sauce was refreshingly different. About halfway through my sandwich, I noticed Jake had added coleslaw inside his (I had forgotten that little touch, but quickly remedied the situation). I put a little Bullseye barbecue sauce on my ribs and the meat just slid off the bones (although Jake still insisted they really needed more time!) In no time at all, we were all stuffed!!

Then Carla started to clean up and put things away. While she was doing that, she was making some leftovers for me to take home. So, I got some of everything and I gave them some beans and the rest of the pasta salad (as I still had more at home). I made my goodbyes and left around 6:45 PM.

When I pulled onto San Jose, the first thing I noticed was all the cars. There were cars up and down the side of the road and four or five parked in the vacant lot next to me. When I pulled in the driveway, I saw in my rear view mirror there were tables set up under the trees in the townhouses and a bunch of people, all dressed "to the nines!" It was probably a graduation party, I decided.

But, that kinda stopped the idea of working on the raised bed trellis (I don't think my table saw would have been a welcome addition to their music). And starting to plant the front yard in my torn workout shorts and T-shirt while they were all in suits and ties seemed just as embarrassing. So, I took my treasures in from the car, treated the cats and put everything away.

I cut a thick piece of vinyl and duct-taped it to the broken window until I can get it replaced. Oh, BTW, I now understand what broke the window. I had a metal caulk gun with a full tube of caulk hanging from the top horizontal bar. Experimenting, I slowly moved it towards the wind and "bingo" it swung right in the middle of the hole! I must have knocked against it when putting the extension cord next to it. The bungie cord falling off at the same time was just a coincidence.

Back inside, I started to fill the Blog in. I got most of it done to date when I noticed it was already 8:10 PM, which meant my Sunday shows were on. Somehow, it's hard to remember it's Sunday when you still have another day off! So, I packed it in and headed for the TV set.

I wasn't really hungry, but I did have a small snack of potato salad at 10:00 PM, LOL!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend, Day 2

I woke up at 7:00 AM on Saturday. I went out and reheated a big cup of coffee and then went in the office to finish the Blog entry. I actually slept quite well last night, but I still feel tired...

I had planned last night on making bacon, eggs and home fries for today's breakfast, but this morning it seemed like way too much work. So, I had another cup of coffee, instead, listening to "Saturday Morning, Over Easy." BTW, Amy, since you said you like to listen to this whenever you are in Michigan, I gotta tell you: You can hear it streaming on the Internet by going to http://www.wcsx.com/.

So, it was after 10:00 AM and I was sitting on the couch, drinking coffee and just listening to the music in my bathrobe when the good old Puritan work ethic guilt finally got to me (dammit!) So, reluctantly, I got up and headed for the shower (shaving is not an option, today).

By 10:30 AM, I was dressed and began working inside the house, straightening and/or cleaning up. By 1:30 PM, I was starting to get hungry, so I cut up some cheddar cheese and added some Triscuits to a paper plate. I took that in the bedroom and snacked, reading my next book (I finished "The Sea Wolf," BTW and, still wanting more maritime adventure, have begun re-reading Moby Dick, by Herman Melville). Hey, call me Ishmael...

Somewhere along the way, I fell asleep. I woke up at 2:30 PM, refreshed. So, I began making a pasta salad (that, along with beer-baked beans will be my contribution to Jake and Carla's cookout, tomorrow).

If you're interested in the recipe, go back to my April 30th post of this year. The only things I changed was to use "radiator" pasta (so-called as each piece looks, well, like a radiator) instead of the usual Rotini Twists. And, instead of the provolone cheese I used last time, I used the original suggestion of fresh mozzarella. I thought I'd jazz it up a bit.

BTW, the A/C kicked on. I turned it on for the first time this year on Thursday, when it was so hot. I know it's a bit early, but, believe me, there is something to be said for coming in all sweaty, after working outside, into a cool house!

I finished that up around four o'clock and went outside to work on the tomato trellis. But first, I blew the thousands of maple seeds off my patio. Then I fished them out of the reflecting pool, added the hose and turned it on low to refresh the water. Next I filled the bird feeder and the suet cage.

Then I dug three holes in the raised bed for the 2 x 4's. I hooked up the 100 foot extension cord and found it was a bit too short. So, I added another 25 footer and I was good to go.

Back inside, I cut the two eight-foot 2 x 4's in half and put three of them in the trailer. I added the air compressor and the big nail gun, the drill motor and some deck screws and hauled it all out back (I love this trailer, man!)

Now, my plan was to use the 2 1/2 inch finish nails (with the air gun) to hold the 2 x 4's in place (I know they are not meant for outside). After leveling, I would use the drill motor to screw in deck screws to hold them in place.

But, there was a problem. The top boards are not flush with the insides (why would they be? It was a sandbox, for Pete's sake!) So, I will have to make some custom-sized spacers out of the remaining pressure treated 2 x 4. Discouraged, I checked the time. It was 7:30 PM, so I loaded the trailer back up and pulled it inside.

I left the 100 foot extension cord outside (shutting off the switch, though) but took the 25 foot one back inside. While hanging it up, one of the bungie cords hanging next to it popped off and broke the garage window! To make things worse, I cut the base of my thumb while picking up the broken glass. Dammit!

Back inside, I had been planning on grilling some hot dogs for dinner. I even rolled the grille out on the garage apron. But now it seemed like way too much trouble. So, instead, I sorted through the dried beans (great Northern), looking for stones (there were none). I put them in the Dutch oven and covered them with about eight cups of cold water.

I fixed a plate of the pasta salad and headed for my bed and book.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

/on sleeplessness/

"Old age is often wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death."

~ Herman Melville - Moby Dick

Memorial Day Weekend, Day 1

It was more the normal May weather on Friday, with the projected high only 71 degrees F. I got up when the alarm went off. Why set the alarm on my day off? I've got a lot to do today (and miles to go before I sleep...)

So, after making a pot of coffee and drinking a big cup, I shaved and hit the shower. Since both cats were off the bed (a rarity on most Saturdays), I stripped it and put the bedding in the wash machine.

I double-checked my lists (and my wallet) and began by heading to Home Depot. Why not try and get to Blocks Nursery early, you might ask? Because I know from several years' first-hand experience, getting there early doesn't help. In fact, the parking lot is full about a half hour before they even open, with people fighting for carts and baskets.

So, I got the wood I needed for the trellis, some more nails for the air gun and three packs of seeds (snap peas, leaf lettuce and radishes). It took a long time to pick out just 6 pieces of wood. Whatever they do to pressure treat wood seems to warp the hell out of it! I left there and went to Westborn to pick up some veggies and herbs I need for this weekend.

I was back home and unpacked by 9:30. I laid the wood flat on the garage floor to try and minimize warpage (is that a word?) Then I got in the car and headed back out again. First stop (this time) was the quarter car wash. The car's not really "dirty" but with the warm, dry weather, the dust from my road has built up on it.

Then I stopped at CVS to pick up three prescriptions. Finally, I was on my way to Blocks. I just went straight down Middle Belt and I noticed that, after I-94, Middle Belt sucks! Every expansion strip in the road has been squeezed up, so it's like riding over speed bumps in a trailer park (but hundreds of times).

Speaking of "Middle Belt" road, it's confusing. Half the street signs for it say "Middlebelt" and the other half say "Middle Belt." What the hell is the real name of this road?

As always, the parking sucked. What happens is, you pull in and get in a line of traffic with a car in front of you and one in back. Next to you (in the very tight aisles) are cars either looking for spaces or trying to get out (it's as hard to get out as it is to get in). Then somebody further up the line sees somebody come out and start loading their car, so they stop to wait for the space (makes sense and I'd do it if it were me). But, it means you can't move and you're not even waiting for a space, you're just waiting to move a little further.

But, I lucked out today! I was stuck behind a truck waiting for somebody when I noticed a lady with two big carts (they are like double-decker wagons with four wheels and very practical, if you could ever find one) go to a mini-van in the handicap parking. She was rather old and slowly started to unload everything. I figured this would never work, the truck's gonna move, I'm gonna feel bad and move and somebody else will get that spot (I don't like to be the one holding everybody up, so if I have to, I go park on the grass - right, Carla?)

But, after an excruciating wait, she finally got it loaded, slowly got in the front and pulled out. Just then, the truck in front moved forward to claim the parking spot he's been waiting for, so I shot ahead into mine! Believe it or not, it took about 15 minutes from the time I pulled into the driveway until the time I parked.

Naturally, there were no four wheel wagon-cats available, so I grabbed one of the last three shopping carts and proceeded to slowly get inside (huge lines of people and everybody has to stop when the guy in front stops to look at something. I know I'm making this sound horrible (and it can be) but the quality and price of the plants is well worth it.

I was a little depressed as it was obvious I'd come a little too late in the season. As I've told you in previous year's posts, they don't actually grow the plants here, they just buy them in bulk and when they run out, they are OUT!

So, they had like four varieties of tomatoes, none heirloom (which I wanted), so I substituted one Early Girl and one Beefsteak tomato for those. They did have my Italian Plum tomatoes, but only "little" ones.

Last year I think Jake and Carla bought like six or seven kinds of hot peppers. This year I had three to choose from: Huge (pricey) jalapenos, and small habaneras and small hot banana peppers (never heard of them).

And the flower selection was even worse. Once you get past the north-to-south greenhouses (I think there's eight) and start walking east, you cover a large area that's outside. Then there are greenhouses that go east to west in rows of like six to eight greenhouses. And there are maybe five to ten of these rows. Well, today, once you got past the first set of east-west green houses, (and two of them only had hanging planters), the rest were empty!

But, with the on-the-spot substitutions, I think I got what I needed, if not what I wanted. Lesson learned! Go earlier and, if you fear the frost, just keep them in the garage until now. I was talking to a co-worker yesterday who had planted her vegetable garden at the last warm spell and lost everything to the frost this week. I've done that myself, so I could sympathize.

I waiting though the enormous check out lines and then loaded the car. I headed back home, bouncing along Middle Belt (until after I-94) and got home just before 1:00 PM.

I left the plants in the car, came in and checked my email. I replied to one that was about an hour too late. Then I filled in the Blog to date. It took a while, but I was in no hurry. I'm beat! I got the bedding out of the dryer and made up the bed. It looked damn inviting, so I decided to take a nap before proceeding with this day. It was 2:30 PM, BTW.

I read my book and despaired of ever falling asleep, but I eventually did. I woke up at 5:00 PM. I washed the sleep out of my eyes and headed out back.

I raked out the raised bed garden and then realized I wouldn't have any "before" pictures. So, I stopped and took photos of everywhere that flowers, veggies or herbs will be going.

Then I took all my treasures from Blocks out of the trunk. Anything that was moist I put on the inside garage floor. Anything that was dry went on the garage apron (which is slanted). I hooked up the other hose and dragged it out front. I thoroughly watered all the new plants, the mailbox planter and the spot where the Gerbera daisies will go.

I got out the compost screen and took it out back. I pulled the hose back inside the backyard gate (no sense giving anybody an idea of what they could steal!)

Inside, I took the last of the meatballs and tomato sauce I'd put up in March and put the thawed container in a sauce pan. I stuck it in the oven on "warm" (170 degrees F.) It was 7:30 PM, BTW.

Back outside, I planted the mailbox planter with yellow marigolds (I was gonna do pansies in the front and Shasta daisies in the back, but couldn't find either one today). Then I added some store-bought mulch (WTF? Why store-bought mulch when you have a mountain of mulch out back?) Well, because the gardens all around the house have been mulched since I moved here with cedar chunks. So, I don't want to change that at this late date.

Next I weeded and cleaned out the area next to the clematis. Then, I planted the two Gerbera Daisies. I dedicate these to CC, who showed me the beauty of these flowers. I mulched them and moved on.

Next was the little shade garden on Jake's patio. Last year, getting tired of planting annuals every year, I planted two hostas. Long time readers might remember the beautiful crocus that bloomed this spring. So, in front of the crocus, I planted a shade plant (who's name I forget) that only has color on the leaves and no flowers. I mulched that, too.

I went and grabbed the camera and took the "after" shots for you. I went inside and it was 9:00 PM!

I filled in the Blog and then downloaded the photos and posted them.

Without really thinking, I made a pound of spaghetti. I drained it and then added the quart of tomatoes and meatballs. It was then I realized my mistake: Not enough sauce for the amount of pasta. Oh well, I was hungry enough I didn't care! I filled a big bowl and topped it with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

I went in to watch the Friday Night Fights (already in progress). When they were finished, so was I. I turned off the TV and the light and went to bed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

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Jake's patio, before

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Jake's patio, after

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Trellis garden, before

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Trellis garden, after

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Mailbox planter, before

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Mailbox planter, after

Hot!

Thursday morning was already warm when I arose and promised to get hotter. "Mid-July temps in late May" was the way the weatherman described it. It's supposed to be 84 degrees F. by five o'clock!

When I got home after work and was pulling in the driveway, I noticed the iris in the front was blooming. So, I went out to take a photo for you. You'll notice they are pale blue as compared to the deep purple of the garage side ones. To really see them, you have to click on the picture to enlarge it and then use your Browser's "back" button to return.

Back inside, I began to write out the ToDo list for the weekend. Yes, I said the weekend, as I took Friday off to get more work done. The list ended up being about as long as my arm, BTW.

I want to build a sturdy trellis for the tomatoes this year. The little round cages they sell are too weak and fall over and the big ones my neighbor gave me are too big for my little raised bed. So, I planned that out and made a list for Home Depot, tomorrow.

I double checked my flower, veggie and herb list for the nursery tomorrow as well.

Then I went out and tried fixing the kitchen faucet. I took off the actual faucet and pulled out all the guts (the diverter, the "o" rings, etc.) Note: Everything sorta fell apart as I took it out and I was left with several pieces, in no particular order. I turned on the hot water: It barely bubbled out. Damn! As a test, I turned on the cold water and baptized the kitchen.

So, my second hope was dashed. I put it all back together and turned on the faucets. Water shot everywhere again! I took it all apart and put the pieces back together in a different order. Bingo! No leaks! So, I mopped up all the water from the cupboards, window sill, and counter.

I checked the time and it was almost 8:30! So, I set about making dinner. I reheated some chicken and two ears of sweet corn and ate that at the table. Delicious, still!

I went and checked on the TV listing and taped shows, but nothing really caught my eye. So, I got my book (I'm re-reading the Sea Wolf, by Jack London) and read until bedtime.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

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The iris out front (not as purple as the ones by the garage, but lovely, non the less).

Quote of the Day

"When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened."

~ Winston Churchill

Moving Mulch, Redux...

Wednesday was another beautiful day, with a projected high of 81 degrees F. I know the car was uncomfortably warm when I went home for lunch!

Back home after work, I opened all the windows up. Then I changed clothes. My focus tonight was to move more wood chips, but I had several items to take care of first.

So first, I washed the roasting pan and rack, metal bowls and sheet tray from yesterday's cookout. Then I started the mid-week laundry. Finally, I went out and filled the bird feeder and suet cage.

While I was out there, I started talking to my neighbor (Rick), his wife (Tammy) and the guy that power-washed my play structure. My neighbor built the deck that covers the south-side of his pool about three years ago, but never stained or sealed it. So, this guy was over to power-wash it for him. I mentioned I was gonna try and stain and seal the play structure this summer, but he told me that I would need to power-wash it again. Apparently, you power wash it, wait one day and then seal it or dirt or crud start to build up, yet again.

Rick suggested I could cut off the top and add it to my patio as a deck. I said although it's seldom used, I figure it would be a good selling point, if I ever have to let the house go. The power washer guy said, "Well, what about the little girl who was out here when I was working?" I explained that was my granddaughter Riese, but she doesn't live nearby.

Since we were talking, I asked Rick (who is a building contractor) if he knew a good plumber (I'm not sure I mentioned this, but my hot water in the kitchen only comes out in a thin stream, not enough to wash dishes). He said he did and the guy is now the plumbing inspector for Dearborn. He immediately called him on his cell phone, put it on speaker and I told him my problem.

He suggested two things I could try myself and promised me if that didn't solve it, he would come over. He cautioned me that, as he had a day job, it would have to be at night. I said I was a working man myself and that would be preferable.

I went inside and got my trimming shears and, back outside, cut the vegetation around St. Francis. Now you can see him! Finally, I got my tape measure and mapped out the raise bed-garden. I want to build a trellis for the tomatoes this year, you see. The cheap ones don't work that well and the cages my neighbor Rick gave me last fall (his father made them) are too big.

Back inside, I grabbed the lawnmower key and headed into the garage. It was just after 6:30 PM, BTW.

I moved two dump trailer loads and two wheelbarrow loads before my back started complaining. Then I put away the tractor and trailer, buttoned everything up and came inside at 8:10 PM.

I washed up and then made dinner. I warmed up that steak and some of those grilled potatoes. The steak was a little overcooked for me (medium, rather than the medium-rare I prefer) but tasted excellent.

I watched some TV, but turned in early.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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Tuesday's Dinner

Tuesday's Tale

Tuesday dawned warm and sunny, with a predicted high of 73 degrees F. Since this is trash day, my morning was a little bit busier than usual. But, I switched out the kitty litter and got the trash (and the dump cart box) out to the road before I left for work.

I swung by Westborn at lunch to pick up this weeks veggies and fruit. I got a bag of carrots, some celery, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, five Granny Smith apples and (impulse buy) seven ears of bi-colored sweet corn from Florida.

When I got home at lunchtime, I spatchcocked the chicken. Basically, this means cutting down the backbone on both sides with a good pair of kitchen scissors. Why? Well, this allows the chicken to be spread flat and decreases your chance that some parts will be well cooked and others raw. Note: there's a trick to getting out the wishbone that Carla told me about, but I couldn't either remember or figure it out. So, I let it be. I put it back in the fridge, covered with cling wrap, cleaned up and then sprayed everything with antibacterial cleaner (Damn the chicken police!)

I also cut off the long stems and the excess hair of the sweet corn and put it in my stock pot, covered with water.

I hurriedly ate a ham sandwich and then headed back to work.

Once I got home at 5:15 PM, I immediately made my barbecue dry rub for the chicken. I got a bowl and added one tablespoon of onion powder, one tablespoon of garlic powder, one tablespoon of salt (I used Lawry's seasoned salt here), two teaspoons whole mustard seeds, one teaspoon sage, one teaspoon thyme, one teaspoon paprika, and one teaspoon ground black pepper. I mixed that all together.

I also cut up five pats of butter and put them on a saucer.

I took out the chicken and, first, stuck my fingers between the skin and the meat. Every time I hollowed out a pocket, I added a pat of butter and massaged it in. Then I added the dry rub, sprinkling it about and then rubbing it in (on both sides, BTW). I had previously turned the oven onto 350 degrees F. to preheat. So, I put the chicken into a roasting pan with a rack and stuck it in the oven for an hour and 20 minutes.

Then I disconnected the dump trailer and got the mower ready. I need to cut the back lawn (no matter how torn up it is). I wore my watch (which I never do at home) so I wouldn't overcook the chicken. But, it took just over an hour to finish up. Looks great (except for the ruts and two big piles of wood chips right in the middle of the lawn!)

When I pulled the mower back in the garage, I pulled the grill out and lit a fire under the charcoal I put in the charcoal starter. I went in the house and started on my potatoes. I took eight medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes and scrubbed them. Then I cut them length-wise into 1/2 inch slices and put them in cold water to parboil.

While they were cooking, I mixed together dried rosemary leaves, fresh chopped sage, Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and the zest of one lemon. Then I added some olive oil and mixed that all together in a large bowl.

Back outside, I spread the hot coals over more fresh charcoal, cleaned the grille grates and oiled them.

Back inside, I checked on the chicken and it was done. So, I turned off the oven and opened the door a bit. I checked on the potatoes and they were done (about six minutes, or until tender but still holding their shape). So, I drained them in a colander and then put them in the bowl with the seasonings. I tossed them all about and then let them sit and get happy.

I put the corn on the grille and got that roasting. When it was done, I put it on the cool end of the grille and spread out my potatoes. I got a sheet pan and, after shucking it, took the corn inside.

I kept moving the potatoes around so they didn't burn and each one was a nice golden brown (with great grille marks, BTW). I piled each finished one on the cool side to stay warm. When they were done, I put the chicken on, skin-side down, and basted the inside with barbecue sauce.

When the skin was a nice golden brown, I flipped it over and basted it. When the other side was done, I turned it over, just to caramelize the barbecue sauce on the skin side. Then, I pulled it off and took the platter inside. While the chicken was resting, I grilled a steak, seasoned only with Montreal steak seasoning I'd pressed into both sides. This is for another day (as is the corn) but I hate to waste hot coals!

I brought the steak inside, shut up the grille and closed the garage door.

Inside, I plated some chicken and potatoes. It looked so good I took a photo for you!

Happy but tired, I went into the bedroom to eat and watch some TV. Both the chicken and the potatoes were excellent, BTW.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, Moving Chips

Monday morning dawned sunny, but cold (there was frost last night in outlying areas).

But it had warmed up to 65 degrees F. by the time I went home at 5:00 PM. I hurriedly changed my clothes and got out the tractor, trailer, two rakes, and the garden fork and then headed out back.

I took my camera and got a couple photos of the rig to post for you. I decided to take the camera back inside before I started working, just in case.

On my way back, past the raised garden, I noticed a clump of catnip was growing, so I picked it for the cats.

It was amusing to watch them eat it. Caley especially, seemed to really be affected by it (and she's goofy as hell, normally, lol!)

Back outside, I filled up the first trailer load after raking the debris out of the south-side corner. I realized there was no way I could get the trailer past the plants to the wall (too many of them), so I loaded up the wheelbarrow. It took seven wheelbarrow's full to fill it in (I am putting down about 6 inches of mulch as the wood chips have a large amount of long pine needles mixed in with them).

Then began the amusing (to everyone but me, I suppose) task of backing the trailer up to the spot I want. My neighbor solved this problem by welding a hitch on the front of his ATV. He uses a big snowmobile trailer to get his wood from the back (where he cuts and splits it) to the front where he stacks it. But, I used to back up a dozer on a trailer, while driving a dump truck! So, while it's frustrating right now, I know it will just be a matter of practice.

I got two full trailer loads dumped and raked before my back said it was time to quit. I would estimate each trailer-full equals three or four wheelbarrow loads, BTW.

Back inside, it was 8:10 PM and I was hungry. I had bought a pound of deli ham on sale last Sunday, so I got out a handful. I rolled it up and then thin-sliced the roll (like you do to basil when you chiffonade). I got out a bunch of scallions and thin sliced them while a pat of butter was heating up in the saute pan. I got four eggs and whisked them together with a glug of heavy cream.

I put the scallions and onions in the pan to warm up, and then I added the eggs. When the eggs had set on top, I added a handful of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and folded the omelet over. I plated it and went off to watch some TV.

Monday, May 18, 2009

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My new dump cart, #1

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My new dump cart, #2

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Caley and Scruffy, enjoying fresh catnip from the raised bed garden

Sunday, catching up

I awoke at 6:00 AM on Sunday and immediately reheated some of yesterday's coffee. I started the wash machine and loaded in my work clothes.

I made up my grocery list from the sale flyers and the running list I keep when I run out of stuff. Then I shaved and showered, got dressed and headed out about 10:00 AM. I went to both Meijer's and Kroger's and got home just before noon. I unpacked the car, put everything away and then got down to business.

I oiled a half sheet pan and put it in the cold oven. I set the oven to 450 degrees F. I noticed I forgot to mention yesterday that I finally thawed out the Christmas present from Jeremy, Jyl and the kids: veal bones. So, today I am making veal stock.

When the oven was preheated, I put the bones on the oiled sheet pan to roast (30 minutes on one side, then another 15 on the other until golden brown). Now, I gotta tell you the only recipe I found for making veal stock calls for 10 pounds of bones (it's for a restaurant) and I have about 2 1/2 pounds, so I am adjusting it all down 75%.

Naturally, I forgot to crack the kitchen window and turn on the vent, so the smoke alarms went off. I quickly remedied the situation. During the first 30 minutes, I went out in the garage and gassed up the push mower and also checked the oil. I need to cut the front lawn.

BTW, it's a bit cool and quite windy, today. I had to wear a jacket when grocery shopping. When the bones were done, I covered them with water and got them up to a light simmer. I dumped off the oil from the sheet pan and added water. I scrapped up the brown bits and let them get happy for a bit. Then I added them to the stock pot. Note: you definitely want to taste them at this point. If they are bitter, (it happens), discard them. If not, add them to the stock water. Mine were good so, I did.

I warmed up the last two hot dogs and ate them watching some of the taped Sunday morning cooking shows. While I was lying down, I heard some calls from the front door. It was Jake and Carla, with my early Father's Day present: a 10 cubic foot dump cart. They thought (and rightly so) it would save me a lot of work, moving the wood chips. They also had two Father's Day cards, one from the cats (hilarious) and one from them (touching).

So, Jake insisted in putting it together. He predicted an hour, although it took just a little longer. But, now I have a means to move the wood chips with a lot less physical stress.

They left around 4:30 PM (thanks again) and I went inside to check on the veal stock. Then I went back outside and started cutting the front lawn.

I finished up just after 5:30 PM. I revisited the veal stock. I added a carrot, two celery ribs and an onion, all rough chopped, and one clove of garlic. Then I added two stems of fresh parsley and three stems of thyme I picked out back. I don't have to start prepping dinner until 6:30, so I thought it was a good idea to give my legs a rest. I turned on a taped show but, before the hour was over, I fell asleep.

I woke up at 8:30 PM and was ticked when I realized it was now too late for the barbecue dinner I'd planned (a whole chicken that I was to spatchcock, before I roasted it, served with grilled potato slices). Well, no use crying over spilt milk.

I strained the veal stock into a bowl, put the cover on it and popped it into the fridge. The bones and veggies went into the trash and I'll wash up the stock pot and sheet pan in the morning. I opened a can of chili and warmed it up on the stove and then went in to watch my Sunday shows.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday's Story

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. It was still rainy and dreary looking, so I despaired of doing anything outside early. I made a pot of coffee from the last remaining coffee in my can and then drank a cup.

I watched the Saturday morning cooking shows live (instead of watched the taped ones later as usual) and had another cup off coffee, instead of breakfast.

Around noon, I was decidedly hungry, so I made my favorite weekend dish: a can of roast beef hash topped with two over easy eggs.

It was now sunny and quite windy, so I gathered all my extension cords, put on my boots and went out back. There was enough standing water here and there on the lawn (the rain gauge showed just under an inch) that I was a little nervous about using electricity.

But, I hooked it all up and started with the hedge trimmer. I got all the bushes that had already flowered trimmed up. Then I took that trimmer back and got out the line trimmer. I cut down anything that I didn't plant back there. It took quite a while, but I eventually got it done and it looks much, much better.

I was sad to see that two hydrangeas and one rose didn't survive over the winter.

I took the line trimmer back and then started winding up extension cords. In walking over the lawn, I decided it was much too soft and wet to roll a loaded wheelbarrow over repeatedly. Better safe than sorry. So, I'll give it another day to dry out before I start moving the wood chips.

Back inside, I made up the bed (I'd washed the bedding this morning) and decided to finish watching the taped fights. I wandered into the kitchen around 7:30 PM to make a quick supper: Two warmed up hot dogs and boxed mac & cheese.

I watched a dumb movie and then switched to my book until bedtime.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Guns and Hunting

Recently (this week) I brought up the fact that I own guns. I am sure to many of you this is a distasteful idea. But you must remember I am from an older generation when guns and hunting was the norm, not the exception.

For example, my oldest brother George used to trap muskrats in the Clinton River for spending money. I can still see his traps hanging, gleaming in the garage. Nowadays, I suppose that a leg trap would be considered barbaric, but it was common place when I was a lad.

My father went deer hunting every year and, for some time, owned a share in a deer camp in the Michigan Upper Peninsula. I can still remember the excitement when he got ready and left.

I was about seven years old when my brother Peter gave me my first gun, a 22 caliber rifle I still have today. It no longer had its clip and the extractor was useless, so you had to insert the cartridge by hand and then dig it out with a small screwdriver. And, the front sight was messed up, so at any distance, you had to aim about one inch low and one inch to the left to hit your target, but I loved it. I still do...

I took it to a gun shop once to get it fixed and they just laughed at me. They said for what it would cost to fix it, I could buy two new 22 automatics. But, they didn't understand, my brother Peter gave me that!

I used it for years in what was known as "plinking." Which was basically shooting birds, squirrels and raccoons for sport, not to eat. I regret that now, (hell, I feed the birds and squirrels, currently) but, as I say, it was normal, back then.

Every fall, folks would come to the farm and ask if they could go pheasant hunting. We always said yes and they would head out with
their shotguns and dogs and, sometimes, would give my Mother an extra pheasant they had got for our dinner.

One older gentleman always seems to come back with a bird or two, so I asked him his secret. He asked if I had a gun and I said, "Yes!" So, he offered to take me with him.

So, I grabbed the 22 and a pocketful of cartridges and we headed out. Instead of slowly walking the fields, like the hunter's I'd observed, we marched to the crick, (yeah, we called it a crick rather than the proper name, a "creek,") crossed over the bridge and stopped in front of the woods. He sat down on the west side of the property and told me to go to the very east side, which I did.

But, before leaving, I asked him why we didn't work the fields, like most hunters and their dogs did. He told me that any pheasants they scared up and didn't hit would fly towards the woods and safety and that's where we would take them.

And, sure enough, it was true! Now, I confess, I didn't take any that day, although I had a couple of shots. But, a rifle isn't a shotgun and they were flying too fast for me. But, he got two and gave my mother one, so it was a good day!

Sidebar #1: Once in my 20's when I was living above the garage in my apartment at the old homestead, my friend B___, his brother and I went out back to shoot some skeet. I took my old 22 but, since I didn't have a shotgun, I was relegated to just throwing the clay pigeons. At one point, Bob, B__'s brother, chided me and suggested I try my hand. So, he threw up the clay pigeon and I, with my 22, burst it into pieces! They both encouraged me to try again, but I knew it was just damn luck, so I deferred.

Sidebar #2: When I told my friend B___ about the incident this week, he gave me hell! According to him, I should have (A) got my gun, called 911 and just made sure they didn't come inside (apparently, you can't shoot people outside without it becoming a problem). (B) If I was stupid enough to go outside, I should have stepped into the darkness, rather than standing in the light. And, (C) I should know that if they did have bad intentions and a revolver or semi-automatic pistol, I couldn't have fired and reloaded my single-shot shotgun fast enough (I dispute that, as I have practiced and can reload and fire in less than two seconds).

Sigh, its a different world these days...

T.G.I.F.

Friday was warm and cloudy. According to the morning weather, it wasn't supposed to rain until after 8:00 PM. So, when I got home after a particularly long, boring day, I changed clothes.

My plan was to get out all my extension cords and the electric trimmer, then head out to the back garden (this is one of the few times I wish I had a gas-powered trimmer, as it's over 200 feet to the back wall). I think it would be best to cut down anything other than what I planted before adding more mulch.

However, a friend called. I chatted for a bit and told him my plans for the evening. He said, "What are you talking about? It's raining like hell, here!" I went and looked outside (I was in the bedroom) and, sure enough, it was raining here too!

So, that plan got scrapped. I putzed around the place until dinner time. I warmed up the last two burgers (bun-less and topped with steak sauce) and the eggplant (sprinkled with sea salt).

I watched some of the Friday Night Fights on ESPN until I fell asleep (No worries, I'm taping it). I was awoken by thunder and lightning around 1:00 AM. Since I was already still dressed, I fixed myself a drink and went out on the front porch. I watched the storm, sitting on the rocker, for a while, until the chilly air drove me back inside.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday

I filled the bird feeder and suet cage at lunch on Thursday. I was quite surprised to see that I had over an inch of rain in the rain gauge from yesterday's storm!

When I got home from work, I took care of the usual chores (treating the cats, checking the mail, checking voicemail, checking email, etc.) and then changed clothes.

After grabbing a shovel, I went outside to move some mulch. But, I had so much prep work to do first (in the back garden) that I actually only dumped one wheelbarrow full!

Back inside, it was after 8:00 PM and time to make dinner. So, I peeled that beautiful eggplant, cut it in 1/2 slices and fried it. I used eggs and flour to bread it, BTW.

I watched a little TV and then went to sleep. I got up at 2:00 AM to go to the bathroom. There was no thunder and lightning and no SUVs driving around the back yard, so I just went back to sleep.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Song Snippet

"Sometimes my burden
is more than I can bear...
It's not dark yet,
But, it's gettin' there"

~ Not Dark Yet by Bob Dylan

Wet Wednesday

Fortunately, it hadn't started raining when I went home at lunch time. I took some photos of the purple iris by the garage and posted them, BTW. But, by 2:00 PM, it was coming down hard.

So, I drove home in the rain after work and resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't get any outdoor work done tonight.

Fortunately, my daughter Melissa called. Unfortunately, we talked so long that my original plan for dinner (fried eggplant) seemed like WAY too much work and mess. So, I heated up two hot dogs and ate them on buns with mustard and onions.

I watched some TV and then went to bed early. But, I was awakened by a loud crash of thunder around 3:00 AM. Lightening flashes lit up the bedroom and I thought briefly of getting up, getting dressed and sitting on the porch to watch the storm. But common sense prevailed, and I turned over and went back to sleep.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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Iris by the garage #1

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Iris by the garage #2

Tuesday's Tale

Tuesday was another sunny, but still slightly chilly day (the high's supposed to be 64 degrees F., but there's a north wind). I went home at lunch and had a hamburger and an ear of corn. I went out in the backyard and took photos of the wood chips and the torn-up lawn (see Photos).

I noticed that somebody had left a shovel stuck in the grass, when they were digging themselves out. So, when I got home after work, I grabbed it and took it over to my neighbor's house. He was pacing around his garage talking on a cell phone, so our conversation was brief:

"Tree guy's shovel?"

"I dunno, but it's not mine. Sorry about throwing down on you but I thought somebody was stealing my trailer or sailboat."

"No problem, it's nice to know my neighbor's got my back if something comes up."

"Well, I hope I didn't scare the kid too much. I feel bad, since he gave me the free mulch."

"No, he feels bad for tearing up the lawn."

"Well, tell him thanks and that I'm sorry."

We shook hands and I went back home. I changed shoes and filled up the dishwasher with last night's plate and platters. I added the Cascade and turned it on.

Then I got out the push mower. Tonight I gotta trim the back yard. So, I checked the oil, gassed it up and took it out back. I walked the perimeter, cutting all the spots that I couldn't get to with the tractor and poly roller.

BTW, I noticed the feeder is empty again and the birds are feeding off all the seeds on the ground. WTF are these damn squirrels doing? I haven't seen a thing! But, I remain steadfast in my resolve. I only fill it and the suet cage every Wednesday and Saturday. So, they are just out of luck today!

However, I did spread some dried-out hamburger buns for them to snack on. Sh*t! I could probably feed two or three of those kids that Sally Struthers talks about on TV with what I throw away each week!

Back inside, with everything outside buttoned up, it was 7:45 PM. So, I nuked two hot dogs and then ate them on buns with yellow mustard and fine diced onions. I watched a little TV and then went to bed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

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My free mulch (I gotta keep telling myself this is worth it!)

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This will take a while to repair!

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Some of the damage to the lawn

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The horseshoe pit (where's the stake?)

Just a Case of Mistaken Identity

Monday started out chilly (so I wore a jacket) but by lunch time, it was uncomfortably warm in the car. First, I went to Westborn and picked up apples for the week, eight sweet corn for two bucks, hot dog buns and a nice fat eggplant.

I should explain that, while I like the idea on being a "locavore" (A locavore is someone who eats food grown or produced locally) but I confess I have a jones for roasted sweet corn. So, I gave in...

I put the sweet corn into my medium-sized stock pot and filled it with cold water. Next, I ate my lunch and then headed to Building 3 and dropped off the rest of the rhubarb pie to Jake. Why? Well, I had a huge piece of the first one on Saturday and another one of the second pie on Sunday. So, my taste for rhubarb was somewhat sated and, with Type 2 diabetes, I shouldn't be eating anything that has 1 1/2 cup of sugar in it.

Back at home after work, (after treating the cats and changing my shoes) I responded to a few emails and then went outside. I started a chimney full of charcoal and got out the push mower.

I finished cutting the front lawn and then checked the charcoal. It was ready, so I put the mower away.

I had thawed out a pound of ground chuck and a package of hot dogs, but first I put on the sweet corn. When it was totally charred, I moved it off to the cooler side of the grille and put on the four burgers. When they were done, I pulled them off and put on the hot dogs.

I shucked the corn outside (it's too messy to do this in the kitchen) and took everything inside.

I ate dinner (I admit, I only ate some of the sweet corn) and put the rest in baggies and into the fridge.

It was already 8:30 PM, so I went in to watch some TV. Now, I must confess that after 15 years working in the factory, my hearing is somewhat shot. So, I have the TV turned as loud as you can go. Be that as it may, I eventually fell asleep.

I woke up at 10:00 PM for a bathroom trip. I noticed that the back floodlights were on, so I watched outside to see my friendly neighborhood possum. Instead, I saw a SUV driving across my lawn!

Thinking they were going to steal either my trailer or the sail boat, I was p*ssed!! So, I grabbed the shotgun out of its rack, took off the condom (it keeps dust out of the barrel) and ran out back. I stepped into the spotlights and yelled in my loudest voice, "What the f*ck are you doing in my yard!"

I heard a young voice yell, "Don't shoot!" so I trained the gun on him. Then I heard my neighbor's voice, saying, "John, it's me!"

It turned out that my neighbor, knowing I wanted some wood chips, had come over with a friend to drop some off. They knocked on the door and, when I didn't answer, they went out back, around the wild garden and into the area where the old tenant had his pool and got stuck. So, to get out, they dumped the wood chips there and were still trying to get out.

I apologized profusely (my neighbor thought it was funny) and the young guy (who had brought the wood chips) said he would be back when it was drier with a load of dirt to fix my back yard.

I went back in the house, racked the shotgun and back to bed...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!

I awoke at 6:30 AM on Sunday, Mother's Day. While I am thinking about it, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers I know. I truly believe that you are the glue that holds the family together!

I reheated a cup of coffee and finished the rather lengthy Blog entry for Saturday. I was getting a second cup of coffee when I happened to glance out of the kitchen window. The bird feeder which I filled Friday night (six days after first filling it) was now empty! I know it was windy yesterday, but I think the squirrels have come up a new plan of attack. Bastards!

I gave Luanne a call, but only got her voice mail. So, I left my Mother's Day wishes for both her and Sadie.

Then I started on the rhubarb pie #2. I made the dough this time using the food processor (I figured out the problem, now that I am not rushed for time). The dough was resting in cling wrap in the fridge when Lu called me back.

Life down there is still all about the goats. In fact, yesterday, they set up two tents and a mini-petting zoo at the South Hill Spring Fest to sell their wares. So they (and their two volunteers) are dead beat today. They haven't figured out what their profits were yet, but they sold a bunch of stuff and bartered some for fresh asparagus.

After we hung up, I went back to making the pie (see Saturday's post for the recipe). This time, I just set the timer for 45 minutes, and then checked the crust. I covered it with tin foil and set the timer for another 20 minutes. Today, much like yesterday, the juices overflowed onto the half-sheet pan and burnt black. But, unlike yesterday, this time I had the time to take a picture for you (see Photo's).

Next, I started housecleaning. When I finished with that, it was 1:30 PM. Then I took apart my kitchen faucet. I have what I thought was a unique problem, in that the hot water in the kitchen sink barely comes out, but the bathroom sink and tub (further on down the hot water run) works fine. But when I mentioned this to my brother Carl, he said he had the same problem in his bathroom (sink barely flows, but the tub works fine). We both suspect some sort of calcium build up. So, I thought if I took apart the on-off knob, I might get it cleared out. I made quite the mess, but in the end, it had no effect.

Next, I hooked up the hose outside and stuck it in the tub, turned on low, to clean out the reflecting pool. Since I was out there anyway, I refilled the suet cage and the bird feeder (I want to see what the hell those tricky squirrels are doing). I also broke up a whole loaf of Pumpernickel bread that had started to mold (what a waste!)

I realize now I forgot to mention it, but on Wednesday when I went to Lowe's for the tractor air cleaner, I bought one of those poly tow-behind lawn rollers (that you fill with water to get it to weigh 280 pounds). It took forever (and the assistance of a helpful elderly gentleman) to get the damn box in the back seat, BTW.

Both my front lawn (where the old pine tree was cut down) and the back yard (where the last tenant had his pool) are very uneven. So, I'm gonna try to fix it. My brother Carl has one and he said it goes together quick. He also said now was the perfect time to use it.

So, assembly was next on the list. But first, I took out the last year's tomatoes that I added the hot Italian sausage I grilled last weekend and the basil to, put it in a saucepan and turned it on low. I covered the now cooled pie with cling wrap and put it in the fridge.

It did go together quick, BTW, but only when I stopped using the little wrenches they provided (nice touch, though) and got out my metric socket set and wrenches. But, I now have tools all over the garage again, dammit.

I rolled it around back, pumped up the one tractor tire and pulled that around back, too. I shut the garage door and went out through the back door (it's a favorite trick of thieves around here to loot your garage when you are in the back yard, so I don't play that). I took the hose out of the reflecting pool and started filling this bad boy up. It was about 3:00 PM, BTW.

When it was full, I hooked it up to the tractor. I know it was just a few days ago that I cut all the lawn, but it could really use it again. So, I figured since I was towing this bad-boy around anyway, I'd use the mower, too. Jake has me almost (almost) convinced that the reason I seem to need to cut the lawn twice a week is that I cut it too high. Well, maybe so, but I like the "thick carpet of grass" look. Besides, it's supposed to keep the weeds at bay.

Be that as it may, I changed the cut from "5" (the highest) to "4" and started out back. I was about half way done out back when tragedy struck. One of the branches the wind had knocked down popped up and knocked the belt off! So, I shut off the mower and went inside to find my owner's guide (I have no idea how the belt is supposed to go). I found it and then went back outside to try and get it right. It took a lot of finessing, but I got the damn belt back on.

I finished the back yard and headed out to the front. Now, I must tell you, it's never been that easy to cut the small front yard with the big tractor, much less towing a big-ass drum filled with water. But, I got 'er done! I unhooked the roller on Jake's patio, put the lawn mower away and closed everything up for the night.

I don't care what the ToDo list says... It's 5:30 PM and I am finished! I washed up, threw my clothes into the washer (with a ton of kitchen towels) and changed into my work-out shorts and tee shirt. I sat on the couch, eating a piece of pie. I'm not sure if it's because this pie was in the fridge and the first one never was, but this dough seems tougher or thicker or something. Filling's still good though.

I started to read my book. After a while, I put my legs up on the couch. Ah, that's better...

About 7:00 PM, I cooked up a box of Penne Rigate pasta. When it was done, I mixed in the sauce (I had to add a bit of the pasta water that I'd reserved as the half day simmer thickened the sauce too much) and let that get happy.

I got a plate of it, topped it with Parmigiano-Reggiano and went in to watch my Sunday night shows.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

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My bad-ass lawn roller!

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The second rhubarb pie!

Mother's Day Road Trip

I did set the alarm for the usual 5:30 AM, but I slept badly last night and apparently shut it off. So, I woke up for real at 8:16 AM. Yikes! I got a pie to bake!

So, I jumped up and got to work. First, my bedding went into the washer. Then I started on the pie dough. I combined three cups of flour, a three finger pinch of Kosher salt (about a teaspoon) and 10 ounces of cold butter (I diced it to make it easier to work with). I worked the butter in with my hands (it was tough as two sticks of butter were still frozen).

I got out the food processor to speed up this process, but for some reason, it would not turn on!?!

Using my hands, I got the butter into pea-sized chunks, so I added ice water to bring the dough together (maybe half a cup). I didn't beat up the dough, just shaped it into a disc and, after covering it with cling wrap, I stuck it in the fridge (for a minimum of 20 minutes or a maximum of one day).

I took that time to shave and shower.

Back in the now very messy kitchen, I took out the dough and cut one third of it off. I took the two thirds and rolled them out to about 3/16 of an inch. I put that on my glass pie plate.

Then I took my rhubarb and fine diced it until I had about five cups in a large bowl. I covered it with 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves and 1/3 cup of cornstarch. I tossed that by hand until it was well mixed and let it sit. Note: if you do this too early, the sugar leaches out too much water before it goes into the dough.

Then I took the cut off strips and the other 1/3 dough and rolled it out until it, too, was 3/16 inch thick. Then I used my chef's knife to cut it into 3/4 inch strips (I wish I had a pastry wheel, because it would leave the edges fluted, but I don't).

I brushed the edges with an egg wash, and then I poured the rhubarb mixture into the pie plate. I placed five strips of dough horizontally at even intervals across the pie. Then I folded the first, third and fifth strips back to the edge and laid one strip of dough vertically across the horizontal strips. Next, I folded the first, third and fifth horizontal strips back then folded the second and fourth strips back to the first vertical strip. I laid a second vertical strip an equal distance from the first one. Then I folded the second and fourth strips back. I repeated the process with the final lattice strips. Then I brushed them all with the egg wash.

I set the pie plate on a half sheet pan and stuck it in a preheated 425 degrees F. oven. Then I went and filled the Blog in to date. I checked the pie after 45 minutes and found the lattice strips were starting to brown on the ends. So I covered it with a sheet of tin foil (it's supposed to bake for an hour or 1 1/4 hours).

I went and got everything I need for today's lunch (except for the pie) into the car. My theme here is springtime, so I have a rack of lamb, fresh asparagus, Yukon gold potatoes, and fresh garlic. I am also taking my Wusthof knife, my biggest non-stick saute pan, the non-stick tongs and the fish spatula. I also took my sea salt and black pepper grinders, a jar of mint jelly (that's how my Mom likes to eat lamb) and a jar of herbes de Provence.

Finally, the pie was done. I was glad I put it on the half sheet pan, because the juices had boiled over. I let it cool for a bit and then put it on the passenger side floor. It was about 11:15 AM when I left. I drove too fast, but I got to Mom's about 10 minutes after noon.

Carl was already there and threatening to go buy corned beef sandwiches since I was sooo late. I assured him we would be eating in less than 30 minutes, so I got to it. Cora volunteered to peel the potatoes, so I let her (it's nice to have a prep cook!) I preheated the oven (after cleaning it out) to 400 degrees F. For some reason (something must have gotten spilled in there) it started smoking, so I turned on the vent fan and Carl opened the doors for a bit.

Then I took the rack of lamb and cut it into eight individual chops (if you put the meat side down, its easier to see exactly where the bones are, BTW.) Cora was done with the potatoes, so I cut them into small cubes and put them, along with four cloves of garlic I'd smashed and taken the skins off, in water to cook.

I cut the tough ends off the asparagus and put them on a cookie sheet. I drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled on some sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Then I tossed them around to coat them and set them aside.

About that time, Carl's daughter Leeann came over with her two sons to visit with Grandma. It was really nice to see her again and the kids are so big!

I got the lamb ready to saute. This is the same method I used a few weeks ago when I grilled lamb chops for Jake and Carla, BTW. I brushed both sides with olive oil, sprinkled on a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper and then added the herbes de Provence.

Just so you know, herbes de Provence (or herbs from Provence) is a unique French blend of herbs and spices and contains chervil, basil, rosemary, tarragon, garlic, lavender (yes, lavender), marjoram, savory, thyme and parsley. I pressed the herbes de Provence into each side of the chops and let them sit for a bit.

By now, the potatoes had been cooking for about 10 minutes, so I put the asparagus into the oven (they need to roast for 10 minutes, you see). Then I added the last of Mom's olive oil (somebody put that on her grocery list, please) into my saute pan and cranked up the heat. When the oil started to shimmer (I am getting good at seeing this), I put in the lamb chops. I was glad I'd brought the bad-boy, 14-inch saute pan because they just all fit!

I drained the potatoes and garlic and added one raw egg, 1/4 stick of butter and some 2% milk and then mashed them. After four minutes, I turned the lamb chops over (they had a nice sear to them) and let them cook for another four minutes (a perfect medium rare). I pulled out the table, got some chairs and then set the table while the lamb chops rested. I plated the chops, the potatoes and the asparagus and called everyone in to eat.

Mom seemed to really enjoy her meal and said she couldn't remember the last time she had lamb. When everyone was finished, I cut into the rhubarb pie and served that. Cora had never eaten rhubarb before but everyone (including me) raved about it. No kidding, it was damn tasty! It also really looked cool and I was sorry I was so rushed that I didn't take a picture of it.

Carl washed up the dishes (we'll never know if it was up to Cora's standards or not). I put the last two pieces of rhubarb pie in the fridge (I'll get my pie plate some other time) and went to get the mail for Mom. There was a beautiful card from Luanne and, while Mom was reading it, they delivered a box of flowers. We were all curious as to who sent them, but nothing was on the outside. So, Carl opened the box and found a card that said something like "Happy Mother's Day! I'll see you at the cottage this summer!" signed, Carl V. So, my grandson sent my Mom a beautiful bouquet of multi-colored roses.

I must confess to Amy, Carl IV and Carl V, it was a bit embarrassing when your Uncle Carl tried to convince my Mom that he had sent them...

My cousin Sue (or Kara, or whatever she changed her name to) called and she said she was on her way over to visit Mom, so Mom was thrilled.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. I gave Carl his shoe box of "Jack-in-the-pulpits." He looked at them and then corrected me, saying they were lilies of the valley (I knew that!) and that he, too, had a ton of them already (I told ya, they grow like weeds). So, I think he gave them to Leeann.

Carl asked me to stop over at his house to check out his English garden (in the front yard) and the other improvements he'd made in the back. So, we left, after wishing Mom a Happy Mother's Day.

I pulled into Carl's house right behind him and took the grand tour. Damn, he's done good! He's got various height's of garden in the back, surrounded by those big, reddish blocks (like behind my mail box). It really gives your eye something visual to see besides just a flat back yard (like mine). He fed the fish while I was there, so I got to see my old gold fish (who probably now weighs a couple of pounds!)

I checked out the new trees he's planted and the many perennials. Then I checked out his English garden in front. Beautiful! It made me embarrassed with my plain Jane front yard.

I borrowed his cell phone (my "emergency" cell phone is sitting back at home in my jacket pocket) and called my friend B___, since he lives only about four or five miles from Carl. I didn't think he would answer, since he didn't know that number, but he finally did. So, I asked him if I could stop by for a chat and he said, "Sure."

So, I dropped in to see him for a while. His boat is now in its slip and, while he's still got a bit of clean-up to do, it's basically ready for summer. I had a Corona with lime sitting on his patio porch and we caught each other up on what was new. Then I took my leave and he went to cut the grass while I headed for home.

Now, I'd heard that I-696 was shut down completely at one spot for this weekend. I took I-96 to I-94 to my Mom's, but there is no good way from B___'s to get there. So, I got back to Groesbeck and just took it to 8-Mile. I drove 8-Mile all the way from Groesbeck over to Inkster (it's a hike, but not bad. If you get into the rhythm, you always have green lights). So, I eventually got home about 5:30 PM.

I was really beat by the time I got home and was seriously thinking about taking a nap. Until, that is, I walked into the bedroom and discovered the bedding was still in the washer! Oh, well...

Instead I started cleaning up the kitchen. Not the big, floured bread board, because I overbought the rhubarb, so I still have another pie to make. But I washed up the bowls from this morning and the saute pan I brought back from Mom's.

I returned some calls, checked my email, filled in more of the Blog and finally, the bedding was dry. So, I made up the bed. It was almost 7:30 PM and I thought briefly about dinner. But, to tell you the truth, I was still quite full from lunch (Carl would probably say it's because I made it sooo late, lol). So, I lay down to rest my legs and read my book for a bit.

I switched to the TV and started catching up on my Saturday morning cooking shows. But, I don't think I got through the first one before I fell asleep.

I woke up after midnight, just long enough to go to the bathroom, turn off the TV and the lights and go to bed for real.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

TGIF

Friday turned out to be a beautiful day. I had to go to Building 73 during the afternoon and my car's outdoor temperature gauge said it was 80 degrees!

I checked on the four people that moved today and they were all happy, other than two of them that have electrical outlets that weren't working. Not really my problem, but I hunted down Michelle (who looked cute in a denim miniskirt outfit) and let her know she had one, lol!

I spent some time with the manager, making sure he was satisfied with IT's performance. Normally as a PM, I don't do a lot of "public relations," I just get the damn project done. But this particular manager seems to need a lot of "face time" and "hand-holding" so I do what I gotta do...

Finally, it was Friday night and we are definitely "banging the drum!" I got home, checked the mail, treated the cats and changed my shoes. Then I went up in the attic (stifling hot) and found a shoe box.

Downstairs, I got a suitable piece of thick plastic and lined the shoe box. Then I went outside to the St. Francis garden and dug out a "shoe box-sized" clump of the Jack-in-the-pulpits for my brother Carl. He asked for some in a Photograph Comment, if you remember. I tried to warn him how invasive they are (they spread like wildfire) but will take them to him tomorrow.

Back inside, it was already 7:00 PM. Now, I wanted to "try" and make a rhubarb pie for my Mom for Mother's Day (rhubarb being one of the "spring" food enjoyments back on the farm when I was a lad). But, since it's late and I don't (normally) bake, I decided to defer this to tomorrow morning.

I checked the fridge for leftovers (I've been eating them all week) and found all I have left is a few brats and some hot dogs. The chicken's gone, the catfish is gone and the coleslaw is gone. Now the Longhorns are gone and the drovers are gone. The Comanche are gone and the outlaws are gone; Geronimo's gone and Sam Bass is gone; and the lion is gone and the red wolf is gone...

Oh, wait a minute, I seem to have got stuck between song lyrics and reality (hey, with me, it happens - I'm still waiting for Mick Jagger and those Puerto Rico girls that are just dying to meet me).

Anyway, I heated up the last brats and ate them (sans buns) with Dijon mustard.

I watched a little TV, but turned in early. I'm not sure why (I believe it speaks to my earlier decision to make the pie tomorrow morning) but I am just damn, dead-beat tired.