Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monday, Monday...

I was not ready to start the new week! But, it was not an option, so I got cleaned up and went to work.

Its supposed to rain, off and on for the next three days, but at lunch, it was still dry. So, I spend a good 15 minutes hand-watering all the container gardens. Then I made a sandwich of the oatnut bread, some cheese slices, horseradish sauce and two slices of thick bologna. I ate that with two Pepperocini.

Back home after 5:00 PM, I started a load of laundry. Due to the lack of rain, I also put out the square sprinkler on the raised bed garden and turned it on. I let it run for about 30 minutes.

Back inside, I started working on dinner. I cut a Vidalia onion into 1/4 dice and sweated it over medium-high heat in olive oil. I cooked it about seven minutes (you want them to be very soft and aromatic, but no color). Then I added two diced garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper and saut�ed that fro another two minutes. I turned off the heat and set the pan aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in my small stock pot, I put bacon grease on to melt (you are supposed to use pancetta, which I don't have. Now, I would have substituted good old bacon, but I couldn't find any of that, either!) To that I added another large Vidalia onion, again 1/4-inch diced. I cooked them for another seven minutes and then added four diced garlic cloves.

The recipe calls for canned San Marzano plum tomatoes, but all I have are regular Hunts whole canned tomatoes, so I opened four 28-ounce cans and put them into my largest bowl. The recipe also calls for running the tomatoes through a food mill, but I like my tomato sauce chunky, so I just squished them with my hands.

They went into the stock pot with lots of salt, black pepper, some oregano, basil and thyme. I left that to simmer for three hours (I should have made this on a weekend!)

Then I took one pound of ground chuck, one pound of ground pork and one pound of ground veal. I split each package in two and half went into a baggie (and then the freezer) for meat loaf mix. The other half went into that now rinsed big bowl.


To that I added two large eggs; one cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley, one cup breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup water. I squished that together for a bit, and then added the cooled onion and garlic mixture. I squished that some more.

I wiped out the saute pan and added more olive oil. I put it on medium high heat and preheated the oven to 350 degrees F.

I shaped the meat into balls, slightly larger than a golf ball. Then I browned them on all sides. As each one was finished, I put it on a half sheet tray I'd lightly oiled (yeah, more olive oil!)

When they were all brown, I put them in the oven for 15 minutes. When they were done, I took them out. Using tongs, I placed each meatball into the tomato sauce (everybody into the pool!)

About 9:30 PM (and now starving) I made a single serving of spaghetti, drained it and topped it with two meatballs and some sauce. Excellent! I put the rest of them into the fridge for the night. I'll put them in freezer containers tomorrow.

The only downside is I have a huge mess in the kitchen and had bad dreams all night (probably from eating so late).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights...

I woke up late on Sunday morning. Taking that nap on Saturday let me stay up way too late Saturday night.

I was right about the sunburn. My head was fine, but my shoulders hurt to the touch. And, the swimming movements aggravated my right shoulder, so I'm kind of a mess. Still, the swimming was good exercise and a lot of fun!

So, I didn't print out the ToDo list. I spent the day putzing around and watching a LOT of TV. I didn't even get motivated to make fancy food. I ate a can of chili for lunch and made Tuna and Peas over egg noodles for Sunday dinner.

I watched my Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Swimming Saturday

I woke up at 7:30 AM on Saturday and immediately went out and started a pot of coffee. Then I stripped the bed and started a load of laundry. I grabbed a cup of coffee and went in to post to the Blog.

I'm not sure why, but I felt a little lazy today. So, I putzed around, making my grocery lists, washing pots and pans and loading the dishwasher. I finally realized how late it was getting and shaved and showered. I had a 10:30 AM haircut scheduled, you see.

From there, I went to the Feed Store to buy more bird seed and suet cakes. Then I went to Kroger's to do the bulk of my bi-weekly grocery shopping.

When I got home, I treated the cats (they now demand this) and unloaded the car. I put away all the food and threw away the plastic bags.

Then I got started on what I thought was my own invention! I used Ina Garten's recipe for Buffalo chicken wings: I put one stick of unsalted butter with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, four teaspoons of Franks Red Hot Sauce and a teaspoon of Kosher salt. But, instead of adding chicken wings, I put in the two pounds of the cooked shrimp I bought yesterday.

I let that all get happy while I made the dipping sauce. I put 1 1/2 cups of crumbled Blue cheese, one cup of good mayonnaise (as Ina always stresses), 3/4 cup of sour cream, two tablespoons of whole milk and 3/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce in the food processor. I pulsed it until it was almost smooth (I like a few chunks). I put that in a four-cup container and cut up some celery sticks. Those went in a baggie.

When all that was done, I again tossed all the shrimp in the buffalo chicken wings sauce and pulled them out with my tongs. I set them on a rack that was on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. Meanwhile, I loaded up my cooler. I put in the blue cheese dip, some ice cream sandwiches I thought would make a good dessert and, finally, the Buffalo Shrimp.

Before I leave, I must tell you: I Goggled Buffalo Shrimp and found recipes for it. So, my "invention and creation" was just a joke! It could be that there are no new recipes to create. Anyway, I left home at 1:30 PM and headed to Jake and Carla's house. I am going swimming for the first time this year.

When I got there, I invited them to try the shrimp. They seemed to like it. My own impression was that the sauce didn't stick to the shrimp enough (of course with Buffalo Chicken Wings, you are basting the meat as it cooks and caramelizing it). Hmmm... Next time I'll try using raw shrimp and cooking it under the broiler or grilling it and adding the sauce. Still, it was pretty damn tasty!

Then we all changed into our bathing suits and got in the pool. I loved it and spent probably two or three hours swimming. They both got out way before me to fire up the grille and start dinner.

When I finally did get out and changed, I was a little nervous about the redness of my face and head (I hate being sunburned, if I haven't mentioned that before).

Jake had grilled hamburgers and red hots and Carla cut up the toppings.

So, I had a made-to-order cheese burger and a red hot in a bun. Along with that, I had some chips and a dollop of Carla's homemade Ranch dressing. Since I raved about the Ranch Dressing, while Jake cleared the table, Carla made another batch of it for me (I wish I'd paid more attention to the ingredients).

I put that in the cooler and headed for home around 6:30 PM. I was completely whipped from the swimming, BTW. When I got home, I put the ranch dressing in the fridge, my swimming suit and towel in the washer and made my bed from the now-dried bedding.

Then I took a nap.

I woke up at 9:00 PM. I watched a little TV and then decided to go to bed for real. BTW, my head (which has been exposed to the sun since spring) still looked red but did not hurt to the touch, but my shoulders (remember those T-shirts) did seem a bit burnt.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Finally Friday!

The cold front that brought the storms on Thursday brought a nice North wind on Friday morning along with lower humidity. But, it was still no relief from the heat (high of 88 degrees F.)

At lunch I went to a favorite deli and bought two pounds of fresh, cooked shrimp (I got an idea) and then went home to eat the last of the chicken Alfredo pasta.

At 5:00 PM, after work, the wind had died, but the heat remained. So, I changed into my shorts and T-shirt, went through the mail and then headed out to cut the back lawn.

I checked the oil and filled up the gas tank, got the remote control for the garage door and stuck it in the cup holder, opened the back gate, opened the door downstairs and fired the mower up.

I finished cutting the grass at 7:45 PM. While I was out back, I also watered the upside-down tomato planter and check my raised bed garden. Another hot pepper plant was missing and the other Jalape�o plant was knocked over. That does it! I am buying an air gun. Some critter will pay for this!

Back inside, I was relaxing and then my friend, B___ called. He wanted to see how I'd weathered the storm. I told him there was not much excitement here and asked about his place. He said there was a lot of debris blown down (twigs, etc.,) but nothing real bad. I told him I'd escaped even that and then we hung up.

I heated up the remaining smoked sausage and grilled sweet corn. I went in to watch the Friday night fights, but they weren't on yet. So, I watched taped cooking shows until they came on, then watched them until I got sleepy and went to bed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wet Thursday (no alliteration there, lol!)

We had wicked storms on Thursday afternoon. From the widespread reports of damage, downed power lines and trees and flooding, I have to say I got off pretty lucky.

It started here about 3:30 PM. I went out to the lobby and watched the rain blowing almost sideways. I could hear the thunder, but saw no real lightning. Finally, the rain lessened and by the time I left for home, it was just sprinkling.

Of course, this put an end to the idea of cutting the back lawn tonight. So, instead, I putzed around the house. The storm came back and I went out on the porch and watched the show. I smoke my third or fourth cigarette of the year and drank some bourbon. Again it was a nasty wind, thunder, but no lightning.

I went back inside when the rain stopped and found my daughter Melissa had called. So, I called her back and we had a nice long chat.

I warmed up two hot dogs for dinner and ate them on buns with yellow mustard (I was too lazy to cut up an onion). I watched a little TV and then went to bed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, and still in the heat wave

Wednesday was hotter still (92 degrees F.) Now, this is probably not "hot" in Virginia or North Carolina, but it's excessive in mid-June in Michigan. It was also our first "Ozone Action Day" here in Redford.

I made the mistake of going to Lowe's at lunch and can attest to that Ozone Action Day. I took the freeway to Newburgh Road and, down in the "ditch" (the freeway is below the surface streets), my car's AC blew in the smell of diesel fuel from the trucks.

I did get the items I needed, but since I was outside in the garden section, I also ended up quite hot and sweaty! I took the stuff home, dropped it off and headed back to work.

After work, I did miscellaneous inside stuff and finally got outside. I gassed up the push mower, checked the oil and fired it up. Then I cut the front lawn.

When I finished, I went back inside for a glass of water. It was already 7:30 PM, so I decided the back lawn would have to wait. I closed everything up and made some dinner.

I ate more of the grilled smoked sausage (with Dijon mustard) and two more ears of sweet corn. I started the mid-week laundry and went in to watch some TV.

I fell asleep watching TV and slept through the night.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My BEST "Mister Rogers" imitation...

"Can you say wee-wee?"

"Sure you can..."

photo

The North gate arbor vitae, before trimming

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The North gate arbor vitae, after trimming

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Watering the raised bed garden

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The North gate, from the front yard

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The viola in the front garden

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The splits in the tree box #1

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The splits in the tree box #2

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The splits in the tree box #3

"Having a Heat Wave..."

Tuesday was even hotter (88 degrees F.) and muggier (is that a word?). So, when I got home after work, I changed into shorts and a T-shirt and went out to water the container gardens.

I deadheaded all the purple wave petunias while I was at it (not an easy chore as they are in every container except for the mailbox tub).

I took some photos of the cracks in the tree box. That really ticks me off! I made the second one (who knows who made the first) out of stained plywood and it lasted a good five years. So, I spend the money on cedar (picturing it weathered and gray) and it splits in four months?

While I was at it, I took some random garden photos and photos of the North gate. Why the North gate? Well, I have an idea (I hate when I have ideas... it always costs me money and makes more work for me!)

Then I went out back and watered the upside-down tomato, the new herbs and finally, I checked the raised bed garden. I shoved my finger all the way down and found no damp dirt. So, I hooked up the square sprinkler, set it in the middle of the garden and turned it on.

Then I got the bow saw and the garden nippers and cut away the overgrown arbor vitae next to said-same North gate (see photos).

Now, you really are a long-time reader if you remember I padlocked this gate when I first moved in (the key now long-lost) and the gate is actually sunk into the soil. This is the spot where I dump the dirty rocks from Newt's bowl.

After 1/2 hour I turned off the sprinkler and coiled up the hose.

Back inside, it was almost 7:30 and I was hungry. I deboned the chicken left from the stock making and added it to a jar of store-bought Alfredo sauce. I warmed that up while making a pound of fettuccine. When the fettuccine was al dente, I mixed the two together, and topped it with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

I plated some and wandered in to watch some TV before going to bed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A couple of things I forgot...

Yesterday, I got a letter in the mail from my bank, with a new ATM card in it. Why? It seems that my account information on my current ATM card "might" have been hacked! They advised me to cut up the old card, activate the new one and to carefully watch my account for a while for "suspicious" transactions... They also assured me that they take great pains to protect my information and this won't happen again. Gee, that's reassuring...

When I was grilling, a lady stopped her vehicle in the road at the foot of my driveway, rolled down the window and honked her horn. When I looked up, she yelled that that was the most beautiful clematis she'd ever seen. I told her that it was, in fact, the best it's ever been this year. Then she drove on. That made me feel good...

Monday

Monday was hot and humid (high was 84 degrees F.) I decided to grille outside, so the air conditioner wouldn't have to work any harder than it already was. So, I stopped at Westborn and got some corn at lunch.

Once home after work and clothes changed, I grabbed some scissors and my Velcro tape and went out to secure my tomatoes to the first row of my trellis in the raised bed garden. Somebody or something broke off on of the Jalape�o peppers right at the base of the plant!

Back inside, I called a friend to see how he was doing. I also found a Sunday voicemail from Acenter (Carla's mom) wishing me a happy father's day. Then I dragged out the grille and lit some newspaper under the filled charcoal chimney.

When the charcoal was ready, I spread out the coals, wire-brushed the grates, oiled them and put on the corn. When that was done, I moved it to the cooler end of the grates. Then I started grilling some natural casing franks and a rope of smoked sausage I'd cut into three-inch lengths.

When everything was done, I pulled it all off and went inside. I ate some smoked sausage with Dijon mustard and two ears of corn.

I watched TV but went to bed early.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Still thinking about my Dad...

Adapted from
"Shifting the Sun" by Diana Der Hovanessian

When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.

When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.

And you walk in his light.

Father's Day

I woke up late on this Father's Day. Before I go any further, I want to wish a "Happy Father's Day" to my dearly departed dad, George Otto Goerlich. As his youngest son, we were really worlds apart (he was already in his '40s when I was born) but, I never have forgotten, nor abandoned, his work ethic.

I still remember the time (but I no longer remember why) when he held a stake or fence post or something and I was supposed to pound it in with a big sledge hammer.

I was just a little kid and after two or three swings, I missed and hit his hands. The blood spurted out of his wounds. But instead of quitting, he gripped the stake, or whatever, tighter and told me to try again and be more careful.

Dad, you were an inspiration and I promise to never forget you! Even to this day, I tell people I am a first generation German-American. And, I am damn proud of that!

I finally posted the lengthy Blog entry and then made a full pot of coffee and drank two cups. I folded up the last load of laundry and put it away. Then I stripped the bed and started another load of laundry

I am just whipped, I admit it. I have my usual extensive ToDo list, but don't think any of it is gonna happen today.

I got an email from Jeremy, (at 2:00 AM), who wished me a happy Father's day. So, all my kids have acknowledged me, each in their own way.

I had taken out a whole chicken to thaw Saturday night, but it wasn't completely thawed until afternoon. I swept the kitchen and then went outside to refill the bird feeder and suet cage while I was waiting.

Back inside, I put the chicken in the medium stock pot and seasoned it (lightly with salt, but heavily with fresh ground black pepper). Then I covered it with 1 1/2 gallons of cold water. I added three bay leaves and brought it to a boil, then turned it to simmer. I set the timer for one hour and went to watch "Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World" again.

When the timer went off, I used my tongs to fish out the chicken. I cut off the two perfectly poached chicken breasts and put them on a plate to cool. I put the chicken back in the pot and set the timer for three hours. I put the chicken breasts into a baggie and into the fridge.

I made a tuna fish sandwich out of tuna, Vidalia onions and mayonnaise (I don't have much celery left and need it all for the stock). When the timer went off again, I added my aromatics (garlic, onions carrots and celery) and reset the timer for one hour.

When that timer went off, I turned off the heat and let it cool down. I started watching my Sunday night shows. About 10:00 PM, the pot was cool enough to pick up with just my hands, so I got a strainer and filled up four four-cup containers with stock. Those got labeled and put into the freezer. I picked out the usable chicken meat, put that on a plate, covered it with tinfoil and stuck it in the fridge as well.

I left the remaining mess in the stock pot to put in the garbage in the morning and went in to go to bed.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Morning, Over Easy, Part III

Song snippet

"I'm a juvenile product of the working class
Whose best friend floats in the bottom of a glass"

~ Elton John - Saturday Night's all Right for Fighting

Sunday Morning, Over Easy, Part II

Song snippet

"And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence"

~ Simon and Garfunkle, the Sound of Silence

Sunday Morning, over easy...

Song snippet.

"She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl."

~ Bob Dylan, Just like a woman"

Road Trip and Reunion

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I checked on the patio and found two more inches of rain in the gauge. That means a total of 2 1/2 inches of rain from this storm!

I made a cup of instant coffee, rather than a whole pot, then went to shave and shower. I got dressed and then headed out on an errand run. First stop was the gas station. I filled up the car and the lawnmower gas can. Then I went to Westborn to buy some red onions and an English cucumber.

Back home, I got the mail and found a funny Father's Day card from my daughter, Melissa (thanks, Babe!) Then, I started making my Radish Salad. You see, I had bought a beautiful bunch of radishes on Friday (purely an impulse buy) and I got to thinking last night my Mom might like to try that salad. When I went to the recipes section in this website, I found I also needed a red onion and an English (or seedless) cucumber. Since I had to go out for gas anyway, I made a quick trip to Westborn.

I cut up the radishes, the peeled cucumber and the red onion. I put the apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a saucepan to boil, and then added the vegetable oil. Then I poured the hot dressing over the veggies, mixed it well and let it cool down. I put it into a Glad container for the trip.

Then I loaded up the cooler: the pasta salad, the radish salad, a package of Ballpark skinless all-beef hot dogs, a package of the Dearborn natural casing hot dogs, a package of Johnsonville smoked brats and the refrigerated clam chowder. Then I added some frozen bean soup, frozen chicken noodle and finally the frozen clam chowder. The cooler went onto the back seat of the car.

Next I loaded up a laundry basket with three packages of hot dog buns, and the new condiments (I never know what is out at the cottage and what is not, so I over-prepare). I bought some Hunt's catsup, some yellow mustard, some Dijon mustard, a jar of sweet pickle relish and a jar of dill pickle relish. I also added two cups of diced Vidalia onions I'd cut up this morning. Why a laundry basket? I find it's easier to carry a solid thing like the basket up those dreaded stairs.

Then I hit the road.

I got to the cottage without incident at 11:45 AM. It was later than I'd planned (the last minute radish salad set me back a bit), but it was okay. No one was there yet (except Mom and Cora, of course) and Mom was taking a nap. So, I unpacked everything, told Cora what soups I was putting in the freezer and that I had lunch for Mom made whenever it was time.

Mom got up and I went out on the porch and visited a while with her. Then Amy and young Carl showed up, with Fran and Jim. After all our greetings, Fran and Jim left and Amy and Carl got down to a day at the cottage: Amy made coffee and Carl went fishing. Fran had brought a tuna noodle salad (which went into the fridge) and a plate of brownies (which went on the table).

Rather than making this a 14 page epistle, I'll just give you the highlights:

Mom, Cora, Amy and young Carl were joined (in the following order) by my brother Carl and his grandson, Tariq; Jake and Carla; Laura, Austin and her new baby, Anna.

It was very, very windy, hot and humid, BTW.

I did make the soup for Mom's lunch (I served it topped with a pat of butter and some diced fresh parsley). My brother Carl asked for a small bowl and then my grandson Carl asked to try it. They both liked it. We also ate my pasta salad, Fran's tuna noodle salad (which was great, BTW) and had the brownies (well, not me, of course) for dessert. I completely forgot to get out the radish salad (I am my Mother's son, after all).

After lunch, I sprayed the ant spray around every inside wall in the cottage. My Brother Jim had instructed my Brother Carl to buy it, but told him to "delegate" the actual work to me. We both questioned why the two crips were supposed to do this, rather than hire a real exterminator, but we did it.

Carl called my brother Jim to ask him where the Comcast guy was (they are hooking up the cottage so Mom and Cora can watch TV). He checked and said they were on the way.

A local photographer knocked on the door and Amy thought he was Jeremy (well, they both had dark hair and a beard). It seems that he had taken a photo of the cottage at night (he showed me the photo on his iPod, but it was hard to see) and a service wanted to offer it as a stock photo. But, he needed a release. So, I said I'd fill it in and Carl asked that we be given four copies. He said he'd come back, so I filled it all in and signed it and left it with Cora.

The Comcast guy finally showed up. It was all quite amusing, BTW. Instead of the usual pristine white van with the company logo on it that I am used to, this guy had an old beater truck with no muffler. He seemed very confused by that fact that there was no cable already run and he would have to put it in himself. But Carl instructed him on how he wanted it installed. So, he finally went across the street, climbed the pole and got the wire hooked to the pole and laid out across the road.

He parked his truck on the inside lane of the road and recruited Jake to direct traffic around it. He also had Amy holding the wire, pulling out a drill, etc., which she said he owed her a dollar for (that's my girl!)

Finally he finished and hopefully, they have cable (the last screen I saw on the TV was blue and said, "This channel will be available shortly").

My Brother Carl's grandson and my grandson Carl had been swimming and fishing and fooling around on the dock all day. But, at one point, my Brother Carl's grandson Tariq pushed my grandson Carl into the water and his glasses flew off!

Then followed a tense hour or so. The wind made the surface of the water choppy, so it was difficult to see down in the water. And, from the dock, whenever you saw a straight line and thought it was the glasses, it would turn out to be a fish. We scoured the cottage, looking for some goggles, but couldn't find any. Austin got on his swimsuit and an inner tube and was floating around trying to spot them from the surface. Jake and Carla took off to go and buy some goggles.

About five minutes before they returned with the goggles, Austin found the glasses!

Amy had to leave early to attend a play directed by a friend. I asked her about it and she said she thought it was a comedy, based on a movie. I asked her the name of the movie and she said, "Train spotting". I said, "Um... I've actually seen that movie and its, well, not a comedy." She said, "Well, what is it then?" I said it was a movie about heroin addicts in England. She was aghast, but said she still should go. I told I understood, but to try not to laugh.

I tried to clean the grille with some rough sandpaper (couldn't find a brush). Amy suggested just using tinfoil, but when she checked she only found a piece about three inches wide. So, I scrubbed it as best I could, oiled it up with some vegetable oil and lit the charcoal (no mean feat in that damn wind!)

So, I grilled the hot dogs and brats. Just as they were about done, an ice cream guy rode by on a bicycle. I pointed him out to Amy (I'd never seen that kind of rig before), so she ran out to stop him and all the kids got some ice cream. So, I pulled off the grilled meat and took them upstairs. Dumb me, I was going to cover them with tinfoil to keep warm and then I remembered... So, I inverted bowls over them.

Since everyone was downstairs except Mom and Cora, I thought, well, we should just eat outside. So, I started carrying stuff downstairs. This being about the 30th time up and down those damn steep stairs, I stumbled on the top step. I caught myself, but was a bit ashamed that Jake had seen that. After that, he and Carla made all the trips. Carla took hot dogs up to Mom and Cora (catsup only for Cora, mustard only for Mom).

The idea of eating outside in that wind was insane, BTW. Paper plates kept blowing away, napkins were small kites and so on... But, anybody who was even a little hungry got some hot food.

About then, Fran and Jim came back to pick up Amy and young Carl and we all said our goodbyes. It was really nice to see them again!

Carla suggested quietly that I looked pretty beat and maybe I should go home. I thought about it for a minute and realized just how tired I was, so I agreed. I bagged up the leftover hot dogs and brats and stuck them in the fridge for Cora and Mom. I left the pasta and radish salads and told Cora I'd get the containers next time I was out (I did explain the radish salad should be served at room temperature.

Jake took the garbage bag downstairs and stuck it in my trunk.

I made my goodbyes and left at 5:45 PM. I got home about an hour later. I went to take out the garbage bag and saw I never took out the lawnmower gas can! So, my whole trunk was perfumed with gasoline!

I started filling in the Blog and then Luanne called to wish me Happy Father's Day. I passed along both Carl and Laura's comments that they wanted to buy some soap and she said she would email them.

I wasn't hungry, so I watched some TV, but turned in early. Both my legs were shot and my ankles all swollen, but, I had a GREAT day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday Night, On the Line...

Thunder and lightning woke me early Friday morning, but this time I was able to just roll over and go back to sleep. It was only sprinkling, though, when I left for work.

It had completely cleared up and was sunny, hot and humid when I went to lunch. I stopped at both Meijer's and Westborn to get some ingredients for dishes to take out to Lake Orion. I plan on making my "light" Italian pasta salad and grilling some hot dogs and brats. I'll also make some of my clam chowder soup for Mom.

After I got home and unloaded the car, I checked the gauge on the patio and found I'd gotten 1/2 inch of rain overnight. And, it still may not be finished. They are predicting occasional rain and thunderstorms (some may be severe) late afternoon through Saturday morning.

I left work an hour early (with the blessings of my boss). I had a lot to do tonight at home and was all caught up at work, so it made sense to me. It was sprinkling on the ride home, BTW.

Once there, I treated the cats, changed into my shorts and T-shirt and started making my clam chowder soup. I had it finished and cooling by 6:00 PM. This used up my last container of homemade chicken stock, so I know what I'll be doing on Sunday...

It was sunny again and my thermometer said it was 80 degrees F. (the Weather Channel said 76 degrees, BTW, but the thermometer is in the sun). Regardless, I got out the step ladder and cleaned out the gutters over Jake's patio. I finished that and was back inside by 6:45 PM. It was really, really muggy, BTW.

Now it was time to make the pasta salad for Lake Orion (the longer it sits in the dressing, the better it tastes, you see). So, I cleaned up all the bowls, utensils, etc, I used for the clam chowder, started the dish washer and got to work.

I won't bore you with details, but if you are interested, go to the Archives and pick Wednesday's post on April 30, 2009. The only thing I changed was to use fresh mozzarella (cut into 1/2 inch cubes) instead of the provolone and to change the ratio of the dressing from one part lemon juice to three parts extra virgin olive oil to one part lemon juice to two parts EVOO (I really wanted more of the lemon "zing"). Oh, yeah. I also switched out the Rotini pasta and used imported Italian pasta that translates into "radiators" (if you saw them you would understand).

I started making it at 7:15 PM. When I went out to pick some fresh oregano, it was raining, again. I finally finished the dish at 9:00 PM. I put away two four-cup containers of the now-cooled clam chowder, one in the freezer and one in the fridge. Had I remembered the final amounts, (it's been a while since I made this), I would have doubled the recipe for Mom.

I put the pasta salad into the new, big container I bought today. Obviously, there were many, many taste tests and it's almost spot-on. It just really needs more salt. But, my Mother isn't supposed to have a lot of salt, so I always under-season things I make for her.

So, it's after 9:00 PM and my kitchen is a total disaster. There are pots and pans, whisks and spoons, a dirty immersion blender and bowls and "stuff" everywhere. Other than cleaning out the gutter, it's been a continual five hour cooking marathon.

I decided that I can clean up this mess tomorrow morning and deserve a break tonight (what's left of it, anyway). So, I just turned my back and walked away...

What's nice is that with all the tasting of both the soup and the pasta salad, I'm not at all hungry. So dinner tonight is... NOTHING! I went in to see what was on TV tonight.

Unfortunately, the Friday Night Fights were NOT on (dammit) so I watched a taped cooking show until I was sleepy and then turned the TV off.

The thunder was rumbling and the lightning lit up the house as I tried to go to sleep. It was pretty impressive, but I fell asleep eventually, anyway.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday's Tale

(Yeah, I know. I use that too much, too! But after years of doing daily posts, you run out of fresh titles, lol!)

Thursday was hot and humid, but no rain. So, after work, I treated cats, changed my clothes and went outside.

Tonight's task? Get the grass cut before the rain returns on Friday!

So, I gassed up the push mower and checked the oil. Then I cut the front lawn. Next I gassed up the riding mower, checked the oil and cut the back forty. No time for any trimming, but at least the bulk of its cut and it looks nice.

I put everything away and locked up. When I checked the clock, it was just after 8:30 PM. Didn't feel much like making supper, so I just heated up a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew.

All that walking tuckered me out, so I went to bed early.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wet Wednesday (I've used this too much)

Well, then it should stop raining on Wednesdays!

Anyway, it rained overnight here, but I caught a break, It was cloudy and overcast when I left for work, but NOT raining. Before leaving, I realized how hungry I was. Since I am just now out of my Irish porridge, I soft-boiled three eggs and ate them with torn-up bread, butter, salt and pepper. Delicious and soul-satisfying!

It apparently rained again between then and lunch (how would I know, being in a windowless office suite? By the puddles and my windshield.)

When I went home after work, it was not raining, just windy and overcast. But, it's too wet outside to cut grass, move mulch (you think it's a pain in the butt to move dry, try doing it when it's wet) or clean out the other two gutters (in the front, anyway, the ladder sinks into the wet garden soil).

So, instead I watered the container gardens and urn in front (which are all under the eaves and do not benefit from normal rainfall). While I was filling up my watering can, I looked out back and saw the bird feeder and suet cage were both empty. So, having nothing better to do while it was filling, I made up the following song:

"Bird seed and suet,
I must soon get to it...
The birds are depending
on my happy ending..."

Okay, it was lame, but fun to sing while I watered everything. I like to attribute these sorts of moments to the cleverness of my mind, but it could also be the toll that the 1960's and 70's took on my brain...

I dunno...

Once I had the watering done, I went out back and refilled the bird feeder and suet cage. Then I watered the Topsy-turvy tomato plant (also hanging under the eaves). Next I went out to the raised bed garden and thinned out the radish and leaf lettuce seedling to about a space of two inches, per plant. I didn't see any further damage caused by the (squirrels? Rabbits? Ground hogs? I dunno). My only prayer to the garden gods is that they bite into a Habanera pepper! That'll learn 'em!

Back inside it was already after 7:00 PM when I changed clothes. I started the Wednesday night wash and began thinking of dinner. I was going to make tuna and peas over egg noodles, but found to my dismay I didn't have any cans of mushroom soup. So, I put the egg noodles back and dug out a box of mac & cheese. I fixed that and ate about half of it watching TV. Then I went to bed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Early Morning Blues

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had to be in Southfield for my MRI at the ungodly hour of 6:15 AM. So, I had gone to bed early but unfortunately, I kept waking up throughout the long night. I got shaved, showered and dressed and then took out the garbage (it is Tuesday, after all). I headed for my appointment in the dark.

I got there a little early, and went through the usual forms, etc. Finally done with the red tape, I went and took off all my metal stuff, locked it up and then went into the test room.

Now, this is one of those "Open" MRI's, which sounds better than the tube (anything but that tube again!) But, you still have to go under a huge mass (the magnet). At first, I was looking up at it, but that immediately started to bother me. So, the technician gave me another style of pillow so I lay with my head turned and could look sideways into the room.

The noise was bad (they do give you earplugs) and I was grateful when it finally stopped. I was a lot less grateful when he told me that was the completion of the first set of tests (there are six in all and it takes 20-25 minutes). So, to keep from starting to panic and to take my mind off the noise, I decided to count seconds until I hit 1,200 (or twenty minutes). I had to remind myself to take some deep breaths every now and then, but otherwise the time eventually passed. I got my stuff back on, thanked him and left at about 6:45 AM.

I stopped back at the house to change my shirt (I had sweated a lot, although it wasn't that warm in the room) and then headed to work.

I went home for lunch and, after eating, went out to water the upside-down tomato plant. It was already getting hot out (I think it's supposed to get to a high of 76 degrees F., with rain beginning tonight and continuing on through Friday) and the barometer is falling.

I walked back to the raised bed garden and was shocked to see that of the four golf ball-sized green peppers I had growing (and were so proud of), three were missing! The last one was lying in the dirt with a hole gnawed through it! Damn!

When I got home after 5:00 PM, I changed clothes and went out back, with my 12-12-12 fertilizer, a bag of insect dust and the bag of sulfur. I lost one rose over the winter, so I made a wide circle of the fertilizer around the remaining four. Then I dusted them all with the insect dust (two look healthy, and two, sickly).

Next I went to the Rhododendron. I lost two out of the four last winter (Jake and Carla's was so beautiful it made my heart skip a beat this Spring). So, I duplicated the wide circle of fertilizer, the insect dust and then added some sulfur (Rhododendron's like that). Back inside, it was after 6:00 PM and I put the stuff away, and then carefully washed my hands and forearms.

I went back outside and took down my bicycle and then the step ladder. Jake had mentioned at work he was gonna clean his gutters tonight (the damn maple seeds or "helicopters" are just now starting to lighten up). When I pulled in the driveway, I noticed I had little maple trees growing in my gutters, so I decided to follow his lead.

I got the longest one done (in front of the garage), except the downspout seems to be plugged. But, it was getting late and I was getting tired of going up and down the ladder. So, I stuck the ladder in the garage and came inside to wash up (again).

What with my early morning adventure and late afternoon exercise, I was pooped, so I went to be at 9:30 PM.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Finally Fixed the Sink!

Monday morning came all too soon. It's supposed to be hot and dry today (unlike most of the USA, with rain and severe storm warnings from the Rockies all the way to the East Coast).

When I got home after 5:00 PM, I immediately watered all the container gardens. I was dismayed to find that the cedar tree box I'd so carefully made had spilt at both ends. I'll have to think of a clever way to repair it.

Then I took everything out from under the kitchen sink and started the third (and last) suggestion for solving the trickle that's become the hot water output. I did as suggested and took off the flexible water line from the copper pipe (after shutting off the water). I put down a bath towel and covered the valve with a coffee cup. I turned it back on and water shot everywhere!

So, now I know it's between the 3/4-inch shutoff and the faucet. I took a thin wire and reamed out the 3/8-inch flexible line. Then I took off the faucet shutoff knob and cleaned out the inside mechanism (again). I put that coffee cup over the knob opening and turned the water back on. Again, water shot everywhere!

I put everything back together, cleaned out the sediment in the aerator and turned the water on. Hot Damn! It works!! I can wash dishes in the sink again!!!

I checked on the steak in its marinade and realized I didn't add any acid to it. So, I juiced a whole lemon and added that to the bag (along with some red pepper flakes). I massaged it in and left it on the counter to come up to room temperature.

Meanwhile I peeled two big sweet potatoes, then cubed them up and put them in a pan of cold water and kosher salt. While they were heating up, I got out my metal steamer and added more cold water and salt to my smaller sauce pan.

I boiled the sweet potatoes until fork tender (about 20 minutes). Then I mashed them. In the saucepan, I mixed together 3/4 cup of whipping cream, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, two tablespoon of molasses, six tablespoons of butter and 1/8 cup of bourbon.

I let that simmer over medium heat until the butter was melted and the mixture was creamy. I poured half into the mashed sweet potatoes (original recipe called for four sweet potatoes, but I didn't want that many leftovers). Finally, I sprinkled just a little brown sugar on top and covered the bowl to let it melt.

For the steak, I shook off the marinade and patted it dry. I added some olive oil to my cast iron pan and put it on medium high heat. When the oil shimmered, I put the steak in and left it alone for four minutes. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F.

I flipped the steak over and stuck the pan into the oven for 14 minutes to finish cooking. Then I took it out, plated it and let it rest for another 8 minutes of so, while I steamed some frozen peas. Then I assembled my food and went in to watch some TV.

The sweet potatoes were awesome! The crust on the steak was great and the flavor excellent. Only thing is that it was a perfect "medium," and I prefer medium-rare.

I cleaned up and then went to bed early. I have that MRI tomorrow morning and have to be at the place at 6:15 AM!

Monday, June 15, 2009

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Clematis, North view

Sunday's Story

I slept late on Sunday, waking up around 8:30 AM. I had two cups of warmed up coffee for breakfast.

As you probably know, it's my custom to pitch (or eat) the hard boiled eggs when I buy new ones. Whatever is left from the old eggs then becomes hard boiled. And the new eggs, with the date written down, are put in the fridge.

So, today, I took the six hard boiled eggs left over and chopped them up. I added some fine diced Vidalia onion, good mayonnaise, and a splash of yellow mustard and salt and pepper. I toasted the "oatnut' bread, added the last of the lettuce and made myself an egg salad sandwich for lunch.

I went outside to move some mulch. By trying to do this right, I have added another component into this procedure. I am now putting down landscape fabric before applying the mulch. This is supposed to allow rainwater to penetrate, but not allow weeds to grow.

So, I have a roll of the stuff (from Home Depot) and am fitting it around my "good" plants with a pair of scissors before trucking in the mulch.

Note to self: Pain in the butt!

Once back inside, I put the T-Bone steak I'd thawed in a simple marinade: Fresh chopped garlic, fresh oregano, salt, pepper and peanut oil. I put the steak and marinade together in a baggie and then back in the fridge. Then I cut the small, seedless watermelon I'd bought into two-inch chunks for snacking.

It was getting late, so I decided to save the steak for Monday's dinner and just stick with the watermelon for Sunday's supper. I watched the last four hours of "Lonesome Dove" and then went to bed.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

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Oregano, harvested and ready to dry

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Tarragon, harvested and ready to dry.

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Clematis, south view

Saturday

I woke up at 7:00 AM on Saturday. It was raining outside. I made a pot of coffee and stripped the bed. The bedding went in the wash, and then I got a cup of coffee and posted the Blog.

I was lazy and though I have errands to run, I didn't feel like doing them in the rain. But, the rain finally let up around 9:00 AM, so I hopped in the shower. I cleaned up and hit the road. I stopped at Home Depot and then made a completely wasted trip to Gordon Food Service (GFS).

Why wasted? Well, a while back, I mentioned to Jake that I was looking online for some racks that would fit my half-sheet pans. The next time he went to the GFS in Canton (by his house), he called and told me that they now have them. But, when I went to mine today (in Livonia, by me) they didn't. I even asked a stock boy if they had them somewhere else, explaining my son said the Canton store carried them. He explained that no two GFS stores carry the same items. Stupid! So, it was a wasted trip.

Then I went to Kroger's for my grocery shopping. I didn't have a lot of items I needed and so it was just mostly shopping off their sales flyer. So, minus the veggies that I only buy at Westborn, I spent $83.00 US for two weeks worth of meals.

I got home just after noon and treated the cats (they are now hard-wired into the belief that if the garage door goes up and down, they deserve treats) and unloaded the groceries. I put them all away, checked the caller ID and returned a call (but I just got their voicemail). Since I was sitting on the couch anyway, I spent some time petting Caley, who crawled on my lap when I was making my phone call (did I mention I'm feeling lazy today?)

Finally, guilt got the better of me and, after making my bed up, I started cleaning the house. But I had the TV on and kept stopping to watch cooking shows.

It was still cloudy and overcast, so I didn't feel like working outside.

My friend called back, so I talked to him for a while. Then I took a long nap.

Instead of the elaborate meal I'd originally planned, I settled for the blue box of mac and cheese. I ate that watching the first two parts of the anniversary production of the mini-series "Lonesome Dove," which I'd never seen, back in the day (the next two parts are on Sunday night). After that, it was late and I went to bed...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fantastic Friday

Friday started out a little cool but turned into a beautiful day. When I went home for lunch, I left my jacket there as it was already over 70 degrees F.

While looking for something else on the Internet, I happened to come across an advertisement for a walking tour of Royal Oak restaurants on Saturday. You went to 7-9 restaurants and ended up in what they called a local micro-brewery (which I assume is the one owned by my ex-neighbor's son, John). It was from 11:30 to 3:00 PM on Saturday and sounded interesting.

When I got home, I immediately changed clothes and went outside. First, I filled the bird feeder (I'm out of suet) and then checked the container gardens (they were all still damp). There was 1 1/2 inches of rain in the gauge that I dumped out, BTW.

Next, I added air to the one tractor tire, checked the oil and filled it up with gas. I spent the next two hours cutting the back lawn. It still needs trimming, but the bulk of the cutting was done.

Back inside, I went on the computer to check out the Royal Oak thing, and found that this Saturday was already all booked up. Damn! Oh, well, it's on every Saturday until September, apparently, so I'll try again some other day.

I ate leftovers for dinner and went to watch the Red Wings lose the last game of the finals. Depressed, I went to bed...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nothing much...

...happened last night.

It was a rainy, cold day. I talked to Melissa again. Dinner was another BLT sandwich and I went to bed early.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

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Bacon, ready for the oven

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Clematis, again

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Front Garden #6

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Front Garden #5

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Front Garden #4

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Front Garden #3

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Front Garden #2

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Front Garden #1

Wednesday

Wednesday morning was cloudy, with a 30% chance of occasional rain predicted. However, when I went home for lunch, it still had not rained and so I grew hopeful it would not before I had the chance to cut the front lawn.

And, for a change, I got lucky! When I went home at 5:00 PM, it was still sunny outside. So, I treated the cats, checked my email and voicemail, changed clothes and headed out to the garage.

I unwound the 100-foot extension cord and plugged in the line trimmer. I trimmed everything in the front yard (around trees, the gardens, the driveway, etc.) and then coiled the cord back up and put that all away.

I went out back and hooked up my new square pattern sprinkler. My old one died, so I had to throw it away. This time I bought a simpler one (by Vigoro, called Dad's Reliable) with no moving parts. I put that in the middle of the raised bed garden and turned the water on.

Then I gassed up the push mower, checked the oil and fired it up. I cut all of the front lawn and then went and got my camera. I took several pictures of the front garden for you, plus another of the Clematis (which, as I said before, has an amazing number of blossoms and buds this year). I went out back and turned the water off.

I washed up and started my supper. I put 1/2 pound of bacon on a rack, overlapped slightly (it keeps it from becoming too crisp) and covered it with fresh ground black pepper. I put the rack inside a foil-lined cookie sheet and put that in a preheated 400 degrees F. oven for 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile I toasted some of that Oatnut bread and sliced up two vine-grown tomatoes. I also ripped up some lettuce. When everything was ready, I added some mayonnaise and made a great Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato (BLT) sandwich. I ate that watching TV and then went to bed early.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday's Story

I know you thought I would say, "Tale" right? Well, alliteration will only take you so far, my friend...

I didn't set the alarm last night, because I have an MRI scheduled this morning at 9:00 AM in Southfield (it's for my shoulder). So, I woke up at 6:30 and, basically, lollygagged around. I toasted the last of the sourdough English muffins for my breakfast and ate that, buttered, with a cup of instant coffee.

I thought I'd check my phone's voicemail to see if anyone had called after I went to bed (they sometimes do) and found, instead, the MRI place had called at 6:00 PM (when I was out weeding). The message was they have to reschedule me and to call and set up another time!

Oh, shit!

Now, I am late for work! So, I put it into overdrive and got shaved, showered, dressed, the garbage taken out to the road (thank God I'd collected it all last night) and made it to work at 7:59 AM. Whew!

I called the place after 9:00 AM (I don't know when they open) and got the next available appointment: 6:30 AM on Tuesday the 16th (think about that for just a moment).

At lunch, I went to Westborn for this week's apples and some veggies: vine-ripened tomatoes, a head of cauliflower, some sweet potatoes, mushrooms and some Georgia Vidalia onions. I love those things! When they are in season, they are my go-to onions; otherwise I like to use red onions for my raw needs and yellow onions when I cook soups and stews.

I got home and got in the mail. It's an absolutely gorgeous day, BTW. At 5:00 PM, it was 75 degrees F., with a nice little breeze.

I changed my clothes and sorted through the mail. One of the envelopes I opened was a graduation announcement for my niece Linda's daughter Chelsea. It had a striking picture of her (I think my sister-in-law Coletta told me she has recently been doing some modeling), but the weird part was I got it today, June 9, and the commencement ceremony was June 7th. Anyway, congratulations, Chelsea!

After I straightened up the kitchen, it was just 6:00 PM and I went out to plant the front garden. It was long over-due.

I got it planted (it looks nice. I'll take a picture for you after I get the front grass cut) and went back inside. It was almost 7:30 PM. My daughter Melissa called and we chatted for a while.

I made some Campbell's tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich (on Oatnut bread) and watched the Wings lose game 6.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quote of the day...

...I love this one!

"Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house."

~ Rod Stewart

Quote of the Day

"If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is 'God is crying.' And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is 'Probably because of something you did.'"

~ Jack Handey

Rainy days and Monday's...

It was windy and chilly when I left for work on Monday. By mid-morning, the rain was coming down hard.

By the time five o'clock rolled around, the rain finally switched to occasional thunderstorms.

I changed clothes and tried to return a Sunday voicemail from Lu. Then I went outside to get some work done. My goal tonight is to weed the front garden. I thought it might be easier after the heavy rain (I had 1/2 inch of rain showing in the gauge).

That worked on the individual weeds, but this year there was a lot of grass in the garden as well. The sod had to be dug out! This is about three weeks later than normal for me to start working on this garden, BTW.

It took a while, but I finally got it all cleaned out. I added some 12-12-12 fertilizer and worked that into the soil. Then I topped the garden with Preen (a product that helps prevent seeds from germinating). Then I planted the two habaneras pepper plants that wouldn't fit in the raised bed garden.

Since I had the fertilizer out, I went back and added some to the raised bed garden. I sprinkled it lightly between the rows and then worked it into the soil.

I went back inside around 7:00 PM, just in time to take Lu's return call. We chatted for a bit and caught each other up on the news.

After that, I heated up some leftovers for dinner (its garbage day tomorrow, so tonight it's use it or lose it. I watched TV until bedtime.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday

I slept in until 7:00 AM on Sunday. I warmed up the coffee and posted the Blog entry. It looks like it rained recently, but its not raining right now.

I cleaned up the kitchen, took out the trash and swept the downstairs floor. I shaved and showered during which time I missed a friend's phone call, so I called him back. We caught each other up and then said our goodbyes.

I went out and made my brunch (it was after 10:00 by then). I made my old favorite, roast beef hash, topped with two over-easy eggs. I cleaned up that mess and started the dishwasher.

Then I went to Home Depot. I need some heavy duty wire, a metal fence post and some landscape fabric. I got all that, plus an 8-pack of AA batteries and paid the nice lady $48 US.

Back home, I was hoping the forecasted thunderstorms hold off for a while, because I really need to clean the downstairs shower. The shower curtain, along with the bath mat and the upstairs bath mat went into the washer and I sprayed the shower tiles down with mould killer. After I rinsed that off, I washed them down with Top Job and a brush. I rinsed it all down and, when the washer was done with the first rinse, I took out the shower curtain and hung it back up to dry.

Then I took the fence post out along with my hand sledge and, after determining the optimum location, pounded it at least half of it length into the rear garden. "What am I doing?" you may well ask. Well, ever since the flowering plum grew above the cement wall in back, it has started leaning more and more towards the east.

No, I don't think it's a Muslim, I think it's the prevailing west wind here, maybe mixed with a weak root system. Anyway, I've noticed it for a year or two but haven't really thought and/or done anything about it. But, the last time I chatted with my neighbors, Rick asked me why that tree was leaning over so much. That was the push I needed to fix it.

So, I cut a foot off a small black hose (something or another I had leftover in the garage) and about 20 feet of the wire (14 gauge galvanized wire - the smallest amount I could get was 100 feet, but I'm sure I'll use it somewhere, sometime).

As I said, I determined the optimum location for the stake. How? I walked around the tree and, where it was visually perfectly straight, I put the fence post about ten feet right behind there.

I threaded the wire through the hose and put it around the trunk, just after the first branch (so it can't slip down). I then twisted the hell out of the wire, first by hand but finishing with a pair of pliers.

I admit, I took out my "come-a-long" to bend the tree backwards, but it actually moved when I just pushed on it (which leads me to think of the shallow root system theory. So I threaded the wire through a convenient hole in the metal fence post and started pulling. When it looked more or less straight, I double-wrapped the wire around the stake and then repeated the twisting, first by hand and then finishing with the pliers.

Hopefully that will give it a chance to grow bigger, taller and, maybe more importantly, straighter. I took before and after pictures for you. Back inside, it was almost 3:30 PM, and still no rain. So, I downloaded the Photos and then laid down for a nap.

The doorbell woke me up, and heard Jake and Carla, yelling hello. They had some sort of plumbing problem (I didn't ask and they didn't elaborate) and needed to borrow some tools.

Since I know they are taking a short weekend trip next Friday to celebrate both Jake's birthday and their anniversary, so I asked him if he would like his birthday present, now. He said sure, so I gave them to him, sadly, unwrapped. Still, he seemed grateful and then they left. I went back to bed...

I woke up at 7:30 PM, refreshed. I went out and watered all the container gardens. It dawned on me that I never planned on nor planted the two chair gardens. Damn!

I took the last flat of Violas (Penny's all season mix, BTW) and the remaining two habaneras and moved them out front (they will go in the front garden once it's weeded and fertilized). I watered them as well and finally went back inside after 8:00 PM.

I took out a cup of frozen peas, two cans of tuna in water and two cans of Campbell's mushroom soup. I began boiling water for some egg noodles and combined all the ingredients in a saucepan, after draining the tuna. So dinner was another old-time favorite, tuna and peas over noodles.

I watched my shows until 11:00 PM and then went to sleep.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Song snippet

"May the scythe and the shotgun sing us a song..."

~ "We don't get fooled again" by the Who

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The flowering plum, before...

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The flowering plum, after...now straightened up.

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The flowering plum, before...

Saturday's Story

I woke up at 6:30 on Saturday. I put on a pot of coffee and drank a cup while posting the Blog. It looked calm and not too windy, so I threw my work clothes on my dirty body and went out to put some herbicide on the driveway.

But, when I went out, it already seemed to be a bit too windy for my liking. Now, I've had some mishaps with herbicide in the past, so I decided to wait for a calmer day. Discretion is the better part of valor, as they say!

Back inside, I moved the kitchen chairs and the rolling cart into the living room and then swept the upstairs bath and kitchen. Next, I mopped the floor. Since I trapped myself downstairs (well, not really - I unlocked the front door before starting the floor-washing), I shaved and showered while waiting for it to dry.

Afterward, I went out back and decided I still needed at least one more wheelbarrow of compost. So, I got that done. My back is grateful we are finished with the particular chore, BTW!

Then I laid out my rows and planted the vegetables. The only seeds I planted were between the early cabbages. I put leaf lettuce in the back row and radishes in the front. Now, I know it's a bit late for these spring veggies, but I am just taking a chance (all gardening is just a chance, in my world). I put out the square sprinkler and then went inside, grabbed the camera and took a couple of pictures for you. It was just a little after 4:00 PM.

I washed up and then went out to cut the front lawn with the push mower. I finished up just after 5:00 PM. I went back and turned off the sprinkler in the raised bed garden. I was coiling up the hose when my neighbor's wife came out and called to him that dinner was ready. I had a momentary heart-struck moment, thinking how sweet it would be for a young slip of a woman to call me into dinner. Instead, I bust my ass, then go inside and have to make my own dinner... Oh well, this is the life I live now, so no sense crying over spilt milk, as they say...

I went inside and got the tractor key. I have only about half a tank of gas and the gas can is empty, so I hope I can get the back done before I run out!

I did!

So, let's recap: I now have the vegetable garden planted. The last two projects left outside are to plant the violas in the front garden and move a mountain of mulch.

I put away the tractor and buttoned everything up for the night.

Back inside, I made dinner (sigh). Nothing fancy today, just a pound of ground chuck and a taco mix packet. I served it, along with shredded lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese and store-bought taco sauce on hard taco shells (to me, it ain't a taco unless it crunches when you bite it!)

I went in and watched the fifth Red Wings play-off game (we won!)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

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The raised bed garden, finally planted #1

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The raised bed garden, finally planted #2

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Just some of the wisteria's blooms

Quote of the day (maybe the decade)

"Break it down!"

~ M.C. Hammer

D-Day

It's been 65 years, and there are far too few veteran's left to honor, but thanks to movie footage back then and recent movies like Saving Private Ryan, the world will never forget their sacrifices on those bloody beaches.

I salute you all...

"Everybody's working for the weekend..."

Friday dawned sunny and a little chilly. But, if you're a working man, it doesn't matter if it's sleeting and 40 degrees below - its still Friday! TGIF!!

Once I was home, I treated the cats and changed clothes. But, before I go out to work on the raised bed veggie garden, I thought I'd get my kicked-up version of an old classic started for dinner.

Now back in the 50's and 60's, there was a one-dish dinner just called "Hot dogs and beans." I must admit, I never see or even hear of this anymore. Basically, you took a pack of hot dogs and sliced them into 1/4 to 1/2-inch rounds. You added them to a couple of cans of Campbell's baked beans, (I think the only canned beans available at that time) in a pot and heated it up. To that, you added a healthy squirt of yellow mustard and some molasses. It was inexpensive, simple, tasty and filling.

Well, my idea was to substitute smoked sausage for the hot dogs. So I cut the sausage into 1/4 pieces, sliced on the bias. I added two tablespoons of bacon grease (for even more smoky flavor) to my big saute pan and put a nice sear on the sausage slices. Then I pulled out the meat with a slotted spoon and drained off the grease.

Next, I added one of those big three-pound cans of Campbell's pork and beans to the pan (now, I could have used one of the several varieties of upscale baked beans, but I wanted to recreate the old-fashioned taste I remembered). I put the sausage back in. Then I added two tablespoons of yellow mustard and one tablespoon of molasses. I mixed it all together and heated it up to a boil, then turned it down to simmer.

I threw a load of clothes in the washer, grabbed the compost shifter and the shovel and headed out back. I managed to get two full wheelbarrows shifted and added to the garden (and that's all I needed, I'm thinking). Satisfied, I went back inside, put the tools in the garage and washed up. I put the clothes in the dryer and got some food.

I ate my dinner watching the Friday night fights. Although it's certainly not "gourmet" food, it was very good! In fact, I had two bowls in all, which I presume both the cats and I will regret sometime later during the night...

Friday, June 5, 2009

And then it was Thursday...

I awoke on Thursday morning, refreshed after (finally) a good night's sleep. It was a sunny, if somewhat chilly, day.

At lunch time, I watered all the container gardens out front, as well as the remaining flat of flowers and the various vegetables I have sitting on the back patio. I also watered the Topsy-Turvy upside-down tomato planter.

After work and changing clothes, I called my Mother to tell her Amy's schedule. I also called my brother Carl, to see how he was doing, but I forgot to ask him if he found a wisteria for his garden arbor. Mine is simply covered with flower buds this year! I can't wait to post that photo!

My meds had kicked in and I was feeling "normal" again, so I grabbed the compost screen and the shovel and headed out back. I got one heaping wheelbarrow of compost cleaned and dumped in the raised bed. I was headed back for the next one when my neighbor called me over.

We stood at the fence and chatted about anything and everything. We were joined by his wife after a while. I learned a lot. For example, the Township has used up all the money they had for paving streets so now, my street won't get paid unless all the residents agree to pay $18 per foot of frontage (in my case, that would be over $1300.00 US!) So, I think I'll be living on a dirt road for a while, LOL!

Anyway, after talking about the Big Three, working for suppliers (I work for a Tier One supplier, Tammy works for a Tier Two), GM pension fears (both of Tammy's parents have retired from GM as did my brother Carl), woodchucks (the reason he tries to catch and kill them is that they get under his trailer and, when his dogs try to get them, they severely bite the faces of the dogs), we finally talked ourselves out.

I went in the house for a bathroom break and was astonished to find it was 8:45 PM! Reluctantly, I went out and gathered up my tools, put them away and gave up for the night.

I quickly put together my dinner. I mixed the four cups of leftover mashed potatoes with a handful of thick-sliced scallions (to kick it up a notch). I added two eggs and a dusting of flour while I heated up some canola oil in my saute pan. When the oil was shimmering, I formed the first three patties and fried them until they were golden brown. Then I flipped them over. I rigged up my cookie sheet with paper towels and a rack and turned the oven on warm.

When the other side was done, I pulled them off, slid them on the rack to drain and salted them. I repeated that process until I had nine of the beautiful (Patties? Fritters? Cakes? Pancakes?) I don't know what to call them! It was just how my first wife Fran's mother used up leftover mashed potatoes.

I picked out the best-looking three, plated them and went in to watch just a little TV before going to bed. BTW, I was very disappointed that the Red Wings playoff game was NOT on any of my cable channels! When I started nodding, I turned the TV off and went to bed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

An unproductive Wednesday...

As I said in the previous post, it was a rough, rough night. I ached too much to get into a deep sleep. So I dozed and watched bits of the Tonight Show (with the new host, Conan O'Brian), Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (Paul Simon playing with the "Roots" band, doing "Late in the Evening" - Sweet) and then the Extra with Mario "Whatshisname" from "Saved by the Bell."

Then I tried reading and, eventually, "Moby Dick" did the trick! Okay, corny but true and, let's face it, the alliteration is sweet, lol.

As a result, when the alarm went off at 5:30 AM, I shut it off and promptly went back to sleep, awaking at 7:14 AM (when I am usually at work). I immediately shifted into high gear and got to work (slightly embarrassed) at 8:05 AM.

Sidebar: Thanks to all those who emailed their concern over not seeing my Blog entry at the usual time. Sorry to disappoint you but, no, I'm not dead.

Somehow, I just pictured the Webmaster, offering "the entire Piece Offerings dot com on three CDs for only $19.95, plus shipping and handling," once I'm dead, on late night TV... God knows what he'd include for the outtakes, lol!

At lunch I stopped at CVS. The lady said they never did receive a call from my insurance provider, but they had just tried it and it went through. Now, my doctor called last night and left a voicemail that said they had gotten confirmation that it was approved. WTF didn't my insurance company call CVS? Damn this cheap-ass health-care system!

So, I said I wouldn't wait, but would pick it up in an hour. Which I did. After eating my lunch, I loaded my cup holder with a glass glass of water and the moment I got my new prescription outside, I downed a capsule. I went back to work, hopeful that the meds would allow me to move about tonight.

The rain was still south of here at 5:00 PM (if you lived in Monroe county, you were screwed, apparently) so I changed my clothes, started the Wednesday night wash and went out and refilled the bird feeder and the suet cage.

But, before I went outside, I took out a big can of Campbell's Pork and Beans (three pounds) and a package of Hillshire Smoked Sausage (out to thaw)... I have an idea for a different dinner, later this week.

Obviously, the meds didn't have a chance to work that well in five hours, so I resigned myself to staying inside again tonight (Dammit!) So, I did a little of this and that, but mostly read on the couch until I was hungry.

Then I cleaned the last of the turkey off the carcass, cubed it and made it into an excellent turkey salad (I just added thick-sliced scallions, salt, pepper and mayonnaise). I ate that on two slices of un-toasted Brownberry Oatnut bread.

I watched a little TV but turned in early.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Wasted Tuesday

Tuesday was cloudy and cool when I took out the garbage and it stayed that way all day.

I messed up, big time! When I was at the doctor's last Thursday, I got a new prescription for my Celebrex. Instead of dropping it off that night, I knew I had enough to last until Monday. So, I dropped it off Monday at lunch and told them I'd pick it up after work.

However, I forgot that, instead of refilling an existing prescription, I was, in fact, getting a new one. And, because Celebrex is not generic, my insurance company demands a doctor's "Prior Approval." So, thanks to a lot of stupid red tape, (and even more stupid planning on my part), I missed my Monday dose as well as Tuesday's.

Needless to say (at least to anyone who takes Celebrex) I was in a lot of pain by the time I got home on Tuesday: both knees, my shoulder and especially my back. So, instead of sifting more compost, or planting the rest of the front garden, I was stuck on the couch.

I returned a few voicemails and read my book until dinner time.

For dinner, I cut up some redskin potatoes, boiled and then mashed them. I cut off some thin slices of the smoked turkey breast and heated them, along with a jar of turkey gravy, in the microwave. I find that physical discomfort calls for comfort food!

I went in to watch some TV, but had great difficulty falling asleep. It was a rough night!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Come Monday...

Monday morning came way too early! But, it was off to work I go...

It started raining mid-morning and was sprinkling when I went home for lunch. But it stopped and the sun came out in the afternoon.

So, when I went home after work, I turned on the weather while I changed clothes (they had said showers today, tonight and Tuesday morning, on TV this morning). Turns out that they are right, we are just in a bit of a lull right now. An ugly bunch of thunderstorms are over Chicago and headed this way. But, at least it means I can get a little outside work done tonight!

So I went out to sift compost for the raised bed garden. To do that, I put my homemade compost screen (hardware cloth and 2x2's) on top the wheelbarrow and put on some six or seven shovelfuls from the older compost pile (I always have two going). Then I pick it up and shake it until all the clean compost falls through. Whatever sticks, roots, rocks, etc. are left on the screen goes on top of the new compost pile. Do that four or five times and you have a wheelbarrow full of compost for the garden (or wherever).

I got three wheelbarrows full and dumped (see Photos) before my back started screaming (it's bending over and shaking the heavy, soil-ladened screen that kills ya!)

Next I moved on to planting the lone tomato plant that won't be going in the garden. You see, you can buy individual tomato plants or in sets of four. As I pointed out, I went late and the selection was rather limited. I wanted two heirloom tomatoes, one grape or cherry and three Italian (or plum) tomatoes. But, I ended up with a Beefsteak, one Early Girl, one Grape and four Italians (no individual bigger Italians, just the small pack of four). Since I only have room for six at the most, the Grape tomato must go elsewhere.

So, I bought one of those Topsy-Turvy upside-down tomato planters (as shown on TV). Now before anybody says the word "new-fangled," I must tell you I remember this method from back in the '70s and Mother Earth news. But, back then, you filled a big soda bottle with soil, planted a couple of tomato seeds and, once the plants started growing up through the opening, you turned it over, cut off the bottom and hung it up.

There are several advantages to this method: No weeding, caging or staking and gravity pulls the water through the roots. Plus, the sunlight keeps the soil nice and warm (tomatoes like that).

Anyway, I set it all up, got the tomato in and secured with a split sponge and then filled it with good potting soil ring. I had raised up the plant hanger where I normally hang the wind chimes, so I hung it up and filled it with water until it started draining out the bottom (see Photos).

Speaking of the wind chimes (a present years ago from Luanne), I hung them up where I normally put the never-used hummingbird feeder. I finally have accepted the fact that there are no hummingbirds in Redford (more's the pity).

Back inside, it was already 7:25 PM, so I washed up and started on dinner. I heated up a serving of the shoestring potatoes in the toaster oven and two hamburgers in the microwave.

I was sick to death of boring white hamburger buns, so this time I bought sourdough English muffins instead. I assembled my burgers, salted the fries and went off to eat and watch TV.

Monday, June 1, 2009

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Instead of the hummingbird feeder, I went with the old wind chimes

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Adding fresh compost to the raised-bed garden

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Topsy-turvy tomato planter #1

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Topsy-turvy tomato planter #2

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Chives, in bloom

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Sage in bloom

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The lilac, trimmed

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The hostas I planted in the fall, also now mulched

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The north side of the entry, now mulched

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The tree garden, topped with fresh mulch

Sunday, Sunday

I woke up at 2:00 AM and couldn't fall back asleep until after 4:00 AM! I seriously considered just staying up, but finally decided that was just dumb. But, as a result, I didn't wake up on Sunday until after 9:00!!

I warmed up a cup of coffee and then posted the Blog entry and the photos I took yesterday. Dammit! It's too late now to make my honey marinade for the turkey breast (it has to be in the marinade for a minimum of six hours and smoking it will take another four or five hours, you see.) So, we'll have to smoke it old school, I guess.

I got another cup of coffee and drank it, sitting on the couch, listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy. When the show was over (about 11:45 AM) I got my lazy butt up and hopped into the shower. I got dressed in my chore pants and a tee-shirt (it's windy and chilly and only supposed to get to a high of 67 degrees f. today, you see).

I went out in the garage and pulled out the grill. I took the time to clean out the ashes and un-burnt charcoal. Then I got one of my tinfoil roasting pans (I buy them whenever they are on sale). I put it on the "smoke-side" of the grill, filled it about 1/2 full of water and then added my aromatics: celery, carrots, two yellow onions and a whole head of smashed garlic (nothing peeled, just rough chopped). This will be my drip pan, but should also impart some flavor to the bird.

I filled the charcoal chimney and wadded up a piece of newspaper under it. Then I fired it up. I took the stock pot (remember the corn I soaked?) and filled it about half full with cold water. Then I dumped in half a bag of mesquite wood chips to soak.

Back inside, I washed my hands and then got out the turkey breast. I rinsed it and patted it dry. I went out back and picked some nice sage leaves from the herb garden. I slid my fingers under the skin and added a pat of butter and a sage leaf in several spots. I massaged that in and then heavily seasoned it with salt and pepper.

I checked the charcoal, spread it out a bit and then topped it with some of the wet mesquite chips. I cleaned off the two grille grates I am using and then set the turkey breast over the drip pan. I inserted the thermometer probe in the thickest part of the breast and set the alarm for 170 degrees F. Then I closed it up. I'll keep an eye on it and, whenever the smoke stops, either add more wet chips or more charcoal for the next four to six hours...

Next, I spread the three bags of cedar chips on the tree garden and over the mulch I laid down next to the north-side of the entry way. I trimmed the top of the lilac and mulched it as well. I took some photos for you and then got the riding mower gassed up and checked the oil. It was 2:15 PM, BTW.

But, before I start cutting the lawn, I checked the coals and they were about worn out. So, I started another chimney full of charcoal in the garage apron. I cut the front lawn and then checked on the charcoal. It had gone out, so I got another sheet of newspaper, and lit it under the chimney. Then I took a bathroom break. Back outside, I grabbed the remote garage door opener, shut the door and headed out back.

I checked on the charcoal and added it to the grille. I topped it with more of the wet mesquite chips (I had dumped the rest of the bag into the stock pot, BTW). I finished the entire grass cutting just after 4:00 PM.

The turkey breast is at 164 degrees F. and I am about out of mesquite chips! So, I will have to trust the hardwood charcoal to finish cooking it.

So, I shut up the garage and went inside. Now, long time readers will appreciate my fascination with grilled or roasted asparagus. The flavor is SO different. I doubt I will ever eat boiled or even steamed asparagus again. Well, today I'm gonna try the same treatment on Brussels sprouts.

Now, I love them the way my Mom made them, just boiled with butter, salt and pepper. And, they really rock the way Carla makes them (with vinegar and bacon). And, I was in Heaven with the bacon and cream sauce I made last. But, today, I trimmed the stems and took of the outer leaves of a whole container of them. I cut each one in half, place them on a half-sheet pan and drizzled them with olive oil, then added salt and fresh ground pepper.

I put them in a preheated 400 degrees F. oven and set the time for 40 minutes.

Then I addressed the radishes. You can check out my recipes section for the details, but I made them into a salad with a cucumber and some red onions.

I pulled out the Brussels sprouts when the timer went off, sprinkled them with a little more kosher salt and then went out to check on the turkey breast. It's at 169 degrees, so I added a bit more charcoal and let it go. It looks beautiful, BTW!

At 5:30 PM, the thermometer alarm went off, so I pulled the turkey breast and put it on a platter to rest.

I took the Brussels sprouts out of the oven and then cut a few slices of the turkey. I was just about to eat when my daughter Melissa called. We chatted for a little while and then she said her dinner was done and she had to go.

So, back to my own Sunday supper: The turkey was excellent! It was moist and tender with a definite smoky flavor. The radish salad was okay, but a little too sweet for my taste (I had just eyeballed the ingredients and apparently put in too much sugar). Finally, the Brussels sprouts: I hated them! They were cooked perfectly, but had a different flavor that I really didn't like. I was very, very disappointed!

I cleaned up and wandered in to watch my Sunday night shows.