Monday, August 31, 2009

Slow Sunday

I slept in until almost 8:00 AM on Sunday. It was cloudy, but we're supposed to get occasional sunshine with a high of 66 degrees F. later. I ground up some coffee beans and made a pot. Then I wrote a rather lengthy Blog entry and posted it.

I started a load of laundry in the washer. When it was done, I put it in the dryer and myself in the shower (I was highly unmotivated and shaving seemed silly and too much like work).I got dressed in my shorts and T-shirt, put on my Crocs and went out to bring the grille back inside.

Brrr! It was chilly out there!!

Back inside, I got a roll of paper towels and the Windex and proceeded to clean all the long-neglected glass surfaces (on the end tables, ngith stands, etc.) and mirrors in the house.

I finished that up about 1:00 PM and decided to make lunch. I had bought three medium sized summer squash at Westborn yesterday so I used them to make a childhood favorite (and my Mother's go-to recipe for using up the excess garden's bounty), fried summer squash.

I put a big dab of butter in my saut� pan and heated it up. I cut off the tops and bottoms of each squash and sliced them into 1/4-inch rounds. I put them all into the pool and started to fry them. Here's when I noticed another victim of my surgery: I can't do a decent pan flip with my left hand! I kept trying, but ended up using a spatula.

It's pretty simple. You just keep cooking them, without letting them burn, until they start to "wilt" a bit in the center. You pull the "wilted" ones out (they're pretty easy to spot) and keep on going until they are all done. Then you hit them with some table salt and dig in!

Oh, my! That was good!

Carla's Mom called around 2:30 PM to express her sympathy for my Mom's passing. After we hung up, I took a nap. I got back up and watched a few taped Saturday and Sunday morning cooking shows and the next thing I knew it was 5:00 PM!

I went out in the garage to deal with that 40-pound bag of bird seed. I easily slid it out of the back seat and onto the garage floor. Then I grabbed it by the corner with my left hand and, just picking it up a few inches, carried it into the back room (I left the door open, BTW). There I could drag it across the tile without a problem.

I had already unlocked and opened the back door and unlatched the storm door. I couldn't drag it across the patio, of course (the rough cement would rip even it's heavy plastic) so, once again, I picked it up a few inches to get it in the grass. From there it was an easy drag to the bird seed can. One quick three-foot pickup and it was in the can! I cut it open with the scissors I had in my pocket and filled up the feeder.

I noticed the day lily under the topsy-turvy planter had blossomed one last time, so I went in to get my camera. I took that photo and then, walking around, I saw the one by the young Shoalin monk had also blossomed. Then, finally outside for the first time in a long time, I saw the clematis I'd planted had also blossomed. Check out the Photos section and you will see what I mean.

Back inside, I congratulated myself. Then I fixed myself a drink to relax my left arm muscles...

It was almost 6:30 PM, so I warmed up some leftovers (a burger and two more sweet corn) for my Sunday dinner. This time I did a more classic burger (pickles, American cheese, ketchup and yellow mustard) but I think I liked the onion and horseradish sauce better, (I'm a horseradish kinda guy, I guess).

I cleaned up the kitchen and then wandered in to watch my Sunday shows. I went to the bathroom around 10:00 PM and noticed the security lights were on. I checked it out and saw my old friend, the possum, under the bird feeder. He was probably snacking on the sunflower seeds.

I watched one more taped show and then went to sleep.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

photo

Late season blossom #1

photo

Late season blossoms #2

photo

The little clematis I planted (without the arbor) in the back

Makin' Bacon

I awoke at 6:30 on Saturday. It was still cloudy but with just a slim chance of rain, so I went out to check the gauge. In the past two days, we had just under one inch of rain here in Redford.

While I was out there I harvested five grape tomatoes from the topsy-turvy planter and, back inside, ate them with a touch of kosher salt for breakfast. Delicious!

I shaved and showered and then left at 9:15 AM for my haircut. It was almost 10:00 AM when I got done. Next I stopped at the Feed Store for some much needed bird seed (I haven't fed the birds in three weeks). I had him load it onto the back seat of the car, BTW. Then it was on to Westborn to restock on fruits and veggies.

I stopped at Meijer's for the rest of my shopping (it's not really "food" I need, you see. It's more like cleaning products, zip lock baggies, etc.). I was doing okay and even found a checkout lane with only two people in it! The old couple checking out were just about done and the guy in front of me had his few items on the conveyer, so I unloaded half of my items and put them up there too.

That's when everything went wrong...

The checkout girl overcharged the old couple for something. But, before she realized it, he'd already paid with a credit card. So, she had to call a manager (who took her own sweet time getting there), refund his account, (he disputed the amount she refunded, by the way, so they had to walk him through the arithmetic), take out his items (fortunately just a few of them), rescan them and so on.

I was standing there having one of my hot-flashes, so I was feeling nauseous and faint, with sweat pouring out of me. If my items were in the cart, I would have just moved to another aisle 10 minutes ago, but putting them back in and waiting in another line seemed too much at that point.

Finally, I got out of there. I did stop at the bank to refill the cash stash at home and (speaking of home) got there just before noon! I unloaded the car (except for the bird seed) and got the bags into the kitchen. I had bought three items that required refrigeration, so I dug those out and stuck them in the fridge. Exhausted, I left everything else and went to take a two hour nap.

When I got back up, I put everything away. Then I started on one of my ToDo list items for this weekend. I took off the stove's grates, drip pans, etc., and washed the top of it with Soft Scrub and a sponge. Then I washed each individual piece I'd removed with a Brillo pad. I dried them all with a towel and reassembled my stove. It took overly long (but everything seems to, these days) but finally the stove was clean!

I went out to get the mail and found a lovely sympathy card from Carla's mother. She had also left me a voicemail when we were at the funeral, too. Thank you!

The clouds had given way to a sunny, but windy day. So, about 6:00 PM, I rolled the grille outside and fired up the charcoal chimney. I had put the sweet corn I'd got at Westborn into a stock pot filled with water when I brought it home, so all I needed was to divvy up the three pounds of ground chuck. I used one pound to make four patties. I seasoned them with just salt and pepper and let them come up to room temp.

When the coals were roaring, I dumped them onto another layer of fresh charcoal, put on the grates and let it bake for a bit. Then I scraped the grates, oiled them and put the corn on. While I waited for the sides of each ear to char, I sat in the rocker on the front porch. Since the wind is coming from the west and my porch is on the east side of the house, it was quite pleasant.

I stacked the corn on the cool side of the grille to keep warm while I did the burgers. But, before I did that, I had an idea (not a good one, as it turned out). I had eight strips of thick cut bacon I'd thawed to make Pasta al a Carbonarra I never used. So, I thought I'd try to grill them and top my burgers with them.

Unfortunately, as soon as I put them on, the melting bacon fat dripping on the burning coals created a firestorm. Before I could get them off, I just had eight bacon charcoal chips. I think this could have been done using the cool side of the grille, however. But, today that was filled with corn so I will have to experiment with this concept another day. Has anyone ever heard of grilling bacon?

When the coals died down and I cleaned up the mess, I put on the ground chuck patties. I shucked the corn and put it on a half sheet pan. When the burgers were done (medium-rare), I put them on it too and put everything in the oven on warm.

I took a phone call from a friend and we chatted a bit. After hanging up, I fixed a burger and buttered two ears of corn for my dinner. I ate it watching TV (nothing much on). When I was done, I put the rest of the burgers and the corn in baggies and into the fridge.

I watched a lame movie and then went to sleep.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

For a dear friend from the good old days...

Song snippet from "You wear it well" by Rod Stewart:

"When the sun's setting low
and you're home all alone...
Think of me and try not to laugh.

You wear it well..."

Finally Friday

I surprised myself on Friday by not waking up until 8:00 AM. It was raining and apparently had rained overnight as well, judging from the puddles. It continued to rain off and on throughout the day.

I started a load of laundry and then determined what I was hoping to accomplish today. I was planning to go shopping for the few things I need but, with the rain, I decided to wait until tomorrow.

I washed up the few dishes, pots and pans and my chef knife that were soaking in the sink. I looked around and decided I really need to sweep and vacuum the house. I was actually embarrassed yesterday at the amount of cat hair on the carpet and so on when Jake and Carla came in.

We had talked in the car yesterday about how soon fall was coming and I mentioned how I hated turning on the furnace for the first time (I always get a burnt dust smell for days). Jake said he heard you were supposed to turn it on a couple of times in August or September, when it was still warm and you could open the windows to air the house out. Made sense so I'm doing that today

I hung up the laundry and then took my shower (I'll shave Saturday). I called and got a hair cut appointment for tomorrow. Then I started using the electric sweeper. I swept room by room, emptying out the collection tank after each one (the cat hair really fills it up quickly).

I stopped at noon and lay down for a bit. I did doze off for about a half hour but got back up at 1:00 PM. By 3:00 PM, I had everything swept and the bathroom floor washed. I lay back down for another rest until 4:00.

Then I washed out the fridge (when I thawed out the beef stew meat, some of the blood had dripped off the plate). I finished that up by 5:00 PM and then washed the kitchen floor. Then I quit for the day.

Now, I know I didn't dry mop the wood floors, dust each room and wash all the glass surfaces like I normally do, but that's the most work I've done in 2 1/2 weeks, so I felt pretty good at that point.

I had thawed out the last container of Carla's Penne with meatballs, so now I added in the last of the extra pasta sauce and heated it up on the stove.

I talked a bit with my friend B___ and then ate dinner. I returned a phone call from my brother Jim afterward. Then I watched the Friday Night Fights until bedtime.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Mother's Funeral

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Thursday. I have to leave around 8:00 AM for my Mom's funeral, so I didn't dawdle like I normal do these days.

I knew this would be a long day, so I thought I should eat breakfast. I scrambled three eggs and made two pieces of oat nut bread toast. I cooked the eggs and buttered the toast, then cut the toast in half. I managed to choke down (and I mean that quite literally) about half the eggs and one-half piece of toast. I offered the rest to the cats and, when they declined, threw it in the trash.

I shaved and showered, and then since it was still early, watched the news for a bit. I ran over my suit with a lint roller and got dressed.

Jake and Carla picked me up about 8:00 AM in the rain and we started on the long trek. Traffic wasn't too bad, so we got to New Baltimore about a half hour early. To kill the time (and to let me go to the bathroom), we went to the park. Then Jake got some gas and we went to the church.

We parked in our assigned place and went inside. People started arriving in droves and soon the vestibule was filling up (and getting quite warm). Finally, it was time to start Mass.

The service was very nice with little touches I appreciated. The pall bearers were one grandson from each brother's family, for example, and the readings were done by three of the granddaughters. Six of the great grandchildren took up the communion offerings. The sermon was excellent, too. And the solo singer had a pure, sweet voice.

After the service, we got in our cars and made the short, but slow, trip to the cemetery in a long procession (I think the funeral director said there were 39 cars in all). We had a short ceremony there. I had to sit down during it after all that "sit down, stand up" stuff at the Mass (my left knee was blown out).

After most of the cars departed, we finally left for the St. Mary's Center and a luncheon. Riese and Joe picked out a table way in the back, so we all gathered there. Luanne, Sue Plesz, myself, Jeremy, Jyl, Riese, Joe, Jake and Carla all sat at the same table (which was nice).

I assume we were supposed to sit up in front though, because once they started calling tables to come up to the buffet, my brother Jim came and told us to get in line as the brother's tables were called first.

At first I wasn't going to eat (because of my stomach problems) but I was hungry so I got a little salad and some cold pasta salad. It tasted good, but left me feeling a little queasy.

Finally people started leaving, so I asked Jake and Carla if we could go now. We made our goodbyes (not that easy or fast in a huge room were everyone knows you) and headed back home.


Traffic was light so we got home around 2:00 PM and I immediately took a pain pill. Jake did some more work on the computer while Carla and I sat on the daybed and we all visited. They left about 3:00 PM and I took about a two hour nap.

When I got up, I felt listless and more than a little depressed. So, I just putzed around for a while. My daughter Melissa called a little before 7:00 PM and we talked for about two hours. After we finished, I went in to watch some TV, but fell asleep around 10:00 PM.

I woke up about 1:00 AM, wide awake, so I watched taped shows until 3:00 AM. Then I went out to sleep in my chair.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday

I awoke at 5:30 AM on Wednesday. It was raining here in Redford. I made a pot of coffee and had a bowl of cereal for breakfast.

I've got two trips to make today: one to work to drop off more of my doctor's paperwork and the other to drive out to New Baltimore and go to the funeral home for my Mom.

Since it will probably be an exhausting day, I decided to make some beef stew. As you know, the usual beef stew I make is quite elaborate and done on the stovetop. But, I found a fairly simple recipe for the slow cooker and proceeded to put it together.

I put in two pounds of stewing beef and then in a small bowl, I mixed together 1/4 cup of flour, one teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. I poured that on the meat and stirred it to coat it evenly. Then I added three diced potatoes, two big carrots (also diced), one minced garlic clove, a half of a sliced Vidalia onion and a diced stalk of celery.

I poured in 1 1/2 cups of beef broth and a teaspoon of paprika. Then, tragedy struck. I couldn't find any bay leaves! So, I went out on the patio and snipped a nice stalk of rosemary and several ones of thyme. I stirred everything up, topped it with the herbs, put on the lid and turned it on low.

Next I got ready to go into work. I took in the paperwork and chatted with my co-workers and my boss for a little while. Then I headed back home.

Then at 12:30 PM, I headed for the funeral home. I gave myself an extra half hour to account for the rain that was falling as normally that slows the freeways WAY down. However, as luck would have it, everybody ignored it! So, I got to the funeral home (even after driving past it several times) about 40 minutes too early.

So, I drove over to Mom's house (Luanne is staying there). I chatted a bit with her then she went to get ready. So, I opened a World Almanac that Mom had left out and started leafing though it. For some reason, there were odd bookmarks with my Mom's handwriting. For example, on the map of Japan page, she had listed the flight times from Michigan to Japan, including the layovers. Has she been planning an art heist and her getaway? We'll never know, I guess.

Soon it was time to leave, so I said goodbye to Lu and went to the funeral home. My brothers Carl and Joe were there (Jim showed up soon after) My Mother looked very nice and there were just enough flowers to make it interesting and pretty without being over the top.

Most of the visitors were old friends of my Mother, although my friend B___ and his wife stopped in. Besides my brothers, Luanne, Jim's wife Coletta and Joe's wife Kathy were there. My brother Carl showed up a bit later. We were also joined by Jim's son, Jim Jr. and later his wife Deanna, Carl's son Jeff and his wife (up from Texas), Joe's daughter Julie and her son and daughter and my sister's Anne's son Jason, his wife Becky and their daughter.

I stayed for about two hours and then had to leave. I really needed to just get home, take a pain pill and a nap. Except for a major traffic jam just before Telegraph on I-96, the ride home was quick and uneventful. I got home about 5:20 PM.

After seeing all the puddles, I was curious, so I went out and checked the rain gauge after giving the cats a snack. So far, I've had about 1/4 inch of rain. I dumped it so I could tell how much if and when we get any more.

I took that much needed pain pill, a few soda crackers (to minimize barfing), changed clothes and lay down on the bed. I did doze off and was awakened by Jake and Carla, jusr after 7:00 PM.

Jake's been building me a new computer. He bought a new one so volunteered to rebuild his own one to replace my aging one. So, he got me a new case (about half again as big as my old one with all kinds of intake and exhaust fans), new power supply, etc. In fact, I think the mother board is the only piece of original equipment.

I visited with Carla in the kitchen while he set it all up and fine tuned it. It was good to go by 9:00 PM, so they left. I played around with it for a bit (man that sucker's fast!) and then watched Top Chef. After that, I went to bed for the night.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Checkup

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Tuesday. First of all, its garbage day. Next, for a change, I have someplace to be today. I have a doctor's appointment at 9:45 AM in Mt. Clemens.

So I shaved and showered and got dressed. I left at about 8:30 AM. I got there about 9:35 AM. I had to wait a while. But I finally got in.

First the nurse took out my stitches. Then I waited again until the doctor came in. He explained that my rotator cuff was a lot worse than they thought from just the MRI. They actually had to pull it over my shoulder bone and staple it in. He also had pictures of the inside of my shoulder (several sheets of them) and he gave me one (kinda gross).

I was exhausted by the time I left there. I actually started to worry I might fall asleep on the way home. But, I made it here in one piece.

I popped a pain pill and took a nap. It's supposed to rain for the next four or five days, so when I got back up; I went out and cut the front and back lawn.

Those guys were still working on the road and dust was blowing everywhere.

For dinner, I ate the rest of Carla's chicken and collard greens. I watched TV until 11:00 PM and went to bed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two weeks since my operation

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Monday. I was hungry, so I warmed up some of that sausage gravy and ate it over two ripped up crescent rolls.

I wrote and posted the Blog and, by 7:00 AM, I was sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee, watching the world go by as the sun rose.

About 9:30 AM, I went outside to water the new grass. Inside, I worked on little things I needed to get done.

I took a long nap in the afternoon. Jake called to let me know he and Carla would be coming over after work with some food.

So, they dropped off some fried chicken, collard greens and black-eyed peas along with a big slice of cornbread. We visited for a while and then they left.

I fixed myself a plate of food and ate dinner watching some TV. The food was great (thanks, guys!)I went to my chair early to get some rest.

Quote of the Day

"Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And, they live by what they hear.

Such people become crazy... or they become legend."

Jim Harrison

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday

I woke up Sunday morning with the light in the living room rather bright. No wonder! It was after 7:00 AM. It was a rough night with lots of bad dreams (giant tarantulas can't really spit poison in your eyes, can they?)

I warmed up a cup of coffee from yesterday and went in to finish the Blog entry.

I was typing along when Caley hopped up on the desk and ran across the keyboard. I smacked her on the butt and told her to get out of here, but the damage was done. The computer screen said, "Switching to standby" and everything went dark.

Totally pissed, I tried every F-key, right click, left click and the other keys and nothing came back up. I finally gave up and called the Web Master (feeling a little bad I might be waking him up).

He suggested holding in the power button for about 20 seconds, which I did and it worked! I finished the Blog entry and posted it.

I ate a Pluot for breakfast. What's a Pluot? I dunno... it looks and tastes similar to a plum, but it was called a Pluot on the sign at Westborn.

Lu called with an update on Mom in the morning, and then called again at 2:30 PM to let me know she had passed away. She said she wanted to call Jeremy, so I called Jake, Melissa and Amy.

As I said earlier, I didn't sleep well last night, so around 4:00 PM, I took a long nap.

When I woke up, the Sunday supper I'd planned seemed like too much work for my mood, so I ate crackers and cheese for dinner.

My brother Jim called around 7:30 PM and suggested that I might want to stay at my Mom's house in New Baltimore during the next few days so I didn't have to make that drive. I appreciated the offer but I declined (Hey, if I can't get any rest in my own house, how would I in a strange one?)

I fell asleep watching my Sunday night show. Since it was being taped, when I woke up I just shut the TV off and went into the living room and my chair.

My Mother

My mother, Helen Francis Goerlich, passed away Sunday around 2:00 PM. She was, as she'd hoped for, at her beloved cottage on the front porch.

She was a remarkable woman who, despite her age, never lost her childlike sense of wonder.

I know I often attribute my perseverance and work ethic to my Dad. But my joy of cooking, gardening, reading, writing prose and poetry and the love of music I owe to my Mom.

Old age finally snuck up on her after she turned 100 and so, for her, it's a blessing. But for me, I've lost a wonderful confidante, companion, friend and, first and foremost, my Mother.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday's Story

I got up at 5:30 AM after another miserable night trying to sleep in that chair. It's raining (not very hard, maybe I should have said drizzling).

Since its Saturday and I have more time today, I decided to make breakfast (that was a joke, BTW). I put one 12-ounce package of bulk pork sausage in my big cast iron pan and slowly began to brown it.

I really didn't want to get flour all over the counter, the floor and probably my sling making biscuits, so I dug out my emergency can of Pillsbury crescent rolls (you really need to keep these in the fridge. They give a quick nice touch to a last minute meal). I rolled each up, put them on a half sheet pan, covered with parchment paper, and preheated the oven to 375 degrees F.

When the pork sausage had cooked through, I pulled it out of the pan with a slotted spoon. I added two tablespoons of flour to the rendered fat in the pan and, whisking continuously, cooked it for about a minute. Then, still whisking, I added two cups of milk. I was whisking with my right hand in the sling and adding ingredients with my left, BTW. When that began to boil, I turned it to "Low" and let it simmer for another two or three minutes.

The crescent rolls were done, so I took them out to cool. I added the pork sausage back into the pan, liberally seasoned it with fresh cracked black pepper and stirred it all together.

When the crescent rolls were cool enough to touch, I broke three of them up on a plate, topped it with the white sausage gravy and ate breakfast.

After lingering over a cup of coffee, I got to work and cleaned up the kitchen. I started the load in the dishwasher and wandered into the bedroom to watch the news.

I called out to the cottage and talked with my sister-in-law Kathy. She said my Mom had a great day yesterday (this always seems to happen when I'm NOT there) and she was comfortably sleeping this morning.

Then I called my friend B___ as he was replacing the two thermostats on his boat motors yesterday. It seemed that solved his problem and, other than his being all screwed up from working in that little space, the boat is good to go.

Then, I went outside and took off one hose. I coiled it up on the patio, shut the door to downstairs (to keep the cats out) and hooked it up to the hot water heater. As I may have mentioned, the hot water tap in the sink is plugged up again. Well, according to my friend B___, you are supposed to drain your hot water heater once a year to avoid sediment buildup (who knows that kind of stuff?) I've never done that here so, and since it such a problem, I figured its time.

I opened the tap and let the water blast out onto the patio. I don't see any really heavy sediment output, but I let it run until the water was cool (I washed down the patio while waiting). Then, back inside, I turned off the tap and unhooked the hose. Oh, oh... the tap is now dripping. So, I got a bowl and turned it on and off again and again, until it "seemed" I had the problem fixed. I put a coffee cup under it to catch any drips and will check on it later.

Back upstairs, I shut off the hot water at the sink and disassembled the "on-off" faucet. When I did this last time, it was pretty easy, but with one hand, I'm affeered. So, I wrapped the sink area in heavy bath towels.

Meanwhile, I took about 1/4 teaspoon of sediment out of the faucet workings. First I used a toothpick and then I blew it out with the air compressor. Before I reassembled, I put a coffee cup over the opening and turned on the hot water.

Yikes! My bad! I had water shooting up to the ceiling before I could get my clumsy left hand to turn off the tap. So, I cleaned up the mess, wiped off the cupboards and the window and reassembled the hot water faucet. Then, I gingerly turned on the hot water again (no leaks) and tried the faucet. Bingo! The hot water is now as pressurized as the cold!

Before taking my shower, I took a break as my right shoulder was hurting. So, I popped a pain pill and watched some taped TV. I was watching Nigella Feasts when I was stuck by a childhood memory. Nigella Lawson is a "major" English food star, BTW. She was talking about comfort foods and mentioned her mother's favorite comfort food, hot milk and bread.

Now why is that important? Because, when I was a young lad, my favorite breakfast was to cut two or three white bread slices into one-inch cubes. I would cover them with whole milk and sprinkle them with sugar. True, I never thought about warming the milk. But, it was my favorite breakfast food.

Sidebar: I love how English chefs never say "bring it to a boil." What they say is "bring it to a bubble." It's sort of self explanatory, you see. So, it was almost 1:30 PM when I went in to take my shower.

So, I shaved and showered. And then, I took a nap. Lu woke me up with her phone call. She filled me in on how Mom was doing today and who was out there.

It's very cool today (like most of this damn summer) so I have the AC off and all the windows opened. I supposed I should be doing something but I didn't feel like it (fixing the faucet was enough accomplishment for today!) So, I watched TV, sitting up in bed, instead.

For dinner, I searched the fridge. I noticed I still had a container of mashed potatoes (from last Sunday). So, I made Fran's potato cakes. Now, as I've said before, there is no "recipe" per se. You add in enough eggs to loosen them up (this time I used two) and then enough flour to bind them. When they had the right consistency, I put 1/4 inch of peanut oil in my cast iron skillet and heated it up. I used the wooden spoon handle and bubbles method to know when it was good to go.

Then I spooned them into good sized patties and fried them until golden brown. I flipped them and, when I judged they were ready, put them on a rack over a paper towel-covered cookie sheet. I immediately hit them with some salt (the hot oil helps the salt to adhere and this method is used from fish to French fries).

I ate four of these with about half of the remaining cold cucumber salad for my dinner.

I watched some very mediocre TV until about 10:30 PM and then moved to the living room, a pain pill and sleep.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

And now its Friday...

I awoke at 5:00 AM. I started a load of washing and ground some coffee beans. I made a pot of coffee and thought about breakfast, but didn't make any.

I posted the Blog and put away the dishes I'd washed last night. When the laundry was done in the washer, I transferred it to the dryer and then turned the sprinkler on outside.

After 30 minutes, I moved the hose. First I filled up the topsy-turvy planter, and then stuck the hose (turned on low) into the reflecting pool. Back inside, I set the timer for another 30 minutes. This will clear out the reflection pool, plus water the Japanese maple and the surrounding herbs and flowers.

I got paid today, so I paid some bills online. I noticed I have about five huge orange Wayne County dump trucks and two road graders outside and in the lot next door. They are grading the heck out of the road. Does this mean they will soon be blacktopping my road? I dunno, but I've never had this level of roadwork done on San Jose before.

So, I quickly shaved and jumped in the shower. Once I was clean and dressed, I got in the car and headed for Radio Shack. My rechargeable batteries are no longer holding a charge (well, it's been a couple of years and I suppose they don't last forever). I only used them in the digital camera but don't want to keep buying AA alkaline batteries (too damn expensive). It cost me $20.00 but I have four new ones in the charger.

I also stopped at the bank and got some cash for the house and CVS where I picked up a few things I needed. I was back home by 11:30 AM. I'm not sure how they do the blacktop, but assume there is a time when you cannot get in or out. So, I got out and back before that time.

Now, nobody did any blacktopping today. But they brought in truckloads of gravel and graded the road over and over (for at least 6 hours). I couldn't help thinking my brother Peter would have gotten the job done a whole lot quicker!

In the afternoon, I was restless, so I made a cucumber salad. I am still trying to recreate the ones my Mom made when I was a lad, but never get close...

For this one, I thin sliced an English (or seedless cucumber) I added about 1/4 of a red onion, also thin sliced. The recipe didn't call for it but my Mother always put onions slices in hers. I salted the cucumbers and onions, added a teaspoon of white vinegar and set them in a colander to drain for two hours.

When they had released their water, I made the dressing: 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of sour cream, one tablespoon of fresh chopped dill and some fresh cracked black pepper. I folded the the cucumbers and onions into the sauce, covered the bowl and put them into the fridge to chill.

About 7:00 PM, I warmed up the Sloppy Joe mixture and made one. That, along with a small bowl of the cold cucumber salad, was my dinner.

The cucumber salad didn't taste anything like my Mom's, but I must say it was damn good. Regarding duplicating my Mom's recipe, I am beginning to believe I am over-thinking this and getting too fancy. I can't picture Mom using sour cream or chopping fresh dill. It was probably something much more straightforward, like just mayonnaise and white vinegar.

I noticed an old favorite movie was on tonight so, at 8:00 PM, I watched "Bonnie and Clyde" with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Next I watched a show on the Food Network and then after the news was done, I went in the living room and to bed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

photo

My first (and possibly only) tomato crop

Road Trip

I awoke at 5:00 AM. I tried going back to sleep but I was too uncomfortable. So, I got up. I warmed up the last cup of coffee and drank it sitting on the front porch, watching the day dawn.

I still didn't feel like "breakfast," so I ate a peach.

Now you may remember from yesterday's post, I have a great cream of asparagus soup for my Mother (if she ever eats it). But, I realized yesterday that sort of short-changed Luanne and Kathy who are also out there at the cottage. I thought for a moment on what they might both like and it came to me: Hummus

So, I went to my go-to guide for fool-proof recipes (PBS' American Test Kitchen) and got a (hopefully) fool-proof recipe. Now, I doubled the recipe, but here's what I did for the original one:

I combined three tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with 1/4 cup of water in a measuring cup and beat it together to mix it. I set that aside. Then I mixed 6 tablespoons of tahini (I used imported Mediterranean roasted tahini, BTW) with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in another measuring cup and set that aside as well.

I drained and rinsed a 14-ounce can of chickpeas. I reserved two tablespoons of chickpeas for my garnish.

I ran the remaining chickpeas, a clove of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin and a pinch of cayenne pepper through the food processor until almost fully ground (about 15 seconds). I scraped down the sides of the food processor and, while letting it run, added the lemon-water mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube. I scraped down the bowl again and let it process for another minute.

With the machine still running, I added the oil-tahini mixture (again in a steady stream) and processed until the hummus was smooth and creamy (scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed).

I transferred the mixture to a Glad container, added the reserved chickpeas (for presentation and texture contrast) and sprinkled the top with minced flat leaf parsley from my herb garden (cilantro would have been better, but I didn't have any and parsley's an acceptable substitution). I covered it with a lid and stuck it in the fridge (a minimum of 30 minutes before serving). One thing I didn't do was to add a drizzle of olive oil on top (I figured that would be a total turnoff for those two).

BTW, according to America's Test Kitchen (and they do test the crap out of every ingredient) the best tasting chickpeas were made by Pastene. And the odds-on favorite tahini was either Joyva or Krinos. However, Westborn didn't carry any of those, so I settled on Progresso chickpeas and Sahtein tahini.

Since I am going to be traveling for many a mile, I didn't dare take a pain pill. Instead I hopped into the shower (shaving seemed like too much work today) and, afterwards, brushed my teeth. I got dressed (no easy matter) and was ready to leave at 11:30 AM.

I loaded up the soup, the hummus and two packages of pita bread and hit the road. The trip was uneventful until I got to Square Lake Road. Here, due to construction, the normal four lanes of traffic were squeezed into two lanes, all the way from Telegraph, (where I got on) and I-75, (where I got off). Cost me a lot of time and aggravation.

It still hadn't started raining (we were supposed to get occasional showers and thunderstorms today) until just before I got to the cottage. So, I carefully mounted the back steps, accepting I was getting doused and went upstairs.

Kathy and Lu were both there and my Mom was still sleeping. Kathy had to leave for a dental appointment shortly thereafter, so Lu and I sat in the living room and caught each other up on our lives. About 1:30 PM, my brother Carl showed up.

Oh, before I forget, Carl mentioned he was upset I hadn't talked about his tattoos in the Blog. So, lets: His original two koi on his left bicep have been joined by two or four more and now circles his entire arm. It is quite attractive (if you are into tattoos that is) but, as I've said before, with all my medical history, I've had quite enough of people sticking me with needles. So, tats are not in my near future.

The hospice nurse came by to check on Mom and she said Mom seemed to be quite comfortable. After she left, my brother Joe, his grandson Devon and Boomer (their little white dog) showed up. It was now raining off and on, BTW.

At everyone's urging, I tried to wake my Mom up (they all said she would feel bad if she heard I'd been there, but hadn't had a chance to see me). Finally she did wake up. In a rather one-way conversation, I told her I'd made her some soup whenever she was hungry. Carl came in and was talking to her for a bit, but she kept dozing off. It wasn't until Carl picked up Boomer and held him (two feet on the bed and two on his lap) when she really engaged. She kept petting Boomer (yeah, I was upstaged by a dog, and he didn't even bring soup!)

I wanted to get home before rush hour traffic (especially that Square Lake Road stretch), so I left just after 3:00 PM. But, just before I did, Devon said he was hungry and Lu told him about the hummus.

Now, I must point out that I know his Grandma Kathy likes hummus and even drives across town to get it at a favorite restaurant (the one her daughter Julie had her wedding reception in). That reception was actually the first time I ever had hummus that I liked, BTW. So, even though he might be young, I figure he would know good hummus from bad, so I waited until he tried some. He said it was really good, so I left, pleased with myself!

Back through the traffic and the road construction, I got home before 4:30 PM. I took off my pants and put some shorts on, took off my sling and let my arm dangle (bliss), filled some of this in and then went out to wash the dishes (kitchen's a cream of asparagus soup and hummus hot mess!) Before I got started, I checked the rain gauge. In spite of the large puddles here and there on my street, there was only about 1/8 inch of rain in the gauge.

I got the kitchen cleaned up and most of the Blog filled in when a friend called. We talked for along time, but I think we solved most of the world's problems. I ate leftovers (two hot dogs) for dinner and then watched TV until bedtime.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday

I finally fell asleep late Wednesday morning. Consequently, I didn't wake up until almost 8:00 AM. I told myself I must eat something, so I made soft boiled eggs for breakfast.

I went outside and turned on the sprinkler out back for 30 minutes (I had checked the rain gauge Tuesday afternoon and that nice rain I spoke of didn't leave more than a trace in it).

After that, I shaved and showered. Then I watered all the container gardens (two of the four hanging baskets are about gone now, so I took them down). Some of the grape tomatoes in the topsy-turvy planter are starting to ripen!

I cut up one of my last two apples, salted the slices and was watching the news at noon when something occurred to me. I have very little appetite (I've lost 10 pounds over the past week) for a real dinner, but fruit still appeals to me. So, the obvious answer is to get more fruit!

I put on my long pants and, after fussing with the seatbelt, I headed out to Westborn. Since I was there anyway, I got the ingredients to make some cream of asparagus soup. Now, you all know by now I like to make soup. Why? Well, you have periods of prep work (which I enjoy) followed by long stretches of simmering (where you can walk away).

So, I got back home, treated the cats and unpacked my goodies. For fruit I got three peaches, three black plums, three pluots (don't ask me! I thought they were plums, but they must be some sort of hybrid), a granny smith apple and a gala apple.

For the soup I bought two pounds of fresh asparagus and a pint of organic sour cream. I tried to get some Hungarian hot paprika, but all they had was sweet.

I sat for a while and let the pain pill I took start to work. Then I got to work.

I melted a half stick of unsalted butter in my Dutch oven pot (heavy bottom, even heat). Then I saut�ed 1/2 cup of diced Vidalia onion and one clove of minced garlic for about five minutes (you want them soft, but not brown). I seasoned that with a little kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

I trimmed the asparagus and cut it into one-inch lengths. I added that to the pot and saut�ed it for another four minutes. Then I added six cups of chicken stock and brought it to a boil. I reduced it to a simmer and let it cook for another 30 minutes (until the asparagus was very tender).

I used my immersion blender to puree it until it was smooth. Now, for those of you who do not have an immersion blender, you can, of course, just use your blender or food processor. However, I must add the obligatory Amy and Dad warning.

"When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least five minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid or remove the little cup. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth." Otherwise, your kitchen ceiling will be asparagus green!

Once I had it completely smooth, I added in the room temperature pint of sour cream. I taste-tested (needed nothing! It was perfect!) I let it cool down and put it into freezer containers.

It was now about 6:30 PM, so I took out the three pounds of ground chuck and cut it into thirds. I froze two pounds (in one pound packages) and put the other pound into my skillet. When it was browned, I drained the grease and, after using my One Touch can opener, I added a can of Manwhich. (Yeah, I know, real cooking chops versus fast food stuff. Hey, I do what I can, okay?)

When it was warmed I ate two of them on hamburger buns along with some potato chips. I watched some great TV until 11:00 PM and then headed to my chair and sleep.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wasted days and wasted nights

I set the alarm for Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM (garbage day) but was up and wide awake before 5:00. I swapped out the kitty litter (not easy, but doable) and took out three garbage bags and two cardboard boxes to the road.

It was softly raining as I did, BTW. Not sure it's good for my sling, but it felt wonderful.

Back inside, I posted the Blog and then watched the Today Show. I am becoming a news junkie, I fear.

Quick check on how I'm doing: My stitches are now starting to itch and I have like zero appetite (probably from the pain medication).

I was completely unmotivated. I didn't even take my shower until 2:00 PM.

I didn't eat any breakfast or lunch, and the dinner I planned seemed like too much work. Instead I just ate some mild Pinconning cheese and crackers.

My daughter Melissa called at 5:00 PM and we talked for a while. After that, I took a nap in my recliner. Unfortunately, that meant I stayed awake way too late into the night.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday (one week after surgery)

I awoke at 5:00 AM on Monday to go to the bathroom, so I filled out the Blog, printed off a copy for my Mom and then went back to bed (chair). I got a phone call (which I appreciated, BTW) at 6:20 AM that woke me back up. I did get back in that chair to see if there was any more sleep left in me, but it was a losing battle.

I can now appreciate the problems retirees face. Sounds nice to be home 24/7, right? Well, without the structure of weekdays and weekends, my normal routines are all screwed up. For example, it dawned on me this morning that I'd completely missed washing the bedding over the weekend. So, I stripped the bed and got that started.

Consequently, I shaved and showered late. In doing so, I missed a call from Lu and didn't check the phone immediately after getting cleaned up. Once I checked for voicemail, I returned her call a few hours later.

BTW, weather-wise, it's again hot and humid, but with a chance of showers today. It was sprinkling here around 11:00 AM, but that was it, so far. I got the clean bedding from the drier and made the bed.

In the afternoon, I drove to Kroger's to get some kitty litter (garbage day tomorrow). Since I was out and there anyway, I grabbed a few more items (ground chuck, unsalted butter and tuna fish) that I was low on. Picking up that 30 pound bag of kitty litter one-handed reminded me of something I was thinking about the other day.

The muscles in my right arm have been going downhill for months from deliberately not using it (hurt too much). So, I fear when this is all said and done, I'm gonna have a Popeye-sized left arm and a wimpy girly-man right arm! Sigh...

Back home and unpacked, I popped a pain pill and took an hour nap. When I got up, I started on making some coleslaw. On impulse, I bought a bag of shredded carrots and cabbage. But, for some reason, the traditional creamy dressing (mayonnaise and/or sour cream based) sounded too heavy (I think it's the heat).

It took a while, but I found an alternative dressing online. It was for broccoli slaw (which I don't have) but I think it will work. So, I got to work.

It called for a jalapeno pepper (which I also didn't have) so I went out to the raised bed garden and picked a "hot" yellow banana pepper (it had already started turning red, BTW). I cut it in half, stripped out the seeds and the white membranes and then minced it. After last night's ham disaster, I took a couple of itzy-bitzy pieces and tasted them.

Holy Moly, Guacamole! My lips were numb and I could not stop crying! There should be some warning label on these damn things! I admit, not being a spicy food aficionado, I don't know jack about hot peppers. I would have thought they would be less hot than a jalapeno pepper, but not these bad boys.

To sum up my limited knowledge, bell peppers (red, yellow or green) are my go-to guys. If I want a little hot, I use poblanos. If I want to walk on the wild side, I use deseeded jalapenos. And, only my grandson Joe can eat a habenero and live.

I am guessing these hot yellow peppers are somewhere between a jalapeno and a habenero.

But, back to my coleslaw: I thin-sliced half of a red onion and added that to the coleslaw mix and minced pepper. I mixed it up and set it aside.

For the dressing, I took a saucepan and added in 1/4 cup of cider vinegar, the zest of one lime, the juice of the same lime, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, two tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper. I brought that slowly to a boil, whisking constantly. When I had a light boil, I shut it off and set it aside to cool.

Once it was cool, I added in two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. I whisked that in and added it to the coleslaw. I tossed it and then set the bowl in the fridge to get happy (it was 7:00 PM. BTW).

I got out the grille pan and a package of hot dogs along with a small can of Bush's baked beans. While they were both heating up, I diced half of a Vidalia onion. I grilled the hot dogs and plated two on buns with yellow mustard and onions. I put some beans in a small bowl and added some coleslaw to the plate.

I went in to watch TV while eating dinner. The hot dogs and beans were good, if predictable, but the slaw? Whew! WAY too spicy for me!! I'll try it tomorrow again, but I think this is headed for the trash! Still, I think it was a good concept. I should be able to tone back the ingredients and eventually get good, non-dairy coleslaw.

I gave up on TV at 10:00 and went to the living room to sleep.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday

I guess I was really tired from yesterday's work, because I slept in until 7:30 AM on Sunday. I warmed up a cup of coffee and posted the Blog.

Funny sidebar: Sometime during the night, I woke up; sure I was having a heart attack. I felt a crushing weight on my chest! But when my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I realized Scruffy was curled up and asleep on top my chest. Touch by his affection, I gently slid him down onto my lap and, chuckling, went back to sleep.

I cleaned up the kitchen sink and counter and then went to shave and shower. I was dressed and ready to go by 10:00 AM. But the clothing store I need to visit (so I can have pants to wear outside the house) isn't opened yet. So, I started watering my two newly sown grass areas.

I wasted my time and more importantly, my energy going to Big & Tall Causal Male for the pants I need so I can leave the house. According to the Web Site, they open at 11:00 AM on Sunday, but when I got there, the sign in the window said they open at 12:00 PM!

So, I turned around and went home. I fixed some scrambled eggs for breakfast while I was waiting. Man, that little trip wore me out and I have to do it again! I think the heat (its 88 degrees F. right now) and humidity are contributing to this worn-out feeling, BTW.

See, here's the story on my need for new pants. It's physically impossible for me to button my regular pants right now. The only pair I own that I could get on had elastic all around the waistband. So, I could button them first and pull them up, then hook together the belt. The only problem is this pair has a three inch rip right above the left knee (these are my gardening pants, BTW). But, I originally got them at Big & Tall, so I hoping they still carry them.

Back there at noon and I lucked out! Not too much selection, color-wise, but I got a pair of light tan, one dark green and one black. I also picked up a short sleeve white dress shirt.

Back home, I took a pain pill and went to bed to watch TV for a while. Then I got up and did a load of laundry.

At 4:30 PM, I moved back out to my chair in hopes of catching a nice nap. While I did eventually doze off for 20 minutes or so, it was not restful.

I got back up around 6:00 and began my Sunday supper. I had about two pounds of redskin potatoes that were beginning to sprout. So, I peeled them all, cut them in chunks and put them on the stove in salted water to boil.

Meanwhile, I opened a jar of pork gravy and set that in a sauce pan to gently warm up. I also took about a cup of frozen corn, put it in a glass bowl, added a couple of tablespoons of water, covered it with cling wrap and microwaved it for about 8 minutes.

Finally I took out a thawed ham slice and gave it a nice char with a little peanut oil in my 10-inch frying pan. I mashed the potatoes with an egg, some butter and milk and then plated my food. I wandered in to see what was on Sunday night TV (not much) and ate dinner.

The potatoes (topped with a little more butter, the gravy and salt and pepper) were fantastic. The sweet corn (butter and salt) were excellent, too. But, the ham sucked!!!

They must have packed it in salt before sealing it because I didn't add any salt to it. Yet, it was so salty I couldn't eat more than a quarter of it! It about broke my heart to throw it away. However, there were two in the package I bought (I froze the other) so when I fix the second one, I will definitely rinse it off, first.

I fell asleep watching TV, but woke up around 1:00 AM. I shut everything off in the bedroom and went out to my recliner for the rest of the night.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday, getting it done...

I awoke in my recliner, stiff and sore, at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning. But, since I only got up three times last night, I'm not sleepy.

I went out and dumped the old coffee and made a fresh pot. I drank a cup sitting in my rocker on the front porch (it's supposed to hit 90 degrees F. and be really humid today, so I thought I'd enjoy the cooler air while I could).

I had my second cup on the couch, listening to Saturday Morning, Over Easy. Today is the "start" of the "Woodward Dream Cruise," so they are concentrating on "car" songs. I say "start" because it actually started last weekend. Now, car aficionados love this and attend in the millions. But, anybody who wants to go through or down Woodward is just screwed.

I have a co-worker who lives off of Woodward and always takes this week as his vacation. His rational? He can't get into his street or out of it for a week. The cars (classic cars, hot rods, muscle cars, etc.) cruise down the road at a stately 20 MPH and snarl up traffic for miles around.

I actually know two doctor's offices on Woodward that just close down this week. If you are a car buff, this is Nirvana. If you are trying to get somewhere, it just sucks!

I'm not feeling as well today as I did yesterday. But, I soldier on...

I put all the chairs, the rolling cart and the trash bin back in the kitchen. Some how, I snapped one of the nylon sliders off a chair leg. I spent a good hour looking for something to glue it back on with. My contact cement (my first choice) was hard as a rock. I KNOW I have some of that gorilla glue, but I can't find it. I ended up giving up. I attached it to the chair with masking tape and swapped out the chair for the one that sits in the office closet.

Jake and Carla dropped off my car, and we visited for a bit. When they left, I girded my loins (hey, I'm all about girded loins, okay?) and went out to cut the lawn.

Now, this was a lot of trouble! Ironically, it was the built-in safety features that nearly did me in. The power takeoff (PTO) lever that turns on the blades is on the right side (problem) and, any time you put the mower in neutral or reverse and the PTO is on, the mower will shut off. Also, I was running the mower at much less speed than I usually do (for better control). But, eventually, other than one strip in the front (on an angle between the road and the ditch), I got it done.

My next-door neighbor was driving by and stopped to see how I was doing. He reiterated his promise that if there was anything he could do to help, just ask. Next, Marie (the older widow living in the townhouses across the road) stopped by to thank me for the chicken and roasted sweet corn. She gave me her phone number in case I wanted to drop anything off again.

Back inside, I was contemplating taking my shower around 3:00 PM when my brother Carl called. We chatted a bit and then hung up. I got out my bathrobe and was just about to start when the phone rang again. It was my friend B___, so we caught each other up on what was going on (his story was a lot more interesting than mine, BTW).

With all the interruptions, it gave me time to think and I decided to clean the main bath first before I cleaned myself. That way it should be dry by the time I'm finished. So, I did. I used a sponge to wash the sink and toilet surfaces and then used the mop on the bathroom floor.

I shaved and showered and then got dressed. Lu called around 5:30 PM to let me know she'd made it to the cottage.

I decided I was too tired to make that dinner tonight, so I warmed up a container of Carla's spaghetti and meatballs (with a little extra sauce added) and ate that, instead.

I started watching some TV, but fell asleep around 8:30 PM. I woke up just before midnight and moved to my chair for the rest of the night.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

There's no TGIF if you ain't working!

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Friday. I got about six and a half hours of sleep and only woke up four times. I finished and posted the Blog.
Then I went outside and began the watering.

Back inside, with the timer set, I warmed up a cup of coffee and contemplated my day. Once both new grass areas were watered, I started my daily ablutions.

By 10:00 AM I was shaved, showered, dressed and had the morning chores done. I went and rested on the bed, watching TV.

Jake stopped by again at lunch time. This time he brought Arby's Roast Beef sandwiches, "horsey sauce" and curly fries for the two of us.

After he left, I returned a voicemail from my brother Carl. He wanted to see how I was doing and to let me know what's going on up there (he is having his roof replaced). Since he will be having the exact same operation someday soon, he was very discouraged when I told him the difficulty of wiping your butt with your left hand (hey, it may sound gross, but, believe me, it's a real problem!)

Anyway, after we hung up. I watched some more TV until the sitting position I was in became uncomfortable. So, I moved to the living room and my recliner. I was hoping to take a nap, you see. But, I was still wide awake at 3:20 PM when the phone rang.

It was Lu, calling from her cell phone, to let me know she was heading for Pennsylvania, staying in a motel tonight and then reaching Michigan tomorrow night. She wants to visit my Mom and help out with whatever she can.

After that, sleep seemed impossible. So, I cleared out the kitchen, vacuumed-swept the floor and then washed it. I finished up at 6:00 PM.

I had planned a nice dinner for tonight, but without a nap, it seemed daunting. So, I opened up a can of chili (my favorite: Hormel chili with beans) and warmed it up, instead. I topped it with some shredded cheddar cheese and wandered off to watch TV.

I fell asleep waiting for the Friday Night Fights (at 10:00 PM tonight for some reason). I work up at 12:30 AM and then went to bed. Well, I went to chair, lol!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday's Tale

I got a lot of sleep last night. Guess I am getting used to sleeping sitting up. I also did cut back on the pain meds and the nausea went away.

I watered the new grass by the cut down maple, the grass seed where the woodchips were and the raised bed garden.

I took my regular pills (along with five or six soda crackers) and then shaved. Next I took my shower. What normally took me under 20 minutes now takes over an hour and really wipes me out. But I feel so good afterwards, it's all worth it!

So, after dressing, I sat on the bed and watched some TV to take a break. I got back up around 10:30 PM, cleaned out the kitty litter and took the kitchen trash out. Then I emptied the dishwasher. Next I swept the kitchen floor with the electric sweeper.

I was taking a break at 12:30 PM when Jake stopped by. When he left, I went out and filled the bird feeder and the bird bath. I also watered the topsy-turvy tomato planter.

I was going to water the new clematis (for the back yard arbor I still need to assemble) when I realized just how long it's been sitting out there, still in its original pot. It's about doubled in height and has got to be root bound by now.

So, instead, I figured out about where it needed to be planted and dug a hole (not easy with a big shovel and one hand) and planted it. I stuck the little trellis that came with it next to it to give it something in climb on. I'll cut it back in the fall and then put up the arbor for it to grow on next spring.

It took me a while, but I figured out how to work my camera with my left hand. Trouble was that the zoom controls and the shutter are on the right side. But I finally figured it out and took a picture of my phlox and the clematis. I went inside and washed up, posted my two pictures and then made a can of soup for lunch.

I took a half hour nap and then watched some TV. Around 6:00 PM, I went outside and picked a nice green pepper I saw in the garden. I combined that with the last tomato I had for my BLTs (I have a TON of tomatoes in the garden, but because of the cool summer, they are all still green and so small I couldn't even make fried green tomatoes). I'm not sure I will even get any home-grown tomatoes this year.

I put that in the last of the head lettuce in the fridge (I still have some Bibb lettuce left) and a sliced shallot. Note: all of this was sliced or diced with my left hand, which is even worse than when I had no knife skills at all!

I dressed it with a simple vinaigrette and wandered in to watch TV and eat dinner.

I noticed today that all this not laying down is having a bad effect on my back. It hurts! And, when it felt like this before, I'd lie down and it would feel better. But, I can't! If it ain't one thing, it's another!

I went into the living room and to bed (in my chair) at 11:00 PM.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

photo

The new clematis, minus the new arbor

photo

Some of this year's flox

Mr. Popularity

Well, I got smarter last night and slept in the recliner. That allowed me to get, say, an hour's worth of sleep before I would wake up. It was another long night, but not as bad.

Wednesday was the day I could take off the acres of bandages and replace them with the five waterproof Band-Aid ones. Then, I shaved and showered and finally changed out of that damn hospital gown.

The only problems now were pain and nausea. Lu called to see how I was doing around 11:30 AM.

Jake called and said Carla had made me some meatballs and spaghetti sauce and he was bringing it over for lunch. I asked him to stop and get me some soda crackers. So, he made some penne pasta and warmed up the sauce. We topped it with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and ate lunch. It was very good (thanks, Carla!)

He went back to work and I went and took another short nap. Then I watched some more TV.

My son Jeremy called at 4:30 PM to check on me and we talked for a while. My Brother Jim called at 5:30 PM to let me know what was going on out at the Lake and to ask how I was doing. He said my sister-in-law, Coletta, took the same kind of pain medicine and was sick on it, too.

When we hung up, I took another nap until 7:00 PM. My Brother Joe called to talk about 1/2 hour later.

I had some more spaghetti and meatballs for dinner (still just a little, wary of my stomach). Finally my friend B___ called a little after 9:00 PM.

I was very popular on Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday

I can't remember having a longer night than I did last night! I don't think I slept more than an hour at a stretch (usually 15-30 minutes at a time).

I finally gave up completely at 5:00 AM, got up and made a pot of coffee. I put on some shorts and then took the garbage out to the road. Since I was out there anyway, I turned on the sprinkler to water the newest grass seed.

I cleaned up the kitchen a bit and then went out to turn off the water. I am starting to leave bits and pieces of my bandage "collage" here and there (mostly in the bed). But, tomorrow I get to take it all off, cover the four incisions with waterproof bandages the doctor sent home with me and finally take a shower!

My appetite seems to be returning. So, at 11:00 AM, I warmed up one of the boneless, skinless chicken thighs I'd grilled on Sunday. I put some mayonnaise on a hamburger bun, added the chicken and ate an excellent lunch. My marinade was spot on!

Jake stopped by during his lunch, so I asked him to dump the ice cube trays and fill the Velcro icepack the doctor had also sent home. He figured out how it attached to my bandage. Next I asked him to wind up the mantle clock. Then he left (probably in self-defense!)

I spent most of the afternoon trying to take a nap but all I could accomplish was that now-annoying dozing!

I didn't feel much like eating. In fact I felt quite queasy. So, I ate a few soda crackers and called it dinner. I watched TV until I really started to doze and then relocated to my old recliner (I already had a blanket and a glass of water out there). I turned off all the lights and went to sleep.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday Moanin'

I awoke at 6:30 AM on Monday. We had quite the wicked storm last night, so I went out on the patio and picked up the chairs. I noticed there was another 1/2 inch of rain in the gauge.

I really wanted a cup of coffee, but I am under the "No food or drink after midnight" rule. So, I shaved and showered instead. I got dressed and waited for Jake and Carla.

They showed up and we (along with that damned sling) headed for Mt. Clemens and the hospital. I won't bore you with all the details, but two things stood out. One, when they had me in my hospital gown and saw my ankles, they wrapped them in yards of gauze.

The other is that they must have gotten backed up in surgery, because I didn't get in until hours later.

My brother Carl also showed up, so the four of us waited and waited until they finally wheeled me away.

The operating room was predictably cold. They had shot me up with a nerve blocker hours earlier, so they added something to my I.V. and I went to sleep.

I woke up about two or three hours later. Once I had recovered enough, I put my pants on (I wore my hospital gown home as a shirt). An hour or so drive later and I was finally back home. Carla suggested using the couch pillows on the bed (I have to sleep sitting up). She left to let their poor dog out, (thanks again for everything) while Jake used my car to get my pain prescription filled.

While he was out, I returned Lu's phone call. Both she and my daughter Melissa had called and both said I didn't need to call them back tonight. After speaking for just a few moments with Lu, my throat was so sore I decided to take Melissa up on her offer and call another time.

CVS didn't have the meds, so Jake went to Walgreen's instead. It was a good thing he did, because while waiting, he came across a "One Touch Can Opener" (as seen on TV, lol). So, one more difficulty overcome!

Jake opened the childproof top on the pain pills and I took two. He got my garbage ready to take out on Tuesday morning and then left for home and hearth (thanks, buddy). I sat in the recliner and waited for the pills to work (by that time I was in considerable pain).

I made Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup for dinner, which was a pain in the butt to eat (my left hand was shaking too much to get the spoon from the bowl to my mouth). I finally put it in a big cup, drank the broth and kinda "slurped" the noodles. Later, I went and watched TV and dozed.

P.S. I hope to God that, when this is all over, I will be able to re-learn how to type normally again!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Post Surgery Update

I'm alive.

Sunday

Sunday was a mix of getting stuff done and taking it easy. I decided NOT to spend my last day with two hands just on working my butt off. I checked the rain gauge and found two inches of rain had fallen on Saturday!

I was amazed at how hot and humid it was when I went outside. I drove to Westborn and got some fresh corn and dill to complete my grilling ideas. I made a marinade of half fresh lemon juice and half canola oil and then whisked in some fresh dill and dried thyme. I put three chicken breasts and four thighs in a baggie and dumped in the marinade. I let that get happy while I fired up the coals.

I first grilled the chicken on the hot area of the grille, and then I moved it over to the cool to continue cooking. I put the sweet corn on and watched it closely. When that was done, I took the chicken and corn off and grilled some burgers and a round steak.

I walked over two chicken breasts and a thigh and three ears of corn to an older widow woman in the townhouses across the road (she's the nice lady whose dead husband was also named "John").

I was also going to do a package of hot dogs, but it started sprinkling, so I said enough was enough.

I shut the garage door and left the grille to its fate. I ate three ears of corn and a chicken breast for dinner and went in to watch my Sunday night shows.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

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The Rain Gauge on Sunday Morning

Saturday's Story

I woke up on Saturday at 6:30 AM. I got out some coffee beans and ground them up. I made a pot of coffee and watched the weather channel while it perked. Then I had a cup while I wrote out the newest Blog entry. Damn, that's good stuff!

By 9:00 AM, it was sprinkling outside (it's too light to call it "rain," yet). I had already decided to run my errands and finish any outdoor projects on Sunday, so I leisurely made my breakfast. While the roast beef hash was warming up, I started the first load of laundry.

I stashed the roast beef hash in the microwave to keep warm while I made the two over-easy eggs. I love the taste of the warm egg yolk over the roast beef hash!

Now it's really raining. I decide to do the little things that are not on the list, but still need to be done. So, I did two loads of laundry and started doing this and that.

I took a phone call from a friend and stopped putzing around. I made my dinner (a huge salad dressed with some lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasoning).

I watched a little TV, but went to bed early. All in all it was a pretty unremarkable Saturday.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

TGIF

I went to bed early Thursday night (if you remember) but woke up at 1:30 AM. I tried everything, but eventually ended up sitting on the front porch in the rocker until about 4:00 AM. Naturally this made getting up at 5:30 AM a bit difficult and I ended up being 15 minutes late for work. Ah, well...

At lunch, I went to the bank to get some cash and found the ATM was broken! So, I went to the next closest one and got some money.

I had already decided to treat myself to a nice lunch (starting Monday, with only one hand, I am picturing a lot of canned goods or micro-waved meals). So, I went to Red Lobster (first time in probably 1 1/2 years) and ordered my favorite: Shrimp Alfredo linguine, with the Caesar salad (theirs is the best Caesar salad dressing I have ever had) and three cheddar biscuits. I left there full, happy and $12.00 poorer.

That afternoon, the hospital called and said my surgery would be at 10:30 AM on Monday. It now feels really real... But, whatever happens, it's got to beat the current reality, which is constant, throbbing pain in my right shoulder. I am really sick of that!

Once back home after work, I turned on the back sprinkler (yes, I know it's supposed to rain on Saturday, but I just want to keep the new grass seed moist). I set the timer for 30 minutes.

I returned a call from a friend and we talked for a while. When we finished, I was about to get started on my ToDo list. But my daughter Melissa called.

By the time I hung up, it was too late to really do anything else, so I just warmed up some of the pork and beans and smoked sausage. I ate that watching the Friday night fights. I went to bed before they were finished.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday's Tale

Thursday morning was sunny, with low humidity and clear skies. It's supposed to be a high of 80 (damn near ten degrees F. cooler than average). Only problem I foresee is that, right now, they are predicting rain Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. That kinda wipes out any outside weekend work before my surgery.

At lunch I went to the Home Depot and bought a new oscillating sprinkler. When I got home, I filled up the dishwasher and started a new load. I made another BTL for my lunch. Delicious, but it did bring up the question: Does the bacon on a BLT need to be hot? I went with the cold "out of the fridge" kind, but was just wondering. Does the warm bacon add something to the party?

Back home after 5:00 PM, I changed clothes and treated cats. Then I checked the mail and caller ID. Nothing, really...

I took my new sprinkler out back (it's nice, BTW) and hooked it up. I turned on the water and let the new grass get soaked for about 30 minutes.

I used Jake's brilliant idea. You may remember that I had been whining about thinking I had more hostas than had emerged from the "load and dump" mentality that my neighbor's buddy did. Well, Jake suggested I go back in the archives and check out last year's plant photos.

So, I did. It's a different angle, but I can tell there are really four hostas missing. It's too late tonight, but maybe I can unearth them this weekend.

I made another BLT for dinner. I have found that I prefer a really thick slice of tomato, rather than one or two thin slices, BTW. It seems to make the sandwich feel more filling. I ate it watching TV and then went to bed early, which turned out to be a mistake.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday

I got a call on Tuesday from the hospital saying I needed to be there at 7:00 AM on Wednesday for my pre-admission testing (blood work and an EKG). So, I reset the alarm for 4:30 AM (groan).

So, when I finally woke up at 5:00 AM on Wednesday (not because of any fault of my alarm clock, it was a disgruntled curmudgeon, repeatedly hitting the snooze button). I shaved with my new "electric" razor and hopped into the shower. Then I raced to get dressed and headed out the door. But, not before I deposited my two garbage bags on the road (I don't have a "curb")

I took surface streets (knowing all the problems with the E-Ways right now). I went Inkster to 8-Mile, 8-Mile to Groesbeck and Groesbeck to the hospital. I got there 15 minutes late, BTW (there was a LOT of construction on 8-Mile, you see).

So, they gave me an EKG (without dry-shaving my chest again, thank God) and she said it was perfect. Then she drew my blood (which she was very skillful, as well - I told her my veins suck, and they do!)

I spend some time giving my "patient history," (I am SO tired of this, BTW. Do any of you know the milligram dosages of any drugs you might take? Well, neither do I!) Then I hopped in the car and headed for work.

I got to work at 8:50 PM (that was a LOT of driving for that early in the morning - over 80 miles round-trip). So, between my ankles and my legs, I was pretty well trashed for the day.

At lunch, I stopped at the quarter car wash and washed the car. Then I vacuumed it out. That was just another of the rather lengthy list of things I still have to get done before I become "The one-armed man."

Speaking of which, as I think I have said before, I keep trying to do things with just my left hand, to see how much trouble I am getting into. In the car, I can turn it on and shift the automatic transmission into gear (with difficulty), but the challenge is to secure your seat belt.

But today, I realized another problem. Just think about how you open a trash bag from a roll. You grab the corners in both hands and shake it, allowing air to fill it and open it up. Well do it one handed and all you are doing is like waving a flag!

If I can't figure this one out, I'll just open 25 bags (three months at 2 bags a week) and drape them over a chair (not pretty, but functional).

I went out back and turned the oscillating sprinkler back on. Uh oh, there was a problem. Like it did last year, it had frozen in a "down" position. I banged it around in my hands (no response) and then manually tried to push it past that point. Instead, I snapped something off!

So, I hooked up the square sprinkler, allowed for wind drift and cranked it up. I set the timer for 30 minutes and went back inside.

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F. while I arranged a pound of thick-sliced bacon on my rack (set on tinfoil covering a cookie sheet). I smothered it with fresh cracked pepper and then popped it in the oven for 15 minutes. When I took it out, it was still undercooked (this would have worked with thin bacon). So, I put it back in for another five minutes.

Meanwhile I toasted two slices of oat nut bread and sliced up a tomato. When the bacon was done, I assembled my BLT. I put mayonnaise on both slices of bread, added lettuce, tomato and two slices of bacon, topped it with the other slice and cut it in half.

I ate dinner at the table, reading a magazine that came yesterday. Then I went in and watched TV, moving the sprinkler as needed. Since I was already out there, I also watered the raised bed garden. I finally shut off the water and went back in to bed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

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Back garden #1

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Back garden #2

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Back garden #3

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Back garden #4

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Back garden #5

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Back garden #6

Done with the mulch!

Well, after I cleaned my ankles and dressed them, I decided to wear my Crocs to work on Tuesday morning. Not as a fashion statement, but because the sides are so low. I felt silly, though.

At lunch I stopped at Westborn for some lettuce and then CVS to pick up some prescriptions.

After work, I went out back and finished moving the mulch It was very hot outside (finally!) but I did get it done. I'll take some pictures and post it for you later.

Then I raked the area where the lawn is all torn up and sowed some grass seed. Next, I hooked up the sprinkler and gave it a good soaking.

Lu called around 7:00 PM and we chatted for a bit. After we hung up, I cut some smoked sausage into thin slices, saut�ed them and added them to a large can of pork and beans. I threw in some yellow mustard and molasses and warmed it up.

I ate dinner watching a little TV, and then went to bed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to work...

Monday morning, when I awoke, my right ankle was a mess! The site of the latest yellow jacket attack, it must have itched during the night and I must have scratched it. So, I cleaned it with rubbing alcohol and then smeared Neosporin all over it before I put on my sock.

But, the raw flesh, rubbing against my high-sided shoes I wear to work, was much worse when I got home as now I had two blood blisters as well (talk about adding insult to injury!)

Tonight was more watering (it sprinkled here, but the promised rain never showed up). I got all the front container gardens watered, then went out back and watered the newly planted thyme, the clematis (still in the pot from the store) and the topsy-turvy planter. I refilled the bird bath and set the oscillating sprinkler up to water that grass seed for 30 minutes.

Back inside, it was already after 7:00 PM, so I made dinner. I had spotted a new pasta from Buitoni (they make various refrigerated pasta and it's sold in most grocery stores now), so I bought it when I was food shopping last Saturday. It's a type of ravioli called Wild Mushroom Agnolotti (according to the package, it's "generously filled with fresh portobello & crimini mushrooms, imported Grana Pandano and Parmesan cheeses and fresh roasted garlic).

I made a tortellini sauce I like for it, though I had to cut it in half (it calls for a pound of frozen tortellini and I have but nine ounces of fresh pasta). So I reserved 3/4 cup of chicken broth and used the rest of four cups to cook the pasta in (4-6 minutes after the stock is boiling; stir occasionally).

Meanwhile, I added one tablespoon of cornstarch to the reserved broth and whisked it together. I added 1/8 cup of butter to a large saucepan and when it was melted, I put in a clove of minced garlic and one teaspoon of dried basil and saut�ed that for two minutes. Then I added the cornstarch-broth mix and whisked it until it started to thicken and came to a boil.

I added the ravioli to the sauce, topped it with grated Parmesan cheese and then plated it. I went in and ate dinner (excellent, BTW) watching my taped Sunday shows.

Monday, August 3, 2009

And then it was Sunday

I woke up at 7:00 AM. I had awakened earlier at 2:00 AM and stayed awake for a couple of hours, which reminded me why going to bed early (for me) is a big mistake.

My arm hurts like a son-of-a-b*tch, BTW, and I am seriously tempted to take a pain pill. I still have about a half a bottle left from my last knee replacement. But, I hate that "stupid" feeling, so I passed. If I want to get stupid, I'll just drink too much bourbon.

It's not supposed to be a warm day, so I shut off the AC and opened a few windows. The fresh air feels nice.

Food seems to still be just an option, so I just reheated a cup of yesterday's coffee. I got cleaned up and then stripped the bed. I threw the bedding into the washer and sat down on the love seat to listen to Sunday Morning, Over Easy.

Naturally, I dozed off. I was awakened by Jake and Carla and their dog, stopping by after a weekend up at the St. Clair boat races. They were dropping off a couple of pounds of hunter sausage from the Smoke House (a half mile from where we all used to live in Columbus and the BEST!!!)

I was not surprised that the cats disappeared. But, I was a little surprised that Scruffy didn't eventually emerge. He always did when Tracey brought her dog. Maybe a 60 pound pit bull gave him pause.

We visited a bit (while I chowed down two or three hunter sausages) and then went out back. I showed them how far I got on the mulch project and their dog relieved herself in my yard. Then they left and I got about my work, revitalized.

I went out back. I gathered up the pine and maple limbs I'd cut yesterday and threw them over the fence into the vacant lot south of me (hey, if they are going to cut down all the trees, they can take care of a few extra branches, right?)

Back inside, my daughter Melissa called. We talked for way too long. So my plans for Sunday's supper changed. I decided I'd just stick to hunter sausage. I never watched my Sunday night shows (they are being taped, anyway) and I just went to bed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Saturday's Story

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. I ground some coffee beans and put a pot on. I cleaned the kitchen counters waiting for it to perk.

I had a cup while I posted the Blog and another as I swept the kitchen floor. Then I made up my grocery list. At 9:00 AM, I went out back again to move more mulch while it was still cool.

I quit at 10:00 AM. I am at least three quarters of the way done (there are much less plants in the middle section). Casualties to date: Those two missing hostas and three of the four rhododendrons. Also, the back Buddha was buried (I suppose I'll pay karma points for that when I die). But, it's coming along and I am well pleased. I took some photos of the morning glories this year (It was just one packet of seeds and supposed to be all purple, but there are a variety of colors).

I posted the pictures, threw my shorts and T-shirt in the laundry basket and then shaved and showered. I hit the road at 11:00 to go grocery shopping at Kroger's (I don't usually go that late and it was very crowded, BTW). I got back home and unpacked everything and then immediately hit the road again, heading for Lake Orion and my Mom. I'm guessing that, with this upcoming surgery, this will be my last visit to the cottage this year.

I got there about 1:30 PM after an uneventful trip. I found Cora had taken ill (contact me via email for details) and my sister-in-law Kathy was now taking care of Mom until Monday when Raquel would be coming in (Marla, our favorite Cora replacement is unavailable due to having a baby a few weeks ago).

I knew I still had lots to do this weekend, so I didn't plan on cooking Mom anything. I just took her a fruit plate (cantaloupes, pineapple slices, that white melon whose name I can never remember and some seedless grapes.) I also took a small watermelon that I cut into bite sized chunks when I was there.

I hit the mother-lode as far as visitors, as they were signing Mom up for Hospice with the same folks they used last year for the Palliative Care. So, I had my brother Joe and Kathy, their daughter Julie and her son Devon, my brother Jim and Coletta, Carl's stepson Mike and his wife Chris and, arriving late, of course, my brother Carl.

I left at 3:30 PM and headed home. I still have a lot to do tonight. I got home at 4:45 PM and (after treating the damn cats) changed clothes and started cutting the front lawn with the push mower.

Somewhere near the mailbox, my right ankle felt on fire and, looking down, I saw two of those tiny yellow jacket wasps energetically stinging me through my sock. I slammed the hand of God (well, maybe just me) on them until they expired, but the damage was done. So, my left ankle, which still hurts and itches, is screwed up, but now my right ankle is also wrecked. I wish I could find their nest! "Green" be damned, I would dump a load of chemical shit on their ass that would make Chernobyl look like a picnic!

I got the key to the tractor and then cut the back lawn. Since it's been rather dry and hasn't grown much, I put it in a higher gear. I finished everything up before 7:00 PM.

Back inside, I got a call from my brother Jim who wanted to make sure I was comfortable with today's proceeding (I am) and then went back outside with my tree trimmer pole. I like the trees but am not happy hitting branches as I cut the lawn. So, I walked up one side and down the other, cutting all the low hanging branches.

It was getting late and I decided that I would pick up the branches tomorrow. I took a rinse-off shower. I put on my bathrobe and thought about dinner (I haven't eaten all day). But, my arm hurts like hell and my legs are shot from the drive, so I decided it was too much trouble and just went to bed.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

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Morning Glories #1

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Morning Glories #2

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Morning Glories #3

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Morning Glories #4

Finally Friday!

Friday dawned sunny and warm. I am tired of sandwiches and soup, so I treated myself at lunch. I went to Chin's and had chicken subgum, with rice and an egg roll. Delicious!

I got home after work and went through the various rituals. It was about 6:00 PM when I got outside. First I stuck the hose in the reflecting pool and turned it on low. Then I took the rake, the garden fork and the wheelbarrow out to the back garden.

I started at the south end spreading the piles of mulch. It was as I feared; they had buried several of my hostas. I found two (with their leaves damaged, but I think they will grow back), but I am sure there are two more still missing.

I stopped at 6:30 and hooked the hose to the oscillating sprinkler and set it in place to water the grass seed. I went back and worked for another 1/2 hour. I got about 1/4 of the garden done. I quit at 7:00 PM (I can't afford to cripple myself up this weekend) and turned off the sprinkler.

Back inside, I took and made some calls. Then I made a sandwich for dinner. I spread my oat nut bread with Dijon mustard, put on two rounds of provolone cheese and then two thick slices of tomato. I seasoned the tomato with salt and pepper, put on the top and cut it in half.

I went in to watch the Friday Night Fights. The sandwich was excellent, with a nice, fresh taste. I didn't stay awake for the main bout, but it's being taped. I woke up at 12:30 AM, turned off the light and TV and immediately fell back asleep. I guess exercise and the fresh air coming through the bedroom window promote sleeping!