Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Victor?

Now, I must admit, I don't watch soaps, but I do leaved the TV on all day these days (the cats and I like the background noise). So, I gotta ask... why is there always some powerful, shadowy guy named "Victor" in the background?

I don't think I ever knew anybody named Victor in my life!

Where did these guys come from?

Tuesday

I got up with the alarm on Tuesday (its garbage day and, besides, I am now in training for going back to work). I got the last of the trash and then switched out the kitty litter.

Due to yesterday's garage cleaning, I had four bags of trash instead of my usual two. I carried each one out with my left hand through a light drizzle. Why just my left hand? Because my right shoulder hurts like a b*tch! I either did something to it while I was sleeping or (more likely) I overdid it with the garage cleaning.

As a result, all of today's projects got put on hold. I can't afford to mess this up. So, this will be a short post.

It was cold and yucky outside, BTW. I got an email from my boss at work, saying management didn't want to pay me for the three days this week, and could I get my doctor to let me come back to work as of Monday. I checked with him and he said, "No!" So, I emailed my boss back and said to switch my time from sick pay to vacation for the three days. Geesh! I guess since they paid for six weeks off, I should be glad but, three lousy extra days?

I had more of Jake's chili for lunch and did take a short nap. I called Melissa in the afternoon and we chatted a quite a while.

For dinner I warmed up some of the shrimp scampi and linguine and ate that watching Hell's Kitchen. After that, I watched a couple of taped shows and then went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wet and Windy Monday

I awoke with the alarm on Monday. I have to go into work for a mandatory meeting about a new insurance plan they will be instituting December 1.

I finished the Blog and posted it, then shaved and showered. I attended the meeting (there were only five or six people at this one, BTW) and then dropped off my "Return to Work" slip to my boss.

Then I drove over to Kroger's to get some kitty litter and my flu shot. Turns out they don't start giving shots until 10:00 AM (and it was only 9:15). So, I sat in my car and listened to National Public Radio to kill the time.

I finally got my flu shot and then went home in high winds and a driving rain. I changed into my work clothes and started washing the bedding (I didn't have a chance to do that on Sunday).

I backed the car out (into the rain) and started to reorganize the garage. I have way too much stuff in my way right now and would like to get it back to being a usable "two car" garage. Now this is much harder than just cleaning up my garage. I am using a tape measure and trying to fit recent equipment additions (like that lawn tractor trailer Jake and Carla got me for the wood chips and my big-ass lawn roller) and things like the arbor (that I won't be able to assemble until spring), into the existing space. What I really need is a big backyard shed, but I don't want to spend the money right now.

So, I measured and planned, then pushed and pulled things around. By 2:00 PM, I had the north side done and swept but was hungry and beat. I went in the house, heated up two hot dogs and ate them on the naked bed, lying down and resting my legs (concrete floors are killer on knee replacements).

Naturally, I fell asleep! I woke up at 3:30 PM and immediate made the bed with the clean sheets, pillow cases and bedspread. I started another load of clothes in the washer.

My daughter Melissa called around 4:30 PM. She questioned my last comment regarding facial hair and I explained it was just the warped Goerlich sense of humor. Well, at least Amy understood (I hope). We chatted for a bit until I had to excuse myself. I had agreed to give Jake a ride home tonight in exchange for some of the chili he made over the weekend (Carla's working late).

I was back at home before 6:00 PM, with a container of chili for tonight's dinner (I think I got the better of this deal). I put the second load of wash into the dryer and filled in the Blog to date.

I hung up the clothes and then decided to tackle the box of photos and "stuff" Joe gave me at Mom's. Jesus! That woman saved EVERYTHING! It was both fascinating and deeply depressing at the same time. I looked at each item and then put them in six piles; one for me, and one each for Luanne, Amy, Melissa, Jeremy and Jake.

For example, in my pile were young photos of yours truly, my original birth certificate, my baby bracelet from the hospital, a typewritten medical history of myself as a child, all my report cards (note to self: Never, ever let my kids see these!) a class picture of like my forth grade class and so on...

She had all kinds of photos, and pictures in frames, and things like Amy and Carl's wedding announcement cut out of the paper, Melissa and Dave's wedding invitation, Luanne's and my wedding invitation, a huge folder that had seemingly every article or photo Luanne ever published in the Voice newspaper (including our joint columns), little things that Jeremy and Jake had written her or made for her in grade school and so on...

Thanks once again to Joe and Kathy for sorting through what must have been an astonishing amount of "stuff." Again, I apologize for not being able to help.

I put the six piles on the daybed and will have to figure out how to get them to my now distant families. Before I shut down for the night, I went outside to check on the rain gauge. I was surprised to find I had only 1/2 inch of rain in it.

Jake had warned me the chili was very "filling", so I only warmed up about half a bowl for my dinner. I had planned on watching the first of Ken Burn's series on our national parks (I taped it as well) but I was still bummed and that wasn't exciting enough. So, I switched to a History Channel biography of Daniel Boone and Davy Crocket.

The chili was excellent, BTW. It had a lot less heat than I am used to expecting from Jake (thank God! Him and his damn habaneras) and the mix of meats (a chuck roast, ground beef, pork and veal) and his three types of beans were a perfect blend.

I went to sleep about 10:30 PM, but woke up around 1:00 AM. I watched the end of the Tonight Show and then the Late Show and finally felt sleepy enough to go back to bed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Road Trip and Reunion

I awoke at 5:30 AM on Sunday, finished and then posted the meager Blog entry. Then I went back to bed to wait for the dawn (no sense getting up if you have to turn on lights).

I got up for real at 7:30 AM and took a quick rinse-off shower. Then I went out back and turned the sprinkler. I set the timer and went back to clean up the kitchen.

Then I started prepping for today's dish (remember, there is a Goerlich family reunion instead of my Mother's birthday party out in the New Baltimore park).

So I cut up onions and celery and put them in one bowl, then I fine diced eight scallions and, after peeling, four pounds of Idaho potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Those went into the next bowl (I'm gonna have a lot of bowls to wash, lol!) BTW, I'm listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy and singing along with James Taylor and his Sweet Baby James song. Now, I know he wrote it for his nephew, but somehow it always reminds me of Jimmy Hay (maybe he used to sing it, I don't really remember...)

I took the 12-quart stock pot (heavy aluminum) and added two tablespoons of olive oil and four tablespoons of butter. I heated that over medium-high heat until the butter bubbling slowed, but before it turned brown. I added the onions and celery and saut�ed it until it softened (about three to five minutes) stirring often and watching it close. You damn sure don't want the onions to brown!

Well after that, we get into secret ingredients and such (this is the only secret recipe I ever developed) and I still have about another 40 minutes of doing stuff. So, we will just have to wait and see how it's received at the party...

BTW, why am I making soup for a pot luck lunch? Well, two reasons, actually. One is it's fall and I figured soup might just hit the spot and, two, since this was supposed to be my Mom's birthday party, I am making it in her honor (this was her favorite of all the soups I brought her).

So, by 10:30 AM, the soup was in the big crock pot on warm and I had just finished loading the dishwasher and hand washing the big stock pots and aluminum bowls. Then I went and shaved, took a real shower, got dressed and left just before 12:00 noon.

Now, the party didn't officially start until 2:00 PM, but I wanted to get a couple things from Mom's house and dig up a flower. So, Kathy and her grandson Devon helped me carry in my stuff (the crock pot, a ladle and a wire basket I filled with individual packets of oyster crackers).

The Joe and Devon went over to Mom's house with me. I was just supposed to get the Buddha and the picture that hung over the couch on 24 Mile Road. They had packed the Buddha in a box with all the framed photos of my family Mom had on her bedroom wall, plus a few loose photos. Also, they had a bunch of my empty soup containers Cora never gave back to me. Joe loaded the box in my trunk and Devon put the picture in the back seat.

They had everything out and set on the counters tables, etc., for people to look at and choose things they might want. Now, I tried to stick to my original plan, but before I left, I also had a wooden crucifix, two pieces of Carnival glass (for Melissa), a German flag (my Dad had bought it when his brother and sister came over) and a little wooden footstool I had made for my Mom one year (I carved "To Mom with love, John" on the underside, but not the date. Dammit!).

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot! I also had a box with all the bird figurines Amy and Melissa had given my Mom for her birthdays over the years!

Then I went out to dig up my trillium. I couldn't find any where I thought they were, but I found one I thought might be it. I bent up my shovel in the hard and Mom's was missing so I finally dug it up with her garden fork. I put a little dirt around it in my bucket, added a little water and we went back to the party.

By that time Carl and some of Hannah's family were there. Carl was already eating the chowder! I took in the plant to verify it was a trillium, and Carl laughed and told me I had dug up a weed!

Now, Mom had given Hannah a trillium a few years back, so she graciously agreed to come back to the house and show me one. And, even with diligent searching, that's all we found: one. So, using another shovel Joe had found I finally got it out (the dirt was hard and the damn root was about a foot deep).

When we got back, even more people had showed up and more just kept coming (there are a lot of us!) Everyone had brought food as well, so we ended up with an impressive amount and variety; everything from spaghetti, meatballs, beans, chicken, pizza, snack trays with cheese, meats and crackers, lemon meringue pie, cookies and, of course, my niece Laura had made her traditional huge cake.

Jeremy and his family arrived. He brought lasagna and chocolate chip cookies he's made. I had a piece of his lasagna for my lunch. The taste was excellent, but it had dried out a bit on the edges (that's the trouble with making and then transporting food).

It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, so the soup idea seemed a bit lame. However, a lot of people seemed to like it.

I visited with my brothers and sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews and checked out the latest crop of babies (there were a LOT of babies there!) They had brought over Mom's photo albums and were passing them around (that was a neat idea!). I had to laugh at how young we all looked!

By 4:00 PM, I was tired and my shoulder hurt, so I made my farewells and prepared to head for home.

Now, I knew I had soup containers and planned on giving away any excess soup, but when I checked there wasn't even four cups left of it. I did leave the box of the individually packed oyster crackers and urged people to take them (I don't eat them and little babies and toddlers love them).

I had an uneventful ride home (traffic was light) and got there about 5:15 PM.

I immediately replanted the trillium in my wildflower garden. I heated up the last of the soup (about a bowl and a half) and let the crock pot soak.

I ate the soup watching my Sunday night shows and went to bed at 10:30 PM. I was awakened at 2:30 AM by thunder and lightning and the sound of heavy rain, but I just rolled over and went back to sleep.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Slower Saturday

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Saturday, but watched the news in bed until 7:00. Then I finished the Blog entry and posted it.

Yesterday, I was filled with ambition, but today, I am not. I did make a pot of coffee and drink the two cups (why is it those four cups in my coffee maker only equal two cups in my coffee mugs?)

It did seem to rain overnight (at least it was damp on the patio), so I'm not sure how successful my waterproofing project for the trailer was. But, it's still dull and cloudy out and I am really not motivated today.

I did load up the dishwasher and run a load through. But I didn't even shave or take my shower until after noon. Then I went out back and attached the spray nozzle to the hose. With a wire brush, I tried to clean all the gunk off the grille. Then I rinsed it...

Oh, oh... I got only about half of the grille down to bare metal (I KNEW I should have bought two cans of oven cleaner!) I kept scrubbing and rinsing until I finally admitted defeat. I let the damn thing sit there and drain while I went back inside. I'll pick up more oven cleaner tomorrow or Monday, I suppose.

I started dinner about 6:00 PM. I was making shrimp scampi with linguine, an old favorite. So old, in fact, that we must have made it when Jake and Carla still lived here. Why do I say that? Because, there are changes to the recipe (more garlic, less white wine, adding lemon zest, etc.) all written out in Carla's handwriting on the page! So, I made it her way.

I topped it with fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and wandered in to see what might be on tonight (nada). I watched an old movie and went to bed early.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Busy Friday

I made a four cup pot of coffee when I awoke on Friday morning. I went out and reset the sprinkler, turned it on and came back inside. I set the timer, got a cup of coffee and finished the Blog entry.

I made four hardboiled eggs while I was putting away some laundry. I got an email from my nephew Rick, with pictures of the Mexican food dish he was talking about in previous comments and the menu from his favorite restaurant. Wow! Made me wish I lived in Texas! I've never seen anything like that around here.

I left at 11:00 AM to get a haircut. I was backing out the driveway when I had to stop and let a car go by. Just then a black walnut fell off the tree (they are everywhere these days) and bounced off the car roof. Must have come from the top of the tree, because the noise was tremendous and scared the crap out of me!

After my haircut, I went to Meijer's to get my remaining groceries. I got home and got everything unpacked and put away by 1:00 PM. I made a sandwich and ate it for breakfast/lunch.

I changed into my work clothes and went out back. First I brushed off and then swept the trailer. Next, I opened the Thompson's Water Sealer and, using a three-inch brush, applied it to all the edges. Then I filled a paint tray and, using a roller, applied it to the top. If it doesn't rain until after 3:00 PM tomorrow, it should be good for the winter.

Then I rolled the grille out back to Jake's patio. I took off the grates, put them on the cement and elevated one end of each. Next I took out the pan and rack where the charcoal goes (I made sure I got all the coal and dust I could out of the grille).

Then I started using the Easy-Off Oven Cleaner I got at Meijer's today. I sprayed everything thoroughly (I actually used the entire can). This is what the can called the cold oven over-night method. I shut the vents and the lid and will let this sit and work until sometime tomorrow. Then I'll use a sponge, rinsing often, to wipe up all (hopefully) the accumulated grease and gunk. I may have to start one last charcoal fire to dry it out (to make sure it doesn't rust) but it should be set for the winter.

I took a rest, then, but went back out at 5:00 PM to pick all the ripe tomatoes. I threw away any that were insect-eaten and brought in all the rest. I stuck them in my old, thin aluminum, larger stock pot and filled it with water to soak off the insect dust.

BTW, the Italian or Plum tomatoes seem normal, but the Big Boy tomatoes (usually like four to six inches around in a good year) that are ripe are smaller than a tennis ball. So much for nice big slices on a burger or BLT.

While they soaked, I got out my new, thick aluminum, little bit bigger stock pot and poured in about 1/4 cup of olive oil. To that I added three medium sized yellow onions, fine diced. When those had softened, I put in about eight minced cloves of garlic. Then I washed and cut up each tomato. It took me almost an hour, but I finally got them all washed, inspected (or, sometimes rejected) and cut up.

Then I went out on my patio and picked a handful each of fresh oregano and basil. I slid the oregano leaves off their stems and threw them in the pot. I rolled the basil leaves and cut them in a chiffanade. Then, they too went in the pot. I seasoned it with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and a little red pepper flakes. I stirred it all up, added the lid and let that simmer (I set the timer and will check on it in 30 minutes).

Now, if you remember, I don't can. My mother did (and wonderfully) but that seems like WAY too much work to me. Luanne used to take excess tomatoes, run them through a blender and just freeze them. I sort of take a middle route. I reduce them with some onion, garlic and Italian herbs, and then freeze them in four-cup containers. That way, in the dead of winter, if I want to make spaghetti or lasagna, I have a good base for the sauce that's like half-way there. I just need to warm, thicken and adjust herbs and seasoning.

While they were simmering, I addressed my dinner desires. Knowing I had a lot more hot dogs than remaining ears of corn, I had early on decided to make my roasted potato salad (that's why I made the hard boiled eggs this morning, BTW - see recipes). But, after standing up for an hour or so cutting up the tomatoes, I just didn't have it in me. So, I decided a more traditional, American potato salad would do just fine, tonight.

I didn't have any baby redskin potatoes, so I used my scale to get two pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (my favorite go-to potato). I left the skins on and cut up one to determine the exact size I wanted (too small gets lost and too big is too much). I left the sample on the cutting board and tried to mimic it with every other subsequent potato I cut up. I put those in cold water and turned on the pan.

Meanwhile, the timer went off for the tomatoes, so I removed the lid and reset the timer for another 30 minutes to let them reduce.

While the potatoes were coming up to boil, I did the prep work on the veggies. I fine diced a smallish yellow onion. Since that didn't seem enough, I diced four small scallions (or green onions - whatever you want to call them), both the white and green sections. To that I added two celery stalks, again fine diced. I peeled and hand cut the hard boiled eggs.

Now, here's what I don't get... I hard-boiled four eggs, from the same carton and the same size. Why did two of them peel so easy and the other two shells rip off chunks of egg when I tried to get them off? That happens to me all the time and I just don't understand...

Anyway, I avoided the egg slicer and, using a paring knife, cut each into half, and then quarters (length-wise). I cut that into half the other way. You want the chunks big and "rustic" looking, if you get my meaning.

I turned off the tomatoes and checked the potatoes with a fork... Not done yet...

So, I made the sauce by putting one cup of real mayonnaise in a bowl, adding a tablespoon of yellow mustard, about 1/4 cup of fresh, chopped flat leaf parsley, two tablespoons of sweet pickle relish (I told you this was traditional American potato salad), 1/2 of a lemon, juiced, and more fresh ground pepper. I whisked that together, taste-tested and waited on the potatoes.

When they were done, I drained them and put them in a bowl. I immediately added the dressing and folded it in (as Carla has said for years, and I just recently have embraced, if you do it while the potatoes are warm, they suck in or absorb more of the flavors). Then I folded in the veggies and eggs.

While I was waiting for the potato salad to cool enough to stick in the fridge, I checked on the tomatoes. They had finally reduced by 1/3 to 1/2, so I got out my immersion blender and pulverized them. I left the pot to cool so I can freeze the results.

It was just after 8:00 PM, so I stuck the now-cooled, but not cold, potato salad in the fridge (I think Friday night dinner is hours away). I couldn't deal with the tomatoes at their present level of warmth, so I went and filled in the Blog to date...

There wasn't much on TV, so I ended up watching "Classic Boxing," this time highlights of Mike Tyson fights. Yeah I know, he was a miserable human being, but as a boxer in his early years, he was amazing!

By 10:00 PM, the tomatoes were cooled off and the potato salad cold. So, I finally ate dinner (I know, I know, you're not supposed to eat that late at night). The potato salad was pretty good (but I like my roasted one better) and paired well with a warmed up hot dog.

Next, I filled up four of the four-cup freezer containers with the tomatoes. I put them in the refrigerator freezer to, well, freeze (standing up). They will eventually go out into the little chest freezer in the garage. I washed the stock pot and finally went to bed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

photo

The maple across the street

A Busy Day (for a change!)

I got up at 7:00 AM on Thursday. I went outside and turned on the sprinkler and then set the oven timer. Back inside, I made a cup of instant coffee and posted the Blog.

Once the timer went off, I turned off the water outside and proceeded to get cleaned up. I got a lot to do today. So, once I was shaved and showered, I made up my shopping list and headed out around 9:00 AM.

I stopped at the rehab place and got registered (that took a lot longer than I thought it would, BTW). Unfortunately, the first opening they had for my evaluation was on October 1 at 3:00 PM (the first day I'll be back to work - that should go over big).

Next I hit Gordon Food Service to pick up some supplies for Sunday's party. Then I went to Westborn for some needed vegetables.

Finally, I stopped at Home Depot and got some Thompson's Water Sealer and two brushes (for the trailer bed that has to sit outside this winter) and a hand plane (I have a door that sticks in the house).

I got back home just after noon. I unpacked the car and put away the groceries. I had bought five ears of sweet corn (probably the last time this year) so I put those in the stock pot and filled it with water.

I was beat, so I lay down and watched some TV for a while, careful to not fall asleep. I go back to work next week, so I need to get used to sleeping more at night and less during the day.

I went out to cut the back grass around 3:00 PM. The front yard didn't need it (I haven't watered it at all this year). But, the area where I have been watering the grass seed out back has been growing and is now uneven with the rest of the lawn. I got done about 4:30 PM. It looks nice, BTW. With the lawnmower put away and back inside, I started a load of laundry.

I got out the grille about 6:00 PM and started the charcoal. When it was hot enough, I dumped it in. I cleaned and re-oiled the grates and I put on the corn. I carefully turned the corn (if it's gonna be the last time this year, I wanted it perfect!) When I thought it was ready, I moved it to the cool side of the grille.

Then I put on a package of hot dogs (Dearborn Natural Casing). While they were finishing, I shucked the corn. Then I took everything inside.

I had a hotdog and two ears of buttered, salted corn (both items were simple, but excellent!)

I got a call from my friend, B___, who was checking up on me and we chatted for a while, catching up. Then I went off to watch taped TV until bedtime.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday

I woke up at 4:30 AM and went and wrote out the Blog. It was long and involved and I rewrote it several times. I finally posted it a little after 6:00 PM and then went back to bed. My arm hurts like a bitch, BTW.

I got back up around 8:30 AM and then started to cook some bacon. As you may remember, I now do this in the oven. I normally do it at 400 degrees F. for about 15 minutes. But, this is thick slab bacon and it took almost 30 minutes until it was at a texture I like.

By that time, making something to go along with it (I was originally thinking of eggs and grits) seemed like way too much work. So, I ate about three or four strips while I make a small (four cup) pot of coffee.

I grabbed a cup of coffee and started to make a list of the places I need to go to today and the things I'd like to accomplish. But, I realize how sore my arm is and just how tired I really feel (road trips like yesterday used to wipe me out before my surgery, but now they are really killer!) So, I gave it some thought and decided that there is nothing I was gonna do today that can't wait until tomorrow.

So, instead, I took care of a few mundane chores around the house, then shaved and showered. Refreshed, but drained, I went in and back to bed for a nap.

When I woke up, I started watching a show on the History Channel about the Dark Ages. It was two hours long and fascinating. OMG, the next show (actually the next three shows) was a one hour special on barbarians. So, I watched those until about 8:00 PM. I stopped then and warmed up some leftovers for dinner.

I started watching this show about the predictions for the end of the world to come on December 21, 2012 (and I was worried about retirement!) when my daughter Melissa called. We talked into the night. When we finally hung up, I went to bed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rainy Days, Road Trips and the First Day of Autumn

I woke up by the alarm Tuesday morning. Today was both garbage day and my re-check appointment with the orthopedic doctor. I got the garbage out to the road, then shaved and showered. I left home shortly before 8:00 AM.

It had rained again overnight, but fortunately it was not raining on the trip. I got to the doctor's exactly on time. He was happy with my progress, but cautioned me not to do any reaching, heavy lifting or actively raising my right arm above my shoulder. I did get a script to start physical therapy (finally!) and clearance to return to work on October 1.

So, I was happy when I left there. I thought that, since I was this close, I'd stop and see how my brother Carl was doing (it's been three weeks to the day he had his right knee replaced).

His English garden in his front yard still looked lovely when I pulled in. And, I took a moment to admire his back yard and pond before ringing the doorbell.

He yelled, "Come in!" and when I stepped into the door, presented me with a cup of coffee. Speaking of coffee, he mentioned a few things about the Blog. First, he said it was really getting boring. I know that, but as I think I've said before, my summer ending August 10, with my operation. How many times can you say, "I didn't sleep for shit last night, took pain pills, threw up, slept in, took a long nap, made some crappy dinner and watched too much TV" and make it sound interesting?

But, then he said, "I noticed you keep talking about making a pot of coffee, and then reheating it for the next few days." I replied yes, that's how I roll so I don't waste it. He said that any time you let coffee get cold, the oils rise to the top and, when you reheat it, the resulting brew is acidic and gives you gas and intestinal problems!

I never heard of that! He said he'd found this to be true and that's why he only brews like two or four cups at a time, drinks what he wants and throws the rest away when it gets cold. Well, you live and learn, or at least I try to! And, now I know...

We caught each other up on our respective family details and the on-going efforts to settle Mom's estate. I'm not sure about Carl, but I suspect he feels the same as I do. Jim is dealing with the larger issues (getting property appraised, etc.,) while Joe and Kathy are working at the New Baltimore house, going through papers, cleaning up and so on. Meanwhile, we two crips are stuck on the sidelines. Sorry, guys, it's just the timing sucked for both of us!

As I said, it's been three weeks since his knee replacement, but he seems to be in a lot worse shape than I was, in either my first or second knee replacements. He said he barely gets one or two hour's sleep when it starts aching and throbbing and wakes him up. I honestly don't remember that but, I don't really remember a lot of stuff and he's got a shit-load of other problems I didn't.

Anyway, I stayed there until about 10:30 or 11:00 AM and then said my goodbyes. Then, I started out on the long trip back home. It was supposed to be hot (a high of 80 degrees F.) and muggy today (it was) and partially sunny (not in Mt. Clemens!)

I was wiped out when I got back, so I just changed my clothes and then lay down for a nap (I know, I know, boring...) When I got back up, I got to work. I swept all the floors and vacuumed the living room rug. I finished loading the dishwasher and turned it on. I brought in my young Shoalin monk and the Japanese lantern and set them in their winter place. The only thing left outside is the chiminia. That will have to wait until I'm a bit stronger.

By the way, fall officially arrived at 5:18 PM today, but it's still hot and muggy (but sunny here) and feels more like mid-August than near the end of September.

I got a phone call from my brother Jim and then a longer one from my daughter Melissa. Next I made dinner (again, nothing fancy, just some Campbell's tomato soup and a toasted cheese sandwich). I drank the soup out of a mug and ate the sandwich watching the news. Not fancy, but really good, BTW!

I got my last call from my friend B___, checking in to see how I was doing.

I watched two episodes (back-to-back) of Hell's Kitchen, then watched Chopped on the food Network and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Even Slower Monday

I woke up after 8:00 AM on Monday. It didn't surprise me as I went to bed (again) so late. I reheated the coffee and had a cup writing out the Blog.

It had stopped raining, but when I checked, I got about 1/4 inch showing in the rain gauge from overnight. So, I skipped the watering this morning.

I did a little of this and that, but really nothing much all day. I got a check-up call from a friend and a voicemail from my brother Jim (I was taking a nap at the time).

I started thinking about dinner (not having any breakfast or lunch) around 5:00 PM, but didn't have a clue what to make (I'm sick of leftovers). I finally ended up making tuna and peas on top of egg noodles.

I watched two movies back to back and went to bed at 11:30 PM.

Monday, September 21, 2009

From an old letter to my Mom...

[I'm not sure where or who this quote came from, but I was cleaning up some old files and found this in a letter I sent to my Mom in 2005]

"The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know.

Old age, I decided, is a gift. I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body- the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror, but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, or my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to overeat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read until 4 a.m, and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50's, and if I at the same time wish to weep over a lost love, I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten - and I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. I can say "no", and mean it. I can say "yes", and mean it. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day.

Enjoy your day--and try the dessert."

Slowed Down Sunday...

I woke up at 5:30, but got up at 7:00 AM. Why? Well, I got two new magazines in the mail yesterday and stayed in bed to read them. Nice way to spend a Sunday morning. Yeah, I know, my more intellectual friends are probably reading the New York Times, but I hate newspapers (except for starting my lump charcoal).

I got the lawn watered and the Blog posted, and then made a fresh pot of coffee. Then I started filling out my Fall ToDo list (I still haven't been making my normal weekly one, BTW), noting all the remaining stuff to do before the onset of winter here in Redford. Geesh, that's a lot of work! But, the coffee's good and "thinking about work" beats the hell out of "doing the work," I suppose.

However, all that prep work didn't really inspire me. Once I'd shaved and showered, I did go out and plug up the yellow jacket hole. But, not with mortar, yet. Since, earlier this summer, I killed one in my entry way and Jake killed another two later, I'm worried they might come indoors if they can't get out. My friend B___ suggested plugging the hole with steel wool, temporarily, to see what happens. That way, I can take the plug back out, if necessary. So, that's what I did.

Then I went out back and filled the bird feeder. I also got the Shoalin Monk statue and the Japanese lantern and put them on the patio to dry their bottoms (that turned out to be a mistake, later). I also pulled my little trailer around by hand for a bit (difficult, but not impossible) as somebody told me you had to do that every now and then to keep the wheel bearings well greased. I would have done it to the sail boat trailer, too, but one of the tires was flat...

Back inside, I sort of un-made my bed, so I could spin the mattress around (I forgot to do that yesterday). With my old mattress, I would do that and flip it over every third time. But this one's got that silly "pillow-top" thing, so flipping it over is not an option. But, I am firmly convinced that moving it makes it last a lot longer, as you are not continually lying on the same spot and breaking it down.

I gave into my lazy self in the afternoon and watched yet another John Wayne movie, Rio Bravo. While I would like to think I was the character portrayed by John Wayne, Dean Martin or even Ricky Nelson, I realized the person I most closely resembled was Stumpy, played by Walter Brennan! That was a bit depressing!!

For my dinner, I got out the thawed pound of ground chuck and formed it into two big patties. I let them come up to room temperature while I sauteed some onion slices and mushrooms. I put those in a bowl and seared the two fatty-patties. When I had both sides done, I topped them with the onions and mushrooms and stuck them in the oven to finish.

Meanwhile, I went outside and grabbed some chives. I cut them up into a bowl and added the leftover mashed potatoes from the fridge. To that, I put in two eggs and some flour and mixed it all together. Then I put some peanut oil in another saut� pan and made some of Fran's potato cakes. I hit them with salt and put them on a rack over paper towels when they were finished.

Finally, I plated my food and topped the ground beef, onions and mushrooms with some A-1 steak sauce. I wandered in to watch my Sunday shows... Oh, no, they are either not on tonight or are reruns!!! I watched some stupid other shows and went to bed at 10:00 PM in disgust.

That turned out to be a mistake, as I woke up at 2:00 AM and couldn't go back to sleep. I noticed it was unusually warm (67 degrees F.) instead of the temps in the 40 degrees we've been having recently. I also noticed it was raining like hell (since the monk and lantern were still lying on the patio, that's not so good).

So, I put my pants and shirt on, fixed a drink and grabbed my stale pack of Pall Malls and went out on the front porch to sit for a spell. I finally fell back asleep about 5:00 AM...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shiver me Timbers!

CRAP!

I guess it was from spending Friday out on the briney blue (well, Lake St. Clair isn't exactly "briney"), but somehow, I completely missed that Saturday was the annual International "Talk like a Pirate Day!"

Dammit! I haven't missed it in two or three years running now. Why wasn't it mentioned on the Web when I checked? Who cares about who's wearing what on the Emmy red carpet? Give me pirate info!!!

I appreciate the Web Master passing along the fact that I hosed it. But, dear gentle readers, please let me know in advance of any of these important milestones. I'm an old guy and apparently can't remember everything these days...

I'm bummed and don't even feel like buckling my swash, now...

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Roses with their winter garb

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Closeup of spiniach

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Peas and spinach coming up

Saturday

I spent a restless night (my right arm hurts like hell, and I don't know why) and woke up wide-eyed if not bushy-tailed at 5:30 AM on Saturday. I filled in the Blog from Friday, posted it and turned on the back yard sprinkler.

After 30 minutes I turned it off. Then I shaved and showered, although I'm not going anywhere today.

No, today is all about house maintenance. So, I started out straightening the house up. I emptied the dishwasher and did three full loads of laundry (including the bedding).

I cut down the rose bushes out back and stuck on the Styrofoam cones, topped with a little paving stone, for the coming winter. I also cut off the stem of the grape tomato in the topsy-turvy planter (I'll empty it later).

There was still some limited movement out by the yellow jacket hole, so I sprayed it again. Tomorrow morning, I will cement it shut.

I noticed the sweet peas and the spinach had come up in the raised bed garden. If I get another month or so without a hard freeze, I may get some garden produce! I took a photo or two, but it might not be that encouraging to you... It is for me...

Back inside, I made some roast beef hash for my lunch. I put that on a plate in the microwave to keep warm while I used the saut� pan to make a couple of over easy eggs. And, yes, this time I flipped them over with my right hand!

I ate that watching some taped cooking shows and then switched to an old John Wayne Movie (Chisum) I'd taped a day or two ago. Damn I admire that guy!

So, I kept busy (putting the sleeping bag and now empty overnight bag in the attic, folding or hanging up clothes, making my bed with clean sheets, etc.)

At 6:00 PM, there was a special on PBS, regarding Peter, Paul and Mary (Mary died last week, if you didn't know). I was amazed at the depth of my emotions to listening to some of their old songs.

Now, I never was an anti-Vietnam war activist (in fact, I tried to enlist but they laughed at me) because I had too many friends in the service back then. But this program brought back all the angst of the times; it was not only the anti-war movement but the civil rights movement.

I ate leftovers for dinner and watched TV until bedtime.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

[from the Food network Show, "Ask Aida." She is describing the pan sauce or gravy she made from beer, whole grain mustard, shallots and the drippings from pan-fried rib eye steaks...]

"It's like a Bratwurst and a steak went and had a baby and made it my dinner..."

Road/Water Trip

I awoke to the alarm clock on Friday morning at 5:30 AM. I got a lot of stuff to do early this morning and then a road trip, so I best get er' done!

I started by watering the grass seed out back for half an hour. Then I shaved and jumped in the shower. I got dressed, grabbed a jacket (its cold outside!) and headed to Home Depot.

I had two things to get at Home Depot: More mortar repair and some wasp spray. I found the mortar repair tube easily enough, but then learned they were out of wasp spray. Damn! So, I ran over to Meijer's and got a big can of wasp spray there.

I wasted no time back at home, but went directly from the garage to the stone wall outside. I used the spray to drench the hole where I had observed the yellow jackets flying in and out (its best to do this either in the early morning or the late evening, when the wasps aren't as active). I also sprayed all the remaining cracks in the mortar, just in case. I went with my German heritage and just gassed their ass!

Back inside, I washed up and then finished packing an overnight bag. I had that and my sleeping bag ready when the phone rang. It was my friend B___, offering me a pass on today's trip. Why? Well, when we first agreed to this adventure several days ago, it was supposed to be 77 degrees F. today, with sunshine and light and variable winds.

However, as I had noted myself this morning, this had been revised to a high of just 74 degrees, cloudy with winds 10-20 mph and a 20% chance of rain when a cold front came through. Although this would be less than ideal boating conditions, as I pointed out to him, it was sort of like now or never. So, we decided to give it a shot.

I left at a little after 9:00 AM (to give rush hour traffic a chance to calm down). Oddly enough, he was right behind me on the road to the marina. What are the chances of that happening?

It took a little over an hour to prep the boat for the trip, but about 11:00 AM, we headed out. There were only a handful of boats on the water and the sky to the northwest was an ominous dark purple color. But we were headed into the sunshine and, after fetching a windproof jacket, the wind wasn't too cold.

BTW, we had what he called a "light chop" on the water. Now, I'm no sailor, but when I see whitecaps, I think "light chop" is an understatement. I did drive the boat a bit while it was up on plane, (he was either getting things or doing things) but I must confess, I like riding on boats better than steering a boat (even out in the middle of the lake). I kept watching for other boats or floating debris and constantly checking the depth finder, ripping along at 23 MPH. It was a bit nerve-wracking...

We finally reached the old South Channel lights, went past them and into the new south channel. We took a leisurely trip up it (now out of the worst of the wind) as, for a boat his size, this is a strict, "no wake" zone.

Now, I've been up this way several years ago, but that was earlier in the season, in the sunshine and with boats everywhere. Today, it was overcast, windy, gray and almost no boats to be seen. But, it was slow and pleasant to check out the Old Club, the Idle Hour, and the now too few colorful cottages and the many mansions (as I would describe them) built on Harsen's island.

Finally, we reached the spot where the South Channel meets the St. Clair cutoff (I think that's what it's called on the chart and where the freighters now come through). We had to kill some time waiting for the Edward Speers (again, I think that was the name) freighter went by. It was riding high in the water (empty, I'd guess) and bound for Lake Superior to get iron ore. I fancy myself quite the lake freighter connoisseur after living for several years, watching them go by on the St. Clair River.

We headed back down the cutoff (B___ was surprised at just how many of the buoys had already been removed by the Coast Guard). This part of the journey had no colorful cottages or even residences, just trees and rushes, all monochromatic. Here I didn't mind steering as we were chugging along and I had 34 feet to the waterline. When we finally cleared the land, he took it back up on plane and we headed for home.

Oddly enough as we settled in for the ride, the sun came back out (I think the cold front had passed through) the wind died down and this was much more like the summer boating I remembered.

We got back to the marina a little after 1:00 PM. It always amazes me to watch him park that big-ass boat in that little tiny space, not using the steering wheel at all, just adjusting the two transmissions back and forth. When he got it in the slip, he jumped down and tied it up (with only one real arm, I was completely useless, to my shame).

After hitting the head (I love sea talk, lol!), he dug out an 12-inch Italian sub sandwich he had bought this morning and we split it and ate it under the shade on a picnic table (it was now that warm). It was damn tasty, BTW.

We discussed our next steps and I suggested a nap. Okay, okay, I know... but I've been taking a nap each day for a month or so now. Give me a break... Besides, there is something about all that fresh air, wind and water, etc., that tires you out.

Well, I doubt he took a nap (he was moving around a lot) but I think I did, sprawled out on the couch. When I finally got up, it was a little after 4:00 PM. He was doing stuff and I was lazy. I suggested we watched the DVD he'd brought: "Captain Ron," starring Kurt Russell, a movie he's raved about for years and one I've never seen. So, we watched that (hilarious, seriously... I laughed my ass off).

When that was done, the cold had come back and the wind had really picked up. He claimed it was about like when we left for the boat trip that morning. I disagreed as the whitecaps seemed a lot higher and the boat was rocking in the wind. I suggested going to the restaurant across the street for some dinner. We both had the perch sandwich with some coleslaw. It was excellent! I had some coffee as the chill was really getting to me.

Back at the boat, it was almost 7:00 PM and time for a decision. Should we break out the sleeping bags and spend the night on the boat, or just go home. It was my call, he said.

Now, I must admit, in the last few years, I have really become an old man (my biggest fear is that I become the old guy in the movies, getting the mail in just my boxer shorts and yelling at kids to get off my lawn). But, I kinda hate being away from home at night. So, I apologized if I was ending the day too soon, but said I would really rather head on home.

So, I did. Traffic was light and I got there around 8:00 PM. I lugged all my gear inside, checked the perimeter (no apparent problems) and checked out the TV menu. I unpacked everything (I'll put the attic stuff up tomorrow) and settled in to wait for 9:00 PM and a special night of the Friday Night Fights.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday

I woke up at 6:30 on Thursday. I put on my robe and started watering the new grass seed (it was another chilly morning).

I drank the last cup of old coffee while working on the Blog entry. When I was done watering, I put the last few items into the dishwasher and fired that up. I watched the Today show waiting for the dishwasher to finish.

Finally it was done and on "Dry" so I could shave and shower. I warmed up another chicken pot pie for my lunch and had a Granny Smith apple for dessert.

At 4:00 PM, I got dressed and headed over to Jake and Carla's house. I've been invited to a pizza party and it will be nice to eat some food I didn't make myself!

So, we visited for a while, I petted the dog and admired their new couch, coffee table and wall hanging. That couch is nicer than my bed at home!!! Then the pizza came and we ate dinner (it was mighty tasty, too!)

I left for home a little after 7:00 PM. They (unlike me) have to go to work tomorrow, so I thought I'd give them a little down-time.

Back home, I started a load of laundry. It was just towels, etc., so nothing I will need to fold tonight. I went to sleep at 11:00 PM.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

For Woody

[I sang this song a million times when I was a lad with my six-string. I loved it then but understand it better, now...]

Hard Travelin'

I've been havin' some hard travelin', I thought you knowed
I've been havin' some hard travelin', way down the road
I've been havin' some hard travelin', hard ramblin', hard gamblin'
I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been ridin' them fast rattlers, I thought you knowed
I've been ridin' them flat wheelers, way down the road
I've been ridin' them blind passengers, dead-enders, kickin' up cinders
I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been hittin' some hard-rock minin', I thought you knowed
I've been leanin' on a pressure drill, way down the road
Hammer flyin', air-hose suckin', six foot of mud and I shore been a muckin'
And I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been hittin' some hard harvestin', I thought you knowed
North Dakota to Kansas City, way down the road
Cuttin' that wheat, stackin' that hay, and I'm tryin' make about a dollar a day
And I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been working that Pittsburgh steel, I thought you knowed
I've been a dumpin' that red-hot slag, way down the road
I've been a blasting, I've been a firin', I've been a pourin' red-hot iron
I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been layin' in a hard-rock jail, I thought you knowed
I've been a laying out 90 days, way down the road
Damned old judge, he said to me, "It's 90 days for vagrancy."
And I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been walking that Lincoln highway, I thought you knowed,
I've been hittin' that 66, way down the road
Heavy load and a worried mind, lookin' for a woman that's hard to find,
I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

Pasta party

I woke up late on Wednesday (8:00 AM), so I warmed up a cup of coffee and wrote the Blog entry. It's damn chilly in the house, BTW. I should have shut the windows last night, I guess. It was just 56 degrees F. according to my thermometers, and there is only a high predicted of 70 degrees today. A cold front moved in and fall is in the air.

I was still in my bathrobe at 11:00 AM. I had already watered the new grass seed and cleaned up the kitchen, but not yet taken my shower. I wanted to watch the Dave Mathews Band (on Ellen), so I did.

So, at 11:00 AM, I shaved and showered. I watched a movie about Woody Guthrie called "Bound for Glory" in the afternoon and then took a nap.

I made a simple pasta dish for dinner. I put about a 1/4 cup of olive oil in my skillet and added four cloves of fine-diced garlic. Then I quartered all but two of the tomatoes I've been collecting and threw them in. While that got happy, I cooked a pound of fettuccine until al dente and added that in, too. I tossed it about and plated some, topping it with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

My friend B___ called and, when I hung up from him, the phone rang again. It was Lu (first time we've talked since Mom's funeral). We caught each other up and then said our goodbyes.

I watched a little more TV and then called it an early night.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

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I do need more toilet paper, now that I'm home, but I think I've solved the problem.

Totally Tuesday

I awoke at 5:30 AM on Tuesday morning although I'd had a bad night's sleep. I went outside, turned the sprinkler on and then set the stove timer for 30 minutes. Then I took out the trash. I put out the broken weedwacker, hoping they would take it (it's supposed to be household waste, only, you see)

I watched the local news and then the Today show. When the timer went off, I went out and shut off the water. Back inside, I took my meds and then took stock.

I'm feeling a bit lazy today. It's supposed to be quite warm, (maybe the last nice day of the fast-fading summer), but I don't really feel like doing stuff outside (or inside). So, in spite of my ToDo list (in my head, still not down on paper), I determined to take the day off.

So, I did. I grabbed a cup of warmed up coffee and went in to watch some taped shows.

I watched a fascinating two hour program on the History channel I'd taped on the Knights Templar. BTW, if you are ever on sick leave, laid off or retired, I highly recommend the History channel. Some of the programs are just silly (Monster Quest, for example), but some of them are quite interesting.

For lunch I made a big salad and heated up some Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup. The salad was from a bag of mixed greens, to which I added some Vidalia onion slices and a sprinkling of feta cheese crumbles. I like to keep a container of crumbled feta on hand. It lends a tart taste to so many dishes...

I checked my cash stash and decided to wait until Friday (and payday) to get the wasp spray. I did check on the wasps when I got in the mail in the afternoon and it was like watching the expressway at 5:00 PM. Wasps were coming and going so fast it was hard to keep track. Little bastards! My only hope is that they are just in the walls and didn't get into the attic.

Oh, BTW, the trash was gone, along with the weedwacker. Thanks, trash guys!

Speaking of the attic, I did pull down the ladder and managed (badly) to get the landscape fabric roll up there for the winter (try that one hand, left handed).

I watched the movie "The Bourne Identity" with Matt Damon in the afternoon.

I ate dinner early (for me) and warmed up a pot pie in the microwave. Damn, that was good! For some reason, I was really hungry, so I warmed up another one for dessert (in my defense, they are only 8 ounce ramekins).

A friend called at 7:30 PM to check up on me. We chatted for a bit and then hung up. I gotta tell you, it's nice to know that some people actually care about me and how I'm doing. This period of convalescence has really helped me sort out who my real friends are (and who are not).

I was sick of watching TV, so I went back outside and started picking up sticks in the back yard. When I thought I had enough, I added three or four mini-logs and fired up the chiminia. I sat on the patio until the wood had totally burned out (it had really cooled off, BTW).

Then I went back inside (it was about 9:30 PM) and went to bed...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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My chicken pot pies...

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Tomatoes I grabbed from the raised bed garden

Monday

I slept much better Sunday night, so I woke up at 5:30 AM on Monday. I started a pot of coffee, put the few dishes from last night in the dishwasher and fired it up. Then I filled in the Blog and posted it.

When the dishwasher switched to "Dry," I went out and turned on the sprinkler. Back inside, I set the timer, grabbed another cup of coffee and went in to watch the Today show.

When the timer went off, I turned off the water and went inside to shave and shower. Once I was dressed, I headed out to do some shopping. I got some cleaning supplies and the zucchini I needed. While I was at it, I picked up some more eggs and some extra unsalted butter for the freezer.

On the way back home, I stopped at the quarter car wash and hosed off the car. It occurred to me I'd gotten the dust off the house, but not yet off the car. So, I took care of that. I drove home, put away the butter and eggs and then grabbed an old towel. I went back in the garage and dried the car off (I hate seeing the waterspots). Inside again, I hung the towel up to dry and then treated the cats (who had been waiting patiently).

I changed out of my "store clothes" into shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt (I think you call them "wife-beaters" but I am still not sure why).

Now, before I went outside, I thought I'd check on my car tires. It's been about 40,000 miles since I bought the last set (the usual "life of tires") and I was thinking I might have to buy a new set before winter settles in. So, I used the tried and true "penny" method. You've never heard of it? Well, here's how it's done:

1. Pinch a Lincoln-head penny, from the base, between your thumb and forefinger, so that the top of Lincoln's head and the words "In God We Trust" are showing.

2. Place the top of Lincoln's head into one of the tire tread grooves - try to measure in the lowest point within the tread
.
3. If any part of Lincoln's head is obscured by the tread, you're all set; you have a legal and safe amount of tread. However, if you can see above Lincoln's head or (even worse) any of the "In God We Trust" letters above his head, then you are ready for a new tire.

Note: Check your tires in several tread locations. Be sure to check both inner, outer and middle grooves of each tire, because tires can wear differently on each side, due to improper wheel alignment and/or low inflation.

This penny trick works because the distance between the rim and Lincoln's head is 1/16 of an inch -- the minimum required tread depth. When your tire tread is lower than 1/16 of an inch, your vehicle can have handling problems in adverse conditions (rain, sleet, snow). But, mine were okay and I can wait a while before buying tires.

When I was hosing off the stonework that surrounds the front entryway, I noticed a few spots where the mortar was chipped or missing. I still had a tube of mortar patch left over from when I repaired the south (or the front door) side a year or two ago. So, I grabbed that tube and my stepping stool and went out front to find and fix any cracks. It was just after 11:00 AM, BTW.

I had some problems at first as the stuff in the tip of the tube (it's like a tube of caulk, but with cement) had hardened, but I used a wire and broke through it. I got the east (road side) done and then went to the north side.

Before I did, I heard my name called from across the road. It was the old widow woman across the way (the one I have dropped off extra barbecue to). She said I must be doing better because I wasn't wearing the sling. I explained I have to take it off every so often so my muscles don't atrophy. She said she's been looking for a job today and stopped at every Burger King and McDonald's from Dearborn to here and they all sort of laughed at her. She was discouraged and I was bummed...

So, on to the north side... Yikes!!! The first thing I saw was yellow jackets flying in and out of a hole in the old mortar. I backed off and went inside for reinforcements. I checked and I didn't have any wasp spray, just flea and tick spray or ant spray. So, I got as close as I dared and sprayed the yellow jackets and the hole with ant spray.

I noticed immediately (to my dismay) it didn't seem to kill them, just really piss them off! I beat feet and decided that the north side is now on hold until tomorrow, when I can pick up some wasp spray (hopefully the kind that shoots like 12 feet) and more of the mortar filler at Home Depot.

Back inside, I took a break and then got started on dinner. I finally made those chicken pot pies. I must admit I totally stole this recipe from Cat Cora (one of the Iron Chefs and the executive chef at Bon Appetit).

I had thawed out a package of puff pastry and had the two sheets side-by-side on the floured surface of the big wood cutting board. So, I used one of my six 8-ounce ramekins as a template and, leaving one inch for an overhang on all sides, cut out six circles. I put those in the fridge after covering with plastic wrap.

I melted half a stick of butter in my large skillet and saut�ed one cup each of onions, carrots and celery (about five minutes). Then I added one cup of diced zucchini and a cup of frozen peas and cooked them another three minutes, until tender. I added a quarter cup of dry white wine and brought it to a boil. I seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I cut the heat and set it aside.

I put three cups of homemade chicken stock in a saucepan with some thyme and rosemary. I covered it after it got to a boil and let it sit.

Meanwhile I put the rest of the stick of butter in a medium saucepan. I sprinkled it with flour and made a roux. I cooked it another two minutes until it was golden brown. I added one cup of the stock mixture and whisked it in until it was smooth. Then I added in the rest of the stock and one cup of heavy cream. I whisked that until the sauce was thick (maybe a minute or so).

I seasoned it with salt and pepper and added it to the chicken/veggie mixture in the skillet. I tossed it gently until well coated. Then I filled up the six ramekins.

Here's where I disagree. She said to only fill them 3/4 full, which I did. Remember that! Then I topped them with the puff pastry rounds and pressed the excess pastry firmly around the sides of each ramekin. I cut four slits in each top. I put the six ramekins on a half sheet pan and into a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes (until the pastry was puffy and golden brown).

I took them out and noticed all of the puff pastry had fallen inward. If I would have filled them up, that wouldn't have happened. But, it was late, I was hungry and presentation didn't matter that much, right then! So, I grabbed one and headed for the TV.

Damn! That was good! That's one recipe I will use again (but fill the stupid ramekins full next time). If I wasn't so full, I'd eat another one. But the rest went into the fridge. And, I went to bed early.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor."

~ D.H.Lawrence

Another Slightly Frustrating Day...

This Sunday morning I woke up at 7:30 AM. I posted the Blog after turning on the sprinkler out back. I was in my robe, so it was cool out there (53 degrees F. according to my thermometers) and the coffee I'd warmed up tasted good when I came back in.

So, we are definitely on the slippery slope to fall around here. Which is a shame, really, as we haven't had much of a summer yet. There was no bumper crop from the raised bed garden (although the cabbage is looking good). And the people I know with unheated pools (Amy, Jake and Carla and my next door neighbor, for example) have only been able to use them two or three times this year. You divide that into the cost of pool maintenance and that's a pretty damn expensive swim!

And then there are the trees. My black walnut (which is always the first) has been shedding leaves for the past three or four weeks. I see the occasional red leaves in the maples out back, and there's a maple tree across the street that really starting to turn (I'll take a picture when the sun isn't directly into the camera).

After I shut off the sprinkler, I realized I'd completely forgotten about the load of clothes in the washer yesterday. So I ran them through the final rinse again to wake them up. Then I put them in the drier and set the timer.

I did a little of this and that but wasn't really inspired to do much of anything today. I noticed that the date on the last posted (on the fridge, that is) ToDo list was 8/29/09! So, it is as I feared. Staying at home for long periods of time without the normal structure of weekdays and weekends, times at work and times off work is playing havoc with my regular routines.

I ate some warmed up Spam for brunch and went in to watch the Sunday cooking shows. My friend B___ called to see how I was doing and, a little while later, so did my brother Carl. Carl's doing better (he kicked out his houseguests) except for a deep ache in his knee. I told him the truth that, with me, it did lessen but never really went away. Whenever I'm very tired, it's humid or raining, it comes back.

I went out to make my planned Sunday dinner (chicken pot pies) but found the zucchini I'd bought for it had spoiled. Why didn't I take it out of that stupid plastic-wrapped tray? Well, I sure don't feel like running to the store at this time on a Sunday!

So, I warmed up a can of chili. Since this is my Sunday dinner, I topped it off with some sliced scallions (green and white parts) and a topping of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese. I grabbed a beer from the fridge (oh, the cats will be hating on me later tonight) and went in to watch my Sunday night shows.

My cousin Diane called about 8:30 PM. They had been at yet another art fair and she just got my voicemail. I explained Mom had entrusted me with her father's canoe about 20 years ago. Mom asked me to replace the whole canvas and repaint it, but I was daunted when I discovered just how much you had to take apart to replace it. I didn't want to be the one to destroy a 100 year old antique canoe!

She said they'd recently bought a cottage on a nearby lake and a canoe. She said at first glance, she thought I should just keep it. But she would talk to her husband (and hopefully her sister) and get back to me.

I went to bed, burping occasionally, at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A bit of English trivia

I was intrigued after listening to "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues, so I looked it up...)

Bedsit
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A bedsit, also known as a bed-sitting room, is a form of rented accommodation common in Great Britain and Ireland consisting of a single room with a shared bathroom and lavatory; they are part of a legal category of dwellings referred to as Houses in multiple occupation.

In some cases the room has a small formal kitchen area but it is common for the tenants to have no more than an electric kettle and single electric ring.

Bedsits arose from the subdivision of larger dwellings into small low-cost accommodations at low conversion cost. In the UK a growing desire for personal independence after World War II led to a reduced demand for traditional boarding houses with communal dining.
Socially, bedsits are often occupied by young single people, students, those who are unable to purchase their own properties, or those who, for one reason or another, are of a transitory nature, because the living costs are comparatively cheaper than those afforded by private property.

The American equivalents to a bedsit are single room occupancy (SRO) and rooming house. A studio apartment (also known as a studio flat in the United Kingdom) is a one room apartment with a small adjoining kitchen and a private bathroom. A bedsit can also be compared to a Soviet communal apartment, in which a common kitchen, bathroom, toilet, and telephone are shared by several families, each of which lives in a single room opening up onto a common hallway.

Bedsits are often associated with poor people, and are referenced this way in "Nights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues: "bedsitter people look back and lament/on another day's useless energy spent". Justin Hayward, the song's composer and singer for The Moodies, actually wrote this in his own bed-sit at the age of 19. Scottish folk-rock singer Al Stewart's premiere album is titled Bedsitter Images. The subject is also referenced for a similar purpose in "Legend in My Living Room" by Annie Lennox ["...Bright lights and trains and bedsit stains"] as well as the Soft Cell song "Bedsitter", about club life. However, if someone lives in a different town from the one in which they work, they may rent a bedsit at low cost to avoid driving many miles to and from work each day. This is quite common in the modern day.

Harold Pinter's play The Room (1957) is a classic "kitchen sink" drama evoking the squalor and social depression of the bedsitting room culture of the time. The Bedsitter by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, starring Tony Hancock and produced by the BBC, originally for radio, is a classic depiction of the boredom of bedsit existence.

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Sweet September

Saturday Night, over Easy...

I was up during the night again, so didn't wake up until 7:00 AM. I warmed up a cup of coffee and posted the Blog. I looked at the mess in the kitchen and then looked outside. It was dead calm, so I threw on my shorts and t-shirt. The kitchen can wait; I've got a driveway to spray!

I had some problems with a clogged line, but by 9:00 AM, I was back inside, after spraying all the vegetation, twice. It took two gallons, but I got 'er done. The first thing I did was to wash off my Crocs. I've had various problems in the past and don't want to walk on the lawn with shoes potentially dipped in herbicide.

Then I went out back. I re-seeded the areas that didn't have a lot of grass growing in that disaster area of the wood chips. Then I turned on the sprinkler. Next I grabbed the garden sulfur and applied it to the lone remaining rhododendron (I had four and two or three of them had actually bloomed, but this summer's weird weather has been hard on my plants).

Back inside, I cleaned up the mess from last night's dinner. At 10:30 AM, I went out and turned the sprinkler off. Then I dusted the tomato plants with garden dust bug killer (there's been a few bad indicators, recently).

While I was out there, I chatted with my next-door neighbor. He, like I, is concerned about the height of the new paved road versus our driveways, come winter time. I asked him if he had anybody (he's a contractor, if you remember) who could give me some gravel to build up the end of my drive into a ramp. He said he's been thinking about snow plowing this winter (he has a cement driveway, except for the last 15 or 20 feet) and may just cement the rest of his drive. If that's what he does, he will have to remove like four inches of his gravel and could put it in my driveway. I told him to come up with any solutions and the price and let me know...

Back inside, I finally took my shower. I thought briefly about cleaning the house. But, I really didn't feel like it. In fact, the only thing I was feeling was tired. So, I lay down on the bed and took a two hour nap.

A friend's call woke me up. We chatted for a while and when we hung up, I checked my voicemail. I returned a call from my brother Joe and then started thinking of what I should do for the next few hours. The phone rang again and it was my daughter Melissa (well, that solves that "what to do" problem). We chatted for a while, and then were interrupted by a call she had to take. She did call back, however and we chatted for a little longer (okay, a lot longer).

After we hung up the second time, I was hungry (not having eaten any real breakfast or lunch) so I popped a slice of the meatloaf into the microwave and made a box of macaroni and cheese. I plated it and went in to see what was on TV. Not much! So, I watched a couple/three taped cooking shows, but that got boring.

The nights are now cool enough I figured I could use my chiminia without looking stupid. My neighbor, for example, has had a bonfire at least once each weekend for the past month or so.

So, I added a bit more larger pieces of wood (any little sticks I pick up while cutting the grass or doing a walkabout out back go in there for kindling, you see) and fired it up.

I sat back in my Adirondack chair with my feet up. I must say it was very pleasant. So, pleasant, in fact, I decided to share it with you, so I reluctantly got up and grabbed my camera. I took 13 pictures, but none of them accurately captured the moment. You see, it wasn't just the flames, but the warm glow they cast on the patio. However the flash wiped that all out. So, I quit and settled back to enjoy the night (Oh, I'll post the best one, but you won't see what I was looking at, really). Oh, and you have to click on it to enlarge it to really see it. As always, just use your browser's "back" button to get, well, back.

When the fire had almost died and I was getting chilled, I went back inside. I started watching the movie "The Unforgiven" with Clint Eastwood, (an old favorite) but fell asleep about half way through.

I woke up around 1:30 AM and after a long bout of insomnia, finally went to bed for the night (or near morning, as it were).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

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Comfort Food at its Finest: Meatloaf Ready for the Oven

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Friday Night Dinner

Friday, in a Funk

I slept until 5:30 AM. Other than a few bathroom trips, I slept through the night for a change. I think that's the longest I've slept in almost a month! Felt good!!

I got dressed and went outside to turn on the sprinkler. I'm watering the new grass and the raised bed garden. While I was out there, I gathered up all the statues (except for the young Shoalin monk) and laid them on the patio on their sides. That way their bottoms that touched the ground will dry out today and I can take them in the house tonight.

When the timer went off, I went back outside and turned off the water. Then I shaved and showered.

I went into work and filled out more paperwork. On the way back I stopped at Home Depot to pick up a few items, and then headed home. I changed back into my shorts and t-shirt and got to work.

I put back all the stuff that I'd moved to clean the siding on the addition. Next, I cleaned the downstairs shower stall. I mixed up two gallons of herbicide to spray the driveway grass, but when I went out, I feared the wind was blowing a bit too much. So, I'll try and hit it tomorrow morning.

Back inside, I washed up. I am a little bummed today and think I require comfort food. So, I mixed up a simple meatloaf (one pound pork, one pound ground chuck, onions, seasoning, eggs, breadcrumbs, water, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and about a cup of the mushrooms I'd saut�ed, rough chopped) and put it in a bowl in the fridge to let the flavors marry.

I got a brush and went out on the patio. I brushed the dirt off the bottom of each statue and carried it inside for the winter.

At 6:15 PM, I turned on the oven to preheat it to 350 degrees F. I took my bowl of meatloaf mix out of the fridge and shaped it into a loaf (I never bake my meatloaf in a loaf pan because I believe that you are just trapping all the fat in that pan). I formed it into a nice sized loaf and set it on a rack, inside a tin foil-lined half sheet pan. Instead of my usual bacon, I topped it with swirls of ketchup; like my Mother used to do (I told you I need comfort food!) When the preheated signal went off, I popped it in the oven and set the stove timer for an hour.

Then I peeled enough potatoes to almost fill a medium saucepan (first, the three last small russets I had and the rest were Yukon Gold). I filled the pan with cold water (always start potatoes in cold water, but you probably already know that) and some salt. I let that sit until it was time to fire it up. I also opened a jar of store-bought brown gravy and put that in the little saucepan, also waiting for the right moment.

I dug out a stick of butter, one egg and about 1/2 cup of milk and let that sit, so it would come up to room temperature. Then I went in a watched the rest of the 6:00 o'clock news.

After the meatloaf had been in the oven for about 30 minutes, I went out and started the potatoes. When they were fork tender, I drained them and put them back in the saucepan. Just then, the timer went off for the meatloaf. I check the internal temp and it was 173 degrees F. (I was looking for at least 170), so I took it out to rest. I started warming up the gravy while I mashed the potatoes.

When the potatoes were done, so was the gravy so I cut off two nice slices of meatloaf and plated everything. I grabbed my plate and wandered in to see what was on TV (slim pickings and Friday Night Fights is on hiatus).

I really enjoyed dinner. The only complaint I had about the meatloaf was that damn ketchup on top (too sweet!). I couldn't finish the food on my plate, of course. I watched a few taped shows and then, when the meatloaf was cool, I wrapped it in tin foil. I put it, the leftover potatoes and the rest of the gravy into the fridge.

I left the mess for the morning and went to bed around 10:00 PM.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

~ Robin Williams

TGIT?

Re: TGIT. I was trying desperately to come up with a cool title to avoid further criticism.

I awoke at 6:30 AM. I filled in the Blog and then went in and ground up some coffee beans to start a new pot. I had a cup (Man, that's good!) and then shaved and showered.

Oh, no! The pavers are back. It would appear I didn't notice (when looking out my windows) that they only paved my side yesterday. So, today they are doing the other side, and I'm living in stink city again! I hurriedly closed all the windows.

I got dressed and headed for the hardware store. I have a problem with my flag, you see. I have always gotten the cheap, (three thin-metal sections, a flag and a plastic eagle to go on top) ones. But, last time (getting tired of replacing not only the flag but the rusty staff) I bought a more expensive wooden staff one.

However, when the flag wore out (they all do), turned color and began to fray badly, I found that they don't sell replacement flags for it! The flag, you see, had a sleeve built in that went around the pole. But, I'll be damned if I pay for a new wooden pole and the holder, both of which I don't need. Also, I still have a perfectly good, new flag (that attaches with two grommets) that I bought as a replacement for the metal pole ones back a year or two ago.

So, I bought two eye bolts and two metal snaps. I drilled pilot holes in the wooden staff; screwed in the eyebolts and attached the flag with the metal snaps (see Photos). Now my Dad can rest easier, knowing the flag is flying over a Goerlich household once again (my Dad was a flag freak).

Then I got the hose and the new bottle of siding cleaner (also from the hardware store) and proceeded to finish the rest of the house (the addition and the rear of the garage) again using the rinse, wash, then rinse again method. When I came in, it was already past 2:00 PM and I was beat.

So, I took off my sling and my shoes and lay down in the bed to watch some TV and take a rest. I'm not apparently the only old dude around here who's tired as Scruffy settled in next to me and promptly fell asleep. Unfortunately, I didn't. (I like Scruffy sleeping near me rather than Caley, as she snores...)

I got back up at 3:30 PM after watching the BBC. I putzed around the house a bit, doing a little of this and that, then went out and sat on the patio in the sunshine for a while. Did I mention it was hot and humid today (for a change)? This is the first time in over a month that the air conditioner actually kicked on.

Back inside I started watching the evening news when my son Jeremy called (from his cell phone, presumably on his way home from work). We chatted for a while and then hung up. No sooner than we had hung up when the phone rang again. It was my daughter Melissa and we chatted for a much longer while...

It was funny as the first thing she said was she hoped she wasn't interrupting my making dinner. I laughed because, even when I was working, I never ate dinner before 7:00 or 8:00 PM. I always needed a couple/three hours to unwind.

So, after we hung up, it really was time for dinner. I warmed up the last of the fried eggplant and ate that watching TV. I suppose it was not having a nap, or the little bit of sleep I got last night, but I was really tired and went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

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Old Glory Flies Again

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New Attachments so Flag can be Replaced

09/09/09

I couldn't sleep worth a sh*t during the night, so I got up in disgust at 5:00 AM on Wednesday. I took out the trash and came back inside. I warmed up the last cup of coffee and then posted the Blog.

I was really beat, so I went back to bed and slept until 9:00 AM. I got dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and went out to water the raised bed garden. I found two small tomatoes that had some color to them, so I picked them.

Back inside, I opened a can of Spam (yes, Spam) and cut it into 1/4-inch slices. I fried those up and then made some scrambled eggs. I ate three slices of the fried Spam and the scrambled eggs for a most satisfying breakfast.

I put the rest of the Spam in a baggie and into the fridge and then cleaned up the mess. I went back outside to turn the water off and then took a leisurely stroll in my backyard. I made mental notes of all the stuff I had to do before winter's arrival.

I really feel like I got cheated out of the last third of my summer, but its time to buck up and face it, and move on...

I took out the new trimmer so I could assemble it today and also put the box out in the trash before they come and pick it up. But to be honest, my arm hurt and I was seemingly completely unmotivated today. But, I made myself put it together.

I ate the rest of the enchilada for lunch. I really liked that taste of that roasted tomatillo salsa (about 3/4 of the salsa gets mixed into a roux that then gets mixed with the chicken. The remaining 1/4 goes on top).

OMG! They are doing something to the road again. First they swept it off, then they sprayed some nasty-smelling stuff on it (my whole house reeks of it!) and now they are putting down another layer of blacktop. Man! I already had to drive "up" onto the road from my flat driveway. Now I'm gonna have to get a four wheel drive vehicle just to get out!!

Another side effect of this street paving is that the garbage truck apparently could not get down my side of the street. So everybody on my side (including me) still had their garbage sitting out at 7:00 PM.

By the time dinnertime rolled around, my filling breakfast and lunch help me decide not to make a big meal. So, I diced one of the tomatoes, about four inches of an English cucumber and about a quarter of an onion. I added that to some salad mix, topped it with a sprinkle of feta cheese and Ranch dressing and ate it watching TV.

I guess it was from sleeping in this morning, but today was the first day in a long time I didn't have to take a nap. I surprised myself by staying up until after 11:30 PM!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I been busier than a cat, coverin' it up!"

~ Paula Deen

Tuesday

I woke up at 6:00 AM again on Tuesday. I grabbed a cup of coffee and started writing out the Blog entry. I finished it and had it posted by 8:00 AM (hey, it was a long day, okay?) I ate the last two pizza slices for breakfast (Man, I hate thick crust pizza!)

It was rainy outside, but not really heavy rain. I took a shower after shaving and got dressed to go out. I needed some kitty litter today and would have liked a pound of ground pork as well. When the rain lessened, I hit the streets and headed for Kroger's. While I did get my kitty litter, they were out of ground pork. Oh well! I stopped at CVS and got those prescriptions I missed yesterday. Then I headed back home and got there around noon.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but that short trip tired me out. So, after taking my meds, I laid down and slept until 1:30 PM. When I got up, I ate some cheese and crackers for lunch.

It's raining again and working outside is out. So, I decided to put in the new deadbolt and door handle in the front door. I took the old ones out (carefully saving everything in case there's a problem with the new ones).

I ran into a big problem installing the deadbolt. It came attached with a sleeve to enable it to be used in a 2 1/8-inch door hole. You took it off if your hole was 1 1/2-inches, by removing a Phillips screw. The screw held in a plastic thingy that supported the metal sleeve (stop me if I'm getting too technical). Well, my door hole is 2 1/8-inch, but not perfectly concentric. So, it wouldn't work. I tried to take off that damn screw to get the sleeve off, but I just didn't have the strength in either my right or left arm (and I really tried).

I ended up getting a chisel and cutting off the plastic thingy with it, using a hammer. After that, the rest of it came together slowly but surely. When it was finished, I tested the keys in it (and they worked), and then I threw away the old lockset.

It was 4:00 PM when I finished. So, I went and watched the news. My right arm was really aching (not hurting, just aching). I don't know if it was from the humidity, the fact I missed two days of Celebrex or from screwing around (definite pun intended) with the damn door lockset.

At 6:00 PM, I got tired of the news, so I went outside and worked up the east side of the raised bed garden, using my garden weasel. When I had the soil loose and friable, I planted a row of spinach and two rows of sugar snap peas (I know, I know, it's probably too late in the season, but I was a little preoccupied in mid-August. Anyway, the mainstay of farmers and ranchers everywhere is hope, so we'll see...)

I turned on the square sprinkler to make sure the seeds would germinate quickly. In spite of yesterday and today's rain, there was less than 1/8 of an inch in the rain gauge.

Back inside, I posted the pictures of the raised bed garden. It was about 7:00 PM, but I wasn't really hungry yet, so I grabbed my book and set in the recliner for a good read.

I stopped at 8:00 PM and made dinner. I warmed up the chicken enchilada that Carla had sent home with me. Now, I've never had a chicken enchilada, much less an enchilada without a tomato sauce-based topping, but this was outstanding! It was spicy without being too much heat and the blend of roast chicken, spices and cheese was perfect. The only problem was it was too big! I got about three-quarters of the way done and couldn't eat another bite. So, the rest went into a baggie for my lunch one day and I wandered in to watch TV.

I realized I'd missed about half of "Hell's Kitchen" with Gordon Ramsey, but I was taping it. So I went to the recorder and watched it. I watched several forgettable shows afterward. The throbbing in my right arm prevented me from falling asleep easily, but I finally did around 1:30 AM.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

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Late Summer Planting #1 (unproductive green peppers, eggplant and hot peppers)

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Late Summer Planting #2 (spinach and sugar snap peas planted)

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late Summer planting #3 (watering the seeds)

Quote of the Day

"...unhappy about everything I've missed out on and will miss out on as I quickly and inevitably spiral into incontinence and irrelevance."

~ Anthony Bourdain

Strange Song Lyrics

(I was watching the Today show this morning. They had on a country duo I'd never heard of and they played a song that, for some reason, really touched me. Anyway, no matter what the reason, here it is...)

Believe

~ Brooks and Dunn

Old man Wrigley lived in that white house
Down the street where I grew up
Momma used to send me over with things
We struck a friendship up
I spent a few long summers out on his old porch swing

Says he was in the war when in the navy
Lost his wife, lost his baby
Broke down and asked him one time
How ya keep from going crazy
He said I'll see my wife and son in just a little while
I asked him what he meant
He looked at me and smiled, said

[Chorus]
I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there's more to life than just what I can see
Oh I believe

Few years later I was off at college
Talkin' to mom on the phone one night
Getting all caught up on the gossip
The ins and outs of the small town life
She said oh by the way son, old man Wrigley's died.

Later on that night, I laid there thinkin' back
Thought 'bout a couple long-lost summers
I didn't know whether to cry or laugh
If there was ever anybody deserved a ticket to the other side
It'd be that sweet old man who looked me in the eye, said

[Chorus]
I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there's more to life than just what i can see

I can't quote the book
The chapter or the verse
You can't tell me it all ends
In a slow ride in a hearse
You know I'm more and more convinced
The longer that I live
Yeah, this can't be
No, this can't be
No, this can't be all there is

[Chorus]
When I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there's more to life than just what I can see
I believe
Oh, I
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe

Labor Day Itself

This morning I slept in until 7:00 AM. I had a very restless night. I had two cups of coffee and then started cleaning up the kitchen from last night's supper. I emptied the dishwasher, and then put in the few plates, the three pans from my dredging station, etc. I hand-washed my big skillet and my chef's knife. I washed down the countertops and the stove and then moved on to other things.

I was thinking last night I should have taken pictures of the fall decorations, so I did this morning (in my bathrobe!) I posted those and then got dressed in my shorts and T-shirt. I have a busy day planned (for a change) and wanted to get a few of the more dirty jobs done before I took my shower.

First I stripped the bedding and loaded it into the washer. I got that going, fetched a garden glove and headed out back to the raised bed garden. I pulled out the under-performing green peppers (1 1/2 peppers this year), the non-performing eggplant (nothing) and all the weeds. That mess went into this year's compost heap.

I picked two plum tomatoes that were sorta close to ripe (more orange than red, but I wanted a taste) and three more grape tomatoes (from the topsy-turvy planter) and went back inside to enjoy my fresh breakfast. Yum-o!

I noticed this morning that the long-range forecast had changed. Last time I looked at it the only chance of rain was to be on Wednesday. So, I figured I'd cut the grass (both front and back) this coming Thursday. But, this morning, the Weather Channel showed a chance of rain for the entire next week!

Well, the back lawn can't take five or six days of rain and still be short enough to cut. So, it's not raining yet and that means I need to cut the lawn! I have to be at Jake and Carla's for a Labor Day barbecue, so time is an issue.

I started off cutting the front lawn (which barely needed it) and then heading out back (which did need it). It all got done and by 12:30 PM, I was in the shower.

I had some time, so I thought I'd catch a nap. I set the alarm for 1:30 PM (I have to be at their house by 2:00). But something went wrong (I'm not in the habit of setting the alarm, I guess) and I woke up without an alarm at 2:15 PM! I jumped in the car and drove like crazy!

After some chitchat, we started playing a new card game they'd bought called Twist. The results were somewhat predictable: Carla won, Jake was a close second and I, a distant third.

After that, they started prepping for dinner. Carla had already made the potato salad and Jake made a spicy corn relish (spicy is an understatement, BTW), so Carla started slicing toppings for the burgers while Jake made the patties. My job was to stay out of the way, sitting on a kitchen chair and amusing them with my witty conversation.

Then we went outside while Jake fired up the grille. There was impressive sounding thunder and the occasional lightning going on, but no rain yet. Jake caught a break and it had just started to sprinkle when he finished toasting the burger buns. The 1/3 pound burgers, the natural casing hot dogs and the smoked sausages were already done and resting in the house.

Back inside, we began to assemble our plates. In addition to the corn relish (Did I mention it was HOT!), Carla had made some chipotle mayo for the burgers (definitely spicy, but not over the top and with an excellent taste).

So, I spread the chipotle mayo on the bottom of the toasted bun, then added a burger, a tomato slice, lettuce and onion (I didn't notice and used the diced onion, which was for the hot dogs, instead of the red onion slices - my bad) and finally, yellow mustard. I passed on the pepper-jack cheese to make it a cheeseburger.

I took a double helping of the potato salad (secret ingredient: Worcestershire sauce) and a tentative helping of the spicy corn relish. Even Jake admitted it was a bit TOO spicy (he'd added in a habanera pepper along with the jalapeno peppers), so he suggested topping it with sour cream. Good idea and it worked.

By the time I was finished with my plate, I was full and the hot dogs and smoked sausage were gonna have to be leftovers. I resumed my role as "pater familia," sitting on the kitchen chair while they both cleaned up (I could get used to this, lol!)

The thunder and lightning had continued throughout the meal and clean up (making their dog a bit nervous), but there was still no real rain. I noticed that it was almost 6:00 PM and knew they had to be at work in the morning (not me, man!) so I thanked them (thanks again guys! It was great!!) and then headed home. Before I left, I passed on leftovers (I have a fridge-full), but did agree to take one of the mondo chicken enchiladas they'd made a day or two ago. What intrigued me about this (besides the elaborate preparation they described) was that it did not have a tomato-based sauce.

Judging from the amount of water on the roads, it had rained much harder northeast of their house. I stupidly stopped at CVS to pick up a prescription and found the pharmacy was closed due to the Holiday. So, I went home empty-handed.

I did a little of this-and-that and then started watching an old favorite war movie I'd taped over the weekend (the Guns of Navarone, staring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn). After that, I watched a new "No Reservations" and then went to bed at 11:00 PM.