Saturday, October 31, 2009

Another Halloween song snippet

He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair
Better stay away from him
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim
But I'd like to meet his tailor
Werewolves of London

~ Warren Zevon

Happy Halloween!!!

Song snippet:

It's strange, sure is strange
You got to pick out every stitch
You got to pick out every stitch
The rabbit's running in the ditch oh no
Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
When I to, when I go

~ Donovan's "Season of the Witch"

A Weird, Wacky, Freaky Friday!

It had already rained when I got up on Friday morning. Fortunately, it was not raining as I drove into work (rain can really mess up my half-mile commute, lol!)

Work was a mess. It's hard to stay on top of your projects when you are off for a day and a half. While I was gone, the folks at Building 70 got a hot job, so they can't move today and need to stay there until Tuesday of next week. Well, I shut off their phone lines this morning, but the data line (a T1) wasn't scheduled to be turned off until Tuesday. So, they lucked out (I guess).

I must admit I was lucky, rain-wise. Although it rained off and on throughout the day, it wasn't raining at lunch time or when I went home at 5:00 PM.

At home and after the usual rituals, I changed clothes and started a load of wash. I heard the doorbell ring, so I went upstairs (thinking it was my neighbor Tammy with some of my mail that was put in their mailbox).

But, when I opened the door, there was an incredibly short, incredibly round, blond-haired woman in her mid twenties. She had a very bad speech impediment, but I thought she said she needed fifty cents! There was an awkward moment before I realized I was gaping at her and then I said, "Pardon me?"

She said, "I need fifty cents!"

I said, "I can give you a dollar. Would that be okay?" She nodded her head, so I gave her a dollar and watched her trudge up the road... Weird...

I warmed up the last of the leftover pasta for dinner, but decided against baking the other wheel of Camembert cheese. Too messy and I don't need the calories or cholesterol.

I talked with my friend B___ for a while as we caught each other up on how things were going.

Nothing too exciting was on TV, so I read in bed until I got sleepy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30th!

Happy Birthday to my daughter Amy !!!

Thursday

I woke up at 5:00 AM on Thursday and wandered out in the kitchen to make some coffee. Outside the kitchen window, the world looked weird! I finally figured it out, it was damn foggy out there (we rarely get fog here in Redford). Sure enough, when I watched the weather, we have a dense fog advisory until 10:00 AM.

This was not my usual Thursday because I don't have to go therapy until 2:00 PM. This is my one month evaluation, you see. So, I drank coffee and putzed around. It was too damp to work outside and nothing inside was calling to me. I watched the morning shows, read a little more of my book and then made some lunch for myself (another meatloaf patty and the other half of the acorn squash).

I did get a quick nap in and then went and shaved, showered and got dressed. I headed out to the rehab place at 1:45 PM.

The results of my 30-day evaluation? As always, everyone is astounded at my range of motion. The only noticeable problem is the weakness in my triceps (well, keep your arm in a sling for 30 days and see what it does to you). Supposedly, that would explain my crappy handwriting and the shakes I get trying to eat soup. So, that's what we are going to work on. Their best guess is that I should be done with therapy in another month or so! Thank God!!

Back home, I answered some emails and some instant messages and then changed into my work clothes. It was time to mulch leaves!

I gassed up the tractor after checking the oil, fired that bad boy up and got down to it. The front yard was pretty simple. I cut it on #3 to really grind up the leaves (during the summer months, I cut the grass on #4).

When that was done, I went out back and ran into a problem. The leaves are either too thick or too wet. Regardless, the deck would lock up and the belts would squeal. So, I'd stop the mower, get off and clean out the offending leaves. I tried doing it on #4, but eventually settled on the #5 setting.

Anyway, it took a long damn time and the back yard still looked like crap. I got everything put away, the gate closed and the garage door down just after 5:30 PM. It's supposed to rain heavy for the next few days, so I guess I'll have to live with it.

It's funny (in a sick sort of way), but three or four years ago, I paid my lawn service (yes, I actually had a lawn service after my second knee replacement) $60 bucks to do a fall cleanup. Two or three guys with gasoline-powered back-pack blowers walked across the yard and blew all the fallen leaves into the vacant lot next door, No fuss, no muss.

Now, I'm afraid to spend the money and buy a burger off the dollar menu at McDonald's. It's sad how far I've fallen...

Anyway, it was 6:30 PM and I was ready for dinner. I took the beets I'd bought and cut off the greens (leaving one inch stems on the beets - I'll explain later). I cut the stems and the leaves into one-inch sections.

I got my medium-sized saucepan and put in one-third amount of salted water. When that was at a rolling boil, I dropped in the beet greens. I let them boil for a bit while I got out the strainer and put the last meatloaf patty in the microwave. Then I drained them, put them in a bowl and added a generous splash of white vinegar.

I plated it up and went in to watch some TV. I was still impressed with the taste of that meatloaf and the beet greens were fantastic!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Making my Bed - A Reflection

I like to make my bed. Now, I suppose that's strange, as most people I know never do it unless they've washed the sheets. Well, some of them go the extra mile and throw the top sheet; blankets and bedspread back over before going to work. And, I can't blame them. Like, who cares?

But, for me, it's a religious thing, lol! Let me set the scene: I'm 13 years old and living in a second-story dorm. It's a huge space with a ceiling that was maybe 20 feet high. And all that is in it is row after row of narrow, iron beds.

Yes, I am in Sacred Heart Seminary, in Detroit, studying to be a priest. My parents have spent a small fortune to send me here, I know. But, my father's step-brother was a priest and so it was important to him...

And, me? I was adapting. You see, you were forbidden to speak after dinner (and then throughout study hall) until the next morning, after one hour of Mass and then breakfast.

In the morning, however, you were given another sheet and a pillowcase. This was long before there were fitted bottom sheets, BTW. So, what you did was to take off the bottom sheet and pillow case, replace the pillow case, put the top sheet on the bottom, then put the new sheet on the top and cover it with the thin wool blanket.

Unlike the military, nobody tried to bounce a quarter on this, but it was expected you made your bed right. In spite of it being forty years ago, I never got over that...

And, regardless of the outcome of this experience, I still need to make my bed right.

I stole this quote from an old friend...

On writers...

"At the end of the night when the supper has been eaten and the fire has gone down, our work is to stand and say the stories of the tribe. To say who we are, what we are doing here, how we began, how we came to this place and how we make this world a home."

~ Marcia Norman

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Favorite Sign #1

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Favorite Sign #2

Raking it all in...

I woke up, got ready and went to work on Wednesday. I left for home at 11:00 AM, but stopped at Kroger's first. I spent $24.37, all on items I'm currently out of.

Once I was home, I treated the cats. Then I started on the main focus of today: cleaning up from last night's dinner. Once I had everything that would or should go into the dishwasher loaded, I started it up. Then I tackled my biggest problem, the broiler pan!

With a fresh Brillo pad, hot water and a whole lot of elbow grease, I finally got it free of all the baked-on crud. Then I washed up the aluminum mixing bowl, the toaster oven tray and the Wustof Santoku knife.

Since I was waiting for the sunshine to dry up some of the leaves, I thought it was probably a good time eat lunch and then take a nap. So, I did.

I got back up around 4:00 PM, grabbed the leaf rake and went out front. I raked all the new-fallen leaves out of the front garden. Then, I headed out back. I raked off the patio and the surrounding gardens. I moved along the rear of the house until I got to Jake's patio. Then I raked it all off.

The leaves were still wet, BTW. We had 1/4 inch of rain overnight, according to the gauge. But tomorrow's supposed to be sunny and 60 degrees F., so I am hoping to mulch the leaves on Thursday afternoon.

I put away the leaf rake, grabbed the mail and went in for the night. I had a meatloaf patty for my lunch, so I wasn't really all that hungry. But, about 8:00 PM, I thought I should eat a little something. So, I made a salad with iceberg lettuce and yellow onions (the leaf lettuce I'd been hoarding had gone bad) and some ranch dressing.

I watched TV until 11:00 PM and then went to bed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Alarm System

I read an interesting idea while surfing the Internet yesterday. First it described the cost of installing a home burglar alarm system and the associated monthly fees. Then it suggested that most people already have a primitive alarm system in their house: Their car!

The suggestion was that you always put your keys on your night stand. That way, if you hear somebody trying to break in, you hit the panic button on your key fob, the alarm goes off and (hopefully) the burglar runs away.

Now, here was the thing I didn't believe! He said that if your bedroom is too far away from your garage (or the street), you should just touch the key fob to you chin and it would amplify the signal. So, being curious, I first tried the panic button from my bedroom. Nope! It didn't work! I don't think I'm too far away, I think its the cement block wall between the house and the garage.

So, feeling foolish, I stuck the fob under my chin and hit the button. The damn thing went off!

Now, in deference to even-handed reporting, I must tell you that most of the people who commented disagreed with the above idea. Their points were:

1. Get a gun
2. Get a dog
3. Not everybody has a car alarm
4. Most people don't pay any attention to a car alarm (I never do - too easy to set them off accidentally)
5. Burglars usually try to break in when nobody's home, so if you aren't there, what good does this do?

All valid points, I guess, but as I said, I found this fascinating!

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Meatloaf Patties, Resting

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Acorn Squash, Ready for the Oven

Don't let Your Meat Loaf!

I got up at 6:00 AM on Tuesday, got dressed in my work clothes and took the garbage out to the road. Back inside, I put on a pot of coffee (four cups ONLY, dear Amer!) I putzed around, straightening the kitchen while I waited on the coffee.

I watched the long line at local clinics for the swine flu shots on the news. Unfortunately, they are still running out before being able to vaccinate everyone in line. For once, being old is a benefit, as I am not supposed to be in the high-risk group (that's a nice change). Apparently anybody my age or older has already faced this flu before and we have some limited immunity built up. So, I'll wait until all the little kids and middle-aged at-risk people get theirs and then go.

At 7:00 AM, I shaved and showered, getting ready for therapy. More new exercises! What fun!! I called my barber when I got home to see if she had a morning appointment left. The earliest one was at 11:15, but I said I'd take it (I should have gotten this done the past Saturday).

Since I couldn't really do much until after my haircut, I decided to catch up on the magazines I'd recently received, but not yet read. So, I sat in the recliner with another cup of coffee and Caley in my lap, trying to read.

After a while that got annoying; both because of Caley's fidgeting and those stupid inserts that seem to fill magazines these days. So, I thought of something I could do without changing into work clothes. I grabbed a light jacket (its mild out there), my work gloves and the bucket and then went outside. I picked up all the leftover tomatoes from the raised bed garden and nearby lawn (I filled two big buckets, BTW). Then I heaved them over the fence for the wild things.

On a roll now, I picked up all the patio furniture (except the one chair I always leave out for me to use in the late fall and early spring) and moved it to a pile on Jake's patio. Then I walked to the back and got the hoses from there (they went into the pile as usual). See photos.

As luck would have it, my time was running out. So, I stopped and went to get my haircut. She was just finishing up with her last customer, so I walked to the back of the place and hung up my jacket (that's where the coat rack is). For some unknown reason, I put my car keys in my pants pockets instead of my jacket. We talked about her vacation next week (a time-share in the Tampa-St. Pete's area), she finished up, I paid her at the register and drove home.

It was after I got home and treated the cats that I went to hang my jacket in the front hall closet and I realized I wasn't wearing it! Damn! So, I drove back and got it (feeling quite foolish).

Now home for real (I hope), I changed into my work clothes. First thing I did was to put the new batteries in the office smoke detector (I got them at Meijer's yesterday).

Then I went outside to finish the outdoor storage stuff. I added the wheelbarrow to the pile and got out the smaller tarp. I found some clothesline that I didn't think would be big enough (and some rope-rope in case it wasn't) in the garage and went out back. I threaded the clothesline (tied in a corner grommet) down the short side and then down the long one (there's about four feet left). I put the tarp on top of the pile, tucked it all in and started threading the clothesline through the remaining grommets. When I finally got it all done and pulled it tight, I had tons left. I got it as tight as I could and then tied the remainder to a cement block (you can see it on the right of the photos). This keeps the tarp from blowing away in the winter winds.

I went back inside and lay down on the bed, trying to catch up on taped shows. I was hoping to grab a nap as well and I did! Nice!!

I got back up a little after 4:00 PM and started checking the computer. After responding to a few emails and instant messages, I went out in the kitchen to start my Saturday night dinner (on Tuesday, lol - Don't you just love irony?)

Tonight I will be making 30 minute meatloaf, baked acorn squash and (a late addition) beet greens. I want to use the oven for half of the time to bake the squash, but I will need it set at a much higher temp for the meatloaf. So, I plan on baking the squash on the tray that fits in the toaster oven. After 1/2 hour, I'll switch it out, crank the oven up and do the rest.

So, I set the rack on the middle tray (where it needs to be for the meatloaf), cut a big beautiful acorn squash in half, dug out the seeds and then cut a flat on the outside so both sides would sit on the tray without tipping (I never used to do that, but learned that tip on Food Network). I put both halves on the toaster oven tray and added a big chunk of butter. Now, here's where my Mother would always add a spoonful of brown sugar (which I still sometimes do in her honor). But, since I'm not that a big fan of "sweet," I really like to add fresh herbs and salt instead.

So, I went out on the patio and grabbed some rosemary, oregano and thyme. I put those in the cavity, added a good sprinkling of salt and put them in the preheated 400 degree F. oven around 5:30 PM.

Now, while we still have a few minutes, let's talk about the meatloaf. As any long-time reader knows, I have my own personal bacon-wrapped meatloaf recipe (see, well, recipes, lol). But, it's both labor-intensive and expensive. One of the things I became interested in, at least when I had a full-time job, are recipes you can make during the week. When I saw this on America's Test Kitchen, I said, "I've got to try that!" So, I am...

In a big bowl I hand crushed 17 saltine crackers (now, they used a food processor, but cleanup seemed like a lot of work for some stupid crackers, so I just crushed them). To that I added 1/4 cup of milk, three tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1/3 cup of minced fresh parsley leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, one large egg, one teaspoon garlic powder, one teaspoon of onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1 1/2 pounds of meatloaf mix (if you can't find meatloaf mix, use 3/4 pound of ground pork and 3/4 pound of 85% lean ground beef).

I mixed that with my hands until evenly combined and formed it into four lightly packed loaves (each measuring about four by three inches). I switched out the squash into the toaster oven, cranked the real oven to 500 degrees F. and inserted my broiler pan (groan).

Why "groan"? I hate cleaning that bad boy... But, that will come later...

Meanwhile, I got my biggest skillet and added two teaspoons of canola oil. I turned that onto medium-high and waited for the smoke (so did the smoke detectors, BTW). In the meantime, I mixed up the glaze in a bowl: 1/2 cups of ketchup, 1/4 cup of light brown sugar (packed) and four teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.

When the oil was ready (the ladies in both the bedroom and office let me know) I turned on the fan, opened the kitchen window a crack and, ignoring those broads, added the patties. I browned then until they had a nice crust (about 2-3 minutes per side).

When done, I carefully transferred them to the heated broiler pan and spooned one tablespoon of glaze on each piece. I baked them about 7-9 minutes (or until a thermometer inserted in the middle of a loaf registered 160 degrees F.). I pulled out the broiler pan and let them rest for three minutes. See photos.

Now, you might have noticed we haven't talked about beet greens at all! Well, I was kinda busy and figured they would go as well with the leftovers as they would have tonight.

So, I plated a meat loaf patty and one squash (after removing the herb stems). There is, of course, leftover remaining glaze, but I want to try it like this first. Oh, man! That was good!! The Test kitchen came through again!!!

I ate one patty and the bigger half of the squash. I seriously debated eating another piece of meatloaf (it was that good) but, in the end, my weight-conscious conscience won out.

I watched TV until "Chopped" was over, and then went to bed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

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The yard less than five days since I last mulched it!

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We're nowhere near done with the falling leaves thing

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Even the bird feeder has leaves

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Everything but the cabbage cleaned up in the raised bed garden

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My neighbor's bush (is that a sumac?)

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Starting the lawn furniture and "stuff" winter pile on Jake's patio

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Adding the wheel barrow to the pile

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The winter home for the outdoor stuff

Monday, Stewing a Little...

I reluctantly got up on Monday morning, five minutes before the alarm was set to go off (and, you know how much I hate that!) I did my morning rituals and got dressed watching the news and weather (like always).

Looks like the next best chance to mulch the multitude of leaves on the ground will be Thursday (maybe).

I stopped at Meijer's at lunchtime to get some kitty litter (tomorrow is garbage day and I need to change it). I did make one impulse buy: a beautiful bunch of beets with the leaves still on. I am sure I must have mentioned it in the past, but my Mother's (and my) favorite leaf vegetable was beet greens. Boiled until tender, then splashed with white vinegar, they are superb!

Now, I'm not knocking spinach, mustard or collard greens (and I can cook a mean collard greens with a smoked ham hock) but I grew up on this stuff and I love it! Back home, I unloaded the trunk and wished I didn't have to go back to work. It's finally sunny and (eventually) got up to 61 degrees F. But, back to work I did go...

I had gotten a call from my doctor's office at 10:00 AM on Friday, asking me to call them back. Of course the office was closed by the time I got in about 5:20 PM and they don't have Saturday office hours, so I called them back this afternoon. They said they did get the report on the fasting blood glucose test and the results were excellent! A clean sweep for the old, fat, bald guy!!

I got home Monday afternoon from work and proceeded to wash up the various pots, pans and aluminum bowls I used for yesterday's Sunday supper. I had left everything soaking overnight because that damn baked, melted cheese was sticky!

I dug out three smallish russet potatoes, peeled them, cut them into chunks and boiled them in salted cold water. I want to use the leftover remaining sauerkraut and smoked sausage for tonight's dinner, you see.

Speaking of leftovers, I reluctantly threw away the remaining beef stew. I've done a lot of research on this (living alone, you always face the possibility of poisoning yourself) and stews should only be kept in the fridge for four days. It's now past that and I wish to hell I would have just frozen some of it. But, I didn't...

When the potatoes were "almost" fork-tender, I added the sauerkraut and smoked sausage to the pot. I put the lid on and let it steam. Why add the potatoes? I didn't really have enough leftover sauerkraut and smoked sausage to make a real meal.

I filled in the Blog to date and then checked on dinner. I tested a potato and a piece of the smoked sausage and decided it was time. So, I turned off the radio and turned on the TV at 7:00 PM, plated my dinner in a large bowl and went off to enjoy my leftovers...

I watched TV until bedtime, but, while I was brushing my teeth, I remembered the kitty litter! So, I swapped it out and got the garbage bag out to the garage for the morning. Finally, I could go to bed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

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Getting Ready to Bake the Camembert Cheese

Sunday Supper

I awoke at 6:00 AM on Sunday. I watched the Weather Channel and it said it's supposed to be partly cloudy today. I hope they are right! After two days of damp, gloomy weather, I could use some sunshine!

I warmed up some coffee and filled out the Blog entry. I turned on Sunday Morning, over Easy and began to strip the bed. I washed everything but the green blanket. Why not the blanket? Here's my thinking: I don't touch it due to the top sheet and the cats don't touch it due to the bedspread, so it really doesn't need to be washed once a week like the sheets and the cat-hairy bedspread.

Sadie called in the morning to see how I was doing. After we talked, I got the bedding out of the dryer and made up the bed.

I mostly worked inside today and did get in a nice nap, but I went outside about 4:30 PM. It was sunny and 61 degrees F. I filled the bird feeder and so on, just little stuff, but it was nice. The yard was way too wet to cut, though.

At 6:30 PM, I began Sunday dinner. I'm using a Jamie Oliver recipe for Baked Camembert Pasta. Now, I went to buy the Camembert cheese at lunch on Friday at Westborn and immediately ran into a problem. The recipe calls for an eight ounce circle of cheese and is supposed to come in a wooden box (later, you actually bake the then seasoned cheese in the wooden box!

Well, maybe that's how it comes over in England where Jamie lives, but here at Westborn, I could only get four ounce wheels of Camembert cheese (made from goat milk) wrapped in tinfoil or get eight ounces cut from a big wheel of Camembert cheese made from cow's milk. I consulted the cheese expert (yes, they do have one) and she asked what I was doing with it. I explained and she suggested going with the slightly tangier goat cheese. So, I bought two rounds.

Now, what to do about the missing wooden container? If I just baked it on a sheet pan, it would melt everywhere. But, I realized the little wheel would just fit inside one of my ramekins! Problem solved.

Another benefit is that I can only use half the pasta and spinach mix and add in the baked cheese. Later, I can warm up the leftovers, bake the other four ounce wheel of cheese and enjoy a fresh pasta dinner during the week.

So, I took off the foil from the cheese round and put it in a ramekin while the toaster oven preheated to 350 degrees F. I scored a circle into the top of the skin, then lifted it off and discarded it.

I laid one clove of peeled and finely sliced garlic on top of the cheese, (remember, this is just half of the original recipe) sprinkled some pepper and drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil. Then I scattered half a sprig of rosemary leaves over the top and gently patted them with my fingers to coat them in the oil. I baked the cheese in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until golden and melted.

Meanwhile, I put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. I salted it heavily when it came up to a rolling boil. When the cheese had about 10 minutes left to cook, I added one pound of dried Rigatoni pasta to the pot and cooked it according to the instructions.

Once the pasta was cooked, I added six ounces (or six cups) of fresh spinach leaves to the pasta pot - it only needs cooking for 10 seconds or so. I drained the pot in a colander and reserved some of the cooking water. I returned the pasta and spinach to the pot and let it wilt. I drizzled the pasta and spinach with a couple of good slugs of extra virgin olive oil and added 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan. Note: If the sauce is too thick for you, add a splash of reserved cooking water to thin out a bit. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and gave it a good stir.

I removed the cheese from the oven. Here's what the recipe suggested next: Divide the pasta between your serving bowls. Either drizzle the melted Camembert on top or pop cheese on the table and let everyone help themselves to a lovely, gooey spoonful. Instead, I reserved 1/2 of the pasta spinach mix and topped the other half with my four ounces of melted cheese and mixed it in well.

The result? It had a very interesting taste and texture (the texture was more gooey than, say, macaroni and cheese). The only negative thing was that I didn't season it with enough salt, but I easily remedied that!

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and went to bed when the news was done.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Movie Day

I was wide awake at 4:00 AM on Saturday (I guess I went to bed a bit too early Friday night). After being totally unable to get back to sleep, I read a magazine until the local news came on at 5:00 AM.

I watched that (hoping to fall back asleep) until about 7:00 AM. At that point, I gave up, went out and ground up some coffee beans and put an eight-cup pot on.

While that was processing, I made some soft-boiled eggs, I ate breakfast (Yumo!) with a fresh cup of coffee. I poured another while I started the second batch of laundry.

It was still misty and drizzling, but I went outside in my bathrobe to check on the rain gauge: I had just over one inch of rain so far since this crap began on Thursday morning!

Back inside, I skipped the shave and took a nice hot shower. I got dressed in my weekend work clothes. I began my weekend chores by using the electric sweeper on all the floors.

I took a break (hey, the sky and weather was inspiring me to climb back in bed and go back to sleep!) and watched some taped cooking shows.

I sort of used that method to clean my house. I'd do some cleaning, and then watch a movie. I watched "The Perfect Storm" with George Clooney in the afternoon and the "Hound of the Baskervilles" with Peter Cushing at night.

I kept the movie day theme going by not making the dinner I'd planned. Instead I just made a bowl of popcorn!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hey, Wait a Minute!

Now, I am not sure if I mentioned this before in this Blog, but I know I have groused aloud for years about a local Toyota dealership's television ads (I'm being a bit vague on purpose so I don't get sued or something lol).

In the TV commercial, an attractive middle aged woman introduces a middle aged man as "Rockin' Rick" and he details the latest deals. My beef? Why would anybody that old call himself "Rockin' Rick"?

Well, today, I saw a new ad for the dealership and, guess what? Old "Rockin' Rick," who I would swear always had gray hair, is now by himself and sporting a full head of dark brown hair!

Come on, Rick, give it up!

A Wet, Miserable Day

Friday dawned (well, it's not yet dawn when I awake for work) chilly, rainy and just plain miserable.

I shaved, showered, dressed and drove to work. I got quite a shock when I pulled into the driveway and made the turn. There were orange barrels everywhere! But, since I was already there and there were two or three cars right behind me, I felt I was committed.

I weaved in and out of barrels until I hit the problem. Somebody had cut out about a foot of the pavement! So, then I was dodging barrels along with one foot tall, car-killer storm drains, etc. I finally got to the parking lot and went into work.

When the other members of the crew showed up (they come in an hour later than me... It's a long story), I asked what was going on. They said they had no idea, people just started tearing up the driveway yesterday afternoon.

Sometime, in the afternoon, our Facilities department sent out an email, saying the landlord was redoing the south drive and they were sorry about the late advisory...

It was raining when I went home at lunch and raining when I went home for the weekend. I had to laugh when one of my fellow PM's said he was praying for an all weekend rain. I said, why? I got a lot of stuff yet to do outside before winter!?!

He said he did too, but this way he could relax and spend the weekend inside, yet not feel guilty...

Sometimes I wish I still had a wife and young kids I could assign chores to!

So, upon arriving home, grabbing the mail and getting inside, I took stock. I treated the cats and then changed clothes.

I started a load of weekend laundry and then emptied the dishwasher. I called my friend B___ to see how he was doing and we chatted for a bit (mostly about the stock market, lol).

I was hungry, but didn't feel much like fussing, so I opened a can of Hormel chili, warmed that up and ate it watching some TV. I was still worn out from yesterday's adventures, so I went to bed early again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rest in Peace

I just heard the sad news that Soupy Sales died yesterday at the age of 83. If you were a kid growing up in the 50's in the Detroit area, you would have watched his show.

I bet St. Peter hit him in the face with a pie at the Pearly Gates...

Quote of the Day

"There's nothing like the smell of a new baby... Sometimes..."

~ Ellen Degeneres

Road Trip Week, Part 2

I got up at 6:30 AM on Thursday. I shaved, showered and got dressed, then headed out to rehab.

She added a few more exercises to my routine, but I got through them okay. One of the new ones was using a EU something or another (Dave and probably Melissa would know the real name). It's like a plastic mitt with an adjustable strap you stick your hand into. The mitt is attached via swivel to a long dowel. The dowel is attached with another swivel to an adjustable (for height, that is) board on the wall.

So, in this exercise, you stand there and do a "Heil Hitler" salute of sorts. She left for a minute and when she came back, she asked if I was doing okay. I said, you Irish people have many talents, but we Germans can do this all day long! All three therapists cracked up!

I was back home by 9:15. At 10:30 AM, I got out the lawn tractor and cut the back yard. It seemed silly though, because the new leaves were falling almost as fast as I mulched the old ones.

I made a can of chicken noodle soup for lunch, reset the alarm for 1:30 (in case I fell asleep) and watched a movie. At 1:30, I got back up, switched from my yard work clothes to some better clothes and gathered up all my medicines.

It's time for another road trip! This time I have to go up to Richmond to see my primary care doctor for my semi-annual checkup. So, once again, I got in the car and hit the road. But, this time I was driving in and out of rain showers.

I got there a bit early, but went right in. I knew there was a problem when the nurse asked if I'd gotten the blood work done. I said, yes, I went in at 7:00 AM on Friday, after getting the prescription in the mail Thursday night. She said, well, they didn't send us the results.

So, they called over to the hospital and I had to wait until they found and faxed the test results. Finally, my doctor came in. She congratulated me on my weight loss, my blood pressure (110/82) and said all the test results were very good. Then she said, wait a minute, did you give them the prescription I wrote out for you? I said well, yeah, they wouldn't probably take one I wrote out myself. She said, well, I don't see the one for your blood glucose test!

So, more waiting while they called back to the hospital. Bad news was they "forgot" to do that one. Good news is that they keep your blood for one week after they draw it (I did not know that) and so could do the test now. The doctor told me it would be at least an hour and did I want to wait? Uh, NO! Just call me tonight with the results, please!

So, I made one pit stop on the way home at the Smoke House for some Hunter Sausages. Then I started the long trip back home in the light rain.

I was moving pretty good (at that time of the day, heading into Detroit, you are going in the reverse direction of the rush hour traffic). That was, until I got past I-75 in Detroit. Just after that, I-94 (which I was on) goes down to three lanes for construction! So, it was stop and go, with huge lines of people trying to get on the freeway, until I finally turned onto I-96. Now, on I-96, you are heading out from the city along with everybody else. It's a lot more traffic and guess what? For about five or six miles, the left lane there was also closed off. Now, it's a 70 MPH speed limit, but until the lane opened back up, I was doing about 40 MPH and hitting the brakes off and on... Very frustrating and nerve-wracking!

I finally got home just before 6:00 PM. I changed my clothes and washed up the inside of the crock pot (it had been soaking overnight). I took out a chunk of sharp cheddar cheese and some more smoked sausage to thaw to make for dinner (not sure just what, yet.)

I talked briefly with Jake who called to see how my doctor visit went and then went in to fill the Blog entry up to date.

I decided I was really beat and hungry, too. So, I went with smoked sausage and sauerkraut (I had another bag of it in the fridge) heated up in a pan. I didn't want to wait for the potatoes to cook this time.

When it was done, I fixed a bowl of it and wandered in to watch TV. But, the rehab, lawn-cutting and long drive had taken its toll and I went to sleep at 9:30 PM. The doctor never called, BTW.

Sometime in the night, I woke up, thinking I heard somebody talking in the house. I just about fell back asleep when I heard the woman who lives in my smoke detectors say, "Warning, battery is low!" I knew she wouldn't be quiet until I addressed her concerns (women!) so I got out of my nice, warm bed, went in the office, took the smoke detector down, pulled out the batteries and set it on the daybed to await the morning...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Working on a Wet Wednesday

I awoke five minutes before the alarm was set to go off. For some reason, this always ticks me off. It's like I got robbed of sleep or something...

Anyway, I posted the Blog entry, shaved and showered and then got dressed for my half-day at work. When I went outside, I began to rethink my decision to postpone cutting the grass. Why? Because it was still sprinkling and, according to the puddles, we had a hard rain overnight.

But, it was definitely warmer (I just used my light rain poncho coat today) and hopefully, it will clear up and allow me to mulch the leaves (it's supposed to reach a high of 72 degrees F. this afternoon!)

I left work after four hours (and, a busy four hours, I might add) and got home about 11:15 AM (I start at 7:00 AM). I treated the cats, changed clothes and then called my daughter, Melissa, to wish her a "Happy Birthday" but just got their recording. I told her she didn't need to call me back, I just wanted to wish her a happy birthday. I assumed on her birth day, she will be busy... She's the big "40" today, but she probably didn't want me to say that. It's weird to have two daughters older than the chicks I want to date, lol...

I checked the rain gauge (walking out on the still-soggy leaves on the patio) and we had just over a half-inch of rain last night, here in Redford. The sun is now out and I hope to Christ it dries out enough to cut the lawn at maybe four or five o'clock.

Since my leftovers are now all gone, I decided to make a slow-cooker beef stew. Now, there are three things you should know about me and beef stew: One, I have my own personal recipe for beef stew (see Recipes) that is fantastic, but very time consuming. Two, I hate beef stew that uses any kind of tomatoes in the sauce. And, three, I like to add the odd ingredient and see what happens (last time I think I put in one of my favorite root veggies: parsnips. It was a disaster! The heavy taste of the beef completely wiped out their light, nutty flavor).

So, here's what I did today. I got out the plastic cutting board (I only use the wood cutting board for herbs and veggies) and cut up two pounds of stewing beef into one-inch cubes. They went into the smaller slow cooker. I mixed together 1/4 cup of flour, one teaspoon of kosher salt (one-half teaspoon if you are using ordinary table salt) and a half-teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper in a small bowl. I added that to the beef, a little at time and stirring it to incorporate.

Then I added three smallish russet potatoes, cut in chunks, a medium-sized yellow onion, cut into chunks, three big carrots, diced large, one stalk of celery, chopped and today's mystery ingredient, a medium-sized sweet potato, also cut into chunks.

Then I added 1 1/2 cups of beef broth, two garlic cloves (minced) two bay leaves, one teaspoon of paprika and one teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. I mixed that all up and turned it on high. I normally like to go low and slow, but I should have got this all done this morning for that.

I topped it all off with three sprigs of fresh thyme and two sprigs of fresh rosemary. If I had more room (and I don't) I would have added some fresh mushrooms to the mix.

I checked outside. It's about 1:30 PM and things are still too damn damp. So, I went and watched a movie.

Lu returned my call about 2:00 PM. She said she would like to have the one picture, but not the other, in the office (I had to make room for the picture and crucifix from Mom's house).

So, I went back and check around 3:30 PM. The front yard is dry enough to cut, I believe, but not the back (there's way more shade out back). So, I blew the leaves off the porch. Then I used the line trimmer to cut down the perennial plants in the front garden and raked that mess (along with still more leaves) onto the lawn.

I gassed up the lawn tractor and checked the oil, then fired that bad boy up. I carefully cut the lawn so as to blow the clippings and mulch away from the driveway and gardens.

I finished up just before 5:00 PM. I checked the back yard one more time (nope, still too wet) and then put the mower away.

Inside, the stew had settled down enough that I could fit the small tray of button mushrooms in. So, I thick-sliced them and laid them on top.

I ate dinner about 7:00 PM. The sweet potatoes added an interesting element to the stew. My daughter Melissa (the birthday girl) returned my call at 9:30 PM.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21st!

Happy Birthday to my daughter Melissa!!!

Road Trip Week, Part 1

I did reset the alarm to go off at 6:30 AM. Last night reminded me of the song from 1966, "I had too much to dream last night," by the Electric Prunes (no, I'm not kidding, here). I woke up tired and hurting. I do something these days when I am sleeping that hurts my shoulder. I think I turn over and lay on it or something.

Be that as it may, I got up, gathered up the garbage and took it out to the road. But then, while the coffee was making, I thought I could lie back down and grab a few winks.

Big mistake! I woke up after 8:00 AM and I have a 9:30 doctor's appointment in Mt. Clemens. So, I quickly shaved and showered and was on the road by 9:00 AM. I broke a lot of speed laws, but didn't get there until about 9:45 AM.

Once I got into the doctor's, he was thrilled with my progress. He said I should come back in eight weeks, but wanted my therapy to move on to strength rebuilding (oh, I know what that means, now they have a license to hurt me).

So, I got in the car and headed back home. I did make a pit stop at a McDonald's and bought a Quarter-Pounder with cheese meal (with extra salt for the French fries) and a Coke. Thus fortified, I drove back home.

Back home, I barely had time to regroup and get to my therapy session. But, I made it five minutes early. She did add a few new exercises, but still didn't have the official fax from the doctor, authorizing the change in regiment.

By the time I got home from rehab, it was after 2:00 PM and I was beat! The long drive to Mt. Clemens and back, along with the hour workout at therapy, has worn me out.

Now, normally, here's where you would read "so I took a nice nap!" But, I have a dilemma: It's a beautiful fall day outside. The sun is out for the first time in days and its 60 degrees F. So, as much as I would like that nap, I got stuff to do outside.

It's supposed to be even warmer tomorrow, so I thought I'd use Wednesday for cutting the grass/leaves. Today it was just grunt work.

First I went in the attic and got down the small tarp (that I used on the trailer two years ago). Without the old picnic table, I don't need that big tarp to cover the outdoor furniture.

In the front yard, I dug out all the grass around the little forsythia I bought and planted several years ago (it's not growing nearly as fast as its wild cousins in the back yard. I sprinkled a little fertilizer around the edge of the circle of dirt and then filled the circle in with wood chips.

I cut the wisteria down to the ground and pulled it off the front trellis. I also emptied the urn of it's dying plants and rolled it into the garage for the winter.

Then I cut down those three raspberry bushes I talked about this summer (I was eating the berries almost every day when they were in season). Since they were just growing wild in the lot next door, I decided to give them a proper home.

I got the wheelbarrow and dug them out. Then I wheeled them all the way from the front to the very back of the property. I pulled back the mulch in the rear garden and dug three holes. Then came the hard part: three trips back and forth from the house to the rear wall with a bucket of water each for the holes.

Next I replanted them, added some dirt and then put the mulch back over them. Once again, three more back and forth trips for water (my legs were killing me!)

Since I was already back there, with the wheelbarrow, I removed all the ties that held the tomato plants to the trellis and took the tomato plants out of the raised bed garden. The vines went into the compost heap. I'll pick up all the fallen tomatoes later and pitch them in the empty lot next door. If you put actual tomatoes in the compost heap, you end up with volunteer tomato plants in the weirdest places the next year!

I put away the wheelbarrow and shovel and turned on the hose to water the new grass yet again. I went in the house (finally), washed up and collapse on the couch.

I didn't nap, but I did rest for a bit until hunger (and the timer for the sprinkler) roused me. It was too late and I was too tired to "make" dinner, so I settled for a can of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I watched a little TV, but went to sleep early on.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I'm cooking."

~ Julia Child

Monday, monday...

I woke up, but just barely, to the 5:30 AM alarm on Monday morning. And. I can say this conclusively, it's my own damn fault. You see, I started to fade out watching "The Next Iron Chef" at 9:00 PM on Sunday night. But, I really (really) wanted to watch "Iron Chef America" at 10:00 PM. So, I reheated the morning coffee and had a cup.

Well, so there I was at like 1:00 AM, vibrating and completely unable to sleep. NOT GOOD! So, the best I could muster was a fitful sleep, punctuated by really bad dreams (there's always somebody trying to catch me and kill me) and waking me up every hour or so. I'd describe the dreams, but you would probably use my stories to have me locked up. Needless to say there is a lot of angst, (I'm always running and hiding), blood and guts... Thank God for my shotgun (that sucker does seem to level the playing field, lol).

Work, for a change was a bit interesting (I won't bore you with details, but I need to procure a Windows server and a snap server to back it up for an off-site building). But I did have to drink a LOT more coffee about 2:00 PM, just to stay focused.

When I left work it was 60 degrees F., semi-cloudy with a rather stiff South-East wind.

I had been dreading bailing out the reflecting pool (I really shouldn't spend the money for a new drill motor pump) when it hit me this morning! I still have the fountain pump for the bird bath Jake gave me.

So, after I treated the cats (I give them less, these days) and changed my clothes, I grabbed the pump with an extension cord and went outside.

So, first I used my net to get out all the floating leaves, shredded mulch, etc., and then I got all the river rocks out of the way. Then I threw in the gizmo and pumped it as dry as I could (there is still about one inch of water remaining).

Then I threw in a short (chiminea) log (the same principal of my neighbors or Jake's winter pool thing, where the expanding water crushes the balloon, or in my case, the dried wood log) instead of busting out the galvanized tub (or the above ground pool). I covered that with the plastic-covered plywood and a block of concrete.

Back inside, I warmed up the last of the sausage and sauerkraut for my dinner and I watched TV until bedtime.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Slow Sunday, again...

I woke up (reluctantly) at 6:00 AM on Sunday. I put on a pot of coffee, but today I just made raisin bread toast for breakfast.

I was feeling very, very lazy today, so no major projects got started or finished. Hey, isn't Sunday supposed to be a day of rest?

I did manage to finish the upstairs (or main) bathroom. While it was drying I washed the bathmat. Once the floor and countertop were dry, I put everything back. I finished up by cleaning the mirror with Windex.

I had skipped lunch yet again, so about 4:00 PM I heated up some of the leftover sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes. I ate that in the kitchen and then read a book on the couch until 7:00 PM. Then I went in to watch my Sunday shows until 11:00 and bedtime.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Never let the same dog bite you twice!"

~ Chuck Berry

Saturday

I woke up early on Saturday, but resolved to go back to sleep. For a change, it worked! I woke up for real at 7:00 AM. I wrote the Blog entry and then went out to make a pot of coffee.

I stripped the bed and started the Saturday morning wash.

It was still cold (30 degrees F.) but I saw something I haven't seen in days: the sun!!!

When the coffee was ready, I had a cup while making breakfast: scrambled eggs and oat-nut bread toast. I ate it in the living room on the couch, reveling in the sunshine. After I got the plate, pan and bowl washed up, I went back and lay on the couch for a while. That sun really did feel good to these old bones.

Finally, I kicked it into gear and took my shower. I got dressed, took the first load of laundry out of the dryer, put the second one in and the third (and last) in the washer. Then I started to clean the house.

I deep-cleaned the living room and got all the cat hair off the couch, love seat, drapes, etc. I then vacuumed, swept and dust-mopped the floor with Enddust. The only thing I didn't do was the dusting (not supposed to raise my arm that high).

I started taking stuff out of the main bathroom to wash it when I realized how tired I was. So, with the bedding still in the dryer, I lay down on the naked bed for a quick nap.

I was awakened by Jake and Carla. They were in the neighborhood and stopped by for a visit. We chatted in the kitchen for quite a while and, when they left, I gave them a container of the Cheddar-Horseradish soup and the last container of the Split Pea and Ham soup. They are another of my taste-test groups and (I like this) are brutally honest. So, we'll see...

After they left, I started back on cleaning the bathroom. But, I got a phone call from a friend and we talked a long time. After we talked about the economy, the mounting deficit, and the increase in local crimes (everyday now, on Channel 4 news, they give out new alerts on areas that are experiencing car jackings, violent home invasions, rapes, etc. And, we are no longer talking about Detroit, but Grosse Point, Allen Park, etc. Like my friend B___ said, once you've stolen everything in Detroit, all that's left is to move out into the suburbs. I am thinking about putting a sign in the yard that says "I am under-employed and damn near broke but have a loaded shot gun, so don't mess with me!") we hung up. I was depressed...

I started back to the bathroom when the phone rang again. It was my daughter Melissa. Now, this conversation was not as depressing, but it did last a while (well, actually, quite a while).

When we finally hung up, I realized just how hungry I was (I'd skipped lunch, still feeling full from my late breakfast).

I checked my email and had one from Jake, regarding the Cheddar Cheese and Horseradish soup. He said "Nice! Like a bowl of Schuler's cheese spread." Which made me feel good.

So, before dinner, I got the bedding and made the bed up. Then I warmed up the last of the Bush's Baked Beans and two hot dogs.

I plated that up and went into the bedroom and the TV to finish the day...

Now I did watch a lot of this mornings cooking show (the theme was tailgating) but I also watched my favorite cartoon (or are they now called animated shows?) "Jane and the Dragon." It's on Channel 4 and I just really like it.

When I got tired, I turned the TV off and went to bed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another Cold Day in Hell

I awoke to the alarm on Friday. I shaved and showered and then headed out early. I have to get some blood drawn before work this morning.

I went to the same old clinic and got the same old nurse I always do. We talked about the weather and I mentioned the snow storm in Pennsylvania. She said, "I'm sorry, but I am from Tennessee and am NOT smarter than a fifth-grader. I have no idea where Pennsylvania is!"

I tried to explain, but the way her eyes glazed over, I knew she didn't really get it, so I let it go.

Work was long and either too busy or too boring. The only real bright spot was going to lunch with Tracey (I haven't seen her for a long time). She had some good news! They may have sold her husband's house in St. Clair Shores, so they can move back here, closer to work. They've had it on the market since they got married a year ago.

I also dropped off four cups of the Cheddar and Horseradish soup to Michelle. She and her family are one of my taste-test groups, lol.

Around 2:00 PM, I had the tremendous desire to take a nap. So, I chugged down two cups of coffee and took a walk inside the building (its a BIG building).

After work, I spent the first hour or so straightening up the house. Then I started dinner. I peeled about six medium-sized russet potatoes and put them in my Dutch oven. I added in a bag of sauerkraut and topped that with a pound of beef smoked sausage, cut on the bias.

While I was doing that, I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a very large (about the size of a mourning dove) red-headed woodpecker eating on the suet cage. I ran and got the camera, but by the time I got back, it was gone. Dammit!

I brought that to a boil and then put the lid on and let it simmer for about 20 minutes (until the potatoes were fork tender). I made up a big plate, added a dab of Dijon mustard and wandered in to watch some TV.

I did talk with my friend B___ who called to see how my week went. I managed to stay awake until 10:00 PM, but then called it a night.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, Getting it Done!

I got up with the alarm clock on Thursday. I put on a pot of coffee and some raisin bread in the toaster (BTW, is it just me? Am I the only one who can't find plain old-fashioned raisin bread?) I wrote and posted the Blog entry while eating my breakfast.

I went to therapy and then, on the way home, stopped at Meijer's to pick up a few sale items. It's still chilly with that nasty Canadian wind (weather channel said wind chill is equal to 30 degrees F.).

Back home I unloaded the groceries while heating up the last cup of this morning's coffee. It hasn't started raining here yet (60% chance, though), so I thought I should get at least one of today's outdoor projects out of the way.

One of the pine trees that surround the wild garden is dead. It grew up into the maple tree and I guess it couldn't compete. So, I want to cut it down before it falls down. I don't want it to end up on top of the sailboat or trailer or something.

I got out the 100-foot extension cord and my Sawzall. I was disappointed to find I no longer had that really long wood blade Jake and I used with great success to cut down dead trees (it must have bent and I threw it away or something). But, I figured for what I had to do, the six-inch one would work.

And, it did. I managed to cut out the wedge-shaped piece and then make the single cut to bring it down. I deliberately left the stump tall (I'll get to that in a minute). Once the tree was down, I trimmed off all the branches. Then I measured between the tree trunks around the garden and cut the downed tree trunk into the correct lengths.

The garden sort of self-mulches between the discarded pine needles and fallen leaves, but the grass does want to encroach and I thought this might help to stop that. Also, as it rots, it will give back to the earth that originally nourished it (kind of a "Pay it forward" plan for pine trees, lol). See photos.

Oh, and that stump? Well, when I can pick up a long wood blade for the Sawzall, I'll cut it level. Then, next spring, I'll put a heavy clay pot with colorful flowers on it. I love the wild garden, but colorful, it ain't!

I put everything away and was back inside by noon. I heated up a can of Hormel chili to warm up and ate it for my lunch.

I went back outside around 2:00 PM and took the water lily out of the reflecting pool to drain. Then I got my drill motor, the little pump and a hose and tried to drain the pool for the winter. But, the pump didn't work (I thought I remembered something like that happening last fall). But, it's too cold to bail it out this year. So, I'll have to pick up another drill motor pump at Home Depot.

I did take the water lily inside and put it in a plastic bag. It will spend the winter in my front hall closet, like always.

Then, I started making a soup that sounded interesting, called Cheddar Horseradish (how bad could that be?) Now, I doubled the recipe so I could give some away (if it tastes good, lol), but I'll pretend I made the original one.

I fine-diced two carrots and two leeks, then sweated them in 1/4 stick of butter. When they had softened (but not browned!) I added a pinch of cayenne pepper, some salt, three tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of dry ground mustard.

Now, I didn't have that much dry ground mustard, but I did have mustard seeds and my spice grinder, so I made my own. Then I added dry ground mustard and mustard seeds to the grocery list. I must admit, I added a tablespoon of dried garlic as well (the recipe didn't call for it, but it seemed this soup was just calling out for that, lol).

Anyway, you saute that, stirring it to cook out the flour taste, for about two minutes. Then you add one bottle of beer, 1/4 cup of horseradish, three cups of water and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Simmer that until thick (with the double batch, it took a long time to thicken up - I think I should have used room temperature beer and water). Then whisk in two cups of half-and-half and 1 1/2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

I tasted it and then added a bit more salt (I was conservative when I first added the salt because cheese is naturally a little salty and I didn't want to overdo it). I turned it off and let it cool down.

You are supposed to serve this with croutons, but I don't have enough of the rustic Italian bread left to make any (and, I'm pretty sure my Oat Nut bread would NOT work!) But, if you had any kind of white bread, you would cut off the crusts and cut the slices (maybe ten or so) into cubes. Put them on a cookie sheet or half sheet pan, drizzle them with olive oil and toast them in a 400 degree F. oven for about 10 minutes. And, bingo, you have croutons!

I went out to get the mail and it was sprinkling. Back inside and the mail sorted, I watched the 5:00 PM news. There was a bizarre story about a 6-year old kid in Colorado who went inside his scientist father's experimental helium balloon. Somehow it got loose and floated away (at times reaching 10,000 feet high). Once they got word of it, the National Guard and various news helicopters tracked it until it started to lose helium (two hours later) and slowly floated back to earth. But, when the rescuers reached it, the boy was no where to be found. The hope is he never really got into the aircraft. The fear is that he did and fell out before the helicopters got it in sight. So, a 90 mile land search is on. I hope to God they find him alive...

At 5:30 PM, I filled up my freezer containers with my soup. The double batch gave me about 18 cups. I'll let them cool off for a little longer before screwing on the tops. I did take the stock pot and fill it with water to soak overnight. The rest of the utensils I had used I did the Jake thing to (either washed them up directly after use or rinsed them and stuck them in the dishwasher). I have to work all day tomorrow and won't have time in the morning to clean up.

At 6:00 PM, I dug out my cast iron grille pan (the first time since, like April, I will have to grille inside) to make some hot dogs. Now, I know what you're thinking: I thought he made soup? Well, as I think I've said before, part of being a good cook is to constantly taste the food. And, I use the Japanese method of filling a small glass bowl, rather than just a soup spoon, so I can really taste it.

Sidebar: LMAO! When it was just adding the beer, horseradish, water and the Worcestershire sauce, tasting it completely cleared out my sinuses. I blew my nose for like five minutes straight.

Anyway, after all that tasting, no way do I feel like eating the soup tonight. Besides, other than chicken noodle soup, I think most soups, stews and chili all improve after a day or two in the fridge while the flavors marry. With chicken noodle soup, however, the noodles tend to absorb all the stock and you end up with a weird chicken stew or something (Jake calls it chicken slop). However, I've heard that the pasta that looks like little ears (orecchiette, its called) does not do that, so I plan on trying that for my next chicken noodle soup.

Anyway, I got the grille pan fired up, cleaned off and re-oiled. I have the vent on and both bedroom doors closed (to foil the smoke alarm ladies - if I wanted to hear a woman yell at me, I would have stayed married!) When it seemed hot enough, I added the dogs (my second-best favorite, Koegel's Natural Casing Viennas - Meijer's doesn't carry the Dearborn brand).

I warmed up on of those small cans of Bush's Baked Beans for my side dish. Let's see, first chili, now baked beans? Oh, the people at work are gonna love me tomorrow!

When everything was ready I plated a hot dog and bun and some beans and went in to watch some TV.

My brother Jim called to let me know they had accepted an offer for Mom's house in New Baltimore (but not the lot next door) and that Waconda would be appraised next week. Thanks for the update.

Oh, story update: I guess the kid did accidentally let the balloon go, but he thought he would get in trouble, so he went and hid in the attic of their house.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

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Dead Tree #1

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Dead Tree #2 (Fourth From Left)

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The Tree is Down!

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Using the Logs to Border the Wild Garden

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The Pine Tree Trunk, Giving Back

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The Story of my Life

Windy Wednesday

I had another restless night with bad dreams, but did manage to sleep until the alarm went off on Wednesday morning.

I got cleaned up, dressed and went to work. At 11:00 AM, I bid farewell to my boss and headed back home for the day. It was 44 degrees F. (damn chilly) with a bitter Canadian north wind (I knew they'd get back at me for forgetting their Thanksgiving!) According to the Weather Channel, it should hit 47 degrees right around 4:00 PM.

So, I putzed around the house for a while and then made lunch. A recipe I wanted to try had called for getting 6-inch whole wheat pita bread, but I could only find 8-inch ones. So, I figure I have one or two too many.

I cut one in half and spread a little mayonnaise inside one half. Then I added some leaf lettuce and the rest of the chicken salad. I ate that (excellent, BTW) watching the noon news.

I did finally fall asleep and had about a half-hour nap, which was nice. At 3:30 PM, I got on my coat, watch cap and some gloves and went out to cut the grass (no real grass growth, but a large number of fallen leaves and black walnuts).

I finished up, somewhat frozen just before 5:00 PM. But, as I gazed out the kitchen window into the back yard, I noticed the large number of leaves falling from the trees in the wind.

I gave up my previous plans for dinner when I noticed how sad the head of cauliflower on my counter was looking. I cored it, cut it into florets and then boiled it until soft. I ate a lot of it with some butter and salt.

With the help of my earlier nap, I did manage to stay up and watch Top Chef at 10:00. Then I went to bed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday

I went to bed early Monday night, so I woke up at 4:30 AM on Tuesday. I tossed and turned but could not fall back asleep. So, I got up in disgust at 4:30 AM. I filled in the Blog entry and posted it.

Then I did some on-line bill paying (always fun!), started a load of laundry and took the garbage out to the road. I shaved and showered, then went to my 8:00 AM rehab appointment.

I never realized how much different it would be to do those exercises that early! But, I persevered and by 9:30, I was back at home.

Then, I got to work. Now, I have to tell you, it was damn chilly outside, so I put on my heavy leather jacket and a watch cap (I should have used my Canadian toque in honor of their Thanksgiving, I suppose but whenever I wear it, I get strange looks. I think my neighbors believe I'm a die-hard hockey fan or something).

So, I went out and swept the garage (it needed it). Then I got my blower out and blasted the leaves and (more importantly) all the damn black walnuts off the porch, the garage apron and the entire driveway. It got much more intense near the end and I had to use my garden rake to pull the heavier stuff off the drive and into the lawn.

Why is this so different this year? Well, in years past, I would pick up the nuts and heave them into the field next door (so the squirrels could still find them). But, without a working right arm this year, it got left undone. I suppose I could have used my left arm, and I did try that but, as a lefty, I throw like a girl!

Back inside to warm up, I heated up the last of the pasta for my lunch. I ate that watching the noon news (I admit I am becoming quite the news junkie, but I don't always like what I see). After that I watched an old movie I'd taped, hoping to take a nap and fall asleep. But, alas, no nap!

So, I eventually gave up and got back up. I grabbed the line trimmer (I always want to say "Weedwacker" but I know that's a brand name, not the product name). I took it out back and trimmed all around the patio. I also got the grass growing up between the cements expansion strips.

I left the extension cord out there and took back in the line trimmer. I grabbed the blower and blew the patio bare. Oh, I know it will be covered with leaves again in a few days, but I wanted to verify I had done the job right.

I put everything away and walked out front to retrieve the mail. I sorted through it (always more junk than mail) and then started warming up dinner.

I put the four-cup container of leftover split pea and ham soup in a pan and added a cup or so more water to thin it out some. This particular soup (as well as beef barley) always seems to thicken up once chilled. While it was heating up, I made a small salad from iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, some fresh spinach and my ranch dressing.

I ate the salad (the dressing has a bit more garlic than I'd prefer) and then a bowl of the soup, mopping the last up with a chunk of the rustic bread. Once it had cooled, I put the rest of the soup back in the fridge, tidied up the kitchen and quit for the night.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting Forgetful in my Old Age

Not only did I forget to wish everybody in the US "Happy Columbus Day" yesterday, I neglected to tell all my Canadian friends "Happy Thanksgiving!"

Sorry!

The First Monday of the Rest of my life

I awoke via the alarm clock on Monday morning (or, "Moanin"" as I like to say). I shaved, showered and primped (well, as much as a 60-year old bald guy can primp) and then got dressed for work.

I remembered my experience from yesterday and dug out my leather jacket. It's damn cold outside, but I can't complain... I see where my daughter Amy and her two Carl's are getting snow in Minnesota this morning!

In the Monday morning staff meeting, my boss announced that, as of this week, I'd be going to part-time. Nobody reacted, so I have to guess either (A) they already all knew about it, or (B) they were too busy thinking, "Thank God it wasn't me!"

It was a long, exhausting day and I was glad when 5:00 PM finally rolled around.

Back at home, the promised (well, 30%) chance of rain still hadn't materialized, so I turned on the hose to water the new-sown grass. Since I was out there, anyway, I filled the bird feeder. I decided that I still need to do that (if only for my Mom's sake) but not the two and three times a week (and two or three suet cakes a week) I'd done before. If things get too rough, I might just want to be able to shoot me a pigeon or two for supper (not to mention fried squirrel for breakfast).

While I was out there, I grabbed a handful of flat-leafed parsley, a clump of chives and some tarragon.

Back inside, I set the timer and washed up the small stock pot (still soaking with the remains of the split pea soup). When that was air-drying, I set about replacing the kitty litter (garbage day is tomorrow, after all). I got that done and ready to go, then set about to make some ranch dressing.

Now, I know, if you read this Blog a lot, you already realize I make my own salad dressings (unless I had out of town guests - Luanne likes "Newman's Own" Balsamic vinaigrette and Sadie likes Low or No-cal Catalina) and, since it just involves some sort of acid (one of my many flavored vinegars and/or lemon/lime juice) whisked with olive oil, I usually make it on a per salad basis.

But I do like ranch dressing and, in its basic form, it's pretty damn simple. So, I put one cup of buttermilk (some recipes swap that out for yogurt, but that's just wrong!) and one-half cup of Hellmann's mayonnaise (the only kind of mayonnaise I allow in this house) into a pint jar. To that I added a tablespoon of fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley and a teaspoon of fresh chives. I smashed a clove of garlic, added a teaspoon of kosher salt (it provides a much-needed abrasive) and, using the side of the chef's knife, ground it into a paste. That went into the jar as well. All that remained was to add 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill (I don't grow that, here). I shook it up (violently) and stuck it in the fridge for later. When homemade (with no preservatives), it will keep about a week in the fridge.

Then I moved my milk crate from the hall closet (its cool, summer home) back outside to the garage. I took out the two apples that had long protected my potatoes (I remember to this day that, back in my Mother Earth News period in the 60's and 70's, apples were supposed to release a gas that retarded the sprouting of potatoes), cut them up into bite-sized chunks and threw them under the bird feeder (for the squirrels, rabbits or the 'possum). I put the crate inside my homemade garage root cellar, added two new apples and 10 pounds of russet potatoes. Those as well as two nice acorn squash and two medium-sized butternut squash compose my winter veggies to date.

Next it was time to make the chicken salad. I'm using an Ina Garten recipe, but modifying it. She roasted four bone-in chicken breasts and I have only two poached ones (if you remember), so I cut her recipe in half.

So, I cut the chicken into 3/4-inch dice. To that I added 3/8 cup of mayonnaise, 3/4 tablespoons of fresh chopped tarragon leaves, 1/2 cup of fine diced celery, a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. I mixed it well and stuck it in the fridge to cool.

I cut a nice sized slice of that rustic Italian bread I buy every now and then (primarily for eating with soups and stews) and cut that in half. I spread a little mayonnaise on both halves, added a piece of leaf lettuce and then a generous amount of the chicken salad.

Then I wandered in to watch some TV and go to bed. The chicken salad was fantastic, by the way. I had to force myself NOT to make another sandwich! But, I'm still watching my waistline as well as pinching my pennies now, so the rest will be another meal in a day or two.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chilly Sunday

I woke up at 4:00 AM on Sunday. I turned on the small lamp on my night stand and started reading my book. I finished it about 8:30 AM and went out to reheat a cup of coffee (sorry, Carl and Jeremy).

I was filling in the Blog when a friend called. He was complaining that I'd hung up on him yesterday after saying "Oh, shit!" and was worried I'd had a heart attack or something. I explained I'd left the phone off the cradle all day and it ran out of juice in mid-conversation (this happens to my daughter, Melissa all the time). When it was finally charged back up, I figured calling would be stupid, so I didn't.

So, we chatted for a while (mostly me, ranting about our Governor, our President and the state of the economy here in Michigan).

Then I went back and completed the Blog entry just after 11:00 AM. I took out two frozen poached chicken breast from June, when I made some chicken stock, to thaw.

I warmed up more of the pasta for my lunch. I was watching TV when I remembered I wanted to divide the iris out in front, so I put on a light jacket and went outside.

Brrr... I checked the temperature and it was only 45 degrees F! But, I dug out the iris, put them in my wheel barrow and filled in the hole with wood chips. I took them out back and planted them into the rear garden (see photos). Then I went inside to try and get warm. I reheated the last cup of coffee and drank it gratefully.

When I was out back, I saw a nice big green tomato, so I switched my dinner plans from a chicken salad sandwich to fried green tomatoes with a lettuce salad on the side.

I sliced the tomato, dipped each slice in egg and then flour (now that I think about it, maybe it should have been cornmeal) and fried it. I salted it and put it on a paper towel to drain.

I made my lettuce salad and dressed it with vinegar and oil. I went in and watched my Sunday night shows until 11:00 PM, then went to bed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

photo

The iris, now out in the back

photo

The iris in front, after separating...

Saturday's Soup

I woke up just before 6:00 AM on Saturday. I was lazy and read my book until after 8:00 PM. Still in my robe, I went out back and checked the rain gauge and found we got just over one inch of rain here in Redford on Friday.

I went back inside then and ground up some fresh 8'Oclock Colombian coffee beans and made a pot of coffee.

I posted the Blog and a remembrance about the Sea Snark sailboat (God, I had fun in that thing! It's why I still harbor hopes of resurrecting the sailboat out back...)

Jake popped in to replace a network card (or something) in my computer. He was on his way home from a mathematics test at college. When he got it installed, he split.

I washed the bedding and then answered the phone. It was my friend B___ and we talked about options for either him or me in Michigan (either slim or none). I must admit, it is difficult to go from being a Vice-President, with total control over marketing, sales and the life and death of 60+ employees to working part time with no benefits... Where the fu*k did I go wrong? I'm beginning to believe I didn't do anything "wrong," I just got old.

Be that as it may, I warmed up my old employee's pumpkin soup for lunch. It was good but, way too sweet. I will tell her it was great, but for me, I would have added a lot more salt and pepper and maybe thyme.

I took a two hour nap around 4:00 PM. When I woke up, I started making tonight's dinner: split pea soup.

So, I had sorted through a pound of split peas (looking for rocks) Friday night and left them soaking in a big bowl. I rinsed them, drained the peas and let them sit a bit.

Now, if you have a recipe and good ingredients, it's pretty easy to make a great dish. But, I think the art of being a good cook is to figure out how to improvise when you don't have the right ingredients. Here's my dilemma. I have made this soup a hundred times (my Mom loved it). But, I always used a smoked ham hock. I have no ham hock this time, just a 1/2 inch thick ham slice.

So, instead of butter, I saut�ed the onion in bacon fat (for the smoky flavor). Then I added the carrots and celery (both fine diced). After about three minutes, I added two teaspoons of minced garlic and cooked that another half minute or so.

I rinsed off the ham slice (remember, it was too salty the last time) and then tasted a little piece of it. Not bad! I cut it into four large pieces and added it to the pot.

I added the drained peas and some pepper and let that get happy for a few minutes. Then I dumped in eight cups of homemade chicken stock, a bay leaf and some fresh thyme from out back. I let that cook down for about one hour, until the peas were mush.

Meanwhile, I made some cheesy-garlic biscuits. I am not sure where I went off in the weeds with these (I used cold milk and cold butter, like the recipe said. I think I overworked the batter and released too much gluten.) but when they came out of the oven, they were like bricks!

Meanwhile, when the soup was about done, I dug out the four ham pieces and cut them into 1/2 chunks. I reserved them and used my immersion blender to puree the soup. Then I added the ham back in.

I plated a bowl and added two biscuits. I went in to watch "Rio Bravo" an old John Wayne movie that also starred Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan (for some reason, I relate to Walter Brennan these days).

The soup was excellent, the biscuits crap and when the movie was over, I went to bed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

photo

Me and my crew, with the Sea Snark

The Sea Snark - a Rememberance

About a year or two after I divorced my first wife, I saw an ad for a contest from Kool cigarettes. Now, if you are a faithful reader, you know I'd only smoked unfiltered Pall Malls and I hated menthol. But the prize was a 14-foot Sea Snark sail boat, so I sent in my entry.

And, by God, I was one of the winners! I think that's the only thing I ever won (other than the hearts of my two wives). They sent me a letter apologizing, because, they ran out of the green and white sails that said "Kools" on it and had to send me just the plain old Sea Snark sail (Hey, like I wanted a freaking advertisement on my boat?)

I took that bad boy out to Lake Orion and, with the aid of several books from the library (there was no Internet back then) taught myself to sail.

Why am I bringing this up? Because in my packet of precious stuff my Mom saved for me was a photo of me, Amy and Melissa, sailing in front of Waconda.

Now, any experienced sailor would notice two things. The little fluttery flag at the top of the mast is called a "tell-tale." It's to let you know which way the wind blows, so you can adjust the sail. I forget what I made it from, but I remember it had to be silk

"You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows" ~ Bob Dylan.

You might also notice that the boom seems extremely low. That was my fault. The first time I tipped it over (and you do that a lot if you are an aggressive sailor), I almost lost the mast in the lake. I just barely hung on to it with my one hand and I struggled in the water.

So, I drilled a hole in the aluminum mast, put in an eye bolt and secured it to the thwart with a leather dog leash. It sounded logical, but the next time I went a little too fast, too far, and it went over, the mast snapped at the point I'd drilled the hole and had weakened the mast.

Years later, on Palms Road, when I was up against it, I traded it to my neighbor for something or another. And that was the end of the Sea Snark.

See photos...

TGIF, again!

It was raining when I woke up and raining when I went to work. It was raining when I left work at lunchtime and raining when I got back. And, it was raining when I went home at five o'clock. It was a rainy day (God only knows what this is doing to my hairstyle. Oh, wait...).

So, now after like seven or eight weeks, I can finally say, "TGIF!" It will sorta be the last time, since I go on part-time next week. I listened to the Five O'clock Funnies on WCSX and then the "Bang the Drum" song on the way home (I sat in the garage to listen to the end of it). Man, just like the old days!

I'm not really motivated to do big projects tonight, so I putzed around (cleaned off the kitchen table, did a load of laundry, etc.) I also did some of my rehab exercises.

I warmed up the pasta and ate too much of it for dinner. I watched TV and turned in early.

P.S. I went out at 8:00 AM on Saturday and checked my rain gauge. I got just over one inch of rain here on Friday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

It's a gloomy day and I have a gloomy song quote..

"And no one will know my name until it's on the stone."

~ Eels, Your Lucky Day in Hell

Thursday

It was chilly again on Thursday morning. It's supposed to rain later on today and into Friday morning.

I stopped at lunch to pick up my prescriptions at CVS, and then filled up my gas tank at the corner station. I ate some lunch, and then left the house at 12:40 PM to go to therapy. She added a few more exercises to my routine (they always do) and I left there with a rubber band to use at home.

It still wasn't raining when I got back to work at 2:00 PM, so maybe it will hold off until after 5:00 PM.

At five o'clock it was decidedly cloudy, but still not raining. I pulled in, dropped off about eight inches from the blacktop to the shoulder of the road (I keep worrying about my undercarriage and muffler) and grabbed the mail out of the mailbox. I got inside, treated the cats and then changed clothes.

I went and checked the mail I'd retrieved and found (to my surprise) the birthday card I'd sent my great grandson Gavin with a "Return to Sender" sticker on it! I always wondered why nobody down there ever acknowledged that card!

But, since his birthday is September 2, why did it take until October 8 to get it back? Damn, and it was a really cute card, too! Well, maybe I'll send it again next year, lol!

I posted a photo with the actual address blacked out (I got a security-conscious Web master who would freak if I showed that) to let them know that I really did send that card. Apparently, they moved and my daughter Melissa never updated their new address with me... (Well, that makes their Christmas card kinda iffy...) Anyway, sorry Gavin! I tried!

Anyway, it was getting late and I was not feeling so hot. I am pretty sore after therapy (no pain, just a huge ache), so the stuff I was gonna do yesterday and thought I now would do today is now gonna have to wait for the weekend.

I did take out two four-cup containers of old (June 2009) chicken stock and the other (over salted) ham slice to thaw (maybe you remember this ham from a month or two ago). I want to make split pea soup (another of my Mother's and my favorites) this weekend.

I filled in the Blog entry to date and then went to make tonight's dinner.

If you remember, I have some, but not enough, tomatoes to use up and freeze. So, I am going with a simple pasta dish.

I put on some salted water to boil then cooked a pound of farfalle pasta for 11 minutes. Meanwhile I diced 1 1/2 pounds of my plum tomatoes into about 1/2 inch chunks (Man, I love my kitchen scale).

I got my biggest aluminum bowl and put the tomatoes in it. I added six ounces of feta cheese I crumbled (I don't buy the already crumbled feta. Inna Garten says it's too dried out and I believe her.) and a half cup of pitted Kalamata olives I rough chopped.

I went outside and picked some basil. I tore it up until I got about a half cup of it and added it to the bowl. Then I put in 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

When the pasta was done, I drained it (shaking it well) and added it to the bowl. I mixed it all up and plated it. I topped that with some fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

I ate in the bedroom and watched TV until bedtime.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

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Gavin's card, a month later!

Quote of the Day

"The hands that help are holier than the lips that pray."

~ Robert G. Ingersoll

The Blustery Day

I was awakened around 3:00 AM by what sounded like church music. Baffled, I went into the kitchen and found the wind chimes that hang outside next to the kitchen window were going crazy! The wind was gusting and blowing like mad. I debated getting dressed and taking them down, but settled for getting back in bed, putting a pillow over my head and going back to sleep.

When I left for work, I saw the yard was littered with leaves, most of which were still green. They hadn't fallen so much as been ripped off the trees. There were also two good-sized maple limbs down in the front yard. According to the news, there were thousands of homes without power, due to falling limbs.

When I came home for lunch, I picked up the two limbs in the front yard. The wind seemed to have stopped gusting so much and was more like a steady 20 MPH. It was sunny but cool outside, BTW. I noticed that my plastic patio furniture had been tossed about last night as well.

At home after work, the winds were just 12 MPH, so I straighten up the patio and checked the rain gauge. We had a total of just under 1/4 of an inch of rain yesterday, but none today, so I watered the new grass seed.

Back inside, I was just starting the Wednesday night wash (haven't had to do that in like nine weeks now) when the door bell rang. It was Jake and Carla.

They said they had just stopped by to see how things were going. I think they just wanted some of my Labatt's beer (little do they know that within a week or two, it will be just Papst Blue Ribbon). Anyway, we visited, commiserated and planned money-making schemes (up to and including blackmail - look out and you know who you are!)

As they were leaving at about 6:30 PM, I pointed out the old mantle clock (my Grandma's) that had stopped at 5:30 PM. I said, "See, I told you! If it ever stopped, Grandma Goerlich would die! And, now she's dead!"

If you remember, this was a (probably) sicko thing I told the kids when they were young, that if the clock ever stopped, Grandma Goerlich would die. Okay, I am now not proud of that, but at the time (Goerlich weird-ass humor), it struck me as funny.

However, Jake brought me down to earth by saying, "No, Dad... It now seeks another victim. If it stops again, you will be dead..."

Horse-pucky! Nonetheless, the moment they drove off, I rewound it!

I got the laundry started and then went in to see about supper. I ended up warming up the rest of the beef and rice mixture. I watched some TV, but was too tired to stay up for Top Chef at 10:00. Oh well, I'll watch the taped version tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Garbage Day (in oh, so many ways...)

I hit the snooze button on the alarm once, but then got up when I remembered it was garbage day. I put on two cups of coffee, shaved and showered and then got dressed.

I gathered up the last of last night's trash and took three bags out to the road. Now, I normally only have two on the days I don't replace the kitty litter, but the third bag came from the garage cleaning and sorting last week.

Back inside, I got a cup of coffee and watched the Today show for a bit. Then I went into work.

When I left work at lunch, it was sprinkling. The first thing I did was to grab a garden rake and my bag of grass seed. I took those out back and heavily seeded the ground-up stump area. I raked the seed in and then went inside to make some lunch. It's supposed to rain off and on for the next several days, so maybe I can get the new lawn to take without too much watering (and expense) on my part.

By the time I left for my physical therapy appointment, the sun had come back out. At rehab, I was reunited with my old physical therapist, Maureen (see "National Physical Therapy Month" in the Poems section of this website).

She was thrilled to see me again, but I told her, "You are a dear, dear woman to me, but I really hoped I'd never see you again!" She laughed...

So, my doctor had ordered only passive arm movement above my shoulder (active being if I pick it up, passive if she picks it up, you see). She seemed a bit concerned with the length of time between my surgery and the rehab (apparently that's like "old school" thinking). But, after I did the "below my shoulder exercises" I laid down and she slowly raised my arm above my shoulder (first time in almost eight weeks). She said to sing out when I felt pain.

Oddly enough, no matter what she did, it never hurt! She said, "Damn, he is a good doctor!" I reminded her he did my second knee replacement. While we were working, we caught each other up on our lives (it's been like over four years or so). The yearly Irish woman's fund raiser (named after her mother) was last Sunday (It's a chocolate tasting event) and was a big success (although she's still exhausted from it) and her brother (who has Parkinson's and MS) fell and broke his hip two weeks ago.

I forgot to ask her if she ever married her Lithuanian boyfriend, but I have time, I guess...

So, I went back to work. I left there about 3:45 PM to go to a meeting with Human Resources to find out the implications of my recent change of status. It was as I feared: no more benefits, no sick pay, no vacation accumulation, no Holiday pay and a monthly cost for Cobra (to maintain my healthcare for only the next 18 months) of around $400.00 per month.

I walked upstairs after the meeting to the Facilities department. My old friend and ex-employee Michele had written an email to Jake late last week, asking him to contact me and see when she could stop over at lunchtime. He told her I was now back at work.

We had a wonderful hug and exchange of greeting and then she proudly went to a fridge to give me a container of pumpkin soup she wanted to drop off (if you remember, we often swap foods we make). I told her of my new situation and she commiserated. Her husband had his hours and benefits cut just two weeks ago, as well.

When I left there, a bit (no a lot) discouraged (other than that hug), it was raining like hell. So, I slowly drove through standing water and got home about 4:45 PM.

I had plans to do more work around the house, but I really didn't feel like doing it. My shoulder didn't really "hurt" from that workout, but it was sore.

I made Sloppy Joes for dinner and ate them on a couple of sour dough English muffins (I have convinced myself they are healthier than regular hamburger buns). I talked with B___ for a bit, watched some TV and went to bed early.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back to work on Monday, moaning...

The alarm reluctantly dragged me back to the land of the living on Monday morning. It was another rough night. I swear I haven't slept more than two hours in a row since last Thursday.

Despite the weatherman's prediction, it was mostly another gloomy day and never got above the mid 50's here.

At lunchtime, I went to Kroger's to do my grocery shopping. When I got it home, I put away the items that needed to be refrigerated, but left everything else out on the counters.

So, the first thing I did when I got home after work was to put away the remaining groceries. Then I returned my daughter Melissa's call (she had called a little after 4:00 PM, thinking I was still off on medical leave).

We only talked briefly (which was good, I still had stuff to do around here) until Dave got home from work.

After we hung up, I got down to it. I moved all the kitchen chairs, the rolling cart and the trash basket into the living room. Then I swept the kitchen, the downstairs room and the downstairs bathroom.

I filled my bucket with hot water and Top Job (lemon-scented, of course) and washed the bathroom and downstairs floors. I emptied the now disgustingly dirty water and refilled the bucket with fresh soap and water in the kitchen sink. Then I washed the kitchen floor.

So, then I was trapped. I couldn't make or eat supper until the kitchen floor dried. I grabbed my book and lay on the bed and started reading.

A friend called and we talked for a bit. When we hung up, the floor was dry!

By then it was late and I wasn't feeling that ambitious, so I make a can of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. Nothing sounded interesting on TV, so I watched a couple taped shows and then went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday

I awoke, cranky and out of sorts at 4:00 AM. I ignored my brother and son's warnings and reheated yesterday's coffee. I ate the rest of the pot roast cold, topped with horseradish, for breakfast.

It was a grey, gloomy day that seemed to threaten rain (although the Weather Channel didn't mention it). I sat on the couch and read more of Moby Dick, covered with a throw and drinking old coffee.

Luanne called and we caught each other up on what's going on. Stacey (Sadie's younger daughter) had her second child on Friday. It was a boy and they are calling him Caleb Benjamin. Cool name, but he'll probably change it when he's older...

After I shaved and showered, I started the last load of laundry for this weekend.

Around noon, the sun started to peek out. So, I got out the lawn tractor and started cutting the front and back lawn. No, the grass is not that long yet, but the leaves and black walnuts are beginning to pile up.

It did sprinkle a little while I was cutting the back lawn, but I persevered and it stopped. After the lawn was cut, I went and picked all the ripe tomatoes. It was a good amount, but not enough yet to make into sauce. So, I stuck them in the stock pot with some water to wash off the insect dust and will deal with them later.

I went out and blew off the porch, garage apron and most of the driveway. The old widow woman across the street drove in, beeped her horn and we talked for a bit.

I went inside and it was about 3:30 PM. I thought I'd lay down and take a nap, but I couldn't fall asleep. Just as I was about to get up in disgust, my friend B___ called. So, we chatted for a while. He was surprised when I told him I'd cut the grass as he said it had been raining there off and on all day.

I watched a few of the taped weekend cooking shows and then got up to make my own dinner about 6:00 PM. I'd thawed out a pound of ground beef and was debating of what to do with it (Tacos? Enchiladas?) It all seemed too fancy and too spicy.

So, I saut�ed two small yellow onions in a big saucepan. When they were soft, I added some minced garlic. Then I put in the ground beef and browned it. Finally, I put in one cup of long grain rice and two cups of water. I brought it to a boil and then simmered it for 15 minutes with a lid on.

It wasn't until I was serving it that I remembered I also used to add celery and mushrooms. Ah, too late now...

I topped it with soy sauce and went it to watch my Sunday night shows. I went to bed at 10:30 PM.