Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sweet Saturday

During the night, I got up to go to the bathroom and thought the back yard light was on (it was so bright). But, no, it was just the wolf moon (as the Native Americans call it). But, tonight is a special treat as it is not just the full moon in January, but the closest the moon will get to earth in a long while. You could clearly see the features on the moon's "face."

I was smiling when I went back to bed...

I woke up early, posted the Blog and then tried to go back to sleep. I succeeded and woke back up at 8:30 AM. Now I have to hurry a tad as I have a 10:00 AM eye exam appointment.

So, I skipped breakfast (I did manage to sneak in a cup of coffee), shaved, showered and got dressed. Since I had to go out into the cold anyway (18 degrees F. at that time), I had a short list of errands to run.

I got done with the eye exam and picked out some new frames (still blinking and tearing from that damn glaucoma test). Then I headed to Kroger's for a few but much-needed supplies. Since I only had like eight items, I went through the Fast Lane (15 items or less) and got out relatively quickly.

Next came a stop at the Feed Store for some birdseed and then I headed home.

Back home, I brought in the groceries, treated the cats and then lugged the 40 pounds of birdseed out back. I cut it opened, filled the feeder and sprinkled some on the ground for the mourning doves, pigeons and squirrels. By 12:30 PM, I had changed my clothes and started the first load of the weekend wash.

I putzed around for a while, waiting to hang up the laundry. When I did, I put the second load (the bedding) in the dryer. Then I went and watched some new taped TV cooking shows. Somewhere along the way, I fell asleep and took a nice nap.

When I woke up, the dryer had shut off. So, I turned it back on for a bit to fluff the stuff up. Then I pulled it out and remade my bed.

I had just finished that when my friend B___ called. He's remodeling his half-bath off the kitchen. So, he got the wallpaper off, the flooring ripped out down to the sub-floor (he wants to tile it instead of using linoleum).

We happily talked about construction for a bit until we got to handicap toilets. He refuses to put in a handicap toilet because they only come in white and he has some sort of color scheme in mind. He claimed there was only one inch difference (but, while I was on the phone, I checked my two toilets and there was a three inch difference.)

I told him that if you have bad knees, it makes all the difference. But he said since I only come over two or three times a year and don't crap on the toilet anyway, if I ever did, he would personally come in and help pull me off it.

Wow! That's what friends are for!

I warmed up some of that pasta sauce I'd made out of my home-grown tomatoes, hamburger and sweet Italian sausage. The only thing it was missing was mushrooms, so I added a 4-ounce can of them.

Meanwhile I boiled a box of Barrila whole-grain spaghetti. Now, don't get concerned, I'm not going healthy. They were on sale once. So, I mixed the two together, plated some of it and wandered in to watch TV.

At 11:00 PM, I went back to the kitchen and made a brine (one cup water, one cup sugar into one cup boiling water). Once it had dissolved, I added that to my stock pot, inserted a whole chicken and added cold water to cover.

I stuck that out in the garage next to the metal garage door to set for the next twelve hours. Then I went to bed.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Song Snippet

Rock "N" Roll Heart

~ Eric Clapton

I get off on 57 Chevys;
I get off on screaming guitar.
Like the way it hits me every time it hits me.
I've got a rock and roll, I've got a rock and roll heart.

Freakin' Cold Friday

I woke up with the alarm on Friday morning. It was 8 degrees F. here in Redford. The good news is that the stiff wind of the past few days was gone. It was only like 5 MPH from WNW. Still, with the low temps, it was enough to still take your breath away.

We did manage to make it up to a high of 18 degrees F. (8 degrees C. for my Canadian fans). At lunchtime, in spite of the cold, I thought it was important to refill my gas tank (if it gets too low in frigid weather, the little bit of water that always floats on top of the gas can freeze and stop your car, cold!)

It's lucky, I guess, that the cure for my prostate cancer, involving radioactive seeds, eliminated my having more children. For any children conceived today would have been frozen morons...

So, freezing my ass off, I got the tank filled and headed for home. Knowing what cold does to tire pressure, when I got in the garage, I turned on the air compressor.

Inside, the noise from the air compressor had freaked Caley out. So, I treated both her and Scruffy and then went back out to top off the tires. I warmed and ate some soup for lunch and then went back to work.

At 5:00 PM, I wished my co-workers a nice weekend and headed home. I got the mail (nothing much) and then treated the cats again (salmon this time instead of the beef).

Just after 6:30 PM, my son Jeremy called and we chatted for a while. After we hung up, I started thinking seriously about dinner.

Now, I know I was hating on the ham and broccoli cheese casserole. But, since I have more than half of it left I thought I'd give it another try.

Bleech!

But, there was one interesting thing I noticed. When I had cut off the florets for Sadie to make into salad I, for the first time, had reserved the stalks. I peeled them and cut them into, say, 1/2-inch slices (I read this somewhere). So, when I made the casserole, I threw them in as well.

Well, I noticed tonight that they had a much sweeter broccoli taste than the more bitter florets. So, I ate the ham and the stems and threw away the rest. It took two bowls before I was full.

I watched TV until 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Random Thought #3

(Okay, so this got screwed up somehow)

"The more and more my life gets complicated, I have a LOT of trouble deciding just, what, exactly, Jesus would do..."

Random Thought #1

The continental United States is bordered on the south by Mexico and the north by Canada. Other than natural barriers, there is no real border fence to permit crossing in from either north or south.

Now, for decades, we have heard of the Mexican's sneaking in, swimming the Rio Grande, paying "coyotes" to smuggle them in inside trucks, etc., being beaten, robbed, raped and eventually deported once caught.

But it occurred to me today I never, ever heard of a Canadian sneaking into the U.S. (unless it was an Arab terrorist passing through).

I attribute that to the fact that Canada has a national health-care system...

Random Thought #2

There is a BMW commercial they have started airing that poses the question: "When is the last time you did something for the first time?"

I honestly can't remember...

That's sad...

A Repeat of Wednesday's Weather

I woke up after 7:00 AM on Thursday. I checked the weather and was shocked. The high today was 26 degrees F. and that was at midnight. It's been falling ever since. So, at 8:00 PM it was 18 degrees here in Redford, still with that damn high wind (WNW at 21 miles per hour sustained). The only good news is that it was sunny for a change.

But, I am really glad I don't have to go anywhere today!

I posted the Blog entry, made my morning ablutions and ate my daily pills. Then I made a pot of coffee and watched the Today show. I had to laugh at the President's State of the Union outtakes (I deliberately didn't watch it last night as I knew it would just piss me off). Basically what I thought: More promises, especially to the middle class, but nothing accomplished yet. Blah, blah, blah...

I'm sure there were some people who took heart at his speech but, after all these years of political rhetoric, I know bullshit when I hear it...

I watched "Holmes on Homes" on HGTV, which is a show I really like. First off, he reminds me of a guy I used to work construction with, back in the day. And, second, I like how he seems honestly pissed at the shoddy work done by the previous contractor.

At noon, I decided to get going on tonight's dinner. Now, I know (and you know) I still have pot roast and veggies left and there's that whole broccoli, cheese and ham casserole left. But, I just had the roast beef yesterday (twice) and, I am hating on that casserole! So, I want to make my version of Luanne's rice dish.

So, I dug out my Dutch oven (the heavy bottom makes it perfect for browning meat) added two tablespoons (or there about, I eyeball this shit these days) of canola oil. And, when the oil started to smoke, I added a pound of hamburger. I turned it down to medium heat then and browned the hamburger.

I medium-diced two yellow onions, minced two cloves of garlic and medium diced a bunch of celery. When the hamburger was browned, I pulled it off with a slotted spoon and added a tablespoon of butter to the grease.

To that, I added the onions. When they were translucent, I added the garlic and eight ounces of sliced button mushrooms. Here's a tip, when you can smell the garlic, it's ready.

So, I added the hamburger back in, the celery, six cups of water and the whole box of instant brown rice. When it got back to a boil, I slapped the lid on it and set the timer for 12 minutes.

When the timer went off, I opened the lid, fluffed it up and filled a bowl for my lunch. I topped it with some soy sauce and it was delicious!

I celebrated the afternoon by finally watching the DaVinci Code (I've had that unopened movie for at least a couple of years now). Hmmm... really made me think...

I warmed up a bigger bowl of the rice mixture for dinner.

I watched one taped TV show and then a new episode of Sherlock Holmes show on PBS. I went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Windy Wednesday

I went in to my half-day work on Wednesday. It was wicked cold with a strong wind again, but at least we didn't get the 1-2 inches of snow they had forecast. We just got a light dusting here.

I left work at 11:00 AM and drove over to the Human Resources building to drop off my Cobra payment. Since Facilities is in the same building, I went upstairs and gave Michelle her container back. I was glad she spoke up first and cleared up my confusion.

If you remember, she just left it on my desk, with a voicemail telling me to enjoy it. It tasted good, but I never had turkey soup with beans in it. Anyway, when I handed the container back to her, she said "How did you like the turkey chili?" Then I understood the beans...

I headed for home and got there about noon. It was too early for today's mail, but I picked up yesterday's mail. I treated the cats and then changed clothes.

I was hungry, so I used some of the leftover roast beef to make a sandwich for my lunch.

I gave Lu a call to see how they were doing and she asked if I could call back in a while. She was in the middle of making two pans of lasagna (one meat, one veggie) to take over to Sadie's daughter's house, tonight.

So, I set the stovetop timer for 30 minutes and lay down. Unfortunately, I fell asleep and called her back in an hour or so. Sounds like everybody is doing fine down there. They, too, have just had their January thaw but are now back to their version of winter (lows just below freezing but highs in the 50's!)

When we hung up, I cleaned the kitchen counter. While it was drying I suited up and headed out for today's mail. Again, it was really not worth the effort. But I did get a magazine so I heated up a cup of coffee and sat on the couch (fireplace on) and read it from front to back. About half way through, I had to turn the end table light on.

I warmed up the pot roast and veggies for my dinner and ate that again (I used horseradish on the meat). It still tasted good!

I watched TV the rest of the night. I suppose it was the nap, but I managed to stay awake until 1:00 AM. I think both cats appreciated me finally turning off the noise and light and going to sleep.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Christmas in Detroit 2009

The auto companies got their asses kicked
and we were all invited to retire.
Oh you could refuse of course
but then you just got fired.

Fifteen percent unemployment
but that only counts those still on the dole
No mention of those who just had to give up
and watch their bodies separate from their soul.

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,
Merry Christmas to me!
I don't dare spend the money
to buy my kids a tree...

They keep saying it's gonna get better
as they lay off half the teachers...
they cut our basic services
and we rally round the preachers.

So, we eat their thinned-out soups
And never answer the phone
'cause it's the bank or the credit companies
calling in their loans.

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,
Merry Christmas to me!
I don't dare spend the money
to buy my kids a tree...

So, all the Christmas presents
now come from the dollar store
And amongst friends we all agree
no presents, no more.

St. Nicholas, if you exist,
Please hear my prayer
Stop your sleigh at my place
give some toys to the kids who live here.

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,
Merry Christmas to me!
I don't dare spend the money
to buy my kids a tree...

Tuesday (or maybe it's Sunday)

I awoke on Tuesday at about 4:30 AM. I tossed and turned a bit, then reluctantly got up and posted the Blog entry.

I went back to bed and turned off the alarm (set for the garbage pickup). As a result, I woke up about 9:00 AM. I immediately checked outside and found the garbage guys had already been here. Crap! They usually don't pick my stuff up until after noon!!

I made a fresh pot of coffee and drank about three cups, sitting on the couch and ruminating... At my age, I ruminate a lot...

For some reason, I thought it was Sunday, but that didn't matter until later... This working only every now and then really messes with your mind!

I didn't have much to do (the house is clean and all the laundry is done), so I just putzed a while.

Then I went and watched the taped Sunday morning Food network shows. I ate some large curd cottage cheese topped with salt and fresh ground pepper for breakfast/lunch.

I eventually fell asleep and took a two hour nap. When I woke up, I called my friend B___ to see how he was doing.

After we hung up, I started thinking about dinner so I took out that leftover broccoli from the freezer. Now, I do have a small steamer basket, but it's way too little for this amount! So, I put about three inches of water in my small stockpot, turned the burner on high and balanced my metal colander on top of the stockpot.

When the water was boiling, I dumped in the thawed broccoli and added the stockpot lid. While that steamed, I made the cheese sauce.

I melted two tablespoons of butter in my medium saucepan and added in 1/2 cup of fine diced onion. I cooked them until they were translucent and then added three tablespoons of flour. I cooked that for about two minutes and then removed it from the heat. I added in 1 1/2 cups of hot milk (heated up in the microwave) and whisked it in.

I returned it to the heat and brought it back to a simmer. I slowly stirred in two cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. I added the broccoli to the cheese mixture and then added my twist on this casserole recipe: one pound of Morrell cubed ham (I taste-tested it first to judge the salt level. It was fine.)

I put the mixture into a buttered casserole dish. While I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, I crushed up Ritz crackers until I had 1 1/2 cups. I put that into two tablespoons of melted butter and tossed that around.

I topped the casserole with the crackers and put it in the oven for 20 minutes or so (until it was bubbly and lightly browned). I let it cool for a bit and then plated it.

Hmmm... I'm not that impressed. The broccoli flavor overpowers both the cheese and the ham flavors. Crap! There goes another recipe idea...

Because I'd slept in late and had that nap, I stayed up late, going to bed after the Tonight show.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, Monday...

Okay so you remember it was almost 50 degrees and raining yesterday here in Redford, right? Well, when I woke up Monday morning, it was only 36 degrees with occasional snowflakes! Old Man Winter is back and he's pissed! So much for the January thaw!

Going home at lunch, the wind had picked up (20-30 MPH). The icy cold took your breath away! Now it's not a few gentle flakes, its spitting snow out there.

The winds had moderated just a bit when I went home at 5:00 PM. There was more light snow falling (flakes) but they didn't seem so evil, then. Of course, nothing seems so evil when you're "leaving" work.

Once in the house and shedding my coat, I treated the cats, opened up the less than inspiring mail and changed clothes. Then I washed up the crock pot liner and lid and then set them out to air-dry.

I thought about what I could or should do and decided to take the night off.

So, I checked the Turner Movie Channel (one of my favorites) and watched the 1959 version of the Hound of the Baskervilles (a Sherlock Holmes movie starring Peter Cushing).

Somewhere in the middle of it, I paused it to make some dinner. My original plan (given the excess of pot roast-eating yesterday) was to just make a big salad. But the cold and damp (my right shoulder, my right upper thigh and my left knee have been complaining, all day), I decided I wanted something warm.

So, instead, I heated up a can of Campbell's "Bean with Bacon" soup (damn the resultant gastric problems! I ain't going anywhere tomorrow!) And, I added two small packets of oyster crackers to the bowl.

If you remember, I gave away a whole big box of them at my Mother's last anniversary picnic. But when I mentioned that to Jake, he said that was a terrible mistake; they are great in certain soups and chili. Now, I admit that in the past, I have crushed up regular saltine cracker and added them to chili and liked it. But, in soup?

So, I got some more and have been experimenting. In soups that have noodles (chicken or beef noodle soup), it only adds another flour level and I don't like them (changes the broth to glue or something). But in soups with beans or chili, it's pretty good.

Anyway, I went back to the movie and ate a satisfying dinner.

After the movie ended, I watched some taped TV shows until 10:00 PM. Note to Jake: I did watch "Mexican Made Easy" with Marcela Valladolid. She's got beautiful hair, a lovely face and a great butt! And, the food sounded good too!

Note to self: We are now approaching the CaptainK danger zone. With three of my four kids born within two weeks of each other in late October/November, obviously February/March is a problem!

At 10:00 PM, I switched to the latest Anthony Bourdain "No Reservations" show. It was a visit to Brittany in France and was just fascinating! I think I found the place I want to retire to!! Check it out and you will see why. I want to marry Anne Belon, a fifth-generation oyster farmer (Damn, there's that February/March curse, again!)

I went to bed just after 11:00 PM.

Sidebar: In my last telephone conversation with my daughter Melissa, she remarked on how they have moved just about every seven years. She said she loves that: new place, new decorating ideas, throw out the old crap, etc.

I said I have been looking for a home to live and die in since I was like 16. We chatted a bit and realized since she was a young girl, she's moved every now and then since forever, while I had always lived in my "ancestral farm home" my parents bought back in the '30's or '40's. So, we decided it seemed like it depended on how you were raised.

At one point in the conversation, she said, "It sounds like you want to live in the Walton House!" I laughed and said, "You got it!" The idea of three or four generations growing up in the same house really does appeal to me!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I woke up around 3:00 AM for a bathroom break. When I lay back down to sleep, Melissa and my conversation replayed in my head (I dunno why! Maybe I had a dream or something.)

So, anyway, as I was drifting back off to sleep, with Scruffy at my feet and Caley on the other pillow, I said:

"Goodnight, Scruffy" and he said (out the side of my mouth) "Goodnight Papa John!"

"Goodnight, Caley" and she said (in a higher tone of voice, still out the side of my mouth) "Goodnight Papa John!"

"Goodnight, Newt" and he said "Glug, glug..."

I was still laughing when I fell back asleep...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Soggy Sunday

I woke up at the usual weekday time on Sunday morning (which somehow annoyed me). I posted the Blog entry and then tried to fall back asleep (isn't that what weekends are supposed to be all about?)

I did get about another hour's sleep. When I woke up that time, I stripped the bedding, displacing cats as I went. I started the first of two wash loads and then went and had a cup of coffee. I noticed it was raining steady. It's supposed to be a high of 49 degrees F. with rain today. This is our last day of the January thaw. We go back below freezing and with snow starting Monday.

I wanted to make a beef roast in the oven, along with a broccoli and cheese casserole today. But the roast I thawed out was a blade roast, which needs braising to break down the fat. So, I'll have to use the slow cooker.

Still, I'm gonna try a little new twist. I patted it dry and then heavily salted both sides. I covered that with Cling Wrap and put it in the fridge for an hour (that's supposed to make it juicier).

About halfway through the hour, I began to prepare the vegetables. I peeled and quartered Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced carrots and peeled three medium yellow onions. Two onions I left whole and the other one I cut into rings.

Then I assembled them in the slow cooker: First the carrots and two whole onions, a couple of smashed garlic cloves, and then the potatoes.

I took out the roast, patted it dry again and then hit both sides with fresh cracked black pepper. Meanwhile I had a couple of tablespoons of canola oil heating in my largest skillet (this is a big roast!) When the oil was smoking, I put the roast in to get a nice sear (about four minutes per side).

While the roast was getting a crust, I cut two small trays of crimini mushroom into quarters. When the roast was seared, I put it on top the potatoes, added the onion rings to the top and sprinkled in some dried parsley, basil and thyme (I will be so glad when summer comes and I can have fresh herbs growing in my garden again). Then I fit all the mushrooms in, put the lid on the slow cooker, turned it on "low" and checked the time: 10:00 PM. I should be able to eat by 6-7:00 PM.

I swapped out the laundry and had another cup of coffee on the couch. After a bit, I went back to the rest of the housecleaning. I got the office and my bedroom swept and then mopped the wood floors with Endust. I probably looked pretty silly out on the porch in my shorts, shaking off the mop every five minutes. I washed the main bathroom floor, sink and toilet.

There was one self-stick kitchen tile I never could get the mortar from the sink tile off of, so I got the putty knife and slowly peeled it loose. Then I replaced it with one of the leftover ones from when my old landlord tiled the kitchen just prior to me moving in. Looks much better!

The bathroom was dry by 2:00 PM, so I put it all back together. My daughter, Melissa, called just after that, so it worked out just fine. I was ready to take a break. We talked for about an hour and a half and then she got company.

I put on my work pants and my boots, grabbed a shovel and went out front to try and make a channel to drain off some of the driveway water before the rain starts back up (it stopped raining here around 1:00 PM). The shovel didn't work so well, so I traded it for my hoe. I made one on each side (see photos) and the driveway is finally draining a little.

Since I was out there with the camera anyway, I took pictures of the front and back yard.

Back inside, I posted the pictures and then noticed how dry my wood cutting board was (I'd washed it with hot water and dish detergent earlier). So, I seasoned it with food-grade mineral oil (they sell it in drug stores as a laxative). BTW, you all probably already know, but if you use a wood cutting board for, like onions and garlic, you can eliminate the odor by rubbing it with kosher salt and half of a lemon.

I finally got around to making the bed up at 4:30 PM and decided to take a break. BTW, the roast is nowhere near done, but it smells AWESOME!

The bed looked inviting so I thought I'd take a little nap. I woke up after 6:00 PM, so I went to check on dinner (breakfast and lunch, too, come to think of it).

The meat was falling off the bone, so I made up a plate for me and took the rest out to cool. Well, it wasn't the dinner I'd planned, but it was delicious! I ate too much (that's what happens when you skip breakfast and lunch) and then put the rest in the fridge. I filled the slow cooker with warm water to soak overnight.

Content with the day, I wandered in to watch my Sunday night shows.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

photo

Good idea (thanks, and you know who you are)

photo

Back of the house, after the January thaw (January 24, 2010)

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Front of the house, after the January thaw (January 24, 2010)

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Drainage channel, left side (looking at the house from the road)

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Drainage channel, right side (looking at the house from the road)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

To my brother, Carl!!!

Getting Cleaned Up...

I slept in on Saturday. When I got up, I made a fresh small pot of coffee. Then I posted the Blog entry and started on breakfast. That one sandwich last night was clearly not enough!

As I was putting some bacon on my rack, a sudden thought occurred to me: I can't remember the last time I tasted Canadian bacon! Why not? It's as tasty as regular bacon and is much leaner.

Anyway, I baked the bacon (after applying a lot of fresh ground pepper to it), made some grits and two over-easy eggs. I put butter, salt and pepper on the grits (that's how I like them). I ate breakfast listening to Saturday Morning, Over Easy. Both were excellent, BTW.

By 11:00 AM I had cleaned up the kitchen stove and counter and began to clean the house.

By 12:30 PM, the living room was done (except for the glass surfaces), all the kitchen furniture was in the living room (except the table, of course) and the downstairs bathroom, the downstairs and the kitchen had been swept and wet mopped. My right shoulder is killing me from the mopping, BTW. Note to self: When everything else is dry and you do the upstairs bathroom floor, use your left hand, dummy!

Since I have to wait until the floors dry before stirring up any more dust or dirt, I thought it was a good time to take a break and check out the Saturday morning cooking shows. The only one taped that caught my eye was Tyler Florence's Ultimate Austrian dinner of pork schnitzel and mushroom and mustard spaetzel. Then I switched to the Turner Movie Channel and watched the Battle of Britain and then Disney's Long John Silver.

At 4:00 PM, I went back to cleaning... At about 5:30 PM, my friend B___ called. We talked for a bit, commiserated on the states of our economy, Obama's latest moves, etc.

After we hung up, I tried to think of something for dinner that wouldn't upset my stomach (I've been slightly nauseated since Friday morning). I had planned on either pasta with my sweet Italian sausages and hamburger sauce or BLT's. But, I was afraid the tomatoes in either would not go down so well. So, I settled on Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup and saltine crackers.

I watched the news until 8:00 PM and then found an uncut version of Pulp Fiction. I watch it every couple of years to remind myself what a strange, strange person Quentin Tarantino really is...

My favorite part of the many interwoven stories is the tale of Butch's gold watch...

The movie ended at 10:30 PM and I went to bed.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday's Tale

I got up as usual and trudged into work on Friday. It was another day with the high temps above freezing, so the January thaw continues.

After work (and after Banging the Drum) I got home and walked around the yard a bit. It's getting quite sloppy out there!

My son Jeremy called me on his way home from work and we talked until we were both caught up. Then my daughter Melissa called about 7:00 PM and we did the same.

I hung up around 8:30 PM (I was hungry!) and went and made a liverwurst sandwich. I watched TV the rest of the night.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Slacker Thursday

Not too much happened on Thursday, so there was no real reason to post my entry.

I did have my last therapy session. I said goodbye to everyone and got a big hug from Maureen.

I did some laundry but mostly screwed off all day...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Instant Poem

"Does life imitate art?"
"Do I have to shit or only fart?"
What is the more relevant question?

Wednesday

I woke up to the annoying noise of the alarm clock on Wednesday morning. Unlike Monday, this time I got up and went to work...

It was only a high of 32 degrees F. today, but for the first time in a long time, the sun was out! Nice!

After my four hours, I went home and then out back to refill the bird feeder. Much to my disgust, I found the back faucet dripping, creating a huge ice sculpture (see photos). Crap! I wanted to sweep and wet mop the kitchen this afternoon! Now I got more plumbing crap to do!

The joys of home ownership are vastly over-rated!

So, I changed clothes, got my tools and went to find the problem. In order to get to that pipe, I have to disassemble my laundry room area, unscrew a wooden panel and then (and only then) can I check out that outside pipe.

What ticks me off is that in the almost 10 years I've lived here, that damn faucet has never caused me a problem in the cold. WTF?

(God hates me...)

Well, here's a big problem. The outside pipe screws into a soldered joint. And, I only have one pipe wrench. So if I try to unscrew it and buy a new one, I might break the soldered joint. It does have, however, a shut off valve, so I shut it off and will address it come springtime.

Now the back room is torn up, I didn't resolve the problem and its 3:00 PM. Erring on the side of caution, I decided to take a nap.

Regarding God hating me: in Lethal Weapon, Danny Glover says to Mel Gibson. "God hates me!" Mel Gibson answers "Hate Him back, it works for me!" That's sort of my philosophy.

(Just kidding God, if you are listening...)

So, now it's 7:00 PM and I'm hungry. I ate more of the Greek pasta salad for my lunch, BTW. So, I switched to a liverwurst sandwich with hot mustard for dinner. Screw that Mediterranean stuff, this is German food at its finest!

Nothing much was coming on TV, so I watched a movie on DVD: Stigmata. I fell asleep about 3/4 of the way through it. I woke up around 2:00 AM and the TV was all jacked up. I turned off the TV and the cable box for a bit, and then turned it all back on. It seemed to be working but had that text crap showing. I tried to figure out how to turn it off, and then just gave up and went back to bed.

I'll deal with it in the morning...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

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Yet Another Plumbing Problem!

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From Sunday: Frying Chicken Wing Drummettes in Bacon Grease

Tuesday

I awoke before the 6:30 AM alarm. Grumbling, I threw on a shirt and work pants, my leather jacket and my Canadian toque and took the two garbage bags out to the street.

Do you remember Jake asking how my driveway would drain properly with the addition of the slag? Well, now that we are in the (somewhat limited and meandering) January thaw, I know the answer! When the temps get above freezing during the day, the ice and snow start to melt. But, having nowhere to go, I just have a lake by 4:00 PM. Unfortunately, when the temps dip below freezing during the night, the lake turns into an ice-skating rink! I had to walk the garbage out to the road on the grass, so as not to slip and bust my ass on the driveway!

I grabbed the bucket of rock salt and (carefully) hit all the ice in my drive. We'll see if that helps...

I shaved, showered and got dressed for therapy. This may be my last week. While I won't miss the sore muscles, I will miss the therapists and the other patients. I noticed that back in the day (in my twenties with my busted leg). There is some sort of camaraderie of pain...

I stopped at Meijer's on the way home. I hate to admit this, but I noticed a nasty smell last night in the bedroom. I checked, but didn't see any cat barf or poop (or CaptainK barf or poop - hey, shit happens). Then I realized it was coming from my new humidifier (well, relatively new). I took it apart and found the wick filter had all kinds of nasty slimy stuff on it!

So, I went and bought a new wick filter this morning. I cleaned the humidifier with white vinegar, installed the new wick filter and fired it up. Hmmm... smelled bad before, but now it smells like pickles in there... But, at least I'm not introducing mold into the air.

Since I was at Meijer's anyway, I also bought a pint of cherry tomatoes, an English cucumber and eight ounces of chunk Feta cheese. I got a recipe I want to try.

But first, the dripping faucet. I realize I may have been over-cautious in tightening the new faucet control. Why? Because I have learned the hard way that over-tightening can result in the washers (old school) or now the new "O"-rings, distorting and giving you a much-worse leak.

Have I ever mentioned just how much I HATE plumbing?

But, I took it all apart, shut off the water and tightened it another quarter turn. Damn! No drips!!! Score one for the Captain!

So, I started on tonight's dinner. I saw this recipe for a Greek pasta salad. So, I measured out 12 ounces of penne pasta and dropped it in salted, boiling water (I love that kitchen scale!) for nine minutes (al Dente). I drained it in a colander, rinsed it in cold water and then drained it again.

It was just about that time I notice the damn faucet was dripping again. Only about 1/2 the time, but still dripping... Dammit! So, I turned it off again and tightened it a little bit more.

Next, I cut up the cherry tomatoes (the recipe called for them to be halved and then quartered and I would have if these were grape tomatoes, but the cherry tomatoes were just way too small). So, I only cut them in half.

Then I cut off about 3/4 of the English cucumber (the recipe called for a medium cucumber). I cut it in half lengthwise and sliced it about 1/8 inches thick. Then I sliced up five small green onions. Finally, I took about 1/3 cup of pitted, drained Kalamata olives and sliced them in half. I mixed all that along with the now-cold pasta in my biggest bowl.

Then, in a screw-top jar (I save old pasta sauce jars for this) I put in 1/2 cup of good olive oil, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and, (since I have no fresh herbs other than flat leaf parsley) two teaspoons of dried basil (crushed), two teaspoons of dried oregano (crushed), five cloves of fresh garlic (minced), a pinch of Kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. I shook it all up and then drizzled that over the pasta mixture and tossed it to coat.

I put that in my only real Tupperware bowl and covered it. I put it in the fridge (it needs anywhere from two hours to 24 hours to chill). When I want to serve it, I will crumble half the feta cheese over it and toss it.

I warmed up Michelle's soup for my lunch. Hmmm... I'm not sure where she was going with this one. It has a lot of turkey meat, beans and sweet corn. I tried some of it au natural and then added some oyster crackers. It was tasty, but I have no idea what to call it...

I decided to take a nap, so I did. I woke up around 4:30 PM and quickly checked the paper towel I put under the faucet. No drips!!!

I got all dressed up to brave the elements and get the mail. I carefully walked out there and there was nothing. I looked over my shoulder and saw the mail truck about three doors down... I went back inside, finally taking the two new pairs of pants for the paralyzed vets off the porch (Come on, people!) Then, after the mail truck left, I trudged back outside.

Nothing in the mail was worth the effort, BTW.

So, about 7:00 PM, I broke up half of the Feta cheese. Now, we've talked about that before - buying already broken up feta (or blue cheese) seems logical, but the taste suffers. So, I took the 8 ounces of feta cheese, cut it in half and broke that half up. I added it to the Greek pasta salad and plated a big bowl of it.

Holy Moly! That tasted good! It needed more salt, but otherwise it was perfect!! And, I admit the lack of salt was my fault. I figured with the feta cheese and the Kalamata olives; it might already be too salty. But, I figured wrong.

Okay, so try this one. It's damn tasty!

And, I got a lot of it left to enjoy!

I watched a little TV and then read a magazine that came in the mail today. Then I went to sleep, content...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy MLK Day!

I woke up late for work on Monday. I must have shut the alarm off, I guess. So, I was a bit flustered for most of the morning.

My friend Michelle was there earlier and left me a container of turkey soup (thanks!), so I took it home at lunchtime. But, I didn't eat it as I had the last of the Swedish meatballs and noodles, instead.

For dinner I ate the last of the clam chowder and it was delicious! I got the trash all ready for first thing Tuesday morning. I watched some TV but turned in early.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, over easy...

I woke up late on Sunday morning. I made what I'd wanted for several days: thick cut bacon, grits and over-easy eggs. I saved the pan of bacon grease. I warmed up the coffee I'd made yesterday (I know, I know...)

I did the weekend wash and then hung it up. Then I took a nap... I woke up at 6:00 PM. I was a little unnerved as I was unsure if it was really six o'clock on Sunday afternoon or six o'clock Monday morning.

Once I got it sorted out, I turned on the bacon grease. Now, you know and I know I usually marinate my fried chicken in buttermilk. But, I don't have any buttermilk! So, I decided to go with Carla's mother, Acenter's, recipe.

So, I seasoned the chicken wings drummettes with just Lowry's seasoned salt, a little pepper and some garlic powder. Then I put them in the bacon grease. Think about it... bacon grease and chicken wings? How bad can that be?

I ate about half of them watching my Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday...

I awoke at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning. I made a four-cup pot of coffee and hopped in the shower.

I've got a busy day today. Carla called last night and suggested coming over and playing cards or something. I readily agreed, but am not prepared for guests. But, they are supposed to be here at 4:00 PM.

So, I called and rescheduled my eye exam (I didn't really want to go there - I don't like hearing my left eye is too screwed up to correct with lenses to 20-20, which I've heard for several years now...) I've gotten used to being a fat, old, bald guy, but adding blind into the picture just pisses me off!

I did go out to Meijer's, primarily for the cheap bird seed. I went there on Monday and the bird seed was all gone. It was 40 pounds for like 10 bucks. So, I hoped it would be restocked. No such luck. Sorry, birdies...

Anyway, I got some much needed supplies, including russet potatoes (for the famous clam chowder for our dinner), blue corn meal chips and Tostitos " scoops" (which I personally like for dipping). I also bought a big-ass jar of medium heat Tostitos chunky salsa and another of Salsa Con Queso (the cheese thingie).

Back home, I threw out all the leftovers (except for the hot dogs and sauerkraut), Those I made for my bunch. What a gastric mistake!

My stomach was upset the rest of the day...

I started using the electric sweeper at 3:30 PM, when the kids showed up (dammit, they said after 4:00 PM). I apologized and finished up.

They were interested in Hannah's photo album, so we sat on the couch and I tried to explain the pictures. I still need to get her phone number and thank her, BTW.

I showed Jake the mondo amplifier B___ gave me to try and put speakers on the TV (so I can hear it). He said I didn't need it if I was going to use the headphone speaker jack. I said bullshit, I already tried that. But he said did you put in the electric plug for the built-in amplifier? Uh, no... who knew? (I hate it when that kid is always right!) But, now I can blow out the room with my TV sounds! WTF as I supposed to now do with the amplifier?

Carla had brought two packs of chicken legs, but when I said I was planning on the clam chowder, she was all over that. So, I gave her the secret recipe (they both know it) and she went to work... the girl loves to cook!

Well, we played some sort of board game (with the 'scoop's and chips, salsa and the cheese stuff as an appetizer). Now I had tons of money and seemed way ahead and yet Carla won! WTF?

Midway through the game, they both had coffee mugs of clam chowder (my stomach was still too trashed to eat).

Carla (bless her heart) washed up all the pots and pans and stuff before they left and put everything leftover into containers in the fridge. They went home but forgot some mail and the Swedish meatball container (oh well, it will be here for them next time).

I checked on the TV and found another "Celtic Woman" show on PBS. So I watched that and then went to bed.

Okay, last one

Love is Blue

~ Paul Mauriat

LMAO

It was an instrumental...

Anaother one... (I should go to bed...)

"A Boy Named Sue"

~ Johnny Cash

My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me "Sue."

Well, he must o' thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a' lots of folk,
It seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue."

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
I'd roam from town to town to hide my shame.
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I'd search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name.

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry,
I thought I'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon on a street of mud,
There at a table, dealing stud,
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me "Sue."

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn-out picture that my mother'd had,
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old,
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
And I said: "My name is 'Sue!' How do you do!
Now your gonna die!!"

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise,
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a' gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.

I tell ya, I've fought tougher men
But I really can't remember when,
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss,
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first,
He stood there lookin' at me and I saw him smile.

And he said: "Son, this world is rough
And if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn't be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you'd have to get tough or die
And it's the name that helped to make you strong."

He said: "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you "Sue.'"

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
And I think about him, now and then,
Every time I try and every time I win,
And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him
Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!

Lyrics on a more positve note...

Big Bad John

~ Jimmy Dean

Ev'ry mornin' at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six foot six and weighed two forty five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn't give no lip to Big John.
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)

Nobody seemed to know where John called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn't say much, kinda quiet and shy
And if you spoke at all, you just said "Hi" to Big John.

Somebody said he came from New Orleans
Where he got in a fight over a Cajun Queen
And a crashin' blow from a huge right hand
Sent a Loosiana fellow to the Promised Land-Big John
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)

Then came the day at the bottom of the mine
When a timber cracked and men started cryin'
Miners were prayin' and hearts beat fast
And everybody thought that they'd breathed their last-'cept John

Through the dust and the smoke of this man-made hell
Walked a giant of a man that the miners knew well
Grabbed a saggin' timber, gave out with a groan
And like a giant oak tree he just stood there alone-Big John
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)

And with all of his strength he gave a mighty shove
Then a miner yelled out "There's a light up above!"
And twenty men scrambled from a would-be grave
Now there's only one left down there to save-Big John

With jacks and timbers they started back down
Then came that rumble way down in the ground
And then smoke and gas belched out of that mine
Everybody knew it was the end of the line for Big John
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)

Now they never reopened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand
At the bottom of this mine lies a hell of man, Big John
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Morning, Over Easy (yeah, again...)

Workingman's Blues #2

~ Bob Bylan

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over the town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak
The place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf
Come sit down on my knee
You are dearer to me than myself
As you yourself can see
I'm listenin' to the steel rails hum
Got both eyes tight shut
Just sitting here trying to keep the hunger from
Creeping it's way into my gut

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Now, I'm sailin' on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I'll drag 'em all down to hell and I'll stand 'em at the wall
I'll sell 'em to their enemies
I'm tryin' to feed my soul with thought
Gonna sleep off the rest of the day
Sometimes no one wants what we got
Sometimes you can't give it away

Now the place is ringed with countless foes
Some of them may be deaf and dumb
No man, no woman knows
The hour that sorrow will come
In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can hear a lover's breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Well, they burned my barn, they stole my horse
I can't save a dime
I got to be careful, I don't want to be forced
Into a life of continual crime
I can see for myself that the sun is sinking
How I wish you were here to see
Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking
That you have forgotten me?

Now they worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret
They waste your nights and days
Them I will forget
But you I'll remember always
Old memories of you to me have clung
You've wounded me with words
Gonna have to straighten out your tongue
It's all true, everything you have heard

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

In you, my friend, I find no blame
Wanna look in my eyes, please do
No one can ever claim
That I took up arms against you
All across the peaceful sacred fields
They will lay you low
They'll break your horns and slash you with steel
I say it so it must be so

Now I'm down on my luck and I'm black and blue
Gonna give you another chance
I'm all alone and I'm expecting you
To lead me off in a cheerful dance
Got a brand new suit and a brand new wife
I can live on rice and beans
Some people never worked a day in their life
Don't know what work even means

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

T.G.I.F

Back to work again on Friday morning. I did vary the routine at lunch a little, though. Instead of going home and eating something, I went home, set the alarm and took an hour nap. I think I was still tuckered out from all the walking around on Thursday.

Dinner was different, too! Jake gave me some of the Swedish meatballs he and Carla had made a few days ago. So, I boiled some wide egg noodles while the meatballs heated up. I drained the noodles, topped them with the meatballs and had an excellent dinner. There was some herb in either the meatballs or the sauce I couldn't identify (but there always is with those two). Thanks, guys!

I couldn't find anything new on TV that sounded good, so I watched some old re-runs and some taped shows until about 10:00 PM.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Walk on the Wild Side

I woke up with the alarm on Thursday and then shaved and showered. I got dressed and then loaded the car with my camera, winter boots and a watch cap. Then I went to therapy.

What's with the boots, camera and hat? Well, my friend B___ called Wednesday night and invited me to go on a road trip in search of photographic inspiration. If you remember, we would do that occasionally at lunchtime, driving through Hines Park. So, naturally, I jumped at the chance!

After therapy, I headed out to his house and got there around 10:00 AM. We loaded up his vehicle and headed out (well, we had to make a quick trip to the auto parts store to replace a wiper blade that the frozen ice had ripped).

We got off the Expressway at New Baltimore and did a quick stop at St. Mary's cemetery, to pay our respects to his parents and mine (as well as my Brother Pete, Sister Anne and my Sister-in-law Betty.

Then we headed up Dixie Highway (is it still called that?). We remarked over and over about changes that we noticed from when we were kids, new traffic lights, houses that schoolmates lived in, houses we lived in and so on.

Our first stop was the parking lot at a restaurant that used to be called Bud's. I told him that Fran and I lived in a little (and I do mean little) rental cottage when Amy was a toddler, that used to be exactly when we parked. I took several photos of the ice fishing shanties on the lake.

Then we drove up to St. John's Marsh and walked back in it a ways. I took some more photos. We found a muskrat hole and I tried to lure him out by making owl noises, at least until B___ explained no reasonable muskrat would come out of his hole if an owl was there. Well, okay... but I don't know how to make minnow sounds...

We drove by the place in Pearl Beach where Lu and lived briefly. It had just bare studs in the kitchen and I did manage to put in insulation and drywall before we lost it. I heated it with a small wood stove her step-father bought us and Jeremy was just an infant then. We were surrounded by three sides by the marsh. I loved it, but lost it, like most things in my life...

We went by the Harsen's Island Ferry and noticed the ice had clogged the river there. This was the main reason we were here, BTW. B___ had seen that a freighter got stuck in the brash ice off of Algonac and he wanted to see it (the ice, not the freighter - the Coast Guard got it free yesterday). What's brash ice, you may ask? I never heard of it before (and I lived on the damn river for quite a few years). It seems that when the floating ice gets jammed up, it can actually reach the bottom of the St. Clair River and that's called "brash ice."

Well, I had seen that very scenario outside the windows in the home at St. Clair one winter. It took a Coast Guard ice breaker to free the freighter. So, I was interested.

We finally found a spot to pull in and I got some photos of "brash ice." While we were there, there was a ship going up river. I couldn't tell what it was, but B___'s telephoto lens suggested it was a Coast Guard Ice Breaker. So, we headed out up north, through Marine City and then St. Clair (where we all lived for a bit - Jeremy and Lu for a little while, Jake and I until the bitter end).

The water there was much more open (see photos) and, after taking some pictures we waited for the ice breaker to show up. It finally did and I got some good photos for you.

We went by the old house and I could barely look at it. It's weird what they did. Note to Melissa: the bushes I planted in front are tall, but the carved trellis gate has fallen apart! WTF? Why didn't he fix it? Hey, ask him again for the carvings...

We went and had lunch in Marysville around 2:00 PM. I ate too much (I just can't eat that much, anymore) and then we got back on the expressway and headed for his home.

We made a brief stop at his land (the driveway was all overgrown and fallen trees blocked the entry). It was bittersweet. He had bought the 9+ acres back in the day, thinking he would eventually move out there and have a self-sustaining homestead, raising tilapia in the pond and shitake mushrooms in the woods.

At first, he had a big-ass tractor (the Minneapolis Moline) that he eventually sold to me (I think I still owe him for it, but, Jesus, don't remind him) and then a killer big-assed backhoe. Together, he, his dad and I cut down trees, put in a driveway, dug up some of the pond, etc. He already had a well on the property, got the septic field permitted and had electricity put in.

For several years afterwards, I would borrow my neighbor's (Mr. Dupee) Bush Hog, hook it onto the tractor and then drive the four or five miles to B___'s land. I'd cut down all the weeds in the drive, the place where the house was supposed to go and all around the pond. But, he never moved back and now the place is really overgrown.

I know from experience that part of growing old is having to look back with regret...

We reluctantly headed back to his house and, at 3:15 PM, I got in my car and started back home. I also had a high-end (back in the day) amplifier he gave me to try and increase the volume on the TV. It will take some trips to Radio Shack for cables, etc., but maybe I won't miss half the words on my shows. I suppose I should have my hearing checked but I damn sure don't have the money right now for hearing aids!

I loaded the pictures in the computer and sorted through them to find the best ones (I had taken so many my camera's internal memory was full). I posted the best of them to the Blog and then changed clothes.

I was chilled (although it's above freezing (finally) and the snow is starting to melt. So, I added a sweater and got into bed (with the covers) to watch some taped TV shows. I was definitely NOT interested in eating dinner at this point.

At 7:00 PM, I switched to the BBC channel and watched "BBC America News." I've taken a fancy to watch this nightly instead of the usual local network news. It seems like it presents the same stories, but with a more global insight.

After that, I watched a couple more taped shows and went to bed about 9:00 PM (too much walking and adventure today, I suppose). But, I had a great day, today...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

photo

Ice Breaker off the St. Clair park #1

photo

Ice Breaker off the St. Clair park #2

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Ice Breaker off the St. Clair park #3

photo

More open water up in St. Clair (boardwalk at the Palmer Park)

photo

Coast Guard Ice Breaker, Heading Upriver near Algonac

photo

Brash Ice Jamming St. Clair River

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Brash Ice Jamming St. Clair River #2

photo

St. John's Marsh #1

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St. John's Marsh #2

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St. John's Marsh #3

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Ice Shanties on Lake St. Clair

Wednesday Went By...

I shut off the alarm and went back to sleep on Wednesday (hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time), so I had to hustle to get to work on time!

I violated company policy and smuggled in my camera (strictly forbidden - too many concept vehicles, etc.) Why risk it? Because it dawned on me I didn't take a picture of the computer stools I got for Christmas from Joe and Riese (with some help, I'd guess, from Jyl and/or Jer - thanks to all).

So, breaking all the rules, I took two pictures of Riese's stool I'd brought to work (I'm such a rebel!) After my half day at work, I left (with my hidden camera) and headed home. But, first I stopped at CVS to get my other three prescriptions.

Back home, I took two pictures of Joe's stool and then posted them all. In my younger days, I always pictured me as a wise, kind and funny Grandpa with loads of grandchildren underfoot. Well, now I got two of them underfoot, anyway...

Seems wrong to keep stepping on their faces, though... Maybe I'm just a mean Grandpa...

I started the Wednesday wash and then checked the fridge for dinner options. I was gonna go with more stuffed shells when I noticed the thawed hamburger from last weekend's aborted Shepherd's pie. Oh, crap! Well, it's use it or lose it today.

I watched an old Western movie and then took a nap. At 5:00 PM, I started making dinner. I strayed so far from the original recipe, I think I'll just report on what I did, not what I was supposed to do...

I put a splash of extra virgin olive oil into my medium skillet (not because olive oil was important, it's just the closest oil I have to hand). To that I added a pound of hamburger that I broke up with a spatula. I did a medium dice on a medium -sized yellow onion (don't you just love the symmetry?) and put that into the hamburger mix as well.

I peeled the last of the russet potatoes I had in my "root cellar," (I guessing about two pounds), diced them and, filling the large saucepan with cold water and some salt, put them on to boil.

When the onions were softened and the meat browned, I added a couple of cups of frozen Meijer's veggies: peas, carrots and green beans. I put them on top of the meat and onions and added a lid to steam them.

Meanwhile I used a small skillet to cook two tablespoons of butter with two tablespoons of flour (making a roux) for a couple of minutes. Then I added one cup of beef stock (store bought) and two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. I whisked that until it thickened and then let it sit.

Then, I buttered my small casserole dish. The recipe doesn't call for that, but I think it helps with the cleanup...

I poured in the meat and veggies, added the gravy and thoroughly mixed it. By then the potatoes were done, so I mashed them with one egg and some condescend milk. I topped the meat and veggies with the potatoes, moved my oven rack to the second highest setting and turned on the broiler. I turned on the oven light and watched through the window until the peaks of potatoes started browning.

I pulled it out at that time and, letting it rest on the chopping block, took a picture for you.

Sad to say, the taste didn't measure up to the hype. Everything was well seasoned (I tasted it throughout the cooking process) but it was, well, boring... I think I really just don't like Shepherd's Pie.

I watched some lame TV shows and then went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

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Wednesday Nights Shepherd's Pie

Haiti

Man, that earthquake is looking bad!

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Joe's Stool, close up

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Joe's Stool at Home

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Reise's Stool, closeup

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Reise's stool, at work

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I love this one (I use it as my wallpaper)!

Sucky Tuesday

I woke up just before the alarm on Tuesday morning. It was another long night with weird dreams. For a person who either didn't dream or couldn't remember them when I woke up for the last 40 years, this is quite unsettling.

But, I threw my clothes on and got the two bags of trash out to the road. BTW, the new pants for the paralyzed vets are still sitting there. These people should take a hint: if I'd put them in the trash cans at the nearby quarter carwash (where the homeless people routinely search for empty pop or beer bottles) they would have been gone in less than an hour!

Back inside, I undressed and watched the weather channel and then the local news. Once I was clued in on the weather, I showered (no shave today) dressed and headed out to therapy. It was very slippery, BTW.

Maureen incorporated some (not all) of the recommended exercises I did with the Physical Therapist last Thursday. I finished up around 9:00 AM and then went and did my voluntary shoulder exercises on the big machine (I added 10 more pounds this week and barely made it through either of them).

I got home and got changed and started straightening up. I finally had a full dishwasher, so, after running the hot water in the kitchen sink, I added soap and turned it on.

The power went out briefly at 9:50 AM. It came right back on, but I had to reset all the electronic clocks (I hate that).

I heated up four stuffed shells in the microwave and ate them for breakfast/lunch. Damn! Those are good! I ate them watching some TV, hoping for a nap. It didn't happen, though.

I noticed when turning on the hot water, the pressure had diminished again. So, after, giving up on the nap idea, I shut off the hot water to the sink and took apart the faucet control. Oh, oh... bad idea. When I pulled it out, only half of it came with my tug.

I spent at least an hour trying to gently get out the rest of the faucet control. Finally, I got it! Yeah! I made a terrible mess trying to blast out the little chunks of solid chunks (if you remember, I drained my hot water tank last summer to end this shit. Apparently, that didn't work...)

I eventually got the rest of it out, cleaned it up and reassembled it. I put it back in (not easy) and the damn thing leaked. So, I took it out again, reassembled it and it still didn't work. I tried at least 10 more times, before I gave up in disgust at 3:45 PM. I dug out my file box that had all my purchase's information, found the faucet stuff and set it on the counter. I guess this means a trip to Westland and the Lowe's store. Since, if you turn on just the cold water, it blasts out of the hot water faucet hole, this is something I really need to fix. I do kinda need the kitchen sink.

So, there goes the ToDo list for this afternoon...

(sigh... I was really hoping for just some good movie and a nice nap today).

So, I headed out into rush-hour traffic. I got to Lowe's at about 5:30 PM and was amazed! Back in the day, B___ and I used to go there routinely at lunch hour and it was always packed. I've also gone there on Saturday and it was also a hot mess. But, tonight, there was like five people there!!

I found what I thought was the perfect replacement, but the numbers didn't match up. So, I called for an associate and he said the stamped numbers were the date they were made, not the part number (who knew?) So, I give them eight bucks and started for home.

I got back home, got the mail and then treated the cats. Then I tried to install the new assembly. It was difficult (the "O" rings are obviously new) but I finally got it. I turned on the water and it was okay!!

Thanks, God!

It was about 7:00 PM when I thought about dinner. I have been researching hot dogs (believe it or not). Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_dog_variations. It's kinda weird that a Coney dog in Detroit is not the same as one in, say, Flint, Michigan.

I, however, want a true New York style dog; which is a steamed natural casing hot dog, topped with just yellow mustard and sauerkraut. So, I put a bag of sauerkraut in a pot and topped them with Koegle's Vienna hot dogs (you need the natural casings for that "snap" when you bite into them). I let the warming sauerkraut steam the dogs and then, finally plated two of them.

It was a long, annoying day, so I gratefully turned in just before 10:00 PM.

My Favorite Enya Song, Revisted...

Fallen Embers

Lyrics by Roma Ryan

Once, as my heart remembers
all the stars were fallen embers.
Once, when night seemed forever
I was with you.

Once, in the care of morning
in the air was all belonging,
Once, when that day was dawning
I was with you.

How far we are from morning,
how far we are
and the stars
shining through the darkness,
falling in the air.


Once, as the night was leaving
into us our dreams were weaving.
Once all dreams were worth keeping.
I was with you.

Once, when our hearts were singing,
I was with you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back to the Semi-weekly Grind...

I kept having these bad dreams Sunday night. They would wake me up, I'd go to the bathroom, but then they would start up where they left off. Weird...

I finally gave up and got up at 5:15 AM. I filled in the Blog and then watched the news. They said it was "light" snow right then and maybe (just maybe) an inch total today. This is all brought to us courtesy of an Alberta Clipper (thanks, Babe!)

Oh, BTW, I solved the mystery by watching the Weather Channel (I typically watch both the local and the national weather). The jet steam doesn't dip until EAST of Alberta, which is why CC's weather is about the same as Melissa's.

Anyway, I got done with my morning rituals and headed to work. Now, maybe like you, I am experiencing some confusion these days between all the new terms: "snow showers," "snow flurries" and "light snow," but my wipers were having a tough time keeping it off! It was very, VERY slippery and it took me twice as long to get to work!

Okay, so that only means five minutes unlike 2 1/2. But, it was bad, man!

At 11:00 AM, I went to Meijer's for my two-week grocery shopping and spent $60.38. That freakin' Alberta Clipper wind is just nasty! It was actually hard to breathe!

On the way back from home to work at lunchtime, I stopped and filled up my gas tank. WTF? When did gas go up like 50 cents per gallon? I must have missed that! But, I only fill the gas tank up once or twice a month, these days... With no visits to Mom or doctor appointments, I just don't use that much.

The snow lessened throughout the day, but it was still snowing when I headed home. I had to scrape the windows before pulling out.

Back home, I changed clothes and tided up. I went through the mail and checked out the grocery fliers.

Oh, I forgot to mention the Paralyzed Veterans had called me on Saturday. Now, yes, I am ticked with them because, after sending a donation, I started getting all kinds of mail, email and phone calls for various other charities. I am sure they sold my email and phone number to other charities. Okay, okay, I get it, it's another way to help, but it really pissed me off.

Anyway, she said they would be coming through Redford on Monday and did I have any "gently used" clothing to donate. I said, no, but I have two brand new pairs of pants I bought that were too big that I would be happy to donate. She told me to put them in a baggie on the front porch with a tag and they would pick them up.

She called again on Sunday to remind me (which kinda annoyed me as I'd already had them set to go). But I said sure, they'll be out there.

So, I put them out on the porch at 7:00 AM on Monday. They were still here when I came home from lunch and still there when I came home after work. I just checked at 7:30 PM and they are still there... So much for charity...

So, I had taken the Jumbo shells out and brought them up to room temperature. I carefully separated them out, discarding the ripped ones (trust me when I tell you this: the recipes call for 25 shells. But, make the whole damn box as a bunch of them are already broken or they fall apart in cooking).

Then I made the filling by combining two eggs slightly beaten, the 15 ounces of ricotta cheese (bought today), one cup of shredded mozzarella, 3/4 cup of shredded Parmesan, one cup of coarse chopped walnuts, one tablespoon of fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1/2 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.

Away, the next problem was the call for a three-quart baking dish. I ain't got one that big. So, I used a rectangular cake pan. I sprayed it with non-stick cooking spray (to facilitate cleanup) and then put down a layer of store-bought pasta sauce. I used Prego Chunky Garden (tomato, onion and garlic) because all my homemade stuff has ground beef and/or sausage in it. Now, you could make your own, but why bother? The sauce is not the star of this show.

I managed to fill twenty-four of them with a heaping tablespoon of filling and fit them into the pan (single layer). I dumped the rest of the jarred pasta sauce over top of them and then sprinkled on another half cup of mozzarella and a quarter cup of the Parmesan. I covered the pan with tinfoil and put it in the oven for 45 minutes (at 8:30 PM).

Now, I must confess, I'd bought a baguette at Meijer's, intending on making garlic bread. But, it's late, I'm tired and I don't give a shit about it, anymore... So, I just cut off about 1/3 of the baguette, cut it in half length-wise, drizzled it with olive oil and stuck it in the toaster oven on broil.

When it was starting to toast, I pulled it out and rubbed the toasted side with a big fat clove of garlic. I let those sit while I pulled out the stuffed shells, and let everybody rest for a bit.

Then I plated them. Was it worth the wait? Definitely! I've had stuff shells before (rarely) and, when the filling included spinach or something, found the taste heavenly, but the texture sucked (just a cheesy, gooey mess). But, in this dish, the walnuts provided a much needed "crunch." This recipe goes into the binder!!

I watched some taped TV shows (Monday night on cable is usually a wasteland) but gave it up at 9:30 PM and went to bed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Okay, so Foodie Joke Revisited...

WTF? No comments???

That was damn funny!

I have a Muse and her name is Bouche?

Jesus, people!

Strange Sunday

Okay, so it's Sunday morning and, as I mentioned, I got no Internet connection on my computer. But, when my Administrator called back, he talked me through the problem (simple, really... Not sure why I didn't catch that).

Anyway, I finally checked my email and found one from my son Jeremy, telling me that he and the family would be here at 10:00 AM! Yikes!! I thought they would come around 2:00 or 3:00! I'd planned a nice dinner for them!! Now what the hell do I do?

I thought briefly about making some scones or cinnamon rolls, but I'm not much of a baker. So, I went with the pecan pie I'd planned for Lu and Sadie (but they weren't here long enough).

So, I made the pie dough with six ounces of flour, one stick of butter (cut into small chunks) and ice water added until I had the right texture (you would double this if you were making a pie crust on the top and bottom). Basically, the ratio is three parts flour; two parts fat (butter or lard) and one part water. I mixed it by hand and it's important that the fat is very cold, that you work quickly and that you don't knead it or squeeze it. I put the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes while I made the filling.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F. Then I coarsely chopped 1 1/4 cups of pecans and set them aside. In a medium bowl, I combined four large eggs and 1/2 cup of sugar, by whisking. Then I added one cup of dark Karo (corn) syrup, 1/2 cup of light Karo syrup and one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. I added in the chopped pecans and stirred it.

Meanwhile, I took out the pie crust and, on a floured board, I rolled it into a 12-inch round. I put that into my glass pie plate and, using kitchen scissors, cut it about one half inch longer than the edge. Then, using two fingers on my right hand and one on my left, I pressed the excess dough into a pretty pie crust. I poured the filling in and then took perfect pecan halves and arranged them on the top. It looked REALLY good! (I wish I would have taken a picture of it for you).

I put that in the oven and set the timer for 55 minutes. About 3/4 of the way through the baking process, Jeremy and his kids showed up. They had their cats "fixed" yesterday and Jyl was babysitting them.

They brought me my Christmas gifts, two angled stools (perfect for computer work!) one with Riese's photo and samples of her school work and the other from Joe, with his picture and school work, both decoupaged in. So, one will go in the office and one I'll take to work. Thanks, guys!

The timer went off and I checked the pie. It was done, but the crust was a bit overcooked. So, I pulled it out and let it cool.

We sat and chatted for a while. Jeremy and myself had some of the 12 cups of coffee I'd made (fresh ground Columbian beans, BTW). Unfortunately, I only had evaporated milk for him (sorry).

At one point, Riese wanted to go out back, so I lent her my boots (she came here with flip-flops on - go figure...)

So, even though it was still warm (it was supposed to cool completely before eating), I served up the pie. They all said it was good, but I dunno. No way should a Type 2 diabetic eat anything like that! I searched around and finally found a tin pie plate to send the last two pieces home with them (Jeremy had two, but who's counting?) I hope that Jyl got at least one piece of it...

They left around noon and I sat down on the couch to finish the magazine I was reading.

Jake called and he described the dinner for tonight: Swedish meatballs served on mashed potatoes and some quick pickled cucumbers. As I told him, I have eaten Swedish meatballs all my life and only had them served on top of wide egg noodles. But, when I thought about it, the Swedish meatballs are served with gravy, so mashed potatoes made some kind of sense.

Did I mention I love Swedish meatballs?

But, what interested me were the quick pickled cucumbers. Why? Because I have most of an English (seedless) cucumber left from Sadie's salad.

I got a phone call from Melissa and another phone call from my friend, B___ in the afternoon, both just checking in.

I checked out the pickle recipe and pared it down (only having 3/4 of the cucumber left).

So, I put one cup of white vinegar and 3/4 cup of sugar on a sauce pan. I have no allspice seeds in-house, so I added a pinch of ground allspice. I slowly simmered that, whisking occasionally and, when the sugar dissolved, I moved it off the heat to cool.

So, I took my mandoline and set it to 1/8 inch. I ran though the cucumber and then 1/2 of a red onion. I salted the onions and cukes and let them sit a bit then I dumped the pickling juice over top of them. I mixed them all together and put them in the fridge for four hours. Hmmm... should be ready just about the time I want to go to bed!

Then I started on my Sunday supper: Cheese and Nut Stuffed Shells. This was another one I'd thought of for Sadie and Lu and then was going to serve to Jeremy's family today. So, to heck with them all, I'll eat 'em myself!!

I carefully boiled the box of jumbo shells, drained them, rinsed them in cold water and set them aside. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F.

It was when I was getting out the cheese to make the stuffing I realized my mistake! I had the shredded mozzarella and the shredded Parmesan, but couldn't find the ricotta. Then I remembered that, when I bought the stuff for the ladies' visit, Kroger's was out of ricotta. I figured I'd pick some up somewhere else, but I never did! It's a darn good thing it worked out I didn't try and make it for anyone, because I would have looked as stupid as I felt!!

So, I put the cooked shells in the fridge (it occurred to me much later I probably should have tossed them in olive oil first, to prevent them sticking together, but I didn't). I heated up a can of Hormel chili (grumbling to myself) and ate that watching the first of my Sunday shows. I left the third show to be taped and went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday's Post (a little late)

I must apologize for the lateness of this post. Unfortunately Caley (I assume) got behind the computer and disconnected 6 plugs. I tried to fix it but ultimately ended up calling my Administrator as I could not connect to the Internet. He explained how I got into the weeds and now we are good to go!

Anyway...

I woke up at 7:10 AM on Saturday, but stayed, snug and warm under the covers until almost 8:00 when my Muse called me to the computer and my writing. My Muse's name is Bouche, BTW (that's a Foodie joke, LOL!)

I finished up the rather lengthy Blog entry and then put on a pot of coffee. It was 14 degrees here with a predicted high of 22 degrees (the 10 mile an hour North wind makes it feel like 1 degree, but I won't mention wind chill as neither B___ nor Jake believe in that). Also, after Amy's comment, I suppose I can't solicit much sympathy, but let's review the highs and lows of our various other weather sites today:

Richmond, VA (Lu and Sadie) Partly Cloudy 38� / 18�
Charlotte, NC (my daughter Melissa and Dave) Partly Cloudy 37� / 18�
Rogers, MN (my daughter Amy and her Carl's) Fair 11� / -1�
Port Huron, MI (my son Jeremy) Light Snow 21� / 10�
Calgary, Canada (my friend Canada Cathy) Mostly Cloudy 34� / 26�

So, once again Amy wins (or loses) in the cold weather contest. And, it's pretty obvious, moving South won't help you this year. Thank God I don't drink Florida orange juice!

The cats now awake, I stripped the bedding and started the weekend wash. Then I, sipping coffee, started thinking about some breakfast. So, I made myself an egg sandwich (actually two of them). I scrambled the eggs and then, while they were resting, topped them with two slices of American cheese. I had toasted two slices of bread and when they were done, I slathered them with mayonnaise. I put half the eggs and cheese on the bread, added a little salt and ate them watching TV. When I was finished with that sandwich, I repeated the process and ate the other one.

I started the final load of laundry and made my bed up. I finally got into the shower after 11:00 PM!

I took out some hamburger to thaw, having a vague idea of making a shepherd's pie. Then I watched a movie and took a long nap.

I was not inspired about making dinner, so I put the thawed hamburger in the fridge. Instead, I ate cheese and crackers for dinner and went to bed early.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

On Aging...

I was just watching a movie and there was a commercial for ITT, telling me it was not too late and, with education, I could become what I wanted to be.

Well, once I moved into the crazy business world, I decided what I wanted to be was a vice-president. It wasn't easy, but I did that over ten years ago.

That got taken away with the sale of the company.

Now all I want to do is to hang on to my house.

You got a course for that, ITT?

T.G.I.F. and the CaptainK Suckometer

I woke up just before the alarm went off at 5:30 AM on Friday. I looked outside and the snow didn't look as bad as I thought it would. However, the list of school closings and traffic accidents on the local news was intimidating.

I shaved and showered, dressed for work and then, after my first cup of coffee and a quick check of the top stories on the Today Show, I headed out to work. I did manage to climb up the slag and get onto the road (one of my biggest worries), so, a slipping and a sliding, I made my one mile commute to work. Nothing was salted or plowed around here. I heard the Township ain't got the money for a lot of salt...

The sun was out when I went home for lunch. The trees in the back were beautiful, so I snapped a picture for you. I also took a ruler out to the middle of the driveway (no drifts, yet) and checked the snow depth. We got about 3 1/2 inches of snow with this storm, here in beautiful Redford.

Back home at 5:15 PM after work, I was easing into my weekend mode. The wind had picked up, BTW. I changed clothes and started the first weekend wash. Next I started writing both my ToDo List and the grocery shopping list. I posted the picture I'd taken at lunch of the evergreens and the snow.

I put the clothes in the dryer and set the timer (so they don't wrinkle). For some odd reason, my washer has a buzzer you can set, either telling you when to put in the fabric softener (I don't care, I use dryer sheets) or when the load is done (I leave that on to remind myself). But the dryer makes no sound at all, so if you forget to check, you can end up with a very wrinkly mess of clothes.

So, about 7:00 PM, I started on my Vietnamese Prawn and Glass Noodle Salad. I made a few mistakes here and there, but I will mention then within the tale.

I started with the dressing. To make the dressing you combine one tablespoon of minced ginger and one clove of garlic, minced (I used the microplane, of course). Add to that two large red chilies, diced fine. (Okay, I couldn't find the kind she used, so I voted for and used dried red pepper flakes - you want warmth, not heat, BTW). Then I added the juice of half a lime, two tablespoons of fish sauce (if you can't find fish sauce, use a light soy sauce with a splash of vinegar) and two tablespoons of water.

Mix in 1 1/2 teaspoon of canola oil and a splash of sesame oil. Add a teaspoon of sugar and whisk. You dress one cup of small, cooked shrimp (tails off) with two tablespoons of the dressing and let them marinate.

Next make the noodles according to the package instructions. Mine called for putting them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them, then letting them sit for 15 minutes. First mistake: It was a small package so I used the entire thing. But this is supposed to be an individual salad, so I ended up with far too many noodles when they reconstituted.

I put four ounces (a handful) of fresh sugar snap peas and another handful of bean sprouts in a colander and poured an entire teakettle of boiling water over them. I immediately put the colander into ice water to shock the veggies.

I let them drain while I refreshed the noodles by draining them and running them under cold water. While everything drained, I finished up the rest of the ingredients.

I finely sliced four medium scallions (green and white) and set them in a big mixing bowl.

Second mistake: The recipe called for 1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro (most used in the dish, but a few sprinkles used for garnish). But, I dislike cilantro. Okay, I plain hate it! I detest the smell of it and the taste of it (makes it hard to follow a Southwest or Mexican food recipe, BTW).

So, I'd planned on using my fresh parsley in the fridge as a substitute. But when I went to get it out, I couldn't find it! Somewhere in the leaving of the ladies and cleaning out the fridge, it must have got tossed.

Third mistake: I should have just added, say, 1/4 cup of dried parsley to the dressing. Instead, I just said to hell with it and proceeded to assemble the salad. In the bowl with the scallions, I added half of the noodles, the shrimp, the sugar snap peas and the bean sprouts. I added two more tablespoons of the dressing, tasted and added two more.

Was it good? Definitely, but...

It was missing 'something" (I believe it was the fresh herbs). The second dish I ate I added salt too and that seemed to help (maybe it needed more fish sauce - the only source of salt in this dish).

Rating: on the CaptainK Suckometer, this was probably just a one. I will definitely make this again, as it's light and very refreshing. The crunch cf the sugar snap peas and bean sprouts was great!

I ate that watching some TV but, having missed my nap, I called it an early night at 9:30.

Friday, January 8, 2010

photo

Friday at noon, out the back window

Snow Day...

I woke up on Thursday at 6:00 AM without the alarm (set for 7:30 AM). Other than a few bathroom breaks, I'd slept the whole night through and felt GREAT! I filled in the rather extensive Blog entry and then put a pot of coffee on.

I made it to therapy by 9:00 AM. This is an evaluation day for me, so I was seen by one of the physical therapists instead of Maureen. He put me through all the normal exercises and added six more (groan). He suggested at least another two or three weeks of therapy.

I didn't get out of there until after 10:30 AM, so it was almost 11:00 when I got back home. It was just starting to lightly snow, BTW.

Today is supposed to be the first real snowstorm of this winter. Oh, we've been threatened a time or two, but it's always slipped on by south of us. But today, it looks like the real deal. They say by the time it's over some time tomorrow morning, there will be 6+ inches in, say, Monroe (where Carla works), 4-6 inches here (where I live), 2-4 inches in Mt. Clemens (where B___ and my brothers live) and almost nothing in Port Huron (where Jeremy lives). However, Port Huron will then be vulnerable to lake-effect snow AFTER the front moves through and the winds blow hard from northern Canada.

But, today's first item of business was to clean up the remaining mess from last night's soup.

That done, it was time to take an inventory to see what, if anything, I will need to shop for this weekend. So far, the only things I have in short supply are tomato paste and toilet paper. Now, I must tell you, I had enough toilet paper to last "me" a month or so when the Christmas holiday started. It always amazes me just how much toilet paper two women can go through in less than one week! I can't imagine this (or maybe I can, but just don't want to think about it...)

I noticed the squirrels and birds were very busy chowing down before the oncoming storm. I took a picture through the bathroom window for you. Don't forget you can click on it to enlarge it and then use your Browser's "return" button to get back to the Blog.

I watched "300" again this afternoon. But, I must have clicked on something or another, because, instead of just the movie, it was the directors talking about the movie throughout. I tried everything, but couldn't make it stop. It was more annoying than entertaining.

I put on some water to boil for the Vietnamese dinner, but then decided to hell with it. I ate another big salad and some of the aged, sharp Pinconning cheese and crackers for my dinner tonight. I figure the salad bag has only a day or two left...

It was still snowing when I went out to get the mail. It's not big flakes or a heavy snow, just light and, well, insistent.

Just by chance, the "Unforgiven" with Clint Eastwood was on again tonight so I watched that. I have to remember to take the Grand Torino tape back to work tomorrow.

At 10:00 PM, when my thermostat reset itself (I turned that back on after the ladies left) I opened the furnace and replaced the filters. I was a little disappointed that they looked so clean, but it was time (according to the calendar).

At the 11:00 PM news, it seems the storm has shifted and the northern suburbs (where B___ and my brothers live) will get more snow than me. Sorry, guys! I read a magazine I got in the mail today until I felt tired and then went to sleep.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

photo

All the birds, pigging out before the storm hits!

Another Soup Day

I got up with the alarm at 5:30 AM on Wednesday and this time I stayed up! I shaved showered, got dressed and got to work just after 7:00 AM.

After work (at 11:00 AM) I went to Westborn to pick up a few items I needed. I made an impulse buy of liver sausage (or Braunschweiger or liverwurst or whatever you call it in your house). The rest of my purchases were half a pound of cooked shrimp, scallions, an onion, some bean sprouts and sugar snap peas, garlic and oriental cellophane noodles. Yes, you probably guessed it; I am making a Vietnamese dish for dinner on Thursday. I also picked up more bread and a hunk of sharp, aged Pinconning cheese (cut from a round).

Back home, I took care of the little things I'd ignored on Tuesday: I emptied the dishwasher and then cut up the moldy loaf of rustic Italian bread into cubes. Then I went out and spread the cubes under the birdfeeder and also filled said birdfeeder with seed.

Since I had my boots, hat and coat on, I put a Happy Birthday card addressed to my sister-in-law Jean in the mail box. Then I heavily salted the garage apron (between my car and Lu's Explorer, we'd packed the snow down and it had froze into ice). Since it was almost 29 degrees F. today, I wanted to get it clear before the big snowstorm predicted for Thursday night into Friday.

Since i was already dressed warm, I fired up the air compressor and filled up the tires on the car (anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds under-inflated), the tires on the trailer Jake and Carla gave me and the tires on the riding mower (the cold seems to suck the air out of tires here in Michigan).

Back inside, I made a liverwurst sandwich for my lunch. Now, I admit, they have never tasted the same since I can no longer find Plochmann's Hot Mustard (missing from my grocery shelves for at least 10 years - I grew up on that stuff!) But, I used coarse-grain Deli mustard with horseradish and it was damn good!

It was after 1:00 PM when I decided to take a break. We had talked about Clint Eastwood movies at work on Monday. I mentioned "Unforgiven" and Don, a fellow Program Manager, said he'd never seen it. He said the last Eastwood movie he's seen was "Gran Torino" and I said I'd never seen that one. So, today, he brought in a DVD of it he'd bought, for me to watch.

So, I put it in the DVD player and watched it this afternoon. Eastwood was a crusty, bigoted, retired Ford auto worker and recent widower who slowly becomes involved with the Hmong people who've moved in next door. It was excellent, BTW.

When that finished, I started on tonight's dinner: Homemade tomato soup. I'd really rather make my Vietnamese dinner, but the quart of whole milk I'd bought has an expiration date of today, so soup it is... This is one of meals I'd planned for Lu and Sadie, but they weren't here for dinner all that much...

So, I poured a quart of whole milk in my Dutch oven and slowly heated it up (be careful not to scald the milk). Now, the recipe calls for putting the following items in the food processor and pureeing it but I hate cleaning that damn thing. I use it when I must, but decided this could be done in a big bowl with the immersion blender.

So, in the big bowl, I put three (14 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes (drained), two rounded tablespoons of tomato paste, one medium onion (fine-diced), salt, pepper, one teaspoon of sugar, four tablespoons all-purpose flour, two tablespoons of butter (cut up into pieces), one stalk of celery (fine diced) and a clove of garlic, also fine-diced. Note: If you were using a food processor, all of the fine-diced above could have been rough-chopped, instead. I pureed that as best I could with the immersion blender.

I added that to the hot milk and, again, hit it with the immersion blender. I brought the mixture up to a boil, and then cut the heat to simmer it for 15 minutes.

While that was working, I make the grilled cheese sandwich that I planned on going with it. I buttered two slices of bread and stuffed it with the Havarti cheese. Note: I think the most important point of a good grilled cheese sandwich is the "gooey-ness" factor. That's why most people use American cheese (because it melts so well). But, so does, say, provolone or Havarti. So, I'm going upscale here.

When the outside was a perfect golden brown and the inside a gooey mess, I pulled it from the skillet. I set it on the cutting board and cut an "X" into it, making four triangle shapes. I took that and a big bowl of soup into the bedroom to watch TV.

I alternated between eating spoonfuls of soup alone or dunking the grilled cheese triangles into the soup and then eating them. The sandwich bites were excellent and the soup taste was perfect. However, having grown up on Campbell's tomato soup, the texture seemed odd. Maybe I should have used the food processor or maybe that's just something you deal with in homemade soup...

I watched TV until 11:00 PM and then went to bed (after setting the alarm).