Sunday, February 28, 2010

SHIT!!!

Now I gotta buy some alphabet soup...

Groan...

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Icicle Pictures #1

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Icicle Pictures #2

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Icicle Pictures #3

Hit Somebody!

In keeping with today's hockey theme, I thought I'd post the lyrics to one of favorite Warren Zevon songs!

Hit Somebody (the hockey song)

~ Warren Zevon

He was born in Big Beaver by the borderline
He started playing hockey by the time he was nine
His dad took the hose and froze the back yard
And Little Buddy dreamed he was Rocket Richard
He grew up big and he grew up tough
He saw himself scoring for the Wings or Canucks
But he wasn't that good with a puck

Buddy's real talent was beating people up
His heart wasn't in it but the crowd ate it up
Through pee-wee's and juniors, midgets and mites
He must have racked up more than three hundred fights
A scout from the flames came down from Saskatoon
Said, "There's always room on our team for a goon
Son, we've always got room for a goon"

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Brains over brawn--that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

Hit somebody! was what the crowd roared
When Buddy the goon came over the boards
"Coach," he'd say, "I wanna score goals"
The coach said, "Buddy, remember your role,
The fast guys get paid, they shoot, and they score
Protect them, Buddy, that's what you're here for

Protection is what you're here for
Protection--it's the stars who score
Protection--go and kick somebody's ass
Protection--don't put the biscuit in the basket just
Hit some, Buddy! it rang in his ears
Blood on the ice ran down through the years
The king of the goons with a box for a throne
A thousand stitches and broken bones
He never lost a fight on his icy patrol
But deep inside, Buddy only dreamed of a goal
He just wanted one damn goal

There were Swedes at the blue line
Finns at the red
A Russian with a stick heading straight for his head
Brains over Brawn--that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

In his final season, on his final night
Buddy and a Finn goon were pegged for a fight
Thirty seconds left, the puck took a roll
And suddenly Buddy had a shot on goal

The goalie committed, Buddy picked his spot
Twenty years of waiting went into that shot
The fans jumped up, the Finn jumped too
And cold-cocked Buddy on his followthrough
The big man crumbled but he felt all right
'Cause the last thing he saw
was the flashing red light
He saw that heavenly light

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Take care of your teeth--that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

What a Drip!

I did manage to fall back asleep (finally) and woke up at 9:00 AM. However, my sleep was filled with troubling dreams.

I was just getting into my morning routine when my daughter Melissa called. We talked until after 12:00 PM! So, finally I had my breakfast: a heavily salted grapefruit and a cup of fresh coffee. I turned on the Olympics and watched Poland get its first woman's gold medal ever (it was in a long distance skiing event). Oh, I ate an entire clump of red grapes while I was at it... Look at me, Mr. Natural!

After that, I figured it was time to fix the kitchen faucet. Now, my friend B___'s trick was to grip the wrench higher up the handle, so as not to put so much torque/pressure and break the valve stem. But, that didn't work. I couldn't get the damn thing started. So, I switched to a modified version I made up on the spot. I got a deep well socket (like you would use on a sparkplug), pushed it down with one hand and turned the socket itself with the other. Bingo! When I couldn't turn it anymore by hand, I got the wrench and turned it one quarter more.

I turned on the in-line valve and... it worked!!! I got my sink back!!!

After I put the faucet handle, etc. back on, I went to replace the stuff under the sink. That's when I noticed the drips coming from the shut off valve...

Groan...

Desperate now, I called my friend back. He suggested that the age of the plumbing, combined with me turning it on and off repeatedly during the last few days, meant that I either needed to replace the rubber washer (meaning I had to shut off the water to the entire house) or to turn the nut holding the shut-off valve a quarter or a half turn to seat it again.

So, I gingerly held onto the copper plumbing and gave the nut a quarter turn. Damn! It stopped dripping!! I covered the entire bottom of the sink with paper towels (the easiest way to look for drips) and will check it Sunday morning.

Spent emotionally, I went in to watch the nightly news after taking out the leftover mashed potatoes to come up to room temperature.

When the potatoes were warm, I made them into potato cakes using my first wife Fran's recipe. The chives were a nice "oniony" touch.

I went in and watched the Olympics for a while. My favorite event was the four-man bobsled, which US took the gold medal. Speaking of medals, while the US had the largest number of overall medals (Canada is or was fourth) I couldn't help notice that Canada has the largest numbers of just gold medals. I suppose I'll never hear the end of that...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

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Canadian women we applaud and admire!

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Canadian women like I know and love!

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This reminds me of my Mom, LOL!

Friday, and back to work

I got up 10 minutes late to the insistent blaring of the alarm clock. I got up, got to work and got busy...

It started snowing here around 8:00 AM. We're supposed to get 2-3 inches today and tonight, but the real kicker is the high winds. For example: By lunch time, the edge where my neighbor had plowed (what, just yesterday?) was now three feet over, due to drifting...

But, before I went home at lunch, I braved the wind and snow and went to Westborn to get some fruits and vegetables. I bought some more grapefruit, some green seedless grapes, some red seedless grapes, some Granny Smith apples, some Gala apples, zucchini squash, four Italian (or plum) tomatoes, a chunk of Pinconning cheese, two 14-ounce cans of Chinese vegetables, a loaf of French bread, a small tray of fresh button mushrooms and four ounces of Ghirardelli chocolate.

After work, I made my way across town and picked up two new valve stems for the faucet at Lowe's (that way, if the first one doesn't work, I have another. If the first one works, the second one will be hung up in the garage for next time.)

Back at home at 6:00 PM; I talked to my friend, B___, who gave me a few tips about the faucet. Thanks buddy!

Now onto dinner: I have to use the last three pork chops or throw them out. So, I took them out and cut off the bones and the fat. The meat I cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

I cut half the button mushrooms into thick slices and saut�ed them in my larger saucepan with butter. While they cooked down, I made two cups of rice (white, because I couldn't find any brown in the house. My bad!)

When the mushrooms were ready, I added the pork. I got out the gravy and saw there was only about 3/4 cup left. Hmmm... I decided to err on side of caution. So, I drained the first can of Chinese vegetables and added them with the gravy, but the second can I added un-drained (is that a word?). I slowly brought that up to temperature (I want the veggies still crisp, you see).

When everything was done I plated it in a shallow bowl (come to think of it, maybe I "bowled" it), added some good soy sauce and went in to watch the Olympics, already in progress.

The food was excellent! It was, however, a bit soupier than I would have liked. I should have drained the second can of veggies. Also, as I put away the leftovers, I realized it begs the question: If leftover meat is only good for four days, when you make it into another dish, is that good for another four days? Doesn't really matter, because I think the little bit left is a weekend lunch. But, it does make me wonder...

As far as the Olympics went, all the past week late nights seem to have caught up with me and I fell asleep early. So, I'm jonesing!! Who won what? Worse yet, I forgot to tape the Friday Night Fights!

I woke up at 4:00 AM (way too early for a Saturday) and tried to fall back asleep. When I couldn't, I cleaned up the kitchen, posted the Blog entry and then tried to fall back asleep around 5:30. I'll let you know how that turns out...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Short Stories

I think the key to writing a great short story is to let the reader's
imagination do the work. I always remember this one:

As legend has it, Ernest Hemingway was asked if he knew the shortest
story in the English language. He is said to have answered: "For sale:
Baby clothes, never used."

A Frustrating Thursday

I woke up at 5:45 on Thursday morning. I posted the Blog entry and tried to decide if I should go back to bed. I elected to stay up and put a pot of coffee on.

I ate a light breakfast and checked out snow conditions out back. Hmmm... Maybe another inch of snow overnight.

I got a cup of coffee and then went in to watch the news and the Today show. When that ended at 10:00 AM, I decided to wash the bedding, blanket and top spread included (two loads).

I did have something to do today, but it got canceled. So, in the afternoon, I decided to try and fix the dripping kitchen faucet (I bought a new valve stem yesterday at Lowe's).

I got out my tools, shut off the water in the hot water line and took out the old valve stem. Then I reinstalled the new one. I put everything back together and turned the water back on. Damn! Now instead of dripping it's running!

So, I tightened it a bit more. No help. I shut off the water and took it out. Naturally, it fell apart. I reassembled it (the dumb thing is plastic and very fragile) and put it back in.

This time I tightened it a bit more. No help. So, another 1/4 turn and the slight flow of water was now a full-on effect! So, I turned off the hot water in the line again and took out the valve stem. I had over-tightened it and broke it. Since you can't use the cold water even with the hot water turned off, my sink is out of commission until the weekend.

I HATE washing thing in the laundry tub! You have to bend over so far, it always screws up my back.

I put the tools away and went in to watch the afternoon Olympics.

When I walked out front to get the mail, I saw that my neighbor had plowed my driveway again sometime this morning. That pecan pie really paid off!

Rather than make a lot of pots and pans I'd have to rinse or wash later, I warmed up a can of Hormel chili and ate it out of the saucepan. I came to regret that as the night deepened.

I watched the Olympics again (what else), but don't get upset. They end this Sunday and we can go back to regular programming.

They didn't show the game here, just the highlights, but the Canadians beat the Americans in woman's Hockey (I always knew that Canadian women were rough, lol!)

American Jeret Petersen won silver in the men's free style aerial skiing, redeeming himself after the last Olympics.

And finally, the big event of the night, in woman's figure skating (yes, I did watch them), Korea and Japan won gold and bronze, respectively and predictably. But, Canadian Joannie Roushette won the bronze. It was the first time in these games I rooted for the Canadians instead of the Americans.

I didn't stay up for the medal ceremony (it was already midnight here), but just shut everything down and went to bed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday

I got up with the alarm on Wednesday and got to work. We are supposed to get 1-2 inches of snow today and tonight and it started here around 9:00 AM.

When I left work at 11:00, I had errands to run. First, I had to drop off my March Cobra payment at the campus across town. Since I was that far anyway, I went to Lowe's for a few things I needed. On the way back, I stopped at Pet Smart for some Newt food and kitty litter. I finally got home around 1:00 PM.

I started the Wednesday wash and tidied up a bit. After I hung up or folded the laundry, I finally got out a needle and thread and sewed up a rip in my favorite work pants (not for work, for working around the house). It's not pretty, but it will keep the draft out and I won't feel like such a bummer when I'm working on a project and have to make a quick run to Home Depot for supplies.

I watched the live Olympic men's hockey game between the USA and Switzerland. It was a tough game, with no scoring in either the first or second periods (mostly due to their goaltender). But, we finally won it 2-0!

They didn't show the Canada versus Russia hockey game on American TV, but I heard Canada whipped their butts 7-3.

About 7:30 PM, I made some mac & cheese so I could eat dinner without interrupting the prime-time Olympics. Here's the major wrap up:

In the woman's two man bobsled, Canada took gold and silver, US took the bronze. There was a spectacular, if horrible, crash for the German team, where the brakeman was actually ejected from the sled at like 80 MPH! But, they both walked off under their own power.

On the 500 meter short track even, USA's Apolo Ohno took the gold (again).

On the Woman's Giant Salom, US skier Lindsey Vonn crashed, hit the wall and broke a finger. To make matters worse, her teammate, Julia Mancuso, was stopped halfway down her run (Lindsey was still on the course and it was very, very foggy) and had to restart. Not sure if it was nerves or being tired, but her second first run (is that how you'd say it?) was WAY worse than her aborted first one and she's like in 18th place now.

The broadcast finished at 11:35 PM and I went to bed, then. We had about an inch of snow on the ground so far here and it wasn't snowing at that point.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Busting my butt on Tuesday

I set the alarm for 6:30 AM (garbage day) but woke up at 5:30 anyway. I got dressed and got the garbage out to the road.

Back in the garage, I decided to deal with all the water the melting snow off the car left yesterday. So, I got the push broom and shoved as much as I could out the door. I've done that before, so it's been there, done that. I know if I leave it as is, the garage door bottom seal will freeze to the floor. So, before I shut the door, I sprinkled rock salt down where the seal touches.

Back inside, I made a four-cup pot of coffee and drank some watching the morning news and then the Today show.

I had made a little mess on the kitchen floor with those pork chops, so I decided to wash it. (On the other hand, like New Orleans Chef John Besh says, "If you ain't makin' a mess, you ain't cookin'!") Anyway, I vacuumed the living room rug and moved all the kitchen chairs in there, along with the rolling cart and the wastepaper basket.

Then I swept the kitchen floor. Since I had the vacuum cleaner out, anyway, I vacuumed the two downstairs walk-off rugs. Then I washed the kitchen floor. By that time, it was after noon and my back hurt, so I took a break while the floor dried.

I watched another of the Agatha Christe "Poirot" movies, called "Mrs. McGinty's Dead." After that, I started to feel a bit guilty, so I swept the upstairs bath, my bedroom and the office. Then I washed the sink, toilet and floor in the main bath.

While that was drying, I put the kitchen back together and emptied the dishwasher. Then I went out and got the mail. Since I had my coat and boots on anyway, I refilled a suet cage and the bird feeder. Then I came in and quit for the day.

I warmed up some of the split pea soup I'd made last fall and ate a big bowl of it with oyster crackers for dinner.

I watched the Olympics until 11:00 PM, when I wisely turned them off. So, now I only can guess at who won what. The Korean woman's figure skater looked unbeatable. The US took silver in the Nordic cross-country ski event.

I know Canada won gold in that woman's ski cross (or whatever it's called). Canada was also looking great in the woman's two-man bobsled. And unless a miracle happened, Canada beat Russia in men's hockey. Amer and CC must be ecstatic!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Slogging Through the Snow

I would guess I had about three inches of snow on the ground when I woke up at 5:30 AM on Monday. I got out of the driveway without a hitch, but the roads were a mess!

It was still coming down when I went home for lunch. I got a nice surprise when I pulled in the house; my neighbor plowed my drive again (see what a little pecan pie can get you!) I took some photos out back of the evergreens and the bird feed can (I'm guessing about 7 inches of snow). The snow stopped here around 2:30-3:00 PM.

When I came out after work, all the snow on the car had melted (it was a high of 34 degrees F. today). So unlike lunchtime, I didn't have to clean all the windows. Side roads are still slippery and sloppy, BTW.

I started my Sunday dinner (on Monday) around 6:00 PM. First I put on a pan of cut up Yukon Gold potatoes (skin on) in cold water for mashed potatoes.

Now, I had been complaining to my friend B___ about the pork chops. They're too thin! I like a nice thick pork chop, myself. Aside for just the visual appeal, I find that frying a thin pork chop is usually a disaster. By the time you get a nice sear on the outside, the inside is overcooked and dry (and I hate that).

He suggested a quick sear at high temperature and then braising them. Bingo! So, that's what I tried. I used some bacon grease instead of cooking oil (to give them a smoky flavor). When the pan was smoking hot, I put in the four pork chops. One minute wasn't enough, so I let them go two minutes per side.

I pulled them out of the pan and deglazed it with maybe 1/4 cup of red wine. Then I added in a jar of Hienz pork gravy (hey, it's a weeknight!) and whisked it together. I put the chops back into the pan, put on a lid and stuck it in a pre-heated 325 degrees F. oven.

Just before I started mashing the potatoes, I put some frozen sweet corn into the steamer basket in my small saucepan, put the lid on it and let it do its thing.

I mashed the potatoes with some butter, milk, one egg and a small amount of the few remaining chives I froze last Fall.

I plated one pork chop, some of the sweet corn and a scoop of mashed potatoes. I added the gravy to the mashed potatoes and dug in. Delicious! The pork chops were perfectly cooked and very, very moist. Thanks for the tip, buddy!

I went in to watch some TV while everything cools off so I can put the leftovers in the fridge. I watched the Olympics until 9:30 PM or so. Ice dancing was coming on and I'm just not that interested. I did watch the first event. It was a very young, but very, very talented Canadian couple. Excellent!

I went out and put the food away and cleaned up the kitchen. I started the dishwasher and went back in to watch a new episode of a cooking show I like. Then I went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Monday, February 22, 2010

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Winter Wonderland!

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Some serious snow on top the bird feed can!

Books, old Movies and the Olympics

I awoke at 8:30 AM on Sunday morning. I warmed up some coffee (I know, I know) and started watching the morning news. Then I switched over to the Food network. It occurred to me around 10:00 AM that I'd forgotten to post the Blog, so I went and did that.

I vacuumed the living room rug and swept the rest of the house. I should have washed the kitchen and downstairs floors, but I didn't feel like it. Instead I went back to reading my book on the couch.

My friend B___ called to tell me that "Predator" (an old sci-fi movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger) was coming on at 4:00 PM, so I went in and watched it. Excellent!

Unfortunately, I got the munchies mid-movie, and ate some leftovers. So, when it ended at 6:00 PM, I didn't much feel like making the big Sunday dinner I'd planned. So, I'll save that idea for Monday...

I watched the Olympics, but sensibly (for a change), gave it up and went to bed at 11:00 PM. Just after, I might add, the USA hockey team beat the Canadian team. Now, normally, I would be all over Canada Cathy about this. But I heard a sobering statistic: this is the first time the USA beat Canada since 1960 in Lake Placid.

BTW, it was snowing here when I went to sleep. We have a Winter Storm Warning and are expecting 6-8 inches of wet snow before this storm is over...

I hope that pecan pie inspires my neighbor to plow me out again!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jacob nearly brought me to tears...

remembering this story. I learned it in the 1950's and have never, ever forgotten it. He helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima and died in a goddamn ditch...

Ira Hayes

~ johnny Cash

Ira Hayes,
Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Gather round me people there's a story I would tell
About a brave young Indian you should remember well
From the land of the Pima Indian
A proud and noble band
Who farmed the Phoenix valley in Arizona land

Down the ditches for a thousand years
The water grew Ira's peoples' crops
'Till the white man stole the water rights
And the sparklin' water stopped

Now Ira's folks were hungry
And their land grew crops of weeds
When war came, Ira volunteered
And forgot the white man's greed

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

There they battled up Iwo Jima's hill,
Two hundred and fifty men
But only twenty-seven lived to walk back down again

And when the fight was over
And when Old Glory raised
Among the men who held it high
Was the Indian, Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Ira returned a hero
Celebrated through the land
He was wined and speeched and honored; Everybody shook his hand

But he was just a Pima Indian
No water, no crops, no chance
At home nobody cared what Ira'd done
And when did the Indians dance

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Then Ira started drinkin' hard;
Jail was often his home
They'd let him raise the flag and lower it
like you'd throw a dog a bone!

He died drunk one mornin'
Alone in the land he fought to save
Two inches of water in a lonely ditch
Was a grave for Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Yeah, call him drunken Ira Hayes
But his land is just as dry
And his ghost is lyin' thirsty
In the ditch where Ira died

Saturday

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. I posted the Blog, put on a pot of coffee and sat on the couch, listening to "Saturday Morning, over Easy."

I was trying to decide if I should go grocery shopping today, tomorrow or Monday at lunch (when the crowds are lighter). I don't really "need" anything today...

The sun came up. There are just a few clouds in the sky so far, and the sun tinged the bottoms of them a beautiful pink.

I checked out the freezer in the fridge and found my Saturday and Sunday dinners, so grocery shopping can wait.

When "Saturday Morning, Over Easy" ended, I went and took my shower. Then I went and watched my Saturday morning cooking shows, after starting the first load of laundry.

There was a problem. I dozed off during the shows. So, the shirts and pants in the dryer didn't get hung up in time. Rather than be faced with wrinkled clothes, when I got up, I took a kitchen towel and ran it under hot water. I wrung it out and threw it, with an additional fabric softener sheet, in the dryer and ran it for about another 10 minutes. Then I hung up my work clothes. Neat trick, if you ever need it!

I started reading the second book Lu had sent. But, I'm a little puzzled. Both of them are sci-fi thrillers and I can't imagine her buying them or reading them. Well, let's face it; I guess I never understood her at all...

For dinner, I sauteed a sliced onion and then I added four Yukon Gold potatoes I sliced into 1/4-inch slices (it occurred to me afterward I should have just used the mandoline). Once the potatoes were soft, I added a package of smoked sausage that I also sliced into about 1/4 inches. When everything was browned, I plated it (Riese, remember this phrase... it will drive your Daddy nuts!) and went in to watch more of the Olympics.

I stayed up WAY too late which is why this post is so long in coming.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Speaking of the Olympics...

I actually do remember where I was in 1980 when the US hockey team won the gold!

Luanne and I happened to be out at my friend Leon's ranch. He had the TV turned on and we watched the event.

It was awesome!!

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One of the reasons I love German Shepherds (they're tenacious)

Finally Friday

I got up and ready for work on time, for a change. I didn't stay up that late watching the Olympics. The last program was the men's figure skating, so I didn't bother. Don't get me wrong, I admire what they do (the jumps, etc.). It's just the damn silly outfits they wear (shirts cut to the waist, tassels, and feathers). I mean come on; would it be any harder if you just wore a regular shirt and pants? Maybe I'm a tad homophobic, but that shit just makes me feel ogley!

Anyway, it was a bright sunny day here again in Redford (I forgot to mention it was sunny and 34 degrees here yesterday). Well, today it was the sunny but 37 degrees! I could tell by the drips coming from the icicles on the eaves of the house. After all the gray days we've had, the sun is quite unexpected and quite welcome!

When I got home after work, I treated the cats, changed clothes and began to pay bills online (today was payday). When I was done with that, I switched to cleaning mode and thoroughly washed the stove (it needed it after this week). So the drip pans, grates and peripherals were drying in the sink by 6:30 PM.

I went and watched the news at that point. When they were over, I made a conscious decision to NOT watch the Olympics tonight. My DVD recorder is fast filling up. So, first I watched another of the Agatha Christe "Poirot" movies. This one was called "Appointment with Death" and was excellent (as always).

Not for the first time did I wish I'd lived back in those days...

I reassembled the stove. After that, I watched four 1/2-hour cooking shows (fast forwarding through commercials) and then went to bed. I'll check the Olympic results in the morning...

Friday, February 19, 2010

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Hawk picture (minus the hawk) with 10x zoom

Throwaway Thursday

I woke up early on Thursday morning, posted the Blog and then decided to go back to bed. When I finally got up for real, I made a pot of coffee and ate the second half of that grapefruit. It tasted so good, I cut open the other one and ate it, too!

I was trying to decide what to do today (clean the house, maybe, and get a jump on the weekend?) while drinking coffee on the couch. I idly picked up one of the books that Lu had sent and started thumbing through it. Big mistake! I finished reading it (all 427 pages) at 8:30 PM!

Now, don't get me wrong... I did also check out my new camera I bought because (primarily) it has a 10x zoom (my old one had a 3x and that hawk picture annoyed me). Also it was on sale. I loaded the required software on my computer, ate the rest of Jake's chicken stew for lunch and made mac & cheese (from the blue box) for dinner.

I read the book both sitting on the couch and laying on the bed, so I was certainly well-rested. Once I finished it, I turned on the Olympics and stayed up until almost 1:00 AM again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ash Wednesday

I watched the Olympics until late, then went to bed around 1:00 AM on Wednesday. That made getting up at 5:30 AM a bit of a problem. But, I made it on time.

The problem was exacerbated, though during a one hour+ meeting, as the guy across from me kept yawning!

I left at about 11:30 AM (the meeting ran late) and went to Home Depot to buy some rock salt (I'm all out). That was the littlest 50 pound bag I ever saw! Putting it in the cart wasn't a problem, but I damn near killed myself getting it up and out of the cart! I put in on the back seat so I didn't have to pick it up again from out of the trunk (old people do have their problems, but we tend to get trickier).

Back home and after treating the cats, I dealt with the rock salt. I put the 5-gallon pail I keep it in on the garage floor next to the rear seat. I pulled the bag out a bit and opened it with a box cutter, dumping it into the pail. Then I slid the pail back to its place. I used a cup to sprinkle some on the ice that's developed in the drive.

Since I had my coat and boots on anyway, I went out back and refilled the bird feeder. It was at that point I remembered I wanted to look for a metal bird feeder at Home Depot! Damn!

I took a nap during the afternoon.

I swung by Jake's house around 5:30 PM to borrow a movie and, while I was there, he gave me a container filled with chicken stew. The unusual thing about this chicken stew was that he didn't use any onion or garlic in it. He said he wanted just a pure chicken taste (heresy, I say!!!)

When I got back home, I warmed up half of it and cut a big chunk of that Rustic Italian Bread off the loaf. I went in and ate it watching the news.

The stew was excellent, Jake! I didn't even miss the onions or garlic and the bread soaked up the gravy perfectly. Thanks!

At 8:00 PM I started watched the Olympics again and stayed up until they finished (at 11:30 PM) and then watched the news again. These damn Olympics are wrecking my health!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fat Tuesday

I awoke (a bit late) on Tuesday at 7:30 AM. I had taken the garbage out late last night so, other than today's stuff, I was good to go.

It just dawned on me that, not being at work, I will miss all the Paczkis (a Polish version of doughnuts and very big in Michigan on "Fat Tuesday"). Well, in my Catholic youth, today was called Shrove Tuesday (don't ask me why) or "Pancake Day." So, I guess I can still pull this off. The idea behind both customs is that you are facing 40 days of self-deprivation (Lent), so today you pig out!!

I posted the Blog and started the wash with the bedding. Then I addressed the mussels mess in the kitchen. I made a small pot of coffee while I was at it. We have the same damn 27 degree F. temp, but this time with light snow. It's supposed to be less than an inch so I'm not really worried about it.

It was almost 11:30 when I finally got around to taking my shower. By then, both cats insisted it was time...

The sun was out at noon, but by 12:30 PM, it was overcast and snowing again. I went out back and ripped up the remains of two loaves of stale bread for the critters and birds.

About an hour later, I noticed a hawk was out back, feasting on something he'd downed. But he was right next to the raised bed garden and my cheap-assed camera can't get out that far. I posted two pictures, but apologize in advance. He was beautiful, though, and as big as a small eagle.

I was gonna make my "Big Fat Chocolate Cookies" for my neighbors to thank them for plowing me out, but found I only had half the dark chocolate I needed. So, I switched to my pecan pie recipe. I made the pie dough and stuck it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Now, I do have a (I don't know what you call it) pie dough cutter (?) and tried it again today, but I think it's easier to just use your hands. You want pea-sized bits of butter for the dough.

When the timer went off, I went out and rolled the dough. I hung it over the pie plate and then cut off about 1/2 inch all around it. I folded it under and then pleated it.

I put in the filling and then arranged pecans around the top. It looks good! So, I stuck it in the oven for 50 minutes, checked it with a toothpick and baked it for another five minutes. I pulled it out around 4:15 PM and let it cool. Now, you are supposed to serve this with whipped cream, but I have no heavy cream in the house. So, I guess that's their problem. I did take a photo for you and posted it...

I walked it over to their house and Tammy thanked me.

Back home, I made pancakes for dinner, using that old family recipe. But I kicked them up a notch or two by adding an unpeeled diced apple. I topped the stack with some pecans (I was on a pecan roll), butter and real maple syrup. Then I went in to watch the Olympics until after midnight!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

photo

The neighbor's pecan pie

photo

Hawk in the back (I really need a better camera)

photo

Hawk, eating his downed prey (I need a better camera)

Monday

As I said, I forgot to set my alarm clock. So, I was a little late. I got there just before 8:00 AM, though.

At lunch, I went home and noticed a Postal box on the porch. Since there's no mail today (President's Day in the US), it must have come Friday or Saturday.

I opened it up and found the two books Lu said she would send me plus a cute Valentine's Day card.

So, when I got home after work, I called to thank her. We chatted for a while and caught each other up on the latest happenings. The constant rain down there is messing up their half-mile driveway and giving the goats hoof rot (yuck).

I posted two new poems and two new photos.

Around 6:30 PM, I made dinner. If you remember, I need to use or lose my mussels tonight. Immediately, I ran into problems. All my shallots were bad! So, I fine-diced a little bit of a red onion (I figured they were the mildest onion taste). I sauteed them in some olive oil while I minced two cloves of garlic. The garlic went into the olive oil as well.

Now this is the first time I tried making mussels. I know that after you steam them (or clams), any that don't open are dead and you must discard them. But, while I was scrubbing them, I noticed a few were already open. Does that mean they are bad? Are they just frisky? I dunno... But I threw them out anyway (better safe than sorry). If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

When the onion and garlic were ready I added one of those small bottles of white wine (maybe a cup or cup and a half). When it was boiling, I added the mussels, covered the pan and cut up some parsley. After eight minutes, I took off the lid and, using a slotted spoon, pulled out the mussels (they were all opened, BTW) and put them in a big bowl.

I whisked in two tablespoons of butter and added the parsley. I cut off three slices of that "Rustic Italian Bread" I love, topped the mussels with my newly-made sauce and carried dinner into the bedroom. You could also put the mussels on top of, say, linguine (which I considered). But, I just ate the mussels and dipped the bread into the sauce. OMG! Delicious!!!

Man that was good!

Just after I finished dinner, my friend B___ called. We also caught each other up and then hung up.

I watched the Olympics until bedtime. I did various things during the couples figure skating (I must admit I like the racing better). I think it's because I don't know, and so don't get, the finer points of lifts and turns. I do know if you fall down, you fncked up, though. That I get...

I did doze off and on later in the evening (not taking a nap is a detriment to watching the Olympics) Finally, I gave it up, shut off the TV and went to sleep for good.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Creative Process #2

My son asked the other day
how I create my poems.
I stumbled and stammered
and stupidly talked about rhyme and meter.

After we hung up I realized the problem.
I really don't create my poems
I just catch random thoughts in the air
and write them down...

Dreaming

I been through the fire,
more times than I can count
like soft steel in the forge
and it has hardened me.
But I am still dreaming, dreaming...

Yes, and I am still alive,
still looking for the light
searching for that forever home
where everything's all right.
But I am just dreaming, dreaming...

photo

Driveway when my neighbor plowed it with his ATV

photo

Driveway when I was shoveling the mound caused by the snowplow

Sunday and the Olympics

I woke up late on Sunday and started the weekend wash. I warmed up a cup of Saturday's coffee and called that breakfast.

I took out the broiled eggplant halves and let them come to room temperature. When they did, I scooped out all but about 1/2 inch of the inside (think "twice-baked potatoes"). Meanwhile I browned 1/2 pound of bulk sweet Italian sausage. I played with the recipe a tad by adding fine diced onions and minced garlic.

When the sausage was done, I drained the grease and added 1/2 cup of jarred pasta sauce, some shredded mozzarella cheese and the eggplant. I stuffed that back into the eggplant skins, topped it with more mozzarella cheese and baked it in the oven until the cheese melted (about 30 minutes).

I ate that about 3:00 PM watching the Olympics. So, I really didn't feel like making dinner, later. I just kept watching TV. I hope the mussels can last one more day!

I finally fell asleep, woke up and turned the TV off and went to bed (forgetting to set the alarm).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Still suffering from an Olympic fever...

During the night, I was awoken by an insistent female voice saying "low batteries." Now, you could check with either of my ex-wives, but I don't normally respond favorably to bitchy females waking me up in the middle of the night. I usually rip down the smoke detector, pull out one battery so it shuts up and then throw it across the room. But tonight, for some reason, I just took it down and replaced the three batteries. I put it back in place and went to bed, again. I must be getting mellow in my old age...

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Saturday. I filled in the Blog and posted it, then decided to go back to bed. I got up at 8:30 AM and got ready to face the day.

I wanted to print off a recipe, but the printer didn't work (first time in like three years!) I got a flashlight and crawled under the desk. I found the printer connection dangling. I pushed it back up through the hole and then went top-side and plugged it back in. I blame Caley for this (but I blame her for everything).

On the other hand, Scruffy has never, ever, jumped up on the desk while Caley treats this like it's her private playground. So, yeah, it was Caley.

I left about 10:00 AM to go get my glasses. I was a bit confused there. Normally the older woman (that I flirt with) takes me in back and fusses over the fit of them. Instead, there was a very young, buxom girl who just handed them to me and said, "If they don't fit right, feel free to come back and have them adjusted." Um... okay...

From there I went to Westborn. I got a beautiful 1 1/2 pound eggplant and a pound of fresh mussels (alive, alive-o).

Next, I went to CVS and got my prescriptions. Then I went home.

Just after I got in the door the phone rang. I stuck the live mussels in the fridge and talked to my friend B___. He told me some disturbing news about Obama ramming through some legislation that takes the control of the Great Lakes away from the surrounding states to the federal government. Mark my words: they are gonna steal the water, man!

One of the things we talked about was what would happen if the sun melted the snow and then it froze, again. It finally dawned on me if that mound was frozen, it'd probably rip out my exhaust system or gas tank. So, I put on my Canadian toque (feeling like an Olympic athlete) gloves and heavy coat. Then I went out to shovel the edge of the road at 1:00 AM (I know I am gonna screw up my back and shoulder!)

While I was thus occupied, my next-door neighbors Tammy and Rick drove by. They beeped the horn and he said he had to redo his drive and he would hit my drive, too (he's got a four-wheeler with a plow). So, (gratefully) I went back inside. I walked right through the house and refilled the bird feeder (Hey, I was dressed for it).

I called my buddy Leon to wish him a happy 62 year old birthday. He was out doing something with the cows, (I hope it's not that artificial insemination - that always creeps me out) but his wife Cathy said she'd give him the message.

My daughter Melissa called around 2:00 PM and we talked for a bit.

After we finished our chat, I started watching the Winter Olympics. I do love them, but must confess I fell asleep sometime in there.

I woke back up with the Olympics still on. Watched until about 8:30 PM, when I started getting hungry. Now, the plan was to make sausage-stuffed eggplant today and steamed mussels on Sunday. So, I cut off the stem end off the eggplant and cut that bad boy in half (length-wise). I put the two pieces on a tinfoil-lined cookie sheet and brushed them with olive oil.

I put them in a preheated 400 degrees F. oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. But, I realized I was missing good stuff on the Olympics. So, when the timer went off, I just took them out to cool. I grabbed a bag of Better-Made Waves chips and a tub of chip dip and decided that was dinner tonight. I watched the Olympics until then went off the air, put the cooled (cold) eggplant in the fridge and went to bed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I love the Olympics!

(announcer - re: Shannon Bahrke) "Two blown knees, a broken jaw and this year she's been in a bit of a slump..."

Jesus...

She qualified, BTW.

Oh, Canada!

I woke up 20 minutes after the alarm went off on Friday. In my dream, it was a car alarm that was very annoying. In reality, it was just Life, calling me back from the shades...

They had plowed the road Thursday, which was nice, I guess. But, now I have a new mound of snow to try and drive through, which was not so nice. It took two tries, but I finally got out.

I came home after 5:00 PM, got the car back in the garage and then walked out to get the mail. I'm still not brave enough to drive the car into the plowed snow next to the mailbox.

I treated the cats and changed clothes. I hustled around a bit (washing a few things in the sink, opening the mail, etc.) and checked my phone messages. There were two: one telling me my new glasses were in and I could pick them up between 9-12 Saturday morning and one from CVS, saying my automatic refill prescriptions were ready. So, I now have errands to run Saturday morning.

I watched the news, waiting impatiently for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. They have been unfortunately marred by the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili on the luge track earlier today. He was from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and died after a horrific accident during training.

They are supposed to start at 7:30 PM, so at 7:00 I warmed up a big bowl of the shrimp and Alfredo pasta, topped with fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and ate my dinner. Then I went in to watch the opening ceremony.

Well, that was a bit of overstatement! The actual "ceremony" didn't start until after 9:00 PM!! Until that time, though, I was treated with vistas of Vancouver (stunning), interviews with various American athletes (interesting) and a replay of the accident (god-awful).

I thought the ceremony itself was great. Certainly NOT as overwhelming as the Chinese Summer Olympics, but then again, Canada doesn't have that many people, lol! They quoted one statistic that said there are more people in the state of California than all of Canada. I find that hard to believe, though. Let's see, I've been to Toronto, London, Windsor, Sarnia, Calgary and even Red Deer, Alberta, and always saw bustling communities. Hmmm... come to think of it, between Calgary and Red Deer there wasn't much but open land, grazing cows and the occasional oil pump. I dunno... But, I digress...

Anyway, the ceremony was a mix of pomp and circumstance and special effects. I especially liked the "First Nation" episode (I think that's what they called them - hey, I was watching the show, not taking notes! We would call them Native Americans, here). It reminded me of the many, many powwows I've been to.

The singers were excellent. There was a bit of a problem with lighting the Olympic flame (one of the four columns didn't rise) but they carried on and carried it off.

It ended a little after midnight and I went to bed.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lazy Thursday

I woke up at 4:30 AM on Thursday. I fought the idea of getting up until 5:00 AM and then gave up. I warmed up a cup of coffee and turned the news on. At 5:30, I went and posted the Blog entry. Then I went back to bed to watch the rest of the news...

My shoulder hurt, my back ached and my muscles were sore, so I took the day off. I had a nice nap in the afternoon.

I ate leftovers (catfish and wild rice) for dinner.

I went to bed at midnight.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Wednesday

I woke up on Wednesday just before the alarm went off. This ought to be an interesting morning!!

So, I had a cup of coffee, watching the weather and then got ready for work. I left about 15 minutes early, BTW.

I started the car up and then walked out to look down the road (I wanted to make sure nobody was coming, so I didn't have to stop). Nobody was, so I got in the car and gave it the gas (not going fast, mind you - I didn't want the tires to spin). I plowed through the snow, up the little ramp to the road and I was out!

Now, I think what saved me was the fact that the snow was so powdery. If it was nine inches of heavy, wet snow, I don't think this would have worked. Be that as it may, I went to work, slipping and sliding.

On the way home, I stopped at the nearby party store and picked up a dozen eggs (I used my last two on the catfish, but didn't want to drive to the nearest grocery store as the roads were still snow covered and slippery at 11:00 AM).

Back home, I treated the cats and debated going out back to refill the bird feeder. The winds have really picked up here, though and it's blowing all the snow that was on the evergreens onto yesterday's drifts. I think I'll wait until this settles down some.

I had the last of the leftover pizza for lunch and then tried to take a nap. I dozed a little but never really fell asleep, so I got back up. I was starting to feel guilty over the birds so I got my toque, gloves, boots and coat. Then I grabbed the snow shovel from the garage and went out back.

I shoveled a two-shovel width-wide path out to the birdfeeder (going around the metal can I keep the seed in). I shoveled out around the base of the feeder, so I could put down some seed on the ground for the mourning doves, pigeons and squirrels. I refilled the feeder, put the seed on the ground and went back inside. I took a picture for you from the bathroom window.

I sat on the couch and read a magazine to rest my back again. Lu called around 1:30 PM to see how I weathered the storm. It hit the east coast yesterday, too. They had sleet Tuesday evening and then heavy rains overnight. They have high winds (up to 50 MPH sustained) and she can't keep that old house warm.

I wonder how Melissa is doing.

I did manage about a 1/2 hour nap at about 3:30 PM. I felt much better when I got up.

I know I should just heat up the leftover catfish and wild rice for dinner, but I am having a carb attack. I have eight ounces of cooked "salad shrimp" leftover from a bag I bought for a Nigella Lawson recipe a while back. So, I thawed them out. About 6:30 PM, I added them to store-bought Alfredo sauce to warm them up.

I went to the pantry to pick out my pasta. I figured I'd use either Mostaccioli, Penne or Rigatoni. But, (I'll be damned) I didn't have ANY of those! So, I settled for Rotini and started to heat the salted water.

When the pasta was done I added it to the sauce and fixed a large plate of it. I topped it with fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and wandered off to the bedroom to see what was on TV. I went to bed around 10:00 PM.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

With Deep Regret...

I must mention the passing of Phil Harris, the fishing boat captain of the Cornelia Marie, whose adventures off the Alaska coast were captured on the television show "Deadliest Catch." He was 53.

I was a avid fan for the first few seasons (its been on five years now) but then just sorta stopped watching. But, I really like the guy.

I'm bummed...

photo

Feeding the Birds (taken from the bathroom window)

All Day Snow Watch

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Tuesday and got the garbage out to the road. I put on a small pot of coffee and got ready to face the day.

I watched the Today Show until 9:00 AM (I like the Today Show). Oh, BTW, it started snowing here (small flakes, but steady) just after 8:00 AM. By 9:00, all the flat surfaces (the concrete patio, the driveway, etc.) were covered in white.

I did go out briefly at 10:00 AM. I backed the car out of the drive, onto the road and then backed it into the garage. I think it's easier to bust through snow drifts going forward than backwards. It was snowing quite steadily at that point.

I started sweeping the house around 11:00 AM. That's one of the things I didn't get to over the weekend (it just wasn't that bad, then); but now there's Caley hair everywhere. I knew it would mess with my back (which is why I didn't do it over the weekend) but its time.

I noticed the snow had lessened a bit around 1:00 PM, but I am not fooled. The worst is yet to come.

I lay down at 3:00 PM to try and get a nap. I didn't really fall asleep, but my back felt better when I got up later.

It's still snowing (a little harder now). I'd guess I have about two inches out there at present. Since the winds are from the East-Northeast, it's really swirling around the patio and I am starting to get some drifting back there. As long as it stays out back (and away from the driveway), I'm hoping I'll be okay.

At 5:30 PM, I started making dinner. I'm making the catfish and wild rice again. Since I've explained that process several times, I just took a picture for you. By 6:30, I had eaten and put everything away.

I got my coat, hat and boots and went out to retrieve the mail (and check on conditions). I'd say I got 3-4 inches of snow so far. However, it's pretty light and the temperature is right at 27 degrees F. (perfect temp for salt - too cold and it doesn't work well). So, I decided to shovel off the garage apron. When I got that finished, I salted it as well. Hopefully the next few inches will hit the salt and melt.

Well, that didn't help my already tender back, either, so I took the rest of the night off.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

photo

Garage Apron, Shoveled and Salted

photo

Frying Catfish

Monday, Monday...

I was having a pretty good day (for a Monday). When I went home at lunch, I made an egg salad sandwich, on sourdough bread with lettuce and lots of salt. Delicious! And, my afternoon apple (a variety I'd never had before called Honey Crisp) was excellent.

When I got home after 5:00 PM, I loaded up the dishwasher. I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but I had made some buttered popcorn over the weekend. It kind of trashed my pan, so I reached way under the sink cupboard and tried to bring out the box of Brillo pads. Hmmm... they seemed to be stuck, so I pulled harder...

The box came out, but it was all wet and empty! Ah, crap! I hate plumbing problems!!! I managed to salvage three Brillo pads and put them on the dish rack to dry out.

I pulled everything out from under the sink and wiped it down with many, many paper towels. The worst was the extra box of dishwasher soap (as you know, I like to keep two of all my staples - that way I never run out. I just switch to the second box and add the item to the grocery list.) Well, the second, full box of dishwasher soap was soaked and bloated as a dead whale. Crap! I just blew three bucks.

When I had the mess cleaned up (I hope nothing rots) I put down a layer of even more paper towels to try and find where the leak is coming from (the drains or the pipes?)

I was gonna make the catfish and wild rice, but I'm tired and really pissed now. So, I went out to the chest freezer and got the last Tombstone pepperoni pizza.

Since the Brillo pads were drying out, I added some baking soda to the scorched pot and filled it with hot water (Jyl swears by this, but I've never had much luck with it.) I'll scrub it out tomorrow.

I read a magazine that came in the mail today on the couch, trying to relax. At about 8:00 PM, I put the pizza in the oven. My only bright spot tonight is that a Poirot movie called "The Third Girl" taped sometime over the weekend, so I have something good to watch on TV.

BTW, to make things even more interesting, we will be getting snow tomorrow morning and, by the time it's over Wednesday afternoon, we are supposed to get 6-10 inches of snow with high winds and drifting. God, I love my life...

But, the movie was excellent, and a new "No Reservations" with Anthony Bourdain came on just after it, so despite all upcoming problems, my night ended on a good note.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Just Another Sunday...

I spent another restless night. I woke up around 2:00 and couldn't fall back asleep until after 5:00 AM (I almost just stayed up). But, I finally did fall asleep and slept until after 9:00 AM! Embarrassing!!

I heated up a cup of coffee and posted the Blog entry.

I warmed up another cup and went and sat on the couch, listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy. Caley was curled up asleep on my lap and Scruffy was asleep on the loveseat, so we were all pretty mellow here. I had to smile when they played Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic." My dear old friend loved that song! You definitely rocked my gypsy soul, babe!

I admit that I sat there until it was over at 11:45 AM.

Then I shaved and showered. I got dressed and put my bathrobe, towel and the kitchen towels into the washer. Then I made my Queso dip. I cut up 16 ounces of Velveta cheese into 1/2-inch chunks, added in a can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies and microwaved them for five minutes.

Damn that Pirex bowl was hot!

While that was cooling, I redid the bird feeder, using one of Jake's old tricks. After replacing the sisal rope, I soaked it (literally) in Frank's Red Hot sauce. Hopefully, that will stop the squirrels (or whoever) from gnawing on the rope. I took it outside, refilled it and then hung it up again. We'll see...

Back inside, I opened a bag of corn chips and dug in, watching taped cooking shows. Around 5:00 PM, my daughter Melissa called, saving me from myself (I ate WAY too much of that stuff). They have Dustin, Linnea and Gavin over for the Super Bowl. She had an impressive menu planned. I thought about my dinner (fried catfish and wild rice) and damn near barfed. So, I decided I was done for the night.

I put the rest of the Queso dip into the fridge and tidied up. I went to check on my Sunday TV shows and found there were NONE of them on tonight! Curse the Super Bowl! So, I watched weird-ass shit and went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Another song snippet

"If you see her, say hello"

~ Bob Dylan

And I've never gotten used to it, I've just learned to turn it off
Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm gettin' soft.

Sunday Morning, Over Easy...

Song snippet

Peace Like a River

~ Paul Simon

Ah, four in the morning
I woke up from out of my dreams
Nowhere to go but back to sleep
But I'm reconciled
Oh, oh, oh, I'm going to be up for a while
Oh, oh, oh, I'm going to be up for a while

Oh, oh, oh, I'm going to be up for a while

(been there, done that...)

Saturday

As you can tell by my last post, I woke up WAY too early on Saturday. So, I posted to the Blog, checked my two sources of email and then went back to bed, setting the alarm for 7:30 AM.

BTW, before I go back to sleep, I must tell you: it's 25 degrees F. here with a 30% chance of light snow today. So, nothing too horrible today. It's actually warmer here right now than where Amy, Missy, Luanne and Jeremy all live! (Go, Redford, go Redford!)

Anyway, back to bed...

I finally got up at 7:45 AM (after 15 minutes of that damn annoying alarm clock buzz). I made an 8-cup pot of coffee (I have a lot to do today) and then went to shave and shower.

I had some time left before leaving for my haircut. So, I cut open the first grapefruit. I cut between each section and then around the outside (do it the other way around and you're screwed). It took me quite a while to find my grapefruit spoon (hey, don't laugh! How many of you know exactly where your grapefruit spoon is?) I salted the top liberally and dug in while watching the morning news show.

It was better than I imagined! So good that I prepped the other half, salted it and ate it, too!

I left for my haircut at 9:15 AM. I spent an enjoyable 1/2-hour; flirting with my barber, Michelle, and the other ladies there (I'm such a scamp!)

Then it was off to the Value-Center Market (a mile north and still just off of Inkster Road). They had some great deals on canned goods I wanted to get in on.

So, I loaded up on pantry items. I did make two (well, technically, four) impulse buys. They did have some beautiful catfish filets (it's been a while and I dearly love them) and a LOT of Super Bowl Sunday specials. Now, I must admit, I'm not that big a fan of either football in general or the Super Bowl, but they have been constantly playing this ad for Queso Dip, using a can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies and 16 ounces of Velveeta cheese. I was curious. So, I bought one of each and some corn chips... We'll see...

Back home around 11:00 AM, I treated the cats, unloaded the car and put away the groceries. I filled in the Blog to date and then started the weekend wash.

DAMN! The bird feeder is on the ground and the rope broken!!! WTF? I am tempted to say screw you, people (well, birds and squirrels)!!! Instead, I trudged out there in my bathrobe (hey, I'm doing the weekend wash, here!) and retrieved it.

Let's review: I had a nice clay birdfeeder that they broke. I bought a plastic one they chewed through the top of. Now I'm using the old wood one that Lu and Sadie gave me years ago that they somehow cut the rope every few days. What the hell's left?

Obviously, I need a metal one, hung by a chain...

I was about 15 minutes into my afternoon nap when my daughter Melissa called. We talked for a while (okay, a long while). Once we had all our personal problems and the world's problems solved (we are good at this!), we hung up.

I watched a little more TV to get back into my nap mode and then fell asleep again.

For dinner, I ate the rest of that pasta salad. I had to skip the celery leaves, though. They were great the first time, but now they tasted funky.

I went to bed early, content with my day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Early Saturday morning post...

(I woke up in the early hours of Saturday morning and figured I might as well post this).

I woke up at 5:00 AM on Friday (half an hour before the alarm should go off).I tried to go back to sleep but just gave it up. I warmed up a cup of coffee and watched the early morning news.

When I got home after 5:00 PM, I checked the phone and saw that Lu had called around 11:00 AM but didn't leave a message. So, I tried to call back a couple of times. It was always busy. So, I thought the storm that hit the mid-Atlantic wiped out the telephones lines.

BTW, let's talk about this: We have a high pressure ridge in Michigan. While this is letting the Canadian cold winds whistle through, (freakin' cold!) it is also forcing the massive storm center to go south of us - hitting the mid-Atlantic states: (Missy, and Lu & Sadie). Sounds good, right?

On the other hand, we are WAY below our average snowfall here in Michigan. Why should we care? Well, here's the problem, we need the snowfall to feed the Great Lakes. It doesn't even really have to snow "here," It just has to snow like hell in Lake Superior. But, it hasn't and it doesn't look like it will, so I think that boaters will be screwed this summer. So much for all my fishing plans...

Anyway, I finally got a hold of Lu. They had like a foot of snow last week and now, today, it rained, then snowed, then switched to freezing rain and now had switched back to snow. Good luck, ladies!

Thinking about it, goats live high up in the Alps and the Rockies here in the US. I'd guess the colder temps wouldn't upset them too much. I haven't heard from Melissa, but, according to everything I'm looking at, she just got torrential rain (bad, but better than ice and snow).

I gave a little thought (just a little) to dinner. At first I was thinking maybe a sandwich. Since I have six hard-boiled eggs, at first I was thinking a tuna salad (made the way Carla makes it, with eggs). Then I thought maybe screw the second step and just go with egg salad.

But I kept thinking how chilled I was, so I went with my Mom's tuna and peas over wide egg noodles (I really wanted something warm). Simple, yet satisfying. Drained tuna mixed with a can of mushroom soup and a handful of frozen peas. Top that on buttered wide egg noodles and you're good to go. I ate that watching the John Wayne movie "True Grit." When that ended, I switched to the Friday Night Fights (one was excellent, BTW) and then went to bed...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dull Day

I woke up for no good reason at 4:00 AM on Thursday morning. I tried to fall back asleep but that didn't work. So, I watched the early morning news and weather.

I got a few things done, but mostly took the day off. I went from reading in the living room to watching TV in the bedroom and vice versa. I was sitting on the couch when I saw the mailman come, then I walked out to get the mail. So, I did get outside once...

I ate the last of the hamburger steak for dinner along with some parsnips I peeled, sliced and boiled.

I went to bed at 11:30 PM

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday

Fortunately, I woke up when the alarm went off on Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, I neglected to reset it from 6:30 AM (Tuesday's garbage run) to 5:30 AM (normal, get up for work time). So, I had to hustle.

But, I did manage to get to work in time (albeit a bit flustered).

When I left work at 11:00 AM, I had a few errands to run. First I went to Westborn and got more celery, two lemons and two grapefruit (I'm not sure why, but I have been CRAVING grapefruit).

Then I stopped at CVS and picked up a prescription and two birthday cards.

Finally, I went to the quarter car wash and hosed off all the dirt and salt (it's been a while, but I don't like doing this when it's really cold - sometimes the door seals freeze and you can't open the car!) Today, though, it's just at or above freezing, so I figured it was time.

Once home and back inside, I treated the cats and then switched my shoes for my boots. I unlocked the back door, grabbed the bird feeder and went outside. I refilled it, hung it back up, sprinkled some extra seed on the ground and on the patio and then went back inside.

The snow on the roof is thawing, but forming big icicles, BTW.

I emptied the dishwasher and then washed up the skillet and aluminum bowl from yesterday.

I ate the rest of the potato latkes (topped with sour cream) for lunch.

About 4:00 PM. I started on tonight's dinner: a simple pasta salad from Martha Stewart. So, I boiled a pound of medium shells in salted water until al dente. I drained them and rinsed them in cold water to stop the cooking process.

In a large bowl, I whisked up a cup of mayonnaise and the juice from one lemon. To that I added six stalks of fine-sliced celery plus about a cup of celery leaves.

Then I finely-chopped half of a red onion. All that went into the bowl with the pasta and got tossed to combine, with salt and pepper added. Hey, I told you it was simple! I put it in the fridge to chill and went to watch the 5:00 PM news.

I finally ate dinner about 7:00 PM. The pasta salad was great, although I had to add more salt (I tend to under-season).

I watched TV until 1:00 AM and then went to bed.

My wrists

I have thick hands and fat wrists. I attribute that to working construction in my early years and then the 15 years I spent in a factory.

You don't believe me? Well, just shake hands with a 50-year old carpenter. It's like grabbing a plank!

Now that only becomes a problem when I buy a watch or try to button a normal, long-sleeve shirt.

But, I like to think of it as a badge of honor...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Movie Day

I spent a frustrating night, but woke up just before the alarm on Tuesday. I set it for 6:30 AM so I could get my garbage out in time. I know, I know! My friend B___ puts his garbage cans out the night before (as do most of my neighbors). But, I use garbage bags and, the first few times I tried that when I moved in, somebody (cats, dogs, raccoons, possums, ?) ripped them to shreds to get to the tossed away leftovers or cooking scraps. I'd much rather freeze my butt off early in the morning than pick up week-old food scraps! Gross!!

Back inside, I wanted to make a pot of coffee, but found the fresh grounds almost gone (sigh). So, I filled the coffee grinder with whole beans, buzzed it up and made a six-cup pot. I filled in the Blog and sat on the couch to enjoy my first cup.

I went in to watch the Today show and found that Punxsutawney Phil (a groundhog) saw his shadow so we should have six more weeks of winter. I think this scientific approach is what makes America great!

I forgot to mention this, but on Monday morning, I noticed the bird feeder was down on the ground again. I'm not sure if the sisal rope just deteriorates or the squirrels chew it but this happens every couple of months. So I brought it inside yesterday and, today, my first chore was to replace the rope (again). Since I'm not scheduled to refill the feeder until tomorrow, it's just sitting there on the washer.

I made up my short-list of ToDo items and then went to accomplish them. When they were finished, I decided it was "movie day."

So, first I watched the "Fellowship of the Ring" (first movie of the trilogy "Lord of the Rings" and the only one I own). The promised snow still hasn't really materialized, just a light dusting on the driveway and patio. Then I took a short nap.

When I woke up, the snow seems to have gotten a little more organized. I cut off a couple pieces of the roast chicken breast and made myself a chicken sandwich for lunch.

I was back on the couch and back drinking another cup of coffee, watching the snow, when I saw the garbage men finally picking my garbage at 2:30 PM. Bastards! Why'd they come at like 7:01 AM last week? But, at least it's all gone now.

So, next movie: I had to choose between The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp or Inglorious Bastards. Since I just saw Inglorious Bastards, I went with The Ninth Gate (I love Lena Olin in this movie - she's a Swedish-born actress and she plays the devil).

Quick 5:00 PM update: Snow's lessened, but still coming down. The grass is almost covered, so I'd guess maybe 1/2 inch so far.

Sidebar: My next culinary experiment.

Background: A few months back, Jake had told me that Kroger was selling frozen French fries at a ridiculously low price. Now I like frozen French fries as they are a good side and I can make an individual portion in my toaster oven. But, when I got to the store, there was only like one bag left. However, there were still plenty of hash browns at the same low price, so I bought two bags of hash browns and the last French fry bag.

Well, here's the problem. I don't make or eat breakfast all that much. And, when and if I do, I like grits much better than hash browns. So, they've sat out in the chest freezer (taking up space) for a while now. And, whenever I try to get something out, they are in the way. So, they just piss me off.

But, I started thinking about it... What are hash browns except grated potatoes? Where else do you use grated potatoes? Then it hit me the other day: Potato latkes!

So, when I got a pound of hamburger out of the chest freezer for dinner tonight, I opened a bag and took about three cups of frozen hash browns out too. I figured when they thawed, they'd be about two cups, which is what I need.

Now, normally, you would grate up fresh potatoes for this until you got two cups worth. The fresh potatoes have a lot of starch and water in them, so you have to put them in a kitchen towel and squeeze them to get as much water out as possible. But the frozen ones (and they did thaw down to like two cups) seemed pretty dry.

So, I just added one tablespoon of a grated yellow onion, three beaten eggs, two tablespoons of flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. I mixed it all together and let that get happy while I heated about 1/4 inch of oil in my skillet.

I took a good heaping tablespoon of the mixture out for each and fried them up until they were golden on each side. I set them on paper towels to dry when I pulled them off and hit them with some Kosher salt. Then I put them in a 170 degrees F. oven to keep warm.

Note: This recipe only makes, like, six of them.

I dumped out the oil from the skillet and fried up sliced onions (the rest of the one I grated plus another medium-sized one) and a can of sliced mushrooms (I didn't have any fresh ones). When they were done, I put them in a bowl and they, too, went into the oven.

Next I made the pound of hamburger into a patty and fried it (getting a nice sear on both sides). I let it rest a bit, topped it with the onions and mushrooms and some A1 Steak Sauce. I plated it with two potato latkes, topped with sour cream and went off to watch some TV. I only ate half of the hamburger steak (I knew I couldn't eat it all).

I watched TV until 12:00 AM and then went to bed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Back to Work

It was back to work on Monday morning. It was still cold, still overcast (simply Michigan winter) but with an amazing lack of snow so far this season. Much better for driving, of course, but it will trash the Great Lakes levels next summer.

I ate too much of the rice mixture (with too much soy sauce on it) at lunch, so I didn't eat my afternoon apple (got to keep that damn doctor away) until 4:00 PM. As a result, I really wasn't hungry when dinner time rolled around.

I talked with my Web Site Administrator on the phone, hand-washed a few pots and pans, went through the mail (more tax stuff), got the garbage ready for tomorrow morning and generally putzed around until about 8:00 PM. Then I noticed I was finally getting hungry. It was a little too late for an elaborate meal, so I went with some simple, quick comfort food.

I warmed up a can of Campbell's Tomato soup while I grilled a toasted cheese sandwich. I put the soup in my biggest mug and the sandwich on a saucer and wandered in to watch TV.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sunday Supper

I awoke at 7:30 AM on Sunday. I made a 6-cup pot of coffee and then wrote out the Blog entry. It's 11 degrees F. out there but I am not complaining. The same high pressure system that's pushing in the artic cold kept the massive snow storm that dumped on Texas and Oklahoma south of us. I heard it hit North Carolina (my daughter Melissa) and Virginia (Sadie and Lu), with like ice and 6-8 inches of snow. I haven't heard from any of them (maybe the phone lines are out) but I hope they are all okay.

Here it's just quiet and cold.

I made myself three soft-boiled eggs for breakfast.

Melissa called at 1:00 PM. They only got two or three inches of snow, but that was topped with ice. We wouldn't think twice about that here, but there it paralyzed the whole state.

We talked about Sunday supper and I mentioned roasting a chicken and some butternut squash. She said she had a great recipe for butternut squash but you had to peel it. Peeling a butternut squash? I tried that once and never again! It's like trying to peel a rock!!

I took a nap after we hung up.

I started the roasted chicken and butternut squash at 6:00 PM. I cut the squash in half and dug out the seeds. I put a couple tablespoons of butter into each cavity and filled it with fresh thyme. Those went on a cookie sheet covered with tinfoil.

Next, I rinsed the brine off the chicken and patted it dry. I worked the skin loose here and there and slid in some compound butter I had made (butter and basil). I put a rough-chopped carrot, some celery, a couple cloves of garlic and an onion inside the bird and then trussed it. I rubbed the skin with olive oil (I think it makes it crispier than butter) and liberally sprinkled it with pepper. I put that in my small roasting pan.

I put the chicken and the squash into a preheated 350 degree F. oven and set the timer for an hour. When the timer went off, I checked the internal temperature of the chicken and took it out to rest. After about twenty minutes, I carved off a nice chunk and plated it with half the squash (discarding the thyme stems). It tasted fantastic!!!

I watched my usual Sunday night shows, but couldn't fall asleep until after midnight.