The lilac this year
Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday's forecast was for sunny skies and 60 degrees F. The inside of the car was very hot when I went home at lunchtime, so when I went back to work, I opened the windows a tad to let the heat out.
So, you can imagine my surprise when a co-worker came in from outside around 4:00 PM and said it was cloudy and raining! Crap!! I wanted to cut the lawn tonight.
But, it was sunny again when I drove home through the puddles. I had to swing by my closest market for an item for tonight's dinner, so I didn't get home until 5:30 PM. I checked the rain gauge and there was barely a trace of moisture, so I decided if and when the patio cement dried, it would be safe to cut the lawn.
At 6:30 PM, the patio was dry, so I gassed up the mower, checked the oil and then fired it up. The grass was thicker than the last time I cut it, so I turned the speed down a notch so it wouldn't look ragged.
I finished up and had everything put away by 8:30 PM. It was now too late to make the dinner I'd planned, so I heated up a can of hash, topped it with two over-easy eggs and ate that instead.
I watched a little TV and then went to bed at 10:00 PM.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
It was COLD Wednesday morning. We had a freeze warning (not "frost" but "freeze") warning until 8:00 AM. But when I checked my thermometer, it was at 34 degrees F.
When I got home, I treated the cats and while they were occupied, I managed to manhandle that box with the unassembled trellis from the garage into the back room.
But before I could even change my clothes, much less start assembling it, my daughter Melissa called. So, we talked...
By the time we hung up, it seemed a bit late to start a project. So, I warmed up some of the leftover hamburger and beans and ate dinner instead.
I watched taped TV shows until 10:00 Pm and then switched to "Top Chef." I went to bed at 11:00 when it finished.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The winds have still not died down from yesterday and it was colder today, so taking the garbage out to the road was a bit chilly.
I left work briefly at 9:00 AM to take my car to the repair shop (about a mile away). I had a co-worker pick me up and drive me to the car rental (about another mile away). Then I drove the rental car back to work.
When I was at lunch the repair shop called and asked me to call them back as soon as possible (uh, oh). I did and they told me it was NOT the oil cooler like they first thought ($595 estimate) but rather the turbo charger ($1,750 estimate)! Dammit! Oh, and it now will probably take five days instead of three (when it rains, it pours).
I must admit, I called a Volvo dealer (there are none around here) and verified the pricing. Not that I didn't trust him, but...
I had errands to run after work so didn't get home until about 6:00 PM. I changed clothes and then started a load of laundry (towels and bathmats that I didn't get to over the weekend.
While that was working its way through the process, I got out the electric sweeper and did the whole house. I'm not sure if it's the springtime or what, but I've never seen either cat shed as much as they are doing now.
I took a brief call from B___, who called to inquire on the status of the car. I filled him in and then we hung up (we both had to make supper).
Mine was easy. Jake had given me a chunk of leftover meatloaf. So, I took my remaining sweet potato, pieced it here and there and "baked" it in the microwave. When it had about three minutes left to go, I sliced the meatloaf and added it to the plate. When that was done, I took out the plate, covered it with tinfoil and stuck in a small covered bowl with some frozen sweet corn and a little water.
I added the corn to the plate and slit open the steaming sweet potato. I added butter and salt to both the corn and the sweet potato. Then I wandered in to eat and watch TV.
I watched a show on the History channel about ancient astronauts (fascinating) until the hockey game came on (seventh and last game for the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs).
Dinner was excellent, BTW. The meatloaf was a very traditional, hearty one, but so tasty I didn't need to add any topping. Both sides were good too.
And the game was great, too. As bad as the Wings sucked the last game I watched, they were flawless tonight. They won it (six or seven to one). Then I turned off the TV and went to bed just before midnight.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I got up with the alarm on Monday morning and went to work. It was still raining off and on, but I managed to (mostly) slip inside the raindrops. However, the big story was the north wind! I understand from the Weather Channel we are on the northern edges of the storms that caused such great devastation in the southeast US over the weekend (one tornado was like a mile wide and touched down for at least 97 miles!) I forget the death toll, but the pictures were horrible.
But, by the end of the day, it was sunny and 60 degrees F. (still with the strong north wind, though). I noticed the other day I have a couple of dandelions in the front garden, some along the garage garden and a bunch in the very back garden (next to the wall).
And so, after I got home and changed clothes, I grabbed a jacket and the dandelion digger and dispatched the ones in front and on the south side of the garage. Then I went out back and dug up all the ones in the rear garden (I threw them over the wall - hey, I figure that's fair! Your trash blows into my yard, you can take my weeds!) I was feeling good and back inside before 7:00 PM.
Before I went out back, I'd checked my soup cans. I was thinking Campbell's split pea with ham or beans with bacon. Unfortunately, I didn't have either of them left (my pantry's dwindling). So, I grabbed a pound of hamburger (from last fall's cow) and stuck it in some cold water to thaw. I forget the science involved, but cold water is the quickest method to thaw frozen meat.
Back inside, I filled in the Blog entry, checked my two email accounts and then shut the computer down. Then I made a version of the Palms Road poor people food: hamburger and beans. I say a version as I didn't have any plain pork and beans, just Bush's baked beans.
So, I saut�ed a diced onion, added some garlic and when that was translucent, added the hamburger. When that was browned, I drained the grease and added the 28-ounce can of beans. Now with plain pork and beans, you would also add some ketchup, yellow mustard and molasses. But since it's already kicked up a notch or two, I just put in the Bush's baked beans as is. I let that warm up and then got me a big bowl.
It tasted good and, when the rest cooled off, I put it in the fridge for leftover meals.
I watched two taped movies and so went to bed late.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Again I woke up near 8:00 AM. This must be the time God really wants me to wake up, not 5:30 AM. I posted the Blog (nothing to that as I didn't do anything) and then wandered out into the kitchen. It had rained hard overnight (about an inch in the rain gauge) but wasn't raining then.
I turned on Sunday Morning Over easy and sat on the couch until it ended at 11:45 AM. Then I went and shaved and showered.
My back still hurt, so I mostly read or watched TV. About 4:00 PM, I realized I was hungry, so I finally made the Creamed Eggs on Toast (it was raining again, BTW).
I peeled and chopped four hard boiled eggs and set them aside. I pour out 1 1/2 cups of cream and let that come to room temperature. I melted 1/4 cup of butter over medium-high heat, then stirred in 1/4 cup of flour. I whisked the roux until it started to turn light brown. Then I slowly whisked in the cream.
I turned off the heat and added salt and pepper to taste, then I stirred in the chopped eggs. I pour some of it over two pieces of toasted rustic Italian bread. So simple, yet very, very good!
Later, I watched my Sunday night shows and then went to bed at 11:00 PM.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
(The first being "The Pilgrim, Chapter 33" which is almost an autobiography of me)
Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down
~ Kris Kristofferson
Well I woke up Sunday morning
with no way to hold my head, that didn't hurt
and the beer I had for breakfast
wasn't bad so I had one more for dessert
then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes
and found my cleanest dirty shirt
and I shaved my face and combed my hair
and stumbled down the stairs to meet the day
I'd smoked my brain the night before
with cigarettes and songs that I've been pickin'
but I lit my first and watched a small kid
cussin' at a can that he was kicking
then I crossed the empty street
and caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin' chicken
and it took me back to somethin'
that I'd lost somehow somewhere along the way
On the Sunday morning sidewalks
wishing Lord that I was stoned
'cause there is something in a Sunday
that makes a body feel alone
and there's nothin' short of dyin'
half as lonesome as the sound
on the sleepin' city side walks
Sunday mornin' comin' down
In the park I saw a daddy
with a laughing little girl who he was swingin'
and I stopped beside a Sunday school
and listened to the song that they were singin'
then I headed back for home and
somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin'
and it echoed thru the canyon like
the disappearing dreams of yesterday.
On the Sunday morning sidewalks
wishing Lord that I was stoned
'cause there is something in a Sunday
that makes a body feel alone
and there's nothin' short of dyin'
half as lonesome as the sound
on the sleepin' city side walks
Sunday mornin' comin' down.`
I didn't wake up until almost 8:00 AM on Saturday. I watched the Today show until 9:00 and then posted the Blog. It was raining, then.
My back hurt like a son-of-a-b*tch, so I took the day off. I ate a half of a grapefruit around noon and some hardboiled eggs with horseradish in the evening. I mostly watched taped cooking shows and old movies, lying in bed with the heating pad. I also took a couple of interesting phone calls.
I did take a nap in the afternoon, which allowed me to stay up rather late at night. But I finally gave it up and went to sleep for real. It was raining pretty hard, then, so hopefully all my lawn and vegetable and flower seeds were getting watered.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I woke up 15 minutes late on Friday, with the alarm going off. In my dream it was somebody honking their horn, but it finally dawned on me it was the alarm clock.
At lunch, I swung by the bank and got out cash for the weekend (I only had five dollars in my wallet). In the afternoon, I called the repair shop and told Sam I'd be bringing the car in Tuesday morning. Then I asked a co-worker if he would follow me (it's less than a mile away) and then take me to the Enterprise car rental place (another half mile or so). He said yes, so I'm good to go (except for the costs).
Once home after work, I changed clothes and went outside. I got the wheelbarrow, a pitchfork and a shovel, along with my compost sifter. Now, my compost sifter is homemade. It's about a 2 foot by 2 foot square of 2" x 2" wood, with hardware cloth attached and some corner braces (see photos).
So, I went out back and used the pitchfork to dig off the top few layers of compost. I put that into this year's compost pile (I always have two - last year's and this year's). Then I put about six shovel-full of dirt onto the sifter. I broke up any large clumps and then bent over, picked up the sifter and shook it over the wheelbarrow. You do that for four or five times and you get a full wheelbarrow of compost.
Needless to say, this is a tremendous strain on one's back. Belatedly, I thought maybe I should do less compost per shaking. I got two wheelbarrow's full before my back gave out completely (I wanted three, though). I dumped them in the raised bed garden.
Then I selected the biggest hosta in the back and, using the shovel, cut it in half. I hate to do that, but they never seem to mind. I put that in the wheelbarrow (along with the pitchfork, shovel and compost sifter) and went to the front yard, after filling in the hole out back with fresh compost and then covering it with nearby mulch.
In the front yard, I dug out a hole near the new shrub (and the tulip) and got a bucket of water. I poured half the bucket into the hole and then set the hosta in it. I put the dirt I'd dug out around it, and then covered it with mulch. I tamped it down and called it good.
I put away the shovel, pitchfork and compost sifter and replaced that with the rake and the garden weasel, and went back in the backyard. I raked the piles of compost out and then worked it into the existing soil with the weasel. Then I took everything back inside and got a hammer, some nails, a tape measure and some string.
One of the reasons I think last years garden was under-productive was because I over-planted it. So, this time, I marked off 12-inch rows (instead of the 8-inch one's I did last year), pounded the nails in and tied off strings. Then I planted the first two rows with leaf lettuce, cabbage, carrots and snap peas (again see photos).
I put everything away and washed up around 7:00 PM. I am totally pleased with myself, BTW, using the nice nights to get so much work done, knowing the weekend's supposed to be rainy.
I had just started to think about dinner when my friend B___ called. We talked for a while catching each other up (he's working on his boat and me on my gardens).
When we hung up, the couch that had eased my aching back kept singing it's siren song to me. So, I started reading a magazine I'd got in the mail today. The next thing I knew it was 2:00 AM and I went to bed.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I was thinking the last time I did the wash about roles and responsibilities. I inadvertently left something in one of my pants pockets. I remembered it (belatedly), dug out the wet pants and retrieved it. Now, I'm on my own here so it's all up to me. But it did make me think...
In a multiple person home situation, whose responsibility is it to check for this stuff? The person who puts their clothes in the hamper or the person who puts the clothes in the washer?
Thursday morning was chilly, but it was supposed to get to 60 degrees F. by 5:00 PM. I ate half of a big grapefruit for breakfast (heavily salted).
At lunch I stopped at Westborn to get the onions and the Gruyere cheese for this weekend's soup. On a whim, I also picked up some Amish Blue Cheese they just got in.
After work and after changing clothes, I got to work. First I watered the mailbox garden and the new shrub. Then I poured the rest of the bag of dirt I bought into the dirt left over from digging out the hole for the arborvitae (in the wheel barrow) and took that out back. I also took a rake, the "Garden Weasel" and the dandelion digger.
First stop was the west end of the horseshoe pits. This got chewed up by that yahoo when he got stuck trying to deliver the mulch last year (or has it been two?) I used up all the dirt fixing the ruts. I went back inside and got some grass seed for the spots that needed it. I applied that and then worked it in with the rake.
I moved over to the raised bed garden and dug out all the weeds with the dandelion digger. I raked out all the pine cones and pine needles and then worked the soil up with the garden weasel.
I put everything away and went back inside at 6:45 PM (I figure if I do a little each night, I can make up for my weekend work as it's supposed to rain this weekend).
I put eight eggs in my medium saucepan with cold water on the stove and brought that to a boil. Just about then, Lu called. She's done with birthing baby goats (43 of them!) and had a very successful sale of soaps and products, so she's happy.
When the egg water began to boil, I took the pan off the heat, covered it and set the timer for 10 minutes (the easiest way to make perfect hardboiled eggs).
After I hung up the phone from Lu, it immediately rang again. It was my daughter Melissa. We chatted for a while (not as long as usual) and then hung up as well.
It was late now, so I put the hardboiled eggs in the fridge and just ate some leftovers for dinner (rather than the creamed eggs I'd planned).
I watched some TV and then went to bed.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I woke up Wednesday morning two minutes before the alarm went off. I soldiered on and got ready for work and left a few minutes early (why? I dunno...)
At lunchtime, I took pictures of the only tulip that has blossomed this year. It's quite pretty and I hope the photos do it justice.
I came straight home after work, changed clothes and then got out the 100-foot extension cord and the Sawzall. I went out back and cut the pine tree stump from last year (as level as I could make it) to about 18 inches high. I want to put a flower pot on top of it, you see. Between the ferns and the Lily-of-the-Valley, the Wild Garden is really coming on.
Then I got out the line trimmer and started on the areas the 100-foot cord could reach (it ended just at the start of the raised bed garden). I began to work my way back to the patio when the wind picked up. They said on the morning weather forecast a cold front would be moving in after 5:00 PM, bringing the possibilities of a brief shower. Sure enough, just as I was finishing up, it started to sprinkle (not rain, just sprinkles). But, I'm pretty sure the dumbest thing you can do when its raining is be holding an electric appliance. So, I hurriedly finished up, turned off the power and wound the 100-foot cord up. I was back inside just after 6:30 PM.
So it's still a little early to worry about "supper" (thanks to Tarami Sue for clearing that up), so I went on the Web to see what's going on. By some weird coincidence, I now have two open boxes of beef broth, so I need to use them up before they go bad. The first thing that came to mind was French Onion Soup over the weekend. So, that's what I planned.
Then, about 7:00 PM, I checked outside. The wind had abated and the sprinkling seemed to have stopped. Dammit! I'd hope it would rain long enough to water the front garden and mailbox seeds. Oh well, it's supposed to rain all weekend (which is why I keep doing this every weekday night).
I filled the Blog in to date and then made a quick salad of hearts of Romaine and thin sliced onions. I dressed that with the store-bought Ranch dressing. Then I heated up a Marie Callender's chicken pot pie in the microwave. I'm cheating, but chilling, tonight.
I watched TV and then went to sleep early.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday dawned with some clouds in the sky. It's supposed to be nice, though with a high near 66 degrees F. I got the trash out by 7:00 AM and then got dressed for work.
The trash wasn't gone when I left for work at 7:15, but it was when I went home for lunch. I warmed up the last of the eggplant Parmesan for lunch (or what we called dinner, back in the day). I know, I know, its confusing. But, when I was a little kid, there was breakfast, dinner and supper. How dinner and supper became interchangeable, I'll never know.
Back at home after work, I changed into my outside work clothes (as opposed to my "go to work" work clothes). I messed around a bit with the mail, email, etc., but before 6:00 PM I was outside with my line trimmer and a 100-foot extension cord.
I need to get everything done during the week as its supposed to rain and be cold both Saturday and Sunday.
I worked at a steady pace and trimmed the entire front yard. About half-way through, the original line (I just bought this last summer when my old one crapped out) separated from the spool. Damn!
I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but the Owner's or Operators guide that came with it was rather vague. So, it took me quite a while to figure out how to put more line on it. This slowed the whole operation down. But, I finally prevailed and by 7:00 PM, I had coiled up the extension cord, put away the line trimmer, brushed off my pants and shoes and was back in the house. It looks good!
Then I started dinner. I put two chicken thighs on a plate and sprinkled them all over with one tablespoon of flour. I heated up two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil in my large nonstick skillet (medium-high heat). When the oil shimmered, I added the chicken (shaking off the excess flour) and cooked them, turning once, until they were browned on both sides (4-6 minutes). I must say they already look great (or I'm just really hungry). I pulled them out and put them on another plate, covered with tin foil to keep warm.
I added another teaspoon of oil, one large leek (sliced) and four ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms (also sliced). I cooked those, stirring often, until the leaks were tender (say 6-8 minutes).
Then I sprinkled the veggies with the excess flour and stirred them to coat. Then I added 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 1/4 cup of dry white wine and a pinch of salt and brought it to a simmer. I returned the chicken to the pan and, turning it occasionally, simmered it until it was cooked through (another 4-6 minutes). Then I stirred in 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon (one teaspoon if you have fresh - I didn't).
I had also "baked" a sweet potato in the microwave and that, with a little butter and salt served as my side dish.
It was EXCELLENT! This recipe is a keeper. This dish is supposed to serve two, but I must admit I ate it all!
I watched a little TV, but gave it up early. Both my back and right shoulder hurt from the trimming, so I went to sleep.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
If you are like me and a little financially challenged these days, but still envious of friends who have surround sound, here's a tip. If you are watching an action movie with, say, explosions, turn the sound up a little more than is comfortable. Then, whenever an explosion occurs, bounce a little on your couch or chair (in my case the bed). Bingo! Semi-surround sound!
On Monday morning, the Blog was late because so was I. Not "late" late, but late enough I had to hustle to get to work on time.
At lunch, I swung by Westborn to get a loaf of bread. I'm not sure why bread wasn't on the list when I came here Saturday. When I got back home, the first thing I saw was the birdfeeder, on the ground! I went out to retrieve it (the cable came undone at the bottom). I'll try to reassemble it later.
Since I was out there anyway, I stretched out the hose its entire length to warm in the abundant sunshine. Hopefully this will help it to coil nicely (it was a mess).
When I got home after work, I just changed my shoes. I grabbed the lawn tractor key and a light jacket and went out to cut the lawn (after I coiled the hose up). This is one of the jobs that didn't get done over the weekend (Hey, it was snowing Saturday morning and cold and windy on Sunday).
I got it all cut, but did no trimming (although it needs it). It was well after 7:00 PM when I got everything buttoned up and was back inside. I had a voicemail from my daughter Melissa and so tried to call her back. No luck. I was just starting to get out my dinner (leftover eggplant Parmesan) when my friend called. We caught each other up on our weekends and hung up at 8:15 PM.
I warmed three slices of the eggplant in the microwave and ate it watching TV. Now that it's the second day, I am more critical. It has a little too much red pepper flakes, too little mozzarella and too much Parmesan cheese, I think. Oh, and the eggplant itself is still undercooked (my theory that the microwave would finish cooking it obviously didn't work). Still, overall, it tasted good and was filling,
I watched taped shows until about 10:00 PM when I started getting sleepy. So, I shut it off and went to bed.
Monday, April 19, 2010
I woke up late on Sunday. I'd planned on making creamed eggs on toast, but realized I had no bread! So, I settled for coffee again, instead.
After shaving, showering and getting dressed, I finished up the outdoor faucet project. I slipped the insulation on that pipe (after cutting it to length) and reinstalled the access cover. Then I could put the countertop back on and the kitty litter box under it. Wow! It's nice to have the backroom back again!
I still had about five feet of that pipe insulation tube left, so I put it on the pipe coming from the hot water heater. No sense letting it go to waste.
I have been reading a book about old naval battles so, in the afternoon, I watched the movie "Master and Commander" again.
Interesting fact: French gunners were instructed to fire at the masts and riggings (presumably so they could take the other ship as a prize) while English gunners typically aimed at the hull (to damage the ship enough that the crew would give up). No wonder England ruled the seas!
I still had half a cabbage left from Easter's coleslaw, so I cut that in four quarters and boiled it in some beef stock. It was delicious!
I watched my Sunday shows and went to bed after the 11:00 news.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I woke up at 7:15 AM on Saturday and immediately stripped the bedding. I started the weekend wash and then fill out the Blog entry. When the washer stopped, I threw the bedding into the dryer and me into the shower. I have a LOT of errands to run this morning.
I just had coffee for breakfast, got dressed and left for my 9:30 AM hair cut. Next I went to the bank for a refill (money always helps on errand days). Then I stopped at Westborn for a few items I needed (and a few that I didn't).
Then it was time to get the oil changed and that's when my morning went to shit. Not sure if I mentioned this in the Blog, but my car has been leaving little drips of oil, here and there (Jake pointed it out to me a while back when he noticed some in his driveway after I'd been there). I'd hosed off the undercarriage and tried to see where it might be coming from, but no luck. B___ suggested a loose oil plug or filter, but I told him it wasn't in the middle of the car (where they are) but on the right hand side by the front tire.
So, I was gonna ask them to see if they noticed any leaking, but before I could, they guy asked me if I'd had to add any oil since my last oil change. I said, "Yes, a quart, but I didn't think it was strange as I went way beyond the 3000 miles." He asked if I'd get out of the car, he wanted to show me something. Uh, oh...
Turns out the coolant container for the anti-freeze (located on the right side, just over the front tire) had oil coming out of the cap! My heart sank!
I used to be a fairly good mechanic (ASE-certified in Engine Rebuilding) but all my knowledge is at least 20 years old. So I immediately thought: oil in the coolant - blown head gasket (thousands of dollars to fix these days)!
I asked if he thought that was it and he said he didn't know, but would get the mechanic from next door (I never noticed but the quick oil change place is located next to a full service garage and owned by the same people).
The mechanic walked over (his shirt said his name was Sam) and started looking around. He was very concerned that the coolant might be in the engine or transmission oil and tested it in many ways. Thankfully, there was no evidence of that (water in engine or transmission oil will cause it to seize up and you need a new one then).
I asked about the blown head gasket and he said if that's what it was, it would have overheated. I told him no, it's in the same place on the gauge it's always been. He said he wanted to check out Volvo's on his computer and left for a while (while I fretted). He came back and said there is an oil cooler mounted on the engine which has feeds from both the radiator (coolant) and the engine oil. He thinks that a seal between them ruptured and the engine is pumping a little engine oil into the coolant. He suggested I leave it for them to look at. I told him it was my only car and I live alone, so I couldn't. He mentioned what would happen if the coolant got into the engine (trashed) and I said I knew that.
I asked him about possible repair costs and he said he had no idea yet. He'd have to check on availability of parts for a Volvo, take it apart, pressure check it, flush the cooling system several times to get all the oil out, etc. If that was the problem, he'd either have to replace the seal (if possible) or the entire unit (more likely). He suggested I call him on Monday to get a better idea of what this may cost in repairs. He also said he'd need the car at least a day (groan - I'll have to walk to work and back, I guess).
He had the guys use a tube vacuum thingie they use to suck out transmission fluid to get out as much oil as they could from the coolant (luckily oil and water do not mix) and then refilled it. They didn't charge me for that, but I figure they figure to make it up on the cost of my repairs...
From there, I went to Home Depot. I bought a bag of ready-mix cement for the trellis I bought last fall but never put together because of my arm operation, a can of expanding insulating foam (Jake's favorite), and one of those foam insulating pipe covers (that look like a pool toy). I need to finish up that faucet install, put back on the access cover and the counter top and move on.
I got home just after noon. I put the next load in the washer and made the bed back up. Then I finished loading the dishwasher and turned it on.
Then I got back to that stupid faucet. If you remember, it stood out from the siding a tad (as did its predecessor). I also cannot screw it down (it has two flanges for this, as did the old one, but directly behind the siding is a cement block wall. I talked with B___ about that and he suggested sliding some wood behind it, using adhesive/caulk to secure it and then screwing it on. Sounded like a plan...
I checked the depth and of course (siding is angled) the top is just under 1/2 inches away but the bottom is only 1/4 inch away. So, I made various calculations and decided a block of 1/4-inch plywood, 2 3/4' x 2 3/4' with a one inch hole in the center would work. So, I made that. Then I got some almond spray paint (my siding is almond colored) and painted it several coats.
I brought inside (it stinks) and it was dry about 3:00 PM, so I used the band saw to cut two slots in it (so I could slide it over the pipe), then applied my clear adhesive/caulk to the back (more on the top, less on the bottom) and slipped it in. Tight fit, but I got it! Then I applied the adhesive/caulk (this is the same stuff I used to hold in the soap dish and two shelves in the downstairs shower, so I know it works), to the cut out piece and slid that into place as well.
Then I donned two rubber gloves, shook up the foam and, sticking the end of the tube in the hole through the cement block, let her rip! When that was full, I tried to use the rest to extra-insulate the cement block wall. That didn't work (it wouldn't stick and just fell to the bottom) so, knowing how that silly tube hardens up, I just threw the rest of the can away. I set the stove timer for an hour (maximum expansion time), so I can check and see if it blew the little board out straight. If so, I'll caulk the top of it again. If not, it is what it is.
BTW, remember me braggin' on Thursday about how warm it was here compared to anywhere else I check? Well, today we are the coldest. Colder than my daughter Amy in BFE Minnesota and colder that Canada Cathy in Alberta, Canada (where they still live in igloos)! (God hates me...) It actually was snowing a little when I went for my hair cut.
While I was waiting for the foam to expand, I went out to water the mailbox garden and the new arborvitae. I also grabbed the mail while I was out there (and freezing). Inside, I grabbed the Glad container I'd washed and dried and walked it over to my neighbors (it had the lasagna Tammy gave me last Sunday). I told Rick it was excellent and to please tell her thank you and he gave me a magazine they delivered to his house instead of mine (this happens a lot).
At that point, I took a nice long nap. I woke up just before 6:00 PM and started dinner. Now, I know how to make excellent eggplant Parmesan. But, I thought I would try this "healthier" recipe.
So, I heated up some canola oil, added a medium diced onion and cooked that until it was soft (about five minutes). Then I added about a tablespoon of chopped garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I cooked that a minute or so and then added a 28-ounce of crushed tomatoes (I learned from the rolled up lasagna) and two tablespoons of Italian seasoning (thanks to my brother Joe and Kathy). I seasoned it with salt and pepper and brought it to a simmer and let it go until I needed it.
Now, this recipe calls for leaving the skin on (as does Lu) but (like cilantro) I hate that shit. It tastes too bitter to me. So, I peeled it and cut two of them into 3/4 inch slices. I took the biggest ones and ran them through my breading station: flour, eggs and water and then Italian bread crumbs with cornmeal.
Instead of frying them (like I like) I put them on a rack on a half sheet pan and stuck them in a oven set at 375 degrees F. The recipe called for 20 - 25 minutes. I pulled it out at 20 minutes. I think that was my mistake.
I used a cake pan (I couldn't find my Pyrex dish) and wiped it with olive oil. I added a ladle of tomato sauce and then arranged the eggplant slices in it, overlapping. I topped them with the rest of the sauce and then added a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and a quarter cup of shredded Parmesan.
I stuck that dish into the oven with the broiler on until the cheese was melted and bubbly (three to four minutes). I garnished it with fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and plated it.
Here was when I was disappointed (again - today sucks!) The flavor was fantastic, but the eggplant slices were not cooked through. Damn! I don't have that problem when I fry them in oil! This healthy stuff sucks!
I put the rest in the fridge after they cooled. Maybe reheating the in microwave will cook them to the right consistency.
I watched TV and then went to bed.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I woke up with the alarm clock on Friday. I went to work and at lunch time, I went to Home Depot. I took along the copper faucet assembly I'd removed yesterday. I decided that, since I knew now there was an internal house shutoff, there was no sense in spending the money for such an elaborate gizmo. I'll just open up the access panel every fall and turn it off.
So, I guessed at the length I would need and had a galvanized pipe cut to that dimension. Then I had them thread both ends. I also bought a new faucet. I took a picture of old and new for you.
When I got home after work, I put pipe tape on both ends. Then I screwed on the faucet. I took a magic marker to show where (exactly) the outside faucet would be straight. I didn't want to go outside and crank on this to get it right and risk breaking the solder on the inside copper joint.
I used the pipe wrenches again to hold the copper joint and screw in the pipe. I went back outside and turned the faucet on. Then I turned on the inside shutoff valve. I went back outside and turned off the faucet. Then I got my flashlight and checked for drips. I wrapped the joint with a paper towel and waiting for any leaks. A half hour later, the paper was still dry!
The damn faucet was still about 1/2 inch off the wall, but the original was sticking out as well. So, I figured I'd figure something out...
I thought about screwing the access panel back on and then decided to wait until tomorrow (just in case).
It was almost 8:00 PM by then, so I started my dinner. I deboned the last two chicken thighs and put the meat in a saucepan. Then I added more of the Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and warmed it up. When it was hot, I put it on two onion rolls, added two dill pickles and went in to watch the first "Rocky" movie. When it finished, I went to bed.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday morning, I awoke refreshed and ready. You probably know that I have a Yahoo weather alert set up for all my kids' locations, along with Lu and Canada Cathy. I am proud to say today, we here in Redford are supposed to have the highest temperature today (80 degrees F.)! What a day to play hooky!! If only I could afford it...
At lunchtime, I went to Meijer's to get a few items. Driving back home, the open windows and the sunroof wasn't cutting it, so I turned on the air conditioner in the car for the first time this year.
After work, I changed clothes and then took apart the outdoor faucet (from the inside). I used two pipe wrenches I bought from Meijer's today (cheap China shit) because I can't find my old pipe wrenches (did I lend them to Jake?)
Hopefully, I didn't disturb the solder on the copper pipe (I hate that!) I put the pipe in the trunk to take to Home Depot tomorrow. I then went and dragged out the grill and fired up the charcoal chimney. While that was catching fire, I replaced the side discharge chute on the lawn tractor. That was a pain, since I only had one 11-millimeter socket (no 11-millimeter wrench). So I used a clamping pair of pliers and got it done.
I took out the four chicken thighs, cut away the excess fat with cooking shears (my sharp knife didn't seem to work so well) and seasoned them with just salt and pepper. I put them on a platter to come up to room temperature.
I also had some fat green onions or scallions that were getting a bit tired (I always fall for that "three bunches for $X.XX." Then I use two or three and end up throwing the rest away). So, I cleaned up the sad outer layers and put the 10 of them on a cookie sheet. I added a drizzle of olive oil, a lot of kosher salt and tossed them about a bit. Then I let them sit, as well.
When that was done, my friend B___ called. I'd been bugging him about a photograph. He's been looking for it for over two weeks and it turned out I had sent him that scanned image in 2005. So, I now have to look for it.
We talked a while and finally, he suggested I check my charcoal. So, I hung up and did. It was a little reduced, so I added some fresh, shut the lid and went back inside for a bit. Then I went out, cleaned the grates, oiled then and put the chicken (skin side down) on and set the timer for 10 minutes.
I checked the TV listings for tonight's program and found AMC had the "Ninth Gate" on. I love that movie! But, not on AMC. They have commercials and don't show the X-Rated parts. But, I turned it on in spite of this. I love Johnny Depp in this role (and love the Devil even more).
When the timer went off, I went outside and flipped the chicken. I reset the time for 10 minutes. Finally I moved the chicken on the cool side of the grill (to keep it warm and let it finish cooking, if needed), basted them with "Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce" and threw the scallions on. I watched them like a hawk, having burnt asparagus like this before. These I kept moving and kept watching for grille marks. As soon as it thought they were ready, I pulled everything off.
OMG!!! The chicken was good, hell, it might have been great. But I didn't notice... the grilled scallions were FANTASTIC!!! I only had 10, but wish I'd done 30. I am not sure if other people grill scallions, but try it yourself. Good eats!!
Oh, and while I said I didn't notice the chicken, I must confess I ate two pieces, lol. When the other two were cool, I bagged 'em and threw them in the fridge.
I fell asleep before the movie ended. When I woke up to go to the bathroom, I turned off the TV and Newt's lamp and went to bed for real.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Because I'd stayed up so late the night before, I was kinda dragging throughout Wednesday morning.
I had to run an errand at lunchtime, but did get home in time to eat a bite and watch the news. It was getting definitely warmer by then, so I left my light jacket at home when I went back to work.
When I got home after work, I didn't change clothes, just shoes. I had some light chores to do outside and, since I had to do the Wednesday night laundry anyway, I figured what the hell.
First I put out all my outdoor statues. That would be the small Buddha back by the wall, the other one in the wild garden (where I saw a beautiful little yellow flower I'd never seen before) the young Shaolin monk, the turtle and the little gargoyle (all by the patio) and the frog out in front (in the tree garden).
I noticed I could use a lot more mulch, but fear that's not gonna happen this year.
Then I hooked up the hose and turned the water on from the inside. If you remember, that outside faucet broke last year and I had my own backyard ice sculpture. Well, it's still busted (water was spraying all over the place) but I put up with it long enough to fill the reflecting pool. The pool had a lot of dirt and debris in it, so I kept on stirring it so the water could wash some of it out.
While that was getting clean, I went out front and moved the mailbox tub closer to the newly paved road. If you remember, both the postman and I had to drive down off the pavement to get to it (uncomfortable at anytime and difficult in the winter snow).
I added some dirt to the tub and then planted what Burpee calls its Mailbox and Lamppost garden seeds (Egyptian Pea vine, Black-eyed Susan Vine, Zinnia and Nasturtiums). I hauled out a bucket of water for it and another for the arborvitae.
I finally shut off the water and set out the water lily.
I took a few pictures for you. Then I shut everything up and finally changed clothes. I started the Wednesday night wash. It was about 7:30 PM. I took a phone call, chatted a while and when I hung up, it was after 8:00 PM.
Now it was a bit too late for making dinner, so I ate more leftovers (I am getting a bit tired of the "goulash"). After I hung up the laundry, I watched a little TV, but went to bed early, the recorder set to tape anything I might be missing.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I made a snack on Tuesday at lunchtime for later in the evening. I got some more prosciutto last week, thinking I'd get some melon again (that was great). But time has passed and no melon has been forthcoming!
Now I forget who I saw do this (I think it was Jamie Oliver) but here's what I did. I cut up some fresh feta cheese into 2-3 inch long, 1/2-inch squares. I sliced some basil leaves into about the same sized strips.
Then I took each piece of prosciutto, put a chunk of the feta at one end, topped it with a basil strip and rolled them up. I stood each one up in a glass bowl, then I filled the bowl about 1/4 full of olive oil. I put them in the fridge for tonight and warmed up some faux goulash for my lunch.
After work, I decided it was really time to do something about the cat hair around here (see Monday's post). Then it dawned on me! With all the first-time grass cutting over the weekend, I never really cleaned the house!!
So, I swept and vacuumed all the rooms. Next, I washed the main bathroom floor and fixtures. I took a break then and watched the news while the floor dried. When I could use the bathroom again, (important, lol!)I washed the kitchen floor. I finished at 7:20 PM.
Supper was supposed to be a roast beef sandwich which I made (with the horseradish sauce). But, as I was eating it, I grew more and more concerned with an "off" flavor. I checked and I had bought it on April 5. My handy-dandy chart says deli meat is good for five days in the fridge. Not wanting to poison myself, I threw out the rest of the sandwich. Dammit! I hate that!!
I started watching taped shows. I was still awake at 10:00 PM and now hungry, so I tried the prosciutto roll-ups. Hmmm... not bad. The salty cheese and salty ham was a bit more intense than the prosciutto and melon (I think I liked that sweet and salty taste better). But, the basil was a nice counter-point. It was, however, a lot more "heavy" flavor, so I could only eat three of them.
Hey, try it and see for yourself.
I'm not sure why, but I stayed awake until 1:00 AM.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I woke up with the alarm clock on Monday. When I realized I had to go to work, I groaned and got out of bed. I shaved, showered, got dressed and headed out. I didn't wear a jacket as it's supposed to be sunny and 67 degrees F.
At lunchtime I went to Home Depot. I bought some more vegetable seeds, an eight-inch clay pot and bottom dish, a bag of dirt (made for trees and shrubs, they say) and that 3-foot emerald green arborvitae. Then I hit Westborn for some veggies and mushrooms. It wasn't until I got back home to unload everything I realized I should have bought more grapefruit!
Okay, background for the bum story: Last week sometime, I opened the door to the office suite (its card access and you have to go outside the suite to get to the bathrooms). I held it open for a co-worker (Joyce), who thanked me. I said, "After you!" and let her walk in front of me. Why? Because when you are a crip, you are very self-conscious about having people walk behind you (you walk funny and you know it). We walked about 10 feet and she suddenly whirled around and demanded, "Are you looking at my bum?" I laughed and said (honestly), "No, I was looking at your hair!" She has beautiful, waist-length, crinkly red hair, you see.
So, today, I was walking out to the suite door and she was headed that way, too, (behind me). So, I spun around and demanded, "Are you looking at my bum?" She laughed and said, "Yes!" Imagine the ego-boost! Well, it only lasted long enough until she explained, "You have a big clump of cat hair back there!"
She did ask if I wanted her to get it. I said yes (of course) and so got a pretty young girl to grab my butt. Hey, these days, it's the little things...
After work, I switched shoes and then went out to dig a big freaking hole in the front garden. I filled it with a bucket of water and tried the bush in the hole. Nope, too deep! So, I put back in some of the original dirt until the shrub was even with the rest of the garden. Then I poured in the store-bought dirt. I kept fussing with it to make sure it was straight on all sides. Then I tamped the dirt a tad to keep it there and covered it with about three inches of mulch.
I went in the house, washed up and got the camera. I took a few pictures of my efforts (I think I need to transplant some hostas next to it to balance that side of the house). Since I was playing photographer, I went out back and took a photo of the trillium my niece, Hannah, helped me find at my Mom's house last fall, some pretty ground cover I never remember the name of and the Flowering Plum (which is now flowering).
Back inside, I started a load of clothes that I didn't wash over the weekend and checked my messages. There were two, both from Sunday. One from my brother Joe, thanking me for the birthday card I sent him and telling me they are off on another three-week cruise. The other was from my daughter Melissa, who said she really didn't have anything to talk about; she just wanted to get out of doing chores. You gotta love that girl!
I called my friend B___ to find out how his weekend went. We talked until after 8:00 PM, so an elaborate dinner was out of the question. I warmed up some Dinty Moore Beef Stew and cut off two big hunks of that Rustic Italian bread.
I ate that watching some TV, but went to bed early. I was beat!
Monday, April 12, 2010
I woke up on Sunday just after 8:00 AM. I warmed up some coffee and drank it listening to Sunday Morning Over Easy.
I got cleaned up and dressed when that program ended (at 11:45). I had two more French Dip sandwiches for lunch.
I went outside and opened the back gate. Then I got the lawn tractor fired up (I had to jump it with the car battery. I should have put the trickle charger on it last week, I suppose).
I cut the side lawn and then the back lawn. Somewhere in the middle of cutting the back lawn, my neighbor, Tammy, waved me down. She had a big slice of lasagna she had just made for their Sunday dinner. I gratefully accepted it.
Once I was done, I put everything away and buttoned up the back gate and garage. Inside, I watched some taped cooking shows, waiting for my Sunday favorites. Just before they came on, I warmed up the lasagna in the microwave. It was very good!
I watched my shows and then went to bed at 11:00 PM.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I woke up just after 8:00 AM on Saturday, with the sun streaming in the windows. I turned on Saturday Morning, Over Easy, put the bedding in the washer and started a pot of coffee.
I had a "TaDa" breakfast planned, but the trouble was I wasn't all that hungry. So, I ate the last grapefruit, instead.
I watched a few Saturday cooking shows and then fell asleep again. I took about a two hour nap, woke up and felt much better. I ate two more French Dip sandwiches for lunch.
I went outside, filled up the push mower with gas, checked the oil and cut the front lawn. About half-way through, my neighbor's (Rick and Tammy) came out and planted a new tree (a weeping cherry?) I turned off the mower and we chatted for a long while.
They said the outdoor section checkouts are now open at Home Depot (they weren't when I bought the flower seeds and I ended up walking like a mile or so to pay for them). So, I've been waiting to buy that arbor vitiae. Maybe Sunday or Monday...
I finished up around 5:00 PM, put the mower away and shut everything up. I was thinking about dinner and finally settled on what Luanne used to call "goulash" (it was her step-mother's recipe). Now I knew even back then it wasn't really goulash but the only thing I could remember was you added V-8 Juice to the mix.
So, I called Lu and just got her recorder. Then I tried calling her step-mom, Gerry, down in Florida and got her recorder, too! I gave up and made it up myself.
I browned up a pound of hamburger. I added a couple of small, yellow onion (fine diced) and four cloves of minced garlic. Meanwhile, I cooked 1/2 pound of elbow macaroni. When that was done and drained, I added it to the hamburger/onion mix and dumped in enough V-8 Juice to make it wet. (I was gonna use that with Carla's pepper vodka, but I forgot to take it home).
I let that get happy for a while, then put a big helping in a soup bowl. I ate that watching some TV. I kept checking the TV listing for something interesting and, apparently, found something on the SciFi channel (I think it had to do with mutated piranhas). But I fell asleep during the show.
I woke up around 4:00 AM. The SciFi channel was still on and they were playing old reruns of the "Twilight Zone." I watched two of them (black and white and weird), then I turned the TV and Newt's light off and went to bed.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Tangled Up In Blue
~ Bob Dylan
Early one mornin' the sun was shinin',
I was layin' in bed
Wond'rin' if she'd changed at all
If her hair was still red.
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like mama's homemade dress
Papa's bankbook wasn't big enough.
And I was standin' on the side of the road
Rain fallin' on my shoes
Heading out for the east coast
Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through,
Tangled up in blue.
She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess,
But I used a little too much force.
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out west
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best.
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin' away
I heard her say over my shoulder,
"we'll meet again someday on the
Tangled up in blue.
I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell.
So I drifted down to new orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin' for a while on a fishin' boat
Right outside of delacroix.
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind,
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind, and I just grew
Tangled up in blue.
She was workin' in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer,
I just kept lookin' at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear.
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I's just about to do the same,
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, "don't I know your name? "
I muttered somethin' underneath my breath,
She studied the lines on my face.
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe,
Tangled up in blue.
She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a
"i thought you'd never say hello," she
"you look like the silent type."
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an italian poet
From the thirteenth century.
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin' coal
Pourin' off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you,
Tangled up in blue.
I lived with them on montague street
In a basement down the stairs,
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air.
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died.
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside.
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn,
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin' on like a bird that flew,
Tangled up in blue.
So now I'm goin' back again,
I got to get to her somehow.
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now.
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter's wives.
Don't know how it all got started,
I don't know what they're doin' with their
But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue.
...you don't think I am trivializing either the recent mining disaster in China or the current one in West Virginia, but this brought to mind a favorite mining song...
Big John, 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)
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)
This reminds me of an old, lost friend... You know who you are...
~ Performed by Crosby, Stills and Nash
~ Written by Rick and Michael Curtis
Got out of town on a boat
Goin' to Southern islands.
Sailing a reach
Before a followin' sea.
She was makin' for the trades
On the outside,
And the downhill run
Off the wind on this heading
Lie the Marquesas.
We got eighty feet of the waterline.
Nicely making way.
In a noisy bar in Avalon
I tried to call you.
But on a midnight watch I realized
Why twice you ran away.
Think about how many times
I have fallen
Spirits are using me
larger voices callin'.
What heaven brought you and me
Cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world,
Lookin' for that woman/girl,
Who knows love can endure.
And you know it will.
And you know it will.
When you see the Southern Cross
For the first time
You understand now
Why you came this way
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from
Is so small.
But it's as big as the promise
The promise of a comin' day.
So I'm sailing for tomorrow
My dreams are a dyin'.
And my love is an anchor tied to you
Tied with a silver chain.
I have my ship
And all her flags are a flyin'
She is all that I have left
And music is her name.
Think about how many times
I have fallen
Spirits are using me
larger voices callin'.
What heaven brought you and me
Cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world,
Lookin' for that woman/girl,
Who knows love can endure.
And you know it will.
And you know it will.
So we cheated and we lied
And we tested
And we never failed to fail
It was the easiest thing to do.
You will survive being bested.
Will come along
Make me forget about loving you.
At the Southern Cross.
I did go to work on Friday. With the wind, the low temperature was damn cold!
I stopped at Westborn at lunchtime and got a few things for the weekend meals. I picked up some fresh feta cheese, prosciutto, basil, an eggplant, their rustic Italian bread and some heavy cream. Believe me, I have a plan...
Then I went home and had a couple of sandwiches for lunch. When I pulled in my yard, my neighbor was out cutting his front lawn. I really should do that myself this weekend.
After work, I made up my shopping list for Saturday morning. Good God, this is like a two hour shopping trip!
I had some kind of problem with my printer (trying to print off the shopping list). For some reason, even though I checked the electrical connections, the printer wouldn't turn on. So, I went out to the garage and got an electrical tester. I did have power up to the printer and, when I plugged it back in, the printer worked (Thank God! I didn't want to write that bad boy out by hand!)
I watched some taped TV shows (the saddest was Gordon Ramsey. He went back to two restaurants he'd helped out, one in California and one in Michigan.) The one in California was doing great. Giuseppe's in Macomb Township, Michigan, however, had problems. Because of the downturn of business in Michigan, the family lost their home. Then they lost the restaurant. This climate sucks!! I would move to North Carolina and live in Melissa and Dave's basement, but their house is on a slab...
I watched the "Copper Beeches," a PBS production of Sherlock Holmes I'd taped. Then I went to bed.
Friday, April 9, 2010
I woke up on Thursday, feeling like crap. But, I soldiered on. I shaved, showered and got dressed for work. Then diarrhea set in...
So, I emailed my boss, took off my clothes and went back to bed. I ate light throughout the day (a grapefruit for breakfast, some cantaloupe for lunch).
I mostly slept through the day. I called my friend B___ after 7:00 PM to see what he's been up to. We chatted for a bit and then when we hung up, I started dinner.
This is an old Rachael Ray recipe I've used for years. In a large, shallow skillet over moderate heat, I melted some butter. I added one chopped shallot to the pan and sauteed them for two minutes. I then added a tablespoon of flour to the butter and shallots and cooked it a minute longer. I whisked in a jigger of cooking sherry and cooked the liquid out. Then I whisked in beef consomme in a slow stream. I brought the sauce to a bubble and allowed it to simmer over low heat until I was ready to serve the sandwiches.
I piled half of the deli roast beef loosely across on a half sheet tray. I seasoned the meat with Montreal grill seasoning (or you can use salt and black pepper). To assemble, you use a pair of kitchen tongs, dip meat into the loose au jus sauce and pile into hoagie rolls. Then you set ramekins or cups with extra dipping sauce along side of the sandwiches. I only made one but...
It tasted great.
I stayed up late (because of the off and on napping) but finally fell asleep.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I woke up from thunder, not the alarm clock on Wednesday morning. It was amazingly warm (66 degree F.), but that's not supposed to last.
Work was work (as usual). When I went home in the rain for lunch, I ate the rest of the chicken tenders (with more ranch dressing) and French fries (with ketchup). I admit, I ate too much and was stuffed!
Back home at 5:00 PM (still raining), I treated the cats and then changed clothes. I started the Wednesday wash and then got into tonight's big event: Cleaning the downstairs shower stall.
I applied two treatments of mold spray (the first one just got the highlights) and then rinsed the walls and floor. That stuff stinks!
I folded and/or hung up the laundry when the dryer stopped.
I checked the phone and found my daughter Melissa had called at 4:00 PM. So, I called her back, but the phone just kept ringing. So, I eventually hung up.
I ate the last of the grilled leftovers for dinner. I wish I knew how long cooked hamburger, brats or hot dogs should stay in the fridge, but I'm guessing five days.
Melissa called me back and we talked for a long while. I think we applied our collective knowledge to solve many a parenting problem.
When we hung up, I wandered in to watch some TV. For some reason, I didn't feel good (bad leftovers?) and went to sleep early.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
It rained hard overnight. I heard the thunder on one of my bathroom breaks. But it had stopped by the time I got the Tuesday garbage out to the road.
At lunch, it was cold, overcast and sprinkling. I stopped at Home Depot and bought some flower seeds. I also checked on the price of their Arbor Vitae. The four to five foot-one is a better deal, but hard to get home and harder to dig the hole. So, I think I will get the two to three-foot height this weekend. This will replace that sad old bush I cut out up front.
After work, it was warm and sunny (a dramatic difference from lunchtime) so I changed into my work clothes and went out front. I worked up the front garden soil and then planted my seeds.
I used my Garden Weasel to work up the garden. I had an Italian Uncle who was killed by a weasel, BTW. He was walking down the train tracks and didn't hear the weasel... (Okay, it's an old, perhaps politically-incorrect joke but I'm an old guy...) Then I raked it level.
I planted two packets of Blue Salvia in the back and four packets of Alyssum (two "Carpets of Snow (white) and two of "Royal Carpet" (purple) in the front. Since all the seeds were teeny-tiny, I used an old trick for planting, say lettuce seeds. I mixed the seeds with play sand. It makes sure you spread the seeds out evenly and gives you a visual of where the seeds went.
Then I raked about 1/4 inch of soil over the seeds. The next few days of forecasted rain should help them germinate (unless we have a late season frost, here - then I'm screwed). But, given my reduced income, it's the best I could come up with, rather than spending big bucks on flats of flowers like I normally did. We'll see...
I then moved out to the back patio and did what I should have done last fall. I used the string trimmer to cut down all the dead herbs (trying to avoid the new growth). Then I used my blower to clean out the beds and the patio. I followed that up with the leaf rake, to drag it all out where I could cut up the debris with the riding mower.
I put everything away and was back in the house by 6:45 PM.
Then it was on to tonight's dinner. Now I must admit, I was inspired about this supper by my friend, B___.
I found a recipe for egg salad that sounded good, cut it in half and mixed up four of the hard boiled eggs I'd made last Friday. (Ah, Easter... There's nothing like the smell of PAS food coloring and vinegar in the morning...)
Remember, this originally served four, but my way would only serve two (or one hungry old fat guy). I peeled the four eggs and then rough chopped them (don't use an egg slicer - you want big chunks). I added 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard and about 1/8 cup of fine sliced green onion (white and green). I seasoned it with salt, pepper and a little paprika.
Here's where B___'s influence came in: Instead of putting this on bread, I pulled off some leaves of Romaine lettuce. I cut off the thick part of the stem, put the egg salad in one end and rolled it up.
It was an excellent, light dinner! Perfect for guys like me who are calorie and carb conscious and religiously watch what we eat! Okay, all kidding aside, this was a fast, one bowl dinner that tasted fantastic.
I watched a little TV, but went to sleep around 10:00 PM.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I woke up late on Monday morning, but not too late I didn't get to work on time. It's supposed to be a beautiful day here, but I still wore a light jacket into work.
At lunch I stopped at Westborn for some fruits and vegetables. I should have gone grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday, but I didn't. I also picked up some hoagie buns and thin sliced roast beef. I want to make French Dip sandwiches, later this week.
After eating lunch, I went outside and weeded the front garden (it was too nice to stay inside - 69 degrees F. and sunny). Since it's supposed to rain off and on the next few days, I thought I'd better "make hay while the sun shines." I left the coat in the kitchen for the rest of the day.
In the afternoon, I had a meeting with my supervisor. According to him, the Director of IT still has not got an answer on the question of bringing me back full time. However, there is a project that's been languishing that needs to get done, so he wants me to work full time the next two weeks. I'll miss the time off, but will love the money! However, I'm starting to get suspicious that they are messing with me.
Heads up! Jake, I may need your help on the technical aspect of this one!
When I got home, I took off my new shoes (I threw the old ones away) but then couldn't find my Crocs. I looked everywhere and then finally knelt down (ouch!) and saw them WAY under the bed. Who the hell does this???
I had left the car outside (locked, of course - this IS Redford), so I went out in the garage and folded up that big-ass winter tarp. Here's a helpful hint: In folding up a big-ass tarp, use a push broom to brush the air out of every fold. It's SO much easier! Then I used the trash stick to pull down the attic stairs. I put the tarp and the four rose cones upstairs and got down the two back-faucet hoses. It was hot as hell up there, BTW.
I went around back and dropped the hoses over the fence. Then I went back in the garage and swept out the floor (using the same push broom). I pulled the car inside and shut the door. Caley (of course) thought this meant I'd been away and was waiting for more treats. Greedy bitch! No new treats were forth-coming.
I went out the back door and took the one hose out to the back. I checked out the budding trees and bushes and then came back to the house. I guess it was the temperature, but I thought briefly about filling up the reflecting pool, adding the water lily and the young Shaolin monk statue but then realized, hey, this is only April. I'd better wait until May.
Back inside, it was almost 6:30 PM, so I started on dinner.
So, tonight, its gonna be chicken tenders with French fries. I set up my breading station with flour, buttermilk and breadcrumbs. Then I preheated the oven to 450 degrees (for the Or-Ida frozen fries) and about a 1/4 inch of canola oil in a saut� pan.
When the oven was hot, I put in a handful of fries on a half-sheet tray (covered with tinfoil for easy cleanup) and put them in to bake for 15 minutes.
Then I breaded the chicken tenders and saut�ed them until a golden brown (say two minutes a side). I had to do it in two batches, by the way, so as not to crowd the pan. When each batch was finished, they went into the oven on the same sheet tray to finish cooking (and stay warm). When the fries were done, I took out the tray, salted the fries and plated some food. I used store-bought (my bad) Ranch dressing as the dipping sauce.
It was an excellent dinner! When the rest of the chicken tenders were cool, I popped them in a baggie and into the fridge for some other time.
I started watching some TV, but eventually fell asleep. When I woke up for a bathroom break, I shut off the TV and the lights and went to bed.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Well, I did go to sleep at 2:30 AM, but woke up every couple of hours to go to the bathroom (nothing unusual there). I finally woke up for real at 7:30 AM (five hours interrupted sleep? Yeah, that's about par for the course.)
So, I got dressed, washed my face and hands, brushed my teeth, etc., and then sat on the couch, reading magazines and waiting for the dog to wake somebody up. That somebody eventually was Jake. After he took the dog out, I told him I really needed to get going, as I still had the weekend wash and other stuff to do.
He insisted on giving me too much leftovers and then I left. On the way home, I realized I didn't take the bacon he wanted to give me, nor the pepper vodka Carla offered me. Oh well, next time...
Once home, I treated the cats, looked for any signs of a break-in (hey, it's a Redford thing, okay?) and started the wash. One weird thing happened. When I pulled in the driveway, I had to swerve to miss a chimney cap. At first, I thought, "Oh, shit! Now I have to climb up on the roof!" But, then I realized, this was a round chimney cap and mine is square. I checked outside and finally figured out it was my neighbor's, apparently blown off his wood furnace flue. So, I threw it in his yard.
I started writing the Blog entry, although I must admit, I had to keep emailing Jake to get the names of various foods and ingredients, the game and the last movie. When the first load of laundry finished, I used some of the ham warmed up in butter and then fried two eggs over easy to make my breakfast. Yumo!
I folded and hung up the clothes and then shaved and showered. I dressed in my now-clean work clothes and started the second load (my bath robe, the bath towel and the two bathroom rugs).
I lay down to watch some Sunday morning cooking shows and fell asleep! I woke up after 3:00 PM (nice nap) but found my friend B___, my brother Jim and Carla's Mom, Acenter, had all called to wish me a happy Easter. I decided to NOT call any of them back, because, traditionally, now would be the time the family would be eating Easter dinner. I'll catch up with them later.
Oh, and when I checked my email my brother Carl and my daughter Amy had both sent me Easter e-cards. Thanks guys!
It was sunny and cool, but it's supposed to rain the next few days, so I went outside with my camera and took some pictures. Then I finally cut down that dying bush out front. In a few weeks, I plan to replace it with an Arbor Vitae. I didn't try to dig it out yet, just cut it down to ground level.
Back inside, it was almost 5:30 PM, so I quit for the night. I warmed up all the leftovers (well, other than the coleslaw) and had the Easter dinner for dinner again tonight.
I watched my Sunday shows but with that long nap, couldn't fall asleep until after midnight.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Hmmm... Holy Thursday, Good Friday and _____ Saturday?
Or is it Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday? As an ex-Catholic, I guess I suck...
I went back to sleep and woke up at 8:00 AM. I put on a pot of coffee and started making that vinegar-based coleslaw (see March 6th in archives for recipe). We are having Easter Sunday dinner one day early today at Jake and Carla's and that's what I am bringing...
While I was letting the heavily-salted cabbage wilt for an hour, I did a bunch of small tasks, including replacing the furnace filters. The furnace hasn't run since I got up, so today's a good day for it.
I finished the coleslaw just before 11:00 AM and stuck it in the fridge. Then I cleaned up the kitchen, so I won't have a big mess when I get home.
I got dressed and left the house at 1:00 AM. I don't need to be at their house until 2:00, but I wanted to pick up a hostess gift. So, I went to the nearby florist and bought a bouquet of purple tulips. My Mother always loved them and somehow they say "spring" to me.
So, I swung back to the house, grabbed the coleslaw and headed out. It was just about this time that a cold front moved through and the winds dramatically picked up. On the drive there, I saw mini tornadoes of dirt being sucked up from parking lots, tree branches blowing off and occasional rain drops.
I got to their house seven minutes early which didn't make up for the last couple of visit screwups, but I was pleased. Carla liked the tulips and immediately put them in a deep blue vase that really set them off.
She already had their appetizers set out: Crostini, with a homemade ham spread (Jake) and shrimp bruschetta (Carla). Excellent tastes, but the crostini is a little hard for a guy with a bridge to handle, lol!
Carla said they wanted this to be an easy Holiday dinner. No muss, no fuss... Well, you be the judge, lol!
While I was wolfing down appetizers, Carla was making her Honey Glazed Carrots. In the oven were some Honey Baked Ham warming up and Scalloped Potatoes with three cheeses (Bleu cheese, parmesan and gruyere). They had already roasted fresh asparagus (beautiful char, BTW). And Jake was just starting his homemade (craggy - don't ask) biscuits.
Finally everything was done and set out buffet-style. This plan was momentarily stalled by their dog, who thought she should be lying at the front of the line (even though she doesn't eat people-food). She was eventually persuaded to move and we plated our food.
Now, I gotta tell you I only took a little of everything, but found I still couldn't finish. I thought the honey-glazed carrots were fantastic (and I don't really like "sweet"). The roasted asparagus was perfect (although I might quibble that just a little minced garlic might have added the finishing touch, but that's just me). Oh, and topping that with a poached egg is orgasmic (as much as I can remember orgasmic!)
The Honeybaked ham was excellent (Jake loves ham, apparently - hey, who doesn't?) and the scalloped potatoes were deceptively good. Why? You would think (at least I did) that the Bleu Cheese would overpower this dish. I don't know the ratios or recipe, but it was just a subtle tang.
And the biscuits? Oh, the craggy biscuits! I split mine and added a pat of butter, but it was really unnecessary. They were excellent (and craggy!) None of us finished our plates, so the dessert had to wait.
Instead we played a board game (The Game of Life, Twist and Turns). Unless my memory fails me (and it has recently), this was the first time I ever won a game with Jake and Carla! (Yeah, I'm bad...) But, the damn thing mirrored my life... I ended up with four kids and being laid off... I still won, though!!!
After a while, when dinner settled down, I realized I never brought out the damn coleslaw! I had to laugh, as it reminded me of my Mom, who usually forgot a dish or two at holidays. It was a standing joke, and I guess I am carrying on the family tradition...
So, after they cleaned up everything (as one who says, "I'll get to that in the morning!" I am always impressed with their method of clean-up), we went to watching movies.
After a l-o-n-g discussion about possible movies to watch, we started out with "The Sting" with Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
After a break, we switched to "Death Proof," but the Directors Cut, of a movie we all went and watched at a theater a few years ago.
We took a break and tasted Carla's dessert: It was three mixed berries (Strawberry, Blackberry and Raspberries) served on top of a meringue Carla made. Sweet Jesus, that was excellent. It tasted like crunchy strawberry shortcake, only better.
It was late by then. I'd finished the pint of Jim Beam they'd bought for me. Jake was talking to his mother, so Carla broke out the 16 year old Single Malt Scotch she'd bought for Jake two years ago. I tried it over ice and for the first time, I understood that description of "peaty." Now, I can't afford shit like that, but it was excellent!
None of us were that sleepy, so we watched Nicholas Cage in "Adaptation." That finished at 2:30 AM, and I went to bed...
Happy Easter to all!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
And that's what it was: A good Friday, not necessarily a great Friday. But a good one.
I slept in late (for me) and woke up with a sense of urgency. Why? I dunno...
I ate a half of a grapefruit for breakfast and made a cup of instant coffee (the now cleaned coffee pot is still in the dishwasher but I was too lazy to get it out).
It was an absolutely gorgeous day here on San Jose. It was supposed to get to 80+ degrees here (more like July than the second day of April). So, I ventured outside, first with my camera (see photos) and then with my multi-functional dowel.
The dowel has a hook in one end (to pull down the attic stairs in the garage - it's a 12-foot ceiling) and a nail in the other that I cut the end off and sharpened. I took that and a garbage bag and walked the back yard, picking up trash.
Without a coat!
It used to be worse when Farmer Jack's was open, but I still had about half of the garbage bag full when I finished.
I had taken a package of bratwurst, one pack of hot dogs and a pound of hamburger from the freezer to thaw. So, about 6:00 PM, I fired up the charcoal lighter can. When the charcoal was red-hot, I dumped it in and started grilling (after scrubbing the grates and re-oiling them). I drank a cold beer to celebrate the season.
Now, I don't have any hotdog or hamburger buns (my bad) but I did eat three of the hotdogs with just Dijon mustard. The rest of the grilled meat went into the fridge for lunches/dinners next week.
When I came back in the house, I noticed all the electronic clocks were blinking, so we must have had a momentary power outage. I reset them all.
My friend B___ called about 7:30 PM and we caught each other up on our day.
I watched some taped TV shows and then went to bed. I woke up at 4:00 AM, posted this entry and the photos and then went back to bed.
Friday, April 2, 2010
I woke up on Thursday (wide awake) at 4:30 AM. That's just so not cool! I posted the Blog entry and the many pictures I took of the lasagna adventure. Then I went back to bed (disturbing both Caley and Scruffy) and tried to fall back asleep.
That did work and I woke up late on Thursday. I started the Wednesday wash and then thought about breakfast. So, instead of a traditional breakfast, I ate the other half of the winter melon, heavily salted.
I loved it!
We broke a record temp today and so, late in the day, I went out and raked the side lawn. Luanne called about 6:30 PM and we chatted a bit.
After that, I got into making dinner. I had thawed out a pound of hamburger (from that quarter cow I buy every year) and the last pound of the ground turkey I'd bought a few weeks ago on sale. I figured that the grease of the hamburger would offset the lean turkey meat. To that mixture, I added 3/4 cup of bread crumbs, two eggs, 3/4 cups of water, 1/3 cup of ketchup and one packet of Lipton's onion soup. (Hey, we're talking comfort food, here. I didn't say this was a gourmet meal!)
I formed that into a loaf and put it on a rack over a cookie sheet (it keeps the fat from staying in the meatloaf. Later, I wished I'd lined the cookie sheet with tin foil.) I put that in the oven (preheated to 350 degrees F.) and set the timer for one hour.
Meanwhile, I took the leftover mashed potatoes and added an egg and some flour to them. I fried them in some canola oil to make Fran's potato cakes.
I ate dinner watching TV. I added some more ketchup, but, over all, it was good!
I went to bed early which was a mistake as I woke up too early Friday morning.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I still have no confirmation that I am really going back to full time, so I had to leave work at 11:00 AM for the rest of the week (I did my usual full day on Friday this week on Tuesday, due to the Holiday).
It's warm, but windy today (High near 67 degrees F. at 4:00 PM., they say). So, after treating the cats, I went out and did the Wednesday refill of the bird feeder. Since I was out there anyhow, I walked all the way out to the back wall. Hmmm... not too many branches down and those that were are small enough to cut up with the lawn tractor. I did check out the plants, starting to push up in the rear garden, and then removed the Styrofoam cone rose protectors.
On the way back to the house, I also checked the raised bed garden (needs a little weeding and more compost) and the St. Francis garden (hyacinths are poking up). I put the Styrofoam cones in the garage to dry out a bit before putting them up in the attic.
Then, because I can no longer justify putting them off, I did my Federal and State taxes. Wow! I actually figured this one out pretty close! The Feds owe me $53.00 and I owe the State of Michigan $2.00. I was done and had printed out all the copies I need to save by 1:00 PM.
Oh yeah, while I was doing that, I also ran six cups of white vinegar through the coffee machine with just a filter. When it cooled, I did it again. Jake says this cleans out the mechanism. I'll put the pot and its top in the dishwasher, next load.
I cleaned up the humidifier, threw away the old wick and took it up into the attic (I am hoping the long nights of running the furnace are over). While I was up there, I finally found my other pair of shoes! Hurray!!
I took a nap around 3:00 PM since I'll have the next three days to work outside.
The trouble with lasagna: There are two problems for me with lasagna. One is that, living alone, whenever I make it, it's WAY too much food. Yes, I know I could freeze them, but I never do. I just eat leftovers until I am sick of them and then just throw them away. The other (and I guess it's probably just a personal issue) is that no matter how beautiful it looks out of the oven, when you cut into it most of the time it squishes down and the presentation suffers.
So, you can imagine how pleased I was when Jake sent me a link to "The Food Addicts" where they showed a different way to make lasagna. That's what I am making tonight.
First I boiled five lasagna noodles (in case one breaks). When they were al dente, I rinsed them with cold water until cool.
Meanwhile, I put four cloves of garlic (sliced) and four fresh leaves of basil into some olive oil. NOTE: Be careful! The fresh basil leaves will sputter when they hit the hot oil. When these began to turn brown, I pulled them out with a slotted spoon. This is just to perfume the oil, you see.
Then I added one medium onion (fine diced). When that softened, I put in one 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (you would normally use regular plum or Italian tomatoes, but they are not in season now in Michigan). I let that come up to a boil and then simmered it to make a quick tomato sauce. I seasoned it with some kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes).
While that was getting happy, I took some ricotta cheese out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature.
I spread about 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese on four of the lasagna noodles (see photos). Then I layered on the thawed chopped spinach (after squeezing it dry in a kitchen towel), some sliced roasted red peppers (from a jar), about 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella and 2/3 cup of my homemade tomato sauce.
Then, starting from one end, I carefully rolled up the lasagna noodles and stood them on end into a 9 x 9 inch baking dish. I topped that with the rest of the tomato sauce and more of the mozzarella cheese. I popped that into a preheated 400 degrees F. oven. I posted pictures of the whole process so you could understand it better.
I checked it after 30 minutes and the cheese was brown, so I pulled it out and let it rest. Then I took out one of the rolls and plated it.
Hmmm... It was good, but there were two problems. One is that I didn't let my tomato sauce cook long enough to become sauce (or I should have used either crushed tomatoes or a jar of tomato pasta sauce - it just wasn't "wet" enough). And, two, I really am not that fond of spinach lasagna. But the concept was good and I will try this again with meat and a wetter sauce.
I left the mess to clean up tomorrow morning and started watching TV. I assume it was because I took a nap, but I stayed up until 12:30 AM.