Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday (and still kicking myself about NOT going t

I woke up a little late on Sunday. I shaved and showered and then started the last laundry load (my shorts, T-shirts and all the towels).

I was starving, so I made an over easy egg, topped that with a slice of American cheese and put it on a toasted English muffin, spread with a little mayonnaise. Delicious!

It was hot again here (I didn't check the thermometer but I know it was 80+ degrees F.) I was sick of sweating so I abandoned all the outside work and stayed inside (in the air conditioning).

I did a lot of straightening up and this and that. I took a long nap around 2:00 PM. I thawed out some hamburger (not really having a plan, but knowing I would need to eat something).

But, by the time I looked at the clock, it was already 7:30 PM. So, I decided to forego supper and watch my Sunday shows. Which I did and then went to bed at 11:00.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

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The Virginia honeysuckle, finally flowering after three years. I hope it smells as good as advertised.

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The beheaded chiminea

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The patched up chiminea

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New hammock #1

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New hammock #2

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Front Clematis #1 (eat your heart out, Carl, LOL). This is just the beginning of the blooms.

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Front Clematis #2

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Front Clematis #3 (Note the hundreds of buds still yet to bloom)

Saturday

I woke up at 6:45 to the alarm clock. No, wait a minute, I didn't set it! So, what the hell is that noise? OMG! It's the smoke/carbon monoxide detector in the office!!

Since I put all three up at the same time, they must have a useable life span. I took it down and removed the batteries to shut it up. I can't wait until the one downstairs fails!

I posted the Blog entry and my picture and then made myself a cup of Rick's coffee. I've been thinking about it and decided I wasn't going to drive to Troy and the Volvo dealer this morning (as I'd planned). Unless I go to, say, Home Depot, Meijer's or Westborn Market, I am in my car less than two minutes at a time. So, I barely can here a song, start to finish. And, I have a LOT to do this weekend. I'll try to work it in at lunch sometime next week.

I threw on my shorts and T-shirt and went outside at 8:00 AM to water the front garden before it gets too hot (supposed to be 86 degrees here, today).

I thoroughly watered it and then decided to hose off the siding. In spite of the road now being paved, I was surprised at the dust and dirt running off. Then I did the lilac, the forsythia and the tree garden. I moved back to the back, washing the siding and then watering the gardens as I went.

When I was done with the immediate gardens, I stuck the hose into the reflecting pool, turned the faucet on low and went inside. It was 9:30 AM. I set the stove timer for 20 minutes so I wouldn't forget. I stripped the bed and got the bedding ready for the wash.

I watched some of the morning news while waiting on the timer. The timer went off, so I retrieved the hose and watered the St. Francis garden and the wild garden. Then I called it good and went inside. I watched Jane and the Dragon, the only cartoon these days I like. Sounds silly, but you would have to see it.

BTW, in both the St. Francis garden and the wild garden the Lilies of the Valley are done blossoming and the ferns are taking over. **Sigh** I will miss them. I had routinely cut a handful of the short, bell-like blossoms and put them in a shot glass of water in my bedroom. Why? I love that smell. It reminds me of sex. No, not that they smell like sex, it's just the woman I had an affair with after my first divorce used that perfume. Great memories...

I knew the roses also needed water, but didn't feel like messing around hooking up the back yard hose. So, I grabbed my little gallon bucket, filled it up four times and gave each of them a good drink. Then I took their pictures.

My friend B___ called and invited me to dinner tonight. He's grilling baby back ribs, sweet corn and has a pasta salad, too. Jesus! Talk about tempting! He grills them low and slow, so dinner wouldn't be until about 7:30 PM. Since he knows I have a problem driving after dark, he suggested I just stay the night. I regretfully declined, citing the amount of work I need to do this weekend. But, I wish I could have gone... I should have gone...

I checked my ToDo list and then grabbed the hammock, the D-rings (which I what I call them) and the Locktite threadlocker. I tried to put the D-rings into the eye-bolts, but, it's been two years since I used them and the tree had overgrown them. So, I went back inside, grabbed a wood chisel and a hammer and cut through the bark above and below the eye-bolts.

Now, the hammock came with something I never saw before, a length of chain attached to the round rings. So, I had to play with it (four times!) before I got it to the right height, given my weight. Then I applied the threadlocker and screwed it all tight. I admit I laid there about a half an hour, looking up, past the squirrel's nest, through the canopy of maple leaves and watching the puffy clouds move past. It was great!

I finally made myself get up and moved to the next item on the list. It was almost 6:00 PM and I kept thinking about baby back ribs and grilled sweet corn. What the hell is wrong with me? When did busting my ass take precedence over enjoying my life? I dunno, but it sucks...

Anyway, I moved the bottom half of the chiminea onto the furniture dolly and rolled it outside. I put it on the metal stand and then went and got the chimney. I set it in place and marked the spot with a black magic marker. Then I took it off and mixed up the concrete (a 4 to 1 mixture of cement to water) and, when it was thoroughly incorporated, went outside and "buttered" both the chiminea base and the chimney. I stuck them together (using the magic maker as a guide) and then rinsed off the excess cement.

But, I noticed during all this that the base of this chiminea has a hairline crack all the way to the bottom. So, I think this is the last year for it. Oh well, I did my best...

Back inside, I was starving. Still thinking about baby back ribs and grilled sweet corn, I made up a blue box of mac & cheese. **Sigh** Then I watched "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and went to sleep.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Famine in Africa

I was reading yesterday about yet another famine in Africa. I have been reading the same story since I was old enough to read.

And, well meaning people will send in $5, $10 , $20 or even more to send them hoes, shovels and seeds (like they do every year).

But, here's my take on this: IT'S A DESERT!!! There is no water. No matter what you send them, it ain't gonna grow!

Screw that traditional land crap. You wanna help them, MOVE them.

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My friend Canada Cathy sent me this photo of her back deck this morning. What's amazing is that, even with the short growing season in Alberta, she still manages to have a lovely garden every year!

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Thanks to my brother Carl, I finally understand...

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Give this rose a week...

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Yet another rose

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Another rose

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The pea support in the raised bed garden

Finally Friday

I went to Home Depot at lunch on Friday. I needed a few things. BTW, it's warm again today (too warm for fat, old, bald guys - 83 degrees is the expected high). I am so sick of sweating!

I bought two more bags of mulch, some dry repair cement (for the chiminea) and a new smoke/carbon monoxide detector (the one in my bedroom died yesterday). I also figured out what to do about the peas. My original plan was to by small trellises (either wood or metal) but they don't sell them. So, I ended up buying two short fence posts (two feet useable height after you pound them in) and a small roll of two-foot chicken wire.

Cost me a bundle, but I needed it. Oh, BTW, how did I know I needed a new smoke/carbon monoxide detector? Because I read the back. If the batteries are bad, it beeps every 60 seconds and says (in that annoying woman's voice) "Low batteries." But, if the unit is totally f*cked, it beeps every 30 seconds. I tried new batteries last night, but no luck. Damn thing cost about $40 bucks US.

As I was backing out of the driveway to return to work, the mailman stopped me. He had a box with that lawn mower tractor cable I'd ordered. So I have another thing to add to the long weekend ToDo list (both the weekend and the list are long, LOL).

In the afternoon, I was teasing a co-worker about always wearing long sleeved sweaters. I said, "Tell me the truth, you got like wicked biker tattoos on your biceps, right." She laughed and said, "No, I'm just always cold in air conditioning. So, you want to see my arms?" And, then she took off her sweater. No tattoos, but to make it worse, she flexed her muscle and her biceps were nicer than mine! She said take my hand (which I did) and see how cold it is. It was and she said, "OMG, your hand is so warm." I told her that's because I was so hot-blooded. She said well, than I must be cold-blooded (her hands were freezing). So we agreed my new nickname for her would be snake.

I like flirting... And, holding hands was nice, too.

Back home after work, I treated the cats, changed clothes and then watered all the container gardens (it was supposed to rain yesterday, but didn't, here). They were all dry as a bone.

I checked the phone and had a "just checking in" message from my daughter Melissa. Thanks, Babe! Have a great weekend!

Then I went out and pounded in the short fence posts. I measured them (39 inches apart) and with great difficulty, unrolled the chicken wire. I cut it off about 46 inches long. The toughest problem was to flatten it. Then I took it outside, separated the pea plants (they were all intermingled) and put it up. It bowed slightly in the middle, so I inserted a wooden stake to hold it in place. Then I used the Velcro plant tape to tie them up to the new fence.

The Velcro tape is a recent development, BTW. I can remember when they first came out with a roll of green twist ties. Back when I was a lad, my Mother used old nylon stocking to tie up tomato plants to a stake. But, this stuff works great!

Then I used the garden weasel to work up the row I couldn't before (due to the laying down pea plants). I added some fertilizer and worked that in.

Then I attached the hose and started watering the raised bed garden. I went in and got my camera and took a picture for you. But, I noticed the slight west wind was blowing most of the water to the eastern half of the garden. So, I shut the water off and put it on the far left (of the picture) edge of the garden.

I set the stove timer for 40 minutes and set a coffee cup on the right side ledge. Now, years ago, my friend B___ told me to put an empty tuna fish can in the yard to measure the amount of water from the sprinkler versus the time. I have used that faithfully for the lawn, but I didn't have an empty tuna fish can tonight. So, I used a coffee cup. After the timer went off, I shut off the water and checked the coffee cup. There was just over 1/2 inches of water in it (a tad too much).

I disconnected the sprinkler, reeled in the hose and then attached the metal sprayer to it. I watered (heavily) all the new herbs I'd planted (they were starting to droop). I shut down everything and went back into the house just before 8:00 PM.

I warmed up that T-bone steak and two ears of roasted corn for dinner and ate it all! I was watching TV when my friend B___ called. I hadn't talked to him all week, so it took a while to catch each other up on what's been going on. When we hung up, I went to bed.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday

For once I didn't go anywhere at lunchtime on Thursday. I went home and ate the last of the potato salad.

I ran an errand after work, so didn't get home until almost 6:00 PM, though. I treated the cats, changed clothes and then went out in the garage for tonight's tools. It's warm again, BTW (84 degrees F. here in Redford).

I heard the phone ringing, so I went back in the house, but it had stopped by the time I reached it. It was Lu on her cell, so I called her back. She let me know when she would be arriving next weekend. She's coming up for our grandson Joe's graduation ceremony and then to take our granddaughter Riese back to Virginia for a vacation.

Back to work, I took the tree trimmer thing and went out back to cut off some branches that were drooping way out back. They were threatening to scalp me when I cut the grass. While I was back there, I noticed a rose I'd planted last year had finally bloomed.

So I went inside and grabbed the camera and a coffee can filled with fertilizer. I took the photo and then fertilized the four rose bush plants. Back inside, I posted the picture and then went out to the patio.

I mulched around the reflecting pool and under the Japanese maple (you know, the one my brother Carl can't seem to grow, LOL).

It was getting late and I was getting hungry, so I stopped for the night.

Back inside, I ate some delicious pasta salad that Carla had made. I could easily identify the sea shell pasta, raw zucchini and yellow squash, and red onion. What I couldn't figure out was the mushrooms - were they lightly saut�ed? And, was there cheese in it as well? I dunno, but it was good!

I was whipped from the work and the heat, so I went to bed at 9:30 PM.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

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My first rose of the year (and the first time this rosebush has bloomed). I'm calling it "Anne" for my sister Anne who loved yellow roses.

Wednesday's Walking

It was HOT today (supposed to be 89 degrees F.) I stopped at Home Depot at lunch. I was sweating buckets, in spite of the car's air conditioning. I picked up two more bags of mulch (probably should have gotten four, though), an anvil pruner, a metal hose sprayer (none of mine from last year are working), a bunch of AA batteries and a grass whip (it's too damn annoying to drag out 200 feet of extension cords and the line trimmer to do the back of the yard - and then have to coil them back up).

When I got home, I treated the cats, topped off both mowers with gas and then put the can in the trunk. I went to the gas station and filled up the gas can and then filled up my car's tank. I drove back home (I didn't want a full two gallon gas can sitting in the sun for four hours and stinking up the car), ate some lunch, changed my sweat-logged shirt (I hope nobody notices) and then went back to work.

At 5:00 PM, I headed back home. I put the batteries in the camera and now it's working perfectly. So, I took that picture of the raised bed garden for this year. As always, you can click on it to enlarge it and then use your browser's "back" button to go back. Only problem with the camera is it keeps asking me to reset the date. I don't know how, so will have to dig out the Kodak user guide.

I started the Wednesday night wash and changed into my work T-shirt and shorts. My son Jeremy called and he graciously hung up early after I told him it was grass cutting night. I put together the potato salad and covered it with cling wrap (so it would get cold in the fridge and the flavors would marry).

Then I went out reluctantly to cut the front grass (I know it needs to be done, but it's hot out there!) Before I did though, I used the anvil pruner to cut the lilac back (I want it to grow fuller, not taller). I used the push mower in front, and the walking plus the heat were killer. I finished that up about 6:45 PM.

Then, I even more reluctantly got out the lawn tractor and started cutting the back lawn. What a mess! If you revisit the raised bed garden photo, you can see the lawn in back is like 5-8 inches tall. Damn rain and heat! I really wish I had one of those tow-behind grass sweepers like my Dad did. But, I finished just after 8:00 PM, tired, sweaty and not happy about all the grass clumps.

I put the wash in the dryer and took off my sodden T-shirt, shorts and (really wet) handkerchief. Those went into the laundry basket and I put the clothes in the washer in the dryer. Then I went in to take a rinse-off shower. I was a "hot mess" as Carla used to say.

I warmed up the other half of the rib steak and plated it with some potato salad. Hmmm... needs more salt... I went in to watch some TV after hanging up the laundry.

My back hurts from yesterday's gardening and now my knees hurt from tonight's grass cutting walk. I wanted to watch the new Top Chef Master's (comes on at 10:00 PM) but fell asleep waiting for it. I woke up at 1:40 AM to go to the bathroom, and then I turned off the TV and the lights, checked the doors and went back to bed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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Got some batteries today, so here's this year's raised bed garden. Two things to note: the busted stem on the Roma tomato (far left) and I forgot support for the peas (that's next)

Tuesday's Tale

It was WARM today! I needed some kitty litter, cat food and cat treats so I went to Kroger at lunchtime. I wanted to grille the steaks I'd thawed out yesterday, so my original idea was to make potato salad as a side dish.

But... they had a fresh load of Florida sweet corn (and you know I'm a sweet corn junkie). I did still buy the celery and the eggs I'd need for potato salad, but I also bought six ears of sweet corn. (Locavore? No way... not when it comes to sweet corn).

When I got home, the garbage was still out by the road, so I switched out the kitty litter. Then I cut up some redskin potatoes and started cooking them for the potato salad. I also put six eggs on to hard boil. BTW, I just heard this the other day. If you hard boil eggs that have been in the fridge a week or more, they are supposed to be much easier to peel. Unfortunately, three of these eggs are brand new.

I ate some large curd cottage cheese with fresh chives, salt and pepper for my lunch. I let the potatoes and hard boiled eggs cool down and put them in the fridge, then went back to work.

BTW, before I left for work, I turned the air conditioner on. It's supposed to hit 81+ degrees F. today.

When I got home after work, I immediately changed into shorts and a T-shirt, grabbed stuff I needed and went out back to finish planting the raised bed garden. As I think I said before, I am planting fewer plants this year, hoping for a better yield (hey, it's a concept).

So, I weeded, and worked in some 10-10-10 fertilizer. Then I planted four tomato plants, four eggplants and four green peppers. I was a little pissed to see that the Roma tomato had a broken stem - but it's got a good root system, so maybe it will grow back. I had raked off the maple seeds and pine needles, so I got a broom and cleaned off the wooden edges of the raised bed. Then I thinned out the lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

About that time, my neighbor Rick came over to show me their new "Puggle" puppy. They had a boxer (that I always secretly thought was a pit bull) and another Puggle. But, the "boxer" died last December and the Puggle had no friends to play with. Cute little puppy!

Then I put out the sprinkler I use in the raised bed garden and watered it for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I put everything away and then watered all the container gardens and recent plantings. I was going to take a picture of the vegetable garden but couldn't find two good batteries anywhere in the house.

Then I fired up the charcoal chimney and took the steaks (and oh, they were beautiful - one rib steak and one t-bone, both about one inch thick) and let them get up to room temperature. I salted and peppered the steaks. The charcoal was ready, so I distributed it, shut the lid and about 10 minutes later, I cleaned and oiled the grates.

First, I roasted the corn (which had been soaking in water all afternoon). Then I oiled the grille grates again and threw on the steaks. I got a nice crust on the one side, turned the steaks 45 degrees to get some good grill marks and then flipped them over.

Once again I am trying to cook them medium-rare by touch. I have to admit I did better this time, but it's still more medium that medium-rare. I WILL learn this technique!!!

I could only eat about half of the rib steak (the smaller one!) and one ear of corn (a little tough, but tasty).

Then I watched a taped movie ("To have and to have not" with Bogart and Bacall and Walter Brennan). That ended about 10:00 PM and I switched to reading a magazine until bed time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday

I took Monday off. What was weird is I had to call Jake to find out my boss's phone number (I just walk in to talk to him, never call him).

I sat outside in the afternoon (it was like over 80 degrees F.) I had all the windows opened to air out the house.

Turner Classic Movies (TMC) had an Ernest Hemingway movies night, so I taped them all. I watched two before going to sleep.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Speaking of the waffles I don't have...

I have really been jonesing about grape or cherry tomatoes sprinkled with kosher salt or cauliflower with butter and salt.

Sadly, I don't have either one...

Damn!

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Here's a photo of the clematis out back (I am just posting this to annoy my brother Carl).

The weekend

I woke up on Saturday at 6:30 AM, without the alarm clock. I made a cup of Rick's coffee and then shaved and showered.

I had a 9:00 AM haircut appointment and had planned on driving to the Volvo dealership in Troy to learn my secret code to get my radio working, but it was drizzling outside and crappy. So, I got the haircut (I gotta look good for Joe's graduation) and then just drove home. The whole next week is supposed to be sunny and in the mid 80's, so I'll go there sometime at lunch.

Back home, I treated the cats and then changed clothes. With the rain, there's not much I can do outside and the house is pretty clean inside, so I settled on watching cooking shows.

My friend B___ called around noon and we chatted for a bit. Then I took a nap on the couch. I made tuna salad for supper. My daughter Melissa called around 8:00 PM and we talked for a long while.

When I woke up Sunday morning, it was really foggy (I know I mentioned this before, but it's rarely foggy here). I'm not sure why, but I was craving a waffle. Since I don't have a waffle iron, that's not gonna happen. I found a dime in my pants pocket and it freaked me out (I think that means you're gonna die or something).

When the temperature warmed up, I opened all the windows and shut off the furnace. I took another nice nap and took it easy all day (my right shoulder keeps popping in and out - I dunno...) I posted some pictures, but didn't fill in the Blog (there was nothing that exciting). I watched my Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

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The tree box spike and vines

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The "transfer" shovel for Tarami Sue

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Rosemary on the front porch rail

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Parsley side of the patio garden

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Jake's patio garden, mulched

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Geranium in the flower pot on the stump.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Finally Friday

Actually, not eating supper and just going back to sleep was a BIG mistake. I forgot to set the alarm clock and so, on Friday, I was almost an hour late for work. I told my two "cube mates" (Don and James) that from now on when I say "goodnight" their response should be "set your alarm."

I ordered the cable I need for the mower on the Troy-Bilt site. Almost $50 bucks and I won't get it for 14 days (sigh).

It was raining on the way into work and sprinkling at lunchtime. That bummes me out as I'd hope to plant the veggies after work. But, when I changed clothes at 5:15 PM, it was clear and dry. So, I grabbed the first bag of mulch and dumped it into the wheelbarrow and snagged the transfer shovel. I took that out back and used most of it on the garden in Jake's patio.

I put the rest of it on the patio side with the basil. It wasn't enough (of course) so I went and got the other bag (I should have bought three or four bags). I finished up that side and then did the side with the oregano, thyme, parsley and my old standby, the chives. There were occasional raindrops and the rumble of thunder, so I quit at 6:00 PM. Lucky I did as the rain came down right after I put everything away. It's supposed to rain off and on through Saturday, BTW. I hope I can get my raised bed garden planted this weekend.

Back inside, I took two of the grilled pork chops and cut off the fat and bones. I then cubed up the meat and put it in my medium saucepan. I added a large can of Chop Suey vegetables and slowly brought it up to heat. I also used the small saucepan to make a single serving of rice.

When everything was ready, I plated half the rice and half the Chop Suey, covered it with good soy sauce and ate it watching some TV.

Before I went to sleep, I put the rest of my dinner in a container and into the fridge.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wow!

I just watched a commercial for "Over-active" bladder. Damn, that's cool! I thought I just have to piss a lot.

Farmer John

Thursday in Michigan was absolutely gorgeous. I went to buy vegetable, herb and flower plants at Randazzo's at lunch. I stopped into the Newburgh Grille for my lunch. Since it was Thursday, the only soups they had were chicken dumpling (yech) or chicken rice (blah). So, I got a little wide and ordered two Coney Island hot dogs with a side order of onion rings.

I got home and unloaded the plants. Then I went back to work.

I left work at 4:00 PM, immediately changed clothes and went outside to plant. Now, as I might have said before, this year I am foregoing the four hanging baskets, the two chair planters and the urn due to budget constraints. But, I put a spike and two trailing vines in the tree box. Next I transplanted a hosta that popped up in an unexpected place. Then I planted two rosemary plants in the planter I normally put on the railing top of the porch.

Then I moved my attention to the herbs. Now I have two problems this year. Both the oregano and the tarragon are overwhelming the space (hence the rosemary on the front porch). So, on the tarragon side, I only could plant two big basil plants.

On the oregano side, I dug out about half of it and put it in a big pot (I couldn't see just pitching it - I'll see if I can pawn it off on Jake and Carla or Lu). In the space, I planted two big flat leaf parsley plants.

Then I planted two more thyme plants. The thyme I'd brought from St. Clair died last year and the one I'd planted to replace it was just barely hanging on.

About that time, both my back and my right shoulder (the rotator cuff one) were loudly complaining, so I decided to forego putting the mulch on them and/or planting the vegetables. I put all the tools, bucket, etc., back inside and then closed everything up.

I was surprised to see it was after 7:00 PM. No wonder I'm hurting!

I got a call from my friend B___ and we chatted for a while. When we hung up, I decided I was more tired and grungy than I was hungry, so I took a shower. That felt great!

Then I lay down on the bed about 9:00 PM to watch a little TV until I made supper. Of course, I fell asleep and woke up at 2:00 AM. I decided that was a little late for supper, so I just went back to bed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday

It was a beautiful day here in Michigan on Wednesday. At lunch, I stopped and bought some herb plants, mulch and fertilizer at Home Depot.

Back home after work, I changed clothes and went out to cut the back lawn. I immediately had problems (sigh). When I pulled the lever for the PTO (to engage the mower) nothing happened! I spent the next hour laying on the grass, trying to figure it out.

Three things finally became apparent. The cable that engages the idler pulley so the blades come on is badly frayed and needs to be replaced. The idler pulley pivot point is either rusted or worn out. And, finally, the deck is still not level.

But I got it working and cut the back yard.

With everything put away and the perimeter buttoned up, I went back inside. I wasn't really hungry, so I fixed a plate of Trisquits and cheese to nibble on.

I took a phone call from a friend and then read a book until bedtime.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another Garbage Day (LOL)

I woke up to the alarm clock on Tuesday morning. I hustled through the morning routine so I could be sure that the garbage was by the road before 7:00 AM. I took out both bags in a light rain.

When I left for lunch it was still damp, cold and misting. But, I sucked it up and went to Home Depot. My initial idea was to buy the few remaining plants, veggies and herbs I still need. But, the garden center doesn't have a roof on it. So, I embarked on my other quest: a new hammock.

I know, I know, I shouldn't spend the money, but my old hammock gave me such pleasure and relaxation...

Okay, problem number one: they don't have any of the rope ones they said were in the store on their website (why rope ones? They don't flap around in the breeze like a full sheet of canvas does). So, I ended up buying a canvas one. Then I bought two "quick link" connectors to secure it to the tree. They can hold 2000 pounds and screw onto themselves.

Now if you remember, it's been some two years since some damn creep stole the last hammock, by unscrewing the "quick links" with their fingers. I've spent two years stewing about that (and thinking about unspeakable revenge) but I did come up with a plan.

I bought some Locktite Threadlocker (Blue). There are three different types of Threadlocker: Blue (you need a wrench), Red (you need a much bigger wrench) and Green (forget it, it ain't coming off). So, I figure since the last guy (or guys) just used their fingers (I assume), so why would they think to bring a wrench and disassemble this one. But, if they do, I guess the next option is a chaise lounge (and the shotgun if I catch 'em at it!!!).

It wasn't raining or even misting when I drove back to work after lunch. Maybe I'll get a chance to grill tonight after all (I have some ground chuck and some thick pork chops that must be cooked tonight - one way or the other!)

My luck held, and while it was still chilly and a little damp, it wasn't raining when I went home after work.

When I pulled in the driveway, I noticed the front iris had begun to bloom. So, I went out there and took a coupe of photos. Then I wondered if the ones out back where blooming, too. They weren't yet, but I did get a picture of the raised bed garden (that I really need to thin out) I posted them for you and started on dinner.

As I said, I have some ground chuck that really needs to be cooked up (I debated about throwing it away yesterday, but decided not to) and some center cut, bone-in, thick pork chops.

I also have 1/2 pound of an Amish Blue Cheese called Salemville Amisi. I have wanted to cut into that for two weeks now, but made myself wait.

So, I made the ground chuck into eight patties and then topped four of them with some Blue Cheese and that with another patty. It's really hard to get the two patties to seal tight, BTW. I hit them with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. I dunno... They look awful big to go onto the English muffins, like I'd planned...

I seasoned the pork chops with more fresh ground pepper, but this time with Lawry's Seasoned salt. I debated long and hard about barbeque sauce, but I figured this way I had more flexibility. I left them to come up to room temperature while I fired up the charcoal chimney.

When the charcoal was ready and the grates cleaned and oiled, I put the four pork chops on the hot side of the grille. After four minutes, I flipped them over. Four minutes later, I moved them to the cool side and started the burgers.

These got three minutes a side and then I pulled everything off. I let it all rest while I toasted an English muffin. I was sorta lucky, and the burger had shrunk just enough to fit onto the English muffin. On the other hand, every one of the damn two patties had separated here or there. I gotta work on that technique.

I put a little mayo on one side of the English muffin and yellow mustard on the other and ate my burger. The meat was perfect, but I was disappointed in the cheese (WAY too mild, just a hint of the Blue cheese flavor - not that "up your nose" sensation).

Stuffed now, I went in to watch some TV. At 9:45 PM, it was lights out. Literally. At first I thought my main breaker had popped, but when I looked outside in every direction, it was dark. One of the downsides of having VOIP is that you can't call anybody in these situations. On the other hand, if I called Edison and asked they would just tell me there was a problem (I kinda know that) and service would be restored as soon as possible.

I stumbled back into the bedroom and reached for the emergency flashlight that's almost always under one of my nightstands. Guess what? No flashlight. I made it out to the end table, felt around for a lighter, lit a candle, placed it in the bedroom and started reading. What else could I do?

At 10:55, the electricity was back on. I turned off the TV and the lights (except for the little one on the nightstand and read until after midnight. Then I went to bed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

photo

Raised bed garden seeds before I had a chance to thin them

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An Iris up close!

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The Iris up front

Monday

When I came home at lunchtime on Monday, I stopped in at CVS to pick up my prescriptions. Then, I cut the rest of the front grass with the push mower. It's supposed to start raining around 3:00 PM, but I at least wanted the front lawn to be done.

Sure enough, it did start raining (I was hoping it would hold off until I could cut the back lawn).

At home after work I decided that, since I was stuck inside anyway, I'd clean the house. So, I did. I finished up a little after 7:00 PM. Is it perfect? No. But I got up all the cat hair (and there was a ton of it) and washed the kitchen floor. So, it looks a little more respectable that when Jake and Carla were here on Saturday morning. Next I got the garbage ready for the morning, pitching out the suspect leftovers from the fridge.

I made a can of split pea soup for a quick, light dinner and then watched TV until 11:30 PM.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Slo-mo Sunday

I woke up after 8:00 AM on Sunday. I had a cup of Rick's coffee and a toasted English muffin for breakfast.

I was lazy and watched cooking shows until 2:00 PM. Then I went out in the garage and leveled the lawn tractor deck. It sounded easy, but took almost three hours.

By that time, I was tired of lying on the concrete floor and didn't much feel like cutting the back yard. So, I didn't!

I ate leftovers for dinner (I need to use them up before garbage day) and watched my usual Sunday night shows.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Long and Winding Road...

I woke up after 8:00 AM on Saturday. Caley immediately jumped off the bed when I rose, but Scruffy didn't. So, I slathered him with cat shampoo soap again. He didn't like it and looks stupid but I thought it was less stressful that sticking him in the shower.

I stripped the bed and put in the first of two loads in the washer. I was still tired, so I laid down back on the bed and started watching some cooking shows. I fell asleep and was woken up by Jake and Carla yelling at me (they're still afraid I will shoot them). And, God knows, I might...

According to them, they pushed the door bell, but it didn't work. So, I tried it and damn if it didn't work. Jake says there is a battery in it and it must be dead.

Anyway, they brought me an Arby's Roast Beef Sandwich and some curly fries, They ate their chicken tenders and fries, while I spread the horsey sauce on the roast beef sandwich. I woofed it down and ate most of the curly fries.

I was embarrassed, being in my bathrobe and the house being a wreck (but they seemed okay with that). They walked out back to check out the new trellis. Jake commented that the metal work didn't show through on my photos (hey, I tried).

When they left, I started to clean up the house (mostly because of embarrassment - I really wanted to be outside!)

Around 5:00 PM I took a nap. I got up with the phone ringing. It was my friend B___, who called to tell me that the Blue Dahlia (Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, 1946 movie) was coming on at 8:00 PM.

So, I watched that and then went to bed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I know I'm old but...

When did Sears and Roebuck change to just Sears?

And when did Kentucky Fried Chicken change to KFC?

Friday Fun

(Sorry about the late post. My electricity was out for several hour this morning, though I don't know why).

I woke up on Friday to the alarm clock's annoying noise. I shaved, showered and then made another cup of Rick's coffee. I watched the news and drank it until it was time to go.

It was windy and mild today, for a change. The patio did look like it rained sometime overnight, but the rain gauge has only a trace of water in it.

At lunch, I stopped into Meijer's and picked up the remaining items I would have gotten on the last trip, if not for the lack-of-time problem. This is mostly to restock the pantry, you see.

I got home an hour early at 4:00 PM (don't ask) and changed clothes. Then I sat on the couch with a drink and relaxed until 5:00 PM. Since it was so nice (and so windy), I turned off the furnace and opened almost all of the windows. I haven't really done a "Spring Cleaning" but I figured I could at least air the sucker out.

Then I went out front with the 100-foot extension cord and the line trimmer. The grass is terribly long with all the recent rain and I have to get it back into shape.

Oh, BTW, the Township came by and blacktopped the first two feet into my now-low driveway. That's real nice, (four feet would have been perfect) but in the process, they managed to turn my mailbox about halfway around. So, I ignored the black tar on the sides of it and got it squared away.

Then, I trimmed the front lawn.

I put the line trimmer away, rolled up the extension cord and then fired up the riding lawn mower. I cut the front lawn, but then when traveling to the side lawn, the deck hit one of the 4 x 4's that line the driveway. So, when I started cutting the side lawn, I was, like, scalping the lawn on one side and leaving three inches tall grass on the other.

So, I shut the blade off and drove it back into the garage. Then I started looking for the Owner's Manual (to level the deck). I searched in vain through both file boxes (twice). About that time, my friend B___ called. I told him of my plight and he reminded me I just had it out to replace the belt. He suggested I might have left it in the garage. After we hung up, I scoured the garage to no avail.

So, I gave up for the night. I warmed up a can of Hormel chili and ate some of that for dinner. I watched a taped TV show and then went to bed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday

I slept through most of the night for a change and woke up just before the alarm clock on Thursday. I guess working outside agrees with me! I made a cup of that Express Instant coffee from China and, Rick was right! It was delicious!! I got to work just before the storm broke. I got sprinkled on, but an hour later, it was coming down in buckets.

The thunderstorms had moved on by the time I went home for lunch, and it was back to a light drizzle. When I got home from work, I checked the rain gauge and we got another half-inch of rain today (with the potential of more overnight).

I changed clothes and went out in the garage to work on the riding mower. I took off the two blades and sharpened them with my Dumore (a rotary tool). I cleaned off the inside of the deck with a paint scraper, digging out as much dried grass as I could reach. Then I put the blades back on.

I got out my step, an allen wrench set and a pair of scissors and went around to the street-side of the new arbor. I tightened up the first two bolts I originally got in (I had loosened them when I was having such problems getting the other side to line up and just remembered that today). Then I cut off the yellow wire ties. I put everything away again and was back inside by 6:30 PM.

I did finally get in touch with Lu, both to wish her and Sadie "Happy Mother's Day" and to find out her itinerary for our grandson Joe's upcoming graduation.

I warmed up some leftovers for my supper.

I started watching an old movie on TMC, but fell asleep before it was over (it wasn't all that riveting).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And then it was Wednesday...

I worked all day on Wednesday. At lunchtime, I went to CVS and picked up a prescription I was out of and a birthday card for Sadie.

I got in the mail and got a nice surprise. My nephew Rick sent me a variety of specialty instant coffees and teas from Vietnam and China! When he mentioned sending some to me to try, I thought he meant like one or two. But his package was so big it had to be scrunched to even get it in my mailbox!! Thanks, man!

I had to run an errand after work, so I didn't get home until 5:45 PM. I immediately changed clothes and went to work. It's cool and cloudy, but not raining for a change. Outside, I checked the rain gauge and I picked up 1 1/2 inches of rain yesterday.

I mixed up the remaining half bag of redi-mix concrete in the wheelbarrow and distributed it evenly in the holes for the trellis (after sticking nails in the top holes). There was still about an inch between the bottom of the legs and the cement, so I went in the field next door and got another wheelbarrow full of that slag. I put that on top of the concrete and packed it in all around the legs.

I left the yellow wire ties in place until this new concrete dries. Then I took some photos for you and posted them.

Back inside, I had to break up another cat fight. I'm not sure what the hell's going on (Spring?) but Scruffy keeps sitting in doorways, glowering and daring Caley to get past. Caley, for her part, keeps hissing at him and trying to get past (say, to their food, water or litter box). I'm getting sick of this tension!!!

It was 7:30 PM when I finished up and I was tired and sore. So, I made a sandwich for my dinner and collapsed on the bed to watch some TV. I made it until 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

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Detail of the metalwork on the trellis

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The little clematis I planted last Fall.

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Trellis from the back yard (Note yellow wire ties will be gone when cement dries)

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Trellis from the front yard

A Day Off

I took Tuesday off. I didn't really plan it. I wish I had! TMC had old private eye movies on all day. It wasn't until I called B___ at 6:30 PM that I learned that!

But, I just putzed around today. Unfortunately, it rained for most of the day so I couldn't finish the cement work on the new trellis. Instead of breakfast, lunch or dinner, I ate hunter sausage whenever I was hungry.

After finding out about TMC's all day private eye shows, I did watch "Murder My Sweet" starring Dick Powell as Philip Marlowe (I think it was 1944).

When that was over, I went to bed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday

It was damn cold when I woke up Monday morning. It was just 34 degrees here in Redford, with a freeze warning in effect until 8:00 AM. This is why I don't put plants in my vegetable garden until after May 15. I got cleaned up and dressed and threw the empty gas can (for the mowers) into the trunk.

At lunch, I stopped by the repair place. Not sure if I mentioned this, but old Sam called on Saturday and left a message. Seems he forgot to put the dipstick back in the car after all the repairs. So, I got that put back in (it's kinda important, I'm thinking).

Then I went to Meijer's and did some grocery shopping. Mostly staples (toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, bleach, etc.) Nothing really good to eat...

I stopped at the gas station and filled up the mower gas can.

I got home and treated the rather impatient cats. Then I made a sandwich for my lunch.

Back at work, I was still thinking about that damn trellis (when I probably should have been thinking about work stuff). But, it finally dawned on me! I was trying to visually line up the outside 2x4, the inside 2x4 leg and the other side 2x4 (where the nut was). That worked once, but the next one was a disaster.

So, tonight, after work, I quickly changed clothes and headed out back, carrying my Dad's awl. This is an old awl (not like a modern, blunt, nail set) and more like an ice-pick. So, I lined up the first hole with the awl and wiggled the second hole until it worked. It took a while (hell, a long while) but I finally got all of the screws in.

So, with the legs all set, I put it into place. I took a can of spray paint to mark where the holes needed to be dug. I moved it back and then I dug four holes about eight inches around and 10 inches deep.

I attached the four metal stakes to the trellis. Then I added about three inches of gravel to the holes (left over from the last year's reflecting pool). Next I put half a bag of redi-mix concrete into the wheelbarrow and using my hoe and some water, mixed it up.

I distributed this evenly between the four holes. Then I picked up the trellis (this really is a 2-person job) and placed the stakes (with nails inserted in the lower holes) into the concrete. I used 3/4-inch wood on top of the dirt to hold it out of the concrete.

Then I leveled it. I used three long wire-ties on either side, hooked to the fence, to hold it into place. When the concrete sets up (probably tomorrow), I'll mix up the rest of the bag and top the holes off.

I hosed off the hoe, the transfer shovel and the wheelbarrow and went inside. It was 7:45 PM. Back inside, I changed out the kitty litter and gathered up the rest of the garbage. I set it all out by the road (it's supposed to rain overnight and for the next few days).

My arms and back were killing me, so I just ate leftovers for dinner. I'm beat, but content. I watched one taped show and then went to bed.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday's Road Trip

I woke up again around 7:30 AM on Sunday, Mother's Day. It's cold out there (40 degrees F.) but sunny for a change. I had a cup of coffee for breakfast and another one for dessert, sitting on the couch and listening to "Sunday Morning over Easy."

I tried several times to call Lu and Sadie to wish them happy Mother's Day, but the line was always busy. Finally, around 10:00 AM, I got through, but then just got their voicemail (they probably left for church). I left my message and then went to shave and shower.

Once cleaned and dressed, I took some garden shears and went to harvest almost all the rest of the lilacs. I didn't have any ribbon to tie up the branches, so I disassembled one of those pre-made bows. I stuck all that in the trunk, said goodbye to the cats and hit the road.

As I said in the last post, this was B___'s idea (though I wished I'd thought of it). When I was bemoaning the lack of a Mother to celebrate Mother's Day with, he said, "Didn't you tell me she liked lilacs?" I said she loved them! He said, "Well, since you have lilacs, why not put some on her grave?" I replied I didn't have one of those vases with the stake to put them in and he said, "No, I meant like a spray of lilacs, on the ground."

So, that's what I'm gonna do.

Okay, first problem... I-96 is completely shut down on the Express Lanes and the detour is taking me onto surface streets. I have NO idea where I am (it's quite a "interesting" area - I'm glad it's not dark) but I know I'm still headed east. Eventually, I reached I-75 and took that to I-94, heading north. Finally, I reached the New Baltimore exit and got to the graveyard.

I was impressed! There were five or six other people tending their Mother's graves (I assume it was their Mothers). Because they were all mothers, I put some lilacs on my sister Anne's grave, Carl's wife Betty's grave and, since it was his idea after all, B___'s mother's grave. The rest went on Mom's grave.

I'd already driven over 50 miles, so I figured what the heck. I took Ridge road to 25 Mile road and out to County Line road. From there I jumped back on the freeway, still heading north to go to the Smokehouse (its only 17 more miles away).

I-94 is still all torn up, up there. I feel sorry for my son Jeremy, who has to drive that way on his way home from work.

I got to the Smokehouse and bought some hunter sausages (Jake, Carla and I jones about these every few months). Since I was this close (about a mile from the old house on Palms Road), I thought I'd stop in and wish my old neighbor Sue "Happy Mother's Day." I wish I hadn't...

The grass clearly hadn't been cut yet this year. The elaborate walkways in front (timbers and pavers) were littered with branches and leaves (some of the timbers were rotted and some of the pavers were frost-heaved). When I pushed on the doorbell, it fell out of its home and hung by the wires. So, I pounded on the door.

I walked around back and the elaborate decking (they actually were featured in some architectural magazine, back in the day) was also littered and, in some places, rotting. WTF?

I looked in the windows and all the furniture was there (and even clothes). Well, maybe she's at church or gone to her own mother's house. I left, but with a heavy heart...

Back on the freeway, I set the cruise control at 80 MPH and let 'er rip. There were no problems on the way back home and, since I needed something at Lowe's, I decided to take I-96 (I'd normally get off at Beech-Daly) to I-275 down to Ford Road and drop off some hunter sausage to Jake and Carla. I stayed about five minutes, explaining I still had a trellis to put together.

I stopped at Lowe's and then headed home.

Once there, I tried to call Carla's mom, to wish her a happy Mother's day as well. Unfortunately, the number I had was disconnected (I have four other one's scratched out in my phone book). So, I called Jake and got her newest one. She answered and said, "You never pick up my calls!" So, I said, "Because your number is different every time! I don't know that it's you!"

She laughed and said she was gonna hold on to this one. She was in South Carolina, visiting her son Curtis.

We hung up and I called Sue's number to either wish her a happy Mother's day, or leave her a message. I wish I hadn't...

The number was disconnected (her and her late husband John had that number for at least 30 years). I called information to get her new number and they just gave me the one I already had... WTF?

At 3:30 PM, I got back to the trellis. I got one of the legs screwed in (it was very difficult to line up the three holes you needed for each screw). The second one just would not work, no matter how I tried. It was almost 6:30 PM by the time I gave up. I thought seriously about just using deck screws, but decided to wait a day and try again.

Back inside (I left the trellis lying on the patio). I pan fried the last three chicken thighs and "baked" a potato. I ate one of the thighs and the potato while watching my Sunday shows. I cleaned up the kitchen and went to bed.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Definitely NOT from Sunday Morning Over Easy...

...but it's one of my old favorites. And, yes, I do remember when it came out and they played it on the radio and not some oldies station, lol!)

"You never can tell"

~ Chuck Berry

It was a teenage wedding, and the old folks wished them well
You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madame have rung the chapel bell,
"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They furnished off an apartment with a two room Roebuck sale
The coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and ginger ale,
But when Pierre found work, the little money comin' worked out well
"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They had a hi-fi phono, boy, did they let it blast
Seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz
But when the sun went down, the rapid tempo of the music fell
"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They bought a souped-up jitney, 'twas a cherry red '53,
They drove it down New Orleans to celebrate their anniversary
It was there where Pierre was wedded to the lovely mademoiselle
"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They had a teenage wedding, and the old folks wished them well
You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madame have rung the chapel bell,
"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

Strange Saturday

I woke up on Saturday just after 7:30 AM. After making coffee, I spent some time hooking my monitor and CPU back up and then checked out the emails I had missed. Then I wrote the Blog entry and posted it. A shave and a shower came next.

I made a big breakfast for a change. I'd thawed out some ham slices, so I fried two of them up, while warming up some of the leftover grits. When everything was warm, I made two over easy eggs. The only thing I couldn't make was toast (I'm out of bread).

It was a weird day, weather-wise. It was either sunny one minute or then raining the next. I did go out on the patio (during a sunny phase) and checked the rain gauge. Between Friday and today I got just over one inch of rain.

I bit the bullet and put together the top of the trellis. But, it was raining once again when I finished, so I decided to assemble and install it tomorrow.

I watched "Pulp Fiction" again in the afternoon. I had a friend recently tell me they started to watch it, but it was too violent and made no sense. I explained that, while they are violent, Quentin Taratino films have to be watched from beginning to end to make sense.

I talked to my friend B__ and he gave me a GREAT idea. I was lamenting that this was the first time in 61+ years (I realize it would be longer for my older brothers) that I wasn't buying a card, ordering flowers, buying a gift or making a gift for my Mom. It's really bumming me out. But, like I said, he gave me an idea. We'll see if I act upon it.

For supper, I baked some of the Ore-Ida crinkle-cut French fries in the toaster oven and warmed up some of the Manwich. It wasn't that original, but it tasted good.

I watched some taped cooking shows until the Red Wings game came on. I watched that until it ended (we lost and are out of the playoffs) and then, disgusted, went to bed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I GOT MY CAR BACK!!!

I forgot to mention there was a message on my machine Thursday, saying the car was done. So, I called Friday morning (just to double-check) and sure enough, they said it was done. Hurray!

So, I left work about 9:30 AM to fetch it. First, I went to the car rental place (in pouring rain - and I do mean POURING!). I settled up ($309.72) and asked them to drive me to the repair shop. This being "Enterprise," they readily agreed.

So, I got to the repair shop and paid them off, too ($1,750.80) and I was back at work just after 10:00 AM ($2,060.52 poorer). The rain had penetrated my "waterproof" rain jacket and I was drenched.

The mechanic told me that they had to flush the coolant system four times to get all the oil out. He also said that they had to degrease the entire engine compartment so they could safely work on the motor.

So, I noticed two things. One, there is a bad, almost kerosene-like smell in the car (probably the degreaser and hopefully it will go away) and two; they must have disconnected the battery because now the radio lock is on. This is supposed to be a Volvo theft deterrent, because if you disconnect the radio from the battery (or vice versus) you have to enter a secret code. This happened to me when I replace the battery a while back. I ended up driving like 30 miles to the nearest Volvo dealer, showing them proof of ownership and the VIN number and they gave me the secret code. Now, I know I wrote it down somewhere... I just have to remember where and how you enter it, so I can play the radio again. **Sigh**

I ran the dishwasher at lunchtime (still raining, but not as hard). So when I got home after work, I emptied it. I went out and cut three more lilac blooms (they're starting to go bad though) and replaced the dead ones in the bedroom.

I was searching for the secret code when they came on the TV and announced a severe thunderstorm warning (with deadly lightning and one inch-sized hail to quote the weatherman) and also a tornado watch until 11:00 PM tonight. Geesh! I don't see no tornado or one-inch hail, but it is thundering and raining like a bitch out there.

Uncharacteristically of me, I decided to disconnect the monitor and the computer, so I unplugged both and disconnected the cable input. Normally, I trust in God, luck and my surge protector. But, since God and luck have turned against me, I thought I wouldn't take any chances. The guy did say "deadly" lightning...

I searched through every scrap of paper in the car and in my drawers inside and could not come up with the secret code. Dammit! Looks like another long ride for this old boy.

My friend B___ call just after 8:00 PM and just after my search concluded. He chided me for not having the trellis done ("And you call yourself a woodworker?") and for losing the secret code ("Why in the hell didn't you put it in the computer the first time? That's how people these days save things!").

But, as we talked, I remembered the incident more clearly. The guy at the dealership wrote it down on the back of his business card and, after I entered it and got the radio working again, I swear I threw it in the glove box. I sorted through everything (I got like a grocery bag of junk - four year old oil change receipts, etc.) but what I didn't do was to open up the four or five old maps. It could have slipped into one of them! I'll check that in the morning.

After we hung up, I was starting to get hungry, but being discouraged, didn't feel like making something. So, I reheated a big bowl of the parsnips and mashed potatoes, added butter salt and pepper and called that dinner.

I watched the Friday Night Fights until they ended and then went to bed.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Lazy Thursday

It was warm and windy on Thursday. I spent most of the morning sitting on the patio, drinking coffee and watching those "helicopter" maple seeds fall. For some reason, I have a ton of them this year.

In the afternoon, I unpacked that trellis I bought last year and laid all the pieces out. I'm not quite sure why, but this project daunts me (I'm daunted!). About 5:00 PM, my friend B___ called and saved me from going further.

Not having eaten all day, I decided after we hung up it was supper time. I made a simple one: a can of "Manwich" and a pound of hamburger and that blue box of mac and cheese. I used one of my onion rolls for my "Manwich" sandwich.

I watched TV for the rest of the night until bedtime.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thanks to my brother Carl for this one...

INTERESTING OBSERVATION

1.The sport of choice for the urban poor is BASKETBALL.

2 The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BOWLING

3 The sport of choice for front-line workers is FOOTBALL.

4 The sport of choice for supervisors is BASEBALL.

5 The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS.
And....

6 The sport of choice for corporate executives and officers is GOLF.

THE AMAZING CONCLUSION:

The higher you go in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become.

Damp Wednesday

I went in to work on Wednesday for my four hours. When I left at 11:00 AM, I headed for Lowe's.

I made one stop at the Newburgh Grill. Sadly, it's been so long I forgot the day you want to go there is Tuesday (great bean soup). Today, it was chicken and dumpling or lemon chicken rice soups. Even though I knew better, I ordered the chicken and dumpling soup and a mini Greek salad.

As Jake would attest, the soup is like eating fairly good chicken soup with lead-like flour lumps of dough (if I made dumplings like that, I'd kill myself). I left most of them in the bowl and couldn't finish the little salad.

Then it was on to Lowe's. I found the belt I needed easily enough and, $25.00 US later, headed back for home.

When I got there, I remembered (belatedly) my work clothes were in the hamper. So, I changed into my robe, started the Wednesday wash and watched some TV while the clothes went through the cycles of wash, rinse and dry.

When they finally finished, I hung up my at-work work clothes and put on my outside at-home work clothes. Then I went out in the garage to put on the belt.

Oh, the Owner's Guide made it sound sooo easy. But it took several different sockets, ratchets and wrenches and almost 2 1/2 hours to get the damn thing on!

The forecast was for afternoon thunderstorms, but it was still sunny when I finished. So, I fired that bad boy up and cut the side lawn. Then I opened the rear gate and started on the back lawn.

About halfway through cutting, it started to sprinkle. Since it wasn't really raining, I soldiered on. It never really rained, so I finished the grass, but half of the lawn has clumps of wet grass clippings.

Back inside, I buttoned everything up and checked the caller id. My friend B___ had called, so I called him back. He said they did get thunderstorms (and hail) up where he lives, so I guess I was lucky.

For my dinner, I added a little cream to the Fettucini Alfredo leftovers and warmed it up in the microwave. I topped it with a bit of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano and ate it watching the news.

I watched old movies until I was sleepy and then went to bed.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

photo

This is a picture of the Japanese maple when I first planted it.

Here we go again....

So, I went back to my part-time hours this week. I've been kinda pushing the envelope with working full-time for the past three weeks.

So, I made myself a nice breakfast: scrambled eggs and grits. I always eat the grits with butter, salt and pepper. People who put sugar or maple syrup on grits are just weird. Then I watched the Today show until 10:00 AM.

About two o'clock, I gassed up the riding mower and checked the oil. Believe it or not, with all the rain we had, the back lawn (at least) needs cutting. Since I was doing it anyway (and it's supposed to rain most of the days left in this week), I started with the front lawn.

I got that done, shut off the blades and drove across the driveway to the side lawn. When I got there, I turned the blades back on, but just heard a loud "pop" instead of whirling blades. Dammit! I shut it down and checked and, sure enough, the belt had broken...

That means a trip to Lowe's (over in Jake and Carla country), so I put everything away and buttoned the house up for the rest of the day.

I had bought some fresh, refrigerated pasta last week (made by Buitoni) so I got that out and made a classic Fettucini Alfredo for dinner.

First I put a pot of water on for the pasta. Then in another pan, I brought one cup of cream, salt, pepper and a few swipes of nutmeg (on the microplane) up to a simmer. I lowered the heat and whisked in two ounces of butter in small chunks.

When the fettucini was done (fresh pasta only takes two or three minutes, unlike dried pasta) I drained it and put it into the sauce. Then I sprinkled in two ounces of freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, (I used a box grater and it was a pain in the arm) tossing it to melt and distribute the cheese. Note: You can add a little more cream if it gets too thick.

I plated that and went in to watch "Stagecoach," on AMC. This is the 1939 classic starring John Wayne. When it was done, so was I so I went to bed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

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The Japanese maple

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The wild garden, in full bloom

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St. Francis garden

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Slag around the mailbox

Monday Moanin'

I woke up Monday morning and, without much further ado, went to work. It was very warm and humid when I went home at lunch. I finally figured out how to turn the air conditioner on in the rental car (it's the button that has a snow flake on it).

I picked up a new assignment in today's staff meeting. For the last three years, I have done the yearly security review for our IT department (think about that for a moment...) (Look out Jeremy, I'm right behind you!) The last year, I actually researched stuff and came up with a document that said, "Here's what we do," "Here's what we should do," and here's the gap analysis (Jake helped on our web apps). The IT Director made me take it all out because "It might upset the owners."

But, about a month ago, one of the Spacely Sprocket websites got hacked, so this time she wants an independent firm to conduct a security audit (finally, some sanity). So, I called our CDW rep and have a conference call set up for Friday at 1:00 PM to get a quote (trust me, upper management is NOT gonna pay for this...) What bothers me is that I have NO idea of the questions to ask them...

After work, it was still hot out, but I am not fooled. There is a line of thunderstorms approaching that should hit here about 8:00 PM (according to the 5:00 o'clock news). So, I quickly changed clothes and headed out to get some work done.

Now, if you remember, last fall, the Township added slag to each driveway entrance to make up for the height difference to the newly paved road. Well, during the winter, the construction company on the corner of the street plowed out the snow from their parking lot and deposited it in the vacant lot next to me. Along with the snow was a healthy bunch of the slag (it's hard to judge the depth of your blade). When the snow melted, the slag was all in a neat pile.

Unfortunately (me being me) this weekend, they brought in a bush hog and cut the grass in that vacant lot, so the pile was somewhat flattened (timing IS everything). But, I got out the wheelbarrow and a transfer shovel and managed to dig up four wheelbarrows full. I put that all around the newly-moved mailbox, so I don't have to worry about falling off the pavement to get the mail (see photos). You might not be able to see, but the seeds I planted in the mailbox garden are starting to sprout.

It was starting to cloud up, so I went out and got three new lilac blossoms. I threw the old ones away, refilled the glass with fresh water and put them back in the bedroom.

I took the camera out back and also took photos of the St. Francis garden (ferns and lilies of the valley - my second favorite spring smell). Something's coming up in the raised bed garden (either spinach or leaf lettuce), so I snapped a shot of that. And then I took a photo of the wild garden (again, ferns and lilies of the valley). Finally, I took a picture of the Japanese maple, which is gorgeous this year. I remember when it was nothing more than a stick with some leaves...

Back inside, I got a call from my mechanic, Sam (Sam he am). He was so apologetic, I felt bad for him. It seems that the back-ordered exhaust gaskets didn't come in on Friday or even Saturday. They came in today... But... instead of the four gaskets needed, the box only had one in it! So, now its Thursday or Friday before they are due in. I better call the car rental place so they don't start thinking I stole their damn car.

Disgusted, I no longer felt like cooking. So, I made a can of Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup and ate that with some crackers for supper. I watched a little TV, but went to bed before 10:00 PM.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lazy, Hazy day of Sunday

It was a lazy Sunday. It rained off and on all day (I picked up another 3/4 inch of rain according to the rain gauge) so I couldn't do anything outside.

I caught up on my magazine reading, seated on the couch. I talked to my friend, B___, early in the morning.

I made two tuna fish sandwiches for lunch (tuna, mayo and fine-diced onion).

I took a nice long nap in the afternoon, then I ate leftovers for my Sunday supper.

My daughter Melissa called just after 8:00 PM and we talked until 10:00. After we hung up, I watched two of my taped Sunday shows and went to bed just after midnight.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rain-soaked Saturday

I was awakened at 6:50 AM on Saturday morning by a loud boom of thunder and flashes of lightning. I looked outside, but it wasn't raining yet. Sadly, it didn't dawn on my sleep-befuddled brain to go out and get the grille back in the garage. I only thought of that later...

By 7:00 AM, the heavens had opened up and the rain, abetted by strong winds, was coming down in sheets. The rain was hitting the windows so hard it sounded like hail! The whole storm was over by 7:30, though. The wind was calm, the rain had stopped and the only rumbles and grumbles of thunder were far off in the distance.

I cut open a grapefruit and ate both halves for breakfast.

Rain was predicted up until noon, so I was not fooled. I was curious, however, so I went outside in my bathrobe to check the rain gauge. In that brief event, I picked up 1/2 inch of rain! I also went out front and dragged in the grille, also in my bathrobe. To eliminate potential embarrassment, I pretended I was a king in his robes. For the next hour or so, I addressed Scruffy and Caley as "knave" and "wench" (hey you live alone, you get weird, okay?)

Anyway, the rain will be beneficial to my vegetable and flower seeds.

I put on a pot of coffee and started the weekend wash. I noticed it had started sprinkling again, but nothing hard (yet).

Because of the amount of rain, I spent the day inside, cleaning up the house, putzing around and so on.

I watched a 1946 movie (My Darling Clementine) starring Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp and then I took a nap.

In spite of my plans for a great meal, I just ate leftovers for my supper.

I went to bed at 10:00 PM and that was Saturday...

Just once more before I die...

...I would like to fall in love again.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Highbrow quotes that I like

Shakespeare's Hamlet:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die-to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream-ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause-there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Reminds me of my son Jeremy

May 20 will be the birthday of Honore De Balzac (born in Tours, France 1799). The author of "La Comedie Humaine" was a coffee addict. To fuel his 15 hour a day writing habit, he consumed over 50,000 cups in the course of his 51 years.

In, "The pleasures and pains of coffee," his paean to the bean, Balzac attributed his prolific output to black coffee, which he also admitted also made him prone to harangue grocers.

His favorite route to a caffeine high? Chewing the grounds on an empty stomach.

Tonight's Fight

Floyd Mayweather versus Sugar Shane Mosely?

I pick Floyd!

Can't afford to watch it but I'll check the web tomorrow for highlights and see if I'm right.

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The Touch Method: Well Done

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The Touch Method: Medium

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The Touch Method: Medium Rare

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The Touch Method: Rare

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The Touch Method: Raw

Fantastic Friday!

It was already 73 degrees F. when I went home for lunch on Friday and it's supposed to get up to 82 degrees later. It's also windy, so it would have been a perfect day to play hooky and fly a kite (I still have an unopened one in my closet).

I took a picture of the lilac for you at lunch. After posting it, I cut off three blooms and put them in a glass of water in my bedroom. That smell always reminds me of my childhood for my Mother had many huge lilacs on the farm.

I filled up the birdbath and feeder while I was at it.

When I got back to work, Sam (the mechanic) had called. When I called him back, he said the turbo had come in, but the exhaust gasket was on back order. They told him it would either be in late today or tomorrow (groan).

When I left work it was 80 degrees! I swear I could smell those lilacs in the garage. The whole house is filled with the scent.

Now, my birdbath is small, but when I glanced out the kitchen window, there were two big mourning doves sitting (or trying to sit) in it. I snuck in for the camera, but just as I turned it on, they flew off. Damn! That would have been a cool shot.

I changed clothes and got out the steak I'd thawed. I set it on the counter after taking the butcher paper off, to let it come up to room temperature. With weather like this, I gotta use the 'que!

But, work before pleasure. I gassed up the push mower, checked the oil and started walking around the perimeter of the front, side and back lawn (a long walk, BTW). I need to cut the areas that get missed with the wide turn radius of the lawn tractor.

I finished that up at 7:15 PM. Then I got out a one pound bag of parsnips and a five pound bag of Yukon Gold potatoes. I peeled and cut up the parsnip, then peeled and diced two pounds of the Yukon Gold potatoes. I put them in the Dutch oven, covered them with cold water and brought them to a boil.

Meanwhile, I dragged out the grille and filled the charcoal lighter chimney with coals. I put two sheets of newspaper under it and lit it up.

Back inside, I seasoned the steak with just salt and pepper, checked the parsnips and potatoes (they're done) and mashed them. I used butter and some heavy cream, cut with water (you were supposed to use half-and-half, but I don't have any). I put the lid on the Dutch oven to keep it warm and went out to grill the steak.

Now, I'm trying to learn a cooking technique I've long been envious of: determining the doneness of a steak by touch. While using a meat thermometer is all well and good in say, a roast, you don't want to poke holes in a steak and lose the juices. Most chefs do it by touch, but until now I've relied on time, instead. Tonight, the lesson begins!

So, I've seen several different approaches to learning this, but this one seems the easiest to me.

Open the palm of your hand. Relax the hand. Take the index finger of your other hand and push on the fleshy area between the thumb and the base of the palm. Make sure your hand is relaxed. This is what raw meat feels like. (Check this out the next time you have a raw steak to cook.)

Now gently press the tip of your pinky and your thumb together. Again feel the fleshy area below the thumb. It should feel quite firm. This is what well done meat feels like when you press on it. (Check this out the next time you overcook a piece of meat.)

Press the tip of your ring finger and your thumb together. The flesh beneath the thumb should give a little more. This is what meat cooked to a medium doneness feels like.

Gently press the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. This is medium rare.

Press the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb. The fleshy area below the thumb should give quite a bit. This is what meat cooked to rare feels like. Open up your palm again and compare raw to rare.

Simple, right?

Well, I cooked that beautiful Porterhouse steak to what felt to me like medium rare (the only way I like meat), plated it, shut the garage door and went back inside. I added a big scoop of the parsnips and mashed potatoes and went in to see what the TV had to offer.

The parsnips and mashed potatoes were excellent. It took a bit longer to mash the parsnips but it was well worth it. Definitely a keeper if you like parsnips!

The steak, however, was a HUGE disappointment. It was definitely well done (and I hate that). Don't get me wrong, I ate it, but I didn't like it. I gotta work on that...