Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday

I took a bag of pants that are now too big to the Goodwill at lunch. Then I went home and ate a can of Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup (I’ll regret that, later).

When I got home after work, I started thinking about tonight’s chores. But, when I was at the tire store (and after they told me it would take about an hour, and it did) I brought an old favorite paperback. So, distaining accomplishment tonight (Bah!), I fixed a drink and sat on the couch to read some more.

I called down to Virginia to ask Lu how long she cooks sweet potatoes in the microwave (I remember vaguely her saying she did). She called back and said, “About the same time it takes to do a regular potato (Uh?)” but that she prefers the toaster oven. I had forgotten about the toaster oven!

But, she cuts them up. So, I thought I’d check on the Internet. It suggested poking them with a fork (so they don’t explode) and baking at 375 degrees F. for a minimum of 20 minutes, then 10 minutes afterwards until soft.

I have two to make, so it took almost 50 minutes. But, I cut them in half and scooped out the sweet potato. I added some butter and sea salt (I love that stuff) and took the bowl in the bedroom to watch TV.

Later, I read the rest of the book and then went to sleep.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

"But life had a way of presenting you with a dogshit sandwich and tailoring events perfectly so that you just had to hang around and eat it."

~ from the book "Vanishing Act" by Thomas Perry

Windy Wednesday

I slept in on Wednesday, but there was no real reason to get up early. I really think it is windier today than yesterday. There are still high wind advisories, but no tornado watches or warning and no rain forecasted.

I left for the Westland Mall around 10:00 AM. I went to Kohl’s and got some much needed clothing (four pairs of dress pants, one shirt and a brown belt). Since I was in the area and I knew that Carla had the day off as well, I swung by the house and took her to lunch at Max and Erma’s

She asked me if we could stop at Meijer’s (across the street) so she could pick up some Halloween candy. I bought two bags “just in case” but I know that I’ll just give them away to somebody other than trick-or-treaters.

After I dropped her off, I went to Belle Tire and bought four new tires for the car. The old ones were rated for 40,000 miles and it’s been about 60,000 miles since I bought them. I figured it would be better to get them now than to get stuck in the snow this winter.

Back home, I took a nap. Then I started on dinner. I cut up eight of the nine remaining tomatoes and added them to a skillet with some onions and garlic I had sautéed. I let them cook down for about an hour. I decided there wasn’t enough liquid for my purposes so I added a can of tomato sauce. I seasoned that with salt and pepper and then went out into the wind for some herbs.

I settled on basil, oregano and flat leaf parsley. I cut those up and added them to the sauce. After I let it all get happy, I taste tested it. Excellent!

I talked to my nephew Rick, down in Texas. He had left a message the night before, giving me support in my efforts to ride the bike. Thanks, man!

I cut two big slices of the meatloaf and cut each slice into thirds. I added that to the sauce (thinking – hey, meatloaf, meatballs, its pretty much the same). The rest of the meatloaf went into a baggie and then into the freezer.

Then I boiled a pound of thick spaghetti. When it was done, I added it to the meat sauce and plated some. It was really, really good!

I watched TV until late and then went to bed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday's Storm

We had high wind warnings today and tornado watches, so before I left for work, I went out on the patio and stacked up the furniture. I also left the trash more on the driveway than out on the road, so it wouldn't blow across the street.

But, while it was windy at lunchtime, there weren’t any of the 60 MPH wind gusts they’d predicted, there wasn’t any hail here and by the time I left work at 4:00 PM the sun was out. It had rained, but I checked the rain gauge ant there was only about 1/4 inch of water in it.

So, the big storm must have passed me by (thank God).

I relaxed for a few hours and then made dinner. I peeled my eggplant, ran it through my breading station (flour, egg and seasoned flour) and then fried it.

I checked that paper bag I put the green tomatoes in and my barber was right! All but one had turned red. So, I sliced the biggest one up, drizzled it with olive oil, seasoned it with some sea salt and fresh ground pepper and topped that with crumbled feta cheese. It didn’t taste as “fresh” as a vine-ripened tomato, but it was good!

All in all, I had a delightful, delicious vegetarian dinner.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday Meatloaf

Monday morning dawned warm and breezy. But I (The Weather-Watcher) am not fooled. Tuesday, everything goes to sh*t!

After work, It was after 6:00 by the time I got the mail sorted, my clothes changes, etc. So, I jumped on making my Sunday dinner. I planned on meatloaf, baked sweet potato and broccoli with a cheese sauce.

I looked up a recipe to get cooking times and temperature, but I’m not following it for ingredients. I am basically throwing everything but the kitchen sink into this sucker!

I fine-diced a big sweet onion, grated half a carrot and cut half a pound of button mushrooms into small cubes. I also cut up all those small green peppers I harvested from my garden. Those all went into a skillet with some olive oil. When the mushrooms had reduced and the onion was translucent, I added three cloves of minced garlic for the last minute of cooking time. Then I pulled the skillet off the heat to let the mixture cool.

In a mixing bowl, I whisked together two large eggs, about a half cup of milk, some Dijon mustard, a splash of hot sauce and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.

In a larger mixing bowl I combined a pound of ground chuck, a pound of ground pork, a big handful of store-bought bread crumbs, the egg and milk mixture, the cooked onions and “stuff” and some fresh herbs (parsley, thyme and oregano) that I went out and picked in the dark.

I took about a tablespoon of the mix and made a small patty. I fried that in the skillet and tasted it for seasoning. I only added a little salt and a lot of pepper.

Meanwhile I made my glaze with some ketchup, light brown sugar and a couple of splashes of cider vinegar (to cut the sweetness – I don’t like sweet). I made the mix into a loaf shape in my rectangular cake pan, put on about half the glaze and stuck it in a 350 degree F. preheated oven. I set the timer for 45 minutes.

I had planned on baking the sweet potatoes and that would have been fine on Sunday afternoon. But, it seemed like over-kill late on Monday night. So, I left them out of my dinner plans.

I cut the broccoli into florets and stuck the stems in a baggie in the fridge. I’ll peel and dice them later. It’s only the outside skin that’s tough and bitter. The insides can be used in soups and stews. The florets went into boiling, salted water.

When the timer went off, I re-glazed the meatloaf and stuck it back in for 15 minutes more.

I had bought a nice shredded four-cheese mixture at Westborn (mozzarella, asiago, provolone and romano) and had planned on making a cheese sauce for the broccoli. But it was already after 9:00 PM, so I improvised. I warmed up some Cheese Whiz in the microwave (in a bowl covered with cling wrap at 15 second intervals until it was steaming – it only takes two or three times).

I plated the meatloaf and broccoli, added some cheese to the broccoli and went in the bedroom for dinner and taped TV. The food was excellent!!! My only criticism was the glaze was a “bit” too tart. One splash of cider vinegar would have been enough.

When the meatloaf was cool, I just covered it with aluminum foil and stuck it in the fridge. The broccoli went into four cup containers and also into the fridge. Then I went to bed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Slow-moving Sunday

I didn't do much on Sunday. I did wash the bedding and emptied the dishwasher, etc., but no big projects or anything. My back hurt too much.

I didn't even make the meatloaf I'd planned on. I just ate leftovers and rested. I took a nap in the afternoon so I could stay up and watch my Sunday night shows, which I did.

My Mom (or that gypsy) was at it again...

I woke up early Saturday morning for a bathroom break. When I went into the bathroom, I noticed the outside security light was on! So, I went and got my glasses to make sure I wasn’t being invaded. I had to smile when I saw it was just my old friend the possum, munching on the apples I’d put out yesterday for the squirrels.

I finally woke out for real at about 7:00 AM. I made a 6 cup pot of coffee and posted the Blog. Then I watched the morning news until it was time to get real (I have a 9:30 AM haircut appointment).

When I got out of the barber’s (about 10:00 AM) it was raining. This may mess up the planned bike ride, as I don’t have any rain gear. In fact, now that I think of it, I never owned any rain gear! Does anyone know where you get it? I have saddle bags this time and could bring it along.

I stopped at Westborn and got a few items I need for the coming week. It was still raining on my way home.

But, it cleared up just after noon and by 3:00 PM, the pavement was dry. So, I thought it would be perfect for a bike ride. It took about 20 minutes to get it running and to keep it running, but I got it! So, I put my helmet on, rolled that bad boy out of the garage and into the driveway.

I put it in gear and began my turn in the driveway. I got about 13 feet and picked up my right foot and the bike went down! I went ass-over-teakettles (or whatever that phrase is) across the gravel. I got up and, once again, was unable to pick the damn thing up. A neighbor (Tony and not the same guy who helped me the last time, thank God) was driving by and he stopped to help. By that time, my arms and legs were killing me and so was my back, so I asked him to just help me push it back in the garage.

I made dinner by grilling some hot dogs on the stovetop grill and added a pound of hamburger to two cans of pork and beans. The beans were just Campbell’s, not Bush’s, so I gave them a shot of molasses and a dash of mustard.

I lay on the bed eating, watching TV and trying to ease my backache.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finally Friday...

It was 33 degrees F. when I woke up on Friday! As I wandered off to work, I still didn’t see any evidence of frost here, though. But, it sounded a death knell on summer.

At lunch, I heated up the two-cup container of potato soup and ate it with gusto. Yumo!

After work, I went out and pulled out the rest of the tomatoes. I pulled out all the none-heading cabbage plants (there are three that look like they still might work). I harvested the immature green peppers (I’ll have to think about that) and pulled up the plants as well.

I also left the sugar snap peas (hoping against hope). I pitched all the green tomatoes and the downed red tomatoes into the lawn (volunteer tomatoes are a pain in a small space). I took all the veg and dumped it on the compost heap.

Back inside, I watched the nightly news until 7:00 PM and then started on tonight’s dinner.

I’m about “souped” out, so I went with potatoes and cheese pierogies. What could be better than starch and starch in starch?

I made them the way Sue Plezs (our neighbor back in the day) did. I melted a stick of butter in my skillet and added one yellow sliced onion. While that slowly sautéed, I put the pierogies into two quarts of boiling water and cooked them according to the package directions.

When they were all floating, I transferred them with the spyder to the skillet and let them turn golden. I plated about half, topped them with the onions and added a big dollop of sour cream.

OMG! Thanks, Sue!!

I watched TV until bedtime.

Friday, October 22, 2010

photo

Cutting the core out of a cabbage
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Small maple in my yard
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Black walnut in my front yard
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Big maple on my lot line.

Happy Birthday Melissa!

It was cold when I left for work on Thursday, so I went in and changed my light jacket for a coat.

When I got home from work, I treated the cats, changed my shoes and gave Melissa a call. I didn’t expect to get her (and I didn’t) so I just left her a “Happy Birthday” message.

I put on my coat and a wool hat and went out to cut the front lawn. By the time I got done, I was wishing I’d worn gloves! It was not only cold but there was a stiff wind blowing. Brrr...

Since I was out there and already cold, I got the camera and took some pictures of the trees in the front yard. Only the small maple still has a significant number of leaves.

I thought I’d try Melissa’s cabbage soup. So, I cut a head of cabbage into quarters. Then, by cutting on an angle, I cut out the core (see photos). I cut each quarter into smaller wedges and then into squares (she recommended pieces no more than one inch so they stay on your spoon).

I put all the cabbage into my Dutch oven and added a whole 46-ounce jar of spicy V8 juice and four dashes of Franks Red hot sauce. That’s it. That’s the whole recipe!

I brought that up to a boil and then turned it down to simmer. I covered it and went in and watched TV for a couple of hours.

I came back and got a big bowl of it. Delicious! I even went back and got another half bowl.

I watched a little more TV and put the rest of the soup into freezer containers. In spite of how much I had eaten, I still got two 4-cup and one 2-cup containers of leftovers. Then I went to bed, burping...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday and Wednesday

I overslept on Thursday and decided to post the Wednesday Blog entry at work. That’s when I discovered I’d not posted Tuesday’s entry! So, its sitting there at home, all written out, but I’m here...

So, I’ll try to recreate it.

~ Tuesday

I went and spent a small fortune at Jos. A Banks at lunchtime. I think I mentioned I have a wedding to go to and all my long-sleeve shirts are old. So, I got two new shirts, two ties and a leather belt.

Back at home after work, I got out the blower and blew all the leaves out from under the two trailers in the back yard. Then I got out the lawn tractor and cut the lawn/mulched the leaves.

I had an idea to use up the rest of the roast beef by making beef and barley soup. I made it my usual way, except since I wasn’t searing the beef and simmering it in six cups of water; I added four cups of beef broth and two of water.

That’s where I went wrong! Instead of tasting the hearty barley flavor, all you tasted was beef! Not “bad” but not good!

I watched TV until late as I have tomorrow off.

~ Wednesday

Wednesday I woke up late and forgot to post the Blog entry. I made eggs and ham for breakfast. Believe it or not, Scruffy (who never eats people food except for milk) loved the honey-baked ham rinds I put down for Caley!

I'd planned on a trip to the Westland Mall and Lowe's but decided to do it next week instead. I mostly rested up and did small stuff (fill the bird feeder, put out the first suet cakes, etc.) and interspersed that with watching TV. I ate a small green salad for lunch.

I was going to cut the front lawn when it got warmer, but when I went out to get the mail, it was raining.

I talked to my friend B___ and my daughter Melissa. I had another bowl of the soup for dinner, but still didn’t like it.

I went to bed at 10:00 PM and had trouble falling asleep.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Misty Monday

It apparently rained overnight as the patio was wet on Monday morning. I left for work in a cold mist.

I got to the new building at 7:30 AM, although I’d arranged to have a Tech there since 7:00 AM. We had NO major computer issues! There were, however, a few telephone issues regarding four-digit dialing, but the Telecom Administrator was onsite and working on it by 8:15 AM. By the time I left for a 9:30 AM meeting, people were much more interested in unpacking their boxes than computers. So the first of the three waves of moving in went well.

I went to Meijer’s at lunchtime to pick up some kitty litter and a few needed supplies.

After work, I watered the mailbox garden. The leaves were a little too damp to grass cut tonight, so I did small chores instead (empty the dishwasher, etc.). I warmed up more of the roast beef, veggies and gravy for dinner. I ate that along with a green salad topped with blue cheese dressing.

There was nothing much on TV, so I watched a taped Masterpiece movie (on PBS). It was called “Wallander: The Fifth Woman,” and was about a Swedish homicide cop. Very interesting!

When that was done, I went to bed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Unsatisfying Sunday

I woke up at 8:00 AM on Sunday and immediately posted a quote I’d heard (and laughed my *ss off) last night through my insomniac wanderings on the cable channels.

Then I went out and started my Sunday night supper. I had thawed out the last rump roast yesterday after Jake and Carla left. Why a rump roast? Because it will fit into the smaller round crock pot (the English blade roasts need the bigger oval crock pot and I don’t need a lot of leftovers).

Now, unfortunately, I have no fresh mushrooms (a necessary ingredient in any CaptainK’s pot roast). So, while I had my coffee on the couch, I started to think how I could add layers of flavor to this. This will be an experiment.

So, I started out by peeling two big-*ss carrots and cutting them on the biase. I put them in the round crock pot. I added some chunks of leftover Vidalia onions and two whole cloves of garlic. Then I added some new red potatoes, chunked with skin on. I threw in two bay leaves and 1/2 cup of water.

I melted two tablespoon of bacon fat and seared the rump roast after heavily seasoning it with salt and pepper (it’s a big chunk of meat). I had the pan on high heat or “full whack” (as Jamie Oliver likes to say) and let it get a nice crust on all the sides and ends. Then I put it in the crock pot. I filled the remaining sides with more potatoes and topped the meat off with another clove of garlic and some leftover red onions.

Then I went outside and got some fresh oregano, thyme and rosemary. I threw them on top, stems and all, put the lid on and turned it on low.

I went in and filled in the Blog entry. Lu called for a brief chat and told me a funny story about our kids and hay bales. I putzed around doing a little of this and that until 2:00 PM when I decided to take the bike out.

So, I went out, disconnected the battery trickle charger, turned the fuel and choke on, made sure the kickstand was up and the key turned on and hit the “start button” (this is the first bike I ever owned with electrical starting).

It turned over! It coughed! But it didn’t start!!

I kept trying in say 30 second intervals (I didn’t want to burn up the starter motor) until the battery died (when you turn on the key the lights automatically come on, so that didn’t help). Having sat there with a leather jacket and my helmet on all the time, I was not only p*ssed but sweaty.

So, I rolled the beast forward next to the car, turned the car on and jumped the bike battery from the car’s. Still the same effect. Now, I realize that I am doing something wrong, so I got out the Owner’s Guide and checked out everything. Everything seemed okay, but since I started trying to jump it from the car, occasionally the “Check Engine Light” would flash. So, I quit. I pushed the bike place (there goes my thighs again).

I put the trickle charger on the mower (I thought I’d cut the back lawn later on) and went inside. It was about 5:00 PM.

Gui called and I told him what happened. He said he was sure I had somehow flooded the engine. After we hung up, I realized just how frustrated I was and decided enough was enough. So I gave up on lawn cutting for the day.

About 7:00 PM, I got out my roast and veggies and put them all on a platter. I reheated the skillet with the bacon grease. I reheated it, added some flour and made a roux. Then I added in the liquid from the crockpot and made gravy.

I plated some and went in to watch my Sunday shows. While I did miss the mushrooms, dinner was pretty good!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

So, now it’s Saturday...

I woke up on Saturday just before 8:00 AM. I have a lot to do this morning, so I just put on my shorts and a t-shirt and got to work.

I started cleaning the rest of the house. First I washed the kitchen cabinet fronts (while I like the look of the lathe strips they are a dirt catcher).

Since I had the anti-bacterial spray cleaner out, I next cleaned the microwave and stove. Then I moved the kitchen chairs into the living and swept and washed the kitchen floor. I cleaned the bedroom, the office and the upstairs bathroom while the kitchen floor was drying.

It was getting late, so I went to clean myself up. Jake and Carla showed up when I was just finishing my shower. They brought me some leftover pasta Carla had made (Saturday dinner solved!)

So, a bit behind, I started making the soup. I put a half cup of butter (two sticks) into my soup pot and melted it over medium heat. I added one onion, diced, and cooked it until the onion was softened. Then I added one (16 ounces) package of frozen broccoli florets and covered that with a large can (49 1/2 ounces) of chicken broth.

I simmered that until the broccoli was tender (10-15 minutes). I reduced the heat and stirred in one pound of cubed "loaf processed cheese food" (can you say Velveeta?) Did I mention this is not a recipe from a gourmet magazine?

I stirred that until all the cheese had melted. Then I added two cups of milk and one tablespoon garlic powder.

In a small bowl I stirred 2/3 cups of cornstarch (!) into one cup of water until it dissolved. I added that to the soup and stirred until it thickened. That’s where the recipe ends… No herbs, no salt, no pepper.

Come on...

After discussing, I added chopped fresh thyme and parsley. I had Carla taste it and then season it (her palate is better than mine).

We ate the soup with chunks of a sourdough baguette they brought. It was damn good!

Jake was done first, so he cleaned up while Carla and I finished up. By the time I was done, he had the dishes rinsed and stuffed in the dishwasher. He also put the rest of the soup into freezer containers and had the soup pot soaking. So, we sat in the living room and concluded our visit.

I lay down and was going to take a nap after they left but my daughter Melissa called (Dave was watching a football game). We talked for a while and then she hung up when her meatloaf was done (sounded good!)

Speaking of soup, she told me one of her favorites (and easiest) was a cabbage soup. She just boils wedges of cabbage in a large bottle of spicy V-8 juice, adds a few dashes of red hot sauce and calls it good (if I forgot anything, Missy, please correct me as I want to try it). Now, I admit, I like to make complex meals as much as the next foodie, but sometimes I want something good, fast and simple.

It was about 8:00 PM and I was starting to get hungry. I toasted two slices of the baguette in the toaster oven, (drizzled with olive oil) which I burned. I threw them away and tried again. Bingo! I took the toast and rubbed a clove of garlic on it

I warmed up the pasta in the microwave after adding a bit of water (Jake’s suggestion). I topped it with some finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

I went to watch TV, there was nothing “good” on so I changed to taped cooking shows. The pasta was great. She just created it so I can’t tell you the recipe. But, I can tell you it was a non-tomato based sauce with pasta (I'm guessing rigatoni), onions, mushrooms, Italian sausage and something I’ve never had (or even heard of) in a pasta dish: cannellini beans!

I fell asleep at 10:00 PM, but woke up at 1:00 AM wide awake. I finally fell asleep at 3:00.

Quote of the Day

“I used to be a lifeguard until some little blue kid got me fired.”

~ Larry the cable guy

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A tense Friday

We had gotten an apparent brief shower overnight (the patio was wet) but when I walked out there in the morning there was just a trace of water in the rain gauge.

Work was very stressful as I have my biggest (this year) project’s first phase due today. I drove up to the site at 10:00 AM and the subcontractor was still certifying the wiring. A fiber patch cord that I’d bought months ago turned out to be bad when the WAN Administrator went to turn up the two 48-port switches yesterday, so I had one overnighted. It arrived late (about 3:00 PM) but Jake’s boss drove it up to the site.

However, when I left at 5:00 PM, the WAN Administrator still had not called to tell me everything was done. And, we’ve already moved 20 people’s workstations and printers today. So, I’ll spend the rest of the weekend worrying...

When I got home and changed clothes, I sat on the couch with a drink and a newly arrived magazine to relax. I looked through about half of it and then (reluctantly) got to work.

I resumed the Caley cat hair project after emptying the vacuum cleaner. Using the wand, I got up most of the hair under the desk and the daybed, cleaned off the computer fans and the cold air return.

Since I had it out anyway, I vacuumed the living room rug and the two walk off mats downstairs.

My friend B___ called and we chatted for a bit. Then I went into the kitchen to start my supper. I turned the leftover mashed potatoes (not much, maybe three cups) into Fran’s potato cakes by adding some flour and one egg. At the same time, I was making six hard boiled eggs for snacks.

I heavily salted the potato cakes, plated four of them (I only got six) and wandered in to watch TV around 9:00 PM. Now, I’m sure long-time readers know that I love these traditional cakes, but for the first time I was wondering if the addition of fresh chives wouldn’t kick them up a notch.

I fell asleep around 10:30 PM and slept an amazing (for me) uninterrupted five hours!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sucking it up on Thursday

I checked thee rain gauge before leaving for work on Thursday morning. We picked up 1/2-inch of rain!

When I got home after work, I had to wash the bedding due to yet another hairball incident (Gross!) Then I went out back and picked all the remaining green tomatoes. I put them in a paper grocery sack and rolled the top up. My barber swears this turns them red.

I went looking for my phone and found it! It was under the bed, with a dead battery. So, I put it back on its charging stand in the living room. Now if I could just find those glasses!

But, when I was under the bed I saw a LOT of Caley hair. So, lying on the wood floor and using the wand on the vacuum cleaner, I sucked it all out. I also did under the dresser and the cold air return. I took the vacuum into the office, but decided I’d had enough of wood floors for the day.

So, I went and made dinner. Its cold and rainy outside and I needed some comfort food. So, I peeled some russet potatoes and made mashed potatoes. I warmed up more of the honey-baked ham in the microwave, plated my food and went in to watch TV.

I’ve decided that I really don’t like honey-baked ham! It’s too damn sweet for me! This isn’t really good since I have several bags of it in the freezer.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wet Wednesday

I slept in until 7:00 AM on my mid-week day off. I didn’t sleep well overnight, so hey, why not? I filled in the Blog and then made a four cup pot of coffee. Then I made breakfast. I poached two eggs and served them over two buttered, toasted sourdough bread slices. Excellent!

I had a mile-long list of stuff to do today. So I started in the house, doing this and that. Then my friend Gui called and we talked for a long time about politics, money, job opportunities, health care, etc.

When we hung up, I realized just how tired I really was. So I went to take a short nap. It turned out to be a long nap and I woke up just before 4:00 PM. It was raining, so I decided screw the outside stuff.

My living room phone handset had been sucked up into that black hole that ate my glasses (I can’t find it) so I emailed Jake and asked him to repeatedly call me. He emailed me later that he had tried 7 or 8 times, but never got an answer. I know why. I was asleep again! He suggested I use the “page” button, but my cheap phone doesn’t have one.

I warmed up the remaining two onion rings and the rest of the calamari in the microwave and ate that for dinner. I slept enough during the day that I was able to stay up until 1:00 AM.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stuffed-Up Tuesday

I got some new directions from our Human Resources. Until the end of the year, I can’t work more than 30 hours a week. So, I decided to only work seven hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It felt weird going home at 4:00 PM, but I decided not to waste it. I changed clothes and then went out back. The first thing I did was to take down the hammock. I rolled it up, lugged it back in the house and up into the attic.

I hung it up on the two hooks I made for the first one (I always do that – I believe it keeps it from getting mouldy). Then I grabbed the Styrofoam rose bush covers and went back downstairs.

I went out into the garage, got my mule-hide gloves and shears and headed out to the rear of my property. I cut back each rose bush until the cone would fit over it. I put on the cone and topped it with a flat patio stone. There, done!

On the way back in, I stopped at the reflecting pool and pulled out the water lily. I set it on the patio to drain.

Back inside, I set about making dinner. I put some oil in my Dutch oven, added the candy thermometer and heated it up to 350 degrees F. First I made a serving of onion rings (I’m getting pretty good at judging the correct portion size and time).

When they were done, I set them on a paper towel to drain and hit them with table salt (the Kosher or sea salt doesn’t seem to stick as well).

The last time I was at Gordon Food Services, I picked up a bag of frozen, breaded calamari. So, I dug those out of the freezer and added what I thought was a good-sized portion. Wrong! They are much smaller and denser than onion rings and I had too many in the spider. So, my temperature immediately dropped to 320 degrees. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the temp back to 350 in the short three minutes it took to fry them.

I plated everything and added a small dish of store-bought seafood sauce to the plate. Then I went in to watch some TV and eat.

Dinner was very good, but I ate way too much.

I was still awake at 11:00 PM, so I started watching the news. I watch “live” the first of those trapped miners in Chile being pulled a half mile up from the cave-in. Very emotional!

I finally went to bed just after 1:00 AM. Oh, the stuffed-up part? After being outside a couple of hours, I spent the rest of the night blowing my nose and trying to breathe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunny Days and Mondays...

Monday was a beautiful day here in Michigan.

So, when I got home from work, I changed my shirt and shoes and went out back with the lawn tractor to cut the lawn and leaves.

I finished up around 6:30 PM, put the tractor away and buttoned everything up for the night.

Then I made my potato soup (see the “Recipes” section). I had to laugh. This was one of my first efforts to create and document a recipe. I apparently didn’t have an immersion blender or a regular blender. I also forgot to tell you to add the bacon bits back to the soup!

But, I soldiered on and ended up with a great dinner, two four-cup containers in the freezer and two two-cup containers in the fridge.

I watched some TV and eventually went to bed at 11:30 PM.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Little Miscommunication at Work

I don’t think I mentioned this but, because of the workload, they hired another Project Manager and another WAN administrator. Not that I’m working full time or anything (do I sound bitter?)

Anyway, they are tearing down the cubicles in Suite Y to re-use them in B73. So, Don and I had to move. I am now sharing (and I don’t do that well) a cubicle with the new Project Manager, Robin.

So, I was working away on something or another and, out of the blue, she asked me, “Do you like tongue?”

Now, that seemed like one of those questions that, if answered wrong, you would end up in Human Resources for either counseling or termination. On the other hand, I don’t want to look like a fuddy-duddy, either. She’s got to be at least half my age! Is she really hitting on me?

So, I carefully said, “Well, yes, I suppose I like tongue. Why do you ask?”

She said, “I was in a deli yesterday and one of the sandwiches was pickled tongue and I wondered what it tasted like.”

I couldn’t help myself. I burst out laughing! She looked at me like I was crazy until I said, “You have NO idea how far away from your question I was!”

She thought for a moment and then burst out laughing, too.

Sleepy Sunday

I slept in late on Sunday, due to not sleeping much during the night (again). I made a big breakfast of bacon, over easy eggs and hash browns. I needed that!

I worked on cleaning the house until 1:00 PM. Then I remembered the back lawn. So, I went out and plugged in the air compressor. I filled up the low tire on my car (I think it’s a rim leak) and the rear tire on the mower.

I tried to start it, but the battery was dead (groan). So I took the trickle charger off the bike and put it on the lawn tractor.

Then I went in to take a nap. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for me) I slept until 6:30 PM. So, cutting the back lawn was out (it takes about two hours and the sun now sets around 7:00 PM here.

I made a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on sourdough bread with lots of mayo and salt for my dinner.

I watched my usual Sunday shows and finally fell asleep around 1:00 AM.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I almost rode my bike today

Because of last night’s troubled sleep, I didn’t wake up until 8:00 AM on Saturday. I went out, ground up some coffee beans and made a six-cup pot. I grabbed a cup of coffee and then I went in and posted to the Blog.

I started on the kitchen stove and washed the drip pans. I stuck them into the dishwasher and fired that baby up. This was after I thawed and drained four four-cup containers and two two-cup containers of the tomatoes I made last year. I want no more food poisoning!

I shaved and showered and got dressed for my initial bike ride (I wanted to look good for my funeral if it turns out ugly – hey, I figured it out and its been 36 years since I actively rode a bike.)

So, I checked the oil (okay) and straddled it (badly) and rolled that bitch out of the garage, down the damn apron and into the driveway. Then I tried to fire it up.

NOTHING!

I checked that the kickstand was up (there’s a sensor). Then I realized the neutral light that was on when my neighbor helped me to push it back in the garage wasn’t on.

Oh, oh...

So, I turned the lights on and got off it to check. They were a slight yellow glow. I’m guessing I have a dead battery.

Still sitting on it (I learned my lesson the last time) I walked it up the apron and into the garage (that killed my thighs, BTW). I took off the battery cover and hooked up my trickle charger.

So, with aching thighs and nothing much to do, I went in and took a nap. Somewhere in the middle of that nap, Jake stopped over and dropped off my air compressor. He didn’t wake me up, but I saw it in the middle of my garage.

For dinner, I made a can of roast beef hash. I ate that watching TV and then went to bed.

Cathy Mitchelle

Are there any other insomniacs like me who know who Cathy Michelle is? She and Ron Popile (sp) are pitch-persons on the "paid-programming" shows if you are awake at 4:00 AM in the morning.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday

Friday dawned cool, but clear. It was supposed to get up to the mid to upper 70’s today (F.), so I skipped wearing my fall jacket.

I stopped at O’Rielly’s Auto parts (the old Murray’s across from my house) at lunch and bought four quarts of 30 weight motor oil (I have to change the oil in both mowers), some new windshield wipers (my current ones have started to squeak, no matter how hard the rain is) and a hand transfer pump for gasoline (I think I overfilled the bike’s tank).

The kid who rang me up volunteered to put on the wiper blades. I’m not sure if this is a service they offer to everyone or he just thought I was too old to figure it out. But I said, “Sure!” So, he went out and, after great difficulty (I think it was the cigarette he had in one hand) he got them switched out.

Back home at 5:10 PM, I changed clothes after I went out and watered the mailbox garden tub. Then I went out and took about half a gallon of gas out of the bike’s tank. I feel better now as the Owner’s Guide was very clear about the dangers of overfilling.

You see, the bike was tipped over to the left because it was sitting on the kickstand. I filled it to the top at that point. It dawned on me the next day that, when the bike was fully upright, it would be too full. So, I took some out.

Back inside, I started cleaning the living room. I want to get a jump on this weekend chore so I have more “weekend.” I got that done along with vacuuming the two inside walk-off rugs.

At that point, I got a phone call from a friend. After sitting on the couch for 10 minutes, I realized how tired I felt. So, I figured this early weekend cleaning crap could wait.

I warmed up the last buffalo chicken cutlet, poured more ranch dressing into a little bowl and ate that watching TV. I really need to make some more real dinners!

I fell asleep around 10:00 PM. Unfortunately, I woke up at 1:30 AM and didn’t get back to sleep until after 4:00 AM. Damn!

Another Writer's Quote

"Adapting material is like marrying a widow. You have to be very respectful of the late husband's memory, but at some point you've gotta fnck."

~ Guillermo del Toro

Friday, October 8, 2010

Working Man

On Thursday I overslept, so the Blog didn’t get posted to until lunchtime (as you might have noticed).

When I got home after work, I treated the cats, emptied my pants pockets and changed just my shoes. After checking the mail, I got out the push mower and started cutting the front lawn and leaves.

When that was done, I took the mower out back and did the perimeter of the back yard (all the places the lawn tractor can’t get to). I finished up just before sunset (or just before 7:00 PM).

Back inside, I finally changed clothes. I was hungry, but tired. So, I just warmed up one of those buffalo chicken cutlets in the microwave, put some ranch dressing in a bowl on the plate and went in to watch TV. I cut off chunks of chicken, dipped each piece in the dressing and ate my version of buffalo chicken wings.

I got sleepy around 10:00 PM, so I gave up and went to bed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I overslept on Thursday morning, so

That’s why this is so late...

Wednesday is now my day off. I started the Wednesday wash and did all the bedding as well (I think I forgot to do that last weekend).

In the afternoon (when it had warmed up) I started getting the bike ready. I screwed in the screw that was missing on one cover (Linda had mailed me a new one) and added gas to the tank. I sat on it for a long while, trying to get comfortable with the controls. I saw a couple I was unfamiliar with so I went back inside to check out the owner’s manual.

Then I decided to take a nap. My friend B___ called and asked how it felt to ride it. I confessed I hadn’t yet. He told me he was going to come over and b*tch-slap me!

My Daughter Melissa called and we talked for a bit. When we hung up, I warmed up a chicken cutlet and ate it (without the bun and blue cheese coleslaw). I watched TV for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And the hits just keep on coming...

I woke up on Tuesday, walked into the kitchen and turned on the light. Immediately, one of the bulbs in the kitchen chandelier blew out. Grumbling, I replaced it. I watched the Weather Channel and then my local news for the weather as well (they don’t always agree).

Then I went to the downstairs bathroom to get ready for work. When I turned on that light, one of the three bulbs blew out, too! Damn! I was a little worried about that, as they are an unusual shaped bulb. But, I did have a replacement. I saved the box it came in so I can get more next time I am at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

I got the garbage together and out to the road before I left for work. It was a cool day, overcast at first and then turning sunny.

When I got home after work, I got the mail (like always). Unlike always, one of the letters I received was a jury summons for December 2 (groan).

Since I had eaten the last of the potatoes au gratin for lunch, I set about making a dinner I’d planned on since I saw it on TV. It was an Aaron McCargo, Jr. recipe called Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Blue Cheese Slaw.

First I made the slaw. In a medium-sized bowl, I whisked together 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese, one tablespoon of minced garlic, two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and the juice of one lemon until well incorporated. I added that to a package of cole slaw mix and tossed it well. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and set it aside to get happy.

Note: this may be where I went wrong. The recipe called for a 10 ounce package of cole slaw mix, but I could only find a 14 ounce package. I used it all, anyway.

Now, the recipe calls for four 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken cutlets. So, first I have to make them. So, I took two boneless, skinless chicken breasts and put them on my plastic chicken cutting board. I held each one down with my left hand (fingers up) and cut them in half horizontally.

I got out some cling wrap and put each piece inside it. Then I pounded it with my rolling pin until it was about 1/4 inch thick. That’s a chicken cutlet!

I took out my big cast iron skillet and filled it half-way up with canola oil. I inserted my candy thermometer and turned on the burner.

After seasoning the chicken cutlets with smoked paprika, salt and pepper, I got out my breading pans. In one, I put store bought buffalo hot sauce and set it aside.

In the other I put a beaten egg, 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk and two tablespoons of regular hot sauce and whisked that all together.

In the third went one cup of self-rising flour, two tablespoons of the smoked paprika, one tablespoon of salt and one tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper.

The recipe calls for “soft club rolls” but I didn’t know what that was and neither did anyone I asked. So, I bought some mini sub rolls with no preservatives (I’ll have to throw them out Thursday or Friday). Anyway, I opened one up and tossed it into the toaster oven to toast.

When the oil was up to temp, I put the cutlets into the buttermilk mixture. I shook off the excess and then dredged them in the flour mixture. I put them into the oil two at a time. I cooked them about six minutes at a time (until the internal temperature was 165 degrees). Yes, I checked...

I dropped each cutlet into the buffalo sauce and set it aside to drain. I took out the toasted roll and assembled my sandwich. I put the cutlet on the bun and topped it with the cole slaw.

I was SO disappointed! The chicken was spicy enough, but the cole slaw was bland. Again, I might have used too much cole slaw mix to sauce, but... boring!

Disgusted, I put everything away and went to watch TV until bedtime.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quote

"The first draft of anything is shit."

~ Ernest Hemingway

Monday, getting ready...

It was 45 degrees F. in Redford Monday morning (Note to Melissa: It was 31 degrees in Traverse City!)

I made some Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup for my lunch and suffered with the embarrassing results the rest of the afternoon.

After work, I treated the cats and changed my shoes. It was still no where near what could be described as “warm” but the sun was out. So, I started my fall cleanup. I picked up all the outside statues (except for St. Francis. He stays out all winter to take care of the birds).

I grabbed the two Buddha’s (one from way in the back that’s very crude – looks like an Angkor Wat statue) and the more stylized version I got from Luanne that lives in the wild garden. I took a brush and cleaned the bottoms off and put them on the shelf in the back room. Next I pulled in the turtle (my old friend) and the young Shaolin monk. They too got cleaned up and set on the shelf. I went out front and got the frog and the three gnomes climbing that rope.

Then I went out back again and took down the hummingbird feeder (they never showed), the wind chimes and the bird bath Jake and Carla gave me. I replaced the hummingbird feeder and the wind chimes with my two suet cages (I will need to buy some suet, of course).

On the front porch, I put out the wooden fall leaves, the Indian corn and the Fall wreath.

Back inside, while I was thinking about it, I started my Fall Cleanup ToDo list. Then I put the tab on my motorcycle plate and put it on the bike.

About 7:30 PM, I started getting hungry. So I warmed up some potatoes au gratin and slices of ham in the microwave. I ate them watching TV. I started nodding off around 10:00 PM, so I shut everything off and went to bed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Sunday in Fall...

I woke up Sunday to a cold and dreary day. It will frost tonight in the outlying areas (but don’t tell my brother Carl – he’s sensitive about frost). I warmed up some of yesterday’s coffee and posted the Blog.

I was listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy. I think they dropped Saturday Morning, Over Easy from the line up (at least it hasn’t been on the last few weekends) and that bummed me out. I was very uninspired and tired, so I spent a lot of time just sitting on the couch, listening and thinking.

Pam Rossi’s (the host) daughter got married on Friday, so today’s theme was love songs. It also bummed me out. It reminded me that I have had a lot of wonderful lovers over the years, but they all slipped away. I guess I’m just an *sshole.

Finally the sun started peaking through the clouds. It wasn’t any warmer (the high today was only 55 degrees) but it looked better.

I shaved and showered and got dressed. Then I got a call around 1:00 PM, letting me know my plans had been canceled. I understand, of course, but cider and doughnuts sounded good!

It’s a little late to make food and make it to the family reunion in time. So, I changed into my house clothes and started looking for my missing glasses again. This time I turned the couch upside-down and checked that muslin (or whatever that fabric is) under it. I thought since I can’t feel them anywhere in the cushion cracks, they might have slipped through and fell down.

Alas, no such luck. But, since the couch was out, I got the vacuum cleaner and took the cat hair and dust off the floor, baseboards, under the end tables, etc. Then I did the same thing to the loveseat.

Then I started my Sunday dinner. I peeled about six russet potatoes and, using the mandoline, cut them into 1/4 inch slices. I layered about half of them into my buttered one-quart casserole dish. I topped them with some onion slices, added the rest of the potatoes and seasoned them with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F.

I melted three tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. I added three tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. I whisked that for about a minute. Then I slowly added two cups of room-temperature milk. When it thickened, I stirred in 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese until it melted. I poured that over the potatoes, covered it with a lid and baked it for 1 1/2 hours.

I peeled some parsnips and sliced them. I boiled them in salted water until fork tender.

The last ten minutes, I put one of the foil packs of ham on a sheet tray and stuck it in the oven to heat up.

I plated everything up and went in to watch my Sunday shows. I fell asleep around 10:00 PM. I woke up in the middle of the night, turned the TV and lights off and went back to bed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday's Story

Saturday morning, I checked the paper towels I had lined the sink cabinet floor with and found no drips. So, I put everything back and made a pot of coffee. My kitchen looks normal again and I like that.

I had two cups of coffee sitting on the couch, watching it rain. Then I shaved and showered and left for the Secretary of State Super Center. I planned on getting there early and I did (8:50 AM and they open at 9:00). However, that didn’t matter as the line waiting outside snaked from the door, passed the barber shop into a small courtyard and back outside again!

Having nothing better to do, I counted the people in front of me – 96 souls!

But, 9:00 AM arrived and we slowly filed inside. Once inside, you are still in line until a woman asked what you are there for. People who are just renewing their license plate tags are directed to another long line. People like me are given a number and told to go sit down (thankfully). I had number 46. I realized that among those 96 people, there were a lot of couples and/or parents and children. I sat and people-watched while waiting.

My number was finally called and I got my business done: I had a title and a license plate for the bike! Thanks you, Bob and Linda!

I walked out into a pouring rain at 9:45 AM. Since I was already on 6-Mile, I headed west to the Laurel Manor Mall (6-Mile and Newburgh). I need to refill my Franklin planner for next year (always hopeful, LOL). However, the Franklin Covey store there is now closed.

So, I went into Jos. A. Banks (a high-end clothing store). They were having a sale – buy one suit, sports coat or tux and get two more free. I told the salesman that I’d lost a lot of weight and didn’t know my sizes anymore. So, he tried several coats and decided I was a 48 long. They had some really nice sports coats (I have a wedding to go to on October 30th) but I checked the price: $450.00 each!

I asked about shirts and he measured me again: 17 1/2 inch neck and 37 inches sleeve length (I have gorilla arms). He said they didn’t have that size stocked in the store, but could special order it.

Not wanting to spend that kind of money on sport coats I’ll probably never wear except for at my funeral, I told him I’d bring my wife back to help me pick them out (I needed an excuse). I asked if he had a card (I knew he would, they work on commission) and he gave me one. I walked out of the store, went around the corner and wrote down the sizes he told me on his card and left the mall.

Now that I know the right sizes, I’ll go to Sears, J. C. Penny’s or Kohl’s and see if I can pick up something more reasonably priced.

On the way back to my side of town, I stopped at the Honey Baked Ham store and redeemed my last year’s certificate. I have a plan for Sunday’s dinner.

Finally I stopped into Westborn and got some fruit, veggies and shredded cheese. I got back home in the drizzling rain just after 11:30 AM.

I was damp and chilled, so I changed clothes and started the rest of the weekend wash. I took the ham and divided it into reasonable portions. I wrapped each portion with aluminum foil and put them into freezer bags. I slapped down some blue painters tape and wrote the date and contents on the bags with a Sharpie. All but two went into the freezer. That will give me Sunday’s dinner and next week’s sandwiches.

My legs hurt (I don’t do “stand in line” all that well) so I went in and took a long nap.

When I woke up, I was hungry so I ate the last three pieces of pizza. As I was eating the last piece my daughter Melissa called. We talked for a long while. I asked about the heavy rain they kept saying was in North Carolina, but she said that was east of them.

Just after she hung up, my friend Gui (don’t ask – I’m serious) called and we talked for a while. After we hung up, I thought about dinner. I had planned an elaborate menu. But it was late and I didn’t feel like it, so I made simple salad (lettuce, celery and sweet onions) and topped it with my bottled French dressing.

I ate that watching TV. I turned on a movie, “Cliffhanger” with Sylvester Stallone (one of my three favorite movies of his: the original Rocky, First Blood and Cliffhanger). I taped Snake Eyes with Nicolas Cage at Gui’s suggestion.

After that, I dozed off and on with the TV on the rest of the night. Not good! I will be shot on Sunday.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I wish my Mother was still alive so I could ask...

was I cursed by a gypsy at birth?

Speaking of my Mother, It was her birthday on Friday, October 1. Apparently, there is a family reunion planned at the same park where we always celebrated her birthday this Sunday. But I didn’t get the original message and only heard about it late Wednesday. So, for the first time, I’m gonna have to pass.

Anyway, I go to the Secretary of State office in Redford at lunch time. I take a number and sit and wait (that was after I got in a long line. The guy in front of me turned around in a few minutes and said, “This line is for taxis only.” Since I do not own a taxi, I went and sat down.)

They finally called my number. I walked confidently up (after all, I not only had the signed-off title and the bill of sale, but the real proof of insurance – not just the temporary one).

The lady asked me what I wanted and I said to transfer a motorcycle title and get new plates. She said, “Didn’t you hear the announcement?” I said, “What announcement?” She said, “Our computer network has been down the last three hours and we can only process license plate or driver’s license renewals. We can’t transfer titles! You’re more than welcome to wait, but I can’t say when we’ll be back up.”

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I would have made that “announcement” every five or ten minutes and taped a sign on the door or something. I told her that I had to get back to work and would try the “Secretary of State Super Center” on Saturday morning.

So, I spent the rest of the afternoon hungry and annoyed!

When I got home, I treated the cats and changed my shoes. I grabbed my sticker (it’s a four-foot dowel with a finish nail on one end I sharpened for picking up trash and a hook on the other end for pulling down the attic stairs in the garage) and two big paper grocery bags. I went out and walked the back yard, picking up trash (I get a lot of plastic bags and paper trash, blown in from the big parking lot to my west).

Back inside by 6:30 PM, I changed my clothes and started the weekend wash. I got a phone call from a friend to see if I had my motorcycle plates and told him my sad story. He sounded more bummed that me!

I steamed some frozen cauliflower and warmed up the last of the egg noodles for my dinner.

I went to bed about 10:30 PM.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thursday

I went to the Post Office at lunchtime, waited in a long line and finally got the title! But, it was too late to go to the Secretary of State office today, so that will be a Friday errand.

Energized, I changed my clothes after work and tackled the faucet again. I broke one of the two new stems (I did that the last time, so I always buy two) and it took about an hour, but I got 'er done! I left everything out and will check for leaks in the morning.

However, my elation was somewhat tempered by the fact that the last time I fixed it, it started dripping again in about two weeks.

It was about 70 degrees F. and sunny (it’s supposed to cool off just in time for the weekend). So, I took the opportunity to go out and cut the front lawn.

Back inside, I warmed up the leftover tuna and noodles. I ate that watching TV. I went to bed at 11:00 PM.