Sunday, December 25, 2011

 
East Living Room Wall (at Night)
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Happy Birthday... to ME!

I wish I could tell you all the wonderful things I did on my birthday (I really do). But, mostly I sat or slept in the recliner with the heating pad, dowsing myself with pain pills every six hours and taking the occasional birthday phone call.

Jake called me first and we chatted for a while. Then Carla’s mother called to wish me a Happy Birthday and a Merry Christmas. Later on, B___ called in the midst of washing up from the morning’s Christmas cookie baking effort.

I did eventually post the Blog entry and was astonished at all the messages on my Facebook wall. Now, I must confess, I don’t know how to look at my wall, so I just answered them from the emails I was getting. I suppose I really should check into how this all works.

I did have to go out in the afternoon for kitty litter and cat food (the errands I should have done on Friday). I went to Kroger’s, knowing Meijer’s would be jammed with last minute gift shoppers.

Since I was there anyway, I grabbed a very small ham and a can of cut yams, thinking I really should make a Christmas dinner.

I was standing in the checkout line, feeling really bad, when it happened. The ham I’d grabbed didn’t have a price sticker on it! So, she called back and asked the meat department for the price. They went to check while I tried to keep from fainting. After a while, they came back on the phone and asked more questions, which the cashier tried to answer: “No, it weighs 2.3 pounds.” “It’s a Kroger brand.” Then they went away again.

I couldn’t take any more, so I told the cashier to forget all that. I told her I would pay her $10 for the ham, I’d even pay $20 or she could set it aside, but I had to get out of there. She took one look at me and said, “I’ll take the $10.”

I got home and got inside. I treated the cats, took a pain pill and hit the recliner again (it was cold enough outside I wasn’t worried about bringing in the ham).

When I felt better, I checked the phone and saw somebody from Virginia called. I didn’t check the voicemail, just dialed the number. I got their voicemail and left a message that I was returning “somebody’s” call. When I hung up, I was feeling a bit stupid, so I did check and it was from Lu.

She called back a while later to wish me a Happy Birthday. She sounded horrible and said she was very ill, coughing up green gunk, etc. She had been to the doctor’s and tried to reassure me that she wasn’t contagious.

I say “tried” because she is coming up here next week and that’s all I need is to get sick!

Melissa called and we talked for a while about our various Holiday plans. Later on, Sadie also called for my birthday.

I spent the rest of the night alternating between reading the book Melissa had sent me for my birthday and dozing in the chair.

Happy Freakin' Birthday!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

 
Entryway
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North Living Room Wall
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North-west Living Room Wall
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West Living Room Wall
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East Living Room Wall (I'll take another picture when it isn't so bright out!)
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South Living Room Wall
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Friday

Friday was a l-o-n-g day. Almost no one was there, so that left the IT department with nothing to do. Michelle (the keeper of the cards) presented me with a birthday card signed by my co-workers and an apple pie from a bakery! She asked me a week or so ago what my “favorite” dessert was. I said I wasn’t really into desserts, but I guess it would be apple pie.

Our boss bought pizza for those of us who were there and, for a change, I put off my lunch-time errands and stayed to eat (you have to pretend to be social every now and then).

I tried an experiment and went the whole day at work without using the heating pad. The added discomfort was not worth it.

We divvied up the rest of the pizza so I had two pieces for my dinner.

I watched an old movie and then went to bed (with the heating pad).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another shorty

Thursday was gray and gloomy, but no rain.

I had to get my eyes examined at lunch, so I never made it home or ate.

After work, I did two loads of laundry, ran a load through the dishwasher and did more work on the living room (only two things left to do!)

I ate some canned split pea and ham soup with saltine crackers for dinner and then watched the first "Thin Man" movie. They were showing all six in order on TMC, so I taped the rest.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday's Short Story

It was foggy, misty and rainy all day Wednesday. I got a little more done in the living room after work, but not enough. I was sore again and went to bed early.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday: Ditto

Tuesday was more or less a repeat of Monday. Ran more errands at lunch. Ate at the Newburgh Grille again (this time a bowl of bean and bacon soup, though). Back home, worked on putting stuff back in the living room (this is taking longer than it did to empty it as I am washing and/or dusting everything as it goes back).

Ate a Braunschweiger sandwich for dinner. Watched a little TV and then went to bed.

When I woke up during the night it was raining. That was different!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Mysterious Letter

The letter I almost through away (I thought it was yet another charity wanting a donation) had a New York postmark.

It was a letter from Nero Wolfe!

Now, Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective created by Rex Stout, back in the 1930’s and one of my favorite series of books. He loved to eat well, rarely left his house and was, well, corpulent.

However, I might have mentioned this in passing to someone, but the only person I can recall having a conversation about the Nero Wolfe books is my daughter Amy, who also enjoyed them.

So, how did anybody come up with this much information? If you click on it to enlarge it, you can read him mentioning other people in his household, etc., my mother’s tuna dishes and so on.

He commended my for the word “presentation” but took me to task regarding the word “plating.”

Now, I can think of a few people clever enough to pull this off, but how did they get it mailed in New York?

It’s a delicious Christmas mystery!

Monday

Monday it was still way above normal as far as temperature goes. We had a high of 47 degrees! But, the north wind reminded you that this is not Fall, anymore.

I had some errands to run at lunchtime, so I didn’t make it home. I stopped in at the Newburgh Grille and ordered a turkey sandwich on a croissant. It sounded good, until I bit into it. They put cheese on it! Who the hell puts cheese on a turkey sandwich?

Back at home, I brought in the mail and treated the cats. I sorted the mail into a Christmas card pile and a throw away pile. At the last second, I noticed one letter from New York that I put with the Christmas cards. There also was a box from Amazon.

I ate a pain pill and settled on the bed to wait for the magic to happen, watch the news and open my mail.

I was pretty sure the Amazon box was my other present from Melissa, so I didn’t open it (I’ll wait for my birthday).

The cards were great and then I opened the letter. I’ll explain that in another post.

When the news was over, I got up and got to work. I put on more plug plates and hung the rest of the pictures.

I was very disappointed to find that the biggest picture (the one over the couch) had a crack in the glass in the upper left-hand corner. It was only on the matt, so I let it go for now. But, I can’t explain how that happened as I had it laying on the day bed.

I finished up what I’d planned to do today around 8:30 PM. I knew I should eat something, but didn’t feel like it. So, I just had a couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese. I went to sleep at 10:30 PM.
 
The mysterious letter!
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday's Story

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday. I am now officially out of the anti-inflammatory drug but I was still sore. So, I went back to Melissa’s idea and took a long soak in an Epsom salt bath.

I decided that I would forget about changing out the plugs and switches in the living room until after the holidays. So, I took a little stiff brush I have (for cleaning grout) and scrubbed as much of the wine-colored paint off each plug and put on the new cream-colored plate.

I also installed the new cold air return and heat registers. That apparently surpassed the limits of my bending over and/or kneeling down quota. My back was killing me!

So, I took a pain pill and took a nap.

When I woke up, I carefully slid the ice chest and the barrister bookcase back into place. I also hung up the pictures and the two oars that go on that wall. I’ll put up the lures and stuff some other time (too much bending over).

I then switched to the new drapes. Following what I thought was the best advice so far, I washed them lightly in cold water, dried them part of the way on low and hung them up to finish during in place.

Imagine how depressed I was to see that they had shrunk a good six inches! So, in spite of my lengthy search for them, and then paying a woman to hem them, they are now too short!!!

I think I should have washed them first, and then had her hem them. Be that as it may, they are up and they are staying.

I was losing the light, so I quit for the evening. I ate the last two hot dogs for dinner, watched my Sunday shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Just another day in paradise

I slept like a rock and, other than bathroom breaks, slept in until 9:30 AM on Saturday. Even then, I only woke up because the phone was ringing.

It was my friend B___, who was calling to see how I was feeling. I told him I was still sore and very, very tired. The “tired” is probably the result of taking an anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer and the pain pills, all of which have cautions on the label that they may cause drowsiness.

I made a pot of coffee and sat on the bed to drink it. I fell asleep again! I woke up around noon.

While I really, REALLY would like to get my living room back in order, there are only two things I MUST do today: Get a haircut (I have a 1:30 PM appointment) and wash my work clothes.

I did make it in time to get my haircut. I thought briefly about going to that hole-in-the-wall Coney Island (I really should eat something) but decided I was too sore. So I drove home, instead.

I started the laundry and changed my clothes. I lay back down on the bed with the heating pad and promptly fell asleep. I woke up several hours later and realized the clothes were sitting in the washer, wrinkling. So, I redid the final rinse and stuck them in the dryer.

I went back to bed.

When the timer went off, I hung up the clothes and then went back to sleep.

I woke up around 8:00 PM, starving. So, I reheated the chicken fried rice and ate that for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

I went back to bed.

You may have noticed that nothing was done in the living room. I know I did and was ashamed of myself, but I was just so damn tired.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another Short Story

It was much colder on Friday, with the high temperature predicted to be 37 degrees F. (versus 59 degrees on Thursday).

I was asked to go to farewell lunch for one of our techs. My ribs didn’t feel like going, so I made my excuses. However, they were all going to eat Thai food, and that stuck with me. I am so tired of eating lame leftovers and\or canned stuff.

So, before I left for home at lunch, I called up Chin’s (a Chinese restaurant near my house) and ordered a pint of chicken fried rice, a small container of wonton soup and an egg roll. I grabbed them on the way to the house.

I ate all of the wonton soup, the egg roll and about half of the fried rice for lunch.

After work, I drove home and got everything secured for the weekend. It was still to dark to work in the living room.

In looking for something else in my freezer, I came across a package of Ballpark All-Beef Franks (it must have been left over from Carla as those were her favorites, back in the day).

So, I thawed them out and boiled three of them. I ate them on top of sourdough bread with yellow mustard and raw onions as the topper.

I had received a DVD in the mail, one of the ones I told Melissa I was interested in. So, when she called, I thanked her. She said it was my Christmas present and that a birthday present was still to come.

I lay on the bed and decided it was foolish to pretend I was going to watch TV until I was sleepy. So, I turned everything off and went to bed before 8:00 PM.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Short story

It was still raining Thursday morning when I left for work. But, it was oddly warm outside.

I did go home at lunch, which I think the cats appreciated. I ate a sandwich and then went up into the attic to bring down some Christmas stuff. I can’t put it out until I get the living room back together, but at least I didn’t freeze my butt off getting them. The high today climbed to an unbelievable 59 degrees F.!

After work, it was too dark again to do anything in the living room (I’m about to have a very busy weekend!) So, I took my pills and ate the last Jimmy John’s sandwich.

I talked with Jake for a while. Sidebar: Why does his life always sound so much more interesting than mine?

I started watching the nightly news and, sure enough, crashed like a rock. And, that was Thursday...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wet Wednesday

Back to work…

I drove to work in the rain and it rained all day. I was glad the temperature was in the 40’s or we would have had quite a mess!

Today was our holiday potluck luncheon at work. So, I got drafted to help set up the tables and decorate, etc. I also had to find an oven, as one of the new techs brought in a cake pan filled with cold mac & cheese.

I think only three people brought in homemade food (chili, pasta salad and some sort of rolled up bread and meat sandwiches). I was in no mood to cook, so I brought in a big shrimp ring.

By and large, the party was a success. We divvied up the large amount of leftover food for people to take home. Then we all went back to work.

In the afternoon, my back started to hurt again. So, I got out the heating pad (I hadn’t used it all morning) and turned it on.

I drove back home in the rain after work.

Sidebar: Michigan has had the second wettest year since such things have been reported. If we get another inch or so, we will surpass the record!

Back home, I took my pills and sat on the bed (with the heating pad) watching the evening news. I was amazed at how tired and sore I was, but then I realized for the previous five days, I have done very little work and was mostly lying down with a heating pad. So, it’s not surprising my first day back to work wiped me out.

Before the news ended (at 7:00 PM), I had fallen asleep. I slept until 10:00 PM! I got up and ate a leftover party sandwich. Then I went back to bed. Other than bathroom breaks, I slept until the alarm went off.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The last day of a long weekend

I woke up at 4:30 AM on Tuesday. I made a fresh pot of coffee and some toast for breakfast.

I had to run to Home Depot and then to Meijer’s before the painters came at noon. Back home, I ate a braunswieger (sp (liver sausage) sandwich for lunch. Hmmm… Red Pelican hot mustard or butter? Never could decide which tastes better, but went with hot mustard this time.

The painters showed up at 2:00 PM. So, lesson learned: Just add two hours to their verbal show-up time and you don’t have to fret.

They got started on their project and I got started on mine. To give you the background, one year when we were still living on the Palms Road farm, I decided I needed a Christmas wreath. Now, I didn’t have that kind of money (I was working in a factory and just barely getting by), so I made one.

I took a 26-inch bicycle wheel and cut out all the spokes and the hub. Then I cut some boughs from the evergreens on the place and wired them on. Then, finally, I put on some Christmas tree light’s Lu’s father had given us (the screw-in bulb kind, indoors only and old even at that time). I eventually wired on artificial evergreens, but I have hung that sucker up outside ever since.

But, it’s getting harder and harder to find replacement lamps, the string of lights was never made to go outside and when the lights are lit, they are hot as hell and capable of starting a fire.

So, I sat on the bed and started removing the lights from that handmade wreath. It took quite a long time and in some cases, I ended up just cutting the wire to get it off.

Then I had to install 300 mini-lights on the wreath and (hopefully) spaced evenly.

I finished up and hung it by 3:00 PM. I tested it and it all works. I’ll install the timer, later.

The painters finished up around 4:00 PM and asked me to do a final inspection. Was it perfect? No. Was it better than I would have done? Yes! Could I have even done it in my current physical condition? No.

I paid them the money and thanked them and they left.

They told me it would be better to wait overnight before hanging pictures or moving furniture (you don’t have to twist my arm, lol!)

I shook out the bedspread outside (to get off the fake evergreen needles) and then washed it.

I warmed up a Marie Callender’s chicken pot Pie for dinner and ate it watching the nightly news. I switched to the Redwings game, but fell asleep before the first period ended.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The fourth day of a long weekend

I woke up at 6:30 AM to the alarm clock’s annoying noise.

I shaved and showered, got dressed and covered the furniture with visqueen. I did not ask what time the painter would be here, so it’s hard to plan my day.

About 9:00 AM, my neighbor called to see if I was ready for the painters (huh?) I told him I have been ready, where is he? He said they should be here around 10:00 AM.

It was noon (just as I was putting on my coat to go next door) when they showed up. I think what took the longest was for them to tape the room.

While they worked in the living room with the pocket door closed to keep the cats out, I worked on my bed, fixing a lamp I had on the ice box (so you could read on the love seat). The on-off switch had broken, you see. So, I replaced the cord, wired in a new socket, etc. Bingo! I got my lamp back.

I did a few other projects and the laundry, but mostly lay on the bed with the heating pad. As I said, I no longer have that intense pain, but I am really sore.

By 3:00 PM, they had the primer cut in and rolled. They said that once it dried (and it was drying quickly), they thought they could finish up today.

I reminded them that by 5:00 PM, they would lose all the natural light and that I didn’t think it was such a good deal to try and roll paint on using a work light.

So, we compromised. They cut in all the paint before the light failed and then left. They said they’d be back on Tuesday to finish the job. This time I remembered and asked, “What time?” They said, “Oh, around noon.”

Sidebar: I worked in a bank, so I know what “banker’s hours” are. But, I think “painter hours” are better!

I watched the news and then heated up the rest of the sausage and potatoes for my dinner. I got a call from my Brother Joe, inviting me to the Brother's party. I’m not sure if it’s the medication or what, but I was feeling sleepy again, so I went to bed at 9:30 PM.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The third day of a long weekend

I woke up on Sunday at 6:00 AM. I put on a pot of coffee and had some watching the morning news.

I took a break (from taking a break, I suppose) and wrote and posted the Blog entry. Then I sat in the living room, drinking more coffee, reading a book and listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy.

I made myself some breakfast: a tri-fold omelet with just chives and shredded cheddar cheese. It was perfect and I took it as a good omen for the day!

When the radio show ended at 11:00 AM, I went and shaved and showered. Then I headed out to Home Depot. I bought the two gallons of primer, two gallons of paint (Vanilla Cream), new cream-colored plugs and a switch, face plates (also cream) for the plugs and switch and two new heat registers (cream). The cold air returns I needed were out of stock, but should be in sometime this week. After a few deep breaths to recover from the sticker shock, I headed back home.

BTW: Weather-wise, Sunday was just a repeat of Saturday; Sunny, but cold and windy.

The walking around had tired me out, so I took a nap. When I got back up, I started on the living room prep. I moved everything (except for the two end tables) into the middle of the room. The end tables went into the kitchen.

Then I got my painter’s knife, a razor blade knife and a flat-head screwdriver. I began to take off the switch and plug plates. I had deliberately painted them over when I did the walls. But, they would look silly once the room is cream.

I used the razor blade knife to cut through the paint on all the edges. Then I used it to dig out the paint from the screw(s) slots. I took out the screw with the flat-head screwdriver and then popped them off with the painter’s knife.

The sun had set before I finished, so I rigged up a work light. When I got them all off, I started on the two heat registers and the cold air returns.

My back was starting to complain (I had to either squat or kneel to undo these things – I tried a chair, but I was still too high up). So, I figured I’d put the visqueen over the furniture in the morning.

I warmed up the last of that chicken and wild rice and thoroughly enjoyed eating it again.

Then I wandered into the bedroom and started watching my Sunday night shows. I started to doze, but I was taping them anyway. So, I gave up and went to bed for real.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

 
Living Room in the Office #1
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Living Room in the Office #2. The paintings and mirror are under the quilt on the bed.
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The second day of a long weekend

As I said, I woke up around 8:00 AM on Saturday. The sun was shining brightly for a change. But, the absence of cloud cover came with a price: it was cold! The temperature was 17 degrees F.

I took my all my medications and putzed around for a long while. I was still full from last night’s dinner, so I just had some coffee for breakfast.

I took pictures of how all the knickknacks were placed on the living room shelf, and the top of each piece of furniture, so that when I go to put them back, I can get them back in the right place.

Why am I moving them? Because I have a painter coming on Monday and Tuesday to paint three of the living room walls and the foyer.

I finally got around to finishing the Blog entry and posted it about 1:00 PM.

B___ called to see how I was feeling. I told him I was still sore, but not in that intense pain thing. I told him about the photos and he agreed that was a good idea if I wanted everything back in the same place. But, he asked, wouldn’t this be a good time to redecorate?

I explained (again) that I am sort of a stick-in-the-mud. While I occasionally add a new piece or picture into the mix, I like things to stay the same. It gives me a (probably false) feeling of permanence.

Later, Lu called to see how I was doing. She said she is having a difficult time getting into any kind of a “Holiday” spirit. As of right now, she says she isn’t going to decorate the house for Christmas.

I started to slowly and systematically removing stuff from the living room and sticking it in the office. I interspersed working with resting, so as to not aggravate my back.

I finished up around 6:00 PM. Tomorrow I’ll tackle the furniture, which shouldn’t be too bad. I am planning on just sliding everything to the middle of the room and covering it with visqueen. This should leave the painter with two aisles about four feet wide to work in. I mentioned this to him when he was giving me my estimate and he said that would be fine.

I made an old favorite for dinner: smoked sausage, fried potatoes and fried onions (a one pot wonder).

I ate some of that on the bed, watching the Red Wings game. At 8:00 PM, I switched the channel to a cooking show holiday special that I wanted to see.

At 9:30 PM, I turned the TV off, put the leftovers in the fridge and switched to reading. It wasn’t more than a half hour later I started to doze off. So, I put the book away, shut off the light and went to bed for real.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The first day of a long weekend

As I said, I slept until 6:30 AM on Friday. The first thing I saw was snow every where. It was still lightly snowing, but it had snowed enough overnight to cover the grass and the fir tree limbs. What made me nervous was this was the first time it covered my driveway and the road. I was glad I didn’t have to drive through that (yet).

As you may have gathered, I never ate dinner last night (nor answered email, nor took my Epsom salt soak, etc.). So, I was starving!

I put on a pot of coffee and started to prepare my breakfast. I drank a cup of coffee while I made soft-boiled eggs. I ate them my Mother’s (versus my Father’s) way: served over shredded bread with butter, salt and pepper.

It was delicious! I ate that watching the morning news. I had another cup of coffee and took my pills. Since I had to go to the doctor’s later, I put off shaving and showering.

I killed time checking my work emails, surfing the net, making out a check for one bill and a birthday card for my sister-in-law, Kathy (Joe’s wife).

Speaking of Kathy’s, I forgot to mention that Kathy, Jay’s mom (Jay is Jake’s best friend) called me Thursday, before I crashed, to ask me if I was interested in going in on this year’s beef. I was supposed to call her, but I hadn’t yet.

Now, bear with me. This would be hard enough to relate, without being under the severe influence of prescription drugs (I am typing this up after my doctor visit and after getting my three prescriptions from CVS, downing them and waiting a couple hours).

So, each year, as you may recall, they buy a quarter of beef from a local farmer, have it processed and then sell half to Jake and Carla and me. So, Jake and Carla and myself both end up with 1/16th of a cow.

She asked if I wanted in this year, despite the absence of Jake and Carla. I told her I still had a lot of beef left from last year (she said, “Really? We’ve been out for a month or so”) and, in spite of being a meat lover, there was no way I would ever use up 1/8th of a cow in one year.

She reminded me that, all in all, no matter what the cut, the meat comes out to roughly $2.50 a pound. I agreed it has been one heck of a deal, but there was no way I could eat that much meat in a year. I said if they found another person to buy Jake’s share, I would be happy to go in, and we hung up.

Is there anyone within a reasonable distance interested? If so, just let me know. It will fit easily into a small chest freezer (I know, because that’s what I have).

It was still snowing off and on, so I got ready to go around noon (my appointment was for 3:00 PM). I left here at 1:45 PM. Sure enough, it stopped snowing about five miles from my house and the expressways were clear and dry. So, I got there at 2:15 PM.

I asked the receptionist when I was signing in if I could use their restroom. She laughed and said, “No!” I said, “Okay, then I’ll just pee on your carpet out here.” Everyone laughed and she hurried to open the door for me! (I kill myself, sometimes.)

I talked with the doctor and explained why it took me so long to get in. She agreed and said there was no real reason to get an x-ray, unless I wanted one, and I said, “No, no thanks.” So, I left there with scripts for a steroid anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer and some Vicodin.

For a change, I didn’t go to the Smoke House, being more concerned about beating the afternoon traffic rush. That almost worked. I did get stuck in stop-and-go traffic on I-94 between, say, I-75 and I-96 (my exit). It took awhile to go those two or three miles, but I eventually got through, got off on I-96 and headed for home.

I stopped at CVS and got my meds. Then I went home, treated the cats, changed clothes, took my pills and sat on the bed with the heating pad; watching the nightly news and waiting for the magic to happen. And, it did!

I was still sore, mind you, but had no difficulty getting up or down. I felt so good, in fact, that I made dinner! I had been just warming stuff up in cans for almost two weeks.

I made the recipe I’d shared with Carla a while back. She said it sounded simple and good and to let her know how it turned out. Here’s what I did.

I melted a stick of butter in a sauce pan and added six cloves of minced garlic. I preheated the oven to 375 degrees F. I prepared two bowls, one with the butter/garlic sauce and one with about two cups of Italian breadcrumbs (any kind of seasoned breadcrumbs will work, that’s just what I happened to have on hand).

I dipped my boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the butter/garlic sauce, then rolled them around in the breadcrumbs. I shook off the excess breadcrumbs and put each one in a lightly buttered 9x13 inch baking dish. I carefully poured the leftover butter/garlic sauce on top of the chicken breasts.

I popped them in the oven and set the timer for one hour. When they were halfway done, I made some Uncle Ben’s wild rice for my side dish.

When the timer went off, I pulled out the chicken breast and let them rest for a bit. Then I plated one with the wild rice and went in to eat and watch TV.

The chicken was fantastic (and so simple)! I think the only thing I’ll try next time is to add some fresh lemon juice to the butter and/or some lemon zest to the breadcrumbs.

So, Carla, now you know. The recipe is definitely a keeper!!

I watched TV until 11:00 and then went to bed (no, really, I slept lying down in my bed!) That was a real treat as I’d been sleeping in the recliner for most of this past week.

I did have a spell of insomnia around 1:00 AM, but I finally fell back asleep and slept in until 8:00 AM.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Mysterious Thursday

It was cold, with a sharp wind on Thursday. It took my breath away! I keep wondering what the hell I’m gonna do when it really is winter!!

Something weird happened at lunch. I was sitting on the bed, eating a sandwich and watching the noon news (like I do every day) when I fell asleep! I never do that! I woke up with a stiff neck and had to speed to get back to work on time.

When I got home, I watched the news (like I do every day) but started feeling sleepy again. So, I decided to take a power nap before watching tonight’s TV shows. I sat in the recliner with the heating pad and nodded off. I woke up at 11:30 PM! So much for the TV. I went back to sleep and, other than bathroom breaks, I sleep until 6:30 AM.

Weird.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday

The most productive thing I did (other than at work) on Wednesday was to mail my Christmas cards. I write them out over Thanksgiving and then mail them in December. But, I’ve already gotten three now, so either I’m late or people are picking up on mailing early.

It was still cold, but breaks in the clouds let the sun shine through, a welcome sight.

I did finally call my doctor. The next appointment she had open was Friday at 3:00 PM, so I took it. I'm funny. It took me a week and a half to call and now I'm impatient because she cant see me any sooner.

I talked to Jake after work and we swapped work stories (mostly).

I was getting tired of leftover veggies, so I made myself a fried eggs sandwich for dinner.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday

For the first time in a while, there was NO precipitation on Tuesday. It was just damn cold. In fact, when I first got up, traffic reports said there had been at least 22 accidents overnight (as all that pretty snow melted and froze into black ice on the roads).

Work was work and the day seemed to drag after about 2:00 PM.

I treated the cats and changed clothes. I watched some news and then took another Epsom salt treatment. I’m thinking this will be a cost-savings for the kids when I die. I won’t need to be embalmed, as I’ll already be pickled (or is that Kosher salt?)

I ate some leftover rutabaga for dinner and then watched a great show on PBS: a Celtic Woman special called “Believe.”

That got over at 10:00 PM and I went to bed (well, went to chair).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday

Monday morning came and it was still raining. Does this stuff ever quit?

I stooped at CVS at lunch and picked up my prescription and two more boxes of Epsom salts.

About 3:00 PM, it started to snow. Now, the forecast said 4:00 PM and a “wintry mix”. But, these were big fat flakes that quickly covered the cars and grassy area.

Fortunately, this had melted by 5:00 PM and I drove home through that wintry mix stuff.

Lu called and we talked for a while. I told her my tale of back pain and she explained just how hard it was to try and get back into the day-to-day routine after the death of her sister and the lingering questions she (and Gerry, she says) have about the cause of death.

After we hung up, I prepared another Epsom salt soak. I managed, by carefully adjusting the hot water, to stay in for over an hour. At one point, I was so relaxed I started to doze off. Unfortunately, that meant I let go of my paperback, and the splash as it hit the water woke me up.

I got out o the tub, set the book up to dry and took my rinse-off shower. I warmed up the rest of the cauliflower and ate that for dinner, watching a taped show. When it ended, I looked outside and found that it had snowed and the snow hung on every branch outside. It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

It was around 10:00 PM at that point and I wanted to watch another show, but realized how badly I needed sleep. So, I went to bed instead.

You will note I did not discuss my back problems in this post. It’s a simple reason: I’m sick of it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rainy days and Sundays...

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday, which was about right, as I’ll need to be up and at ‘em at 5:30 AM tomorrow. It was raining and it rained off and on the entire day.

I moseyed awhile and then warmed up a cup of yesterday’s coffee. I got a magazine, a glass of water, some Cope, the phone and the heating pad and moved to the living room recliner. Before I sat down, I turned on Sunday Morning, Over Easy.

When the radio show ended, I started making my wild turkey soup. I got out the Dutch oven, set it on medium high and added some canola oil.

First I made my mirepoix (traditionally two parts onion, one part carrot and one part celery, so I didn’t need the ingredient amount). I used two cups of onions and one each of carrots and celery.

I sautéed those until they were soft. Then I added in two minced garlic cloves and cooked everything a minute more. I added four cups of my homemade chicken stock and four cans of drained and rinsed cooked beans (three great Northern, and one of Dark Kidney beans. Finally, I put in two cups of cubed smoked turkey after I carefully removed the blackened outer skin.

Here’s where I made the first of two mistakes: On the show, she added fresh baby spinach to wilt. Not having any, I had thawed out a box of chopped spinach. I put that in a towel and squeezed it as dry as I could. Then I put it all in.

Hers looked pretty, with the occasional spinach leaf floating around. Mine looked like spinach soup, with other things floating around. Too much spinach!

I added a tablespoon or so of dried parsley and a teaspoon of dried time, then I seasoned it with salt and fresh ground lack pepper.

I brought it to a boil, then reduced it to a simmer and let it get happy all afternoon. While checking it at some point, I noticed the liquid level was a bit low. So, not wanting to waste a whole box, I opened two cans of chicken stock and dumped those in (spoiler alert: second mistake).

You'll note that I didn't mention going to the drugstore and getting more Epsom salts. Thought its probably only 1,000 yards from my house, that trip in the rain seemed daunting. So, so Epsom salt soak today.

Melissa called and we chatted for a long while. She mentioned that my daughter Amy said she had almost the exact thing happen with her back this week. Melissa jokingly said she didn’t want to talk too long, as she didn’t want to catch anything over the phone. My conspiracy theorist tendencies kicked it, and I said, “No, it can’t be that as I don’t talk on the phone with Amy all that much. We do email each other, so it’s probably some kind of computer virus!” Hey if they can set your HP printer on fire remotely, why can’t they give you a backache?

After we hung up, I got a bowl of soup and went in to watch TV and eat. The soup was excellent and I would have said perfect except it was not pretty (with all that spinach) and was a little too salty. I checked (which I should have done before) and the chicken stock I added was NOT low sodium. Damn!

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and then tried to go to bed at 11:00 PM. I could not get comfortable, so I gave up trying after midnight. I grabbed my alarm clock, the heating pad and a blanket and spent the rest of an uneasy night sleeping in the recliner.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Morning, Over Easy Song Snippet

"But let me get to the point
let's roll another joint
turn the radio loud
I'm to alone to be proud
and you don't know how it feels,
you don't how it feels,
to be me"

~ "You Don't Know How it Feels"
Tom Petty

Saturday, and not much of a story.

I slept like normal these days, about 1 – 2 hours at a time, waking up to pee or when I had moved and the pain came back. Have I mentioned yet just how much I hate this sh*t? It’s starting to really, REALLY tick me off!! I finally got out of bed around 8:00 AM and put on some coffee for a change (I haven’t bothered with coffee much this week, just grabbing a cup at work).

I posted the Blog entry and then began to make out my ToDo list. Then I stopped and thought, “Who the hell am I kidding? I’ll be lucky enough to get my clothes washed for work next week and the bedding done!” I had already reluctantly cancelled an invitation from Jyl to meet her at the Mackenzie Fine Arts Center in Dearborn to watch her niece perform in the Fall Dance Classic (which I really wanted to attend, both because I am in an artsy, fartsy mood it seems and because I enjoy her family). So, I didn’t make the ToDo list out for the first time in forever.

Oh, about the bedding. On a normal week, I probably would have just skipped it. But this week I’ve spent about as much time in bed as I have upright, alternating between freezing and sweating my ass off. So, it really is disgusting and needs to be done.

So, in spite of Scruffy’s objections, I stripped the bedding. It went in the washer and I went back to bed to rest up. B___ called and he was shocked when I told him how my week had gone. The last we talked was either late Saturday or Sunday, after my trip to the DIA, and I was fine.

His theory was that, as much as I’ve p*ssed of God in the past (and, I admit I probably have) he sent a small bolt of lightning into my back as I was leaving the museum, for daring to look upon His Son’s face. He didn’t just send one through the roof of the museum, because it would have injured true believers, you see.

Hmmm... I can’t fault the logic. But, imagine trying to explain that to a doctor or putting down on a sick pay request, LOL.

After we hung up, I made some breakfast – scrambled eggs again, but this time with no hot sauce (I don’t think my tummy could take it) and a couple of those crescent rolls, warmed up in the microwave.

I watched an odd mix of TV throughout the day: A taped version of “The Rifleman” (a 1950’s TV western I used to watch as a kid); “Shane” (a 1952 western movie starring Alan Ladd); a Babe Winkelman hunting show about hunting elk in New Mexico; a documentary about the finding the Whydah, the ship captained by Black Sam, the pirate, off of Cap Cod and another documentary about finding and 3-D photographing the part of Port Royal that fell into the sea when an earthquake hit in something like 1672 (since they interspersed information about the governors, Black Beard the pirate and day-to-day life in Port Royal at the time, it was fascinating). And, the final product, a 3-D image of the sunken part of the city, was amazing!

Meanwhile I was attending to the laundry. I got the bed remade and as I was putting my shirts in the dryer and the pants and socks in the washer, I remembered the poor
birds. They’ve been out of food for a few days and one of the suet cages was empty.

So, duty-bound, I pulled on one of the dirty pants over my naked bottom and zipped my coat over my naked top, slipped into my Crocs and went out to the patio. I filled the bird feeder, spread some seed on the ground for the squirrels and mourning doves and refilled that suet cage. I thought briefly about walking out to get the mail, but it seemed way too far for too little benefit. So, I locked everything up after I went back inside, changed back into my robe and put the last wash in.

Note to self: If you think the bedding is bad, just think about that robe!

I went back to bed, but there was a problem. I could NOT find a position that didn’t hurt (even with the heating pad). I tried lying on both sides, lying on my stomach and lying on my back. Then I tried sitting up, with pillows on the headboard. Nothing!

Then it occurred to me: my old friend from the rotator cuff surgery, my recliner! If you recall, I had to sleep in it for a couple of weeks.

So, I took the phone, a glass of water, a blanket, the heating pad and my book and moved into the living room. Bingo! No matter what position I tried, the agonizing pain was reduced to a dull ache.

I stayed there until 6:00 PM or so, then I fixed another Epsom salt bath (that was the end of my box of Epsom Salt, BTW). I quit when the water was too cool to be comfortable (how long are you supposed to soak anyway?) and took my rinse-off shower.

While I was still mobile, I made dinner. I cut up and cooked a head of cauliflower that was an impulse buy at Westborn when I got those apples I forgot to mention (I got something else that day I can’t remember – oh, wait! It was three plum tomatoes that are still sitting in the wire basket on the hutch, wrinkling up as we speak).

One of the segments on the Babe Winkelman show was a woman describing how to make a soup with a wild turkey you’d shot. No ingredient amounts were given, but I figured I could fake it. So, I took the rest of the smoked turkey breast, a container of my homemade chicken stock and a box of chopped spinach (she used fresh, but I damn sure ain’t running out to get some) out of the freezer to thaw.

I know the current state of my stomach and appetite, so I just fixed a small bowl of the cauliflower, buttered and salted it and took it into the bedroom.

It was late by then and I started watching Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. I manage to choke down most of the bowl of cauliflower. I watched the movie for a bit and then fell asleep.

When I next woke up, I turned off the TV and the lights and checked outside the bedroom window. It was raining as predicted. Then I went back to bed for the night.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Finally Friday (and I really mean that).

Well, in spite of all my efforts Thursday night with the Epsom salt bath I didn’t feel much better Friday morning. It was below freezing again, but with a projected high of 37 degrees (again) and supposed to be sunny with little wind.

I forgot to mention this (the rib pain having taken over my life this week) but I somehow screwed up the mantle clock on Sunday when I wound it. Winding it was normal, but just after that, on the hour, it chimed only once (like it was the half hour). And, on the half hour, it chimed the hour, but five hours later than it really was.

So, on Thursday, I was going to call Ken, but found I hadn’t put his number in my planner (I could have sworn I did). So, Friday morning (when I was running late but moving slow) I just grabbed my address book out of the drawer and took it into work.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the address book and didn’t find it in there, either! Now, I had Michelle the barber’s card, where she wrote it down and Ken’s card he gave me when I came, but they were both somewhere at home and no good to me at work. So, desperate, I called the barber shop and asked Michelle to read it to me again.

She did and I called his cell. I left a message, describing the problem and asked him to stop by whenever he could to fix it.

For a change, I went home at lunchtime, with just one stop: Westborn, for more Honeycrisp apples (I’ve been out for two days).

Back at work, I can honestly say my ribs weren’t doing any better (although they didn’t get any worse, as they had on the other days). I did have a voicemail from Ken, who said he’d be happy to stop by, but he didn’t need to. I should just give him a call when I got home and he’d talk me through it (gulp!)

I got a call from Jonboy Landscaping that they were at the house to do the final cleanup on my leaves and the gate was locked. I explained how to unlock it (I have to do this every time – you would think “somebody” would write this down).

I drove home after work, but got stopped by the train on Inkster. So, I got home a little later than usual. The first thing I noticed was that somebody (I assume the landscape guys) had picked up all my fake poinsettias (the highs winds a few days had blown all but one out of the mailbox tub) and stuck them back where they belonged. “Nice!” I thought.

Then I looked at the front yard in the fading light. “Not nice,” I thought. It looked like they never even did anything. Granted, there were just a few leaves left (this was the last area I mulched) but they were all still there. The garden hadn’t been touched and a small pile of leaves that had blown up against the garage was still there. WTF?

Once inside and the cats treated, I looked out the kitchen window. The big messes of leaves (especially under the trailer and the sailboat) were all gone. But, in the gathering gloom I could still see all the trash strewn across the back garden was still there. I could swear the last time I had this done, they blew out the gardens, too. Oh, well...

I changed into my bathrobe, called Ken and he successfully talked me through fixing the clock. He said if I had any further problems, he would come over. I asked him what might have caused this and he said I must have under-wound the spring for the chime. I dunno... I wound it like I always did – stopping when it started giving resistance. He said, no, wind it until it stops (that scares me, but I will try it I guess).

Since I didn’t have all the prep work this time, I made up another Epsom salts bath (I am trying to give this treatment a real shot). As I lay in the hot water, I pictured myself in a spa, with a mud mask on my face and cucumber slices over my eyes. Now, I could have made up some mud, I guess, but I don’t have any cucumbers. I do have dill pickle chips, but was unsure if they would have the same beneficial results.

Come to think of it, what are the beneficial results of putting cucumber slices on your eyes?

Once I was done with my bath and the rinse-off shower, I watched some taped TV (“Prime Suspect,” one of the few network shows I watch or tape).

Then I thought I should eat something. My stomach is always slightly queasy these days, probably from the pain pills. So, I grabbed that tube of crescent rolls I didn’t use (you remember, the back-up for the corn bread (that I never made).

I made them per the package instructions, only varying it by putting them on parchment paper (for easy clean-up) and brushing the tops with melted butter before sticking them in the oven.

I ate about three of them and my theory of them being bland (they were) and so helping settle my stomach (they didn’t) proved wrong. I watched the last of the Redwings game and then went to bed.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I tried to live my life as if each day was my last, but people got tired of me running around, screaming, "Oh, my God, I'm gonna die! I'm gonna die!!"

~ Author unknown

Vanity Plate and Bumper Stickers

I saw a vanity plate on a Prius that read "inurway" and I had to laugh as, whenever I'm behind a Prius on the expressway, they are definitely "in my way"!

I also saw an SUV with these three bumper stickers: "Hippy Chicks Rule!" "Why Be Normal?" and my personal favorite: "Get a taste of religion - lick a witch!" I never got a chance to see the driver, but she had to be an interesting woman!

Thursday

It was below freezing, yet again, when I woke up on Thursday morning.

I had more running around during lunch for work. I went to Best Buy and then Verizon. Since these are both in Westland, I grabbed a bite at the Newburgh Grille again (vegetable beef soup and another patty melt).

It was another long afternoon, with a lot of discomfort. I must have made that discomfort audible, as people kept asking me when I was going to the doctor. I explained why I didn’t go yet and mentioned I might try soaking in Epsom salts, a remedy Melissa highly recommended for sore legs a while back. Mike said that it really works and not only relaxes sore muscles but removes toxins from you body and exfoliates your skin! Think about it: relaxed muscles, less toxins and pretty skin? How could you beat that?

But, I hate taking baths. To me, you’re just lying in your own filth and that’s gross. Plus, I don’t quite fit in my normal sized tub (I wonder how Melissa does?)

Michelle also mentioned the benefits of Bio Freeze. I told her I had some of that (my sister-in-law Kathy gave me some a few years back).

Jake called just after I got home from work. We caught each other up and the big topic of discussion was that another long-time employee quit today. He will undoubtedly be replaced by yet another contractor. We are down to a precious few of us who have been here longer than a year!

After we hung up, instead of lying down with the heating pad, I addressed the issue of the bath tub. If you remember, when last we visited my bath tub, I had just sprayed it with oven cleaner in a desperate attempt to erase ancient soap scum. Then this whole pain in the side thing happened.

So, first I thoroughly rinsed it with hot water. Then I rubbed it with a sponge as instructed by the can (well, under normal circumstances, I would have, but instead of kneeling down and reaching out with a hand sponge, I used my old wall-washing trick: My mop). Then I rinsed it again.

Just in case any oven cleaner was left (I didn't think lying in oven cleaner water would be healthy or helpful), I sprayed it down with Scrubbing Bubbles. I let that sit for a few moments and mopped that off. Then I rinsed it all again.

I had to stop at that point and let my poor water heater catch up (I had been a bit aggressive in my rinsing, I guess). When it finally did, I filled the tub with the hottest water I thought I could stand and two cups of Epson Salts. I set the phone, a glass of water and my book outside the tub within reach and got in.

Lying down was easy. Once I got myself adjusted for maximum contact in the affected area, I got my book and started to read. I stayed there until the water had turned cool and I had begun to pucker.

Getting back upright was a bit more difficult. Thank God I’d put that grab bar in! I got out and then dried off. It was then I realized I was now covered with salt and extracted toxins! So, I went downstairs and took a rinse-off shower.

Then I lay down with the heating pad (finally). After about an hour, I did an inventory. While I was still hurting, I was moving around much more relaxed.

When I got back up, I applied that Bio Freeze. Back in bed, I left off the heating pad to let it dry and get to work. It was late, so I skipped dinner and watched the rest of the Irish Rovers on Public Television. I fell asleep before it ended and slept until after midnight. I turned the heating pad back on and went back to bed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On the mend (I hope)

I woke up on Wednesday to below freezing temps and the results of some overnight snow (it wasn’t snowing at the time). We probably had less than an inch of snow here, although folks at work who live north and west of hear said they got up to six inches!

I got smart. I realized the only time I wasn’t really hurting was when I was applying heat. So, I took my heating pad to work! Yes, I looked stupid and yes, people kept asking questions, but it really helped!

I don’t think this damn cold is helping either. It did turn sunny, but never got above 37 degrees.

Back home after work, I did my usual: Undressed, got into bed with the heating pad and more or less stayed there. I did get up around 8:30 PM and made a can of bean with bacon soup. I could only eat half of it, though. So, I put the leftovers in the fridge and went back to bed.

Instead of my usual dozing, I stayed awake until after 10:00 PM, watching a good hockey game. Then I shut everything down and went to sleep. I never slept more than two hours at a time without waking up (either to pee or because I rolled over or something). But I did sleep in until I was woken up by the alarm clock.

Quote of the Day

“Life isn't about how to survive the storm,
But how to dance in the rain.”

~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday Moanin'

Tuesday, I felt a little better when I woke up. I still had a “stitch” in my side when I got up or moved in certain ways, but I didn’t have that “knife in your rib” thing.

I drove on surface streets through pouring rain. The water ponding even there was amazing. So, I stayed in the outside lane and managed to avoid most of it. Did I mention that there was a strong north wind and it was just above freezing? Well, it was.

I was starving from a decided lack of a real dinner Monday night, so I grabbed an old bag of instant oatmeal to eat when I first got to work.

I was feeling okay (sorta) and congratulated myself on my radical cure idea. But, I started to go downhill around 10:00 AM. By the time I drove home for lunch, the “knife in the ribs” thing was firmly back.

So, I took half a pain pill and, instead of eating, lay on the bed with the heating pad again.

It didn’t help much. I spent the afternoon twinging and holding my side.

Finally back at home, I repeated Monday night’s treatment. I first watched the news and couldn’t believe the flooding going on (eight inches of water in people’s basements, surface streets turned into rivers and on the Southfield freeway, one spot was flooding from the road almost to the overpass above it!)

I must be getting a little better because around 9:00 PM, I was able to get up for a little bit. I loaded last of the Thanksgiving leftover containers in the dishwasher (the leftovers went in the trash Monday) I had soaking in the sink and ran a partial load. I heated up a can of chicken noodle soup while I was doing that. I ate that sitting on the bed and then went back to bed for good for the rest of the night.

Other than bathroom breaks, of course. I can share one observation with you. You know you’re hurting when you are having a serious discussion with yourself about just peeing in the bed instead of getting up. My logic was that Gardner White offers same day delivery and free pickup of your old mattress, I could just roll over on the dry side of the bed, etc. It was ultimately the cost of a good mattress that tipped me in favor of getting up...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What a pain!

I woke up on Monday morning with cold and damp, and a bad pain in my right side ribs. I couldn’t figure that out, since I certainly didn’t “over-do” on Sunday. I made a pie, watched TV and talked to Missy. Talking to Missy might have given me a pain, but not in the side (just kidding, babe!)

Anyway it was an attention-getting pain that grew to a sharp, stabbing pain whenever I got up from a sitting position. WTF?

But I got ready (it felt good, but not that better in the shower) and went to work. I also noticed it wasn’t as bad if I was holding and pressing on my ribs. Weird.

I noticed too that the electric seat warmers also made a difference both going to work and then back and forth from lunch. But it went steadily downhill all afternoon. To the point I feared getting up and going to the bathroom and I have to do that a lot. I barely made it outside and drove the seven miles home in light snow.

Here’s what I did when I got there: I changed from my clothes into my robe. I dug out the heating pad and I took a pain pill. I went directly to bed and spent the next 12 hours adjusting the heating pad, watching TV in spurts and dozing every now and then.

Here’s what I didn’t do: I didn’t get on the computer. I didn’t make any dinner (I nibbled on some leftover dressing around 10:00 PM) and I didn’t get the garbage ready for Tuesday morning.

I did notice the rain got steadily worse and the lake out back has reappeared (the ground here is already saturated from Sunday’s two inches of rain, so this rain has no where to go). I turned off the lights and TV at 1:00 AM and slept occasionally until the alarm went off.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday’s Story

It rained hard overnight and I could hear it on the windows when I went to the bathroom. I woke up at the usual time, for a change, put on a pot of coffee and filled in the long Blog entry.

When it got light enough so I could see outside, I noticed it was still drizzling. According to the morning news, it will rain off and on for the next several days, occasionally mixed with snow as the temperature falls today. The worst day will be Tuesday, they said.

I did some minor routine “stuff” (washed up the few dishes from last night’s dessert, filled my pill case, refilled the cats’ food and water dishes, etc.) and then I printed out the mailing labels for my Christmas cards.

Now, I know a LOT of people who use the Thanksgiving weekend to put up Christmas decorations and/or outdoor Christmas lights. But, I don’t. It’s too early for me. But, I do like to fill out the Christmas cards and then mail them in early December. It gives me a Holiday feeling without me having to go up in the attic, LOL!

Any way, I managed to screw around until around noon. At that time, it was raining hard again and I was damn glad I didn’t have to go outside for anything. So, I shaved and showered. I showered (for the first time in years) up in the main bath. Why? So, I can get it wet and clean it for the Holidays.

Holy shit!

I couldn’t believe the impact of the shower head. It damn near stripped my skin off! No wonder Sadie and Luanne have bragged it up. I have the exact same shower head downstairs, but it sure doesn’t feel like this. I suppose the day-in and day-out showers I take have caused the downstairs one to get clogged with the cursed calcium or lime build-up from the water heater.

Anyway, after taking the most exhilarating shower I’ve had in a long time, I let it drip dry and then sprayed it with Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner. This is the same stuff I have used (with amazement) in the downstairs shower. It stripped the soap scum off that shower tile. And, it did the same upstairs, on the shower tile.

But it didn’t even touch the old soap scum in the tub. It’s been here since I moved in and, let’s face it, when was the last time (if ever) I took a bath? I dislike baths (unless you are sore and hurting) as you are just lying in your own dirty water. Gross!

So, being a techie, I checked the web for information. 99% of the ideas people mentioned I had already tried. But, one idea stood out and stuck in my mind. It was to spray the tub with Easy Off Fume Free Oven Cleaner. That’s the kind you use in a cold oven and, oddly enough, I have some. Not to clean my oven (its self-cleaning), but I used it on the grille last spring.

They said you could leave it on for three days. So, I figured, “What the hell?” and coated the tub with it. I opened the window and shut the door.

Carla called at one point and we took some time to catch each other up, both on Thanksgiving and life in general.

I took a short nap and felt better for it. Then I checked my handwriting: not too bad today (it comes and goes). So, I filled out and stamped all my Christmas cards.

Next I baked my turkey pot pie. I chopped up about a half a cup of celery. I put that in a saucepan with about a cup of mixed frozen veggies (corn, carrots, peas and green beans). I boiled them until the celery softened (15-20 minutes). Then I drained them and added the rest of that gravy, a cup or so of turkey, cut into cubes, the last baked potato from the fridge, also cut into cubes and, as an afterthought, some of those rutabaga cubes.

I let that get happy while the oven pre-heated and the one pie crust thawed. When everything was ready, I poured the filling in the bottom crust, put on the top crust on, cut a few slits to let the steam escape and set the pie on a half sheet pan. I stuck the pan in the oven and started checking it after a half hour went by. When it looked golden brown, I pulled it out and let it cool for a while. Then I cut me a piece and tried it. Hmmm... not bad! And, a good use of Thanksgiving leftovers.

I started watching my Sunday shows. But Melissa called around 8:30 PM. So, we chatted for a while. It was good to talk to her and I tape the shows (in case I fall asleep) anyway.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Road Trips

It was another rough night, but this time I just stayed in bed and read until I fell back asleep. I woke up around 5:30 AM and filled in the Blog entry.

I put on a pot of coffee and watched the news. I had a couple of cups and then decided what I really wanted was breakfast. So, I made some scrambled eggs and topped them with hot sauce.

I sort of lazed around until about 10:30, when I finally roused myself to shave and shower. Then I got dressed in my good pants and a nice shirt. I have a road trip in mind.

Between this and that, it was about 11:30 AM when I left the house, hit the expressway and headed for the “D.” It was warm and I was driving in just my shirtsleeves because I don’t want to get all sweaty, walking around with a coat, later on.

I was on my way to the Detroit Institute of Arts. They have an exhibit called “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus” that I want to see.

Here’s how they describe it on the DIA’s website:
“Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus brings together for the first time many of Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn's finest paintings, prints and drawings that portray Jesus and events described in the Bible. The exhibition of 64 works includes approximately 52 small, intimate paintings, prints and drawings by Rembrandt and his students that illustrate how Rembrandt broke from traditional 17th-century representations of Jesus.”

By “traditional 17-century representations,” they mean at that time, Jesus was usually portrayed as a northern European, with light hair and blue eyes. And, his divinity was expressed by a halo or rays of light shooting out of his head. And, some of Rembrandt’s early works were like that, too. But, as a successful painter (and he was wildly successful in his early 20’s) he bought a huge house in the Jewish part of Amsterdam, where he not only had his studio but a very profitable art school.

Living amongst Jews, his perception of what Jesus would have and should have looked changed. So, he started painting Jesus as a Jew, with the Jewish style of hair, worn long and tucked behind the ears. He also started showing Jesus’ divinity by subtly painting his face with a glow that, when there were others in the portraits they did not have, and with a faint glow (almost like an aura) around him. See photos.

Anyway, I only got a little lost on the way there in downtown Detroit. However, my recent jury duty experience had taught me how the streets connected so, other than an interesting ride in the New Center Area (I got to see people ice skating and this year’s Christmas tree in Campus Martius) I made it there just before the 1:00 PM showing.

I paid $8.00 to get into the museum and $8.00 more for the exhibit. I got directions and headed upstairs in the elevator. Since the exhibit only opens on each hour, I foolishly thought there would be a guide who explained things. Nay, nay. I forgot technology. Almost everyone had a little radio or tape recorder and a set of ear buds. I have no idea where they got them. But, they did have placards next to each painting with explanations, so I did okay.

It was indeed as fascinating as I’d hoped. I spent almost the whole hour wandering the various galleries in the Special Exhibit hall. There were a lot of people, but not so many that you couldn’t get right up to the paintings.

At one point, one of the many museum staffers walked up to me and asked me if I was missing my party. I smiled at her and asked her just what she had in mind. She laughed and said a woman and her kids reported that their Grandfather had wandered off and he had a cane. Since I had mine (I knew there would be a lot of walking on tile floors) she thought it might be me. I said, "No, its not me."

After I finished the tour, I wandered around the museum itself. Now, if you’ve never been there, here’s how Wiki describes it:

“The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is a renowned art museum in the city of Detroit. In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally owned museum in the United States, with an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars. With over 100 galleries, it now covers 658,000 square feet (61,130 m²) The museum building is highly regarded by architects. The original building, designed by Paul Philippe Cret, is flanked by north and south wings with the white marble as the main exterior material for the entire structure. It is part of the city's Cultural Center Historic District and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.”

If I remember correctly, the last time I was there was with Lu and the boys. She was fascinated by the paintings on the high ceiling in either the Great Hall or the Riviera Court, so she laid down in the middle of the marble floor and took pictures. The boys and I stood off to the side and amused ourselves by watching the faces of the people who walked by her.

I spent another hour or so and only got through these galleries: European, Inspired by Italy; Ancient Greek and Roman; European, Medieval and Renaissance; the Great Hall (with it’s fascinating suits of armor) and just part of the American Gallery. Then my legs began to give out.

So, I walked out and retrieved my car from the parking lot behind the museum ($5.00 for all day parking! Compare that to what I paid to be a juror). Then I hit the road and got really, really lost. I ended up in Highland Park instead of Hamtramck! (Well, they both start with “H” right?) So, I had to backtrack and finally found I-75. I did find Hamtramck, but not Holbrook Ave.

Now, Hamtramck is not that big. Back when I was a lad, it was the Polish section of Detroit (like Corktown was the Irish section), but it has a much more varied population now. I suppose many of the kids moved out and on and the old folks died off. I think the last time (and probably the only time) I was there was either just before or just after I married Fran. We went there so I could meet her Grandparents and her Aunt Lorraine.

Anyway, I sort of quartered the area (I passed the Kowalski sausage factory about three times, BTW). This was not easy as many of the narrow original streets have been turned into one-way streets. I finally found Holbrook and then drove up and down it to find the next street, Charest. From there it was easy to find my destination: Yemans Avenue. Please note: the title “Avenue” is a bit misleading. It’s a little one-way street you can barely get through when there are cars parked.

What was worth all this effort? I was watching Guy Fieri’s show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” a week or two ago. It was an episode called, “Doing it Old School” (I think) and one of the restaurants featured with the Polish Village Café in Hamtramck.

According to their website: “In 1925, Mr. Pilecki built a 31-room gentleman's hotel with a rathskeller at 2990 Yemans Street.

The hotel was home to their rich customs and trades to the city of Hamtramck.

In the 1940's and 50's Hamtramck's population surged to over 50,000 as more immigrants arrived to man the city's factories. The Bakerstreet car line took people north and south on Joseph Campau, which was then the second busiest shopping district in the nation. Walking through the neighborhood at that time, you could feel the hospitality and smell the fine cooking typical of the European villages.

In 1976, Mr. Pilecki's cellar beer garden became the Polish Village Café. His tradition of welcoming immigrants and their descendents continues to this day.”

I had to check it out.

It was indeed in the basement of a house. I thought I was being clever by going in the afternoon, so it wouldn’t be crowded. Again, nay, nay. It was packed, with people standing at the bar, waiting for a table. Thankfully, there was only me and there was a one person table against the wall. Naturally, as busy as it was, service was a little slow, so it gave me time to people watch.

I don’t think I’ve seen that many Polish people in one place in my life (well, maybe back in the day at weddings when they would play Polkas). Many of them were speaking Polish. Speaking of people watching, I had forgotten how pretty young Polish girls were. The menu was in Polish, with English subtitles. Oh, and they don’t take credit cards – remember that and don’t mess up.

A friendly waiter (I was hoping for one of the friendly, busty waitresses, actually) finally brought me a bread basket (rye bread) and a glass of water and took my order.

Since I didn’t recognize half the dishes (well, I did recognize the SLEDZIE W SMIETANIE (Herring in sour cream) but at 3:30 in the afternoon?) I ordered the POLSKI TALERZ (Polish plate), billed as "A Taste of Poland." It consisted of stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasa, sauerkraut and mashed potato. I picked the dill pickle soup as my starter.

Now, I’ve had dill pickle soup before in a Livonia restaurant, but this was better.

When it came, the food was excellent. The stuffed cabbage was huge (I could have made a meal out of that alone), the kielbasa was great and so juicy every time I cut into it, grease shot out on my shirt and the mashed potatoes and gravy were good too.

The only thing that tasted a bit weird was the sauerkraut. It was done old school, alright. It had cooked so long it looked like caramelized onions. When I make mine, I heat it just through, so it is still white and a little crunchy. This was more like my Mother used to make.

I managed to eat most of it (I couldn’t finish the mashed potatoes and the sauerkraut). I went to the rest room (mostly to check out the open kitchen – while there was one or two younger women, most of the cooks were older grandma-looking ladies). I paid my bill ($7.30) and left a good tip for my waiter.

I got up the stairs (no ADA accommodations, here) and got my car out of the parking lot. Having been over it so many times, it was easy to get back to I-75 and head for home. I got there about 5:30 PM.

I missed the Michigan Ohio State game, but I did see Michigan win it on the bar TV at the Café. First time is 7 or 8 years, I believe. My legs really hurt, so I alternated between reading and watching TV for the rest of the evening.

I did talk with B___ who called to see if I did really go to the DIA, like I had mentioned (back in college, he had started out as an art major and had been to the DIA several times, so he was interested). I told him all about my adventures and he told me he had managed to diagnose his furnace problem, bought a part and got it going again. Sidebar: I wish I could do things like that. I always end up paying somebody to repair things for me.

I washed the bedding while I watched another excellent Redwings game. They are kicking butt!

About 8:00 PM, I was still too full for dinner, but I wanted something. So, I made my Thanksgiving dessert: Maple Cream Berries and Walnut Ice Cream. This was a Rachel Ray recipe, BTW.

I had a half-pint of raspberries and a half-pint of blackberries (my favorite berry) and a pint of strawberries that I cleaned and quartered. Two pints of any mixed berries will do, BTW.

I combined 1/2 cup of maple syrup, a cinnamon stick, a few grates of fresh nutmeg and one cup of heavy cream in a small pot. Note: I do have that stuff on hand, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use a few sprinkles of regular cinnamon and nutmeg if that’s all you have. I brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to low and simmered it for 20 minutes. Then I removed it from the heat and combined some with the berries.

Since you need to eat this warm, I just put a few of the berries in a small bowl and a little of the maple cream on top. Then I topped them with a scoop of ice cream. The recipe called for one pint black walnut or maple walnut ice cream. I couldn’t find either so I went with plain vanilla, topped with chopped black walnuts. See photos.

This tasted so good I made another small bowl and ate that too. I put the rest of the berries and the rest of the maple cream mixture into separate container in the fridge for tomorrow. I bet that maple cream and berry mixture would taste great on pancakes or a waffle, too.

My legs still hurt, so I went to sleep around 9:00 PM, pleased with my day’s adventures.
 
Thanksgiving dessert, two days late!
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A Rembrandt painting (taken from the DIA website)
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday

I had trouble sleeping again so, I wrote most of the Blog entry in the middle of the night. When I finally went back to bed, I set my alarm for 7:30 AM. I had a 9:00 AM appointment to get my haircut.

Michelle (my barber), Big George (the owner) and I all shared our Thanksgiving stories. I made sure to tell them how pleased I was with Ken Clock Service (if you remember, I got his name off their bulletin board) and told them I would recommend him to anyone. They thanked me and said it was good to know.

After my haircut, I went to Kroger’s (just down the street) and bought a few items. I had hoped to pick up a couple of 10-12 pound frozen turkeys they had on sale for 59 cents a pound. I was just going to stick them in my freezer for whenever (you can’t beat the price). Most of the turkeys they had were 18-20 pound beasts, though. But, after much searching (I wish I’d worn gloves. Those damn things are COLD!) I found one 13 pound bird, so I snagged it.

I picked up some ham hocks for split pea soup someday. I also bought two deep dish pie crusts. I figured one good way to use up the gravy and leftover turkey was to make a turkey pot pie. I could have made a turkey shepherd’s pie and got rid of the mashed potatoes as well, but I am not that fond of shepherd’s pie, myself.

Back home, it was sunny and 49 degrees F. It’s supposed to get up to 60 degrees today, but the wind (10-15 MPH) was keeping it a bit chilly.

I went out to the patio and rolled the grille back up front. I started more charcoal, not because I planned on grilling anything, but so I could heat up the grates and clean them before I put the grille away for the winter.

While the charcoal was heating, I took out some Windex and a roll of paper towels and washed the picture window. It took a lot of time and a lot of paper towels, but I got ‘er done! Then I cleaned the grille grates and left the grille open so the charcoal would burn out.

I made a turkey sandwich (well, eventually two) for lunch. Now, some people add lettuce or toast the bread for crunch. I don’t. I like turkey sandwiches like I used to eat as a kid: just plain white bread, turkey, salt and Miracle Whip. Yes, I said “Miracle Whip.” It’s true, I use Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or on rare occasions, make my own – it’s pretty simple with a food processor) for everything else. But a turkey sandwich doesn’t taste like a “turkey sandwich” without Miracle Whip (it’s what my Mom used).

So, anyway, I ate two of them with two McClures pickles (both for the crunch and as a palate cleaner). They were delicious!

I started watching the Red Wings game (hey, it had to beat watching the Lions on Thanksgiving). But, the turkey worked its magic and I fell asleep. I took a nice nap and woke up near the end of the third quarter and the score was tied. The Red Wings won in overtime! That’s more like it!

I went out in the garage to get an acorn squash out of my “root cellar.” I planned on baking the two I had on Thanksgiving, not to eat them, but just because I would have the oven on. I think I even mentioned that to Jake. But, like the cornbread, I forgot.

When I took out the acorn squash, I found a rutabaga stored in there was sprouting. Unacceptable! So, I peeled the rutabaga, cut it into 3/4 inch cubes and boiled it until fork tender. I put a little of the rutabaga in a bowl, buttered and salted it and then ate it as a snack (I like rutabagas!) The rest I put in a container and stuck in the fridge, once it had cooled.

I went back outside again. It was just beautiful weather outside (oh, I know, not “South Carolina” beautiful, or “North Carolina” beautiful or even “Virginia” beautiful, but for this time in Michigan, it’s gorgeous! I’ve spent many a Thanksgiving, driving home in snow.

I got in the mail. While I was at the mailbox, I pulled out the dead flowers in the planter. It looked a little bare, so I went into the attic and got my fake poinsettias. I stuck them in, but the wind blew them around a lot. Since the ground is still frost-free, I put in the driveway wands (snow plowing guides) as well. See photos.

It was near twilight, so I dragged the now-cooled grille into the garage (hoping it didn’t set off the carbon monoxide sensors) and buttoned everything up for the evening.

I watched the news and then started on my dinner. I cut the one squash in half and deseeded it. Then I used the toaster oven to bake the two halves two ways: one savory and one sweet. The first I rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled dried parsley, thyme and a sprinkling of kosher salt on it. The other I used my Mom’s recipe and put butter and brown sugar in the cavity. I baked them at 400 degrees for about and hour and 15 minutes.

Just before they were done, I warmed up some turkey and dressing topped with gravy. I ate the sweet half of the squash for this meal. Do I need to mention that it was damn good?

I watched an old movie, Ivanhoe, (1952, starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor) but fell asleep before it finished.

Friday, November 25, 2011

 
My Holday mailbox garden and a driveway wand
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Got this via email: It's a picture of the first turkey my grandaughter ever made. Tasty looking!!
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Book snippet

(Can you even have a "book" snippet?)

"Being single can be confusing. On the one hand, you sometimes yearn for the simple comfort of companionship; someone to discuss your day with, someone with whom you can celebrate a raise or a tax refund, someone who'll commiserate when you're down with a cold. On the other hand, once you get used to being alone (in other words, having everything your way), you have to wonder why you'd ever take on the aggravation of a relationship. Other human beings have all these hotly held opinions, habits and mannerisms, bad art and peculiar taste in music, not to mention mood disorders, food preferences, passions, hobbies, allergies, emotional fixations and attitudes that in no way coincide with the correct ones, namely yours."

"M" is for Malice
~ Sue Grafton

Gobble ‘til you wobble!

I slept lousy on Thanksgiving eve, with insomnia kicking in around 2:00 AM. I finally fell back asleep around 5:00 and slept until 7:00.

I put on a pot of coffee and put a load in the washer. I warmed up some of that white sausage gravy and ate it over a piece of buttered toast (the biscuits were long gone).

I had the Thanksgiving parade from Detroit on the TV and watched it whenever I could.

I decided to continue my dinner prep and the first thing I did was to sharpen all my knives. Then I thinly sliced two leeks. I tried something different for washing the leeks. I sliced them and put them in a big bowl of water. I swished them around a bit and let them sit (the theory is that any sand falls to the bottom of the bowl). Then I put them in my salad spinner to extract any excess water.

I sautéed them in butter and olive oil. When they were getting soft, I pulled them off the heat and let them cool. I reserved 1/2 cup for my side dish and put the rest back in the big bowl (after I washed it). To that, I added four stalks of celery I sliced. I didn’t sauté the celery as I think I want the crunch in my dressing (did I mention I’m making this recipe up?) Then I quartered the button mushrooms left over from the slow cooker tuna and pasta casserole. I sautéed them and let them cool as well.

Next I cut four thick strips of bacon into lardons and cooked them until they were just starting to get crunchy. I drained them on paper towels and added them to the bowl.

Jacob called to wish me a happy Thanksgiving and we talked for a while. Since I was already on the couch and it was after 10:00 AM, I called Lu in Florida and Sadie in Virginia to wish them both a happy Thanksgiving as well.

Then B___ called. He was NOT having a happy Thanksgiving. His furnace completely died during the night and he was supposed to have 13 people coming for dinner. He had a space heater in the one bathroom and was cooking the 18 pound turkey in the oven more for heat than for dinner.

Then I made a mixture of one cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of melted butter and one beaten egg. I tossed in a bag of Pepperidge Farm cubed herb stuffing, mixed it well and let it sit and get happy for 10 minutes. Then I added the sautéed leeks, mushrooms, chopped celery, bacon, some snipped chives and about 1/2 cup of grated Gruyere cheese. I mixed everything together and put it in my buttered casserole dish. Once the oven was preheated to 350 degrees, I put the casserole dish in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Melissa called to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. She is decorating their tree while Dave is watching the Lions football game (I have it on here, too). She had what I considered to be a brilliant idea for putting on the Christmas tree lights. They always buy a fresh-cut tree and I can remember, back in the day, what a pain stringing the lights was. It really takes two people. But, she got some of those net lights they sell to put on your outside bushes. So, she just drapes the net over the tree!

My dressing was done when we were talking so I pulled it out for a while. Then I put it back in the oven to keep warm.

After we hung up, I rolled the grille out around back to the patio (I normally do this on the garage apron). Timing will be everything with this dinner, and that way I could see when the smoke stopped and I needed to add more wood chips (soaking in a bucket) and/or charcoal and not leave the kitchen. I got the charcoal lit and the grille set up for indirect smoking.

Then I took the turkey breast out of the fridge. My brother Carl called to express his holiday wishes. He’s going up to Kal and Hannah’s. He mentioned my brother Jim had tried to call me, but couldn’t get through. I checked the messages and found both Jim and my brother Joe had called when I was talking to Melissa. So, I called them both back.

Then it was onto the turkey. I rinsed off the brine and stuck my compound sage butter under the skin in several places. I cut up an apple, a lemon, a carrot, a celery stick and a whole head of garlic.

After I cleaned the grates and oiled them, I stuffed the cavity with some of the veggies and put the rest of them around the turkey. Then I inserted my meat thermometer and set it for 160 degrees. I had a wild hair (Jake said the idea was “sketchy” when I ran it by him earlier) and draped thick-cut bacon over the turkey breast. I thought it might “self baste” that way and might give a good flavor to the turkey. I may have screwed up this year’s bird, but you never know until you try (see photos).

It was just after I took that photo that I realized I didn’t put in the drip pan I had bought! Luckily, I was able to maneuver it under the grates and around the hot charcoal.

Then, I cut up about two pounds of unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes (I want this to be creamy, BTW. If you want mashed potatoes to be fluffy, use Russets.) Then I peeled three parsnips. I am making these proportions up, BTW. I saw this done once on a cooking show, but could not find the recipe with the ratio of potatoes to parsnips. I put the potatoes in a colander and rinsed them off repeatedly (to get rid of some of the starch). Then the potatoes and parsnips were put in a large pan with cold water and brought to a boil. I simmered them until the parsnips were fork tender (about 15-20 minutes).

Meanwhile, I was still adding woodchips and checking the thermometer. When the potatoes and parsnips were done, I drained them and returned them to the pot over low heat, stirring them to dry them out.


I ran the now drained and dried potatoes and parsnips through the food mill (you could also use a ricer, but I don’t have one). This takes care of the potato peels and the stringiness of the parsnips. I had already melted eight tablespoons of butter (one stick) in a saucepan and added one cup of heavy cream.

I folded in the warm cream mixture and covered the pan, adding it to the warm oven.

Then I got started on the gravy. This was originally from an old Family Circle recipe (my Mother used to get that magazine, BTW). I cut it in half as the original recipe made eight cups of gravy! So, I melted three tablespoons of butter in a large-sized sauce pan. Then I added in three cups of chicken broth.

You were supposed to now use a large bowl with a pouring spout. Not having one, I used my four-cup measuring cup. In that I put one cup of chicken stock, 1/2 teaspoon of what they called “Gravy Starter” (which only means Kitchen Bouquet) and 1/3 cup of white flour (I used AP flour, but they suggested using something called “Wondra” if you wanted the gravy thicker). I was whisking all that together when the phone rang (around 5:30 PM).

It was Carla’s Mother, calling to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving.” Damn! I knew there was somebody I forgot to call!! We chatted for a bit and then, after we hung up, I went back to whisking.

I gradually added the flour slurry to the simmering broth, stirring with a whisk to incorporate. I added in 1/8 teaspoon of poultry seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. I increased the heat to medium-high and brought it to a full boil. Once boiling, I cooked it three minutes or so until it thickened. According to the Family Circle recipe, you can test the thickness of the gravy by drawing your finger on the back of a wooden spoon. If a distinct line forms, the gravy is ready.

I went outside and checked and the temperature alarm was going off. So, I pitched the bacon and all the veggies onto the lawn for the wild things, put the turkey on a platter and took it inside.

I let it rest on the counter while I made my side dish. In a large skillet, I melted one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil together over medium-high heat. I added one cup of sliced baby Portobello mushrooms and cooked them until they begin to soften (about three to four minutes). Here’s where you would add the raw sliced leeks and a clove of minced garlic and cook until tender (about 3 minutes) But, since I had my leeks already sautéed, I just put in the garlic for three minutes and then threw in the leeks.

I added in 1/4 cup of vegetable broth, one tablespoon of heavy whipping cream, one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. I cooked that for two minutes. Then I added two cups of fresh baby spinach and lowered the heat. I stirred the spinach frequently, until it wilted (about 2 minutes). I sprinkled in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stirred it all to combine.

I carved the turkey by cutting off both breasts and cutting two thick slices from one of them. I plated everything and began my feast. It was about that time I realized I never made my corn bread! You remember, the one I bought the mold for?

Instead of being upset, I just smiled. My Mother had a long history, back in the day when the whole family ate in the living room on the farm, of forgetting to make or forgetting to serve something. So, I guess I inherited her genes.

The results were as follows:

Turkey – best damn turkey I ever made! Not sure if it was the brine, the compound butter or the bacon, but it was moist, smoky and just delicious.

Gravy – too thin and, without the giblets or turkey drippings, it tasted like chicken gravy, not turkey.

Mashed potatoes and parsnips – excellent texture with just a hint of parsnips. Maybe one more parsnip would have been better or, maybe that would have made it too strong. Definitely a keeper recipe, though.

Cranberry Relish – Fantastic, even though I don’t normally like cranberry “relish” (I was raised on the canned jelly stuff). But, this was great!

Dressing – Fantastic as well! For just making it up, it tasted excellent.

Buttery Spinach and Mushrooms – Just so-so. I wish I’d gone with my original idea of making the peas and pearl onions again.

I ate way too much (I just had to go back for seconds). It was late enough that, after everything cooled and I put it away, then washed the pots and pans and ran a load in the dishwasher, I was still too full to even contemplate making my mixed berry dessert. Oh well, I still have three more days off…