Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial weekend Day 3

It was too hot outside to work, although I should have cut the grass. But I didn’t.

I did make some great scrambled eggs for brunch and ate them topped with Franks Red Hot sauce.

I watched more war movies in the air conditioning and did the rest of the weekend laundry.

I didn’t have the grille on yet, so I skipped the barbecue I had planned (too hot out there anyway) and I didn’t want to heat up the inside of the house with the shrimp boil, so I just made some buttered popcorn for dinner.

I had all my clothes hung up or put away, so I took the rest of the night off. I figured I’ve been without a working kitchen sink for almost a week, so a day or two more won’t kill me!

Memorial weekend Day 2

I had shopping to do on Sunday. So, first I went to Home Depot and bought a new garbage disposal, a post-hole digger (I actually had one, but I think Jake threw it away – along with everything else I’d saved – when we moved from St. Clair) two bags of Quick-crete and another quart of Ground Clear.

Then I went to Westborn and got 1 1/4 pounds of fresh 16-20 shrimp, some fresh mozzarella, some fresh basil, thyme and rosemary, lemons, some baby redskin potatoes, some baby Yukon Gold potatoes, Vidalia onions and a red onion. I had big plans, but not much ambition.

Back home, I put away the groceries, treated the cats and started digging my hole for the grille. For the first foot or so, I had to keep stopping and then cutting out big roots (probably from on of the maples). After two feet, I hit water and I mean a TON of water. It almost made me think I could dig a well in the back and stop paying for that damn Detroit water.

My neighbor called to me over the fence and reminded me he has a gasoline-powered post-hole digger that he told me along time ago I could borrow any time. Then his wife called me over to meet her new grandson. What a little cutie! He smiled and gurgled and laughed the whole time (maybe I look funny to little kids).

I told her I thought she was too young to have a grandkid (and I wasn’t flirting, I meant it). She said she will be 40 years old in December! I wouldn’t have thought she was any older than her mid-thirties!

Back at work, I finished the hole. I poured in the first bag and didn’t add any water as there is plenty of water in that hole. This stuff you don’t mix in a wheelbarrow (like I am used to) you just pour water on top of the mix. I did add the required water on top of the second bag and then inserted the pipe. I leveled that and then checked it frequently as the cement hardened. By then it was getting cloudy (we have severe storms and tornado watches for Sunday afternoon), so I put away my tools and got the house buttoned up.

Back inside, I thought about making my “Low Country Shrimp Boil” but it seemed like a lot of work. So did installing the garbage disposal.

So, I made some Campbell’s split pea with ham soup and went back to watching war movies. I did talk with B___ to see how his weekend was faring. His daughter and son in law are spending the weekend, so he’s been doing a lot of cooking and barbecuing.

I dozed off every now and then during the evening, but thanks to the magic of DVD-R taping, I finally finished my movie. Then I went to bed for real.

Memorial Day Memories

I forgot to say when I talked with Melissa, she did ask me about my mentioning the French Maginot Line and the Polish Calvary charge. So, I explained them both to her.

The French Maginot Line was built after the First World War. France built a series of pill boxes or bunkers all along the border between France and Germany (the machine guns and cannon are gone, but they are still there and you can visit them, BTW) to keep the Germans out once and for all.

But, when World War II started, the German Panzer divisions invaded Belgium, took a left and went into France behind the Maginot Line. Um, Duh?

As for the Polish Calvary charge, as far as I know it was the last cavalry charge in history. A company of Polish cavalry drew their sabers and charged the invading Germans. Unfortunately, as I said, the Polish were mounted on horses, while the Germans were inside Tiger tanks. It took about 5 minutes for the machine guns in the first two or three tanks to shred both the Polish horses and men.

Now, you know me and expect me to [add Polish joke here] but I won’t. That was a heroic, fantastic and, ultimately incredibly stupid idea. But, they tried, dammit!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chef's Tip #34

"For safety, put a wine cork on the tip of a knife before putting the knife in a drawer."

Giuseppe Tentori
Boka Restaurant & Bar
Chicago

[I never, ever put my knives in a drawer, BTW. I keep them in a block of wood so the edges don't dull.]

Memorial Weekend Day 1

The weather on Saturday was gloomy (what else?) so I didn’t go outside. I alternated working in the house with watching movies. AMC had a number of war movies in honor of Memorial Day. I taped “Patton” and watched it in small bites. “Apocalypse Now Redux” was coming on later, so I set the DVD-R to record that, too.

The Patton movie reminded me of B___’s dad. He was in a tank at the Battle of the Bulge. I often begged him for an anecdote, but he didn’t like talking about the war.

He did tell me one story, though. He said they were driving through France and came upon a destroyed farmhouse. But, the chicken coop was still intact. So, they stopped, let the chickens loose and gathered the eggs.

They had been eating cold K-Rations for days and had no way to cook them. So, they poured a little motor oil on the hot hood of the tank and fried the eggs on it. He swore they were the best eggs he ever ate!

You gotta love American GIs!

I talked with B___, with Jake, and with Melissa (though not necessarily in that order).

When I finally got around to feeling hungry, I made tuna and peas, served over a half a bag of wide egg noodles. Yumo!

I stayed up late (watching about half of Apocalypse Now) to the point of my favorite line “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” then I turned it off and went to bed.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday Frenzy

Friday was drizzly and cold. I had a lot to do, because I was told I need to move next Tuesday. So, I filled out the Move Sheet and had my Supervisor send it to the Help Desk (Jake’s gonna kill me, because you are supposed to give them 4-5 days advance warning. I did mention that to my Supervisor, but he said the Director said, “Tuesday!”)

I checked on the cube I am supposed to occupy and found there is no phone and all the file cabinets are filled with stuff used by the Telecom team. I also mentioned that to my Supervisor (since I have stuff: files, personal things, the corporate credit card, etc., I need to lock up) and he said, “Um...” (He likes to say “Um...” I’ve never heard a person in a Management role say “Um...” so much before, but I guess it’s a brave new world!) Anyway, I digress. He said it would get worked out: Plan on moving on Tuesday.

There was a Project Manager Team meeting in the morning when it was announced I was being reassigned. For the rest of the day, my fellow PMs kept voicing their dismay. I told them I would always be available by phone.

Because I had no time to waste, I couldn’t get home for lunch. So I went to a nearby Coney Island and had my favorite: a mini-Greek Salad and a cup of soup. This time, the soup of the day was navy bean. And, the only b*tch I have about eating a “mini” Greek salad is that they never give you the pita bread. But I learned long ago, I can’t eat a “small” Greek salad and a cup of soup (too much food), so I skip the pita bread.

And, speaking of being disappointed, I was reminded of the old, one owner, one location (think Newburgh Grille) Coney Island that was in the old Wonderland Mall before they tore it down. It was owned and run by a feisty old man (think Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi) and had the best damn Greek salad dressing I ever tasted (they even sold it, bottled). It was pink (I assume from pureeing beets) and I’ve never tasted anything even close to it since.

Back at work, I realized I’d never documented how to update the Project Planner. So, I did that and posted it on our IDC website (don’t ask me what IDC stands for – it’s Saturday morning and I don’t give a sh*t). Then I held about an one hour class to show Robin and James (the other PMs) how to open a job in PeopleSoft (our ERP system), how to add the job into the Project Planner, how to run an hour report for last week’s hours in PeopleSoft and how to update the “Actual Hours” tab in the Project Planner. All of this (that I’ve been doing for the past four years or so) they will need to know.

I called various people to get a status on my existing projects, but I assume from their responses this will be an on-going thing for a while.

I left at 5:00 PM and worked my way home in the drizzle. I treated the cats and thought about all the stuff I need to do this weekend (I never planted the vegetable, herb or flower gardens, due to rain; I never added any mulch; the lawn looks like shit; I need to dig a hole, fill it with concrete and install my new grille; I need to replace my garbage disposal and fix the plumbing; I need to go grocery shopping; and I really, REALLY need to clean the house.

It boggles the mind!

So, Instead, I fixed a drink and watched the evening news. I did check the phone’s voicemail and found a message from Melissa, who had called Thursday morning at 9:30 AM (? - hey, babe, I work, ya know). She sounded like she was at death’s door, but assured me it was just allergies (hey, move back to Michigan. We don’t have allergies that much, just a lot of rain). I called back but got her voicemail.

I watched a movie, “Patton” (with George C. Scott) but fell asleep before it was over (it’s okay though, I know how it turns out: We won!)

A Nice Dream...

I woke up at 2:30 AM on Saturday morning, after having this dream:

I dreamt I was at Lake Orion in the kitchen, making a fruit salad (of all things!) I was there with a friend I know from various poetry clubs and her brother, also a poet in the same clubs. They are both musicians, BTW and, no, I have never actually met them in person. They had brought along another friend, a portly gentleman I didn't know.

While I was cutting up a watermelon, I heard the sounds of voices singing, acappella. So, I went out on the porch. Their friend was standing there, next to the window, Shabetei (that was her name in the clubs) was lying in a lounge chair on the front grass and her brother (his name in the clubs was Oleono Boozle - hey, I never said poets were "normal;" I'm not normal, myself) was on the dock fishing.

But they were all singing old Peter, Paul and Mary songs. So, I joined in. Each of us would mess up a verse or two, but it was wonderful. Then I woke up.

I immediately knew where all this was coming from: the piece about Wavy Gravy (I assume he was the third guest). And, I am worried about making it out to the lake this weekend. I had so much to do and now my garbage disposal finally, totally crapped out. I have been using Rick's trick and turning the thing with my allen wrench every couple of days when it stopped. But, Friday, when it stopped, I couldn't get it to turn, no matter how much pressure I applied. And, when I really torqued it, I either loosened or broke something in the drain pipes, because I had water under the counter and onto the kitchen floor.

I cleaned up the mess (throwing away a soggy box of Brillo pads and a box of dishwasher detergent) but now have to buy a new garbage disposal and fix the plumbing.

But, damn, that was a nice dream...

Chef's Tip #33

"Do not use oil in the water when boiling pasta. It will keep the sauce from sticking to the cooked pasta."

Missy Robbins
A Voce, New York City

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jesus Christ!

I just saw a news article documenting the current activities of "Wavy Gravy," all providing "acts of kindness" (camps for poor kids, operations to stop blindness in kids, etc.)

"Who the hell is "Wavy Gravy" you might ask? Ah, you young folks...

"Wavy Gravy" was the emcee at Woodstock in 1969.

And, he's now 75 years old and still going strong!

Fly your freak-flag, dude!

More Changes

It rained off and on all Thursday here. So, what else is new? Luckily, it was not the torrential downpours of the past two days, just a steady rain.

I went home at lunchtime and ate the last of the Manwhich on sourdough bread. It made me feel quite queasy for the rest of the day.

I had a meeting with my Supervisor who informed me that I would soon be transferred to the Support Center to assist them as projects have slowed. Interesting. I guess my success with the software audit work has been my undoing. And, getting my PMP cert seems a bit silly now. But, upon reflection, I’m not going back on part-time or (worse yet, being laid off) so, I can live with that.

I hung around work until almost 5:30 PM and then left for class.

Class was still invigorating and, for a change we left on time!

I got home at 10:15 PM, starving. So, I toasted up my last slice of bread, slathered it with Hellmann’s mayonnaise and topped it with a sliced tomato.

I seasoned that with just salt and pepper and ate an open-faced tomato sandwich for dinner. Then I went to bed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chef's Tip #32

"Anytime you are using raw onions in a salad and [or] your not going to eat that salsa in the next 20 minutes or so, be sure to rinse the diced onions under cold running water first, then blot dry. This will rid them of sulfurous gas that can ruin fresh salsa. It's really important in guacamole, too."

Mark Miller
Coyote Cafe
Santa Fe, NM

Washout!

It just started sprinkling when I got to work on Wednesday. But then all hell broke loose, with thunder, lightning and rain coming down like you wouldn’t believe (well, if you are reading this and live in Southeast Michigan, you probably would believe it).

When I went home for lunch, you couldn’t drive in the right-hand lanes as all the storm drains were full and there was a good six inches of water there. I couldn’t believe the back yard when I looked out the bathroom window, so I took a picture of the new lake that totally submersed the grass I had just cut last night.

The storms had eased up a bit on the way back to work, but it started up again in the afternoon. By the time I got home from work (again driving through pouring rain) the back yard lake had almost doubled, so I took another picture. I also took pictures of my overflowing front ditches (I blame that on my neighbor and the stupid ornamental grass he planted in his part of the ditch – now my water has no where to go!)

I am getting a little nervous as the water creeps towards the house. I’m not that worried about the main house (its up on a two or three-foot crawl space) but the downstairs is sitting on a slab. And, I remember the water damage Jake and Carla had in their basement a couple of years ago. I don’t need that right now!

I fried up the last of my potatoes, the last Vidalia onion and a pound of smoked sausage for my dinner. I ate about 1/3 of that watching TV. When the rest cooled, I put it in the fridge for leftovers.

I was beat and my back still hurt, so I went to bed at 10:00 PM. But I was awakened at 2:45 AM by loud thunder, more lightning and rain, pelting the windows. Groan...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

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The front ditch, to the right
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The front ditch, in the middle
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The front ditch, to the left
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The back yard at noon
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The backyard lake at 5:30 PM
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The last lilac blossom for this year

Tuesday

For a change, it wasn’t raining on Tuesday! There were more clouds than sun and a little chillier than I like, but it WASN’T raining!

When I got home at lunchtime, there wasn’t much of a breeze blowing. So, I skipped lunch in favor of applying Ortho Ground Clear to the driveway (I’ve given up on Roundup). I mixed a quart of the Ground Clear with a gallon of water in my pump sprayer, pumped it up and then started to spray it.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but this always kills my back. You don’t want this stuff drifting onto your lawn, but the wand is short (like two feet) so you have to bend over to keep it contained. How many times have I wished for a longer wand?

I had a late afternoon meeting at Cisco in Southfield, which didn’t end until 5:15 PM, which meant I didn’t get home until after 6:00. But the weather was still holding, so I thought I should cut the front lawn. However, I first treated the cats, changed clothes, etc. So it wasn’t until almost 7:00 PM when I went out to fire up the push mower. That’s when I discovered I never refilled the gas can. So, I headed down the street to the nearest gas station and bought two gallons.

Back home, I got the front lawn cut and then took the mower out back. I cut all the wet spots and the places where the lawn tractor just will not go. I got everything put away and the house buttoned up around 8:15 PM.

I warmed up more of the Manwhich and ate that on some sourdough bread. I watched a movie until after 11:00 and then tried to go to sleep. I slept lousy, due to my back pain.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Stryker, I said to myself, you've done a lot of damn fool things in your time, but you haven't in a while and I think you're overdue!"

Mr. Stryker
in the movie "The Sons of Katie Elder"

Slipping and Sliding

The weather was incredible on Monday. It went back and forth from bright sunlight to horrible thunderstorms.

When I was driving back to work from lunch, It started raining so hard, the wipers (on high) couldn’t keep the windshield clear. And, the storm drains couldn’t handle the water so I either drove or alternatively hydroplaned all down 6-Mile Road (from Inkster to Farmington Road). But, the rain had already stopped (thank goodness) when I got out of the car back at work.

All afternoon, we had either sunshine or showers. Going home after work, it was sunny until about the last 10 minutes of my drive. Then it just poured again. Once inside, I checked the rain gauge (with my binoculars) and I had just over two inches of rainfall (so far)!

I talked with B___ and he said his lawn had dried out enough that he cut it this evening! But, I’ve got standing water everywhere (and puddles in the driveway where I never get puddles).

I fried up an eggplant for dinner and ate most of it. Damn! That was good! I watched a movie and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Weekend

I waited as long as I could on Saturday, hoping more of the lawn would dry out, but finally cut most of the back yard with the lawn tractor. (I avoided standing water areas). So, it looks better, but still not good. While I was waiting, I did three loads of laundry.

I ate some potato soup for dinner, watched a movie and went to bed.

Sunday, I made a pot of coffee. I had a couple of cups and then got cleaned up. My daughter Melissa called around noon and we chatted for a while (okay, a long while). I had thawed out a pound of hamburger and mixed that with a can of Manwhich. I ate two of them on the last two torpedo buns.

Most of my typical Sunday night shows were not on. So, I watched another movie (probably the cheesiest Charles Bronson movie ever: The White Buffalo). Yeah, it was lame, but I liked it.

Then I went to bed.

[Now you see why I didn’t post the Blog – I mostly screwed off for the whole weekend.]

Sunday, May 22, 2011

OH SHIT!

[I normally write this into a Word file called "Blog" and, once I post it, I delete the contents fo the next day. Imagine my surprise and chagrin when I went to write in Saturdays post and found this was still here. I checked and sure enough, I never posted this. My bad.]

For those of you suffering from a CaptainK withdrawal, I apologize. For those of you who don't give a sh*t, bite me! the original title was:

TGIF and Marching On

I like the phrase “marching on.” To me, it means doing what you gotta do to get it done. And, that’s basically what I have done all my life. I am a German and that’s what we do!

We had heavy fog this morning and, in spite of my short 10 mile drive to work, it was dicey. You couldn’t see what color the stoplights were until you were right on top of them (even though I “knew” they were there). And, of course, you had some idiot doing 50 MPH right on your bumper, so if you had to stop, you’d get creamed.

Oddly enough, when I got to work and discussed this with my co-workers, none of them living north of here saw any fog until they got to like 10 Mile Road.

Back home after work, I treated the cats, changed clothes and then went outside to work on the front lawn. I used the line trimmer to clean up around the trees and flower beds. Then I gassed up and fired up the push lawnmower and cut the grass.

Have you ever noticed that I always say “Line Trimmer” instead of “Weedwacker” like anyone else would say? It’s because I was a technical writer once and am aware of the legal implications. It’s in my blood.

I have HUGE grass clumps here and there and may have to rake the lawn (maybe they’ll get chewed up when I next cut the grass). But at least it’s done.

I checked the lilac and found I had NOT cut off last years flowers. According to my brother Carl, that explains this year’s poor performance. So, I cut them off and cut me two more blossoms for my bedroom. I only have like four blooms left.

Funerals or not, I love that smell! Picture this, if you can... I’m in the back bedroom at the farm (I share it with my brothers Carl and Joe) and it’s a warm Spring night. So all the windows upstairs are open. And, all you smell are my Mother’s lilacs... That smell takes me back...

Back to today and back inside, I returned a call from B___ on Thursday and explained I was and will be in school for the next seven weeks.

After we talked, I made a can of Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup (I like soup) and ate that watching some taped TV. Then I went to sleep.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Random Thoughts

So, its 2:30 AM Friday night (well, Saturday morning, to be more correct) and I’m wide awake. So, as I’m starting the weekend wash of work clothes, I am entertaining the cats by singing the lyrics of “She’s So Cold” by the Rolling Stones.

Oddly, they seem more annoyed than impressed, BTW, LOL!

But I got stuck on repeating the lines “Nobody will know, when you're old.
When you're old, nobody will know.”

It dawned on me that while nobody “knows” I am old, a few of you may suspect...

Friday, May 20, 2011

The End of the World?

According to a Christian group, Judgment Day is May 21, 2011. Soon after... we’ll all be dead.

Now, I don't mind dying, or even the end of the world, but what p*sses me off is that I won't get my last paycheck...

Two Down, Eight to Go

I would have typed: “Weather – Ditto” for Thursday but this damn Michigan weather tricked me (yet again!) Oh it was raining and miserable, but it finally started to warm up.

I ate lunch at the Rainbow (the Chinese restaurant just down the road from work). It’s college night again, you see, and I won’t eat dinner until late. I had the almond chicken, but again the portions were way too big.

This time I was able to stay at work until 5:15 PM and then I left for school. Traffic was terrible, but I still got there 15 minutes too early. So, I sat and reviewed last week’s chapter.

Finally, my classmates started trickling in. First came the student who was from Brazil (his company, a bank, is paying him to take this course and get the PMP cert). We exchanged greeting and then he said, (in very bad English), “I don’t understand your state. In my country, its cold in winter and warm in summer. Here, its cold one day and then hot the next!” I agreed with him and told him not to try and figure it out. Nobody living here ever has...

Class started and the first thing the instructor asked was, “Did anyone have any questions about the questions?” We all went, “Huh?” Turns out, since we ran late last week, he forgot to tell us there are review questions (two sections – one easy test questions to see if you got the terms right and the other, tougher questions for past PMP tests) in the back of our books. He posts the answers in a couple of days on his website. Well, since he didn’t tell us, nobody had done the tests. But, we will from now on.

Class ran late again, so at 10:15 PM, I finally got home. I warmed up the roast beef and au jus and ate two more French Dip Sandwiches. I tried to watch some TV, but was so beat, I went to bed at 11:00.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chef's Tip #31

"Taste as you go! XOXO

Anne Burrell
Secrets of a Restaurant Chef

Another Wet Wednesday

It was another damp, dreary and chilly day in Michigan on Wednesday. I am not only tired of living through this ridiculously wet spring; I am tired of writing about it! So, from now on, when I write “Weather: ditto” you know what I mean.

It will take me a month to get the backyard back into shape. In some places, the grass is eight inches tall!

I ate lunch at home (leftover Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup and half a turkey sandwich) and then went to Building 50 to meet another vendor and get a quote for some data drops.

On the way back to Building 73 (where I reside), I stopped at a locksmith and got a set of keys made for Melissa. Actually, I had two sets made, so I never have to do this again. As I think I mentioned, one of the keys is an antique and can’t be found at, say, an Ace hardware. It cost me just over $18.00 (ah, the joys of parenthood never end!)

Back home after work, I documented the poor showing of my lilac this year (I blame it on the weather – but then again I blame everything on the weather these days) and cut two blossoms to take into the house. I love that smell, it takes me back to childhood and life on the farm at 24 Mile Road.

And, I guess, scent is a personal thing. When I was visiting my friend B___, I mentioned taking the two hyacinths, rinsing the mud off and putting them in a vase in my bedroom. He actually shuddered and said, “God, I hate the smell of those things!” Curious, I asked why. He said they always remind him of funeral homes. Funny, I’ve never made that connection.

Back inside, I got out a photo mailer (I’d bought them for some reason or another a long time ago – they are waterproof plastic and have two thick pieces of cardboard inside to protect your photos). I laid out the keys and a key ring and traced their outlines with a magic marker. I cut out the outlines, inserted the keys and taped the backs of them to the one piece of cardboard. I addressed the envelope to Melissa, covered the one piece of cardboard with the other, inserted it in the envelope and added two stamps and a return address label. I’ll mail that in the morning.

Now the only thing I have to check is that my brother Carl had the water turned on (or will before June 17).

Then it was 7:00 PM (I took a break and watched the NBC Nightly News) and I was thinking about dinner. I really wanted to have more French Dip Sandwiches, but I have a container of milk that will go bad in a few days. So, instead, I made some potato soup.

Nothing fancy and I just made up the recipe. I cut all my remaining redskin potatoes into chunks and boiled them in salted water, along with two medium yellow onions, sliced. When they were fork-tender, I drained off most of the water and added a stick of butter, a big glob of sour cream (I told you I was making this up), a handful of dried parsley, fresh ground pepper and enough milk to cover the potatoes (the rest of the milk I threw away).

After that got up to a boil, I used my spyder to take out about 1/3 of the potatoes and put them on a plate. The big chunks I threw back into the pot. Then I used my immersion blender to cream the pot. To that, I added two strips of bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces and all had I had in the house (about 2/3 of a packet) of cheddar cheese with the reserved potatoes. I let that get happy for a bit, stirring every now and then. Then I plated up a big bowl and went in to watch the finish of the original “Jurassic Park.”

I had another bowl of soup.

I watched that movie until it ended at 9:00 PM and then switched to a 1941 TCM movie “The Wolfman” staring Lon Chaney, Jr., until I fell asleep. When I woke up for a bathroom break, I put the remaining soup into four-cup containers (I got three and half of them) and put them in the fridge. Then I went to bed for real.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chef's Tip #30

"A braised or slow-roasted whole beef roast or pork shoulder can be made into several dishes and sandwiches all week."

Elizabeth Falkner
Citizen Cake and Orson
San Francisco
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Lilacs in my bedroom
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Worst year ever for my lilac #1
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Worst year ever for my lilac #2

Tuesday's Tale

It was another overcast, chilly day on Tuesday. With all the flooding going around, I guess I can’t really b*tch, but I am getting sick of this!

When I left work for lunch, I was walking to my car when a hawk flew just over my head, like a dive-bomber. It flew in from behind me so it scared the crap out of me! He neared the ground, reached out and snagged a squirrel! Then he flew back up, clutching the squirrel, whose tail was hanging down. Wow!

When I got home from work, it still looked crappy. But, I thought I could cut “some” of the back lawn (avoiding the lake). But, by the time I got changed and ready to go outside, it was raining again. Damn!

I made one of my easiest, but most favorite dinners: French Dip Sandwiches. I took out a pound of deli-sliced rare roast beef to let it come up to room temperature. Then I diced up a good-sized shallot. I melted two tablespoons of butter in my skillet, put in the shallots and sautéed them for two minutes.

I added a tablespoon of flour and cooked that a minute longer. Then I added a jigger of cooking sherry (you could also use regular dry sherry), whisked it in and then cooked the liquid out. Then I slowly whisked in two soup cans of beef consommé. I brought that to a boil, and then turned it down to simmer while I got everything else ready.

I spread out the roast beef on a plastic cutting board (BTW, the original recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of roast beef, but that always seemed excessive to me) and seasoned it with Montreal Steak Seasoning (or you could use just salt and pepper). I got out a small ramekin for the au jus dipping sauce and two split torpedo rolls. Then, using tongs, I dipped some of the meat into the warm au jus in the skillet and piled it onto the rolls.

I ate dinner watching TV, happily dipping my sandwiches between bites. Damn, that was good! And, I have two more left! Content, I went to bed around 10:30 PM.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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For Amy

Monday Moanin'

I did my Kroger weekend shopping at lunchtime on Monday. It was still a little drizzly, but I coped.

Back home, I put away the things that needed refrigeration and left the rest for later.

After work, I switched out the kitty litter and took two bags of garbage out to the road. Since I was already damp, I went out back and refilled the bird feeder.

Back inside, I moved the ironing board from downstairs to my bedroom and ironed six shirts, watching the NBC Nightly News. Not that when the news was done, so was I... Ironing is a pain in the butt!

I made a turkey sandwich (with lettuce, mayo and salt) for dinner. I watched a little more TV, but went to bed by 10:00 PM.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunday’s Non-event

I didn’t do anything on Sunday. It was raining outside and my legs and back hurt (probably from the long drive on Saturday), so I switched to “glide”

I did make my beef jerky. I lined a half-sheet pan with tinfoil and put it on the bottom rack in the oven (to catch any drips). I laid my marinated meat strips on the top rack, turned the oven on “Warm” (170 degrees F. – that’s the lowest I can get my oven to go), cracked the door open and set the timer for 7 hours!

I watched my usual Sunday night shows but went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Saturday Fiasco

Oh, crap! I overslept on Saturday and woke up ten minutes before my doctor’s appointment. So, I called and said to just bill me the “didn’t even show up” fee and asked them to reschedule. They said, “Well, what time could you get here?” I said, given that I still need to shave and shower, I might be able to be there about 11:00 AM. They said fine, we’ll squeeze you in.

So, I got cleaned up, jumped on the E-way, set the cruise control on 80 MPH and got there just in time for the second appointment

Everything was good and I lost another 10 pounds. So, she was happy. I complained that this dieting thing is making my arms look scrawny and she suggested I join a gym. Yeah, right.

My cholesterol is still under the recommended range. She reduced my meds again, so I have to go back in 4 months (sigh).

I called B___ to see if he was around and wanted company. He was and he did.

I drove there the long way, out 32 Mile to Romeo Plank. In spite of all the build up of houses, there were still a few farmhouses with barns. It depressed me. What the hell am I doing living in the city? I need to have chickens and rabbits and pigs and a tractor and maybe five acres of land. I want a Do Over!

I stopped by B___’s for an hour or so. I was struck by the beautiful purple tulips (Mom would have loved them). I explained my frustration with my tulips. B___’s wife mentioned digging up the tulips and splitting the bulbs in the fall. I never heard of that, but I will try it!

When I left, I stopped at a Marathon station he recommended and saved 10 cents a gallon for my midgrade gas! Thanks, buddy!

On the way home, I stopped by a McDonald’s on Eight Mile (I haven’t eaten since Thursdays lunch of soup and was hungry) I had my money in hand, accounting for tax and it wasn’t enough. I got charged a 33 cent “Drive Thru” Charge. Never heard of that! No wonder why people are leaving Detroit!

Home at last, I did the yesterday’s Blog entry.

I watched Darby’s Rangers (a World War II commando movie). I think they were like the early version of the Navy Seals. World War II movies always bring to mind the French Maginot Line and the Polish Calvary charge.

It also brought to mind the amount of ammo versus kills in the Civil war, WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War. I used to know that statistic. But I forgot it (who cares?) And it didn’t take into account suppression fire (keeping their heads down) versus “Pray and Spray” which was often used, I was told, in the Vietnam War.

Then I watched a movie with Lee Marvin called “Montie Walsh.” It was about an old cowboy whose way of life was changing. It was certainly interesting, but very depressing.

I made some of the worst biscuits I ever made and cooked some thick bacon in the oven. I sliced the biscuits, put the bacon in the middle and ate that for dinner. Then I went to bed.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Comments

You know, its been almost a week since I had any comments. Now, I know from the stats how many of you are reading this but, it would be nice if you commented every now and then.

I don't care if you say, "Good thought!" or "You're such an *sshole!" at least I would know the time (and money) I spend on this effort was worth it.

'nuff said.

Quote of the Day

"I ain't about to spit on my whole life!"

Lee Marvin in the movie
"Monte Walsh"
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The Other Tulip That Bloomed
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The Way The Grille Was Shipped

Chef’s Tip #29

“Recipes are only a guideline, not the Bible. Feel comfortable replacing ingredients with similar ingredients that you like. If you like oregano but not thyme, use oregano.”

Alex Seidel
Fruition, Denver

Friday

Friday morning, it had apparently rained hard during the night (this time I slept through it!) and still looked hazy. When I left work at lunchtime I could see it had rained again. I went home and made a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup to eat. Then I went to Building 50 to scope out a project and stopped at Building 7 to talk with Facilities.

Back at work, I left the car all buttoned up in spite of it being 84 degrees F. (due to the fear of yet another rain shower). So, naturally, when I left at 5:00 PM, it hadn’t rained and the car was an oven!

Back home, I noticed the lilac was starting to bloom, so I walked over to smell them. Then I noticed my shoes weren’t wet, even though I walked through the grass. So, I went in the house, treated the cats and changed clothes.

I went back outside, gassed up the push mower and cut the front lawn (it needed it again – with all this rain, its growing fast!) I would have liked to cut the backyard, but the lake has returned somewhat.

Back inside, I returned Melissa’s call. We chatted for a while, but she mostly called to remind me I need to have copies made of the Orion keys for her upcoming visit. I assured her that my keys are on the kitchen table. I just need to find the time to get to the locksmith. One key is an antique (go figure) and only a locksmith carries them.

After we hung up, I thought briefly about making dinner, but it seemed like a lot of work. I would have just made a sandwich, but I’m out of bread. I looked in the fridge, but I just had a pickle for dinner last night, so I said to hell with it.

I started a load of laundry with my shirts, pants and socks for work.

I took a semi-thawed beef tip roast out of the fridge and cut it into thin strips. Then I made up a marinade, loosely based on one I found in a recipe called “Amos’s Beef Jerky.” That recipe is quite amusing, BTW. For example, it calls for 1/2 glass of young, full-bodied red wine in the marinade. Well, later on, it says “Drink rest of wine bottle” and the recipe ends by saying “This recipe is best executed while listening to a fall 1970 Grateful Dead show.”

Anyway, I put in one cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar, a tablespoon of ground ginger, three cloves of minced garlic, a teaspoon of rosemary leaves (that I crushed) 1 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and the aforementioned half glass of wine.

I would have put the meat and marinate in a gallon Ziplock bag, but I’m out of them, too. So, I put them both in my big Tupperware bowl, put the lid on it, shook it all around and stuck it in the fridge. I cleaned up the counter, put the clothes in the dryer and went in to watch some TV.

When the dryer shut off, I hung up my shirts (not that it matters, they all have to be ironed) and pants, shut off the TV and went to bed.

Friday, May 13, 2011

My apologies for the late posting...

...But the hosting site was down from when I woke up this morning until about 4:00 PM. I hope this is not an indication of things to come...

Chef’s Tip #28

"Organize yourself. Write a prep list and break that list down to what may seem like ridiculously small parcels, like “grate cheese” and, “grind pepper” and “pull out plates.” You will see that a “simple meal” actually has more than 40 steps. If even 10 of those steps require 10 minutes each and another 10 of those steps take 5 minutes each, you’re going to need two and a half hours of prep time. (And that doesn’t include phone calls, bathroom breaks and changing the radio station!) Write down the steps and then cross them off. It’s very satisfying!”

Gabrielle Hamilton
Prune, New York City

[I think this one should have been labeled “Chef’s Notes," or Project Management 101, LOL!]

College Daze

It was very warm on Thursday (high in the mid 80’s) with a chance for occasional showers in the afternoon.

I knew I wouldn’t get any supper, so I ate lunch at the nearby Chinese restaurant (they give you big portions for relatively little money). I had pork subgum and some great fried rice, along with an excellent egg roll and wonton soup. After eating, I drove around the streets of downtown Farmington, with the windows down, looking at the old houses and churches.

My original idea was to stay at work until 5:30 PM and then drive to my class, which starts at 6:00. But, today was a management meeting, so everybody was offsite; which meant that we all had to leave at 5:00 so they could lock up and set the alarm.

So, I got to school 40 minutes early. At first, I read in the car with the windows down, but it quickly became too warm. So, I went inside and sat on a padded bench, reading and waiting for the time to pass.

Finally people started trickling in. We all signed in, got our book and a folded stiff piece of paper (what do you call those? I think I used to know...) to write our names on, so the instructor can learn them. We had 23 people in class. We each had to introduce ourselves, say what we did for a living and if we wanted to just learn Project Management skills, or actually take the test for PMP certification. Most planned on taking the test, although some have to get the lesser cert of CAPM (it requires far fewer hours of actual Project Management experience)

After a very interesting lecture, we were instructed to mingle and find three other classmates who had similar work backgrounds to form teams of four for the rest of the course.

I have in my team an older woman who works for GE as an IT PM, a gentlemen who just got his masters in computer science, but his background is in Manufacturing and so he can’t get work and a young woman who works in a data center as an Administrator, but wants to be a PM.

We exchanged email addresses, etc. Later on we were again instructed to form into our teams and pick a project to work on throughout the course. And, it wasn’t supposed to be a small project (like building a patio deck) but something big and long term.

Well, the lady from GE only works on small projects and the other two didn’t have any ideas, so they suggested using one that that I had already done and do it over, using the PMI methodology. So, we are going to add in the IT infrastructure to the upstairs build-out of Building 73 (again).

All in all, I was impressed with the instructor and my fellow classmate and, quite frankly, surprised at how much I actually already knew! Thanks, again, Jake for letting me know about this class.

The class ran late, so I didn’t get home until about 10:15 PM. I was hungry, but too tired to make anything so I ate three kosher dill spears. (Note to self: Hard boil some eggs for a little more protein-based snack on Thursdays.)

I was tired, but wired and so made the mistake of turning on the hockey game. It was played on the west coast and so it didn’t get over until after midnight. We lost (again by one damn point) and thus ended the season. But, the Red Wings made an amazing turnaround in the series (they were down 3-0, if you remember, but caught back up to 3-3) and they played good in the final game. So, while it was disappointing, we could still be proud!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday

I hustled out of the house on Wednesday morning. I needed to get some blood drawn, (I have a doctor’s appointment on Saturday) yet still be at work on time. There’s a little outreach patient lab on Farmington Road I always go to that opens at 7:00 AM. But when I got there, it was locked and the (nurse? Technician? Lab person? I don’t know what you call her) was sitting in her car. When I got out, she said she was waiting for somebody to unlock the door. I asked her how long it would be and she said, “Around 8:00 AM.) She said they close on Wednesdays at noon and suggested I got to the hospital instead. I said I’d be back around 11:00.

But on the way to work, I realized how freakin’ hungry I was (I have to fast for these tests), so I did go to the hospital. It took a while to get through the system (I do have a card, but they had to update it with my new insurance info) and, the next of kin (in case you are brought in unconscious by ambulance) was a problem. I had Jake listed, but at the time he lived here. “What is his new phone number?” “I dunno. I never memorized it.” “Well, what is his address?” “Um, I dunno.” “Okay, where does he live?” “Westland!” Hah! I nailed it! “What’s the street name?” “I dunno.” You get the picture.

I was worried, but I got through it and got to work at 7:55 AM. I looked on the web and found the number for the little outpatient clinic and called her to say I had gotten it done at the hospital and not to wait for me. She said, “How sweet! Thank you!” So, I felt good about myself.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Southeast Michigan! It was sunny, with highs near or at 80 degrees F. and a nice light breeze.

When I got home, my new grille was on the porch. That didn’t surprise me, but what did was that it wasn’t in a box! They just used metal straps to hold all the pieces together. Weird.

Then I had to try and get it in the garage. It was not only an ungainly thing to try and carry, but it was heavy! (65 pounds of iron – the shipping charges alone would have frightened you).

I got it as far as inside the garage and behind the car when I had to set it down. I figured, to hell with it, I’ll deal with it in the morning. I almost went inside when it dawned on me I might forget that it was there in the morning and then screw up the car, backing over it. So, reluctantly (and I do mean reluctantly) I went back and picked it up again and moved it off to one side.

Inside, I treated the cats and changed clothes. Then I got to work. The first thing I did was to take out the counter by the laundry sink and remove the panel covering the water lines. I found the appropriate shut off and opened the water line to the outside faucet. Then I screwed the panel back on (after making sure nothing was leaking), put the counter top back on, topped that with the two laundry baskets I use as hampers and went outside.

First I watered the grass seed I’d put down a few days ago. Then I took off the nozzle and stuck the hose in the reflecting pool to fill it up and change out the water (all manner of birds and beast drink out of it).

I used a pair of scissors to clip off the vegetation that had grown over the sides and into the pool. I put out the Chinese lantern under the Japanese maple.

I filled up the birdbath and then turned the hose off.

I went back inside despite having a couple more outside things to do. But it was after 7:00 PM and I was tired and hungry. So, I warmed up the last of the Shrimp Scampi and ate that watching TV until I fell asleep.

I woke up at 2:30 AM with the loud sounds of thunder. I lay in bed a while, trying to fall back asleep. That didn’t work, so I went out on the front porch and sat and watched the storm. The lighting was more the “lights up the whole sky” kinda thing, rather than the “lightning bolt” stuff, but the rain was coming down hard.

Back inside, I still wasn’t sleepy, so I filled in today’s Log entry and then went to bed, after resetting my alarm for an hour later. I need some sleep as I’ve got my first class Thursday night.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chef's Tip #27

"Take the time to actually read recipes through before you begin."

John Besh
Author of My New Orleans

[This is one I am constantly guilty of!]

Tuesday

I was awakened by thunder and the sound of rain hitting my bedroom windows on Tuesday. It had stopped by the time I left for work, but I still needed the wipers for the spray from those damn SUVs and pickups. I’m glad I took the garbage out Monday night.

It was cloudy, but not raining when I went home for lunch.

On the way home after work, it was still overcast, but warm (67 degrees F.) I changed clothes and watched the evening news. Then I went out and uncovered the reflecting pool. For the first time ever, it was filled with brackish water.

I tried to use my hand pump to drain it, but the dumb thing didn’t work. So, I dumped in a cup of bleach to try and clean it.

Then I put out the rest of the statues, the rain gauge and the bird bath.

Back inside, I ironed two shirts for work, Then I warmed up a bowl of the shrimp scampi with liguine for dinner. I watched TV until 10:30 PM and then went to bed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday after Mother’s Day

If you liked Sunday’s weather, you would have loved Monday’s! It was in the low 70’s and sunny. It’s all supposed to go to sh*t but, hey, that’s Michigan.

I didn’t go home for lunch for a change. We had some sort of pizza party celebration for the IT Department. I know because I had to pay for it. Well, I should say, I had to hustle out of the staff meeting and give Michelle (our Asset Coordinator) the numbers on my Corporate Credit Card.

Now, before you go thinking, “Wow! He has a Corporate Credit Card?” let me explain: I have it because I’m the only one in the department willing and able to jump through the hoops to reconcile the statement each month in our ERP system. So, they use me to purchase domain names and SSL certs and then, each month, I have to trudge through and make it right.

Anyway, I got to the Museum just in time to sign for the pizza (a hundred bucks!) I got a little salad and two slices of pizza (pepperoni and mushroom and sausage and banana peppers). I sat with James (a fellow PM) and Jake. When I finished, I went back for more salad and found that it was gone! I consoled myself with a slice of ham and pineapple pizza (but I really, REALLY wanted more salad).

Back at the table, and moaning my distress, Jake confessed and said he told Michelle not to order so much salad as we always have too much left over. Thanks, man!

Back at work, I spent the afternoon exchanging emails about SLS and reading through our Quality Manual. I’m supposed to update it. I think it was written by Bethany, the Support Center Manager when I came here. So, it’s old. There’s no mention about Smartphones or Ipads, etc, and what our corporate policy is on them. This is gonna take some work!

Back home, and still burping from the pizza, I worked inside the house. After watching the NBC nightly news, I went out to cut the back lawn. The trickle charger didn’t work (I really need to buy a new battery for the mower), so I had to jump it from the car battery again.

So, I cut the back lawn but this time at the right height. I did have clumps of grass but I cvan live with that.

About halfway through, I realized two things. I had to p*ss like a race horse and I was chilly. So, I took a big chance and turned the mower off. I ran inside and relieved myself and then grabbed a jacket. Fortunately, the mower fired back up. I finished up, put the mower away and buttoned up the house for the night.

It was almost 8:30 PM, so I didn’t screw around with dinner. I ate leftovers (but good leftovers) and started reading a magazine I got in the mail. Before I could turn the TV on, I crashed like a rock!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother’s Day!

I woke up at 5:30 AM on Sunday, Mother’s Day. I drank some coffee and then eased into the day. I shaved and showered and got dressed. I listened to Sunday Morning Over Easy for a while and then headed out.

I stopped at CVS and then went to the quarter car wash. I cleaned the crud off the car, then vacuumed it out. Back home again, I left the car outside to dry (it’s an absolutely gorgeous day) and dried off the windows.

Inside, I called Carla’s mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. We talked for longer than usual, mostly about the tornado that touched down less than 80 miles from her apartment.

Then I called Lu for Mother’s Day. She had just survived some sort of festival and sold a lot of goat soap. She said she had three tents and five helpers. I asked what she was doing for Mother’s Day and she said: Just relaxing! I can dig it!

I told her to tell Sadie and Stacey Happy Mother’s Day for me and I hope she did.

I went outside and found the dew was still on the grass. I took a picture of the tulip that had bloomed (for a change). I went back inside and did inside things. Then I took a well-deserved nap.

I woke up rested and refreshed about 4:00 PM. I went out with my line trimmer and did my front yard. Next, I used the push mower to cut the front lawn,

Back inside, I made Carla’s version of a Tyler Florence recipe for shrimp scampi with linguine. I ate that watching my favorite Sunday night shows and then the rest of the Redwings game. I went to bed at 11:00 PM. The Redwings won, so I was happy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Random Mother's Day Thoughts

I was maybe 8 or 9 years old and sitting at the head of the table in the kitchen on the family farm. My Mother was at the foot of the table, ironing clothes. It was ungodly hot, even with all the windows open. She had a huge laundry basket of dampened shirts (this was before there was a "steam" option on irons).

She was drinking a beer (one of the few times I'd ever seen her drink, other than the obligatory glass of wine at Thanksgiving or Christmas) and the heat had turned her hair into damp ringlets.

I can't remember a time when she looked so lovely to me...

I was living in my apartment over the garage and I went downstairs to eat dinner. I was shocked to see thousands, maybe millions, of fireflies over the fields. I ran into the house and told my Dad and Mom what I had seen. My Dad mumbled something about having seen fireflies before, but my Mother dropped what she was doing and went outside with me. We stood on the driveway, holding hands and watched the fireflies...

I watched my Mother stoically deal with the deaths of my Father, my brother George and my brother Peter. But my sister Anne's suicide devastated her.

As it did me...

Chef's Tip #26

"Acidity, salt and horseradish bring out the full flavors in food."

Michael Symon
(Did I mention that, thanks to Jake and Carla, I actually met him?)
Oh sure, he's got a restaurant or two in Cleveland and a gig on Iron Chef America, but to me he's at:
Roast, Detroit
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One of two tulips that have returned!
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A Very Dry Canadian dishrag
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New Grille

Saturday's Story

I woke up at 2:30 AM on Saturday and could not fall back asleep. So, I read my book until about 7:30 AM and, then finally sleepy, went back to bed. I slept until 1:30 PM and woke up to sunny skies (so much for my freshly-made ToDo list).

I stripped the bed and started another load of wash after making a pot of coffee.

I dug through my chest freezer for some smoked turkey I knew I’d put in there. I thought I’d make a “Hot Brown” sandwich in honor of the 137 running of the Kentucky Derby. I actually have the original recipe of the restaurant that invented them (I also have a recipe for “mint juleps” but wouldn’t do that to good bourbon, lol!)

I did find the turkey, but it was totally freezer-burned. Damn! P*ssed off, I went through the rest of the freezer and threw away a bunch of other freezer-burned meat. I gotta get one of those Food Saver machine, I guess.

I also threw away the last of the 2009 cow (two packs each of short ribs and stew meat). What a waste! Cash in the trash!

I worked on cleaning the house instead of working outside.

I bought a grille from Northern Tool and Equipment. Yes, I know I have a grille and I love my grille. But, if you’re just making a few hamburgers or hot dogs, it’s inconvenient to drag it outside, fire it up and then use just like 1/4 of the grille surface. Then I have to leave it out all night and drag it back in come morning.

So, for the past couple of years, I have been looking for a Hibachi. They used to be quite popular back in the day, but I couldn’t find one. And then it dawned on me, what would I set it on, anyway?

So, I was leafing through my 2011 Northern Tool Catalog and found a heavy-duty park-style grille (like the ones you see in a state park). I figure I could put it where the Chiminea is (its still broke, despite my efforts to fix it). So, I bought it.

Instead of a “Hot Brown” I made a tuna fish sandwich for dinner (sigh).

I started watching some taped shows (my DVD-R is getting full) and went to bed at 10:30 PM.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Log Entry for Friday

(I don’t why; I guess I’m just too damn old... But I never think of these as “Blog Entries,” but as “Log Entries.” I think it has something to do with 18th century sailing ships. I read too much).

It was drizzling when I drove to work on Friday. But, it was sunny and warm at lunchtime and I was hoping the wind and warmth would let me cut the grass (or do any of the other outdoor projects on the extensive ToDo list) when I got home after work.

However, that was not to be...

When I left at 5:00 PM, it had apparently just rained. I had to keep the “intermittent” wipers on just to deal with the spray from the other cars.

So, instead of working outside, I sorted clothes and started the first load of the weekend wash.

While they were washing, I washed the kitchen counter (first with a Canadian dishrag and dish soap and then when it dried, I sprayed it with the Lysol antibacterial spray and wiped that up with paper towels).

I washed the cutting board with just hot water and dish soap and then let it dry. While that was happening, I wandered in to watch the last of the Evening News.

Back in the kitchen at 7:00 PM (I don’t care what Vanna White wears, I rarely watch “Wheel of Fortune”), I took the now-dried cutting board and added a generous slug of “food-grade” mineral oil. I studiously rubbed that in and left it to suck up the oil.

Please note: the only things I cut on this wooden cutting board (as much as I love it) is herbs and veggies. Meat is always done on a plastic cutting board to avoid confrontations with the chicken police.

I was hungry but not starving, so none of the few remaining leftovers called to me. But, I hadn’t taken anything out of the freezer to thaw. Hmmm... So, I ended up making scrambled eggs with fresh chives. Excellent!

I went back in the bedroom and watched the Red Wings game (with dread in my heart. We lose this one, its all over.) But we won (4-3)! That’s what’s so frustrating about this series. Neither team is that much better than the other and each game so far has been decided by a single point.

I turned off the TV and went back to my book and then bed.

Chef's Tip #25

"After cutting [fresh] corn off the cob, use the back side of the knife (not the blade side) to scrape the cob again to extract the sweet milk left behind. This milk adds flavor and body to any corn dish."

Kerry Simon
Simon, Las Vegas and
Simon LA, Los Angeles

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chef's Tip #24

"Low and Slow!"

Pat Neely
Down Home with the Neelys
Memphis Barbeque

Two quotes I liked in a book I am reading

"The con games of bright minds trapped inside dumb lives..."

"That's what taking responsibility is all about in this system: You volunteer to be the scapegoat if things go wrong."

~ James Webb
Lost Soldiers

Getting it Right!

It was sunny and warm (well, 61 degrees F. for the high) again on Thursday.

After work, I went and bought some gas for the mower. Back home, I filled the tank and then checked the oil (dirty, but full – I should have changed the oil in both mowers last Fall, but didn’t). I need to cut the back lawn NOW as rain will resume late tonight.

But, here’s where I screwed up. I had left the trickle charger on the motorcycle over the winter, ignoring the lawn tractor. So, when I went to start it, it didn’t turn over!

So, I put the charger on the lawn mower battery and went back inside to work on the garbage disposal.

I had read the comment from Rick and have actually used his broomstick theory. But, always when that had locked up before, the unit gave a loud hum. This was dead silence. And I didn’t know there was an allen wrench slot in the bottom of the garbage disposal.

You see, when I first started renting, my landlady bought a new fridge, washer and drier and gave me the owner’s manuals. But the furnace, A/C unit, hot water heater, dishwasher and the garbage disposal were already here, so I got nothing.

So, I dug out my old allen wrenches from my fifteen years working in the factory, found one that fit and gave it a quarter turn. I hit the switch and the damn thing started working! Thanks, man! You saved me a hundred bucks!

Then I went outside and walked the back yard, picking up last winter’s fallen branches. Back inside, it was almost 7:00 PM, so I tried the mower again. Still dead (hey, yahoo! It’s a TRICKLE charger).

So, I jumped it with my car battery. I cut the back lawn (badly) at the highest deck setting. There was no standing water, although the tires still got wet in places. But, I got it done and the house all buttoned back up by 8:30 PM.

I was gonna try the Thai soup my friend Michelle at work had brought me, but decided it was more important to eat those Texas Bean Casserole leftovers. So, I added in the barbeque sauce and warmed it up. Much better!

I watched TV until about 10:00 PM and then drifted off to sleep. Later, I turned off the TV and lights and went to bed for real.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wednesday, and not wet...

It was finally sunny on Wednesday, but still way too cool. I had to go and let a vendor in at Building 50 (just down the street from my house) at 10:00 AM. He was late (he got there about 11:30) so after I got him squared away, I went home for lunch.

Sidebar: Oh, no! Now it’s parenthesis!

Anyway, I ate way too much spaghetti (but, damn it tasted good!) and then went back up to Building 73 in Farmington. I busted my butt all the way to 5:00 PM and quitting time, trying to wrap up three projects.

The sun had done its job, in spite of the cool temps and the wind, so I had to open the window when I got in the car. (No, no, not commas! Will this never end?)

On the way home, I was diverted due to an accident at 6-Mile and Inkster Road. Tis was reminiscent of one about a month ago at 5-Mile and Inkster Road. That one the police diverted us through the side streets and it took me about an hour to get home. That was the start of my reoccurring dreams of being in a car accident and dying. It has been unsettling, but not really disturbing. However, I have been driving a bit more cautiously.

Anyway, this one, I got up close and personal to before having to turn on Inkster. The one car was smashed all to hell, but the other was upside-down on its roof. But the roof was flattened down to the top of the doors. Judging from the amount of fire trucks and police cars, the occupants didn’t walk away from this one.

Back at home after work; I spent some time pulling grass out of the gardens on the south side of the garage. Then I went out back and refilled the bird feeder. Then I watched the rest of the news.

I called B___ to let him know there’s a frost advisory for tonight. He thanked me as he does have some container plants, doesn’t watch the news and didn’t know.

I was seriously stuffed and so instead of eating dinner, I worked on the kitchen cleanup. Oh, crap! Now my garbage disposal quit! I checked the power (its there) and tried the reset button I found - nothing. I can't find a repair manual on line. I think I'm just screwed. Found the same make and model at Home Depot ($100.00) but maybe since its newer it will be quieter.

Discouraged, I went in and started watching the Red Wings game. That turned out to be a mistake. About halfway through, I made a pan of popcorn, added butter and salt and called that dinner.

We lost 4-3 in overtime so we are down 3 to 0! I think we will be joining Cathy’s Calgary Flames on the bench for the rest of the season. Bummed I went to bed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chef's Tip #23

"Instead of placing a chicken on a roasting rack, cut thick slices of onion, put them in an oiled pan, then place the chicken on top. The onion will absorb the chicken juices. After roasting, let the chicken rest while you make a sauce with the onions by adding a little stock or water to the pan and cooking it for about three minutes on high heat."

Donald Link
Cochon and Herbsaint
New Orleans

Tuesday's Tale

It was another chilly, rainy day here on Tuesday in Southeast Michigan. It’s been consistently about 20 degrees below average here. I had taken the garbage out to the road the night before and this morning, I was glad!

When I got home after work, I finally got around to emptying the dishwasher. I put in the few dishes and silverware I had soaking and washed my skillet. Then I went in to watch the evening news.

I called my buddy B___ to see how he was doing. During our conversation, he asked what I had for dinner. I told him I hadn’t made it yet, but planned on spaghetti with meat sauce. He reminded me that it was almost 7:30 PM, but I told him I had plenty of time.

So, after we hung up, I got started. I sautéed hamburger, sliced Portobello mushrooms and a diced red onion in olive oil. I hand-crushed a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes and added that when the hamburger was browned. I added in some dried basil, oregano red chili flakes and thyme and then seasoned it with salt and pepper. I taste tested it and thought it ws a bit thin. So, I added an eight ounce can of tomato sauce. I let that get happy while I made some fat spaghetti pasta. I cooked that al dente and then added it to the sauce.

I plated a big bowl of it, topped it with fresh-grated Parmigiano Reggiano and wandered in to watch a taped movie. When it was finished, so was I. I put away the leftover spaghetti and went to bed.

Chef's Tip #22

"When making meatballs or meatloaf, you need to know how the mixture tastes before you cook it. Make a little patty and fry it in a pan like a mini hamburger. Then you can taste it and adjust the seasoning."

Isaac Becker
112 Eatery
Minneapolis

I've know this for years, but...

...long time readers of this Blog probably have by now realized:

There's not always a moral to the story...

Chef's Tip #21

"For an easy weeknight meal, save and freeze leftover sauces from previous meals in ice cube trays. The cubes can be reheated in a saute pan when you need a quick sauce."

David Burke
David Burke Townhouse
New York City

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

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Forsythia Out Back
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More Trash Out Back!
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The Lake Out Back

Is it already Monday again?

I woke up Monday morning after another night of broken sleep. I could not get it in gear (which is why the morning’s Blog post was so late).

I went home at lunch, and stopped at Kroger’s for the last eight items on the list.

Back home after work, I treated the cats and changed shoes. Then I went out front and dug up two dandelions that I discovered blooming in the front yard.

Next I lugged the birdseed out back, refilled the feeder and threw some extra on the ground for the mourning doves. I filled the suet cage hung by the kitchen window, and took down the one closest to the bird feeder. I replaced that one with my old (very old) wind chime.

I lugged out the statue of the young monk and set it in its place by the reflecting pool. By then it was almost 6:30 PM, so I quit to watch the NBC Nightly News.

Unfortunately, it was a one-hour special about Osama Bin Laden. So, I didn’t get dinner started until 7:30 PM.

I made one of my old favorites. I took three good-sized redskin potatoes (I’ve used them all at one time or another and don’t have a favorite variety. I use what I have on hand). I cut them in half, length-wise (for a stable platform) and then sliced them about 1/8-inch thick.

I started frying them in some canola oil and butter. I kept giving them a toss-up and when they started to turn golden brown, I added two sliced medium-sized yellow onions. I kept tossing them occasionally while I sliced a smoked sausage rope on the bias, about 1/4-inch thick.

I added them to the skillet and when they were browned, everything else was ready, too. I plated some up and went in to watch some TV.

The food was hearty and excellent, as always. I turned off the TV around 10:30 PM, put away the now-cooled leftovers and went to bed.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Slow Sunday

I woke up Sunday morning with the sound of thunder. I was going to make poached eggs on toast but decided on a pot of coffee instead.

Sunday was a day of half-starts. I started cleaning the house, but didn’t finish it. I ran a load of laundry but didn’t take it out of the dryer. I filled up the dishwasher, ran it, but didn’t unload it.

I went to take a nap and just started dozing off when Melissa called. So, instead of napping, I sat on the couch and talked on the phone too long. By the time I hung up, I wasn’t tired anymore (she’s very stimulating).

I was going to make spaghetti with a meat sauce but by then it was almost 7:00 PM and it seemed like a lot of work. So, I made some tomato soup and a toasted cheese sandwich which served as my breakfast, lunch and dinner. I watched a little TV, but mostly read my book for the rest of the night.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Saturday

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. The sun was just coming up and again, it looked so weird to me to NOT see rain. I did have a coffee, but didn’t really get motivated until about 8:00, as I had a nine-o’clock haircut appointment. Before I left, I walked around the garage to see if I could smell the hyacinths and found they had all been beaten down to the ground by the persistent rain. Ticked, I went back inside and got some scissors. I cut off the three best ones and stuck them in a glass half-filled with water and just set it on the freezer in the garage. I gotta go!

I got there on time and got my hair cut. Then I set out on my Saturday morning errands. First I filled up the car ($35.00) and then I went to Home Depot.

I picked up some Elmer’s Glue, some grass seed, Ortho “Ground Clear” (I am declaring war on the vegetation growing in my driveway, but more on that later) and an outdoor thermometer.

Now, why do I need an outdoor thermometer, when there is (was) one I installed when I first moved here (you know by now I’m a weather freak)? Because (and I don’t think I told you this) last week, I went into the kitchen and saw a squirrel sitting on the window ledge, eating out of the suet cage. Without thinking, I rapped on the window to scare him, but instead of jumping down, he ran across the sill and crashed into the thermometer, knocking it out of its cheap-ass bracket and breaking it on the concrete patio below.

I couldn’t find one like it, but I did find one that might work.

Regarding the driveway, it was several years ago (when I was still renting) that I had it topped off and tamped with crushed limestone. It looked fantastic, pristine and white. And, it stayed that way for years. But, as it disintegrated, moss moved in and then grass. And, I have fought the good fight for the last two years, using Round-up (I have a hand-pump sprayer that kills my back to use). The big stuff dies, but the little stuff doesn’t and then the big stuff grows back.

I was tempted to use an old-timey method and just pour gasoline on it (that does work), but my buddy B___ told me that if anyone saw me and reported me, I’d probably get arrested on some environmental law, not to mention the fire hazard the next time I grilled.

So, I bought this “Ground Clear” and will apply it next time it’s not going to rain for a few days and its not windy.

Next I went to Meijer’s and restocked my very limited inventory of “stuff.” Now, long time readers may remember, I used to keep an extra one of anything I used regularly on hand. That changed when I went to part-time. I was just buying what I needed or wanted. But, today we go back to that theory!

So, I bought a sh*tload of “stuff” like bleach, fabric softener sheets, dishwasher detergent, paper towels, toilet paper (I got 30 rolls) garbage bags, kitchen bags, Ivory hand soap, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil etc., etc.

I made a special point of picking up some Lysol Antibacterial kitchen cleaner, as I was embarrassed when Jake and Carla were over for Easter and Jake asked where it was. I had to admit I was out.

I suppose I could have saved a few bucks had I gone to Walmart, but I hate Walmart. All in all, I spent $170.00 worth on “Stuff” and probably less than $50 was food. However, there were few shoppers, which was weird, given it was Saturday and NOT raining. So I got out quickly.

Back home, it took me longer to put everything away than it did to buy it. But, I didn’t care as I don’t want to cut the front grass until after 4:00 PM (I want to make sure its dry – I don’t want to have to rake up clumps of grass).

I got the hyacinths in from off the freezer. Since they had been lying in the dirt, I washed them off.

So, I did the piddley things on my ToDo list. I pulled the car out of the garage and used the space to fold the now-dried tarp. Then I put it and the rose bush covers up in the attic.

I dug out the push mower, gassed it up and set it outside. I closed the garage door and went in to read my book.

Finally at 4:00 PM, I went out and cut the front lawn. There were only a couple of spots that it was so long I had to do it twice. It looks nice!

Then I went out back and re-seeded the few grass spots that were bare. They were damp enough that I just raked them, seeded them and raked them again to cover the seed up. I put everything back and went inside.

I started dinner. To my way of thinking, it’s a riff on what Luanne used to call “Texas Beans,” a recipe I believe her step-mother Gerry used to make. In their recipe, you added ketchup and mustard to browned ground beef and sautéed onions, and then dumped in pork and beans. It tasted best when served with plain old corn bread.

In this recipe, you fried up 1/2 pound of bacon (I used Smithfield’s thick-cut) and then removed the bacon and drained the grease. Here I varied from the recipe by adding a diced yellow onion. I sautéed that and added a pound of hamburger. When it was browned, I went to add the 1/3 cup of barbeque sauce it called for and found I had NONE! (I told you my pantry had suffered when my income had). I normally have two or three containers of Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ sauce (my favorite) on hand. But I got nothing!

What to do? It’s a little late to make BBQ sauce. Should I just add the ketchup and mustard Lu and Gerry used? I decided to let it ride. I added two cans of 15.5 ounces of Van Camp pork and beans and the bacon cut into strips. When that warmed up, you topped it with a can of biscuits (I used Pillsbury Southern Style), topped it with a lid (I was using my 12-inch Calphalon non-stick pan) and let it cook until the biscuits were done (about 10 minutes).

I plated my dinner (two biscuits topped with beans) and wandered in to watch TV. The biscuits were good, the beans were just ordinary (though the bacon added a nice touch). I assume it was the lack of BBQ sauce.

I watched TV until I was bored and the went back to a book. I fell asleep and when I woke back up, I shut off the light and went to sleep.