Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday

Well, you probably have guessed it, but I overslept again. I fell asleep early and woke up at 2:30 AM. What made it worse is that Wednesday is our department “End of Summer” picnic and I signed up to make “Creamy Dill Cucumbers Toasties” appetizers.

So, I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and got out the ingredients. I doubled the recipe but here’s what you do to make 12 servings: Combine one 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese (fortunately, Jake gave me a trick about softening them in you hands) with 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and one (.7 ounce) package of dry Italian salad dressing mix. I beat the hell out of that with a fork (so I didn’t have to wash the blender, mixer blades or the food processor).

Then I cut up two baguettes (remember I am doubling this recipe) into half-inch slices (sliced on the diagonal). I smeared a thin layer of my mixture on each slice.

Now, I must admit, I did call Carla earlier in the night to ask her about presentation. I was thinking that, by using a vegetable peeler, I could make curls of cucumbers and that would look cool! But Jake said Carla was still at work, and presentation be damned, just use the mandoline and slice them thin.

I compromised by using the waffle cut edge and cut the English (seedless) cucumbers about 1/8 inch thick. Then I put two or three of them on each piece of bread (why they are called “Toasties” I dunno... They’re not toasted).

Then I minced up some fresh dill and dropped it on the cucumbers (from a height). Then I covered my two half-sheet trays with cling wrap, stuck them in the fridge and went back to sleep.

I woke up at 6:30 AM (an hour later than usual). So, I had to hustle to get to work on time (well, close enough I guess). But, I didn’t get to post the Blog and didn’t have a chance to clean out the kitty litter tray. I assume the cats were pissed as there was a hairball on the bed when I got home from work Wednesday night, BTW. I put my “Creamy Dill Cucumbers Toasties” in the fridge and got to work.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Song snippet

You may have guessed I am listening to John Stewart’s Phoenix Concert that my daughter Melissa bought me to replace my missing album. Be that as it may, this is another one that touches my heart:

“You can’t look back, when you’re moving on, you can’t look back, buddy, you got go and sing your song.

Where did they go? All the good times I used to know. Long time ago, I loved a woman, never let her know…”

Been there, done that. I wish to Christ I would have spoken up at the time, but I didn’t...

Song lyrics

"There was a story in the San Francisco Chronicle that of course I forgot to save
But it was about a lady who lived in the 'good old days'
When a century was born and a century had died
And about these 'good old days' the old lady replied
"Why they were just a lot of people doing the best they could"
"Just a lot of people doing the best they could"
And then the lady said that they did it, "pretty up and walking good"

What ever happened to those faces in the old photographs
I mean, the little boys…….
Boys? . . . . . Hell they were men
Who stood knee deep in the Johnstown mud
In the time of that terrible flood
And they listened to the water, that awful noise
And then they just put away the dreams that belonged to little boys

And the sun is going down for Mister Bouie
As he's singing with his class of nineteen-two
Oh, mother country, I do love you
Oh, mother country, I do love you

I knew a man named E.A.Stuart, spelled S.T.U.A.R.T.
And he owned some of the finest horses that I think I've ever seen
And he had one favorite, a champion, the old Campaigner
And he called her "Sweetheart On Parade"
And she was easily the finest horse that the good Lord ever made
But old E.A.Stuart, he was going blind
And he said "Before I go, I gotta drive her one more time"
So people came from miles around, and they stood around the ring
No one said a word
You know, no one said a thing
Then here they come, E.A. Stuart in the wagon right behind
Sitting straight and proud and he's driving her stone blind
And would you look at her
Oh, she never looked finer or went better than today
It's E.A. Stuart and the old Campaigner, "Sweetheart On Parade"
And the people cheered
Why I even saw a grown man break right down and cry
And you know it was just a little while later that old E.A. Stuart died

And the sun it is going down for Mister Bouie
As he's singing with his class of nineteen-two
Oh mother country, I do love you
Oh mother country, I do love you

~ John Stewart
As you can probably guess, I overslept on Tuesday. I hustled through everything (including putting the trash out to the road) and made it to work 10 minutes late. But, I didn’t get a chance to post to the Blog. Sorry.

Not that there was much to tell you, anyway. I had wanted to cut the back lawn, but after the nightly news ended at 7:00 PM, I didn’t feel much like it. I tried calling Lu and Sadie and this time I got through (I couldn’t on Sunday) but just got their voicemail. I ate more roast beef and veggies with gravy for dinner.

I watched some TV and then switched to reading. And, I read way too late into the night.

And that was Monday.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Quote of the Day...

"Necessity is a mother..."

~ Author Unknown

(Hell, I might have coined that one myself...)

Sunday

Sunday was basically a repeat of Saturday, except I did do the laundry and ran a load of dishes through the dishwasher.

I have been jonesing for a Belgium waffle (don't ask me why, 'cause I don't know) but since I don't own a waffle maker, it was kinda out of the question. So, I thought I'd make some pancakes, but I realized I don't have any eggs or milk. Instead, I fried up some thick cut bacon. It was no Belgium waffle, but it wasn't bad.

One interesting thing happened. I went down to put the clothes in the dryer and found Scruffy sitting on the scale. Without disturbing him, I looked at the dial. He weighs close to 16 pounds and he’s not fat!

My daughter Melissa called around noon and we chatted for a while.

I warmed up some of the roast beef, veggies and gravy for my Sunday supper. Then I watched my Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I don't want to alarm my brother Carl

But, I am fond of "whims" (as he knows) but also "quips" and "metaphors."

I took Saturday off

Well, why not? It’s my two days off. So, I read, watched old movies on TMC (the 1952 Blackbeard movie was great) and slept a lot.

The guy across the street (the one who cut my lawn) rang the doorbell in the afternoon and I answered it in my bathrobe. He said his son and two other guys were interested in buying my bike and wanted to know what year it was. I told him off the top of my head, I had no idea. He gave me his card (he has a lawn cutting service) and asked me to call him with that info.

So, that brings up a problem. I bought it to ride it, not to resell it. But, I don’t ride it. Should I sell it? Seems wrong, but I dunno...

When I finally got hungry, I used the last cucumber and made an excellent cucumber sandwich.

About 1:00 AM, I locked the oven door and turned on the “Clean Oven” setting. This is a 4 1/2 hour process, BTW. I was going to do this Friday night, but the winds were “light and variable.” Tonight they are 8-10 mph from the north. So, I opened the one in the bedroom (which faces north) and the one in the kitchen (which faces west).

This (hopefully) along with turning on the vent, will save me from having the smoke detectors go off. It almost did. About 3:00 AM, the smoke detector went of in the bedroom. So, I turned on the fan until it shut off and went back to bed.

And, that was Saturday in a nut-shell.

Late Night (well, maybe early morning) questions

What is the difference between a "brook" and a "creek"? And, why did we all call it (when I was a kid) the "crick"?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Insanely Useless Information

On a wooden sailing man of war, you never fired your cannon except on the "up roll."

Finally Friday

I was still fixated on having a pot roast, so at lunchtime, I went to Westborn. Unfortunately, the only ones they had were eye of round roasts, which are boneless and almost no fat (I think bone-in and some fat marbling add to the finished flavor). I also grabbed a bunch of rosemary.

When I got home, I immediately peeled some carrots and put them in the bottom of the smaller round slow cooker. I added a peeled yellow cooking onion, cut in half, and a clove of smashed garlic. I then cut some unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes into chunks and threw those in.

I seasoned the roast with kosher salt, black pepper and dried parsley. I rubbed that into all the sides and put the roast in the cooker. I laid half an onion cut into rings on top, along with a minced clove of garlic. I put four sprigs of rosemary on that and then topped everything with button mushrooms cut into quarters.

I added about 1/2 cup of water and a good slug of Worcestershire sauce, plugged it in and turned it on high. Then it was time to go back to work! So much for eating lunch. But I took in a peach and a plum and figured I could survive on that.

It was a long afternoon, as are most Friday afternoons, but finally I was headed home, “Banging on that Drum!”

I could smell the roast when I got out of the car in the garage. I immediately started to drool, but forced myself to wait until 8:00 PM when it’s technically “done.”

In the interim, I watched the evening news and then watered the container gardens. One of the hanging plants never revived and if it doesn’t this time, I’ll pitch it. Somebody please remind me never, EVER to buy Impatiens for a hanging plant. They suck!

My friend B___ called and we discussed weekend plans. His (going out on the boat) were better than mine (cleaning the house, cutting the grass). Sadly, he told me he just learned that a dear friend of mine, (they always called her “Bunny”) had died eight years ago (eight years!) from cancer up in Alaska. I knew she was living in British Columbia with her second husband who was a lumberjack years ago, but how she got to Alaska is a mystery to me.

I could tell you a hundred stories about Bunny (especially the way she used to answer the phone), but I won’t. I’m too bummed.

Finally, it was 8:00 PM, so I pulled the roast out with a meat fork. Then I took out all the veggies with a slotted spoon, I put everything on a platter and covered it with tin foil to keep warm.

I ran the au jus through a strainer and into a saucepan. I brought that up to a boil while I tried a trick my British friends’ use (I’ve seen it in both Jamie Oliver’s show and the Two Fat Ladies show). You take what they call a “knob” of butter (I’m guessing about a tablespoon) and, using a fork, mix in a couple of tablespoons of flour (I used to know what this was called, BTW). Once that’s all incorporated, you add that to the au jus and whisk the hell out of it. Once it thickens, you had the most marvelous gravy.

So, I cut off two slices of the roast beef and added the veggies to the plate. I topped it all with the gravy and went in to watch some TV.

In spite of my misgivings, the pot roast was excellent! The gravy and the veggies were perfect and I ate the best damn dinner I’ve had in a long, long time.

There was literally nothing interesting on TV, so I stuck in the DVD “We were soldiers, once” and started watching that (for the hundredth time). I fell asleep about half way through, so I don’t really know how the Vietnam War ended up.

Did we win?

Quote of the Day (well, night, I suppose)

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."

~ Woody Allen

Friday, August 26, 2011

I totally blow my supper!

(and I know better)

I washed my car at the quarter carwash at lunchtime on Thursday. It’s the first time in a long time. As I told Jake, I was tired of driving by various grass sprinklers in the morning to try and wash the dust off (a trick I learned when I was on part-time).

Once home, I went to get out a beef roast for Friday night’s crock-pot dinner. But, there were none in the freezer! I don’t understand this, other than we must have gotten a lot less “cow” last fall. I had tons of meat left over from the year before when we got this load. But, now I am out of hamburger and out of roasts. I have only some stew meat, one or two short ribs and about eight steaks left. I don’t recall eating that much beef during the winter and spring...

When I got home after work, I watched the news until 7:00 PM and then went to make the dinner I’d planned with the mascarpone cheese and Pecorino Romano cheese I bought yesterday. It is a Giada De Laurentis recipe called Fusilli with Pecorino Romano and Pepper (there is an Italian name for it that I can’t even pronounce, much less spell). Now I could only find Fusilli pasta in whole wheat (which I hate), so I settled for its American cousin, Rotini (they are identical, in shape, anyway).

So, I brought a large pot of salted water to boil and added a pound of Rotini.

Meanwhile, I heated a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil in my 12-inch skillet over medium heat. I added two cloves of smashed and peeled garlic and heated that until lightly brown, about two minutes (hint: If you can smell the garlic, pull it out. Garlic can burn in an instant and turns the oil bitter). Discard the garlic (it’s only purpose is to perfume the oil).

I added five cups of rough-chopped baby spinach (along with two teaspoons of coarse ground black pepper) and let it wilt (about a minute). I added the al dente pasta after draining and reserving about 3/4 cup of the pasta water, and then I added about 1 1/2 cups of the Pecorino Romano I had grated. Then I put in two more teaspoons of coarse ground pepper and two teaspoons of salt.

I was following the recipe you see. And, that’s where I blew it. I didn’t taste it as I went along (and I know better, dammit!)

I mixed the reserved pasta water with the mascarpone cheese until smooth. I poured it over the pasta after and tossed it until coated. Then the instructions were to season it with salt.

I plated it and went to eat it and it was WAY too salty (and I like salt). I don’t know (since I’ve never used it before) if Pecorino Romano is saltier than say, Parmigiano-Reggiano (my go-to Italian cheese) or what. I did manage to down the bowl I’d plated, but the rest of it went into the trash (and my stomach was upset for the rest of the night).

I will definitely try this again (it looks and sounds fantastic) but this particular meal was a complete waste (and I won’t even tell you what I spent for the Pecorino Romano).

I was so pissed...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Storm Update

After dawn on Thursday, I went on the patio to check for storm damage and to look at the rain gauge. No big branches were down (just some leaves). As I said the storm seemed short, but I did pick up 1/2 inch of rain!

I'm glad i got the front lawn cut on Tuesday or it would be a jungle this weekend.

Wednesday

It was a nice day on Wednesday weather-wise, despite dire warnings of severe storms supposedly coming in around 3:00 PM.

But nothing happened all afternoon.

I used the last of the chicken to make a chicken sandwich for supper. I ate it with some green olives.

A thunderstorm did move through about 8:30 PM and I went out on the porch to watch it. But, I doubt it lasted more than 15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday’s Tale

I was out of fruit, so on the way home at lunchtime, I stopped at Westborn. I picked up some black plums and peaches, as well as five ears of Michigan sweet corn, some yellow cooking onions and some button mushrooms.

I also got a bag of baby spinach, a cup of mascarpone cheese and a wedge of Pecorino Romano cheese for a dinner I want to try. I was driving to the house when I passed the KFC. I gave into temptation, pulled in and got an eight piece bucket of the original recipe chicken for my lunch and supper.

There was a large earthquake about 80 miles north of Lu and Sadie in Virginia, but Jake told me that Jeremy told him they were okay, with no real damage.

When I got home after work, I treated the cats and just changed my shoes. I went out to cut the front lawn before it rains tonight. Which meant I missed Jeremy’s call, who had left a message to reassure me Lu and Sadie were okay.

When I got back in (about 6:20 PM) I called down to Virginia but just had to leave a voicemail. After which, I checked my own voicemail and found Jeremy’s message (thanks, man).

Lu called back and said they did feel it, but other than some spices falling and doors opening, nothing serious seemed to have happened.

I fired up the charcoal chimney and, once the coals were hot, I put the sweet corn (that had been soaking in water) on. When they were roasted, I ate some with some cold chicken for supper.

I watched a little TV and then went to bed early.

I was awoken by a loud clap of thunder and the bright light of lightening around 3:00 AM and never did fall back asleep.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday

When I woke up Monday morning, I couldn’t believe the difference in temperature. It really felt like Fall. After work, I watered the container gardens and then the raised bed garden.

Back inside, I took the chilled chicken stock, labeled it and then stuck it in the freezer. Then I washed the pots and pans and emptied and then re-loaded the dishwasher. So, that took care of the mess from the stock-making.

I got the garbage together for morning and then figured enough was enough. I went out to turn off the sprinkler in the raised bed garden and my neighbors came over to the fence to chat. We talked about our gardens and I mentioned I’d gotten two harvests already from those hot peppers (I gave them to Jake – too hot for me!)

Rick said, “Oh, no! You’re not supposed to pick them when they are green; you have to wait until they turn red!” Well, thanks for telling me in advance! Sorry Jake!

We talked about fried green tomatoes. They said they had a friend who used their tomatoes to make them some and they loved them (I do too). But when Tammy tried to do it they were greasy and the breading kept sliding off. I told them they probably didn’t have the oil hot enough. I said it should read 350-375 degrees F. on their thermometer. Turns out they don’t have one. So, I gave them two alternatives: Add a slice of potato into the oil and when it floats, its hot enough. Or, the way I like is to stick the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil. When bubbles start to form around the handle, you’re ready to go.

Back inside, I still hadn’t taken anything out for supper, so I heated up a chicken pot pie and ate that watching TV.

I forgot to tell you this (I did tell Jake on Monday) but Sunday afternoon; I found some blue corn chips on top of the fridge. I had no idea how old they were, so I scrunched them up and threw them outside for the birds and squirrels. Neither the birds, nor the squirrels seemed to be too interested in them (probably because I didn’t put out salsa).

The, late Sunday night, on a bathroom break, the security light was on and my old friend, the possum, was enjoying a late night snack of corn chips. So, I wasn’t too surprise last night when the light was on again and he was out there, chowing down.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend Update

I spent most of Saturday, just putzing around, straightening up, doing chores and eating an occasional slice of cold pizza.

By Sunday morning, the pizza was gone, so I made scrambled eggs for brunch and slathered them with hot sauce.

When I was getting out the pizza, I saw on of those “family packs” of chicken thighs that was starting to get freezer burn. I decided to turn them into chicken stock, so I got them out to thaw.

I went outside and harvested this year’s chives. I cut them with scissors into a gallon freezer bag and popped them into the freezer.

By the time the chicken thighs were thawed, it was late in the afternoon. It takes about four hours, so I was pushing it, time-wise. But I put the thighs into my medium stock pot and added in two carrots, two stalks of celery, all my remaining shallots, (all rough chopped) a whole head of garlic cut in half, some parsley, two bay leaves, some thyme, a lot of salt and a lot of black pepper.

I filled it about half full of water and brought that to a boil. Then I turned it down to medium low (I like to see the occasional bubble).

Four hours later, I used the spyder to get out the rough chunks and then strained the stock through a sieve. I let it cool watching my Sunday night shows.Then I put it into my four cup freezer containers (pouring it through another, smaller sieve. I got 5 1/2 containers (or roughly 22 cups of stock). I put those in the fridge to chill and went to bed.

Whimsical Friday

It was a tense day at Spacely Sprockets on Friday. I won’t go into details (and I wasn’t involved) but there were a LOT of p*ssed off people at work.

Sidebar: Did you ever notice that I cannot write out “pissed off” but have no problem writing the word “crap?” Where, exactly, does the Captain draw the line? WTF? I dunno...

Anyway, thankfully, so far it didn’t affect me. It’s been years since I handled departmental turmoil well. I’m to damn old for that shit.

Sidebar Two: You will notice I wrote “shit.” I decided if you are old enough to want to read this, you know the words…

At lunch, I stopped by Home Depot and got what I thought I needed to fix my toilet. On the way home, I gave into a whim and stopped at the Burger King (across from Building 50) and ordered a Whopper with cheese meal, substituting the fries with onion rings. It cost me almost $7.00!

I could have gone next door (literally) and had a complete Chinese dinner at Chins for that!

Sidebar Three: Regarding whims. At my age, I think that if you have a whim, you should go for it. It might result in, say, a motorcycle in your garage just gathering dust, but at least you tried.

Back at home at lunch, I managed to choke down half of the Whopper and 3/4 of the onion rings before I felt sick. I threw the rest away and went back to work. So much for whims…

Back home after work, I fixed the toilet. Fortunately, I didn’t have to replace the ring that the flapper goes on (I don’t know what you call it, but let’s call it the collar). But the replacement flapper snapped into the existing collar. I measured the chain and cut off the excess with my wire nippers. And my toilet is back in service!

I didn’t take anything out for dinner, so I thought I’d go to my emergency rations: A Diajorno (sp) pizza. I was just about to stick it in the oven when I saw the rest of that tomato I’ve been turning into sandwiches. Not sure why I did it, but I cut off two thin slices, cut those into quarters and put them on top of the pizza. It really gave a fresh, light taste to it.

I watched a little TV, but went to bed early.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I veg out...

As I said in the last post, I slept lousy and so I felt like crap and kept yawning all through Thursday.

I should have stopped at Home Depot and got the parts I need for the toilet, but I had this foolish notion I would just go home, grab a bite and take a much-needed nap.

So, I made a toasted tomato sandwich for lunch, reset the alarm and tried to fall asleep. Of course, I failed. I finally put my shirt back on (I took it off so it wouldn’t get wrinkled as I “slept” and drove back to work.

In the early afternoon, we had a brief, heavy downpour from a “pop-up” storm. I had decided NOT to go and close my sunroof and the windows I had cracked (there was no rain predicted) when Fred, a co-worker, said, “Oh, sh*t, I left my sunroof open!” and dashed out. So, I did, too.

By the time I hobbled out and back, I was soaked! Seriously, it looked like I’d entered a wet t-shirt contest. The damn sun came back out about 15 minutes later, so I did walk around outside in the parking lot, trying to dry out. But I spent the rest of the uncomfortable day damp and chilled.

When I got home, I watered the container gardens. I checked the rain gauge, but there was just a trace of water in it, so next I watered the raised bed garden. Finally, I cleaned out the reflecting pool, stuck the hose in it and turned the water on slow to flush it out.

Meanwhile, I had the washer going, washing the bed spread. Yep, a cat (I’m not naming names) had coughed up another hairball.

When I had everything done, it was around 7:30 PM and I was hungry. So, I made a cucumber sandwich (delish). I started watching a movie, but fell asleep around 9:30. I woke up later, shut everything down and went to bed for real.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cutting the grass

I stopped at Home Depot at lunchtime on Wednesday and bought a new flag. Mine was faded and starting to rip in spots.

After eating, I was just about to leave for work when the guy who cut my grass showed up. I gave him the $30.00 and told him he did a great job. Turns out he not only cut the lawn (with a grass catcher, as I suspected) but he also trimmed it all and then blew off the porch (including the spider webs) and the driveway! Now that $30.00 seems pretty reasonable.

When I got home after work, I treated the cats, changed clothes and then watched the news until 6:00 PM. I then went out and hung up my new flag.

I gassed up the lawn tractor, filled up the low tire and checked the oil. Then I headed out back and cut the lawn. I finished up just before 8:00 PM.

I reheated the shrimp scampi for my dinner, but it never tastes as good the next day. The shrimp get a little rubbery from being reheated.

I went to bed at 10:00 but slept lousy all night.

Wednesday and now the toilet's shot...

Bob Dylan at 70

Bob Dylan has always touched my soul. His work was and is always a bit raw. From the early days (Peter, Paul and Mary singing "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times they are A-Changing") until now, they have always affected me.

And, let's not forget "Lay, Lady, Lay."

But the one that still haunts my dreams (I have it on a CD, but its late and I don't feel like digging it out to learn the title) is the one with the chorus of: "It ain't dark yet, but its getting there."

Happy Birthday, Bob!

Yesterday...

...according to an email from my Brother Carl said: "Today is International Disturbed People's Day."

Rock on, brother! I got your back!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday and back to work

I felt good enough to go to work on Tuesday, but still need to use my cane.

At lunchtime, I stopped at Westborn and got some more fruit and small cucumbers. I have started to snack on plums, peaches, apples, etc., in the afternoon at work, but I was out.

When I came home for lunch, I was amazed at how long the grass in the front yard had gotten. I guess it was the rain over the weekend. It really needed to be cut, but I was sure I wasn't up to the task (you need to use the push mower in front - the tractor can't make the tight turns necessary)

So, I saw the "maintenance" guy cutting the lawn across the street at the townhouse (they always give one guy a break on the rent if he cuts the grass and does minor work around the place). So, after my lunch of more hamburger and rice, I walked over and asked him what he would charge me to cut just the front yard. We walked back over to my house and he checked it out and decided on $30.00

It seemed a bit high, but I need it done, so I agreed. I tried to pay him, but he said he'd get to it later and then collect.

When I got home, the lawn was cut (and cut better than I ever did - but he uses a grass catcher and my mower mulches, so get clumps here and there). I went out back and did some stuff in the raised bed garden (tying up the tomatoes to the top rung, picking the hot peppers to give to Jake, etc.)

Back inside, I used the one yellow hot pepper cut on rings and two cucumbers to refill my pickle jar. Then I made shrimp scampi and served it over linguine.

I turned on the living room lights, so the guy would know I was home, but he never showed up (and I don't know where he lives). I fell asleep watching TV about 10:00. When I got up for a bathroom break, I shut off the lights and went to bed for real.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another wasted weekend

When I got up on Saturday, I hurt worse that Friday. But there are two things (well, three really, but the third one – go grocery shopping – isn’t going to happen) I must do today. One is to make it to my barber’s and the other is to get gas in the car (the “you’re out of gas, stupid” light came on Friday after work).

So, I shaved and showered and got dressed. I left at 8:30 AM so I could get gas. I made it to the barber 10 minutes before 9:00 which was good, because it took almost 5 minutes to walk the 50 feet from the car to the door.

It’s a neat little barber shop, with only two chairs, BTW.

Michelle asked me why I was using the cane again and I explained. She said I felt hot and might have a temperature. When she was done, I shuffled out to the car and climbed in. I drove straight home, got undressed and went to bed.

I applied more BioFreeze and started to watch a movie. But, I fell asleep and woke up about 2:00 PM. I hobbled downstairs and washed the shirts and pants I’d need for next week. I should have washed the bedding, but that seemed like a monumental task, so I didn’t.

B___ called, but I couldn’t get to the phone in time. So, I called him back and we chatted for a bit while I sat on the couch. Big mistake! When we were done, I couldn’t get back up. When I finally did, I went out and made some hamburger and rice and ate a little of that with soy sauce.

It was raining again, but this time a gentle rain, not like the thunderstorm on Friday night.

I got the clothes hung up, then it was back to bed, more BioFreeze and more TV or sleeping for the rest of the day.

Sunday was basically a repeat of Saturday, minus leaving the house. I alternated between ice and the heating pad on my knee and that seemed to be helping.

Monday I got up, shaved and showered to go to work. But as I was trying to get dressed, I decided I’d rest my poor body one more day. So, I waited until after 8:00 AM and called Jake to put me down on the calendar as out of the office. Then I went back to bed. But my knee is definitely improving. It’s more like an ache than that stabbing pain. I still have to use the cane to get around, though.

I kept off it for most of the day, reading, watching TV and sleeping again. And, that was my Monday.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I really want to try this!

It's a sort of deconstructed egg salad sandwich from Better Homes and Garden:

Ingredients

6 eggs
8 slices applewood-smoked bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1/2 of an English cucumber, chopped
12 to 16 basil leaves
8 slices challah bread

directions

Place eggs in medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boiling over high heat; cover and remove from heat. After 6 minutes, remove 2 eggs. Rinse with cold water; peel and set aside. Let remaining eggs stand in hot water 4 minutes more. Drain; rinse with cold water. Peel and coarsely chop the 10-minute eggs.
Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet cook bacon until crisp; drain. Discard drippings and wipe pan with paper towel. Lightly toast both sides of bread slices in skillet. In small bowl combine mayonnaise and mustard.
Top 4 of the bread slices with basil leaves, chopped egg, and cucumber. Halve the remaining two eggs and place one half on each sandwich. Top with mayonnaise mixture, bacon and remaining bread slices. Serves 4.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I fall to peices on Friday

For literally no reason I can think of, my body went to shit during the day on Friday. My stiff neck returned, my right hip hurts and my left knee was in tremendous pain. I had to hold on to walls and desks just to go to the john.

My next door cube buddy said she had a stiff neck and her Mother got her some Biofreeze and that really worked. Then I remembered Kathy Goerlich gave me some. So when I finally got home after a long, painful day, I rubbed some of my aches. It did help the neck and my hip, but didn't even touch the knee. I have to use my cane to walk around, so now my shoulder is starting to hurt.

Melissa called, so I sat on the couch and we talked until about 9:30 PM. Dave's in Michigan for a guys weekend and I think she was just lonely. But sitting there felt good, so I didn't mind.

It was too late to make the dinner I'd planned (and I didn't feel like standing aat the stove) so I warmed up a chicken pot pie, ate that and then went to bed.

Friday, August 12, 2011

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They're Baaack!

Thursday

It was another beautiful day on Thursday. I watered the raised bed garden at lunchtime and then the container gardens when I got home from work.

I washed some pots and pans that had been sitting on the counter and then made dinner. I made tuna and peas, but this time I served them on toast (like my brother Carl says you are "supposed" to do) Why? Because I'm becoming a traditionalist? No, I just didn't feel like having to wash another pot and the colander if I made egg noodles!

I watched a movie, but fell asleep before it was finished.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wonderful Weather on Wednesday

It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Southeast Michigan! Highs were in the mid seventies with low humidity and a nice breeze.

It was the end of our record, though: 45 continual days with temperatures over 80 degrees F. (previously it was 42 days, set back in 1955). Of course, we can’t touch Dallas, Texas, who have had 42 days of temperatures over 100 degrees!

I noticed my downstairs floor was wet after doing the weekend wash, so I called Pat’s Sewer cleaning company. They said they could have somebody out there at 4:00 PM today. So, I had to leave work early.

He did show up and he’s been here before. He determined that the clog was between the house and the outside cleanout. So, he dragged his machine in the house and started chewing up tree roots. He was here until almost 6:00 PM and had quite an impressive amount of tree roots to show for his trouble. This time it cost me $150.00!

After he left, I went out back and cut the lawn with the riding mower. I finished up around 7:30 PM. I ate leftovers for dinner and watched a little TV, but I went to bed early. I did open the bedroom window to let some of that cool air in. Nice!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Then Tuesday

Tuesday, it looked like rain, so when I got home, I raced outside and cut the front lawn. It was funny, because my neighbor was doing the exact same thing.

I made another cucumber sandwich for dinner and I talked with B___ on the phone.

And then it was Monday

Monday I was beat and didn’t do much after work. I ate leftover sweet corn for dinner

Weekend Wrap-up

Saturday morning, I headed out to get my hair cut. My barber has moved (again). This time she’s working at Big Georges barber shop which she said was in the strip-mall across from Kroger’s on Merriman and Five Mile road. However, even though I was ten minutes early, I couldn’t find it! I ended up driving through every strip mall in the area with no luck. This is the first time I have ever missed a haircut appointment.

I was going to go grocery shopping after my haircut, but I was too ticked for that. So, I decided to treat myself to breakfast. I was sitting in the middle of the parking lot, waiting for a couple to back out of the handicap parking when a guy right next to me (I mean like, RIGHT next to me) started backing up. I tapped on my horn to let him know I was there. But, he kept backing up anyway. He missed my car by about two inches, turned and pulled away. But, as he was pulling away, he flipped me the bird!

Now, I don’t think it would be considered road rage as I didn’t try to cut him off or smash him with my car, but if he would have got out of that car, I would have beat the f*ck out of him.

I had my usual breakfast of two eggs over easy, sausage links, hash brown and rye toast. I even bought some coffee!

Back home, I called my barber and apologized. She said it was just north of where I was looking.

I stripped the bed and started the weekend wash. I was going to go cut the front lawn, but when I opened the garage door it was raining! WTF? This wasn’t in the forecast.

My daughter Melissa called and we chatted for a bit. She wanted to tell me a house down the street was in foreclosure and on the market for $9.000.00. She thought I could buy it, go bankrupt and then have no house payment and retire.

Sunday, I did the rest of the laundry and cleaned the house a little. I grilled bratwurst and sweet corn for Sunday’s supper.

A Shout Out!

Happy Birthday, Carla!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday

It was warm but overcast for most of the day on Friday.

When I got home, the sun was finally shining and the first thing I did (after treating the cats) was to water all the container gardens.

I went in, changed clothes and watched the nightly news. Once again, they did a piece on the famine in the horn of Africa (primarily Somalia). The pictures of those emaciated kids make me want to puke. And the stories of people walking 200 miles to an aid station, dodging rebel soldiers and occasionally leaving their younger children on the side of the road to die, hoping to save their older kids are pathetic. But, where’s the universal outrage and response?

I was bone tired so, in spite of what I’d planned on doing, I gave myself the night off.

I went outside to check on the raised bed garden and my neighbor gave me two more cucumbers. I told her the last two went into a pasta salad and they were great. She seemed pleased.

Back inside, I used half of one of her cukes to make a sandwich for my dinner. It was one of my Mother’s favorites (and mine, too). Just mayonnaise, peeled cucumber slices and a bit of salt on white bread. Note: If you cut off the crusts and cut the bread in an X pattern, you actually have English tea sandwiches!

I watched a movie, which was okay, but was annoyed at the repeated commercials urging me to send $18 a month to save abused pets. Now I have nothing against saving abused pets, but where the hell is the information on how to send money to save the dying children in Somalia?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Salad Days of Summer

It was gray and dreary-looking all day on Thursday. It would have been perfect had it been cold, but it was warm so it was odd.

I swung by Westborn on the way home at lunchtime and bought a green pepper, three Italian (plum) tomatoes and a box of Rotini pasta. I had this idea to make a big pasta salad that I could munch on over the weekend and not have to worry about making dinners.

Neck update: I did get more sleep last night, but the morning shower didn’t do as much good as it did Wednesday morning (I don’t know why). I still have to turn my entire upper body to look behind me without pain, so it makes changing lanes on the freeway a bit challenging.

Once home and after treating the cats, I started the water boiling for the pasta (I need it to cool enough to eat dinner tonight). I peeled and diced up the two cucumbers my neighbor gave me. I diced up two celery stalks and added them to the big bowl. I stuck the pasta in the boiling water and then seeded and diced the two Italian tomatoes. I also diced the green pepper and shredded a peeled carrot.

I can’t explain the carrot, other than I thought it still needed something else. I wish I’d bought some cauliflower or broccoli I could have cut into small florets, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

I added a drained can of sliced black olives to the bowl. When the pasta was done, I dumped it in the colander but didn’t rinse it (I want the dressing to “stick” to it). Then I made the dressing. It was a take on Italian dressing with three parts extra virgin olive oil and one part white vinegar (I was afraid balsamic vinegar would take over the flavor and I didn’t have any lemons). To that I added fresh oregano and thyme and dried parsley, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

I put the warm pasta in the bowl and dressed the salad. I let it sit and cool for a bit while I finished washing the counter top. I put everything I’d taken off the other side back (after wiping each item down) and then moved the items from this side of the counter to the clean side. I made up my Pine Sol and hot water mix in the sink (which is why I made the pasta salad first) and then washed down the counter top, backsplash and most of the stove (I’ll do the drip pans over the weekend). Then I quit.

I made up a small tasting bowl of the pasta salad and checked it out. Hmmm... not bad but definitely under-seasoned. So, I added more salt and pepper to the big bowl and plated some up. I still ended up adding more salt, but it was pretty good.

I watched a movie until 10:30 PM and then went to bed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pain in the neck

It was slightly raining (more like a misty rain) on the way to work. That kept up until lunchtime, but when I checked the gauge, there was just a trace in it.

My neck and shoulders are still killing me. In fact, the only time I felt okay for the last two days was when I took my shower. I stood there a long time, just letting the hot water beat on my shoulders and neck.

When I got home, I refilled the bird feeder and then watered the hanging plants. I watched the nightly news until 7:00 PM and then got to work (in a limited way). I cleared off the counter to the right of the sink. Then I filled the sink with hot water and Pine Sol (so I didn’t have to lift a bucket.

Using a sponge, I washed down the refrigerator, all the cabinet faces and the cleared off countertop and backsplash.

By then it was after 8:00 PM, I was tired, hungry and I hurt worse. So, I quit. I heated a chicken pot pie for dinner and ate it watching a movie. When the movie was done (10:45 PM) so ws I so I shut everything off and went to bed.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday

All day Tuesday, the stiffness in my neck seemed to get worse. By 5:00 PM, I was moving like a robot in order just turn my head.

I’m pretty convinced it was from working in unnatural positions under the sink over the weekend.

So, this dramatically reduced my chances of completing the chores I’d planned. I did manage to wash the sink and toilet in the main bath (but I’d planned on washing the walls and floor, too). I unloaded the dishwasher, but didn’t clear off the counter and clean it with antibacterial spray.

Severe thunderstorm watches went up for most of Southeast Michigan just after 6:30 PM. We’d been getting light rain off and on, but nothing to write home about.

I never heard any thunder all night and woke up every time I changed position in the bed. I’ll have to wait until morning and the light to check the rain gauge to see what we got.

6:30 AM update: I went outside and checked the rain gauge. We got a good half-inch of rain overnight, so the lawn and gardens should be happy.

I also forgot to mention that at about 3:00 AM, I was awakened by an annoying beeping. It was the smoke detector in the office, signaling a low battery. I had to reach way over my head (ouch), get it down and rip out the batteries before I could go back to bed! This has been a sh*tty night!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Getting it together

Monday was hot and humid here again. In fact, I heard on the morning news this was the hottest July on record, ever! Not since blah, blah, blah, but EVER!

All day at work, I was making mental lists of all the things I was going to do when I got home. While my task list was great, my timing estimates were not.

Before I started on the kitchen, I watered the container gardens. So far, nothing is wilting. I also checked out the veggie garden and found my first ripe tomato. I picked it and ate it warm with some salt. Fantastic! That’s what a tomato should taste like!!

By 8:00 PM, all I had managed to accomplish was to get all the tools (and there were a lot of them) and the sawhorses out into the garage. Then I scrubbed the sink with a Brillo pad to eliminate a month’s worth of misuse and the rust rings from the paint cans I used as weights.

I quit then and warmed up dinner: the last two ears of sweet corn and another stuffed green pepper. The pepper took forever, but it’s a pretty dense chunk of cold meat. I ended up cutting it in half to expedite the process.

They both tasted great and I ate them watching a movie until bedtime.

Monday, August 1, 2011

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Why its so hard to work under the sink
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Bad shot of the Blue Jay
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Birds at new feeder

Sunday

When I woke up on Sunday, I had a wicked stiff, sore neck. Since I didn't do anything that strenuous on Saturday, I could only conclude I'd somehow slept wrong.

I looked outside to check on the bird feeder. I saw I had a new customer, a beautiful yellow wild canary. I snuck over and dug out the binoculars to check him out.

Speaking of the bird feeder, it’s amazing the amount of seed they went through so far (one day and its about half full). Now my little old one used to last a couple of days but it only held, like, one-quarter of the seed this one does. I am picturing signs up in trees everywhere, written in bird language, saying “Free food at John’s house!”

I turned the mattress end for end (forgot to do it yesterday) and then redid the top sheet and bedspread. I used to flip over the old one, (which gave me four different places to wear out) but this one has a “pillow top” and it can’t be done.

I ate a peach and plum for brunch. The peach was good (it was very good) but the plum was fantastic. It was big as a hardball, full of flavor and with enough juice that I had to eat it over a paper towel on my lap.

I planned on going grocery shopping but it was too hot. Still, I needed kitty litter and cat food, so I just went to PetSmart.

It was 90 degrees F. and sticky here by 1:00 PM.

I started working on the sink again. Damn, I am tired of this shit!

I took Jake’s advice and drained the hot water tank. Last time, I shut off the water and gas and just drained it. At the time, B___ said that wasn’t good enough, I needed the pressure to blow out the sediment. So this time I just hooked up the hose, turned on the drain and let ‘er rip. I let it run until the hose was cold (about an hour). Naturally, when I closed the shut off it was leaking. Damn! So, in order to get back to the sink, I just set a container under it to catch the water.

Once I disconnected the drains and the water lines, the next step was to get the sink out. This proved to be the most difficult part as I had to wiggle my painter’s knife under the lip of the sink and slowly (slowly) cut through the silicone caulk I’d just put down a couple of weeks ago. It took a while, but I finally got it free. I put it upside down on the sawhorses. Then I went to attend to several other chores.

I watered all the container gardens and then hooked up the sprinkler and watered the raised bed vegetable garden for an hour (well, I didn’t spend an hour doing it, I simply set it up, turned on the water and set the timer to remind me to shut the water off). I can’t begin to think about what this day will be doing to my water bill.

I worked on the dripping water heater shutoff. Gently, slowly (lessons learned from my first house on Harrelson) I turned it more. Finally, I had turned it as far as I could with my hand. I had lessened the drip considerably, but it was still dripping. So, I switched to my channel-locks. Again, only turning it a tad bit at a time. Finally, it looked like it had stopped. I left the container under it (just in case) and checked on it from time to time.

So, I replaced the old faucet with the new. I re-caulked the edge of the tile and set the sink back in. I redid the water lines and the drains and checked for leaks (none that I could see). I put two full paint cans in the sink (one on each side) to weigh it down and set the caulk (takes a minimum of three hours). I was done about 6:30 PM.

I started dinner. I used too small of a pan to blanch the four green peppers I’d topped and cleaned out. So, I boiled them for five minutes, two at a time.

Meanwhile, I browned a pound of hamburger and half a cup of diced onions. When the hamburger was ready, I added a 14.5 ounce can of whole tomatoes that I diced (why not just used diced tomatoes? I dunno... I also added 1/2 cup of uncooked rice, 1/2 cup of water, a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and one cup of cheddar cheese. I covered the pan and put a lid on it.

It was the cheese that threw me. I don’t recall my Mother ever cooking with cheese. I remember grilled cheese sandwiches, cottage cheese (loved it then, love it now) and the occasional wedge of Pinconning cheese eaten with crackers. But I never remember her adding cheese to anything she was cooking (I could be wrong).

I stuffed the peppers with the beef mixture, topped it with a can of thinned tomato soup, covered the oven-proof glass baking dish with tin foil and put it in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven for the next 30 minutes.

While that was baking, I peeled three parsnips, sliced them and added them to the pot I cooked the green peppers in.

I ate dinner watching my usual Sunday night shows. Later than I’d like but fortunately they were taped. The green pepper was excellent, but I was right the cheese was wrong. The parsnips were undercooked a tad but still tasted great.

I fell asleep about 10:30.