Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tile Work, Day 3

I woke up at 6:40 AM. I immediately put a pot of coffee on and let that do its thing while I showered (it still feels like I have cement in my hair, but it might just be my imagination).

I had the first cup of coffee writing yesterday's Blog entry. I had the second sitting on the front porch in the cool morning air. I dragged the hose around to the front and watered the one little corner with the square sprinkler (the one place the big sprinkler doesn't reach).

Now, why, (you might ask) aren't I working on the kitchen? I have always believed that everybody has a right to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday. They have earned it! So, just because I can't doesn't mean I can start using power tools, etc., early. I usually wait until after 9 or 10 AM before I make noise.

While pulling the hose around, I saw an unusual sight. I have some volunteer morning glories, climbing up my gas meter. I have NO idea how they got there, because I haven't planted morning glories in that area for over three years! I took a photo for you.

Back inside, I made some breakfast. I warmed up a can of roast beef hash and topped it with two over-easy eggs. I ate that with a glass of water sitting on the front porch. I cleaned up the plate and frying pan and got to work.

To recap, all the 1/4 inch backer board is attached to the walls. So, now it is time to put some 1/4 inch backer board on the fronts of the counter and then the 1/2 inch on the top of the counter. Back in the garage, I found you could not get the 1/4 inch stuff to snap after you scored it with the razor knife (I am only cutting off 2 1/2 inch wide strips, you see). So, it was back to the saber saw and the dust.

Once I had them all cut out, I applied mortar and attempted to screw the first one on. It immediately broke in half. I tried various ideas (none of which worked) until I thought of the air gun stapler. So, I carried the air compressor, hose and gun into the house and easily attached them.

Now for the tops. I made my measurement and went out to cut the "L" shape end. God, this stuff is heavy! God, this stuff is dusty!

I carried in the piece and test fit it. Nope! Apparently the counter is not square to the wall at that end. (Note to self: This will become a problem later, when applying the square tiles). So, I carried it back out and re-cut a little of it; carried it back in and it fit! So, I lifted it back off, applied the mortar, picked it up and set it back on and then started screwing it in place.

Then I measured the next piece (the one that goes over the sink hole. This time, I needed to get off 11 inches the full length, so I scored it heavily on both sides and (Thank God) it did snap off. So, I carried it inside and set it in place. I used a bar clamp to hold it firmly while I went under the sink and, with a pencil, marked the sink opening. I also made some hash marks across both pieces so I could get it back in exactly the same place (the sink does need to fit back in, you see).

I carried it back outside and carefully cut out the sink opening. I say carefully as there were two heavy ends connected by just a little bit of the backer board, the length of the sink once I was finished. I carried it back inside, when Jake and Carla came in! They offered their help and I (being no fool) accepted.

So, after I mortared the counter top and set the piece in place, Carla started screwing it down. Jake got the air gun for the two narrow strips and managed to scare the crap out of Carla when he hit the trigger the first time (she was busy and not looking and, it is a loud noise!)

Carla started taping the seams in the top while Jake and I tried to figure out just where the first tile should go. This is really the hardest part, BTW. Done right, all the grout lines will match up. Done wrong, I'll still have a tiled sink and backsplash, but also a life-long reminder of my screw-up.

We determined we needed the two corner pieces on the counter face cut on a 45 degree angle to lay out all the rest of the project. So, I unpacked the new tile saw and Jake and I attempted to set it up. I put it on the garage apron; outside (Thank God I did, BTW.) While Jake and I tried assembling it, Carla did a most unGoerlich-like thing: she read the instructions! We finally got it working, filled with water and set at a 45 degree angle. Damn! The piece is too thick for the saw!

So, Jake called Home Depot to see if they would cut it for us. No, they don't cut tile. Lowe's does, so, in spite of driving almost all the way back home, they went there. Meanwhile, I started cutting the angles out on the twelve tiles that will surround the three decorative tiles.. Next I practiced cutting the radius for the sink opening. I was worried about that, although the guy at the store where I bought the saw said it was pretty easy (and it was).

They returned about that time and recounted their story: Once at Lowe's, the lady said, "Oh, I only can make straight cuts, not angles. But, if you come back on Monday, maybe Bob could try it!" So, they searched out a tile company. They guy there said he normally would cut it for them, but his saw was out at a job site. But, he sold them a carbide cable you attach to a hacksaw. I dug out my miter box and we eventually got it cut (although it chipped badly in places).

So now, we drew lines from where the tile on the countertop will (make that "should") be to the walls. We set up production. Jake was the mortar man and tile setter, with Carla as his assistant. And I was the tile cutter.

Let me tell you something about using a tile wet saw: You get wet! And you get bits of tile chips sprayed on you! So, I spent the rest of the day with my t-shirt and shorts covered in water and tile chips.

Although it was now getting late, and I suggested that they had done enough and should probably take off, Jake was determined to finish the wall. So, he did. I had to make some pretty tricky cuts for a first time saw man, as he didn't want to use little pieces around the switch and plug boxes (and now I am glad he was so insistent).

After they left, I started on the counter top at the "L" end. At first, it was pretty straight forward, but when it came to the pieces against the wall, it went all to hell. Because the counter is not square to the wall, each piece had to be custom cut and fitted. Which means the last grout line will be a bit wacky. Since it will be behind or under stuff, it probably won't matter, but it was pretty annoying.

On the flat surface, I used a rubber hammer and a 6-inch level, so that all the tiles will be at the same height. I got the "L" part done, double checked all the alignments of the grout lines, etc. For my first time tiling, I was pleased!

At 9:00 PM, it was too dark to see the scale on the tile cutter (and you REALLY don't want to do this inside!) so I gave it up. I took everything inside the garage and then took myself into the shower. By 9:30 PM, I was ready for some dinner!

I warmed up the last hamburger and ate it topped with the last of the roasted poblano pepper, some American cheese and mustard. I ate it watching TV, but probably fell asleep after 20 minutes. I woke up at midnight, turned everything off and went to sleep for real.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Volunteer morning glories, climbing the gas meter

Tile Work, Day 2

I woke up at 6:40 AM, warmed up a cup of coffee I got from the bathroom and posted yesterday's activities. It may or may not rain again this morning, but they said on the Weather today that the average August rainfall here is 2.66 inches and we have only gotten 0.15 inches to date.

I decided breakfast would be good, so I scrambled some eggs. It was sprinkling, so I was hopeful as I shaved and showered. I left the house at 9:00 AM, headed for the "other" Lowe's in Canton. Once there, I picked up the additional counter rail edge molding I needed, a 1x3-inch board (6 feet long) and a tile saw. I planned on borrowing a tile saw from my neighbor, the self-employed contractor, but it turned out he didn't have one.

Next, I went back to my old Lowe's and returned things (the counter rail edge molding that was used, two decorative tiles that were chipped and 5 electrical box extensions (I don't need 'em).

I got home about 11:00 AM. The sun is starting to peak out, so I checked the rain gauge. Again, it was less than 1/8 of an inch, total. Damn!

So, I unloaded the car, changed clothes and got to work. First came the construction needed. I cut the curved corner of the counter into a 90 degree angle, using a Skil saw and then a saber saw. Next I cut the end of the counter next to the stove flush with the cabinet. Otherwise, with the counter rail edge molding, the stove wouldn't fit back into the opening, and that would be bad. I used the vacuum cleaner to get up the bulk of the sawdust.

Next, I pulled out the dishwasher to add some structural bracing to the counter. Where the insides of the sink cabinet would normally brace the counter, somebody before I got here cut big opening so they could replace the original small sink with the normal-sized one that's in there now. Since I am about to add a ton of weight, I think I should brace it on both sides, (I fear it sagging and cracking the tile) so I did. You can see Photos to better understand all this.

It was about 1:30 PM and I was hungry, so I warmed up a hamburger and an ear of roasted sweet corn for my lunch. I lay on the bed, watching TV and resting my legs while I ate. I was hoping to fall asleep, but that didn't work. So, I got back up and back to work.

First, I shut off the power to the kitchen plugs, removed them from the boxes and taped over the screws and wires, using electrician's tape. Well, I turned off the power to all the plugs, but the switch for the light over the sink was still on. Instead of screwing around, I just did that one while it was live (ain't afraid!). After I had them all taped, I turned the power back on.

Now, it's time for the backer board. I meticulously cut the first piece. The long section I scored with a razor knife and then snapped it (like you do drywall). To cut out for the electrical box, I used the saber saw with a diamond blade (they recommend carbide and it's probably cheaper, but I couldn't find one). Sidebar: You are talking a LOT of cement dust, here. I'm cutting in the garage and the car is covered and I am covered. I just hope it doesn't harden in my sweaty hair before I can take a shower.

It took about three times of trimming it before it fit, and I finally realized I was trying to be too precise. With all the overlaps, "close" is close enough! But, when it did fit, I took it down, applied the mortar with the 1/4-inch notched trowel (first time I ever did that, BTW). I stuck the backer board up and screwed it to the walls with the special screws and my drill.

It was 5:15 PM and my goal was to get all the backer board up tonight. So, I needed to kick it into gear! So, I measured, cut and installed two more boards. I stopped at 7:00 PM, went outside and dragged the hose back to the raised bed garden. Oh, God, no! There are more ripe tomatoes out there, and I haven't dealt with the last two harvests, yet. Never the less, I hooked it up to the square sprinkler, turned the water on and, back inside, set the timer for 30 minutes. Now, back to work!

At 7:30, the timer went off, so I stopped in mid-measurement, went out, shut the water off and came inside. I didn't coil up the hose as I will need to water the front grass tomorrow. And, I'll deal with those pesky tomatoes tomorrow, too! (I got a plan).

Now it's the last wall section (behind the stove) for the 1/4 inch backer board. I took all my measurements and was on the way out to cut it when the phone rang. It was B___, checking on my progress to date. I told him where I was at and that I planned to stay up until all the remaining backer board was up. He said I was being stupid (not the first time he's ever told me that, BTW!) because when you get tired is when you start making mistakes.

We hung up and I got back to work. I had it cut, mortared and screwed to the wall just after 9:00 PM. I am tired, dirty, dusty and mostly hungry! So, since I got all the board up where a poorly done job might allow the tile to fall, I decided B___ was right, and stopped there. I took a rinse-off shower and then made a box of mac & cheese. I had no milk, so I reconstituted some evaporated milk I always keep on hand for just such emergencies.

I did get some food in me, but that's about as long as I stayed up. I didn't bother with TV, just went straight to sleep.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I love this one! It explains sooo much about Democrats...


Forgot to take a "before" picture, but this is the counter after I cut off 1 1/2 inches.


Right side of sink opening, weakened by DPO cutting out for larger sink


Right side of sink opening, now braced


Left side of sink, weakened by dpo cutting out for larger sink.


Left side of sink opening, now braced


Curve in corner that won't work with tile


Curve, now a 90 degree angle

Tile Work, Day 1

It rained a bit overnight. I went out on the patio and checked the rain gauge. There was about 1/8 inch of rain that fell overnight. It's still cloudy and damp, so maybe I'll get more.

Since it was still threatening rain, my trip to Lowe's for the job supplies was delayed. I can't get the backer board wet when I load it. So, after a shower I started a load of laundry and began rearranging the kitchen.

Finally, I gave in to my excitement and left just after 9:00 AM. I got a rolling cart and started loading it up. Man, why is EVERYTHING about tile so damn heavy? The tile, the mortar, the bag of grout and those damn backerboards? It took almost two hours to get everything, go through the checkout and out to the parking lot. The lady at the checkout asked me if I needed help loading the car. I said, "No, but I could have used some help pushing this cart around the store!"

Stupid me, I thought the backer board would fit in the car. It wouldn't go straight through the pass-through opening, so I had to angle it a bit. Which meant, I drove home in the mist (hoping it wouldn't rain) with half of it hanging out the trunk. I took odd roads, avoiding the ones I knew had bad potholes and bumps.

But, I made it and began unloading the backerboard. I put that on sawhorses in the garage. Just for fun, I measured the pass-through opening I assumed was big enough. It's 35 1/2-inches wide and the backerboard is exactly 36 inches.

Next, I finished rearranging the kitchen. I moved the chairs, rolling butcher block and trash basket into the living room. The table got pushed into a corner, covered up and everything on the counter went on the table. Everything under the kitchen sink went under the table. The watering can reminded me I needed to water the container gardens today, so I did that while I still had a kitchen faucet.

Back inside, I moved the refrigerator. I took off the kitchen curtain rod and put it in the office. Then I removed the window molding and sill, (which was not easy, BTW). I took off all the switch and plug plates. Now, I had to quit for a bit.

I laid down for a nap to rest my legs and knees. I slept about an hour and woke up, feeling a whole lot better. So, now I took all the remaining project supplies and lugged, (and I do mean lugged,) them into the kitchen. One thing really ticked me off. They had exactly the number of counter face pieces I needed in an open box, so I had grabbed it all. When I took them out of the box, I found three of them had mortar on the back! They stuck used tile somebody had returned back out for sale! Those will go back to the store tomorrow morning!

Now for the one thing I had hoped I'd never have to do again: take out the sink! I removed the water lines, the drain and then garbage disposal (after constructing a brace to hold it up). Then I stuck half my body into that damn little opening and, one by one, undid the 12 clips that hold it in. Hard to reach, hard to see with bifocals, this took a long, long time. But, finally it was done, and I pulled it out and put the sink downstairs. I cleaned the caulk off with a painter's knife.

It was now 7:15 PM and I was hungry. So, I made up some simple steak fajitas. I cut the leftover steak into thin slices, discarding the fat and bones. I warmed up two flour tortillas in the frying pan and the steak in the oven. Next, I sliced up two more poblano pepper and a medium-size yellow onion and saut�ed them until the onions were translucent. Then I mixed the steak with the onions and pepper and put some in each tortilla. I topped that with a drizzle of my home-made salsa and then a dollop of sour cream.

I ate that watching some TV, (it was spicy, but delicious, BTW). But, I was bushed, so I opened the windows and went to bed at 10:00 PM.


Finally, the sink is out!


Molding removed from around window

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Moving the stuff off the counter and onto the protected tabletop


Old counter top, #1 (remember these when I post the "after" pictures!)


Old counter top, #2


Old counter top, #3


Old counter top, #4


Temporary kitchen sink


Counter and under-the-sink stuff's new home


Fridge, relocated


Stove, relocated


All the supplies (except the backer board, of course) unloaded and ready


Wednesday's Harvest

Wednesday, watering again!

I got home and changed clothes. It's Wednesday, not Friday, but it's the end of my work-work week. I took Thursday and Friday off. Along with the Holiday on Monday, this gives me five days to complete this year's "big" project, tiling the kitchen counter.

I made up my implementation plan, of course, and I have 44 steps to do to achieve my goal. That will be printed off and go up on the fridge.

But tonight, it's been a full week since I watered the back garden, with no rain since. So, after I filled up the bird feeder and the suet cage, I hooked up the rear hose, grabbed the watering wand and headed out back.

I gave each plant four gallons of water and finished up just before 7:30 PM. I took in today's harvest (see Photos) and put them away.

I had planned on making my steak fajitas tonight, but it's late. So, I went with a leftover hamburger and two ears of sweet corn. I kicked the burger up a bit by roasting a poblano pepper on the open fire of the stove. Once it was completely blackened, I put it on a plate and covered it with a bowl to steam a little. Then I slipped off the charred skin and dug out the seeds and stem. I cut the pepper into two-inch squares and topped the burger with one piece. Excellent!

I watched some TV, but turned in early to rest up for this year's Big Adventure!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Headline and excerpts from National News Story


Michigan was the only state where poverty rose last year, as well as the only one where incomes fell, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics released Tuesday that illustrate the uniqueness of the state's economic swoon.

Michigan's poverty rate was 14 percent, up from 13.5 percent in 2006 and more than a full percentage point above the national rate, which was virtually unchanged during the same period. The state's rate has grown steadily since 2000, when it was just above 10 percent. The number of people in poverty increased by 45,000 during 2006-07.

The 2007 median income in Michigan was $47,950, down 1.2 percent or $596 from the 2006 median of $48,546. The state's nationwide ranking slid from 24th to 27th.

Nationwide, the median household income rose to $50,233, a modest increase of $665 from the previous year, although it was the third consecutive annual rise.

They also showed Michigan's rate of "extreme poverty" - a yearly income of less than half the poverty threshold, or $10,325 for a family of four - jumped from 6 percent in 2006 to 6.5 percent last year. Eight years ago, the rate was 4.8 percent.

The child poverty rate increased from 17.8 percent to 19 percent between 2006-07, while the national rate stood at 17.6 percent.

Detroit's poverty rate of 33.8 percent was highest among cities of 250,000 or more, while Kalamazoo and Flint tied for fifth among cities of 65,000 to 249,999 people. Both had rates of 35.5 percent.


After arriving home on Tuesday, I changed clothes and got to work. First, I watered all the container gardens. Two more of the hanging plants are starting to look bad. Amazingly, the pansies in the mailbox garden still look pretty good.

Next I set out the square sprinkler in the raised bed garden for 30 minutes. When I was out there, my neighbors both thanked me for the homemade salsa. But, they did say it was a little too hot for them, so they added 12 of their own tomatoes to the mix to cut it a bit.

I got some newspaper and began to light the coals for the grille. I'm not sure what I am doing wrong (as I always do it wrong) but it took like three separate sheets to get the charcoal lit.

Before I had settled on the Sunday Night dinner of an Asian broccoli stir fry, I had thawed out a sirloin steak. This is like getting down to the nitty-gritty of the 1/8 cow I bought last fall (with Jake and Carla and Jerry and Cathy) So, tonight, I took it out of the butcher paper, rinsed it off, patted it dry with paper towels, and then brushed on canola oil and sprinkled on Montreal Steak Seasoning on both sides. I sliced the fat every one inch or so (so it wouldn't curl up) and then let it get up to room temperature while I planned the rest of the meal.

So, I got my small eggplant I picked from the raised bed garden. I left the skin on and sliced it into length-wise cuts of about 1/4 inch. I hit the slices with canola oil and balsamic vinegar, mixed with some garlic powder. Next I cut up two valadia onions into about 3/4 inch slices. I brushed them with olive oil and then salt and put them on the preheated grill. The eggplant went on next and when they were all looking good, I moved them to the low-heat section of the grille.

Finally came the star of the show, the steak. I let it sear for about three minutes a side and pulled it off to rest. I stuck some russet potatoes in the microwave and made them into baked potatoes. I plated everything and added a little butter, some sour cream and some snipped chives to one baked potato. I cut about 1/4 of the steak off (the rest will be made into fajitas) and dug in.

Everything was excellent! The only thing I would say is I cut the eggplant too thin. 1/2 inch would have been better.

I cleaned everything up, stated the dishwasher and went off to watch TV. I was doing okay, until I stupidly switched over to see Hilary Clinton's speech. I got through about 20 minutes until the urge to throw up got the better of me and I turned it off.

It's the same stupid rhetoric that gets the Democratic mayors of Detroit elected, year after year. As the saying goes, "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it." As much as we would like it to, socialism doesn't work! Ask the Russians, who gave it up after some 80 years. Ask the Cubans, or the North Koreans. The only place it still seems to keep going is China, who switched to a semi-socialism, but mostly capitalist society several years ago. You cannot tax the rich and middle class to fund the poor.

As Nancy Pelosi would have it (and I quote) "We need to work toward the goal of equalizing income, (didn't Karl Marx say something like this?), in our country and at the same time limiting the amount the rich can invest.'"

When asked how these new tax dollars would be spent, she replied: "We need to raise the standard of living of our poor, unemployed and minorities. For example, we have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities. Stock market windfall profits taxes could go a long way to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as 'Americans'."

If they are "Illegal immigrants," they are NOT "Americans!" Don't reward them, send them home!

It's just stupid. I went to bed in disgust!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, Monday... Can't trust that day...

So, it's Monday and back to work. I am disappointed in my work output this weekend. For the 18 items on my ToDo list, only nine have been crossed out! But, I did get a lot of rest and that's worth something, right?

Nice day, by the way: sunny with a bit of a breeze and around the mid-seventies (where I like it best). Weirdest thing when I got home was to realize I didn't have anything to water today! So, after changing clothes and doing a few household chores, I went outside and played horseshoes (both Red and Blue won one game).

Back inside, I warmed up two ears of corn and a hamburger for dinner. I watched two taped shows and then switched to reading until it was time to sleep.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday Stir Fry

I woke up at 7:30 AM on Sunday. I threw on my t-shirt and shorts and went outside. I didn't water on Saturday, waiting for the forecasted rain. But, there was just a scant amount of water in the rain gauge, so I dragged the hose out front and hooked up the big sprinkler. Thus, I started the long process of watering for the weekend (I sure wish it had rained more).

Back inside, I put a pot of coffee on and made some scrambled eggs for breakfast. I ate them Southern-style, topped with a good splash of red hot sauce. I kept running out and moving the sprinkler every 20 minutes. In the meantime, I got a lot of little things done (put all my receipts away in the file folders, checked out the weekly circular for Meijer's, etc.)

I also picked all the ripe tomatoes (see Photos). I am running out of ideas to use them (Hey, RPG, how the heck do you make sun-dried tomatoes, anyway?) so today, they will become salsa.

I gave Lu a call and found out she seems to be doing a lot better. Sadie was the hit of a conference she attended last week, the goats are doing well and the milk sales are up there.

So, I finished the last position for watering the lawn at 1:30 PM. Back in the house, I cored all the tomatoes and stuck them in a blender (it took four times) to grind them up (I pulsed them, BTW). Then I added three bunches of green onion, cut into chunks and a jar of drained, sliced, Jalapeno peppers. I pulsed those as well, and added them to my tomatoes in my non-reactive, big-assed bowl. I added some Lawry seasoned salt and garlic powder, tasted it and added more seasoned salt and some fresh ground pepper. I filled up two two-cup containers and one four-cup container.

I noticed my neighbors were outside, so I went and asked Tammy if they liked salsa. She said she didn't like it too hot, but her husband, Rick, did. So, I gave her a two cup container to try.

Back inside, I started the last load of the weekend laundry (I think I forgot to mention washing the bedding on Saturday). I went to take a nap. But I never fell asleep, just ended up annoying myself.

For dinner, I made some long-grain white rice and an Asian Broccoli Stir Fry. I cooked about four cups of broccoli florets and an eight ounce package of sliced mushrooms on medium-high heat in two teaspoons of olive oil for about seven minutes. Then I turned the heat to medium and added 1/2 cup of drained water chestnuts, some fresh pea pods and three tablespoons of prepared sweet and sour sauce. I served it over the rice. Not bad, but pretty bland...

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and then went to bed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Sunday's Harvest

It's all good in the 'hood...

I woke up at 7:00 AM. As we creep towards fall, the sunrise is later and doesn't wake me up early, like it used to. So, I stumbled into the day. I decide against coffee or breakfast (both seem like too big of a deal) and hop into the shower to wake up.

I have a lot of mini-trips to make. First I went to the Feed Store and got 40 pounds of bird feed and four suet cakes. Next, I went to Lowe's, in Westland, to ask about this week's project. According to the lady on the phone, I really needed to talk to Anne. Well, Anne was busy with another customer. So I declined help from others and waited... and waited... and waited...

The guy she was talking to was buying three rooms of carpeting and a new kitchen floor. So, 45 minutes later, I finally got to talk with Anne about putting tile on my kitchen counter. But, it was worth it, as I now know a lot more than I did before. Seems pretty daunting and expensive. But, it will be worth it if I can pull this off.

On the way back home, I stopped at Kroger's to get the bulk of the grocery shopping done. After that, I stopped at Westborn to get some Michigan bi-colored sweet corn (10 ears for $1.99). I got home just after 12:30 PM.

I unpacked the groceries and then lugged the bird seed out back. I filled up the feeder and the suet cage, and then filled up the birdbath. Since I had the hose out and on, I stuck it in the reflecting pool for a while, using my net to get out the yucky bits as they floated to the top.

Back inside, I installed the two fluorescent lights I bought at Lowe's in the fixture over my wood-working bench. I also put two new ones in the fixture over the main work bench, but could not get them to light up. WTF?

I used my kitchen shears (I love those, BTW) to cut off the stalks and silk from the corn, then put the ears in my big stock pot. I filled it with water and put a plate, plus a weight, on top of the corn to hold them submerged.

After that, I thought a nap might be in order, so I laid down for an hour or so. I went out and started the charcoal on fire at around 5:30 PM. Back inside, I made the ground chuck I bought into 8 patties. Note: I forgot to try the Chef Bobby Flay trick! To compensate for the burgers rising in the middle as they cook, he makes an indent in the middle of the patty with his thumb. This makes the patty return to its original shape and not plump up. But, like I said, I forgot to do it! I seasoned them with the house seasoning and let them come up to room temperature.

So, first I grilled the sweet corn. When I judged it was done, I pulled it all to the cool side of the grill and started the burgers. While they were cooking (and plumping, lol), I shucked the corn (too messy for inside). I pulled off the meat when I figured it was medium rare and took everything inside.

I ate one hamburger (with just yellow mustard and mayonnaise) and three ears of corn for dinner. The burger wasn't that special, but it did reassure me of the true taste of a hamburger, after the over-cooked burger I ate on Friday at the company picnic. Note: I rue not buying some chipotle peppers when I was at Westborn. They would have been great, charred, and then sliced on top of the burgers. Oh, well.

I watched an old movie (recorded) and then decided to go to bed at 10:00 PM. But I woke up (wide awake) at 2:00 am. I sat on the porch for a while, watching the lightning. It sprinkled here, but not enough to matter, so far. I'll check the rain gauge in the morning and decide on whether or not to water. I opened the windows and went back to bed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Morning, Over Easy, Again

"Who Woulda Thunk It?"
~Greg Brown

We used to say I could walk all night, and we could and we did
Down that gravel road, to that tiny town, and the door always opened
Now we say I could walk all night. It's not true
We can't walk all night, no, because we don't want to
We want a bed and a blanket, some light breakfast, sometime tomorrow
We want a bed and a blanket, some light breakfast, sometime tomorrow And I sing it now, hey hey, hey hey, who woulda thunk it
Hey hey, hey hey, who woulda thunk it

We used to say I could eat a horse, and we could and we did
In fast food joints in the middle of someplace on the way to someplace else
Now we say I could eat a horse. It's not true
We can't eat a horse, no, because we don't want to
We want somethin from the cookbook, that new one with the great graphics
Somethin from the cookbook, that new one with the great graphics
Oh and I sing it now, hey hey, hey hey, who woulda thunk it
Hey hey, hey hey, who woulda thunk it

We used to say I don't care if I never have any money
As long as I have my sweet honey and a shack in the woodland
Now we say I don't care if I don't have money, but it's not true
We can't live without money, no, because we don't want to
We want one of those and two of those, and oh that one looks neat, wrap it up
Put it on my MasterCard. Put it on my Visa
And I sing it now, hey hey, hey hey, who woulda thunk it
Hey hey, hey hey, who woulda thunk it
Hey hey, hey hey Hey hey, hey hey now, who woulda thunk it

We used to say I don't care if I never grow old
I'm gonna flame, gonna burn, take one quick turn and be gone like James Dean
Now we don't say that. It's too late to die young
So we sit at the table long after supper and a good wine
Here's what we sing, we go, hey hey, hey hey, who woulda thunk it
Hey hey, hey hey, who woulda thunk it

Lazy Day...

Ah, Friday and payday... Are there any two more beautiful words?

As I said, I had to pick up my glasses at noon. If you remember, I dropped them off on August 3 and they told me it would be about a week before they would be back. Well, it's been almost three weeks now! But, I got them, they have new, non-scratched lenses and they were free, so I guess it was worth the wait.

As I also said, I ate lunch at the department picnic. I noticed a lot of new faces and realized that being a Program manager in IT is a lot different from being one in Facilities. In Facilities, I was always out checking on the progress at the job site and met a lot of people that way. In IT, I am not technical enough to "check" on somebody else's work, so I stay in one building, writing proposals and managing timelines, most of the time...

But the picnic allowed me to visit with old friends and meet some new ones.

Once home, I watered the raised bed garden. I took the night off from chores (I got my nice, new, ToDo list posted on the fridge for the weekend). I watched some TV, made more potato cakes and reheated the rest of the sausage for dinner and just generally screwed off until bedtime.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Today was our department picnic at Spacely Sprockets. I was late, as I had to pick up my glasses (as you will read in the normal Blog entry) and, once there, I should have had a hotdog (you can't screw them up, right?) Instead, I opted for a burger, which was the most over-done piece of meat I ever tried to eat. I had to choke it down as I was at a table of six and spitting it out and cursing wouldn't have been cool. Some of the side dishes were, in fact, excellent, and the desserts (I didn't try them, of course) were beautiful.

But, it seemed the hit of the day was the homemade salsa a Purchasing agent (Tony) made and brought in. So, when I got back to work, I went in search of Tony (who I know. Hey, I know everybody!) and asked him for the recipe. Here's the story he told:

His cousin moved to Oklahoma in the early 90's when "salsa" was just beginning to be big. Her husband fell in love with the stuff and used it on everything. She despaired at the cost of the store-bought stuff. But her neighbor (an old Cherokee Indian woman) gave her a recipe.

Sidebar: Isn't it interesting that we always accept and embrace a story that mentions an "old Cherokee Indian woman"? I mean, if I said, "My Mom" or an "Old Polish woman" nobody would pay attention, but you add a "Native American" into the story and then everybody goes, "Oh, yeah, right, cool!"

Anyway, we will ignore the possibility that she was later killed for divulging the tribal secret of salsa (since Cherokee Indians weren't really known for their salsa, I am pretty sure that's not a problem) and move on.

Here is his family recipe (and please remember this is for a LARGE group - scale back accordingly):

5 Large Cans of Hunts Whole Tomatoes
5 Bunches of Green Onions (Just the White Part and up to 2" of the green)
2 Jars of Old El Paso Sliced Jalape�os
Lawry's Seasoning
Powdered Garlic to taste.

Chop everything up in a food processor and enjoy.

So, tomorrow, I think I am gonna substitute fresh tomatoes and adjust the taste accordingly. I'll let you now how it turned out.

Not mowing, again...

Thursday was yet another gorgeous, but rainless, day. After getting home, changing clothes, giving out cat treats, etc., I had to first water all the container gardens. In one of the hanging baskets, the wave petunias have been doing poorly for a while now. Today, I gave up on them and cut them out, leaving just the asparagus fern. Check out the photos and you'll see what I mean.

Now, its Thursday, but with no rain there's no real reason to cut the grass... except for around the raised bed garden. Since I water that often, the surrounding grass is lush and tall. So, I got out the weedwacker and the 100-foot extension cord and got to work.

Tammy, my next door neighbor came over to the fence and we chatted a while. I teased her about their loud party Sunday night and she was so embarrassed, I felt bad. She apologized profusely and assured me that she, herself, had gone to bed and tried to sleep at 10:30 PM. I let her off the hook and said I was kidding; that having a loud party once in 6 years was no big deal.

Bask inside the garage, putting the line trimmer away; I noticed one tire looked a little low on the car. So, I hooked up the air compressor and checked and filled them all as needed.

I ate the last of the chicken for dinner and watched TV until bedtime.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


What the hanging plants are supposed to look like!


Hanging plant, with the "wave" petunias dead


Hanging plant, after surgery

Statistically Speaking

I might have mentioned this before (in fact, I am sure I did) but my cunning Webmaster installed a program that gives me usage statistics of my Website. So, I can look and see how many people have visited my site, and so on. For example, I could ask my daughter Melissa, "It's August 21 and you've only visited 3 times this month? What's up with that? Am I like boring you?"

And, I can amaze my Mother with the countries that do visit (most a lot more than Melissa, apparently, lol) so, for example, in August, the site had been visited by the following (and yes, I know a lot of these are just bots, but, still, its interesting):

- US
- Unresolved/Unknown
- United Kingdom
- Germany
- Netherlands
- Estonia
- US Government (okay, that one scares me!)
- Old style Arpanet (arpa) (I picture some old Univac computers, somewhere, still plugging along, checking out my Blog)
- China
- Seychelles
- Non-Profit Organization (no wonder they keep calling me!)
- US Educational
- Australia
- Canada
- Italy
- Japan
- Argentina
- Brazil
- India
- Russian Federation

But, it also lists the top 15 searches that led people to my site. I gotta tell each of the four folks who searched under "John Goerlich is a sexy beast," I love you babe! At least I hope (and pray) they were babes!

And the two other ones that were more pornographic, just remember, my 100 year old Mom reads this every week! But, hey, you go, girls (please, please let them be girls!)

Wednesday's Workload

Somehow, I have to remember at night that leaving the remnants of supper (in this case pizza), only causes pain in the morning. The prospect of cleaning up the mess is daunting, and I don't like to be daunted first thing in the morning. But, I did what I had to do, then set out for work.

Back home at 5:20 PM, I started the Wednesday night load of laundry, and then started sorting through the mail from the last several days. I found a check from my orthopedic physician for $24 dollars he says I overpaid (I'll take it!) and two bills to renew my membership in AARP and AAA. Damn! It's a little bit more than the $24 bucks. Oh well...

The washer gave me the "I'm done, buzz" so I transferred the clothes to the dryer. BTW, I wish the dryer had a buzzer when it was done, but it doesn't. So, I have to time it, by myself.

Now it's back outside to water the rear garden. I hooked up the hose and took the wand out to the rear hose. I gave each plant 45 seconds of water. I skipped the horseshoes so I could get inside in time to hang up the clothes.

Dinner was three slices of cold pizza and a cold beer. I skipped the TV in favor of reading a book and went to sleep fairly early.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I won't bother you with the lyrics...

as most Rock and roll songs are pretty repetitive.

But here's a favorite of mine, written and performed by Nazareth. And the chorus is directed to the food, lifestyle and health police who occasionally assault me:


Now you're messing with a (son of a bitch)
Now you're messing with a son of a bitch
Now you're messing with a (son of a bitch)
Now you're messing with a son of a bitch!

New store in my area!

I had a flyer stuck to my front screen door when I got home. It listed the "Olive Mountain Market" now open about 1/2 mile west of here on Plymouth Road.

It says they have fresh produce, imported cheeses, olive and olive oil, spices and more.

I gotta check this one out!

Does anyone know...

How to properly clean a pizza stone? I bought mine at the close out of the Linen's and Things store (no returns!) and it had a lot of cool things, but no instructions.

I did a little research and the cheap pizza stones (as mine is) are made of just sand, super-heated. All I can find on the web is NOT to use detergent, as the "stone" will pick up the taste.

So, the last time, without direction or inspiration, I used soaking and then my "Newt bowl" natural cleaner, salt and baking soda (its natural, nice and abrasive, you see). It did take almost three days to dry, though.

Does anybody know what I am really supposed to be doing?

Funniest Spam EVER!

I got a SPAM email at work today and the subject line was:

"Britney Spears admits she was the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby!"

I didn't open it, of course (security concerns) but I did laugh my ass off!


Papa John's Pizza

Papa John's

Tuesday morning, it was nice and cool when I took the trash out at 6:30 AM. It wasn't supposed to get too hot today, but still, no rain!

I got home and changed clothes. The cats were waiting for their treats, but I decided to do something a little different. The last couple of dry Purina Cat Chows bags I had bought had a sample "Fancy Feast" cat food can in them. So, I opened one and spit it into two saucers. I presented them to the cats. Scruffy went ape-shit and woofed his down. Caley, on the other hand, took a sniff, turned up her nose and walked away.

I offered her the regular cat treat, while Scruffy chowed down on her saucer (if he throws up, I'll kill him!) I started my chores and the first thing I did was water all the front container gardens.

I am sick to death of fried chicken and mashed potatoes (though I wouldn't mind more of those fried potato cakes like Fran used to make, lol!) so, I looked at leftovers. I still have a lot of the pitted Kalamata olives from the Greek Pasta Salad (but not any lettuce, so a Greek Salad is out). I have a ton of fresh tomatoes, but I am sick of them in all of the various ways I've eaten them so far (I wish I would have bought one of those "starter kits" for home canning!)

Suddenly, it dawned on me: pizza! So, I made the dough with that recipe I found that used all-purpose flour. While it was rising, I combined about three different recipes to make the CaptainK pizza sauce. Here's what I did:

I took one 16 ounce can of tomato sauce and put that in a small sauce pan. To it I added: a handful of minced, dried onion, a teaspoon of salt, a 1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of dried marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. I added about one ounce of water, whisked it up and brought it to a boil. I turned in on simmer and let it get happy and reduce for about one-half an hour.

With the dough in an oiled bowl and that in the oven with the oven light on to rise (a trick Luanne taught me) I went out back. I put the square sprinkler on in the raised bed garden and went to ease my cramped fingers (I kneaded the dough for eight minutes, you see) with a spirited game of horseshoes. It went much quicker tonight, with five ringers, two leaners and a raft of one pointers. In the end, though, Red won again, 13 to 9 in about 20 minutes. Come on, Carla or Jake! I am ready for ya!

Meanwhile, back inside and at the floured cutting board. I split the dough in half and made one 12-inch round pizza. I added my pizza sauce and then some chopped Kalamata olives, fresh garlic, chopped red onion, a diced green pepper I'd picked on the way inside and sliced tomatoes. I topped that with shredded mozzarella cheese and then some shredded Parmesan cheese. The first pizza went into the oven at 400 degrees F. for about 20 minutes (until the cheese and the crust were golden brown. I took it out and took a picture BEFORE I cut into it (learned my lesson the last time, lol).

I re-hit the pizza stone with some cornmeal. I must have got a little adventurous with the cornmeal, as, while the second pizza was baking, both fire detectors went off, the ladies screaming "Fire! Fire!" Soon, the second one came out and I cut up the first. I took three pieces on a paper plate into the bedroom and watched two taped cooking show. I cut up the other pizza and stuck it all in the fridge in a big baggie in between shows. I went to bed at 10:30 PM.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Fried Green Tomatoes

Horseshoes and Fried Green Tomatoes

It was hot and muggy Monday. When I got home and changed, I was straightening the house up a bit and noticed the horseshoes. I had found them in the garage (finally) and moved then into the downstairs room to take outside. So, I took them outside.

Since I was out there anyway, I thought I'd get in some practice by playing red against blue to 11 points. At first, I was just chucking them (hey it's been a year or more since I played) but by the end I was pitching them and they were breaking nicely. Red won, by the way, 12 to 7.

I walked around the rear gardens a bit, patrolling, and found another six of those damn ripe tomatoes so I picked them. In the process, I knocked two big green ones off (its hard to get your hand through the tangle of vines, bent over cages, etc.) So, I grabbed them, too.

Back inside, I decided to use the green ones I have accumulated to make fried green tomatoes. I set up a breading station of eggs and flour and sliced the tomatoes thick. I breaded them and fried them in canola oil. I let they drain on paper towel while I heated up some chicken and mashed potatoes. I did take a picture for you.

I ate dinner watching the Olympics again. The fried green tomatoes were good, but so tart they made your mouth pucker!

I watched TV until 10:00 and then went to bed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Variety Sunday

I got up a little late on Sunday (7:30 AM). But, hey, I was up late, straining my oil (I'm sure there's a dirty joke in there somewhere, but, let it go...) I reheated a cup of coffee and sat out on the front porch, in the cool morning air.

I got a lot of things to do today, so I decided to get going. I shaved and showered and then went to the bank to deposit a check I got in the mail on Saturday. I hit the Walmart's next door for a bag of flour. I really need to fry up those drumsticks and thighs. I can't leave them in buttermilk forever.

So, once back home at about 9:00 AM, I started watering the back yard. I took the recaliant sprinkler, jiggled it, slapped it a bit and hooked it up, thinking if it didn't work it's going in the trash. I must have put the fear of God in it, because it started to work again!

Back inside, I heated up the oil. I want to make the rest of the chicken while it's still cool enough to keep the window open and the vent fan on high. I started the last load of laundry for the weekend.

So, when the oil reached 375 degrees F., I put in two cut up red potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, when I got the chicken out of the fridge, I noticed a big container of leftover mashed potatoes! Man, I can almost taste those potato cakes!!

I thought I'd try Carla's method of breading, so I put a generous amount of flour, some seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder and fresh ground black pepper in a big baggie. I put in two drumsticks and a thigh, shook them around and, after taking out the potatoes, added them to the oil. It took three batches, but I got everything cooked by 11:00 AM.

I had a lot of trouble controlling the temperature (it was either 350 or 400 degrees) So, I don't know if it was the temperature variation or the used oil, but the chicken all came out darker than I would have liked. But the taste-test drumstick (hey, you gotta check it, right?) was delicious! I let all the chicken sit on a rack, over paper towels to drain and cool.

During that time, I was moving the sprinkler around, ending up with the square sprinkler watering the raised bed garden. I also hung up or folded the clothes when they were done in the dryer.

So, at noon, I unpacked the new storm door. Finally, I got my hands on the installation guide. The first thing was to take five separate measurements. When I did that, I realized the aluminum trim I so carefully reattached to the new door would now interfere enough with the new door so it couldn't be installed. Dammitt!

So, instead of installing the door (well, it does say it takes two people to install it because you have to leave the heavy glass in it), I am trying to pull out little nails, cut the aluminum trim back (while not letting the sharp metal cut me!) and reattaching it differently. I wish now I would have had the storm door instructions here when I put the steel door in.

By 3:00 PM, I am hot, sweaty and very annoyed. But, I think I have it so it will work. I won't know today, though, because I quit! I took a rinse-off shower (it's very hot and muggy here) and changed into clean clothes. I got out the watering can and watered the container gardens in front.

Now, my plan was to make what Jake calls his Kicked-Up Kraut for Sunday dinner. But, those mashed potatoes are calling me. Since the smoked sausage I bought for his dish was "buy one, get one free" I took the extra one I had frozen out to thaw and will try his recipe during the week. For today, though, I fried the last four strips of bacon up (for BLTs during the week) and put the sliced sausage and a sliced yellow onion into the bacon grease. I let the sausage get brown and the onion caramelize.

Meanwhile, I mixed some of the mashed potatoes with an egg and a little flour. When the sausage and onion was done, I put it into a bowl, wiped out the pan, added some canola oil and fried up my potato cakes. I ate Sunday dinner watching the Olympics and the potato cakes were every bit as good as I'd hoped they would be!

I finally got through to Carla's Mom (it's her birthday today). She said she hadn't answered before because she didn't recognize my number. But, I did get a chance to wish her Happy Birthday. She said to tell my Mom hello for her, so "Hi Mom," from Acenter.

It's 6:00 PM and I'm going back to the Olympics (these games are addictive). Nope, the news is on, now.

So, as you can see, I took the rest of Sunday afternoon and evening off. I watched my normal Sunday shows after 8:00 PM and went to bed at 11:00. Not the most productive one I've had, but it's been a nice weekend.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Saturday's Dinner

I was up at 7:00 AM on Saturday. I stripped the bedding and put that in the washer. Next, I put on a pot of coffee and went outside to start watering the front lawn. I set the big sprinkler in the middle of the lawn and turned on the water.

I walked out back to see if my suspicions were correct and the morning glory vine I had spotted last night might be in bloom. They were and it was, so I took a couple of pictures of that, and a picture of the cucumbers I also spotted last night. I came in and posted them, then got a cup of coffee and went out on the front porch to drink it.

As I was sitting there, enjoying the morning air, I noticed the sprinkler was a little angled, so the sweep of the water wasn't perfect. At first, I decided it was no big deal, but the German in me started to rise and finally, I couldn't take it anymore. So, I walked out back, turned off the water, repositioned it and then walked around back again and turned the water back on.

Back to the porch and my coffee. Uh, oh! The oscillating sprinkler is not oscillating! It's stuck in one position! Since, I work in IT, my first thought was to reboot. So, I turned the water off, waited a minute or so and then turned it back on. No help! Now, the sprinkler had been running for over 30 minutes, so I know that I had put down about 1/4 inch of water, but I had planned on letting it run an hour. Deeply disappointed in my faithless sprinkler, I switched it for the square sprinkler and started to water the front side lawn.

If anybody out there has had this experience and knows what to do to fix it, please, PLEASE comment!

Back inside, I cleaned the counters and got out the chicken for today's main meal. Carla had let me know they were going to be stopping by and thought it might be fun to make some fried chicken. I said I'd make some cornbread (not sweet, no bacon or cheese, just plain old Alabama cornbread). She said she'd make some mashed potatoes.

For appetizers, she will make some bruschetta, using a store-bought baguette and my home grown tomatoes and basil. She'll also be making some deep-fried chicken gizzards (Yum-o!)

So, I know her favorite fried chicken part is the wings, Jake's is the thighs (easily, the best tasting part of the chicken) and mine are the drumsticks. I had picked up a package of drumsticks and one of thighs, but I couldn't find a small one of chicken wings. So, I got the "value-pack" which had 16 chicken wings. Too much for Shorty to eat, even with me and Jake helping.

So, I put the drumsticks and thighs in a zip-lock bag, filled it with buttermilk, put that in a bowl (I have had a few bad experiences with marinades leaking out of a zip-lock bag) and popped it in the fridge. Then I tackled the wings. I put six of them into another zip-lock bag and stuck them in the freezer (I'll either cook them as wings or use them when I am making chicken stock).

I cut the remaining chicken wings at the joints, and set the wing tips aside in another zip-lock bag for my chicken stock. The two chicken wing sections, per wing, went into another zip-lock bag. I filled it with buttermilk, put that in a bowl and popped it in the fridge. I put the plastic cutting board into the dishwasher and turned it on to wash this week's dishes. I sprayed the counters with anti-bacterial 409 spray and wiped them down.

I'm not sure what she will want to bread these with (I always use eggs, whisked with hot sauce until it's orange colored and then plain flour). But, since I have flour, regular bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, Japanese panko bread crumbs and/or crackers (if she wants to crush them up), I think I've got it covered! Note: I was SO wrong!

Oh, yeah, in between all that, I was moving the square sprinkler around every 20 minutes. But, by 11:00 AM, I was done watering. I had remade the bed and started cleaning the house. I forgot to mention, but, before I was finished watering, I had hand watered the patio herb gardens, refilled the reflecting pool and the bird bath and gave the Japanese red maple a good, long drink.

BTW, whenever I went outside, there was a squirrel that didn't run away. He just moved a few feet out of the way and continued to eat the seeds. So, I congratulated him on his bravery and told him, "Brother, I mean you no harm. Thank you for not running away from me!" He seemed to smile...

At noon, I was sweeping the kitchen floor when the air conditioner clicked on. So, I quickly shut all the windows I had opened and continued to clean the house.

By 1:30 PM, I had everything cleaned. So, I took my shower. I got dressed and laid down on the bed to rest for a bit, and then they showed up, with a hearty "Hello!" (Okay, so I know it's really so I don't shoot them, but it still always sounds so friendly!)

So, we caught each other up on what's been going on and then they got to work. Jake sliced the baguette up and put the slices on the half sheet pan, drizzled with olive oil). We all walked outside and picked some tomatoes, and then Carla cut them up for the bruschetta, while Jake toasted the sliced baguette in the oven. Oh, yeah, I went back outside and picked a good handful of basil for her. She made the tomatoes and the basil into the topping for the bruschetta.

She heated the oil and, after discarding all the hearts, she seasoned the gizzards with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Then, when the oil hit 375 degrees F., she deep fried them. We snacked on the bruschetta and gizzards (both excellent, BTW) and then we addressed the main meal.

Here's where I let everybody down! There was barely two cups of flour in my container and, even though I pride myself on having extra "everything" in my pantry, there was no more flour to be found! Carla disregarded my breading station and asked for just a baggie. Without any flour, my cornbread was a bust, so we scratched it off the list.

We drained the chicken wings in a colander and she shook them in the baggie with the flour and her secret seasonings (well, they aren't really secret, I just didn't see what she put in there). Then she fried them up. There wasn't enough flour left to do the drumsticks or thighs, though.

Meanwhile, I cut up five pounds of Yukon gold potatoes into cubes and put them on to boil. I went back outside at Carla's direction and harvested a handful of chives. Using scissors, I snipped them up into a glass dish. When she deemed the potatoes were done, she mashed them with the chives, some butter, milk, a little sour cream and just a handful of shredded cheddar cheese.

And, then we ate...

The chicken wings were excellent, crunchy on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside. And, the mashed potatoes were over the top!

Jake insisted on cleaning up, so we let him. Since I have to get some flour and fry up the remaining thighs and drumsticks, Jake suggested saving the cooking oil (normally, I would just discard this).

Then, they left for home. I decided it was a GREAT time to take a nap, so I did.

I woke up just before 8:00 PM, checked the TV menu and decided on a movie. I watched that until 11:00.

I went out to the kitchen and started to strain the cooking oil. At first, I used a coffee filter, but that didn't work (after 15 minutes, I had, maybe, two tablespoons of oil). So, I switched to a strainer and my kitchen handkerchiefs. That worked, so I saved all the oil except for the stuff at the bottom of the pan (which had the entire breading gunk in it). According to Jake, if I reheat it and then cook a potato in it (it like, sucks up the nasty bits and flavors) I can then use it to fry up the rest of the chicken, tomorrow.

That accomplished, I opened some windows and then went to bed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Party prep #1 - cutting board, baguette, bread knife and half-sheet pan.


Party prep, #2. Breading station, oil in cast iron pan and thermometer, spyder and paper towels under a rack on a cookie sheet,

Saturday Morning, Over Easy (again)

This is a song performed by Matt Watroba (a local guy and a DJ on our Public Radio station). I'm not sure who the author is. But, this is the kind of love I have always dreamed of (like my Mom and Dad), but sadly, never found...


We've got an old love
One we never will get tired of
One that fits us like an old glove
One to warm a winter's days
We don't have to say I love you
Quite as often as we used to
Old love just goes without saying,
But we'll still say it anyway

I met you beneath the willow
You were young, a little shy
But we would sit and talk for hours
Watch the river flowing by
You would laugh at all my stories
And then at dusk I'd walk you home
Who'd have guessed we'd walk a lifetime
Growing up and growing old

We've got an old love
One we never will get tired of
One that fits us like an old glove
One to warm a winter days
We don't have to say I love you
Quite as often as we used to
Old love just goes without saying,
But we'll still say it anyway

We may not leave this town we live in
Life's not as easy as we planned
I always meant to give you diamonds
But you still wear a plain gold band
That old river keeps on rolling
We don't know just what's in store
But in spite of all of this
I don't love you like I did
I love you so much more

And we've got an old love
One we never will get tired of
One that fits us like an old glove
One to warm a winter days
We don't have to say I love you
Quite as often as we used to
Old love just goes without saying,
But we'll still say it anyway


Looks like this is my whole cucumber crop this year!


Close up of the morning glory on the back wall.


The only morning glory out of the whole package that survived!

Friday at Last!!!

I got home Friday night, a little disappointed. For some reason (and I don't know why), they didn't play "Bang the Drum" after the "Five O'clock Funnies" on WCSX like they always do. Seemed wrong somehow!

I changed clothes, grabbed the camera and went outside to take the photos I missed last night. Since I was out there anyway, I walked to the back garden to see how it was doing. I was shocked! The squash and cucumbers are all drying out and look like sh*t! And, two of the hostas are dead, and the rhododendron look terrible!! Even the one forsythia looks like its dying. Damn!

So, even though I had a lot of other things planned for tonight, after I went inside and posted the pictures, I hooked up the rear hose, grabbed the wand and headed out back again. I changed my mind, though, and went back inside to get some 12-12-12 fertilizer. I sprinkled that in a big circle around the cucumber and squash plants, and then I started watering. This time I gave each plant 45 seconds of the wand water, which roughly translated to four gallons.

After watering, I put the hoses and wand away, grabbed my garden shears and went back again and trimmed two of the bushes. I finally went inside for good at 7:50 PM.

I was hungry, but not inspired, so I fixed a box of mac & cheese and ate some of that with a hot dog. I let the Friday Night Fights record and watched a show on the Discovery channel about the scientific search for Bigfoot, instead. Interesting. I went to sleep at 10:00 PM when it finished.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Here's a shot of the picker bush my neighbor is feeding the thistle to his finches. Don't forget, you can click on the picture to enlarge, then use your Browser's "back" button to return.


Front garden #1


Front garden, #2 (the bare spaces are from the moss roses, which really disappointed me this year)


Front garden #3 (there's the pig!)


Front garden, #4


One of the two eggplant I have growing in my raised bed garden. Its about nine inches long.


Tough to see, but here are the tomato cages my neighbor's father made, that he gave to me.


Here's where the peas, spinach and Bibb lettuce went.


The Phlox this year

Forgot to Mention...

While I was watering the front garden, I was chatting with my neighbors. I finally got around to asking him about the big picker bush he let grow in his ditch.

It's in my way, you see. It's huge and blocks my view of the road as I am backing out of the driveway. So, I offered to cut it down (I thought maybe it was too daunting a task for him).

Not at all, he explained. It seems when it was smaller, he was going to cut it down. But his friend the tree guy (he cut down my trees for me a few years back and has that great dog Carla loves) pointed out that he had four finches feeding on the thistles. So, he didn't cut it. Now he has seven different finches who visit it daily.

So, I agreed we shouldn't cut it down!

He also told me he brought me three tomato cages that his Dad had made long ago out of the wire they put into concrete. My 99-cent ones have crumpled under the weight of the tomato plants, you see. I thanked him and, sure enough, when I went out back, there they were. I was too busy last night to take pictures, but I will.


I got home and changed clothes on Thursday. I decided to cut only the front lawn tonight. It hasn't grown that much, but what has grown was uneven. So, I gave it a trim.

After that, I watered the container gardens. While doing that, I noticed some of the Impatiens in the front garden were really droopy. So, I dragged the hose out front and watered all the gardens. I used that Miracle Gro liquid fertilizer with the hose attachment for the second time this season.

Back in the back, I coiled up the hose and harvested the last of the leaf lettuce. I worked up the soil where the lettuce had been after adding a little 12-12-12 fertilizer. I planted two rows of peas and one more row (half bibb lettuce and half spinach) for a Fall harvest. I set up the square sprinkler and gave the whole raised bed a good drink.

Back inside, I made a salad with a little leaf lettuce, a little store bought cucumber and a LOT of tomatoes (got to use them up). I ate that and a hot dog for dinner. I watched some TV but by 9:30 PM I started nodding, so I shut everything off and went to sleep.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The vegetarian in me!

Wednesday and this is starting to become a morning routine here: get up, close the windows!

I stopped at Home Depot (ironically, on the way home) to pick up a drill bit. When I turned on my street I got a wonderful surprise. Finally, after construction the whole first part of the summer, they had graded the road. You wouldn't have believed the craters I had in front of the house. So, I "glided," instead of "bounced" up to my mail box.

I was a little late on the cat treats and they let me know it. But, after finding some more wild catnip on my yard patrol and giving it to them on the kitchen floor, I was back in their good graces.

Then I made dinner. I cut the top and bottom off that summer squash and ran it through the mandoline, set for 1/4 inch slices. I added some olive oil and a whole lot of butter and fried them in my biggest pan (see Photos). When they were nice and brown and soft, I pulled them off and plated them. To offset the sweet, buttery taste of the squash, I cut thick slices out of two of the plum tomatoes. I seasoned the squash with just salt and the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Then, I dug in. Now, that reminds me of summer back on the farm! And, I grew the whole dinner in my back yard!!

I watched TV for a bit, but then switched to a new magazine that came today. I read for a while, and then just went to sleep.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Summer squash, starting to brown up.


Summer squash, done to perfection!


Tuesday's Harvest, Part I


Tuesday's Harvest, Part II

Tuesday on the farm...

Tuesday was a picture-perfect day; 82 degrees F. with puffy white clouds and a nice breeze.

When I got home, I changed clothes and then watered all the container gardens. After that, I hooked up the square sprinkler and watered the raised bed garden, after harvesting all the ripe tomatoes (and one green one that came off while tugging on the ripe one next to it).

I was chatting with the neighbors, who were complaining they hadn't gotten any cucumbers yet. So, I went back to check on mine. Sure enough, no cucumbers. But I did find a nice-sized yellow squash.

I took the harvest in the house, washed everything off and left them in the dish rack to dry (see Photos).

I ate two hot dogs for dinner and watched TV until bedtime.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shout out to Flowergirl96!

Hey, you tell me what you want to see in my yard and I will photograph it and post. The urn you thought was so pretty is a combination of the wave petunias, one asparagus fern and some red geraniums.

As an aside, when I mentioned to my Mom your old man had sent me some pictures, she was all excited. Until I told her it was pictures of the boat house, the boat and fish they had caught. If you have any pictures of you, him and your son, she would love to see them. Send them to me at my email address (your old man has it, BTW) and I will forward. Nice to hear from you!

In the toilet...

I got up to the alarm clock Monday morning. Both my knees and legs hurt, I would imagine from the long drives yesterday and those cottage stairs. But, I soldier on, as always.

There was a voicemail on my phone last night from Lowe's. It seems the storm door came in yesterday. So I decided to try and pick it up with the car today at lunchtime. If it won't fit, I'll have to come back with the trailer.

Since I was there anyway, I picked up a good, wood toilet seat (unlike the cheap, flimsy plastic one that came with the toilet that Scruffy broke). With the help of one of the Lowe's guys, I did manage to get the storm door box into the truck and through the folded-down rear seats. I secured the trunk lid with a bungie cord and drove it home. Unloading it was a bit trickier (not having the Lowe's guy) but I finally got it out and laid flat on the garage door. I doubt I will try and install it until the weekend, though. That much glass is daunting!

When I got home from work, I was beat, and had already resolved not to do anything tonight. But, there in the garage was the new toilet seat, singing a siren song. So, I pushed my resolve aside (I can do that! I've had a lifetime of practice, you see, LOL!) and took it out of the box. Then common sense took over and I changed my clothes and gave the cats their treat (before they hurt me!)

As I said, this one is a good one (a Kohler) and made of wood covered in a white laminate. It weighs about ten times what that original one did. So, I don't think Scruff can hurt it. I did some prep work first by filling a bucket with Top Job and water and, using a sponge, washing down the toilet and the surrounding area (I don't want my installation to trap some germs or something). I let that dry and then put the toilet seat on.

I warmed up some of the pulled pork and had it with the coleslaw on the sesame seed bun. Very tasty (but the coleslaw needs more salt). I started watching taped show, and got through a lot of them, but I gave up at 9:30 PM. I opened the bedroom and kitchen windows and then went to sleep.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Captain Mythbuster!

The other day, my son Jeremy startled me. We were discussing what to me seems to be the morbid fascination some people have in what I eat or drink. His answer was that they are just concerned as I always seem to be sick! I was flabbergasted! Truth be told, I cannot remember the last time I was sick, even with just a cold. It has literally been years since I took a day off work, because I was ill.

In fact, do you remember that stress test my doctor insisted I needed to take because of my family history and since it had been so long since my last one? I finally did give in and had it done (I think back in January). It turns out that, since I had no previous symptoms and the test results came back perfect, with no occlusions anywhere, my insurance company feels this was more like a "Wellness Plan" test and is therefore not covered! So, now I am stuck with a $300 bill for a test I didn't want and didn't need.

My ever-helpful Webmaster did some research and the last time I mentioned getting sick (a bad cold, BTW) in the Blog was September 23, 2006!

So, for all you well-meaning, but misguided people who have somehow gotten the notion that I am sickly: I ain't!

Family Fun, Part 2

I got up Sunday morning, shivering. I checked the temperature and it was only 50 degrees F.! So, I closed the windows I'd opened last night. I had to write the rest of the Blog entry and post it, so it was after 8:00 AM before I started watering the grass around the patio. It was chilly in my t-shirt and shorts, running around, setting the hose and sprinkler, so I decided to drink my warmed up cup of coffee in the house instead of on the front porch.

Then, onto today's food preparation! I got a pot of salted water boiling and cooked up a box of mostaccioli to al dente. I drained that, rinsed it with cold water, drained it again and stuck the colander in the fridge.

Next, came cutting up the veggies. I peeled a medium-sized cucumber, leaving strips of green peel purely for looks. I cut it in half, lengthwise, and sliced it about 1/8 of an inch thick. Now, here the recipe called for two cups of cherry tomatoes, quartered. But since I have an abundance of Italian (or plum) tomatoes from my garden, I cored and seeded them, then diced them into 1/4 inch chunks (until I got two cups, BTW).

I sliced up six smallish green onions (four large ones would have worked, too), white and green, after cleaning them. Then I took 1/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives and cut each one in half. I got out my big bowl and tossed the pasta, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions and olives all together.

Using a screw top jar I save for just this sort of thing, I put in 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons). As my own afterthought, I added the zest of one of the lemons.

Dodging the sprinkler water, I went out to the patio and harvested fresh basil and oregano. I went back inside and diced up two tablespoons of each herb. They went into the jar with a tablespoon of anchovy paste, and three cloves of garlic I minced. I added about a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper.

During all this, I moved the sprinkler two more times. I put the lid on the jar and shook the hell out of it. You see, I try to never have any hell in my recipes, unless it's a Southwest, Jalapeno sort of thing. I drizzled that on top the salad and, using my two biggest wooden spoons, I tossed it until it was coated. This salad needs to be chilled at least two hours, or up to 24 hours, BTW.

That went into the other tinfoil Lasagna pan, covered with a sheet of tinfoil and was put in the fridge. When I am out at Lake Orion and ready to serve this, I will add four ounces of feta cheese, re-toss and sprinkle some fresh oregano leaves I reserved, on top (again, from up high - it makes a prettier presentation, you see).

Then, I made the coleslaw for the pulled pork sandwiches. I hate to disappoint you purists, but I used a store-bought bag of shredded cabbage and carrots and a store-bought jar of dressing. I think I am ready now and the watering is done so, at 10:30 AM, I rinsed everything that could go into the dishwasher, and then hand-washed the big bowl and the knives. I cleaned the counters and then took a break with the last cup of coffee.

I was just about to go take a shave and shower when the phone rang. It was Luanne, from Virginia, so we talked for a while catching each other up on what's been happening. At her end, her mouth is recovered somewhat from the oral surgery and she will soon be able to have a crown put in. She still has to go to rehab with her leg and she was just fitted for another oxygen machine for her sleep apnea. At my end, well, if you are reading this, lol, you already know what's been happening around here.

So, after hanging up and then showering (I decided to skip the shave due to time constraints), I loaded up the cooler with everything above and two containers of frozen soup: Split pea and New England Clam Chowder (my Mom loves the way I make clam chowder, as does most everyone who's ever tried it!) The frozen soups will help keep the other foods cool, too.

I left home just after noon. Two things bothered me on the way to Lake Orion. One, it started raining (well, sprinkling) about half way there and, two, on Telegraph Road, around Maple Road, I notice that all the stores and restaurants had people, waving you in, with signs that said, "Parking - $20." I thought to myself, "Uh oh, I'm gonna get stuck in one of these damn dream cruises!"

By way of explanation for my foreign friends, Michigan has Dream Cruises on various roads during the summer months (the most famous being the Woodward Dream Cruise) where people bring their antique cars, or restored muscle cars, etc. and drive up and down the street (which is lined with car fans). Sounds pretty silly, I know, but we seem to love them!

But, nothing like that occurred and I got to the cottage just after 1:00 PM. Only one vehicle was there and it turned out to be my nephew Jason, his wife Becky, their 17 year old son and eight year old daughter (haven't seen any of them in years, BTW). Their son carried the cooler upstairs for me and I went in to say hi to Mom, who was eating her lunch.

It turned out that they live just off of Inkster (as I do) but about 10 miles further South and had driven here by the exact route as I did. Becky cleared up the mystery for me by telling me the people offering parking were there for the PGA tour who's last day is today in Bloomfield Hills.

It also turned out that Jeremy, his ex-wife and Riese where really there, but Mom had sent them on a pizza run (so she would have food to offer her guests). So, I heated up the pulled pork and offered Mom some of the Greek Pasta Salad (after adding the feta cheese and the oregano leaves). She said it was really good.

Jeremy and his crew showed up about then, with three pizzas. So, we started to eat. I'm not sure about this, but all the kids and Jyl ate pizza (hey, who wouldn't? I had some salad, but ate a piece of pizza too!) but I think Jason and Jeremy had some of the pulled pork with coleslaw. I think Jeremy also had some of the salad, but I'm not sure.

Meanwhile, because he had called and let them know he would be out there, members of Jason's family started to show up. First was Terry, Jason's dad. Then came Laura, (his sister), her husband Dave and their son; Johnny and two of his kids and finally Russell and his daughter and son (Jason's two brothers). I asked everybody at various times if they were hungry, but they had all just eaten, or stopped at a fast-food restaurant, etc. So, I finally turned off the pulled pork.

I went outside into the cool wind (and occasional rain) and watched Riese finally brave getting in the water. She told me she would swim out to the raft and back and, by God, she did! She was standing up and saying how cold it was, when I told her it was the wind, not the water, making her cold and get back in the water. Jason's daughter didn't bring a suit, so she contented herself with taking off her shoes and sticking her feet in the water. When Jeremy decide to go swimming, too (hey, he couldn't let his own daughter show him up, could he?), I went back inside.

Mom said that Hannah's mother, Diane, had bought a cottage in Harbor Beach (on Lake Huron) and that, since the Fair in Armada (where Hannah and Kal live) was going on, they were spending the week up there. So, I gave up on my brother Carl and Hannah and Kal coming out.

It was getting close to 4:00 PM and I had visited with everybody (Jeremy had some interesting stories about political in-fighting at his work and having been contacted and asked to write an article regarding Network Security). So, I started to get my stuff together.

I figured neither my Mom nor Cora would really appreciate BBQ pulled pork and coleslaw, so, I packed that up (but I left the open package of sesame seed buns). I split the remaining Greek Pasta Salad in half and put one half in the fridge in a covered bowl (after letting Cora know where it was). The other half went back into my cooler. I carried it downstairs and put it in my trunk, while noticing somebody with a truck and trailer had my Volvo blocked in. I found out it was Russell, and asked him to move it for me. I kissed my Mom goodbye, said my goodbyes to everyone else and left just after 4:00 PM.

Traffic back home was pretty good, it only sprinkled now and then and I saw the Goodyear blimp floating around (again, probably over the PGA tournament) and peeking in and out of the low hanging clouds. I got home about 5:15 PM. I put the Glad containers (the pulled pork and coleslaw) in the fridge and transferred the Greek pasta Salad into another Glad container. Rather than pitching the tinfoil Lasagna pan, I washed it. I can always stick it in the garage and use it as a drip pan next time I smoke something in my grill.

I started the last load of laundry for the weekend and went out to check the rain gauge. I had about 1/4 inch of rain in there so, not the drenching downpour I'd been praying for, but it will do!

Back inside, I caught tomorrow's Blog entry up to date and then threw the laundry in the dryer. I took the steak out I'd thawed to let it get up to room temperature. At 7:00 PM, I used my charcoal chimney and a sheet of newspaper to light the coals. Unlike Carla, who did it in one try, I had to use another sheet of newspaper to get them going.

While that was working (or, not working, depending on your point of view) I watered the hanging plants and the urn. A guy who lives down the road rode by on his bicycle and yelled to me, "Its barbeque time!" I yelled back, "You got it, brother!"

So, by 7:30 PM, the coals were ready, I cleaned, then oiled the grates and had hit both sides of the beautiful one-inch thick rib steak with Emeril's Essence. (I've about used the house seasoning and the Montreal Steak Seasoning to death this summer). I put the steak on and got it medium-rare, with nice grill marks. I put it on a plate with a pat of butter on top and let it rest while I cooked some hot dogs for the coming week.

I shut up the grille, shut the garage door and ate dinner: the steak with a little of the pasta salad. The steak was very good, by the way. It was nice to have that bit of a different taste from the different seasoning. I started watching my Sunday shows but fell asleep before they all were done. But, that's okay, because the DVD-R was recording them for me, just in case...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Family Fun, Part 1

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Saturday and immediately made a pot of coffee. I enjoyed the first cup on the front porch, in the cool Canadian air (thanks, Oh, Canada, BTW). By 8:00 I had taken a quick, rinse-off shower, got the hose pulled out front and the big sprinkler turned on.

Back inside I set about addressing the big mess "somebody" left in my kitchen because he HAD to go watch the fights last night. Most things could just be rinsed and put in the dishwasher, but the frying pan, the Shun and the half-sheet pan needed hand-washing. So, I did. I would have started the dishwasher (it's full enough), but it would interfere too much with the lawn watering.

I hand-dried the frying pan, the Shun and the half-sheet pan and set them on the stove to air dry the rest of the way. The timer went off, so I switched the big sprinkler for the square sprinkler and began to water the front side lawn. Then I washed the two tinfoil lasagna pans and big Glad containers I bought yesterday. I'll need them today and tomorrow for transporting food.

Next I wrapped Carla's present and signed her card. I switched the sprinkler again in the middle of that. I got the elbow macaroni boiled, rinsed and set aside.

At 11:15 AM, I turned the water off for the last time. The entire front lawn was now watered heavily. Inside, I had the ingredients for the Roasted Potato Salad all cut up and was about to make the dressing. The temperature outside had climbed above 70 degrees F., so first, I shut all the windows I had opened last night. After dressing the potato salad, I transferred it to the bowl I am taking, dropped a little more fresh parsley on top (from way up high), covered it and put it in the fridge. One down, one to go.

So, I am using a Tyler Florence recipe for macaroni and cheese. He's a classically French-trained chef, so it's a bit more complicated, but I've made this before and prefer it. If you were paying attention, you know I have a pound of cooked elbow macaroni, now sitting in the tinfoil lasagna pan (after I buttered the pan). Next I took four cups of milk and put it in a saucepan with a bay leaf, three sprigs of fresh thyme, four cloves of peeled garlic, a teaspoon of dried mustard and 1/2 of a yellow onion, peeled, with one whole clove stuck in it. I warmed that over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, careful not to let it boil. I pulled it off the heat and let the flavors infuse the milk while I made the roux.

In a large pot over medium heat I added two tablespoons butter and two tablespoons of flour. I cooked it, stirring, for about 2 to 3 minutes; making sure I didn't let the roux color. I slowly strained the infused milk into the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. I cooked it, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the sauce was thick.

I removed it from the heat and added one cup of grated sharp Cheddar and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan; stirred until it was melted and smooth. I tasted it and adjusted the seasoning with salt and pepper. I poured the sauce over the macaroni, added one cup of chunks of sharp Cheddar, and mixed until well blended.

I put that into the prepared tinfoil baking dish. I sprinkled another cup of shredded sharp Cheddar and another 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheeses evenly over the top. As an afterthought, I used the micro-planner and added my favorite, Parmigiano-Reggiano, to the top. I baked it in a 350 degree preheated oven until the top was golden and crusty, about 25 to 30 minutes.

While this was in the oven, I took the time to shave and really shower. Then, I pulled the macaroni and cheese out and covered it with tinfoil for the journey. That went into the car, covered with a blanket to keep warm. I put the potato salad in the cooler and left for the party.

When I got there, there were balloons hung on the front porch light and Jerry and Cathy's car in the drive. Jerry and Cathy are Jay's parents and friends of all of us from back in our old St. Clair stomping grounds. Everybody came out to help carry and the macaroni & cheese went into the oven on Warm and the potato salad into the fridge (on cool, lol!).

Needless to say, we all had a good time! It sprinkled a few times, there was a brief shower once (we just moved the lawn chairs into the open garage). I had been hearing about all the trimming and yard work Jake was doing, and I must say, it really showed.

We did go swimming (except for Cathy who wisely sat that out) and played that Lasso Golf game (Jake and Jerry against me and the ladies).

And dinner? Jake had slow-smoked two racks of baby backs with a dry rub on them. Carla made cheesy fries (matchstick thin and delicious) and they grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. My potato salad was good, but I thought the macaroni and cheese was kinda dried out (the ribs got on late and we ate later than I had planned for). Thinking about it now, I should have assembled it here and baked it there, 30 minutes before dinner.

It was almost 8:00 PM when I headed home. I was treated with a beautiful rainbow all while I was driving east. In fact, I watched the Weather Channel Sunday morning and somebody in Dearborn, Michigan, had sent in a picture of it that they showed on TV!

I watched one taped show and then realized just how tired I was from all the swimming and playing, so I went to sleep. The last thought I had was regretting concentrating on those ribs so much I forgot to get a burger!