Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Two things I forgot to mention this morning

1. When I went to the dentist, all the usual parking slots were taken, so I had to parallel park in the street. I honestly can’t remember the last time I parallel parked, so I was a little nervous, But I surprised myself by doing it perfectly the first time!

2. Of all the “luxury” items in my car, the one I appreciate the most, living in Michigan, is heated seats!

Blustery, Hell!

Tuesday was a windy, wet and cold day here in Southeast Michigan. When I took out the last bag of trash, I set the trash can (which was still there, then) on the edge of it, so it wouldn't blow way, as the wind was coming straight from the north, strong and steady with gusts up to 50 MPH.

When I started the car to leave for work, the first thing I noticed was I only had my left headlight shining on the garage wall. The right was dark. Great!

There also was a light rain that I cursed on the way to work, but thanked later when Michelle, who sits next to me and lives in Waterford, told me she drove in through snow and sleet!

I decided it was stupid to walk outside, so I walked around the offices and the shop areas of my building in the morning. I got stopped and asked three times with questions like: “Can I help you?” “Are you looking for somebody?” and so on. Each time I explained what I was doing, so maybe enough people will know that the winter month’s walks won’t be such an interrogation.

At lunch, I headed home, but stopped at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts first.$19 US later, I left for home, in the wind and a misty rain. When I got there, the first thing I did was to retrieve my empty trash can and lid from the vacant lot next door, where it had blown. There was no sign of the trash bag, so I guess it made it on the garbage truck.

I did the afternoon tour of the building and got a lot of stares, but no questions.

I left work 15 minutes early so I could be on time for my 5:30 PM dentist appointment. He did some grinding on the teeth that will secure my new bridge and then we had to do another mold with that yucky clay shit. This time, thank God, it was only on the bottom (it’s the one on top that really makes you gag). And then we had to repeat the bite on liquid silicone or something mold.

I left there about an hour later, spitting out little bits of blue gunk, and drove home in a real rain, this time. The winds still had not died down. It was too dark in the garage to install the headlight and the bulb in my trouble light had burned out! Besides, I was cold and tired, so that will have to wait.

I had thawed some of that mushroom barley soup, so I warmed that up after I brushed my teeth. I had a small bowl of it for dinner. I winded up watching TV until 10:30 PM and then went to bed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Blustery Day (oh, bother...)

Thanks to the Detroit Tigers game, I overslept Monday morning, with the alarm going off for 30 minutes. Which was bad, as I had to leave early. While I was on vacation, my doctor sent a script for some blood work she will need done before my next appointment and I had to get it done today.

So, I had to hustle. Not eating breakfast helped (I have to fast for the test) but not by much. I did manage to get my blood drawn and still got to work 20 minutes early, though.

I guess being down south thinned my blood, y'all, because I was freezing during my morning walk!

I went to Best Buy at lunch to get a couple of things I needed and then stopped at Ten Yen on the way back for some Chicken subgum, won ton soup, egg roll and hot tea (I really needed the hot tea by the time I got there!)

I had to make myself go out for the afternoon walk and regretted every minute of it.

I did take the trash can out when I first arrived home after work, but was not positive it would still be upright and where I put it by the morning. Inside, I treated the cats and then treated myself to a hot cup of coffee.

I changed clothes and washed up the slow cooker insert (soaking since Sunday's supper). I watched the news until I was hungry (it went on for an extra half hour until 7:30 PM because of the hurricane).

For dinner, I warmed up the rest of the hamburger and bean mixture and again ate it with buttered bread.

The short, interrupted sleep I got Sunday night caught up with me. I fell asleep sometime around 9:00 PM. Of course, I woke up about 2:00 AM, wide awake, but I did manage to finally go back to sleep again.

Birthday Shoutout

Happy birthday to my firstborn, my dear daughter Amy!!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday Supper (for Carl)

Winter Rose Covers

Play Structure #1

Play Structure #2

Sunday Evening, Coming Down...

I woke up early Sunday morning and couldn’t fall back asleep. So, I read my book instead.

I finally got up and out of bed around 7:00 AM. Well, I actually got up earlier to go to the bathroom and make a cup of coffee. But, now I ate breakfast, ate my pills, shaved and showered.

I left about 9:00 AM to get some milk and bread and pick up the fixin’s for my Sunday supper: corned beef and cabbage. I was going to grill brats (I should have yesterday, dammit) but one look outside at the wind and the cold, gray sky and I decided grilling was not as appropriate today as comfort food.

So, I breezed through Costco (for more coffee) and then hit Kroger’s for the corned beef, cabbage bread, milk and a few other things. On the way back home, I stopped and filled up my gas tank.

I treated the cats and then unpacked everything. Since it takes 6-8 hours to cook on “Low,” I started the corned beef first.

I put two peeled carrots, cut about two inches long and two medium onions, quartered, in the bottom of the round slow cooker (later, I would regret not using the larger, oblong one, but I purposely bought a small piece of corned beef so it would fit in the round one).

Then I put in the corned beef, after rinsing it off and scoring the fat cap. I added one cup of water and two cups of apple juice and then sprinkled the packet of seasoning on top of the corned beef fat.

The recipe called for a small head of cabbage, but I couldn’t find one. So, I bought a half of cabbage (they do sell them that way, covered in cling wrap.) I took out the core and rough chopped it. But, I couldn’t fit all of it in the slow cooker! (should have used the bigger slow cooker). So, I saved the rest for coleslaw or something.

I turned it on “Low” and went about the day, after I washed the knives I had used.

I took the suitcase up into the attic. Since I was up there, I brought down the Styrofoam rose covers I use for the winter and the tarp that covers my patio furniture, wheelbarrow, etc.

I grabbed my coat, the pruning anvil pliers and my work gloves and headed out back. I cut down the roses and put the covers on, secured by the patio stones I always use.

I noticed that a large amount of leaves had been caught by the branches the lawn cutting guys had thrown on the upper platform of the play structure (I told them to do that). I was concerned that they would trap moisture up there and rot out the platform. So, first I went up and got down all the branches. Then I went back in the house for a leaf rake and the garage broom.

I raked off the leaves and then swept the platform. You’ll notice in the photos I took that there was a large wet spot. It supposed to rain most of the coming week (starting Monday night) so I think the rain will wash off any remaining soil. I took a photo of the rose covers from up there as well, not noticing until I processed the photos that they were in one of the platform pictures as well.

On my way back into the house, I saw the suet cage was empty, so I got out a cake and refilled it.

I had gotten my coat (the one I wear to work in Fall and Spring) dirty, so I started a load with it. This is the first time I ever washed it, so I followed the instructions on its tag and put it on a gentle cycle.

I had a cup of coffee to warm up and watched some TV until the washer signaled it was done. I put the coat in the dry on low heat and hoped it wouldn’t come out wrinkled or worse.

Finally, I took the laundry out. Coat looks and fits great! I called B___ on the phone and we caught each other up on our week’s activities.

About an hour before I thought the corned beef would be done, I started on my Herb Buttered Potatoes (this all is a Sandra Lee recipe, BTW). I took a bag of baby redskin potatoes and cut each in half (the bigger ones I cut into quarters. I put them in cold salted water and turned the heat on high (that’s a Michael Symon trick I learned). When they started to boil, I turned them to a medium simmer and set the timer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I went out and cut some fresh, flat leaf parsley. I chopped that up until I had about two tablespoons. Them I finely minced about a tablespoon of garlic.

When the timer went off, I checked and they weren’t done (I didn’t figure they would be, I just wanted to remember to check on them as I was watching TV). About five more minutes and they were fork tender.

I drained them and put them back in the hot pan. I added a half stick of room temperature unsalted butter, the garlic and the parsley. I seasoned them with salt and lots of fresh cracked black pepper. Then I carefully combined everything with a rubber spatula (so I didn’t break up the potatoes).

I put the potatoes in a bowl and some of the veggies in the slow cooker on a platter. I sliced some of the corned beef and put it on the platter as well. See photos.

I plated it and ate my dinner. It all was pretty good. The cabbage was a little underdone, but the potatoes made up for it. In fact, the potatoes were excellent!

I let everything cool down while I cleaned up. But the leftovers were still too warm for the fridge so I went back to the TV and left them until later. I started watching the Tigers in what turned out to be the last game of the World Series, which I sincerely regret this morning as that meant I stayed up until midnight and we lost, anyway!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jake's Photoshop vision of what the squirrel feeder will look like with the metal edgings.

Getting Back into the Groove

I woke up late on Saturday. I paid some bills, and went through the mail I had held until Friday. It took me longer than I thought it would to write the Blog post, but I guess I was just out of practice.

I had to call Brighthouse and have them reset the cable box. It had filled to 100% of recordings during my absence (how was I supposed to know they were planning a 24-hour Macgyver marathon?) Even after deleting most of them, it kept telling me it was at 100% and some of my functions were now disabled. But, Brighthouse and I eventually got it all straightened out.

I did little chores all morning and early afternoon (wound the clock, refilled the pill box, shaved and showered, etc.) Then I moved onto bigger things. I cleaned all the poop out of the 40 pounds of kitty litter (fresh last Sunday morning) and put the kitty litter in the wheelbarrow (that I had moved to the leaf-covered patio).

I hauled that out to the horseshoe pits (long overgrown as I could not use them this year) and dumped half on each end. Then I used a shovel and dug it all in, mixing the kitty litter clay with my soil. Why? Because you are supposed to have clay in horseshoe pits (I have a loam soil) and I do want to use them next year.

Also, my driver last night told me it had rained here while I was gone. I checked the gauge and found we had over an inch of rain since I left and I knew I could dig in the ground without hurting myself. I did get a text or two from Jake and found it is almost impossible to reply to a text while wearing work gloves.

Next, I washed out the extra kitty litter pans with bleach, rinsed them with the hose outside and set them upside-down on the plastic patio furniture to dry.

Then I used the blower to get all the leaves off my patio. Almost all the leaves in my yard have now fallen.

When I finished with that, I refilled the bird and squirrel feeders. I went back inside and washed the bedspread (covered with a week’s worth of cat hair) and my terry cloth bathrobe (that I didn’t take with me) as well as some kitchen towels.

When I was down in South Carolina, Jake had mentioned us making beans with hamburger when he was just a lad and that stuck in my head (I guess). So, for dinner, I sauteed a sliced yellow onion until it was soft and then browned a pound of ground chuck (that I had thawed) in the pan. I drained off the grease and added two cans of Bush’s Baked beans (back in the day it would have been Campbell’s Pork and beans, doctored with ketchup, mustard and molasses, but that was what I had and it was easier – no doctoring required).

While that was simmering, Jake called. He had been watching a documentary about the 60’s and the hippy movement and wanted to know what my generation did to screw things up to where we are now. In my defense, I was at the tail end of the 60’s, so I sort of reaped the benefits of those who marched and protested, but didn’t do any of that myself. By the time I was old enough to notice, the peace and love movement had spawned the Weathermen bombings and terrorist plots.

So, while I sympathized with him and his questions, I had no real answers. Yes, we were going to change the world and I suppose we did, but not necessarily for the better, if you get my drift. Life might have been hypocritical when you were a teenager back in the 50’s and 60’s, but it was a simpler time and, in many ways, better.

After we hung up. I put the bedspread back on the bed and folded the rest of the clothes. Then I dished up a bowl of what Luanne used to call “Texas Beans” and ate them, along with some buttered bread, for my dinner.

I watched some TV and then read some of the last of my new books until bedtime.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The week in Review

Well, since “Anonymous” outed me, I must confess: Yes, I did go back with Jake and Carla to their home after Joe’s wedding.

We pulled out of here about 7:00 AM on Sunday morning and, 12 hours and 15 minutes later, pulled into their driveway. It was mostly smooth sailing, except for one stretch of expressway (I forget the number) that was stop and go about every 10 minutes (and it wasn’t even under construction!)

Carla had taken Monday and Tuesday off, so I could have somebody to hang with while Jake was working upstairs.

I didn’t keep a diary, so I’ll have to just hit the highlights:

Weather-wise, it was a perfect week in South Carolina: Highs in the 80’s, low humidity, no rain, the occasional puffy cloud and hundreds of stars at night (you can’t see that many stars here in Redford, too many city lights, I guess).

Food-wise (and you know I have to go to the food next), on the way down, they introduced me to Krystal’s, which are the size and look of our White Castle’s but taste ten times better.

Carla made a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast one morning (one does get pretty tired of oatmeal every damn day) and Jake grilled hamburgers, brats and hot links (the southern equivalent to our red hots, I suppose, but a rope of sausage more like hot brats) one night while Carla and I made potato salad.

Carla took me to an excellent sushi restaurant for lunch one day (I forget the names of these restaurants – sorry) on a shopping trip and we brought home some for Jake. Another day Jake took me to lunch someplace, where I had the cowboy steak which was a perfectly done filet with cheesy mashed potatoes. We also ate lunch another day somewhere near post where I had fish and chips.

One night we were discussing dinner and Carla mentioned Popeye’s chicken. I told them I had tried it once and was unimpressed. I said I was told it was very spicy, so I ordered “mild” with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy and thought the whole thing tasted like KFC, more or less. They said I had screwed it all up and wait until I tasted it ordered “right.” So, Jake picked some up that was spicy with a side of red beans and rice. And, it was fantastic! Now I know what to get at Popeye’s! (I have one near my house)

Jake took me to his office on post to show me around (I’ve been on post before, but only in the car). His cubicle looks like no one ever sat there; I suppose because he so rarely does.

Thursday night, Carla’s brother had a cookout, where he made HUGE burgers (I am not kidding), brats and hot links, along with baked beans and potato salad. I “tasted” the beans and potato salad but just barely finished my burger. He put some sort of steakhouse spices on it, BTW, and it was great.

When we left her brother’s, he and his wife hugged me goodbye (like they always do) and then called the kids down from upstairs to say goodbye to me. Carla’s nephew came first and I shook hands with him. He had a very confused look on his face (that cracked both Jake and Carla up) and her brother said, “No, we hug in this family!” So, I hugged them all goodbye, too.

Friday, on the way to the airport, Jake took me for a taste of low country cuisine: Shrimp and grits, which had a fantastic taste to it (I didn’t know shrimp and grits had Andouille sausage in it).

But, finally, it was time to go home. When I got to the airport, I found that my flight had been delayed and I wouldn’t be able to make the connecting flight in Charlotte in time. So they rescheduled me on a later flight that took off about the time I should have been arriving in Detroit!

She gave me a new boarding pass and called to have my luggage re-routed (gulp). I called Jake and he conferenced me in to Metro Car in Detroit, so I could change my pickup time for my ride home. I left Columbia just as the sun set, which was absolutely beautiful to see (and, since I was so high in the air, I saw it for a long, long time).

While in Charlotte, I had an hour to waste, so I decided I might as well eat dinner, since I wouldn’t be home until late. So, I went to one of the many restaurants there (I wanted to go to the Chinese one they showed on the map, but it was closed) and had a totally forgettable, but outrageously priced buffalo chicken sandwich and fries.

There, when we took off, the moon was out and it was shining on the wing (I had a window seat). So, it wasn’t as dramatic as leaving Columbia, but it was still beautiful in its own way.

My two women seatmates on the flight back were both bumped as well, so we discussed that, as well as how much room we had on this plane. They were a little older than me, so I explained it was because we were sitting (luckily) in the emergency exit row.

I didn’t want to disturb them, so I waited to go to the bathroom until we landed. I left the bathroom in a hurry and headed for the luggage pickup area. When I got there, I realized I had left my new book (that I had only two chapters to finish) that also had my baggage claim ticket in it (I was using it as a book mark) in the bathroom. But, I couldn’t go back by then!

Luckily, my suitcase did arrive, and I did get my ride home. The driver was from Iraq, via Jordan and we discussed which of us had had the longest flights (him to home or me to Korea). I got home about 9:00 PM.

The cats greeted me at the door, begging for the treats they’d missed for five days. I checked everything out and the house was secure. I thought about having a cup of coffee and watching TV after I unpacked, but went straight to sleep instead.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Friday and Saturday

I just beat the rain to work on Friday morning. But, it was still sprinkling at 10:00 AM when I took my morning walk.

I went home at lunchtime. I did stop for more take-out (chicken fried rice again) I ate lunch and then cleaned the toilets (there’s a picture for you, lol!)

My afternoon walk was drier, but the skies looked ominous.

Just before it was time to go, Jake and Carla stopped in. Oh, not to see me, but to say “Hi” to Jake’s old co-workers. I left for home and drove though more sprinkles (if this is all the rain we get, all the Friday night high school football games should be okay, at least around here). Where they went, I have no idea.

I made myself some coffee and printed out the map to Joe and Jerica’s reception.

Jake and Carla eventually came home and we sat in the living room and chatted a bit before bedtime.

Saturday morning I started making my contribution to Joe's reception (it was potluck). Since the wedding was to be an outside in the park ceremony, Jyl suggested clam chowder, in case it was damp (there was rain predicted) and cold.

I learned a valuable lesson the weekend before about making and then transporting double batches of soup in the crock pot (you can still see the stains on my car's carpet). So, this time I only made a single batch.

Jake and Carla returned from visiting another old friend of theirs who is in the hospital and we all got dressed for the wedding.

We left early as Jeremy called and said to bring the soup to his house to keep warm during the wedding. In spite of construction tie-ups, and a brief trip through the Blue Water bridge toll booth (due to revised road-routing that didn't have posted signs) we got there earlier than expected. So, we dropped off the soup and then went to Ted's Coney Island (a local landmark). One thing they can't get down south is conies! So, we ate lunch and then went to the wedding.

It was a casual affair (I was over-dressed a tad with my sports coat and tie) and they were married by the Mayor of Port Huron in the gazebo in the park. There were group pictures, both at the gazebo and the on the boardwalk afterwards.

The reception didn't start until 4:00, so we went to the Atrium (a neat ice-cream parlor Jeremy suggested). Jyl went home to prepare things, so the only people there were Jeremy, Riese, Luanne, Luanne's husband Paul, Jake, Carla and myself.

Then we attended the reception. It was in the clubhouse of a housing complex. It was a small event, so I did get a chance to talk with Paul a little. He seems like a nice enough guy.

After the eating, they did the usual cake cutting and so on. Then they cleared enough room for the bridal dance.

There was a bit of an awkward moment when they asked the grandparents to dance. Paul declined, so Luanne and I tried our best. I say awkward, not because it was Lu and I, while her husband was taking pictures, but rather because neither of us are in any shape physically to "dance."

Then it was over. I shook hands and congratulated Joe, then kissed the bride on the cheek and told her she was a lucky girl. She said, "I know it!" and I believe she does.

I was delighted to find all my soup was gone and therefore couldn't spill on the way home. I pointed the car south and headed back to the D. I surprised myself on how quick we got back home (I think I drove a little too fast). We were all beat, so we changed clothes and chatted in the living room a short while, but we all went to bed by 10:30 PM.

I had a cup of coffee while we chatted and so couldn't fall right to sleep. So, I read a magazine that had came in Saturday's mail until I was sleepy and then shut off the light.

I'm going to take a short break from Blog posting for a few days. I know my loyal readers will miss me, but you can fill in the posts in your heads like this: Check the local weather, decide if I went to Lowe's or Home Depot at lunch time and what I might have eaten (Arby's Turkey Club or a Jimmy John's #4) and then what I might have made for dinner (a Marie Callender's entree or chicken pot pie or leftovers), what I watched on TV for the rest of the evening (NCIS taped reruns, Breaking Bad episodes or any number of DIY shows) and then guess what time I went to bed.

See, its not hard and I'll be back posting before you know it!

Birthday Shoutout

Happy birthday to my lovely daughter Melissa!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012


It had rained overnight, with more scheduled to show up around noon, so I wore my rain jacket today to work. Unfortunately, it was already raining when I took my morning walk, but I walked anyway because my back was starting to hurt.

At lunch, I did get to Home Depot and picked up more grass seed. I also went to the gas station to fill the tank. I’m not sure why (are we ever?) but the price has been going steadily down the past few weeks.

Then I went home, dropped off the grass seed and ate more sausage and sauerkraut for lunch. I drove back to work in the rain (I wish now I’d had and put down that grass seed yesterday).

Naturally, the sun came out in the early afternoon, which made the afternoon walk a lot less damp. But it was still breezy and not all that warm.

When I went home after work, I treated the cats and changed my shoes. Then I went out back and spread the seed on all the bare spots in the yard.

I had to laugh. I spent the time and money to fill up that new squirrel with peanuts yesterday and it was completely empty today!

Back inside, I changed clothes and started a load of laundry. Then I started the final straightening and cleaning of the house (I have weekend houseguests coming).

I ate more of the sausage and sauerkraut for dinner (I am getting sick of that stuff). I folded and hung up the laundry and then spent the next too few hours left of the evening chilling in front of the TV before bedtime.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Squirrel Feeder #1

Squirrel Feeder #2

Hump Day

Unlike the night before, I had a good night’s sleep. I really didn’t need a jacket when I left for work, but I didn’t realize that until I got out of the car.

I had four errands I wanted to run at lunchtime and I got three done. The last was to be a quick stop at Home Depot for more grass seed (its supposed to rain hard tonight) and I figured I’d just grab a couple of hot dogs on the way out for my lunch.

But, I realized I was running out of time when I left PetSmart. So, I gave up on Home Depot and headed back to work. I did stop at Jimmy John’s and buy a turkey sandwich (they are freaky fast, you know) and made it back to work on time.

It was a beautiful day here, BTW, with a high of 72 degrees F. but its not supposed to last (in Michigan, it never does, does it?)

Back at home after work, I went outside and filled the squirrel feeder with peanuts (I had gone to Costco at lunch and bought two big bags). I took a couple of pictures for you. I admit that the steel looks tacky, but the only copper I could find was twice as thick (so much harder to bend) and was roof flashing (so it only came in a 20-foot roll for almost $40.00 US!) So far, I spent under $15.00 in material (steel included), so that much extra money would have been ridiculous.

As I said, the cedar will turn gray as it weathers and (hopefully) the steel will pick up surface rust, so it should look much better in the Springtime.

Back inside, I processed the photos and then began to make dinner. If you remember, I did buy all the ingredients for those beer brat sandwiches (except for the baguettes – they dry out too fast and I was going to buy them Sunday morning). I froze the brats, of course, but still have two bags of sauerkraut to deal with.

So, I got out my stew pot and put in the bags of sauerkraut, some cubed redskin potatoes and a smoked sausage I thawed out and then cut on the biase. I brought it to a boil and then turned it to a simmer, covered it and let the potatoes and sausage steam.

When the potatoes were fork tender, (it took almost an hour) I shut off the heat and fixed myself a big bowl. It was tasty, I was hungry and so I ate too much. Believe me, always know when you eat too much sauerkraut!

I got a call from my Brother Jim and we talked for a little bit. I half-watched TV and half-read two magazines that came in the mail until bedtime.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tired Tuesday

I slept terrible Monday night. I think I woke up almost every hour on the hour, usually in the middle of a bad dream. And I spent the time between 4:00 AM until the 5:30 alarm just trying to fall back asleep, although I never did.

The winds had slowed or maybe even stopped when I left for work on Tuesday. I remembered just in time to swerve or I would have run over my own garbage can!

I left for lunch and went to the Feed Store. I picked up 40 pounds of their “Michigan Mix” bird seed. I had to stop at CVS, so before going inside, I went next door to the Chinese take-out place and ordered a quart of chicken fried rice. I went into CVS and took care of my business, then went back next door and picked up my lunch/dinner.

When I got home, there was a huge pile of leaves in the road, blocking my mailbox. WTF? I pulled around it and went into the garage and noticed there wasn’t a single leaf in either my front or back yard. While I was eating lunch, I heard a weird sound and looked out the window. A truck from my landscaping company had pulled in and was sucking up all the leaves!

Now, there’s two things wrong with this: 1.) There are still a TON of leaves on my trees and 2.) They are supposed to blow all the leaves into my compost piles.

So, when I left to go back to work, I asked the guy (and they are just worker bees, of course) if they are coming back and doing this again when all the other leaves fall. He said he was told they will still be cutting grass until mid-November, but other than that, he didn’t know anything. So, I decided I’d have to call and see what’s going on.

So, when I got back to work, I did call and explained the situation. The receptionist said, “Well, we do this from now on any time we cut the grass.” I explained that, last year, they only did it once and blew it all into my compost heap. She said it must have been a special request (it was) because this is how they normally do it. I said, “That’s fine, then.” Because of my back, I never did dig out any compost this spring anyway, so I really don’t need more, I suppose.

[Sidebar to Jake: Is that how they did it at your house in Westland? Several times rather than just one big time cleanup?]

Also, when I got back to work, Vicky gave me some “Arroz con pollo y lenteja” (a Puerto Rican dish of chicken with lentils and rice) for my dinner that her Mother had made. So, I will have certainly met my chicken and rice requirements for the day!

I had just left the bird seed on the back seat of the car all afternoon (I find it easier to slide it out and into the wagon or wheel barrow from the seat than to try and lift it up and out of the trunk, so that’s where I always have them load it). So, when I got home, and before I changed clothes, I took the wheel barrow out front, opened the garage door, slid the bag into the wheel barrow and wheeled it around the side of the house. I went back and shut the garage door (you learn to never work in the back yard with the garage door open in these troubled times). I walked through the house and outside, then I wheeled the bag over to the seed can. I put it inside of the can and refilled the bird feeder. Then I put the wheel barrow back, made sure the gate was shut and went inside for the night.

I watched the Nightly News drinking a cup of coffee. Then I warmed up the Puerto Rican food. This is the second or third home cooked meal I’ve tasted and I think I am understanding this style of cooking. Like Vicky always says, its spicy, but not hot. I’m going to ask, but I think they must use a lot of allspice. It was very different, but very good and very, very filling! It didn’t seem like a lot, but I was full when I finished.

I did a few minor chores after that (unloaded the dishwasher, etc.) and watched a little TV, but I did sleep bad the night before, so I ended up going to bed around 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


It was very windy overnight. The weather radio went off once sometime during the night, warning of thunderstorms, but since I didn’t hear anything and the radio is set to report on three counties, I’m guessing it was for somewhere else.

At lunchtime, I went to Home Depot, looking for a sheet of copper I could line the edges of the squirrel feeder with. There was nothing prefabricated (I thought they might have something to nail on a 3/4 inch board as a decoration for a shelf or something). They suggested going to Michael’s (a craft store just down the way in the same strip mall). I did and they didn’t have anything like it. So, I went back to Home Depot and bought a 1 foot x 1 foot sheet of thin steel. I made sure it wasn’t galvanized, so it would at least rust (the copper would have eventually turned green as the cedar turned gray, which was the look I was hoping for).

I barely had time to stop home, treat the cats and eat the last two chicken rollups for my lunch. Naturally, there was some sort of hold up on the Inkster railroad tracks, so I did a U-turn and went to Middle Belt to get to the expressway and back to work. I was five minutes late, which ticked me off.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check the rain gauge before I left for work to see what my total rainfall was, so I did when I got home after work. It was just over one inch of rain for the weekend! So, the new grass and the fresh grass seed should be happy.

I did treat the cats and took the garbage can out to the road, but I didn’t even bother to change clothes before I got started on the squirrel feeder. I mean, how dirty can you get, using tin snips to cut thin steel and stapling it to wood edges? Oh, on the way back from taking the garbage can out, I picked up a LOT of bark pieces that had blown off last night from the dead maple in the vacant lot next to me. It must have been REALLY windy!

Now that it was all put together, I didn’t think it would be smart to use a hammer and bend it around edges so, other than the front, I just cut 3/4 strips off, cut them to length and, as I said, used my air stapler to attach it. The front of the tray I did bend the metal over the lip and it does look “better” but none of it looks “good.” It looked much nicer when it was just wood, but I have seen first-hand what the little buggers will do to it if I left it that way.

I drilled three drain holes in the bottom of the tray (the other one didn’t have any, but it dawned on me that left rain and/or melting snow no where to go but into the wood). I took it, the drill motor and screwdriver bit, two stainless steel 3-inch deck screws and the level out and put it back onto the pine tree. It was too dark to take a picture. After I got everything put away and changed my clothes, it was almost 8:00 PM.

I heated up the last of the meatballs and spaghetti for dinner While it was warming up, I washed the slow cooker insert and lid that I’d left soaking all night. When I finished eating, I had enough dirty dishes to run the dishwasher, so I did.

I watched another episode of Breaking Bad (Sidebar to Jake: Badger got caught and they paid the lawyer to have another guy take the fall for Walt in this one). Then I switched to DIY shows, but fell asleep halfway through the second one. When I woke up to go to the bathroom, I turned off the TV and light and went to bed for real.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Squirrel Feeder #1

New Squirrel Feeder #2

Road Trip

I woke up on Sunday at 6:30 AM. I posted the Blog entry and a couple of pictures and then started my Sunday routine. I shaved, but I’ll shower later (closer to the time I am leaving). I did throw on some work clothes and made a quick trip to Home Depot. I got a cedar board, a hinge and some plexiglass (well, technically it’s a polycarbonate sheet made by Lexan) so I can make the new squirrel feeder. I didn’t take the time to look for thin copper, though. I can do that some other time.

After eating my usual breakfast, taking my pills and refilling the pill box, I started making soup. Today is the family gathering for the anniversary of my Mother’s birthday. It is potluck and I had a great plan for some sandwiches: beer brat subs (fresh brats, boiled in beer and apples, then grilled and cut lengthwise. These are put on sliced baguettes, covered with sauerkraut and then topped with a melted cheese with diced, pickled
jalapenos sauce.

But, I wrote to my Brother Carl and, considering the weather, he suggested the mushroom barley soup as a better alternative (plus, I would have had to grill the brats in the rain yesterday).

So, this morning, I was making a double batch of the soup. I unfortunately used too small of a pot, so I had to transfer everything to my mid-sized stock pot (so, more work cleaning up, dammit!)

The only thing I did different was to use fresh shiitake mushrooms and also some oyster mushrooms along with the baby bellas. Well, I take that back: I also found “quick-cooking barley” (Quaker Oats makes it) so I did the 12 minute simmer thing at the end this time. I strained some of the broth and put it in a thermos I got down from the attic and rinsed out, so I could fill my slow cooker to a level I felt wouldn’t spill on the upcoming road trip. I’ll add it back when I get there. I also taped down the top with masking tape, just in case.

But, by 11:30 AM, the soup was ready and in the slow cooker on “warm”. I also put a soup ladle, a power strip (in case there aren’t enough plugs), plastic bowls and spoons and a couple of empty containers (so if there’s any left, I can give it away rather than take it home and have to eat it all week) in a bag. I’m also taking the thermos of broth and a basket to put individual packets of oyster crackers in for those who might want them. I set the slow cooker on the front seat floor covered with a big bath towel to keep warm. Then I headed out about 12:30 PM.

It was sprinkling on and off all the way there, but traffic was light and I got there about 15 minutes early. Imagine my surprise to see some sort of big commotion with balloon and flags and a bandstand and every parking space full! WTF?

I had to pee really bad with the morning coffee, the long ride and the rain combination, so I stopped in at the St. Mary’s Recreation Center and used their facilities. They were all set for “something” so the door was unlocked.

Then as I went back out onto the road to look for a spot (no way could I carry that slow cooker filled with soup a 1/4 mile). As luck would have it, somebody had just pulled out from in front of the place, so I pulled in. The political rally (or whatever it was) was breaking up and people were walking over to the St. Mary’s Rec Center, so I guess I timed that just right.

But, when I went to get the soup, I saw that it had indeed spilled over and onto the carpet. Unfortunately, spilled mushroom and barley soup looks just like throw-up. Nice! My Brother Jim met me halfway and insisted on taking in the soup, so I went back for everything else.

Once inside and having greeted those closest to the door, I added the broth back into the soup, gave it a quick stir and took the thermos bottle back out to the car.

Then I came back inside and started making the rounds. There weren’t as many people there as in the past, but the noise volume was the same and it was as hot inside as it always is. Outside was windy and rainy, but still warm.


- All the little kids whose names I had trouble with are now teenagers and I have even more trouble sorting them out.
- There’s a whole new crop of little kids whose names I have trouble with.
- Once again there was a LOT of food and consequently, a LOT of leftovers. - When my son Jeremy (he was there with my grand daughter Riese) left, he didn’t take his chicken wraps with him. Kathy (Joe’s wife) insisted on me taking at least four with me. So, I did.
- My brother Carl is a great (as in really good) great grampa.
- My brother Joe was telling me he finally looked at some German books my mother had given him years ago when she moved out of the 24-Mile Road house. He said one “appears” to be some sort of college report (maybe a book report) written and illustrated by my Dad. My father was an excellent illustrator, BTW, and he said some of the drawing were quite elaborate while other deliberately cartoon-ish. I was interested and suggested he get it translated somewhere.
- It was shocking to see how gray Jason and John’s (my sister Anne’s sons) hair was, but not their older brother Russell’s. Weird.
- Bringing along some containers was smart as it allowed me to give 8 cups of soup to my brother Carl, thus reducing the possibilities for spillage on the return trip. Although a lot of people ate it (and liked it) there was a lot left.
- While it was great to see the people I did, I missed seeing the others who couldn’t come. Living far away, and being somewhat anti-social anyway, it’s the only time I ever seen most of these people. My sister-in-law Jean (Pete's wife) for example: Her son Mark (who was there with Anna), said he had talked to her just before the party. She said her legs were bothering her and, although she wanted to, she wasn't coming. I can understand that (if anybody could understand that, I can), but I would have loved to see her again.

I packed up and left about 4:30 PM. It was sprinkling on the way home on I-94, but it started really raining hard when I got onto I-96. So, I didn’t get home until about 6:00 PM. I treated the cats, put the chicken wraps in the fridge, plugged the slow cooker in on “warm,” changed clothes and started the last load of laundry for this weekend.

I washed put the thermos and set it to air dry. Then I went out to the garage and built the new squirrel feeder. I finished it just before 8:00 PM. The one major difference is that the old one had a bent-up piano hinge, but I went with a regular brass hinge.

As I said, before I use it, I want to see if there is something metal and thin I can wrap the edges around with (I’d like it to be copper) so the squirrels don’t gnaw on it like they did the old one.

It also dawned on me that what the original one was made from was not a regular cedar board, like I bought, but a thinner, pine board used for a fence picket. See photos.

Inside, again, I put my shirts and pants in the dryer and then ate dinner. I had two of Jeremy’s chicken rollups (not bad with a little extra salt) and a small bowl of mushroom barley soup. Then I hung up my clothes.

I watched a little TV, but it had been quite a long day and I went to bed by 10:00 PM.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The old squirrel feeder

Newest grass re-seeding place

Soggy Saturday

I woke up for good after 7:00 AM. I posted the Blog entry and made up a grocery list. I shaved and showered and just made it to my 9:30 AM hair cut. It was just starting to sprinkle then. From there, I left to go to Kroger’s and realized I left the list on the table (I even had it sorted by aisles, dammit!)

But I decided that, since I just wrote it out, I could remember it and save time and gas money by not going back home to get it.

I left there and stopped at Westborn (for a few more things), the bank (for money) and then the gas station (for, well, gas, lol). I was home by 11:30 AM. I didn’t forget anything, BTW.

I treated the cats and put everything away. I drank a cup of coffee to warm up and then went out into the light rain for some necessary outdoor chores. I refilled the bird feeder and suet cage. Then I raked one of the areas in the lawn hit the worst by the summer’s heat and lack of rain. Next, I spread the last of the grass seed I had.

I went into the garage and got the remaining magic dirt (from the bay leaf planting – it was still in the wheelbarrow where I mixed it up). I took the wheelbarrow and the transfer shovel out in the back yard. I used the shovel to sprinkle the dirt on top of the grass seed. If it rains like they say its going to today, the seed will have a good chance of sprouting.

Long time reader may remember when Jake and Carla used to buy me big bags of peanuts to put in the squirrel feeder out back. Well, I haven’t been able to use it in several years; not because they moved and stopped buying me peanuts, but because the stupid squirrels chewed it up enough that the glass (well, plastic) front fell out. So, today, I took it down.

I thought I still had enough cedar left (from cutting down the raised bed herb garden) to recreate it, but I don’t (I guess I used more than I thought to make Vicky’s Mom’s truck planter). So, instead, I will measure each piece and find out how wide and long a cedar board I need to remake it. But, if I can find some thin copper, I’ll line all the edges so they can’t chew this one up!

Back inside, I processed the photos I took and then started to deep clean the living room and front entry. First, I dusted everything, then I got out the vacuum. Everything was going well, until the attachment for pet hair (the reason I bought this particular vacuum) stopped working.

First, I pulled all the cat hair wrapped around the rubber brush I could off with my fingers. It still didn’t work, so I tried using tweezers. Nope! I ended up taking the screws out, completely disassembling it, removing all the gobs of hair that I couldn’t see when it was together and reassembling it. Bingo!

Jake called and we talked for a bit, again about motorcycles. He had to go, so I got back to work.

I finished cleaning the couch, loveseat and chairs and then vacuumed the rug. Next, I sprayed all the fabric surfaces in the room with Fabreeze. I walked away at that point to let it all dry. It was just after six o’clock and, when I checked outside, the rain seems to have turned into just a drizzle (it was coming down pretty hard for a while).

I took the squirrel feeder into the bedroom and took measurements while I watched a DIY show (for inspiration).

Since I didn’t have time for breakfast and skipped lunch, I decided to have an early (for me) supper. So, I put some of the spaghetti and meatballs into a dish and warmed them up. The problem was that the spaghetti had absorbed most of the sauce. So, I opened an emergency jar of Barilla marinara sauce (I have one of their jars of Alfredo sauce as well in the pantry) and added some to the bowl. I reheated it and topped it with more Parmesan cheese. Perfect!

After dinner, I went back to work. I cleaned out and washed off the two shelves above the fridge, using the step (it didn’t work as well this time, because I had to reach all the way across the top of the fridge). Then I cut out two sections of the new shelf liner to fit and installed them. I put everything back and put the step back out in the garage (finally its out of the kitchen!)

I decided NOT to put the shelf liner in the two cupboards above the stove as the label on the shelf liner specifically warns to keep away from heat. Since the vent pipe runs through those cabinets, I’d rather be safe than sorry. So, I still have one full roll and about half of another one, in case I need to replace anything. I finished up at 8:30 PM.

I watched more TV until another early bedtime.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pasta Pot for Carl

Friday and Payday (what could be better?)

It was chilly on Friday morning, but 41 degrees out, so it was considerably warmer than it had been. I still wore my coat on my morning walk, though.

At lunchtime, I went to Gordon Food Service to pick up items I need both for this weekend’s family gathering and next weekend’s wedding. I took everything home, stopping on the way at Arby’s and getting their hot Grand Turkey Club Sandwich meal again (I really like that combination).

Finally, it was 5:00 PM, and I drove home, banging on that drum. I treated the cats, changed clothes and then got to work on my weekend ToDo list. It was payday, so I spent a lot of time online paying bills. I paid two of them “old school” (get out checkbook, write check, lick envelope, add stamp and return label, etc.).

I’d been thinking about dinner all day as I need something with a lot of leftovers I can just reheat on Saturday (I have a LOT to do). Since I wanted to try out my new pasta pot anyway, I made spaghetti and meatballs. I made my meatballs, baked in the oven (see old posts) and my marinara sauce (see other old posts) and combined them, letting them get happy while my pasta water boiled. When it was boiling, I salted it and added in a box of thick spaghetti (I think you need the thick stuff to stand up to the meatballs, myself). I put the two together and let the pasta soak up the marinara sauce for a while.

I fixed a big bowl of it and added fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. I ate that watching a DIY rerun. I left everything to soak (I’ll regret that in the morning) and put the leftovers in the fridge. I watched one more show and went to bed just before 10:00 PM.

Oh, BTW, the pasta pot performed perfectly!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sweet Bay Leaf Laurel #1

Sweet Bay Leaf Laurel #2


It was exactly freezing when I left for work this morning. I was in a hurry and didn’t really look to see if we had gotten a frost or not.

I left work at 10:15 AM for my last therapy session. I did warm up on the Nu-Step and did a few exercises, but most of the time was spent evaluating my strength. They were pleased at the progress I had made (and I was, too). Now, if I can just keep doing the simple exercises at home, I should be better than ever in no time. The only thing I have to worry about (I think) is the bill for my co-pay (before, I used to pay it after each session, but I haven’t paid a dime yet).

I stopped at the Scottish bakery and bought two meat pies for my lunch. I got back just as everyone else was leaving for lunch, so I had a nice quiet lunch while I worked. Then it dawned on me that I’d left my apple on the kitchen table at home, so no afternoon snack for me today!

Matt at work had brought me in two small acorn squash and some banana peppers (he cleaned out his garden before the cold hit, I guess). I thanked him and remembered to take them with me when I left for home.

When I got home, I had another nice surprise. A box on the porch contained the three foot tall “Laurus Nobilis” plant I ordered (edible bay leaves). If you live in a temperate climate (which I don’t) they can grow to a 65-foot tree! But, constrained in a container, they will grow in the house into a smallish bush (3-12 foot).

This one looks pretty healthy, so I changed clothes and mixed up my magic dirt in the wheel barrow. I had already picked out a pot (ideally, you want one that’s 18 inches deep and 18 inches around – I couldn’t find on exactly like that, so mine is 18 inches wide by about 12 inches deep.

I filled it in the garage just high enough so that the plant’s crown would be slightly above the rim. Then I carried it inside and put it in the rolling plant stand I also bought. I took out the fake tree I’ve had since the River Road house and put it downstairs (I guess I’ll take it to the Salvation Army along with some other things I’ve collected to donate).

I got a bucket and filled it with my potting soil/garden soil mixture in the garage. Then I carried it into the house and added it to the pot after removing the new plant from its container. It took three buckets to fill it (you’re supposed to tamp it down, not leave loose soil. I stuck in the dried bamboo stick they also sent and tried it in various places with the rocker (the fake tree was in the corner behind the rocker).

It’s supposed to be in indirect sunlight, but I decided the corner would be just too dark. So, for right now, anyway, it’s between the rocker and the display table (see photos). Although, I was thinking that I could hang a mirror (or use self-stick mirror tiles) on that side of the fireplace to “bounce” the sunlight into the corner. Hmmm...

I vacuumed up any dry dirt that I had inadvertently spilled and then watered the pot. I washed up and saw it was almost 7:00 PM.

I heated up a Marie Callender’s frozen entrée in the microwave for dinner and watched TV until an early bedtime at 10:00 PM.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


It rained during the night and still was raining when the alarm clock went off on Wednesday. Fortunately, it had stopped by the time I went to work.

My morning walk was a challenge, though, as the wind had picked up and, while I had put my jacket one, I didn’t zip it up.

I went to the Newburgh Grill, planning on buying a patty melt for my lunch and then going to Lowe’s. But, it was so cold and gloomy (the sun had been playing peek-a-boo all day) that, when I saw one of the specials was meatloaf, I ordered that instead. It came with mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. It was certainly wasn’t “great” but it was good.

Full of comfort food, I headed to Lowe’s (it was raining again, BTW) and picked up two more rolls of shelf liner. Then I went back to work.

I took my afternoon walk at 3:00 PM. Jeff, a co-worker happened to be outside at the time and said, “With this wind and those clouds, it feels like snow!” I agreed.

No sooner had I got inside when it sounded like it was raining hard. We looked out the window and it was hailing. It was small (thankfully) but was bouncing off both the cars and the pavement! Fortunately, it didn’t last long.

I zipped up my coat before I went outside and drove home at 5:00 PM. I checked the rain gauge before I changed clothes and I picked up almost a half inch of rain here.

I changed clothes and started the Wednesday night wash. While it was washing, I applied the expanding foam to the openings in the cement block in the furnace room I felt the draft the other day (they are the two holes that lead out to the air conditioner. I filled them with foam, and then threw the rest of the can away (I’ve never been able to reuse a can of foam after the initial use and have no other places I know to use it now).

The clothes went into the dryer and I watched the tail end of the nightly news. Since I had such a large lunch, I just made a light supper of a fried egg sandwich.

I hung up the shirts and pants and went back to TV watching. I went to bed around 10:30 PM.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fallen Leaves, Less than Eight Hours After Lawn was Cut #1

Fallen Leaves, Less than Eight Hours After Lawn was Cut #2

My Mushroom and Barley Soup

A souper day!

It wasn’t as cold when I left for work on Tuesday morning, but I still needed a jacket. I put the last garbage bag in the can and drove off.

I walked over to Building 7 and up the stairs to give Michelle her container back, filled with my mushroom and barley soup. She asked if I liked the potato soup and I said, “Well, it certainly was spicy and definitely not like any other potato soup I ever had, but it really was good!” (and it was). She was busy, so I didn’t get a chance to get the recipe, but if I do, I’ll share it with you.

I had yet another, different physical therapist at PT today. He had me mostly doing stretching exercises on my legs (he said that would help with my core muscles, too). So, this time, my stomach didn’t hurt at all, just the back of my legs did. Either all the muscles in your body have something to do with your core muscles or these people are just making this up as they go!

The chatty guy at least had me do the same exercises over and over, just increasing the reps (that made some sense) and the woman with her back massage was nice (and my back did feel better the next day), but this guy just seemed weird. Oh well, I only have one more session to go.

I stopped at Westborn and got some bean and ham soup for my lunch (I remembered Monday morning to take in some saltine crackers). It was sweet: the checkout girl (who I absolutely do not remember and I go there enough to know most of them) said to me, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you used to be a storm trooper?” I laughed and said, “Yes, that was me!” (When I was wearing the brace, I would often tell people I was a storm trooper from Star Wars.) She said, “You certainly look like you’re doing better!” I said, “Thanks, I am getting there.” I left smiling at having an odd, cosmic moment.

I also got a nice surprise when I got home. They did come and cut my lawn today, so all the leaves I blew off the driveway (and there was piles of them) were gone! But, in just that short span of time, others had fallen to take there place. See photos.

Inside, I watched the evening news with a couple of cups of coffee. When it ended, I heated up some mushroom barley soup for my dinner.

I watched a little taped TV and then another episode of Breaking Bad. After that, I went to bed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pillow #1

Pillow #2


It was just at freezing when I woke up on Monday morning. But, my house was nice and cozy and it wasn’t until I left for work that I really noticed it (even though I was wearing a heavy jacket).

I ate the last of the Sunrise Squares for breakfast. They were really good (and would be perfect for a large family or, say, a brunch), but way too much for one person. And, I’m not quite sure how you could cut the recipe in half or how well it would reheat after freezing and thawing.

My friend Michelle from Facilities dropped off some potato soup she made over the weekend. She said it was her mother-in-law’s recipe and had bacon and Andouille sausage (spicy pork sausage typically used in Cajun cuisine) in it, so it had a little more kick than normal potato soup. I told her I had some mushroom and barley soup I will give her when I bring her back her container.

She also brought me my pillow that the seamstress had finished (see Photos). But, the seamstress wouldn’t take any money for her work, as she had originally told Michelle she would do it for free. I had to laugh, as there was still more material left over (this after, not one, but two back cushion covers and a pillow). Apparently I am just not that good at estimating how much fabric a particular project will take...

It was sunny, but I did still have to wear my jacket on my morning walk outside.

At lunchtime, I went to Costco to stock up on paper towels, toilet paper and more coffee. I was surprised to learn that they don’t sell the liquid refills for the Wet-Jet, just the pads. I went home, dropped everything off, ate a quick sandwich, and then headed back to work.

It was still cool, but sunny when I got home from work, so I tackled a project I’ve been wanted to get to: blowing all the leaves off my driveway and the back patio and onto the lawn.. That way, if the lawn service comes to cut my grass tomorrow, they will get ground up and help feed the lawn. But, I took the garbage can out to the road, first.

I got the driveway done and was heading out back, when the phone rang. It was Jake and we talked for a little bit about motorcycles. After we hung up, I went out and blew off the patio. I put everything away and realized it was already after 7:00 PM.

So, I heated up the potato soup in the microwave. Shut my mouth! She wasn’t kidding about it being spicy! But, it was really good and really different and I’m going to try and pry the recipe out of her.

I watched a little TV, but my heart wasn’t into it and I went to bed before 10:00 PM, still burping (Crazy Cajuns!)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

~ to all my Canadian friends

Silverware Drawer, Before

Silverware Drawer, After

Sunday Chores

I woke up just before 7:00 AM on Sunday. According to the news, it was 42 degrees F. outside (but I had no plans on going out to check, lol!) I made a cup of coffee and then posted the Blog entry and some photos (it actually took two cups of coffee before I was finished).

I warmed up more of the Sunrise squares for breakfast. I had another cup of coffee and took out the silverware drawer and set it on the bed. I started removing the old weave stuff and replacing it with the left over scraps of new shelf liner. This time, however, it was stuck on in most places (maybe I didn’t let the drawer dry enough after I painted it). So, I pulled and scraped and then sucked out the small stuff with the vacuum. I watched the news while I did it and it wasn’t until 10:30 AM when I was done (see photos).

Then I shaved and was going to shower. But, I noticed some mold on the corner inside of the shower door. So, I sprayed it with some Tilex, let it sit a while, sprayed it again and scrubbed all the places where the aluminum meets the glass, inside and out with a grout brush. Rinsing it off was a b*tch and made a mess of the bathroom floor. So, I mopped it and while waiting for it to dry, I cleaned the office instead.

I did what I call a deep-clean, rather than just sweeping up the constant cat hair. I dusted everything, using my Swiffer Extender (I bought it when I first got home after my spinal fusion because I couldn’t reach up) and by everything I mean the edges where the walls meet the ceiling, the tops of the doors, the wainscot molding, the baseboards and everything on the desk, bookshelf and the couch table. Then I vacuumed the floor and mopped it.

The bathroom floor was dry, but before I took my shower, I got inside and sprayed the shower doors with Scrubbing Bubbles. I let it set for 10 minutes or so and, then using a tile sponge, scrubbed off the soap scum. I like using the tile sponge because it has a rough side I can scrub with and a soft side I can rinse with.

Then I took my shower and dressed in my usual shorts and t-shirt. Next in line to clean is the bedroom, but I thought I’d make my soup first, so it can get happy (all the flavors melding) while I work.

I got this recipe out of one of the little cooking magazines Amy bought me a subscription for, BTW. I changed a few things, but I will note them so you can make the original recipe, if you like.

So, in a large pot, I melted two tablespoons of unsalted butter on medium-high heat. Then I added about a tablespoon of fresh thyme (the recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried thyme), a medium-sized yellow onion, diced, and two cloves of garlic, minced. I sautéed that until the onion was tender (about six minutes). Then I added 10 ounces of sliced mushrooms (the recipe calls for button mushroom, but I used baby bellas) and cooked them until the mushrooms began to soften (about eight minutes).

Sidebar: It was sprinkling when I went out to pick the thyme. Not the good, soaking rain we need, but enough to dampen the new grass out front.

Next I added four cups of chicken stock (the recipe calls for either chicken or vegetable broth), four cups of water and one ounce of dried sliced shiitake mushrooms (I also added a bay leaf, not called for in the recipe). I brought that to a boil and let it cook until all the mushrooms were tender (about 12-15 minutes).

Here’s where you are supposed to add one cup of “quick-cooking barley.” If you can find it, you cover the pot and reduce it to a simmer and cook until the barley is tender (about 12 more minutes, they say) and then season with salt and pepper.

As you know, I could not find any “quick-cooking barley” so I dumped in the barley I cooked for 45 minutes last night. I taste-tested the broth and added salt and pepper, a little at a time, until I thought it was about right. I took out the bay leaf, turned it to simmer and then covered it.

Just then, my daughter Melissa called. As always, we talked for a long time, mostly about politics.

When we finally hung up it was after 5:00 PM, so I kicked it in gear and deep-cleaned the bedroom. The rest of the house will have to wait for another day, I guess.

I meant for its deep-cleaning, BTW. I did use the vacuum to get the cat hair off the living room carpet and the two walk-off carpets downstairs. I swept the living room and the kitchen. Then, I fixed a big bowl of soup and took it, a glass of water and some crackers into the bedroom.

While the soup was cooling, I washed the kitchen floor, leaving the Wet-Jet leaning on the fridge and blocking my path to remind myself not to walk on the floor until I was sure it had dried. Then I went in to eat supper.

Wow! I’d been thinking all throughout the soup making that I wish I had some leftover roast beef or steak to add, but you honestly didn’t miss the meat. The mushrooms gave it a “meaty” flavor all on its own. It was thick and filling and absolutely delicious! I wanted more!

But, by the time the floor was dry, I knew I was already stuffed. So, I put the rest into two four-cup containers to cool, rinsed the pot and put it in the dishwasher along with the bowl and spoon. That filled the dishwasher, so I added the soap and turned it on. I hand washed the wooden spoon and the Wustof, washed the stove top and cut a lemon in half. I rubbed the half of lemon onto the cutting board (to get rid of the onion and garlic smell).

I took a pain pill (I needed it) and watched DIY TV. When the remaining soup was cool, I put on the lids. I labeled one and stuck it in the freezer. The other one went into the fridge.

Next, I watched Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket from 8:00 to 10:30 PM and then shut off the lights and went to sleep.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Perfect Song for Fall

Trees swayin' in the summer breeze
Showin' off their silver leaves
As we walked by

Soft kisses on a summer's day
Laughing all our cares away
Just you and I

Sweet sleepy warmth of summer nights
Gazing at the distant lights
In the starry sky

They say that all good things must end some day
Autumn leaves must fall
But don't you know that it hurts me so
To say goodbye to you
Wish you didn't have to go
No no no no

And when the rain
Beats against my window pane
I'll think of summer days again
And dream of you

~ Chad and Jeremy

Caley demonstrating the old "weave" shelf liner

The Old Shelf Liner

New Shelf Liner

The lonesome-looking front Fall porch

Winter storage for the planters and birdhouses (forgive the focus, I was trying NOT to fall off a ladder)

Why the Hell can’t I find Quick-Cook Barley?

I woke up at a little after 6:00 AM on Saturday. Since the cats were absent, I stripped the bed and threw the bedding into the washer. I had a cup of coffee and watched some of the news. Then I got busy on breakfast.

I am making that egg dish I mentioned yesterday. Amy called it “Sunrise Squares.” So I cooked a pound of pork sausage in a skillet and drained the grease. Next I got out my 9x13 layer cake pan. She didn’t mention this, but I sprayed it with canola oil (for easier cleanup). Then I opened a 8-count tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls and pressed them into the bottom of the pan.

I added the pork sausage, a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and the “optional” 1/2 cup of diced green pepper. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F. and then whisked seven eggs, two cups of milk, a 1/2 teaspoon salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard together.

I poured that in the pan and stuck it in the oven for 30-40 minutes. I took it out after 35 minutes as the exposed crust was getting brown. I let it set for a bit to rest and then cut out a square.

It was very good (although it could have used a little more salt, but that’s probably just me). It tasted like I remembered and also a lot like a dish Lu and I had for breakfast years ago when we stayed at a Mennonite Bed and Breakfast in Illinois. I ate two more squares (with a little salt sprinkled on top) before I was done.

The I ran through my daily rituals to get ready for an 11:30 AM dentist appointment. I grabbed my jacket (winter is upon us, here) and left just in time.

The cleaning wasn’t bad (especially because this dentist uses more modern stuff than just digging away at your teeth with a little pick thingie). But, making the first impressions for my bridge (oh yes, I will need a second set done later) were just as bad as I remembered. Imagine somebody sticking a wad of clay (or whatever the hell that horrible tasting stuff is) on a tray and stuffing it in your mouth, pressing down on your lower teeth and holding it for like five minutes while you try desperately not to gag.

Then they do it all over again for your upper teeth. Finally, (and this was new) they squirt some kind of silicon or something on your teeth (a LOT of silicon or something) and ask you to bite down and hold it for, well, forever.

They finally remove it and then try to floss and take all the little stuck-on blue bits off and out of your teeth with gauze pads. I told Lori, the girl who was working on me, that she had just ruined a perfectly great teeth cleaning. She apologized, but said it had to be done.

It takes like two weeks for the results from the lab, and the only opening they had was on Joe’s wedding day, so my next appointment is on October 30th (Amy’s birthday). I needed a few things for the weekend and was dreading driving across town to my Kroger’s, when I passed one on Ford Road. A quick u-turn and I was there.

Again, I was faced with the annoying problem of NOT being able to find any “quick-cook” barley. Almost every recipe I recently have found for soup (and it’s definitely a soup weekend) calls for “quick-cook” barley. But, no matter where I go, all I can find is regular pearl barley, which you have to cook 45 minutes BEFORE you can add it to soups. So, I passed on buying more (I have two bags in the cupboard, already – one unopened). I got the rest of my stuff and checked out, then headed home.

I treated the cats, unpacked the groceries and changed clothes. I started what I hope will be the last load of laundry: the bathroom towels and my bath robe.

One of the main items on my weekend ToDo list is to get both new planters into a safe place for the winter. So, I got Jake’s short ladder and rearranged the garage shelves a bit (the ones in the northeast side of the garage). That way, I can put the two planters and the porch rail bird houses in storage on the top one.

I had hoped to put them side by side, but the shelf isn’t wide enough, so one has to sit on the other. They seem safe enough, though (see photo). Please note: I did NOT rearrange all the shelves (that would have taken all weekend, lol!)

I also was torn about the two hanging birdhouses. One the one hand, I did attach them with fishing lure snaps so I could get them off and take them down. On the other, they are really under the porch where rain, sun, snow or anything else can not get to them and I have no where inside to put them. So, maybe they just winter out there. Hmmm... I’ll have to think about that some more.

Back inside, I washed up, put the laundry in the dryer, made up the bed, all while I was simmering a cup of barley in two and a half cups of water and a little salt. When it was done, I dumped it in a sieve and let it drain and cool (I plan on making the soup on Sunday).

It was after 4:00 PM and had already been a long day, so I decided to take a nap. So, I did.

When I woke up, I was hungry, so I warmed up three more pieces of the Sunrise Squares and ate them watching a DIY show. When I was done and it was over, I went back to the shelf lining project. Now I was working on the cupboard over the dishwasher (that one has four shelves). I used my trusty step and started at the top one.

But, first, I put the barley in a container and into the fridge. I washed out the pan I used so I can make soup in it tomorrow and let it air dry. Finally, I refilled the humidifier (it was empty and my nose was stuffy when I woke up from my nap). Then I moved the cutting board and cleaned off the counter directly under the cupboard, so I can set the things on it.

I did it the same way I did the other shelves: Took everything down in order and put it on the counter; brushed off the shelf (with my workbench brush – if you ever want a brush that gets everything, go buy a workbench brush) into the bathroom trash basket (it’s small and easy to hold one-handed), washed each shelf with antibacterial spray and paper towels, and then measured, cut down and installed the new liner. Then I put everything back up in order again (again, see photos). Because they were on a roll, they are a little curled up, but they do lay flat after a day or two, I’ve learned.

As with the rearranging the garage shelves, the only “hard” part was going up and down the step (or in the garage shelf project, the ladder). That was killer on my knees.

But, I was very pleased with the results. I still need to do the cupboard over the fridge and the one over the stove (although I am unsure if the heat from the microwave hood vent will maybe melt the liner – I’m still thinking about that one).

But, I am out of shelf liner now (except for a bunch of too-short scraps). I am thinking I will use them into the silverware drawer, which I also lined each little compartment with the weave stuff.

But, it was already 10:30 PM, my legs hurt and I decided enough was enough for today. I put everything away (tape measure, scissors, framing square, etc.), threw away the trash and washed out the bathroom trash basket.

I went in the bedroom and took off my clothes and watched a little more TV (with a snack of pretzels and Williams cheese spread) until going to sleep.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Friday at Last!

It was gray and overcast Friday morning and had rained overnight. It was still in the mid-fifties, though the temps were supposed to be falling all day.

I took my usual walk at 10:00 AM. Back inside, Michelle told me she had gotten a response from Amy (at Building 73 – where I used to work). I was telling her earlier how they had a sign-up sheet for Friday treats that two people each week would bring in (even Andy, the CFO, would sign up). I said I would usually buy bagels or donuts, but other people would bring in homemade stuff. Amy made the best, some sort of egg bake, that was delicious. So, Michelle had emailed her, asking for the recipe. Amy sent it and Michelle made me a copy. Since I have all the stuff on hand, (except for the optional green or red pepper) I thought I’d try and make it Saturday morning. Michelle, who is doing Weight Watcher’s, wondered if there was a less fatty alternative to pork sausage. I told her I thought there was turkey breakfast sausage, but even if there wasn’t she could make it herself. I mean, it’s just spices and herbs. I believe Jake and Carla have made homemade breakfast sausage from ground pork.

I went to therapy at noon, and this time had a woman (which I’ve always had in the past) instead of my usual chatty guy. I worked out on the NuStep for my eight minutes while she reviewed my file. She said, “I see here that we’ve been working on building up your core muscles and that’s coming along well. But, has anyone even looked at your back yet?” I said, “No.”

She said she was a medical massage therapist and, if I didn’t mind, would like to try a light massage to see how my muscles and scar tissue were. I agreed as long as it didn’t hurt (nobody’s rubbed my back since this all began and I wasn’t too sure on how it would feel). First I laid on the hot pads for 10 minutes to loosen my muscles.

Then, I took off my shirt and t-shirt, and laid face down on the bed. She was very gentle and used some kind of cream out of a jar (like cold cream). Her diagnosis was that the muscles on my left side were much tighter than on my right (and my left back is what usually hurts more, so that made some sense.) She said that my insurance wouldn’t cover it, but suggested I go to a clinic nearby after I’m done with therapy and get a massage on a regular basis for a while, anyway.

Now, that may sound weird, but the same thing happened to me back in the day after I was treated for my prostrate cancer. The doctor recommended massages and I did get several of them from a woman in town (St. Clair) who co-owned a bed & breakfast with her life partner. However, those were done in a room with scented candles, warm oil, soft music and a massage table. I don’t know what or if they helped, but they didn’t hurt.

We did some of my regular exercises then and as I was leaving, she gave me the card for the clinic.

I stopped at Westborn this time and got some lobster bisque and grabbed a green pepper on the way out. I ate the soup when I got back and it was fantastic. I only wished I’d thought to bring in some crackers. Note to self: Bring in a sleeve of saltine crackers to work!

When I took my afternoon walk, I noticed the temperature had significantly dropped from the morning. It was funny, as, when I made the first turn in the parking lot, I was greeted by James, the LAN/WAN administrator. They are in the upstairs of building Four and he walking towards my building, Three. He said hello and then asked which door I was going in. I said, “I’m not, I have to walk this parking lot three more times because of my spinal fusion.” He said, “Well, I could use the exercise and fresh air”. So he walked with me!

I felt pretty stupid wearing my rain jacket all day until it was time to go home and, you guessed it, it was raining. I took the expressway, anyway, driving fast, so I could get home before the 5:15 PM Channel 4 News complete weather forecast. Guess what? According to them, it was raining! And, the forecast hasn’t changed: colder, with periods of rain and freezing temps on Sunday night.

I started the first load of the weekend wash and then took a break, with a cup of coffee and the rest of the evening news. But, after I hung up my shirts and the next load was already washing, I got bored. So, I went back to my project of putting new shelf liner in all the upper cupboards.

When we remodeled the kitchen I put in that mesh stuff in the cabinets where the dishes are and the one right next to it. It looked and felt nice, but the downside was you couldn’t wash it. And, once I put in the Tupperware containers of flour, sugar, etc., it became a real problem. Because then you had to pick up the containers (they wouldn’t slide on the mesh) and, at that height and weight, it was a challenge for me.

So, I replace them a while back (I probably mentioned that) with thick plastic shelf liners made for wire shelves. They work okay, except they have these stupid cut-out tabs (to attach them to the wire shelves). So, I got some other stuff that’s got a non-slip bottom and a solid, washable top and have been slowly swapping out the mesh stuff on the other shelves. Tonight, I got out my step, took everything out and lined the top shelves in both cabinets. I put everything back in place and quit for the night, after I hung up my pants and put away the folded clothes.

I used the oven to cook some Ore-Ida crinkle-cut fries and some Tyson chicken nuggets on a foil-lined half-sheet tray. Different cooking temps and times, but I worked it out. I ate them with two dipping bowls (ketchup for the fries and Ranch Dressing for the chicken), watching TV. It had been a long day and I went to bed by 10:00 PM.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Yard Statuary, Safe Inside for the Winter

Cut Down Tiger Lilies #1
Cut Down Tiger Lilies #2

Thursday, Cleaning Up

According to the morning news forecast this Thursday’s weather will be the last warm day for a while (maybe until Spring). According to them, it is snowing in Minnesota (where my daughter Amy lives!). So, I didn’t wear a jacket on the way to work.

I ran errands at lunch: CVS for prescriptions, then to O’Rielly’s for some StaBil and finally filled up the gas container (after adding in StaBil) at the closest gas station. I took that stuff home and made a can of Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup for my lunch.

Note: my co-workers will not like it, as the day progresses, but I love that stuff. Now that I think about it, I guess I just like any kind of bean soup.

After work, I closed the sunroof and hit the expressway. I treated the cats and then changed clothes. I went outside and gassed up the push mower. Here’s where I should have thought this through: Instead of adding, like, like half a tank of gas, I just filled it up.

Luckily, the mower started after just two pulls. Then I went out and cut down the dead and dying tiger lilies (see photo). I was careful to blow everything on my lawn (not my neighbors).

Sure enough, he came over and mentioned he should bury the hose (again, see photos) from his sump pump. I told him not to worry about it, as it kept the tiger lilies well watered all year (but, just for looks, I wish he would).

Back in the garage, I pulled the (hot) spark plug wire and tipped the mower up to drain out the old oil (this is where the full gas tank came into play as it dripped all over the place!) Luckily, I don’t smoke.

I searched through all my tools to find the correct Allen wrench to get the plug off (and after 15 freakin’ years working in a factory, I still have a LOT of tools). Finally, with the help of a flashlight, I determined it wasn’t an Allen wrench at all, but rather a square socket wrench drive I needed. I got that and drained the old motor oil out (I never winterized either mower last year, due to my back pain). So, I drained the oil, while the excess gasoline dripped onto the garage floor.

When it was empty, I replaced the drain plug and put in new oil. The old oil I put into a jug (already containing the oil from the riding mower) and I’ll take that into work. Being a second tier auto supplier, they have a service that reclaims old motor oil.

I went outside and brought in the statuary as dusk fell. They don’t fit on the new shelf as well as the old, but they are now all inside and protected (see photos). I do, however, still need to figure out a fix for the poor young Shaolin monk.

It was already after 7:30 PM and I was hungry. But, I didn’t have any leftovers left (is that redundant?) and I was tired, so I heated up a Marie Callender’s frozen entrée (Fettuccini with Chicken and Broccoli) in the microwave. I washed up while it cooked.

I ate dinner (it’s really pretty good and only 500 calories) and then watched another Breaking Bad episode. I followed that with a taped NCIS show and finally a DIY show. TVed out, I turned off the set and went to bed.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wednesday’s Highs and Lows

When I woke up Wednesday morning (again just before the alarm went off), I saw that it had rained again overnight. However, it was apparently not the soaking rain we need so desperately, and it wasn’t raining when I left for work. So, I took the expressway.

I don’t have therapy until Friday, so I just went in 15 minutes early. I’m not sure why, but I now enjoy getting in before anyone else. As, as long as I’m ready and not in a hurry, who cares?

At lunch, I was torn. For some odd reason all I wanted was a big, juicy hamburger and fries. I thought seriously about heading back home and checking out the Five Guy’s place at Middlebelt and Plymouth Road (where the old mall used to be and now is home to Target, Wal-Mart and a host of sort of strip mall shops). According to what I’ve read, they have been voted one of the best in the “D.” And, if I finished early, I could go home and treat the cats (a dubious distinction).

On the flip side, people I know who have gone there say they are “okay” but over-priced.

So, I decided to go to Max and Erma’s, and, if I finished early there, (a LOT of times quite doubtful) I could go to Lowe’s (next door) and pick up two more bags of mulch. So, I did. I got the mushroom and Swiss burger “Erma-sized" (six ounces), medium-rare. I learned long ago I couldn’t eat a “Max-sized” burger (eight ounces) without feeling like throwing up. I put mayo on the bun and ketchup on the spicy fries. I also got two free, fresh-baked chocolate cookies because it was Wednesday (who knew?). I took those back to work in a baggie (I was stuffed).

I did go to Lowe’s and picked up two more bags of shredded cedar mulch (on sale) and still got back to work five minutes early.

I ate the cookies, along with my Honeycrisp apple, during the afternoon.

Once I got home, I started the Wednesday night wash and checked the rain gauge. In spite of two nights of rain (?) I had less than 1/8 of an inch of water in the gauge. And the high predicted in the upper 60’s with abundant sunshine never materialized. It was still overcast and chilly.

I unloaded the mulch into the wagon. That left two half-bags of mulch I never used. So, I put the on the front gardens (wherever dirt was showing) and spread them around with a leaf rake.

When I weedwacked the gardens, I left a LOT of vegetation on the house siding, especially on the south side of the garage. So, I pulled out the hose and washed the crap off. Since, I had the hose extended, I rinsed off the kitchen window ledge (where the planter box was) and washed off all the statuary.

I was going to use the push mower to cut down the tiger lilies, but the gas tank was almost dry and I didn’t have any extra gasoline or Stabil to add to it for the winter. So that particular project went on hold, although I secured the gas can in the trunk for later).

Back inside, with everything buttoned up for the night, I had another coffee and started thinking about tonight’s dinner. I ended up making a skillet dinner with onions, redskin potatoes and smoked sausage. Sounds familiar, right?

But not just any smoked sausage. This was chicken and apple smoked sausage (I had bought it to make summer squash soup and I had to hunt for it). I hope it would have tasted better in the soup (which I never did make) because it didn’t bring much to the party tonight. It was “okay,” I guess.

I watched a taped movie (I knew I damn sure didn't want to watch the debate) and then went to bed just before the 11:00 PM news came on.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Busy Tuesday

I woke up five minutes before alarm went off on Tuesday. I left early (therapy again today) after I put the last bag of garbage in the can, carrying it out in the light rain.

I took Plymouth Road to work to avoid the expressway (as I said many times before, I don’t like driving in the rain on the expressway – people get weird).

I did my therapy at 11:45 again (the last time with this therapist). He was a good guy and definitely made me work. But he had one flaw: He liked to talk too much. It’s hard to count to thirty doing something three times while someone is chatting with you about his weekend plans.

On the way back to work, I stopped at Ackroyd’s Scottish bakery and picked up two meat pies for lunch. I warmed them up in the microwave and ate them both while working.

They had forecast afternoon rain on the news this morning, but it never materialized. After my afternoon walk, I ate my Honeycrisp apple for a snack. Again, it was so big I shared half with Michelle because Vicky had brought in her own.

Adding to the “fruitiness” of the afternoon, Lenore had someone send her one of those “edible arrangements” and shared it. It had all kinds of fruit, some covered in dark chocolate (like strawberries) and others in white chocolate (like bananas). I’ve seen the ads on TV, but never actually seen one in person before. The chocolate-covered and/or plain strawberries were great (but that’s all I tried).

When I got home after work, I retrieved my garbage can and lid and then went into the house. I couldn’t change clothes or do too much as I had a dentist appointment at 6:50 PM.

So, I putzed around, made sure I pre-medicated myself, drank a cup of coffee and watched the news until 6:30 PM, when I left for the dentist office. I learned two things during this second visit about going to evening appointments: DON’T drink coffee first and then expect to sit in a chair for an hour without needing an embarrassing bathroom break or two and definitely DO eat dinner first.

I had two old filling from a previous dentist replaced, without any pain (not even the initial shots – this dentist numbs your gums with some swab of something first). I was back home by 8:05 PM after saying my awkward goodbyes to the dentist and his staff (my mouth wasn't working well).

Unfortunately, the front of my mouth and my lips were still numb and I felt like I was drooling even after I was home. I was starved, but couldn’t figure out anything soft to eat. Then it hit me!

I made a can of Campbell’s tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. Drinking the soup from a cup, rather than trying to get it and keep it in my mouth with a spoon was a wise choice (and I prefer it that way, anyway).

It had been a long day, what with work, therapy and the dentist office, so I went to be around 10:15 PM.