Friday, November 30, 2012

Yet another song snippet (thanks, Steph)

"It's better to feel pain, than nothing at all
The opposite of love's indifference"

Stubborn Love
~ The Lumineers

Song Snippet

If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie
'Bout a ghost from a wishin' well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost that you can't see

~ Gordon Lightfoot

Perfect Quote for the Last Day of November

“And now with purpose full and clear,

We turn to meet another year”

~ Robert Browning

November Christmas

So, I called the Township offices at 8:45 AM on Thursday to schedule my inspection. I was directed to Bill, who said he would be there between 10-11:00 AM.

I headed home at 9:50. I parked outside so he would know I was home. Sure enough, I barely had time to treat the cats when the doorbell rang. He was laughing when he came in and said, “I like your sign about the Wizard.” I walked him downstairs, where he examined the new duct work with a flashlight (even though I had the light on inside the closet that holds both the furnace and the hot water heater. As you can tell by the photos I posted when it was installed, it’s pretty open).

He also examined the new shutoff in the gas line and said, “Well, it all looks good.” I asked if I need to sign anything and he said no. So, I walked him back out and said, “Thanks!” After he left, I did, too and was back to work within a half hour of leaving.

So, I did take a lunch. First I went to the Newburgh Grille and had a cup of soup and a patty melt. Then I went further down to Randazzo’s where I bought a small head of cabbage and two large Spanish onions, and then went back to work.

My afternoon walk wasn’t too bad as it was up into the 40’s for a change and the sun was shining.

When I got home after work, I opened the box of “winter branch lights” I bought from Gardner’s Supply. They are meant to use either batteries or an ac adapter (which I sprung for) and have either an “on” position, or a “timer” that stays on for 6 hours. There are three of them and each has individual branches. They look like pussy willows. I arranged them around the bay leaf and plugged in the adapter. This year they will be my version of a Christmas tree. I’ll take a picture of them when I finish the rest of my Christmas decorations.

In the mail I found my new license tab, so I washed the license plate and, when it dried, put on my tab. Now all I have to do is go into the Secretary of State’s office and renew my drivers license (groan).

In a Christmas mood, I printed off the Christmas card labels. I’ll fill them out this weekend. And, I was lucky that PBS sent me a reminder that Celtic Woman (who I admire and have recorded and even put on DVD) were on at 8:00 PM tonight with a Christmas special. So, I set the recorder.

I went up in the attic to get a few things and discovered I couldn’t find my lighted glass block! Hmmm... I wonder where I put it last year?

Back downstairs, I quit for the night and started making my soup. I gave up on the steaks (they were still rock hard – I wish I would have thought about soup when I was here this morning). So, I thawed out the ground chuck in its frozen block in my cast iron soup pot. Then I added onions and celery and cooked that until the onions were translucent. Next I added some minced garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper.

I deglazed the pan with some beef stock, then added the rest of the box to the pot. I put in a large can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. Then I added in some frozen mixed vegetables, some frozen cauliflower and half of the cabbage head, rough chopped. I topped the soup off with water until it looked like the right thickness.

Finally, I added herbs: Thyme, parsley and three dried bay leaves. I let that come to a boil and turned it down to a simmer and went in to watch Celtic Woman.

About an hour later, I fixed myself a bowl of soup while the show was in pledge-drive mode. So, bad... Not bad at all! A little under-seasoned, but adding a sprinkle of salt fixed that. I got another bowl to make sure and shut the heat off.

The Celtic Woman were excellent, as always. I watched more TV afterwards, but it was all anticlimactic. I went to bed about 11:00 after I stuck my cooled soup pot in the fridge.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Song Lyrics

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

Like a worm on a hook,
Like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.

If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.

Like a baby, stillborn,
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.

But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee.

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
He said to me, "You must not ask for so much."
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
She cried to me, "Hey, why not ask for more?"

Oh like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

“Bird on a Wire”
~ Leonard Cohen

Whining on Wednesday

It was cold again here on Wednesday, although noticeably warmer than Tuesday. I went home at lunch and regrettably ate the last of the turkey leftovers. I paid the turkey tribute by making it into an open face sandwich with gravy on top, though.

In the afternoon a nurse from Blue Cross Blue Shield called me again to set up the first of two telephone conversation I have to have with her about my diabetes. It seems that they take a certain percentage of people in the company who have one of six chronic illnesses (in my case diabetes) and offer them “financial incentives” to have these phone consults.

Read that as blackmail. You either agree to have the conversations or they raise you deductible $500.00!

I told her I didn’t have the time nor the inclination to discuss my health in the office and would call her after work.

So, my plan to go home and clean the house (the Township Building Inspector is coming over sometime on Thursday to check out the water heater – more fun!) was put on hold while I called her after the news ended.

We talked for a very unpleasant hour. Conversation snippets:

“How often do you forget to take you pills?” “Um, never, I have a big pill box in my closet and take them morning and night.”

“Would you like me to send you some information on the drugs you are taking?” “Not really necessary, since CVS staples a two page sheet on the drugs to the prescription every time I get them!”

“What are your top five health goals?” “I guess I just have one: to stay healthy?” “No, no. You need some goals we can work on, like quitting smoking or jogging.” “Lady, I haven’t smoked in 40 years and, since you seem to have my medical file in your hands, you already know I have a knee replacement and just had a spinal fusion so, no, jogging isn’t one of my New Years resolutions!”

It was just very annoying. You could tell by her questions and comments that this is designed either for people who are in denial about an illness or inept at following instructions.

And, the best part is I get to do it all over again in two or three weeks!

We finally hung up and I warmed up some more spaghetti and meatballs and ate dinner.

Then, I spot-cleaned the house. I got done at 10:00 PM. I watched a taped DIY show in 20 minutes (by fast-forwarding through the commercials) and then went to bed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Per request, Carl V's paragraph...

Your great-grandmother was an enigma. The only daughter of a wealthy family, she dressed in the latest fashions and knew all the popular dances in the 1920s. Yet, she gave it all up to marry a German immigrant and move to a farm out in the country. She had a love for books that she passed along to me (there was always a library in her houses). But, I think the greatest gift she gave me was her sense of wonder and adventure. I remember one night, coming down the stairs from the apartment my father and I built for me over the garage and seeing literally thousands of fireflies dancing all over the fields. I went inside the main house and told my parents. My father said something about having seen them before, but my mother dried her hands on a dishrag and followed me outside. We stood there in silence for about 10 minutes, just watching. Then she patted me on the arm and said, “Thanks!” That was your great-grandmother.


It was cold again when I woke up on Tuesday (24 degrees). The clouds had gone, leaving the last of the warmer air to rise and disappear. But, it did give me a spectacular view of the full moon out my bathroom window.

Speaking of being cold, I am trying to figure out why (and what the hell I am going to do when it really gets cold in Michigan – typically January and February). I don’t know if it was from losing all that weight last year, being ill or having my surgery, but for some reason I am always chilled.

The sun was out, so it did help in my morning walk, although this was supposed to be the coldest day for the next seven.

I went home at lunchtime and, for a change, didn’t stop at Home Depot! No, I went straight home, fixed myself a thick turkey sandwich, paired it with a pickle and ate lunch watching a taped DIY show.

Back at work, the afternoon was extremely frustrating. I don’t want to go into it and I’m sure it will pass (maybe). I did take the time to write out the paragraph of my mother’s influence that my grandson, Carl V, requested for a school project. It was hard! Just try and encompass all that your mother influenced you into one paragraph. I could write a book. But I did what I could.

Finally, it was 5:00 PM! When I got home, I treated the cats and changed clothes. I worked on the computer, paying some bills, transferring funds and updating my Christmas Card list. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t get the cards ready over the Thanksgiving holiday. But now that the car is okay and the new vanity working, I have to get this stuff caught up!

I realized that I was two voicemails behind talking with my daughter Melissa, so I called her up. I had waited for a while to let her get dinner out of the way. We chatted for a while and caught each other up.

Then I fixed my dinner by warming up a plate of meatballs and spaghetti. It was still excellent!

I watched taped DIY shows (all the new episodes of shows I like are played on Monday night for some odd reason) until bedtime.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back in Business!

Thank God I’m Back to Work... I can rest! Monday morning finally came after all my tossing and turning. It was cold outside, with a little wind that seemed to cut right through you. It made my morning walk challenging.

At lunch, I went to Home Depot (hey, they would miss me if I didn’t stop by) and replaced the 3/4-inch #10 self-tapping wood screws I stole from the tool hanger installation to use on the sheet metal I attached to the vanity.

Then I stopped at O’Rielly’s and got another gallon of 50/50 antifreeze, so I have some in the house.

I was going to make a turkey sandwich for lunch, but was so cold I decided I wanted hot soup, instead. So, I heated up a can of Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup.

On the way back to work, I stopped and filled up my gas tank.

My afternoon walk was just as unpleasant as the morning one.

When I was home for the evening, the first thing I did after treating the cats was to make a hot cup of coffee. Then I started assembling the trash. After switching out the kitty litter, I took out the garbage can, a full garbage bag and a large cardboard box with more cardboard in it. I anchored the box with the garbage bag and went back inside.

I watched the rest of the evening news while I putzed around, doing little things, like emptying the dishwasher and so on. When it ended, I made dinner.

And, I had an excellent dinner! I made up a plate with an open face turkey sandwich, topped with gravy, a small acorn squash half, some of the green beans and mushrooms and the cranberry relish.

I was really tired, so I went to bed around 9:00 PM.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Slowing it down on Sunday

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday in the midst of a lovely dream. I only say that because I often report bad dreams, but rarely have good ones (at least that I remember). I fixed a cup of coffee and fixed the Blog entry. Then I refilled my pill box, even with the suspect generic Lipitor.

New Delhi, India, for God’s sake? I don’t mind dying from tampered pills, but I would prefer them to be /American/ tampered pills!

Anyway, it had snowed during the night and, as I predicted, it was cold enough that the snow dusting stayed on the gardens, the cement slabs and the driveway. According to the weather report on the news (that I had turned on by then) there’s another round of snow coming a little later today.

Sure enough by 8:00 AM, it was snowing again. I had eaten my normal breakfast with my pills and finally got around to shaving and showering.

Then I gathered up my return stuff and headed out to Home Depot. The roads were just wet, but I should have listened to the people on the news about bridges and overpasses (there were a LOT of accidents this morning). Because I went Inkster to Schoolcraft (the I-96 service drive) then over to the first light before Middle Belt (the back way and easiest way for me to get to Meijer’s, Home Depot, PetSmart, Costco, etc.). But when I turned onto the bridge over I-96, I slid uncontrollably on the ice and ended up sideways, thankfully before the light. After I could breathe again, I chuckled at the fact we all here in Michigan have to relearn how to drive in snow each winter.

I straightened the car out and got to Home Depot without further incident.

I took the stuff back I didn’t need. It wasn’t much, but it came to $21.42, and money is money!

From there. I went to PetSmart (I need kitty litter) but they were didn’t open until !0:00 AM and it was 9:45. So, I drove over to Costco, but I have only gone there on weekdays and didn’t know they didn’t open until 10:00 AM on Sunday, either.

Well, I wasn’t about to drive two miles home and two miles back, so I just sat in the car, listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy. When it was ten o’clock, I went it and, compared to weekday lunchtime, it was freakin’ deserted!

I got the kitty litter (and cheaper than at PetSmart, I think, but I have to check), but (as long as I was there anyway) I also stocked up on coffee, peanuts for the squirrels and beef jerky (a healthful, flavorful snack – check it out: it’s mostly protein with very little fat).

So, I spent my refund several times over…

I drove home safely, treated the cats and unloaded the car. Then, since I had my coat on anyway, I took a bag of the peanuts outside and refilled the squirrel feeder. I stole a handful for myself.

Back inside, I dealt with mundane weekend chores: I wound the clock, watered the bay leaf tree, emptied the Thanksgiving dishwasher and stripped the bed. The bedding went into the washer and I went back to the leaking drain mystery.

I had thought about it all night, of course, and my assumption was right. The metal drain tube was not securely screwed into the drain itself. So, I loosened the plastic drain that attached to it, tightened the metal tube and reattached everything. Bingo!!!

The last few steps was to line the shelf with the leftover kitchen shelf liner, put back in all the stuff, but saving room for a low flat dish lined with a paper towel placed under the drain (it is my favorite method for discovering and containing drips).

Then I caulked the sink where it went against the tile. Unfortunately, after I read the directions, I realized it, too, took 24 hours to cure! So, I can’t use the sink until tomorrow afternoon. But, it works and looks great and I do not begrudge waiting one more day after all the days it took to get it installed.

So, I used blue masking tape to make a big “X” on the sink so I would remember not to turn the water on (I am not always “wide-awake” when I use the bathroom during the night).

Then I started the laborious task of taking all the various tools out to the garage from the bedroom, office, bathroom, kitchen and downstairs. I just set them all on the work bench as I want to put up the hangers on the new pegboard and decide where things should now go before I put things away.

I made myself another turkey sandwich for a late lunch and then was planning on taking a nap. Instead, I looked at the TV Guide and ended up watching “the Wizard of Oz” for the millionth time (“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”), figuring if I did fall asleep, it wouldn’t be a problem (I know how it ends, LOL!)
Weird, because its been like 50+ years since I first saw it (in black and white) and those damn flying monkeys still scare the sh*t out of me!

Lesson learned from the movie: “There’s no place like home!”

At 6:00 PM, I turned the oven on to preheat to 400 degrees F. I decided I need a real Sunday supper. So, I was making spaghetti and meatballs.

I had thawed out some marinara sauce I had made and froze in September with a Fabio (Chow Ciao) recipe. Since I was using his recipe for the sauce, I thought I’d go with his lazy meatball recipe.

Simply put, you take sweet Italian sausage out of its casing (I thawed out some I had) and roll it into meatballs.

Now, his recipe calls for putting them in the marinara sauce and cooking it for 8-10 minutes on the stove. But, I put them into my casserole dish, topped them with the marinara sauce and covered it. Why? Because, I also wanted to bake some winter squash for later this week.

So, I cut up the two acorn squash Matt at work gave me and one of the last few butternut squash my neighbor, Tammy gave me. I seeded them, put a pat of butter in each cavity and seasoned them all with salt and pepper. Then I went outside and harvested a lot of thyme stems. I put the casserole dish and the squash on a half-sheet pan, spreading the thyme over the squash and put it in the oven, setting the timer for 40 minutes.

When the squash was nearly done, I filled up my pasta pan with water and got out a box of thick spaghetti. The water came to a boil, so I put in the pasta and stirred it. When the pasta was al dente, I drained it and added in the meatballs and marinara sauce.

I let that get happy and then plated it. I topped it with fresh grated Parm and it was excellent. In fact, I took seconds!

About 9:00 PM, I started watching something on TV, but almost immediately fell asleep. Which sounds better than it was as I woke up at 1:00 AM and spent a lot of time trying to fall back asleep after that. I was largely unsuccessful.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Old vanity (its been so long you probably forgot, LOL)

Homemade heat diffuser

Vanity base, screwed to the wall

New, non-functioning (yet) vanity

Thanksgiving Weekend, Day 3

I woke up at 7:30 PM on Saturday, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Other than the occasional bathroom trips, I had slept through the night! I made a cup of coffee and wrote out the Blog entry. I posted it and then went through my morning routine.

My back was still quite sore, but spending time in the shower seemed to help. I got dressed and headed out to Home Depot for drain stuff. I hope the Black Friday madness has abated, although they advertised the sales lasting from Thanksgiving evening until Sunday night. [Hey, folks, I don’t want a low-priced 60-inch plasma TV, I just want some bathroom drain fixtures!]

Now, I know its “Small Business Saturday” where you are supposed to show support for your local merchants by shopping there instead of the chain or “big-box” stores, but I don’t have any small business-owned hardware stores nearby. Are there any left? Anyway, for my hardware needs, I went to Home Depot. I got in and out easily and didn’t see any of these massive crowds as shown on the news.

Next, I did support “Small Business Saturday” by eating breakfast at that little, family-owned Coney at Middlebelt and 5-Mile. I had two eggs, over easy, sausage links and way too many hash browns (that I couldn’t finish).

Finally, I stopped at Westborn (not exactly a small business, but smaller, say, than Kroger’s – no locally-owned grocery stores anymore, either). I needed to replenish my supply of both bread and mayonnaise (too many turkey sandwiches, LOL). On impulse, I picked up one of those little boxes of Clementines that so remind me of the holidays.

Back home before 10:30, I put the groceries away and spread the plumbing stuff all over the bed (so I can locate it easier).

Before I forgot that I wanted to do it, I took a 12x12-inch square of thin sheet steel (like I used on the squirrel feeder) and used construction adhesive to put it on the bottom of the upturned vanity. I held it in place with first a can of paint (to take the picture) and then a clamp and screwed in on with five screws. I’m just guessing, but I think it will help to radiate the heat out from under the cabinet.

While that dried, I got to work on the sink. I installed the old faucets, new waterlines and the new drain. I hate trying to tighten things upside down and inside cabinets, so I want to get all that out of the way before I put it on.

I got out what I thought was silicone adhesive and found it was just silicone caulk. Damn! So, I put my coat back on and went back to Home Depot. They didn’t have any silicone adhesive (I had a tough time finding it when I tiled the downstairs shower, too). But they did have adhesive for installing sinks on tile, so I bought that.

I also bought four scrub brushes to repair my old, handmade boot scraper. The brushes fell apart last winter and its almost time to get it out.

Back home, I treated the cats and then got back to work. I finished installing the mechanism to raise and lower the drain plug.

Then I took a deep breath, tapped in the wall anchors and screwed in the base cabinet, using fender washers.

I put the sink on, drew a few pencil marks, took it off again, and applied a sh*t-load of adhesive to the wall, one inch under the pencil marks. Then I took an even bigger breath and put on the sink.

Now, your probably asking yourself, “What about the two other holes he said he had to drill?” Well, here’s the story. I did mark them on the wall (you can probably see the black Sharpie marks on the wall in the fender washer and screw picture), but there are two things wrong. One, the holes are high inside the small area back of the sink, where I couldn’t get a normal screw driver in to fit (I did buy hex head screws so I might be able to use a ratchet and socket). And, two, my back is already screwed up big time from the last two holes.

Since the sink has a recessed part that allows it to sit “down” over the cabinet, rather than on top of it, I got to thinking: if its glued to the wall and captured by the cabinet on the sides and front, why bolt it on? After all, there was no hardware in the box and the instructions simply said attach it any way you want, but be sure to put adhesive on the wall behind the sink.

Suspecting I might just be wimping out, I called my friend, B___, who has done his fair share of DIY projects and explained the situation to him. He thought about it and decided I was probably right. As long as it can’t move, even if somebody fell against it, there’s no real advantage to screwing it to the wall.

So, screw it, I am not going to screw it on.

The adhesive tube said it had to cure for at least 24 hours before being exposed to water, so I decided I wouldn’t even caulk it (to let the air flow get to the adhesive). I did take a picture for you, but remember, this is still not functional. It’s just to let you see the progress to date.

Myself, I took a break and laid on the bed to watch some TV and rest my aching back. While I was lying down, I called CVS about my prescription. I heard on the news this morning that Ranbaxy (a company in New Delhi, India) was recalling their generic equivalent for Lipitor due to some being found with ground glass in them. So, guess what I take? Yep, you guessed it!

But the pharmacist checked and said it was only specific lot numbers and I didn’t have that particular lot. Ummm... is that supposed to make me feel more secure?

I was getting hungry, so I warmed up the rest of the unfrozen cabbage casserole and ate that for dinner. Man does not live on turkey alone. Bacon? Possibly; but not turkey.

When I was done I worked on the weird drain set up and hooked the water lines into the shut off. I tested the water lines and had no leaks.

The drain had leaks at two places. I tightened the plastic nut on one and it went away. The other was coming from the new metal drain itself and will require a little more attention (or replacement, which would tick me off).

But, it was almost 10:00 PM and I was tired of messing with this. So, I quit for the night. I started to watch TV but when I found myself dozing, I just shut it off and sent to bed.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday was gray, here

I slept badly Thanksgiving night. At times, it felt like I hadn’t slept at all. So, when I saw it was 6:30 AM, I just gave up and got out of bed.

I made a cup of coffee. While the brewer was heating up, I surveyed the damage in my kitchen [insert shudder, here]. I went in and finished the Blog entry and posted it. Then I made another cup of coffee and watched the morning news for a while. I finally went out and started cleaning up the kitchen.

It was very windy out and the temperature (so warm and beautiful yesterday) has been falling like a rock overnight. The three-day weekend forecast is for highs in the low 30’s, with occasional snow showers each day.

I got everything cleaned up, spray-sanitized and the dishwasher started. All I had left was to hand-wash my chef’s knives (I had used the Wustof for all the prep work, so I turned to my trusty Shun for turkey carving) and the roasting pan.

Then I shaved and showered. I did a load of towels and my bathrobe, and began today’s adventures.

The first thing I had to tackle was fixing the car. I was wishing I had done this yesterday when it was warm, BTW. But I rigged up two lights in the garage (that sucker was really buried. I managed (with great difficulty and at the price of a nasty gash on the back of my hand) to get the leaking hose end off. As I suspected, it was slit next to the clamp.

So, I threw away that clamp and cut off the hose at the slit. I put on a new clamp and with even greater difficulty, got the hose back in the fitting. Then I tightened the clamp with a long screwdriver and mostly by feel.

I topped off the antifreeze and backed the car outside. I let it sit there and warm up, using a flashlight to look for leaks. I decided I wish the clamp was closer to the end of the hose (I hope it tightened on the fitting!) but there was no sign of leaking.

I grabbed my wallet and took the car over to the quarter car wash. I hosed down the underside to wash off all the old antifreeze. Then I drove it back home and left it, still running in the driveway, while I cleaned up all the old kitty litter I’d put down to soak up the old spilled antifreeze.

I put down some fresh kitty litter and checked the hose one more time (no leaks). Then I drove it inside, shut it off and closed the garage door. I will keep checking it of course, but I think I might have fixed it!

It was just after noon, BTW, and the little bit of sun we had earlier was long gone. It was windy and the ominous gray clouds overhead were forcing me to keep the lights on in the house.

Inside, I treated the cats, washed my hands and changed my bandage. Then I put in a new razor blade, knelt down and started scraping the tile floor in the bathroom. There were little splotches of foam sealant smears, drips of paint and caulk or spackling here and there. I’d like to get it as clean as possible before I install the new vanity.

I used the vacuum hose to pick up the scrapings from the razor knife. Once I thought I had it as best as I could, I scrubbed the floor with a stiff brush and some Ajax cleaner with bleach. I let that sit for a spell (to try and bleach out any remaining stains) and then rinsed it with clear hot water and my mop. I took a break to let it dry and let my back recover a bit.

Since I was taking a break anyway, I made myself some lunch. You guessed it: a turkey sandwich! Then I took a nap.

When I got up it was 2:00 PM and snowing. There was a light covering of cleanser powder still on the now-dried floor. So, first I ran over it with the vacuum and then I washed the entire floor with Pine-Sol and hot water with a mop. I let that dry while I went out to get the mail.

It was raw outside with still the occasional snowflakes. None of the snow stayed on the ground, but at the rate the temperature is falling, I don’t think that will be the case if it snows tomorrow or Sunday.

When the floor was dry, I put the vanity back in to mark the holes I need to drill into the tile. Then I took the vanity back out and spent what seemed like forever drilling two holes through the tile and thick mortar. This was killer on my back as you had to push to keep the pressure on the drill bit. The first one I did standing up and bending over (stupid). The second, I used a chair. But, it still hurt.

The sad part is that I have two more to drill later this weekend...

So, it was almost 6:00 PM, and I quit for the day. I watched the news until 7:00 PM.

Then I switched to Netflix and watched three episodes back-to-back of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. I had caught the occasional one on PBS before and loved them but these were all new to me.

Somewhere during my marathon, I paused it and made a piled-high turkey sandwich and ate that with a sliced tomato on the side and a McClure’s dill pickle. I must admit I made little audible groans when eating it and the cats thought I was nuts. But, it was that good!

I took a pain pill (so I could sleep) and went to bed at 11:15.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I woke up at an incredibly late 8:00 AM. I blame Missy, of course (but then I blame her for lots of things, LOL). I made a cup of coffee, wrote the Blog and posted it. Then I started my day. I ate breakfast, downed my pills, shaved and showered.

All the while, I had the traditional Detroit Thanksgiving parade on TV. I watched parts of it as I went about the morning.

Jake called to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving while he and Carla were out for a walk with Whiskey. They are going to her brother’s mother-in-law’s house for dinner. She was born in Japan, so the menu will be traditional Thanksgiving fare, plus egg rolls! I was sooo jealous. Why the hell didn’t I think of egg rolls?

I called Sadie to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving as well and learned she is into her own DIY project: enclosing the front porch with windows to keep more heat in the house.

I called B___ and just got his voicemail. I assume he’s busy with Thanksgiving dinner for his family. I left a message that he didn’t have to call me back, just wanted to wish him and his family a Happy Thanksgiving.

Finally at noon, I got off my lazy ass and got to work. I cut 3/4 of the skillet cornbread into 1/2-inch cubes. Then (shades of childhood) I took off the crust of eight slices of sourdough bread (nothing special, its what I always have on hand) and cut them into 1/2-nch cubes as well. These all went into a pre-heated 375 degree F. oven on two half-sheet pans to dry out and get golden. I set the timer for 15 minutes.

I took the time to put the cabbage casserole into two big containers (to freeze) and one little one (to eat sometime soon). Then I soaked the pan. I pulled out the half-sheet pans and let them cool.

Next I diced a small onion, two stalks of celery and minced two cloves of garlic. I cooked them in bacon grease (having baked the bacon before) until the onions were translucent (about four minutes). I pulled them off and added the four strips of bacon (cut into 1-inch pieces) and one tablespoon of my home-grown fresh sage leaves (yes, I went outside to harvest them and the weather was fantastic – had I known this, I might have been tempted to smoke the turkey breast outside. (Hmm… maybe covered with bacon again?)

While I was out there. I threw out the bread crusts and refilled the bird feeder and squirrel feeder. So, yes, I have friends over for Thanksgiving dinner.

Next, I put the cornbread and bread into a large bowl and added in the skillet stuff and 2 3/4 cups of chicken stock, two large eggs (lightly beaten) and two pinches of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper.

Then I went back outside and harvested more herbs, because I need 1/2 cup (1/2 cup!) of fresh parsley. I added that in and tossed it all to combine. I let it sit for five minutes and then tossed it again.

[Sidebar: at this point I was regretting turning down Hannah’s invitation of eating with her family and my Brother Carl.]

I put the stuffing (no, dressing! It’s only “stuffing” if you stick it in the turkey!) into my casserole dish and into the preheated 375 degrees F. oven. I set the timer for 25 minutes.

When 10 minutes had passed I stuck in the potatoes (that I had previously taken out to let come to room temp). While I was waiting, I finely chopped another two tablespoons of sage leaves and combined that with two tablespoons of softened butter.

I spread the butter and sage mixture on top of the potatoes. I let them cook another 10 minutes. When the timer went off, I pulled them out, covered them with foil and set them on the stove top to keep warm. Here’s one of the areas I screwed up on: I should have checked to make sure they were done! But, I was busy and it slipped my mind.

Meanwhile, I peeled two sweet potatoes (the recipe called for about 5 or 2 1/2 pounds, but I cut back on that part) and cut them into 3/4 inch wedges. I combined 1/2 cup of honey, 1/2 stick of butter and two fresh (the recipe calls for four dried, BTW) finely chopped bay leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons of allspice and a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper in a small saucepan. I put the sweet potato wedges on a half sheet pan and brushed them with the sauce. I stuck them in the oven for 10 minutes.

When the timer went off, I flipped them over and re-glazed them. I put them back in the 450 degree oven for another 10 minutes. When that timer went off, I pulled them out and put them in a small pan, covered with foil and left them on the stovetop as well. I left the stove door open so it would cool down a bit to the 325 degrees F. I need for the turkey breast.

The phone kept ringing and I kept ignoring it. When I finally had a chance, I checked and found Thanksgiving well-wishes messages from B___, my brother Jim and Lu.

I had the Lion’s football game on (hey, it’s a Michigan tradition). I checked and for a change, they were winning!

So, finally, I was ready for my turkey. I went back outside and gathered some rosemary, and thyme (my herb garden was really getting a workout). I made a paste (per an Ina Garten recipe) of one teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary leaves, one teaspoon of fresh chopped sage leaves, one teaspoon of fresh chopped thyme leaves, three cloves of minced garlic, two teaspoons of dry mustard, two teaspoon of kosher salt, one teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, two tablespoons of good olive oil and two tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice.

[Why am I not eating at Hannah’s house?]

Then I worked that paste under the turkey skin as much as I could and spread the rest on top of the skin.

Here’s where I varied from her recipe. I always roast a turkey breast on top of two rough chopped carrots, two stalks of celery and an onion, not peeled, just cut in half. I think it gives you the “flavor” of stuffing, without any health risk. I added a cup of dry white wine and the rest of the box of chicken stock I opened for the dressing to the pan.

I stuck the thermometer into the thickest part and set the alarm for 165 degrees F. I set the stove timer for two hours.

Then I went back to the TV and watched the Lions get beat in overtime (another tradition).

About a half hour before I thought the turkey would be done, I made my last side dish. I blanched a pound of trimmed green beans in boiling water for five minutes, then shocked them in an ice bath (to stop the cooking and keep the green color). Meanwhile, I trimmed a pound of button mushroom and then sliced them 1/4 inch thick. I sautéed them in olive oil and added in two cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. When the mushrooms were golden, I added in one teaspoon of ground coriander, some salt and pepper.

I cooked that a minute and added in 1/4 cup of dry white wine. I cooked that until it reduced and then added two tablespoons of water, a tablespoon of sherry vinegar and 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley. I mixed that into the drained green beans and let that get happy.

The thermometer alarm finally went off, (about 2 1/2 hours) so I pulled the turkey breast out, covered it with tinfoil and set the stove timer for 20 minutes for it to rest. I stuck everything else back in the turned-off oven to warm up.

I used the pan drippings to make a quick “gravy” with a little cornstarch. When the turkey was done resting, I cut off one half of the breast and cut it in slices, so there was skin on each piece. Then I got everything out and made myself a plate.

I was eating it when Jake called to ask how my dinner was. I told him the green beans were great, as were the sweet potatoes (I highly recommend these two recipes). The turkey was just how you would want it with a crisp, herb-covered skin and moist meat. However, the accordion potato was undercooked and the dressing was too dry. He said I needed to put more gravy on the dressing and mix it with the cranberry relish. Damn! I forgot the cranberry relish in the fridge!!

I did ask him how the egg rolls were and he said they were excellent and gone within minutes. He said he’d let me get back to my dinner and hung up. I was sure glad he called, since my next move was to get out the cranberry relish and add some to the plate. Excellent as always!

I tried more gravy on the dressing, but nope, it was still too dry. I think I put too much cornbread in it.

I was stuffed, though. So, I decided against baking my pumpkin pie and making whipped cream to top it with. I’ll do that later in the weekend.

At one point or another during my trips back and forth from the bedroom to the kitchen, I glanced through the door towards the picture window and noticed the pavement was wet from rain. It wasn’t raining when I looked, though.

My kitchen was in shambles and the food still too warm to put away yet. So, I went and watched part two of the Dust Bowl (that Ken Burns documentary I told you about).

When it was over, I cut off the other half of the turkey breast and put it in a Zip Lock bag in the fridge. I must admit I was tempted to make a turkey sandwich, but I was still too full from dinner. I put the rest of the food away, except for the dressing. I’ll put that in the trash in the morning.

I walked away from all the dirty pots, pans and dishes and went to bed, instead.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgivng Eve

I went into work early again (I’ve been doing that all week to make up for leaving early for my dentist appointment).

I went home at lunch, only stopping to pick up some chicken fried rice at my favorite takeout (next to CVS).

It was 3:30 PM (and I had to leave at 4:00) when Lenore announced that everybody except for Vicky could go home (the Help Desk must be manned! – Jake used to get nailed with that one all the time). So much for coming in early all freakin’ week!

So, I wished everyone a Happy Holiday and went home. It was kind of nice, because I didn’t have to rush. I treated the cats and then unloaded the dishwasher and washed the cast iron pan and my Wustof by hand. Then I brushed my teeth, gargled and left for the dentist.

It took a little time to fit it perfectly (it was too tight). At one point, the dentist said, “Well, I may have to follow you home tonight and take it out for you.” I told him, “Look, I like you, but not that much!” Both he and Lori, his assistant today, laughed.

But, he finally got it right and I headed home. It felt weird to have “something” in my mouth, but since I did it for at least 10-15 years with the last one, I think I will get used to it. And, I will say, this one feels a LOT more secure and comfortable than the last one.

I got home just after 5:00 PM. The cats insisted that the garage door had gone up and down and I walked in, so treats were in store. I argued a bit but then gave up and in (damn their eyes!) I changed clothes, answered some emails and posted some responses on Facebook. Then I finished watching the evening news.

Next, I started the Wednesday night wash. It’s not that I needed the clothes, it was just because I wanted it out of the way.

I ate the rest of the chicken fried rice for dinner and then got started on prepping more of my Thanksgiving dinner.

Now one of my sides involves using a lot of Yukon Gold potatoes, slicing them almost through and sticking shallots in the divisions for the first baking. They are called Shallot-Sage Accordion Potatoes, but this ain’t my first rodeo. They are just a riff on Hasseleback potatoes (which I have made in the past, you may recall).

So, I washed two big russet baking potatoes and sliced them about a 1/4 inch thick. Previously, I had thrown away or re-used a lot of potatoes attempting this before I learned this trick: Put two store-bought chop sticks on either side of your potato. That way your knife cannot cut all the way through.

Then I thinly sliced a big shallot. I stuck a shallot section in each cut, put them cut side down in a casserole dish, dabbed then on top with two pats of butter, sprinkled the rest of the shallots around them, covered them in tin-foil and stuck them in a 375 degrees F. preheated oven.

After 20 minutes, I flipped the potatoes over, dabbed another two pats of butter on them, recovered them with the foil and baked them for another 20 minutes. Then I took them out and let them cool. I’ll finish them tomorrow.

I test-fitted the bathroom vanity. It looks nice and only half the register and a small bit of broken tile (now spackled and painted) shows.

I gave up trying to figure out how to reheat pre-made dressing (I think because I was lazy and it was late. I didn’t feel like doing it tonight!) and quit for the evening. I watched a taped show and then the 11:00 PM news.

It scared the crap out of me (I was dozing a little), but the phone rang. WTF? Not even telemarketers call this late.

It was my daughter Melissa. She was sitting in her garage, smoking a cigarette with a space heater on and was cold. I explained she had this all backwards. Ask Carla! It’s southern people who come up to Michigan who are always cold, not a winter-hardened woman who had lived in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge! I mean, she was like the Queen Troll and Dave used to have to climb on the roof to shovel the snow off it so it wouldn’t buckle and she’s “cold” in North Carolina?

Anyway, we talked about Thanksgivings past and present, family past and present, hidden bookcases and library ladders (we both want one, even though we can both reach the top shelf in an eight-foot high room). We talked a long time, per usual.

But, then she disappeared! I think her phone died or something. I was babbling away about something when I realized she wasn’t there. Unfortunately, she left before I could tell her I love her and wish her and Dave a Happy Thanksgiving. So, I’m doing it now.

Then I went to bed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cabbage Casserole

Cranberry Relish

Skillet Cornbread

A Busy Tuesday

It wasn’t as foggy for a change on Tuesday morning, but it was damp. Somehow, that made my morning walk better as I drew in deep breaths of the damp, cool air.

I had rechecked my recipes last night and reviewed my ingredients. I found I was still missing an orange and some ground coriander. So, I made the mistake of going to Kroger’s at lunch. It was hard to find a parking place and it was jammed with last minute shoppers, all of whom had huge carts and long lists. But, I got through the 15 items or less aisle easy enough and took my few items home.

I took the turkey breast out of the freezer and put it on a plate in the fridge to thaw. I ate a couple of brats on bread for lunch and headed back to work.

It had been cloudy all day and when I left work at 5:00 PM, it was already dark And, it was sprinkling! They failed to mention that in the morning weather!

When I got home, I treated the cats and changed my clothes. Then I got right to work. I taped off the plywood and plaster portions of the bathroom and, after stirring the paint, applied it.

In spite of what my two sons would tell me, it looks like the computer was wrong! If you remember, I took in a piece of the tile, hoping to match it. But the color I put on (unless it darkens as it dries), looks way too light. Damn! Oh, well, I’ll let it dry while I get onto the night’s real work, prepping for Thanksgiving.

But, first, I have to make my friend Michelle’s Cabbage Casserole. Why now? I had noticed that the huge half of cabbage she had given me was looking pretty bad. So, I took the 1 1/2 pounds of browned ground chuck out of the freezer this morning.

Now, speaking of yucky-looking cabbage, I must share a story. Back in the day, when I was trying to be a homesteader on my Mom’s farm, the truck farmer that had rented the land that formerly belonged to my Dad told me I could have all the cabbage that he left in the field, after judging it wasn’t “perfect” enough for market. (Where was Forgotten Harvest back then?) I fed the worst stuff to the pigs and wanted to save the rest.

So, I did some research in the pages of the Mother Earth News (there were no computers back then) and found a suggested way to keep cabbage over the winter. I dug a trench in the sandy soil by the barn (the rest of the farm was loam, but it was sandy there) and put each head of cabbage, pulled out roots and all, upside down in it. Then I buried them with sand and topped that off with a layer of about two-feet thick of straw.

I went out in, like, January to get the first one and was totally p*ssed! It looked completely rotten. But, when I peeled back the outer leaves, there was the whitest, sweetest cabbage I ever tasted!

So, I was not afraid of the looks of Michelle’s half-cabbage head. I cut off the bad stuff and then chopped it into about five ups of cabbage squares. Then went into a big roasting pan (I didn’t think I had a large enough casserole dish for this).

Next, I diced up two medium onions. Now the recipe calls for cooking the ground beef (or turkey) with the onions, but I already browned the ground chuck. So, I put in the thawed meat when the onions were translucent and stirred it all until the meat warmed up.

Then I added one can of tomato soup and one can of water. Here’s where I had to veer from her recipe: It called for a can of stewed tomatoes (which I never have on hand) so I added a can of diced tomatoes (juice and all) instead. It also called for a can of rinsed sauerkraut, but as you know, I never buy canned sauerkraut (I hate the tinny taste) so I rinsed off the sauerkraut I had left from the bag I bought and added that. The recipe also called for seasoning with an undisclosed amount of salt, pepper and garlic powder.

I skipped the salt (figuring the sauerkraut would be enough) and added pepper and minced whole garlic gloves instead. I let that simmer for about 15 minutes. Then I added about eight teaspoons of uncooked rice and poured the mixture over the cabbage (NOT stirring). I covered that with foil (or you could use your casserole lid if you have a casserole dish that big). I stuck it in the preheated 350 degree F. oven and set the timer for 1 1/2 hours.

Note: the handwritten recipe says it freezes and reheats well.

Now, “What,” you may be asking, “does this have to do with Thanksgiving?” You are correct: nothing! I just need to use this stuff up before I had to throw it away and feel bad about myself.

But, then I did get onto Thanksgiving. I took my old cast iron pan and put half a stick of butter (or four tablespoons) in it and stuck it in the oven. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, I put in my dry ingredients: two cups of stone-ground yellow cornmeal, one tablespoon of sugar, one teaspoon of baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, then whisked it all together.

I was making a southern-style skillet cornbread (Martha Stewart) for my Thanksgiving dressing and I know that Carla would kill me if I made it “sweet.”

Then I whisked my wet ingredients together: Two large eggs and two cups of buttermilk. I added the wet to the dry and whisked it together.

I took my cast iron pan out of the oven and was stalled at that point. The oven temperature was too low to bake the corn bread. I left the pan on the warm stovetop.

So, I started making my cranberry relish from last year (It’s a take off of the supposedly famous Boston Market one that I have never tasted). I finely grated the zest half an orange into a medium saucepan and then squeezed in all of the juice. I added two cups of fresh cranberries, 1/4 cup of black walnuts (regular walnuts is what the recipe calls for but I like to honor my trees) and 3/4 cup of sugar. I cooked that over medium heat, stirring occasional until the mixture thickened and the cranberries started to pop. I pulled it of the heat and let it cool.

Finally, the casserole came out and I raised the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. When the oven beeper went of, I brushed the melted butter all around the cast iron pan. I poured in my batter and stuck the pan in the oven. I set the timer for 25 minutes.

I fixed a bowl of the cabbage casserole and ate that while watching a little of a taped show. It was even better than before (it wasn’t me, but the extra meat that did it). The timer went off, so I took the corn bread out of the oven and let it cool.

I got back to work and painted the second coat in the bathroom. I am really disappointed in how light the color is, but not enough to go get more, lol! I want this done. I am tired of walking downstairs to brush my teeth!

I filled up the dishwasher and ran a load.

I checked out a magazine and a couple of catalogs that came in the mail today. When the corn bread was cold, I cut it in four wedges and put them in a big zip-lock bag. I put the casserole (pan and all) in the fridge (I’ll portion it out to freeze tomorrow). Then I went to bed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Herb Drying Rack

Spackled Holes

The bathroom hole-in-the-wall, almost ready for painting

Foggy Days and Mondays...

Monday was a repeat of the heavy fog and freezing temps. This time was different though, as I had left the car outside and had to scrape the windows before I could leave for work (I should have thought that one through, I guess).

At lunchtime, I went to Westborn to get the veggies for my Thanksgiving sides. I wanted to wait so they’d be fresh, but not so long that the store would be crowded or, worse yet, sold out.

Since I was there anyway, I bought a container of bean with ham soup for my lunch. When I got home, I put everything away and ate the soup. I was surprised at how hot it still was. I burned my tongue on it!

Once I got home after work, I took the garbage out to the road. Then I finished the weekend wash by doing the bedding. While that was going through its cycles, I put the caulk on the register and took some pictures of the unpainted project, as well as the herb drying rack (after I went outside and got some herbs in to demonstrate).

I got my first Christmas card! And, I thought I was always early! It was from the “Garcia Family” and I did appreciate it coming as I was going to ask Jeremy or Jyl for Joe’s address so I could send them a card.

I warmed up some brats, some leftover potatoes and some sauerkraut for my dinner.

I had to wait for the caulk to dry before I can paint in the bathroom, so I had the rest of the night off!

I made up the bed and then settled in to watch the first half of “The Dust Bowl,” a Ken Burns documentary on PBS that I taped Sunday night. The other half was on and taping tonight. It really was fascinating and had old films, photos and stories from several survivors of what they were calling the largest man-made ecological disaster ever.

When it ended, I set the alarm and went to sleep.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Slowing Down on Sunday

I woke up at a ridiculously late 8:00 AM. But, because of my nap, I did go to bed late as well. I looked outside when I made my first cup of coffee and couldn’t see the back yard wall! I turned on the news and they were showing traffic cam shots of all the freeways and the fog was everywhere!

I felt like crap. My back still hurt, I had dried foam or glue or something on the back of one hand and cuts on the other. I just wanted to lay back down and go back to sleep or die. But, there are numerous items on the ToDo list yet unchecked, so I soldiered on. But, I did take it a little easier today than I did on Saturday.

I refilled my pill box and ate my morning pills. Then I refilled my coffee cup and rewound the mantle clock (weaving between the kitchen chairs I had put there last night).

Because it was so nice out yesterday, I had thawed out a steak, some brats and a pound of bacon (I need some of the bacon for Thanksgiving). So, I covered the half sheet pan with foil and cooked the bacon in the oven. When it cooled, (and after I had a few test pieces) I put the bacon in the fridge, But, I didn’t throw away the tinfoil or drain off the grease.

By 10:00 AM, the fog had lifted enough so I could see my wall, but not Inkster Road yet.

I screwed on the heat register after cleaning out some dried foam that had leaked into the duct.

B___ called and we caught each other up. He agreed with me about being nervous with Building inspectors in my home. The cats and I took another nap in the early afternoon. I could get used to this nap thing!

About 4:00 PM, I fired up some charcoal in the charcoal starter. Back inside, I took all my remaining redskin potatoes (that were beginning to sprout) and cut them into 1/4 inch slices. I should have used the mandolin, I suppose, but just did it with a chef’s knife. I laid them on the now hardened bacon grease and seasoned them with sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and a lot of finely chopped fresh rosemary. I stuck them in a preheated oven and let them bake while I grilled a pack of brats (for next week) and a nice T-bone steak.

When everything was ready, I ate an early (for me anyway) Sunday supper of steak and potatoes. Excellent!

I cleaned everything up and tackled the last project: Hanging up the herb drying rack I bought from Gardener’s.

Naturally, there wasn’t a joist where I wanted it (I checked with a finish nail) so I drilled a 5/8-inch hole in the ceiling and then used a threaded rod and toggle wings to install the swag hook I bought at Home Depot last week.

That accomplished, I put the rolling cart (which is where the round herb drying rack now hangs over) and the chairs back in the kitchen. I put away the tools and quit for the night.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Garage annex wall before

The back of the "plastic sheet"

Garage annex wall after

Old hot water heater

New hot water heater

Spackling the bathroom

Cardboard box in the back yard

Saturday, busting my ass and breaking the bank

I woke up at the usual time (without the alarm). It was too early for the news, so I went out and made a cup of coffee. Looking outside through the kitchen windows, I realized I couldn’t see the lights on Inkster Road! It seems we are socked in with a dense fog and the news collaborated my findings when it finally came on.

I lollygagged about until I finally shaved and showered. I have a new water heater coming sometime between 9:00-12:00, so I need to move the car out and on the other side of the driveway so the installer will have easy access.

I also need to set the cat’s food, water and a kitty litter box in the living room, so I can lock them in there to prevent escapes or accidents.

I did the cat set up first. I didn’t lock them in yet, but I did shut the downstairs door so they would be forced to use the living room.

The installer company called and verified my appointment and said the guy would call 1/2 hour before he was to arrive. So, since I had to pull the car out anyway, I drove over to the Post Office to get the stamps for the Christmas cards.

I forgot its no longer a 24-hour center (Post Office cut-backs) and found it didn’t open until 9:00 AM. So, I sat in the car and listened to music for 10 minutes. I got my stamps, went home and parked outside.

I treated the cats and got my tools for the next phase of the bathroom project: caulking and spackling.

So, I caulked where necessary, spackled all the holes (even the ones that won’t show) and scrapped off most of the excess. I’ll sand it when it dries.

Next, I drilled a 1/4 hole in the wood near the top. I got the spray foam and shot as much as I could into the cavity. I put the board and brace back, not to hold the board in, but to keep the foam from oozing out (see photo) . Since some of the holes were wide and/or deep, I set the timer for the maximum drying time on the spackling can instructions: Five hours.

I took a short break to refill the bird and the squirrel feeders. I admit, I ate a few of the peanuts. Hey, I was just making sure they were fresh for my furry little friends!

Then, I moved onto another project: installing the peg board on the west side of the garage annex. I started by relocating things that were hanging in the space, then unscrewed what I though was the plastic sheet (which I have never understood) and the long tool holder rack. (see photo).

Once I had the “plastic sheet” off, I realized it was the white back of a “No Parking” metal sign (see photo) and probably was used with magnets to hold drawings or something. The tool rack was rusty, so I scrubbed it with a wire brush.

Since it was nice out, I spray painted the tool rack black and the register for the office closet door brown (the next little project).

The Home Depot installer showed up just before noon. Fortunately, both cats were sleeping in the living room, so I just slid shut the pocket door.

He inspected my set up and gave me the bad news. Since they are licensed contractors, they had to pull a permit. And, my old set up is no longer up to code. I needed a new gas shut off valve and a 4-inch vent pipe instead of the 3-inch one I had to be legal. Unfortunately, this added $209.00 US to the total cost. Now I am beginning to think that I paid more for the installation than I did for the hot water heater!

I suppose I should have done this myself. On the other hand, as much as I like DIY projects, the two things I hate messing with the most are plumbing and gas lines. So, I told him to go ahead.

While he was working, I cut down a 2x4 I had saved for the trailer tarp (that I haven’t used in years) into two four-foot sections. I ripped one of them in half on the table saw.

The smoke alarm downstairs came on while he was sweating in the new connections. So, I took it down and into the garage.

I always wondered why that wall bowed a bit and now I learned why. There are no studs! The previous owner simply put a header and footer on it to cover up the garage door that used to open up to the back yard (which I always wished was still functional) and covered it with 1/2-inch plywood.

So, I got out my Elmer’s glue, a level, the screw driver and some deck screws. I climbed up the little step ladder and crouched on the work bench (fighting the fluorescent fixtures I hung on chains over it) and screwed in a level 2x2 on each end and a 2x4 in the middle.

I nailed in the two peg board panels at the top with roofing nails (just to hold them in place) and then screwed them on. I finished about the same time the hot water heater guy did, around 2:30 PM.

I inspected his work and signed my life away. The part I didn’t like was that he said the Township building inspector would be sending me a letter to set up a time to inspect his work. It’s not that I don’t like building inspectors, but I worry about having them in my house!

Now that the water was back on, I got myself a big glass and drank it, looking out the kitchen window. WTF? There is a big cardboard box in the back garden. No way that sucker blew over the wall! So, I got p*ssed. I went out back and, instead of gathering all the trash up and throwing it away in my garbage pickup, I pitched it back over the wall. I may get in trouble for that, but I have called the Township before about this problem and took a photo of the box as proof (see, well, photos, lol).

Back inside, my back was killing me. So, I took a pain pill and took a nap.

It was after 6:00 PM when I woke up and I was hungry. So, I warmed up the last of the unfrozen chili and ate that, with two packets of oyster crackers. I have a LOT of oyster crackers left over from my grandson Joe’s wedding.

Refueled, I got back to work. I sanded all the spackling in the bathroom, using the vacuum cleaner to keep the dust down to a minimum. It sounds simple, but it took me over two hours before I was satisfied.

Then I drilled the hole in the tile for the one side of the vent (the other will be on the plywood). That was slow going, as it always is with tile. When I finished, I pounded in the plastic plug I will be screwing into.

I had hoped to get the first coat of paint on the bathroom today, but the foam spray is still wet. I know because I touched it and got it on my hands. So, I cracked open the bathroom window (to keep the smell down) and shut the door for the night.

My house was a total wreck, so I moved all the chairs into the living room, then vacuumed the walk off carpets and the kitchen floor. Somewhere in the middle of doing the kitchen, the brush on the electric sweeper stopped working, but I’ll try and deal with that tomorrow.

Then, I washed the kitchen floor. I put the mop across the opening to remind myself not to walk on it.

It was late, I was tired and my back was really hurting again from kneeling and bending over while I was sanding and drilling. I was hungry, but didn’t feel like screwing around making dinner. So, I ate some pretzels dipped in that damn Melissa cheese while watching a taped episode of “The First 48” which is a show Carla turned me onto when I was down there. I need to stop watching those DIY shows or they will be the death of me!

Then I went to bed.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jake Humor

Finally Friday

Friday was more of a ho-hum day. I did all the usual stuff and waited for lunchtime when Carl (the mechanic) was supposed to fix my car

Unfortunately, he called, all apologetic, and said he was still off site and asked if it could wait until Monday.

I told him not to worry about it. I explained I can do it myself, just not in the garage and not at night (the light is bad, even with my trouble light, and its buried back under things). So, I will give it a shot this weekend, outside in the sunshine. I said if I screw it up, I would accept his offer to fix it on Monday.

I have been adding coolant to the reservoir each time the engine has cooled so I went out to get more at lunch. The nearest auto parts store by work (that I know of) is on Plymouth Road, almost to Farmington, so I went there.

Since I was that far anyway, I drove another hundred feet to the Big Boy and ate lunch there.

I got an intriguing text from Jake, telling me to check my door when I got home.

On the way home, I got stuck about 1/4 mile away from one of the longest trains I’ve ever seen go across Inkster Road. I sat there, watching steam come out of the hood and watching the temperature gauge. Thankfully, it didn’t rise and I made it home okay.

When I got there, my mailbox was stuffed! Inside were not only the many circulars I get during the holidays, but a package of Christmas cards I had ordered from Forgotten Harvest (hey, just because I couldn’t pick beans this year doesn’t mean I don’t still help out!) and another soft package. I assumed this was what Jake was talking about as there was nothing in my door, lol!

So, after treating the cats (Scruffy surprised me by sniffing them and then just walking away) and changing clothes, I opened up the mystery package.


Because of my rant about cod being the only true “fish and chips” fish, be bought me a black t-shirt that says “In Cod We Trust!” See photo. I called him up to thank him, still laughing.

Since I had the phone anyway, I also called my friend Leon to tell him he sad news of the passing of one of his favorites: Sonny Elliot. He had already heard of Sonny’s death and we talked about the hot dry summer and what it did to his hay-making. He said he’s only got about 3/4 of the hay he needs for the winter, if it’s a bad one, as his hay fields crunched when you walked across them for most of the summer (so did parts of my lawn). But, he said the Amish in the area had over-planted pumpkins (they didn’t sell nearly as many as they’d hoped after a banner year last year), so he’s been feeding the smashed pumpkins to the cows to supplement the meager grass.

When we hung up, I took out the brace in the bathroom. I thought about getting to work, but decided my back hurt too much and needed a day of rest.

So, I made a chicken pot pie for dinner and watched a couple taped TV shows before going to bed, instead.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Trimming the Foam

Braced board

Cutting up on Thursday

The weather on Thursday was a repeat of Wednesday. I left early (yet again) so I could stop at O’Reilly’s and buy a hose clamp. Unable to determine what exactly I need I bought a blister pack of several different sizes.

At lunch, I stopped at Home Depot (where else?) and bought more spray foam and a swag light hook. My order from Gardener’s Supply came in yesterday and I need a way to secure my herb drying rack to the ceiling.

Once home, I made two BLTs for lunch (using up the last of my bacon), refilled my antifreeze and went back to work. I did stop and fill my gas tank up. The warning light wasn’t on yet, but the gauge registered empty.

Back home after work, I watched the news in between answering emails. Then I got to work.

I knew you can trim spray foam with a razor knife, but it was too big of an amount for that to work. So, in a flash of brilliance, I got out my electric carving knife [note to self: clean this good before next Thursday!] and cut the excess off.

I kept trimming it until my cover board fit in flush. When it did, I liberally applied construction adhesive to every edge that looked like it “might” even touch something. Then I put it in place.

But, I needed something to hold it there. So, I went out in the garage and rummaged through my scrap wood and came up with a board and a 2x2. Then I braced my cover board against the tub with the 2x2 cut to the right length.

I quit for the night. It was already late, so I just warmed up two more brats and ate them for nourishment, rather than worry about “dinner.” Then I went to bed.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"For God's sake, Ethel, wake up and put a bra on, the kids are here!"

Picture #1

Picture #2

Picture #3

Hump Day

Wednesday morning was still cold, but the sun at least gave the illusion of warmth. I left for work early and stopped at both the bank and then Home Depot. At Home Depot, I bought a 2-foot by 4-foot sheet of half inch plywood (I would have gotten a smaller piece, if they sold it that way), some spray foam and saber saw blades. Then I drove to work.

My morning walk was cool, but sunny and lifted my spirits.

I went home again at lunch, but this time did NOT go to Home Depot! I bet they missed me. Instead, I stopped at CVS and bought a white poster board (I need to make a template). I ate the rest of the chicken fried rice.

When I pulled into my special parking lot, I noticed more antifreeze was on the pavement. Damn! I popped the hood and, sure enough, antifreeze was leaking from the same spot. I pushed up on the (hot) hose and it sprayed!

I went inside and, after washing my hands, looked for Carl, the mechanic. But, I found out he was at another building.

My afternoon walk was a refreshing as the morning one.

Late in the afternoon, Carl happened to come into the office to inquire about a laptop they use for testing. Without thinking, after he was done and leaving, I said, “Carl, I’m leaking again.” He said, “Well, buy some diapers!” and the entire office cracked up. [Note to self: I deserved that one.]

He said he was busy tonight, and working offsite tomorrow, but if I bought a clamp, he would work on it at lunchtime Friday. He and I both think the hose had been cut by the old clamp but the hose is long enough hose to pull it off, cut off the bad section and reinstall it, using a new clamp.

Since it’s a slow leak and the car is not overheating, I wasn’t worried about the wait and readily agreed.

At home after work, I started the Wednesday night wash and had a cup of coffee, watching the evening news.

When that finished, I cut a square of poster board out that was a little bigger than the opening. I cut that in half and taped one half onto the wall. Then using a black Sharpie, I reached behind it and roughly drew the outline of the hole and the round duct. I took that down and repeated it on the other side.

I cut out the outline with a pair of scissors and took it into the garage. I transferred the outline to the plywood. Then I centered the register I had bought a few days ago onto it as well.

I drilled a hole into the square opening I drew for the round duct (I don’t want any heat blocked) and cut it out. Then I cut the outside tracing. I test fitted it and cut a little more off where needed. See photo number 1.

Next, I used the can of spray foam to fill in as much of the old duct as I could. I don’t want to waste the heat inside the wall, I want it to go out the vent!

It looked pretty good and, once I glue the board in with construction adhesive, I’ll use another can (spray foam is a one-time use only kind of stuff – what you don’t use, you have to throw away) and fill in the rest. See photo number two. I shut the bathroom door to keep the cats out and the smell in.

I hung and folded the clothes and then cleaned up the mess I’d made in the garage. So far so good. Or, so I thought.

Until later, when I opened the bathroom door and went in to use the facilities. I had apparently forgotten about gravity, as the foam had sagged down and out (see photo number three). Damn!

But, the nice thing about spray foam is that you can cut it when it dries, So, I’ll get another can, cut the dried stuff off, install the board with adhesive and, when its dried in place, fill the remaining cavity with foam, spraying upward through the duct opening. At least that’s my plan for tonight.

I warmed up two brats and ate them for a late night dinner. I watched a little TV and went to bed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quote of the Day

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

~ The epitaph of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the famous last line of The Great Gatsby


Man, it was cold on Tuesday! Not just the morning, but all damn day!

My morning walk was accompanied by the occasional snowflake. But, people at work who lived further out said they had an overnight light dusting of snow that covered the roofs and lawns! Sometimes living in the city has its advantages.

I stopped at Home Depot, yet again, at lunchtime. Then I stopped at the Chinese takeout and got some chicken fried rice to go.

The trash men had indeed come, so I dragged in the empty garbage can before coming in and treating the cats. I ate a delicious, if quick, lunch and then headed back to work.

I took another freezing walk in the afternoon, minus the snow. I think the high today was only 36 degrees!

I got home, treated the cats and only changed my shoes. I had a 6:30 PM dentist appointment.

So, I started cleaning up a little. I washed the pot that I made the chili in after dumping out the baking soap and water. That did work, but only a little. So, I tried something else I read on the Internet: a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pad (I bought a box today, just for that purpose). That needed a lot of elbow grease, but actually produced pretty good results, taking off most of the stains.

Then I washed it with dish soap and set it to dry. It was time to go (after brushing my teeth, of course), so I headed out in the darkness.

I was very, very disappointed to learn this wasn’t the last appointment. The bridge was finished, but the gums were just made of wax to double check the fit! This was not how it was done the first time! I can only assume it was due to advances in dentistry in the last 15 years or perhaps the better skills of this particular dentist.

Either way, after an hour or so, I left for home, empty-handed. I have another appointment for next Wednesday at 4:30 PM to get my bridge. That will make eating Thanksgiving dinner a whole lot easier!

It occurred to me that I was hungry and headed north on Beech-Daly towards Plymouth Road. So, I decided on the spur of the moment to treat myself to a Popeye’s chicken dinner (it was only a mile away on Telegraph).

So, I ordered three piece spicy dinner with red beans and rice. The guy said, “Did you want Cajun Rice?”

[Insert a newbie novice’s moment of panic here – I wasn’t with Jake when he ordered, I just ate what he brought home. Is red beans and rice Cajun? It sounds Cajun.]

So, I said, “Uh, sure.”

I got my food and drove the two miles home. I treated the cats and sat on the bed with a tray to eat my dinner. The chicken was excellent. But the rice, which also was very good (and very spicy), was NOT what I ate in South Carolina! The biscuit made up for the variation, though.

Then I changed clothes and got back to work on the bathroom. I am still planning out what to do about the heat and the huge hole in the wall that used to be a heater vent. I cut a trial board that I knew was too thick, just to see how it could all work. However, when I went to cut out the hole for the duct, I saw that I was out of saber saw blades. Damn!

So, instead, I undid all the straps and ties that held the sink onto the cabinet, set the sink on the couch and carried the cabinet into the bathroom for a first time fit. Uh, oh...

The first thing I noticed was the cabinet (which has a drawer under the shelf, behind the doors) would hit the pea trap of the drain in it’s current position. Since there’s a drawer in there, I can’t just cut out the shelf a little to make more room. So, there’s yet more to think about!

Also, to mount the vanity centered on the mirror and the tile glass and soap dishes will expose a lot more of that hole from the giant heater vent than I was hoping for. I could offset it, but then it would look silly when you were standing in front of it or in the tub...

Honestly, I think actually attaching the vanity and sink to the wall and hooking up the water and drain lines will be the easiest part of this install. The prep work is turning out to be the bitch!

I gave up at 9:45 PM after moving the base cabinet into the office so it doesn’t get accidentally scratched or something. The sink was still lying safely on the soft couch in the living room. I watched two half hour DIY shows (I need the inspiration) and then went to bed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays...

I woke up on Monday to the alarm and rain. So, when I left for work, I drove down Plymouth Road instead of going to the expressway. As I was getting out of the car, I heard a horn honk. It was my friend Michelle from Facilities. She rolled down the window, yelled “Soup delivery!” and handed me a container of soup. She sped away before I could ask her what kind it was. I guess I’ll find out tonight.

I made it through one of my four round-trips of my morning walk in the rain and decided it was stupid as I was getting soaked. So, I went back inside and walked around the shop area, much to the amusement of the mechanics.

At lunchtime, I went to Home Depot and took back a couple of things I found I didn’t need and bought more stuff I did. I took that back home, stopping at Arby’s for yet another turkey club sandwich, curly fries and a soda. It was still raining, the wind had picked up and it was noticeably colder than when I had left the house this morning.

The rain finally stopped so I took my afternoon walk outside. It was even more windy and colder still, though. The temperature is literally dropping like a rock!

When I got home after work, I put together the trash (not knowing if it will be picked up tomorrow – is Veteran’s Day a holiday for garbage men?) I rolled the can out to the road. Then I got the hand truck and took the vanity out there.

I was successful getting the faucet off the old sink (thank God!), but not the drain. So, I finally gave up and, using the handcart again, took it out and set it on top of the vanity.

On the way back, I got down the hanging basket from the maple that I had kept forgetting about. It was not easy doing it in the darkness. I dumped the flowers and dirt in the lot next door and hung it up in the garage to dry.

I had a cup of coffee to warm up and watched the rest of the news. I was hoping to get more done in the bathroom, but my back has been hurting all day (I think I overdid it on the weekend) and I decided taking a break might be a smarter idea.

I did get the chili out and put it in four four-cup freezer containers. I froze three and left the last for lunch and/or dinner some day this week. I left the pot soaking in hot water and baking soda (that’s supposed to help get stains off porcelain pots).

I warmed up my soup gift and ate it for dinner along with a BLT (I definitely got my bacon fix for today!) The soup was great, tomato based with sausage and cabbage (she does love her cabbage, LOL).

I washed her container and refilled it with my chili. I’ll take it in to her tomorrow, if I can remember it in the morning.

I went to see what was on TV and was delighted to see that Top Chef had returned and my ever-faithful DVD-R remembered to tape it. So, I watched that and then went to bed just before 11:00 PM.

Monday, November 12, 2012

And then it was Sunday...

I woke up on Sunday, Veteran’s Day, around 6:00 AM, but didn’t get out of bed until 7:00. Then I finished and posted the Blog entries. Next, I drained the beans, rinsed them and then covered them with water. I added a fresh bay leaf (I just had to try one). I brought that up to a boil, reduced it to simmer, covered them and set the timer for two hours.

According to what I read, you have to boil them until fork-tender BEFORE you cook them in your chili. At this point in the process, I was seriously wondering why I didn’t just use canned beans, LOL! But, I am rocking this chili old school.

I ate breakfast, took my pills and then refilled my pill box. When I went into the bathroom to get my shaver, I could see (now that its daylight and I’m not depending on those stupid, new-fangled bulbs) a few spots that I missed last night. Sigh...

I got out the installation instructions for the new vanity. They were brief. Basically, there are two holes in the sink and two holes in the base and they say to attach them to the wall, using whatever hardware you want (none was provided). Gee, thanks!

So, I shaved, and showered and then got dressed. I wound the clock in the living room and drank one more cup of coffee. Then I went back to silicone scrapping. When I finally had it all off, I repeated washing it with minerals spirits and steel wool.

Then I washed the entire tile wall and the floor with Pine Sol and hot water. I shut the door to let it dry. It was 10:45 AM. The stove timer went off and I checked. Hmmm... a little firm for “fork-tender,” so I let them simmer another half hour before I drained them and set them aside in the colander.

I have been thinking about the best way to ensure the holes on the cabinet and sink are mirrored on the wall before I drill anything. So, I took the regular razor knife and cut off the back of the box the vanity came in.

But, first, I backed the car out of the garage. I swept out the remaining kitty litter and then used the blower to get any stray litter outside. Once outside, I blew it into the grass (I don’t need more dirt in the driveway for grass to grow in!) I took the box out to the garage and cut the back off it.

Inside, I held the cardboard tight to the back of the vanity, outlined it with a pencil, opened the door and marked the four holes by punching through with an awl. So, now I have a rough template.

I checked on the dryness of the bathroom floor and wall. They were dry, so I rinsed them both with clean, hot water. I shut the door and took off my shorts and put on some pants. I need to install that headlight and go to the grocery store for some spices I thought I had, but don’t. Thinking I would be cleaner if I installed the headlight afterwards, I went shopping first.

I went to Meijer’s, not because I like Meijer’s anymore (I don’t) but because it was close. I got what I needed and made it out through the 12 Items or Less line.

Back home, I treated the cats, opened the bathroom door and shut the window, and then started on making my chili for the freezer. To get the containers I need I pulled out some old vegetable stock I made almost a year ago but never used and put them in the sink to thaw.

Okay, so I am warning you ahead of time: DON’T MAKE THIS RECIPE! I am making it all up and, until I taste test it at the end, I cannot recommend it.

I took out the pot with the browned three pound of ground chuck to come up to room temperature. Then, I wiped my big cast iron, porcelain-covered Lodge pot (that I soaked the beans in overnight) dry with paper towels, squirted in about two tablespoons of canola oil and turned the heat to medium high.

Meanwhile, I diced two big onions (one red and one yellow – the red only because it was getting old). I added them to the pot as I diced them. Next, I diced up one green bell pepper and put that in as well. I stirred that until the onions were translucent. I also put in six cloves of minced garlic.

Then I added half the other pot (or about 1 1/2 pounds) of ground chuck and let that get warm. Once it was warm, I started adding in spices: two tablespoons of ancho chili powder, three tablespoons of regular chili powder, a tablespoon of sugar, two tablespoons of ground cumin, and then a teaspoon each of dried thyme, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, dried red chili flakes and ground black pepper. I heated that on medium for about 10 minutes and stirred it occasionally.

Next I added the kidney beans, a 15-ounce can of drained and rinsed black beans, two cups of frozen corn (that I warmed in the microwave first), one 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (including the juice), one 15-ounce can of tomato sauce, one six-ounce can of tomato paste and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

I stirred that up and decided it was WAY to thick to let simmer for another two hours. I needed to thin it out, not water it down and lose the flavors! So I added about three cups of beef broth (I just eyeballed it until I thought it was thin enough.

You may have noticed I never added any salt. That was deliberate as I had salted the meat when I browned it. And, I taste-tested it. It was not as hot as I feared it might be, just a real nice kick and a wicked back-bite. I was going to add in some diced pickled Jalapenos peppers I keep in the fridge, but decided it didn’t need them. I put it on simmer and set the timer for two hours to let it all get happy.

I filled in the Blog to date and then went outside to install my new headlight. I was wearing my rubber gloves (much to the amusement of my neighbors, I’m sure) because you are not supposed to touch a halogen bulb with your bare fingers (the oil on your hands degrades them or something).

But, after taking off the battery cover and uncovering the old bulb, I smeared the new one with bulb grease (recommended by my friend, B___ ). I got the new one installed and working! I pulled the car into the garage and called it good. It was really warm, but really windy out there, BTW.

Back inside, I saw that I had the chili on a little higher temperature than I wanted. I knew this as the splatters from the pot have covered the stovetop. So, I turned it down a bit, stirred it and taste-tested it again. Yep! Perfect! Okay, now I officially approve this recipe!

I washed off the chili splatters from the stovetop and the nearby counter.

I called B___ to wish him a Happy Veteran’s Day and we chatted for a bit. I turned off the chili to let it cool. Jake called to ask me a question he already knew the answer for by the time I picked up. So, we talked for, oh, about 20 seconds.

I worked on designing a cover for the big space in the wall from the old heat vent. Not only will it be tricky to cut to fit, but attaching it will be next to impossible. With nothing to screw or nail it to, I think it will have to be held on with construction adhesive.

It was getting late and while I was still supposed to make that cabbage casserole, I didn’t feel like it at all. So, I put the other 1 1/2 pounds of browned ground chuck in a baggie and in the freezer. I put the pot of chili in the fridge. I’ll have to put it into the containers tomorrow as they have just now thawed enough to empty. So, I hand washed them and put them into the drying rack for the evening.

I wasn’t all that hungry (I’ve been sampling chili all afternoon) but knew I had to eat something so I could take my evening pills. So, I warmed up a brat and ate that on a bun with some deli mustard.

I had planned on watching a movie but it was late and I was tired. So, I just went to bed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Random Thought

You know what I haven't tasted in, like, years? Chip dip! I never buy chips, so I never buy chip dip. Usually, the only snacks in the house are pretzels and that damn addictive Williams Jalapeno cheese Melissa hooked me on, or beef jerky (high protein, low fat and chewy as hell). But, as I recall, I used to love French Onion Chip Dip...

What brought this on was a commercial on the radio for "Hellofagood" chip dip.