Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hump Day

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday. I have the day off, so I didn’t set the alarm. I have the day off because I found out recently I have one more vacation day (than I thought or I would have used it earlier) I need to burn before year’s end. Since the washer and dryer are supposed to arrive sometime this afternoon, I decided today would be that day.

So, I lounged around, watching the Today show and drinking coffee. I eventually shaved, showered and dressed. Then I left for Costco (I’m out of peanuts for the squirrels). I have no idea what time they open on the weekdays (I know it’s 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday), so I got there around 10:10 and they were PACKED. But, I got my peanuts and an extra box of coffee (since I was there anyway) without too much delay.

Next stop was the gas station to fill up my tank. Then I went back home. This time I pulled into the opposite side I usually do and, again went back and forth to pack it down. I wanted to leave plenty of room for the delivery truck.

Since I was out there anyway, I shoveled off the porch and the garage apron. Then I added some salt to the icy spots. It was warm enough today that salt will work. I also took the opportunity to broom out all the melted snow that had been puddling on the garage floor.

Back inside, I treated the cats and preheated the oven to 375 degrees F. I have a LOT of crusty bread left and thought I’d make some of it into croutons.

There was one problem, though. It’s not that dried out (you typically want stale bread). But, I soldiered on.

As far as I know, there are three methods of making croutons: The French typically cut thin slices of a stale baguette and then use that on top of soups or under meats (French onion soup, where the slices of bread are covered with cheese, for example). Or you can cut the bread into one inch cubes (like you can buy in the grocery store). And, finally, the true foodie will tear the bread into approximately one inch chunks. The rough edges of the torn bread attract more of the sauce or dressing.

Also, there is the matter of the fat you use. Typically, you would use butter if the croutons are going into, say, a cheese soup. The alternative is olive oil if they are to be used in a salad. You can, of course, add any herbs or garlic or whatever you want (and I would definitely suggest that).

But, here’s how a lazy foodie rolls: First I cut the bread into one inch chunks (rough edges be dammed – I don’t have time for that). Then I put them in a bowl, splashed bottled Italian dressing on top of them and hand tossed them (that takes care of adding the herbs, garlic and olive oil). I sprayed a half sheet pan with olive oil and spread the bread cubes on it into a single layer. Then I stuck the pan into a preheated 375 degree oven on the middle rack.

I set the timer for five minutes. When it went off, I pulled out the pan and tossed it about. I have, in the distant past, turned each one over by hand, but, come on. Really? Then I stuck the sheet pan back in the oven and checked it in another five minutes. They weren’t quite ready (I think because the bread was still quite fresh) so I put them back for another minute. Then I pulled them.

I taste-tested them and they were fantastic. So, I let them sit on the top of the stove to dry out even further.

Then I put on my boots, went out back and refilled the bird feeder. I filled the squirrel feeder and put that bag of peanuts in the can with the bird feeder. Then I trudged (and I do mean trudged) back through the snow to the house. It was 12:31 p.m.

I got the auto-robot call last night that my delivery window was from 1:00-5:00 p.m. and that they would call me a half hour before they came. Since I had no call, I made lunch.

First was a salad with iceberg lettuce, sliced red onion and, of course, the croutons. I dressed that with Wishbone Blue Cheese dressing. Then I warmed up a bowl of chicken and gnocchi soup my friend Michelle at work gave me yesterday. Both were very good.

Sidebar: It was funny! When Michelle popped into the office with the soup, my boss heard her telling me what it was and said, “Hey, I’d like some soup, too!” So, Michelle said, “Then you have to join the “soup exchange club.” As I’ve said many times before, Michelle and I (we worked together back in the day in Facilities) exchange excess soup, usually in the same old container, passing it back and forth.

So, I washed the container and filled it with my potato bacon soup. I’ll walk it over to her tomorrow.

I cleaned everything up and swept the whole house with the electric sweeper. I dumped an extraordinary amount of cat hair into the trash. Which was weird as I’d swept it all not that long ago. Do cats shed in the winter?

I putzed around until almost 3:30 p.m., when I started to get nervous about my delivery. I can’t take tomorrow off! But, then I got another robo-call, telling me they would be here within a half hour.

So, I sat on the couch until I saw the truck pull up. I ran and opened the garage door. I yelled at the first guy who got out to pull in the driveway. But he yelled back they were “too heavy” and had to stay up on the street.

They were a model of efficiency and had both the new washer and dryer in the garage in a flash. I showed them the old set and the one guy asked if they still worked. I knew from the stove exchange that, if they do, the store typically donates them. So, I said, “Yes, they’re just getting old and I wanted to replace them while I still have a job.” He asked if I minded that he took them home. I said, “Huh?”

He explained that he and his family had just moved and didn’t have a washer or dryer. Since it was so close to Christmas, they didn’t want to spend the money they had on a set and not get their four kids any presents. So, they have been going to the Laundromat.

I was embarrassed and explained they were old and the washer had yellow paint on it from my kitchen remodel. He said it would at least tide them over until they could buy a new set. So, I said sure.

He then hooked up the new power cord to the dryer (they don’t come with them), connected the duct (better than it was) and leveled the dryer. Then he hooked up the water lines to the washer, installed the new drain hose and leveled it as well.

He told me not to run the washer for at least an hour as it had been in the truck all day and probably had frozen water (they test them before they leave the factory) in it. He turned on the dryer and asked if I smelled anything. I did. He explained that was the “new dryer” smell (I guess like a new car smell) and asked me to wet a towel. I did and he threw it into the dryer with a Bounce sheet that came in the package. He said to let it dry and then the first load I ran through the dryer wouldn’t smell.

Finally, I signed the papers, stating that I had received the new washer and dryer and that the old ones were already gone before delivery. I had a twinge of guilt, but decided I’d done the right thing. After all, they would just have been donated to “somebody,” right? I just “donated” them to a guy who saved me a hell of a lot of work tonight.

Sidebar: It later occurred to the cynical side of me the guy might be selling these used washers and dryers on the side. On the other hand, I didn’t trade them in or get a discount for having them hauled away. So, why do I care?

It sounds like a lot of time was spent, but they were here and gone in less than a half an hour. I walked out to get the mail and then shut up the house for the night.

The downstairs floor was a total mess from their wet boots, so I left it to dry. When it does, I’ll sweep it, then mop it and it will be like it never happened. But, the washer and dryer look nice!

I watched the rest of the local and national news. We’re supposed to have either freezing rain or freezing fog Thursday morning (sigh).

At 7:00 p.m., I thought enough time had passed, so I started the Wednesday night wash. Here’s a weird thing that my new best friend pointed out. Since these are high efficiency units, I can’t use anything (detergent, bleach or even stain remover) that doesn’t have a “HE” symbol on it. He also told me that, since it uses less water, I should never load the washer more than 3/4 full.  I checked and everything I use had the “HE” symbol (whew!) and I didn’t overload it. I did have to read the manual to turn it on, LOL!

I was hungry, but more than a little “souped” out. So, I got a chicken pot pie from the freezer and cooked it in the microwave, although I knew I would have take some shit from my brother Carl.

I watched a taped movie and then went to bed at 10:30 p.m.

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