Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nina Simone - 'Nuff Said! - 02 Sunday In Savannah

This is for Chrissy. You were a wild and crazy broad, but I got it and I loved you! Rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Another Lazy Day…

(Hey, I’m not knocking it. I like lazy days!)

I woke up WAY early on Tuesday (just after 3:00 a.m.) So, I read in bed for a while. Eventually, I got up and got ready and greeted Jake and Carla when they arose.

Jake had to go to work again, so after he left, Carla and I conferred. We decided to chill it again today. So, we did.

It was warm again, but still overcast and occasional rain. No way will I come home with the tan I’d planned on, dammit!

With nothing else to do – the tree had already come down, the house was clean and leftovers were (finally) on the dinner menu – we relaxed.

Sidebar: We did do a joint load of laundry, so we weren’t total screw-offs, LOL!

When Jake came home after work, he changed and he relaxed, too, LOL!

We ate at different times. I personally had another eggroll and the rest of the pork fried rice.

We watched more taped TV (nobody felt like investing in another movie).

Since I woke up so early and didn’t take a nap (I was too busy doing nothing), I called it quits just after 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Monday, Monday...

I woke up late on Monday and almost missed Jake leaving for work.

Carla and I spent the day watching cooking shows or sitting outside in the 75+ degree day. Just generally chilling.

I heard they were having an ice storm up in Michigan, so I sent a text to Vicky, reminding her that four-wheel drive doesn't mean shit on ice.

I warmed up a piece of Popeye's chicken and a couple of biscuits for my lunch.

Now, the plan was this night's dinner was going to be leftovers. But, at some point, Jake changed his mind and he stopped and got Chinese takeout.

Sidebar: Jake and Carla are right! I cannot explain this, but South Carolina Chinese food does not taste like Michigan Chinese food. It's not bad, per se, just different. Maybe they use different spices. I dunno...

I had Won Ton soup, and egg roll and some pork fried rice. Again, not "bad," just not right.

Everybody ate and then we relaxed, watching a variety of taped shows until an early bedtime.


Monday, December 28, 2015

The Sunday Story

I skipped breakfast on Sunday. I got a cup of coffee, posted the Blog entry, shaved, showered and got dressed for an outdoor romp.

Jake, Whiskey and I are taking a journey of some 30 miles to go to the Sandhill Wilderness area. We probably all need the exercise and Jake wants to find an (apparently) illusive “tower” that is supposed to be overlooking a lake. They couldn’t find it the last time they were here…

Sidebar: Carla wisely decided to stay home and prep for tonight’s feast.

So, we drove through many little towns en route. The biggest by far was Camden, the oldest inland city in America.

Sidebar: We all ate there once at a great restaurant, a while back.

I saw a lot of old vehicles. The mild winters (and no road salt) seems to help keep these antiques in great shape.

Sidebar: This is why so many Michigan enthusiasts come down South to buy old cars and trucks to restore. Up there, an ‘80’s car or truck is a pile of rust. Down here, a ‘40’s vehicle is just old, but not rusted.

I like seeing the old Volkswagens, the muscle cars and, especially, the old trucks. I love old trucks…

I remarked to Jake that this must be a newer road, as I didn’t see a lot of old houses. There were plenty of old trailers and newer brick or sided houses, but few “old” homes.

He said that probably wasn’t true (about the road) as Camden had to be connected by this road to Charleston. So, maybe they tore them down or remodeled them.

So, I started looking for multiple chimneys.

Sidebar: that’s the “tell.” Back in the day (at least up north) before central heating, you had a LOT of fireplaces to heat the house in the winter, so a lot of chimneys. I’m sure it wasn’t as important here in the South, but occasionally necessary.

Sure enough, I started noticing aluminum-sided or bricked houses with two or three chimneys. Apparently, they decided to remodel, rather than preserve, the homes (just as we in Michigan mostly do).

We finally arrived at the Wilderness Area. I offered the senor citizen card I got in Puerto Rico, allowing me into any National Park in America, free, until I die.

Sidebar: I also spend a few bucks extra each year on both the truck and the motorcycle to get in free to Michigan State parks. Never use it but, hey, I might!

Jake laughed and said admission was free!

South Carolina ROCKS!!!

We drove about four or five miles in until we got to the right spot. We dumped the car and started our hike down to the lake.

Whiskey’s nose was vibrating so much I was afraid it would fall off!

When we got to the lake, the first thing that happened was we scared a large group of ducks into flight. We turned left and followed the sandy path uphill.

Jake looked for this tower while I scanned the trail. I saw, and Whiskey scented, small deer tracks and turkey tracks. By the time we went about 1/8 of a mile, the ducks had settled back in, but still no tower.

Sidebar: I was picturing that lookout tower in Puerto Rico. It was like a farm silo on steroids and went WAY up into the sky. Nothing remotely like that here. But, the ducks had gotten over their fright and settle back onto the lake.

About 1/4 of a mile in, we came to a bench and a truck trail.

Now, at the trail head, the map said the tower was 200 yards in. We had LONG since passed that. So, all we could figure was the tower was damaged or destroyed by the massive flooding, because it damn sure wasn’t there and we hadn’t passed it.

Sidebar: My alternative theory was that the “tower” was really just a deer hunting blind and it rotted and fell down from age… Southerners…

So, we hiked back the truck trail and went straight to the car.

Sidebar: There were more deer tacks on the truck trail, but none of them were the size of an adult Michigan whitetail. Either these were fawns or deer down South are just smaller…

We loaded back in the car and headed home.

We made a brief pit stop on Camden. Jake took me to a historical site from the Revolutionary War (apparently he got tired of me whining about the lack of old houses, LOL) There were several preserved houses and cabins, along with a blacksmith’s forge and a buggy shed. Too cool!

We took I-20 home and stopped for gas.

Back home, I went and changed clothes. Then I went downstairs where Jake and Carla were finishing prepping for tonight’s dinner, tacos.

Carla had already browned the ground beef and added her spices. She had also made home-made salsa.

So, she made guacamole while Jake chopped lettuce, onions and Jalapenos peppers.

Since that was for dinner (and I was hungry) I warmed up a Popeye’s chicken breast, the last of the red beans and rice and a biscuit in the microwave. I added some coleslaw and had a delicious lunch!

We settled in to watch some TV and I apparently gave the impression I was tired. So, Carla suggested I take a nap. I finally gave in and went upstairs with strict instruction they wake me up at 3:00 p.m. I didn’t want to miss any of the fun!

So, Jake did.

We chilled for awhile until they decided it was time for dinner. So, we each made our plates. Carla is traditional, but adventurous. She made some hard shell tacos, topped them with guacamole and salsa and sour cream, with refried beans on the side.

Jake is a rebel, so he ignored tacos altogether. He used tortilla chips and, using all the ingredients, made a big plate of nachos.

I’m more of a (boring) traditionalist. So, I made my tacos with beef, cheese and lettuce, topped with taco sauce. I put the guacamole and some salsa on the side and added tortilla chips for dipping. I put raw onions on my refried beans and more taco sauce.

We all settled in for a delicious meal.

Sidebar: No photos, please. We were all eating like wolves…

We watched a new boxing movie, “Southpaw” and then went to bed.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Willin’ but Chillin’

I woke up early on Saturday morning. That mystical, magical, monumental, “once in 17 years!” full moon was now just an annoyance, forcing its way through the mini-blinds and waking me up!

As we said in the Seminary, “sic etiam pergit!”

Sidebar: If you aren’t studying to be a priest and in your third year of Latin, it means, “and so it goes…” It’s like a Catholic equivalent of “it was a good day, didn’t have to use my AK” without the hood reference…

Sidebar #2: CTFU!!!

So, I snuck downstairs and made a cup of coffee. Then I went back upstairs and attempted to sneak to the computer. The wood floors and exercise mat I can transverse silently in my rehab socks made sucking sounds with my bare feet, Jacob told me later.

But, I got the Blog entry done and posted before anyone showed up.

We all slowing emerged from our various night events and ended up cleaned and dressed just after 8:00 a.m. Then we headed out into dense fog for a Kroger run.

Sidebar: We were shopping for Sunday’s dinner, BTW.

Saturday night dinner? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So, on the way home, we stopped at Popeye’s and got 12 pieces of spicy chicken, red beans and rice, coleslaw, biscuits, and a large order of Cajun fries (for the lady).

Back home, we all changed into causal clothes (shorts and a t-shirt, in my case). The sun finally came out and it did hit 77 degrees, BTW.

Still working on that tan, BTW.

For lunch, we all ate whatever we wanted. Carla ate the Popeye’s, Jake abstained and I ate the last of the Beef Wellington and parsnip puree.

Sidebar: Sure, the Popeye’s smelled delicious, but how many times in a person’s life can they say, “Oh, I just warmed up some leftover Beef Wellington and parsnip puree and ate that for lunch?”

I rest my case.

We spent some time playing “Cards against Humanity” while listening to Christmas music. Then we watched some taped TV shows.

We all ate at various times when we felt hungry (we were chilling, remember?) Personally, I had a chicken leg, coleslaw and a biscuit and it was excellent.

In retrospect, I should have had the red beans and rice as well, but I forgot it at the time.

After the dinner hours (they varied) we watched a Western movie with Kurt Russell called “Bone Tomahawk.” It was good, but very violent.

Carla had a bad headache, so she turned in early. Jake and I watched a documentary titled "Unbranded" about wild mustangs out West, the BLM efforts to save them and some cowboys using them to ride from then Mexican border all the way to Canada. It was magnificent, but depressing...  Then I went to bed. God only knows what he watched afterwards…

Saturday, December 26, 2015


I wish they would!!!

Merry Christmas!

I woke up later than usual on Christmas morning, so I had to hustle and write the rather lengthy Blog entry. I had trouble remembering a few details here and there (it was a busy day) but, with the help of Jake and Carla, I think I got the majority correct.

Sidebar: One step I noticed I missed was that, after it cooled down, I fine-chopped the duxelle mixture. I wouldn't want you to try this at home and wonder why the mushrooms seemed too large,,,

I ate a light breakfast. I didn't want to miss a bit of Christmas dinner, you see.

Then we exchanged presents. I was thrilled with mine: a professional hand-held fine spice grater (I've wanted one for years, but told myself my microplane was good enough) and a metal lemon squeezer (I have one of those plastic thingies you run the fruit around. It works okay on lemons, but juicing a lime is a bitch!)

Jake and Carla seemed pleased with my gifts as well. So, I guess we all did good!

It was really warm again, but still overcast. So, I figured this famous 17 year full moon on Christmas was a bust. But, the sun started peeking in and out from behind the clouds in the late afternoon.

Sidebar: It did get up to 80 degrees, but without the full sun, I couldn't really work on my Christmas tan this year.

We watched a movie Jake had bought Carla for Christmas.

One of the presents Jake got Carla was a small jar of black truffle pate.. So, Jake baked a small baguette, cut it into thick slices and toasted them. We topped it with cream cheese, a little pate and a sprinkle of Fleur de sel. So, we had an absolutely decadent appetizer round. Fantastic!!!

Then they started cooking the Christmas dinner. I say "they" because with all the prepping we did yesterday, there wasn't much for me to do...

Carla put oil, salt and pepper on the leeks and mushrooms, tossed them about and put them in the oven to roast. Jake warmed up the parsnip puree.

Then they both got working on the Beef Wellington. I should have mentioned yesterday that they had made the executive decision NOT to go with the tradition roll, but rather cut it into three pieces to make "individual" servings.

They rolled out puff pastry sheets into a square. Carla put some Gorgonzola cheese in the middle and then topped it with the duxelle. Then Jake added the filet on top the mixture and squished it down. He wrapped up the puff pastry, cutting off the excess and sealing it with egg wash.

Carla was cutting out little puff pastry leaves for the tops. I did fetch things for them, like flour, if that counts...

When all three bundles were ready, they went into the oven as well. When the internal temperature of the meat reached 130 degrees (a perfect medium-rare), they were pulled and left to rest for five minutes.

Meanwhile, Jake pulled out the mushrooms and leeks. They were seasoned one last time after tasting, and then Jake splashed them with a hit of fresh-squeezed lemon juice to brighten them up.

Carla plated them by putting a mound of parsnip puree and then swooshing it. She added the roasted mushrooms and leeks while Jake cut the Beef Wellington in half. That went onto the pureed parsnips swoosh.

We raised our wine glasses in a Christmas toast and then dug in.

Oh, my God! It was fantastic!!! All of us agreed it was way too much work, but it was definitely worth doing once.

Neither Carla nor I could eat more than half our portion of meat though. Jake soldiered through, LOL!

After a leisurely meal, they pushed away from the table and started cleaning up. Since the prep work was done the day before, there wasn't too much of a mess left to deal with.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the Christmas dinner afterglow.

Jake had checked and moon rise was supposed to be just after 6:00 p.m. I kept checking the night sky, but still couldn't see it. I did see stars, however, so I knew it wasn't cloudy. I finally found it around 7:30 p.m.! I tried to take a picture, but couldn't shut off the flash. So, Jake grabbed Carla's phone and got a picture of it for me.

So, I don't have to live another 17 years. Whew!

We all decided that 9:00 p.m. was a reasonable bedtime. I took one last look at the beautiful lfull moon and went to sleep.

Merry Christmas, dear readers!

Friday, December 25, 2015

It was MY Birthday until 6:00 p.m. then it was Christmas Eve.

(At least that’s what my Mother always said…)

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. on Thursday and could not go back to sleep. So, I read in bed instead. I got up and got a cup of coffee when I heard others stirring in the house.

Sidebar: Until then, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!

It was cloudy and overcast, but really warm. Jake and I made a quick run to Kroger’s to pick up six last minute items.

Back at the house, I shaved, showered and got dressed. Then I got to work!!!

Their kitchen is small, so Jake and I prepped for both today’s and the Christmas dinner. Carla directed our efforts (she is the Executive Chef here, after all), taste-tested and final seasoned everything.

First item on the list was my birthday cake. We made a pineapple upside-down cake (my favorite) in the cast iron skillet. I turned the brown sugar and butter into a caramel on the stove while Jake made the cake batter. The main spice is this recipe was crushed cardamom seeds, BTW. I put the pineapple rings into the caramel (slightly overlapping), poured on the batter and we stuck it in the oven.

Next, Jake was prepping the filet mignon for the beef Wellington (it had been siting in the fridge, unwrapped and drying out overnight). Carla was prepping the mushrooms (shitake and crimini) and leeks for roasting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I was making the parsnip puree. I peeled a pound of parsnips, cut them into thin rounds and put them, along with butter and thin-sliced garlic, in milk and heavy cream. I brought that to a boil and then simmered them until soft.

Sidebar: Softer than you would if you were just making boiled parsnips, BTW.

When the parsnips were done, Jake used a stick blender and pureed them. Carla added just the right amount of seasoning and we called that done.

Jake seared the meat on two sides and then pulled it off. It will bake to medium rare in the oven tomorrow.

Then, I sautéed mushrooms, garlic and shallots in the same skillet for the duxelle (the mushroom mixture that is spread between the meat and the puff pastry). When they were done, I took them out and put them in a bowl to cool.

Finally, Christmas dinner was basically prepped. So, we started on my Birthday dinner: clam chowder.

Jake peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes while I fine-diced an onion and garlic. Carla was rinsing the cooked, fresh baby neck clams.

Sidebar: As you can probably tell, this is not the Captain’s famous recipe for his clam chowder. Since I don’t have a reliable seafood store nearby, mine uses canned chopped clams and other, secret, ingredients.

The potatoes and onion went into a bath of milk, strained clam juice and heavy cream, brought to a boil and then simmered until the potatoes were cooked.

I sautéed some thick cut bacon lardons until crispy for the soup garnish.

Carla taste-tested the soup and then added salt and a lot of black pepper.

Sidebar: Like parsley and chicken noodle soup, black pepper and clam chowder are best friends.

The clams then went in and cooked another two minutes. One last taste-test, a little more seasoning and the soup was pulled and left to cool.

Sidebar: One result of having three cooks in the kitchen, all taste-testing and offering their suggestions, is an enormous amount of dirty teaspoons. Nobody want to double dip, you see. Thank God for dishwashers!

We took a break, watching TV and chatting for the rest of the afternoon. Carla did tell me to take a nap when she saw me melting into the couch, so I did. I woke up just before 3:00 p.m., refreshed.

Finally, it was dinner time. We ate in the dining room. Jake taped up a happy birthday banner he printed off the computer on the wall over the table. He put out some crackers out while Carla warmed up three bowls of chowder.

I wasn’t allowed to do anything at this point, BTW.

Each bowl received some bacon and we dug in.


It was truly an epic meal!

Then they cut into the cake, stuck a candle on the first piece, lit it and brought it to me. I made my wish (a secret, of course), blew it out and we ate dessert.

The cake was excellent. The sweetness of the topping was offset by the spiciness of the cake.

Jake and Carla cleaned up while I waddled to the couch.

We decided it was too late to start a movie, so we watched taped shows (both Family Guy and Chopped – outrageous comedy and cooking; the perfect combination!) until bedtime.

I was hoping to catch a glimpse of this famous, first time in 17 years, Christmas full moon. But it was cloudy and no moon was in sight. Sigh…

Now I suppose I’ll have to stay alive for another 17 years, dammit!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015


I got out of bed after Jake and Carla had already left for his work. I got a cup of coffee and filled in the Blog post. It was warm and raining.

Carla came home and we alternated between watching TV and chatting.

I had a cold piece of pizza for my brunch. Carla made herself a ham sandwich accompanied by Better Made potato chips (supplied by moi).

We were supposed to leave to go to Kroger’s first and then get Jake. But, before we left, there were already tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings and flash flood warning out for this county! Never the less, we endeavored to persevere.

We got onto the main drag and it was jammed solid! I sent a text and picture to Jake. We finally (finally) made it to Kroger’s and every parking space was filled. People were parking in nearby restaurants and walking over! So, we skipped even trying to get in.

Jake checked out Google maps and directed us on the best way to proceed in this crazy traffic. We got on the expressway, just as the heavy downpour started. Many people were just pulling over and stopping. We carried on, though I doubt we ever got above 40 mph.

Sidebar: I’m not sure if this a southern thing, or just a South Carolina thing, but half the people (and all the big trucks) were driving with their hazard lights on. Um, that’s cool, but since it overrides your turn signals, maybe not so cool!

We finally got to the gate, where we ran into another problem. Since the threat level is Bravo, they wouldn’t let me go in. So, they held up traffic while Carla pulled over to the Visitor Center. I got out to wait while she picked up Jake.

Sidebar: I briefly thought about explaining how I got through Security at Metro airport okay, but I didn’t think they would care. They seemed to be taking this very seriously!

Jake finally showed up and bailed me out.

From there we went to Bonefish, a seafood restaurant, for an early dinner. We ordered 12 raw oysters on the half shell for an appetizer.

We also had some great bread and a dipping sauce.

Then we ordered. Carla got a Caesar salad, grilled shrimp and sea scallops and some fries. Jake and I got the same entrée (sirloin and crab cakes) but different sides. He got potatoes au gratin and steamed broccoli, while I opted for garlic mashed potatoes and fresh green beans.

The Caesar salad was huge (for a side salad) so I ate some of it. I also tried one of her sea scallops.

Everything was excellent! We were all way to stuffed to even consider dessert.

We made our way back home and everybody changed clothes. Then we chilled for the rest of the night. Carla and I went to bed around 9:00, while Jake stayed up. I read for a while in my room and then went to sleep.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Travelin’ Tuesday

I woke up early on Tuesday and couldn’t fall asleep. So, I gave up and got up. I had a cup of coffee, fooled around on the computer for bit and then finished packing. As you probably guessed, I was headed back down south for sunny South Carolina for the holidays.

Sidebar: “Sunny South Carolina” works for the alliteration aspect, but I am misleading you.

I made it to the airport early, to give myself plenty of time to park. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many empty parking places there were, though.

And checking in went smooth and fast, as well.

There was, however, a long line at security. But, my tickets had TSA PreCheck on them.

Sidebar #1: I’m guessing its because I am an old white guy. How many terrorist acts are committed by old white guys?

Sidebar #2: But I’ve tried this before. They only make you walk through the metal detector. Then they get all pissy when you set it off.

So, this time I used the PreCheck lane. Nobody was in it while lots of people were in the normal screening lanes.

But, I told the smiling little TSA lady that I was going to set it off, before I walked through. She stopped smiling and looked at me hard until I explained I had an artificial knee. Then she smiled again and called for a male pat down. So, I got through quickly and never even had to walk through the metal detector!

I had plenty of time before my flight left, so I moseyed down to the gate. The nearest food joint was “The Earl of Sandwich.” I ordered a hot egg, cheese and ham sandwich. She sliced the bun and split it. Ham went on one half and cheese on the other. The egg mixture was measured into a teeny-tiny cast iron skillet.  She loaded everything on a small conveyor that, I assume, ran it under a broiler. When it came out the other end, she assembled it, wrapped it and poured a cup of coffee. She handed that to me and I hander her $6.95.

It was under-salted, but I had planned for that and took a salt packet. I opened the sandwich up, salted it and let it cool for a bit while I sipped the coffee. Then I ate it. It was really good! Probably not worth the money, but airport food rarely is.

We boarded the plane on time and took off. It was a full flight and overbooked. They offered $300.00 to anyone who would reschedule and some people did. I’m always tempted, and, if I only had a rental car waiting for me at the other end, I probably would.

Sidebar: I was seated seated next to a small Hispanic woman, who read or slept through the entire flight. The only words we exchanged was when I told her at the beginning she was sitting on my seatbelt. I figured that was safer than reaching for it under her.

I was still full of coffee, so I declined the drink service. We had some turbulence just before landing and it was raining in Charlotte. Carla had texted me my next gate and said to hurry because I only had 45 minutes. But we were still taxiing in from the runway! Then she sent me another text saying my next flight was delayed half an hour. But, by now I was anxious.

So, it was another airport marathon from one end of the airport to the other. I got to the right gate, but my flight wasn’t listed! And, there wasn’t one of those big informational screens, that far into the terminal. So, knowing that its always the other end of the terminal, I walked around, looking at each gates signs. I found it two gates down (Thank God!)

Sitting next to me in the waiting area was a young, huge black guy with dreadlocks. He had his foot is a cast and one of those scooters I’ve seen in therapy (you put your bad knee on the seat and propel yourself with your good foot). Everybody was fussing over him (stewardesses coming over, people asking for autographs, etc.). I’m guessing he was an injured football player, but what do I know.

Unfortunately, I was behind him out on the tarmac, boarding the plane (still little, but this time a jet). So I had to wait in the rain while he painfully made his way up the steps. I felt bad for the guy, having to hop up one step at a time.

The pilot apologized for the flight delay and explained it was weather related.

This time my seat partner was a friendly middle-aged black woman who also had a book and a bag of baby carrots. She offered some to me, but I declined. So we just chatted a bit in the short flight.

We landed in Columbia. I sent a text to my boss, Vicky and Jake, letting me know I’d arrived safely, then I went and got my luggage.  The football player (or whoever he was) was standing next to me, his knee on the scooter. His duffel bag came out just before my suitcase, but hung up, high on the carrousel. He asked me if I would please grab it for him and I said sure. I damn near killed myself, trying to reach over and up that high! But, us crips gotta stick together!

I went outside to wait for Jake. It wasn’t raining at that time, but there was a heavy mist in the air. And, it was WARM.

Jake pulled up and put my stuff in the car, then we headed home.

We chatted on the way home and then I got my usual exuberant greeting from Carla and Whisky.

I changed clothes and we all relaxed a bit. They had their tree up and lighted, but no decorations. So we spent a “Christmassy” time putting the bulbs on. Jake topped it with a star and we called it good. And, it was.

Carla had prepped for tonight’s dinner by cooking some sausage and dicing up veggies. There was a ball of pizza dough rising on the counter, too. So, when we got hungry, Jake rolled out the dough and Carla assembled the fixings. A short time in the oven and we had homemade pizza.

It was delicious. And, Carla turned me on to a new way of eating it: dipped in homemade ranch dressing. The pizza really didn’t need it, but it was a fresh alternative to pizza eating.

We watched a little TV, but I was starting to fall asleep and so was Carla. So, we called it an early night.

I had to refill my pill box, set out my toiletries, etc. before I went to bed. I read just a little and then crashed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday's Highs and Lows...

It was raining as I drove into work.

Sidebar: This damn weather is making me crazy!

At work, John S. brought in some homemade cookies. Then Matt did, too. I tried Matt's oatmeal and M&M's and damn near broke off my tooth. So, I soaked them in coffee and ate them successfully that way.

Victoria asked me early on what I was doing for lunch. I told her I hadn't even thought about it. She said she was taking me out for lunch for my birthday and to pick a spot.

I had to think about it, but picked Applebee's (we haven't been there in a while).

Sidebar: I am confident in my manhood enough that a woman buying me lunch does not scare me. Please, all you women out there, feel free, LOL!

We finally left about 12:30 (she was on a Help Desk call) . We hopped into her truck and she gave me my Christmas present. At her urging, I opened it up. It was a cup with pictures of all of us on our Puerto Rican trip and the slogan: "Your Favorite Puerto Rican Crew." There were also a Birthday and a Christmas card, signed by all of them. I was blown away! Thanks, guys!

At Applebee's, I ordered the French onion soup and a four cheese mac & cheese topped with chicken. She went crazy and ordered the sirloin topped with shrimp, garlic mashed potatoes and a side veggie.

Sidebar: When I said that looked good, she urged me to order it. I explained I couldn't eat it all and, if I did try, I'd fall asleep sometime in the afternoon.. And, I would have...

I did have a piece of her steak and it really was good! But, my lunch was excellent, too. Thanks, kid!

It was still raining in the afternoon, so I walked inside (again!)

I drove home in light rain and got  the mail. There were more Christmas cards and a birthday card. There was also a note card with a sunflower on the front (?) Inside here was a brief, handwritten message:

Sorry to send the news of my sister Christine's passing on 5/2/15. I liked your Christmas card. Sincerely, Faye.

It was from Florida. WTF? Who's Christine and who is Faye? I thought about it for a while and then went, "Oh, damn! Could it be Chrissy up in Alaska?"

She was my first ex-wife, Fran's friend. After we divorced, Chrissy and I lost contact, of course. But, about 15 years ago, she wrote me a letter, asking if I was "The John Goerlich" who was married to Fran and could I tell her how to get in touch with Fran. After that, we exchanged Christmas cards each year.

She was more than a little crazy and her cards were always written in large flowing script, usually written in circles from the outside in. Sometimes they were filled with glitter or little paper Christmas trees. And, they were always addressed to "The John Goerlich."

I sent a message on Facebook to Fran, but she said the last time she knew Chrissy was fine.

I couldn't let it go, so I called information for this Faye's number. Well, I thought I did. Instead of dialing 411, I dialed 911. I realized my mistake and hung up before they answered.

I got Faye's number and called her. Sure enough, it was Chrissy. She died of cancer that, apparently, runs in the family. Both their parents died of it, as well as Chrissy's daughter (who I remember being maybe seven years old) at 50.

Faye said they scattered her ashes in a beloved place of Chrissy's in Alaska. Damn!

I hung up when I heard a pounding on the front door. i was just in my robe, but I went out anyway. It sounded serious.

It was two Redford cops. The guy asked me if there was anything wrong as they had gotten a 911 call form this address. The lady cop looked disguested when I said I was dialing information and screwed up. They said "Sorry to bother you, but we had to check." I said I appreciated their quick response.

Then they went away. At first, I thought it was strange they didn't come inside to check on things. But, then I realized an old bald white guy in his bathrobe and slippers probably didn't look that threatening.

I warmed up the last of the kielbasa and sauerkraut. This time I ate the potatoes with butter. Then I ran the dishwasher.

I checked Facebook before I went to bed and saw another note from Fran. She said she's left to make dinner, but then checked and found Chrissy's obituary. She sent me the link, but I didn't check it. I had talked to her sister and already knew the worst.

I went to bed, bummed...

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Sunday Story

I woke up at 5:45 a.m. on Sunday. It was cold (21 degrees) but not snowing and not windy. I processed the pictures and wrote the Blog post as I listened to the morning news.

I was hungry, so I made a nice breakfast: pork sausage links and over easy eggs with toast. I wish I’d had another potato (that was good), but I didn’t. I didn’t think to take a picture; I was too busy eating!

I put the rest of the uncooked pork sausage links in the freezer. I watched the news until 9:00 a.m. and then shaved and showered. I got dressed in my raggedy work clothes (I had no plans on going out today).  I started a load of laundry and then vacuumed the kitchen and bathroom floors.

I really want to finish the pallet Christmas tree but there’s cleaning to be done!

Sidebar: I rarely sit on the upstairs toilet without reading material. But, the other day, it was kind of an emergency. So, while I was sitting there with nothing to do, I noticed the tile looked dull. I wet my thumb and wiped one. The shit came off!!!

I assumed that it was my old friend, the soot from two years ago. I swear I never noticed it. But, I was embarrassed! The Puerto Rican posse used this bathroom. I’m just lucky they didn’t change my nickname from Lechero to Asqueroso!!!

So, the first thing I did was to make a bucket full of hot water and some Pine-Sol and grabbed a sponge. I washed every freaking tile (sometimes standing, sometimes on my poor knees) until it all gleamed.

I dumped the dirty water, made a fresh pail and washed the toilet, sink and floor.

Then I pulled out the truck so I could work on the pallet tree. I fought my way to the downstairs closet to retrieve the old leftover paint from the office. But, I couldn’t find any!!! I had leftover paint from the living room, blue from the bedroom and yellow from the kitchen. But, no green from the office!

I was bummed. I thought briefly about leaving the wood unpainted (it would look right at night) but then decided against it. If I’m gonna set it out and brag up making a tree from a pallet, it has to look good. So, I shelved the project for this year.

So, I went back to cleaning. This time I washed the kitchen floor. Since I was more or less trapped in the bedroom or office, I took a nap.

When I woke up, I put the chairs and rolling cart back in the kitchen. I watched the news and, when it was over, I warmed up some of the kielbasa and sauerkraut for dinner. I cleaned up the kitchen counter and decided to take the rest of the night off.

I watched some taped TV shows (NOT the rest of Luther – it was getting late).

Around 8:30 p.m., I opened my Christmas present from my boss. She gave one to each of her four direct reports and Courtney had opened hers at work. So, I already knew it was a huge apple, covered first with caramel, then milk chocolate and finally topped with nuts.

I had two slices (I was afraid to eat more sugar than that) and it was delicious. Thanks boss!!!

I stayed up another half hour or so and then went to bed.