Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunday morning, coming down...

We took Sunday off. It was the Sabbath, of course, and you’re not supposed to do shit on the Sabbath.

I had some oatmeal for breakfast, as did Carla and Jake.

It started out yet another beautiful day with sunshine and a predicted high of 71 degrees.

Now the original plan was to go to lunch at a Mexican restaurant they wanted to showcase. But, when the time came, nobody wanted to change into “go-to-town” clothes, so we decided to order takeout.

It seemed to take a long time to get here (or maybe I was just hungry) but it finally arrived. I got two enchiladas with refried beans and rice and a taco.

Again, maybe I was just hungry (and I was) but I think those were some of the best restaurant enchiladas I have had!

We putzed around the rest of the afternoon. We watched a very old movie called, “The lady vanishes.” I took a walk in the backyard, trying to get a tan to show off at work (I don’t think it worked, BTW). And we all talked a lot.

Around 3:30 p.m., the clouds rolled in and the sun went away. But it was still nice and warm.

When the sun went down, we settled down and settled in to watch “Forest Gump” (one of Carla’s favorite movies).

After that, it was a few X-rated Family Guys shows (yes, they do have them) and then it was bed time.

I read for just a bit (I had to get up early Monday morning) and then spent a long time trying to fall asleep. But, I finally did.

Please note: There was not one single “sidebar” in the above post. I am not naming names, but “somebody” has been picking on me for using so many sidebars!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Saturday’s Story

It was another gorgeous, sunny day in South Carolina on Saturday. I forgot to mention it was 71 degrees and sunny on Thanksgiving (for which I was thankful). Saturday’s high was 73!

After we all got dressed, Carla and I went to the grocery store for today’s main meal.

When we got back, Carla put the groceries away while Jake and I left to go on post. He wanted to show me some of the devastation the “100 year” flood had caused.

It was impressive! We stopped and he showed me Semmes Lake, where the dam had burst and washed away. The missing dam is on the right side of the picture below.

Note: I was playing with panorama (I love saying that word) here, so if you click the image below and then click the next image that appears, you can click the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner to zoom in.  Continue to click the + button (or drag the slider) until you hit the maximum zoom and then click and drag around the lake to see a much clearer view of the dam, pier, etc.

Then he drove around to the other side of the dam. Many of the chain link fences had been blasted over when Semmes Lake dam had burst. But, don’t worry about Army security. They have been temporarily replaced by double rows of coils of razor wire.

Back outside Fort Jackson, se drove though the neighborhoods. We went by commercial building that looked like they were shot with a bomb and small creeks with trash still in the tree branches, some 30 feet in the air. Unbelievable!

Back home, I changed clothes and then started helping Carla prep for dinner. Carla’s making stuffed peppers and I’m making the 20-minute mac and cheese.

Sidebar: She wanted my original mac and cheese but I finally convinced her (with great difficulty) to try this one.

They like to use brick cheese, freshly shredded with the food processor as opposed to the bags of shredded cheese I buy. They say it tastes and melts better. So she shredded up the cheese I needed for my mac & cheese and the cheese she needed for her stuffed peppers.

I minced garlic for her stuffed peppers and blanched the cleaned out red, yellow and orange peppers (no green, thank you). I cooked the rice in the pepper water while she browned the ground chuck and onions. The diced tomatoes and garlic went in near the end.

Finally, it all came together. I stuffed the filling into the peppers, she sprinkled a little more cheese on top and added a tomato sauce mix I didn’t see her make to the top.

They went into the oven for 30 minutes. We they were finished and cooled, they went into the fridge to reheat at dinnertime.

We talked and watched some TV or went outside during the early after noon.

Then it was time to make the mac & cheese. This time, Carla heated the quart of milk on the stovetop (I originally did it in my microwave, if you remember) and made the elbow macaroni for me. I made the roux with butter, flour and then slowly added the milk.

I took it off the heat and added the eight ounces each of extra sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. I topped it with a splash of hot sauce. They use Texas Pete as opposed to my Frank’s Red Hot (I put that sh*t on everything, LOL!)

Carla drained the pasta and I incorporated it into the cheese sauce.

Carl had made some plain bread crumbs and mixed in two tablespoons of olive oil. I sprinkled that on top and stuck it under the broiler for two minutes (until it started browning).

Meanwhile Carla was heating up the stuffed peppers individually in the microwave (our own Chef Mike).

Finally, it all came together and we plated our Saturday supper.

Dinner was a huge success, especially for me. The liked the mac & cheese (whew) and I haven’t had stuffed peppers in years!!!

Jake clean up what little we had left. Carla and I personally tried to rinse everything we used and stick it in the dishwasher, so he wouldn’t be out there forever after dinner. Or, maybe we did it just to frustrate him (he’s a cleaning machine!) I’m not quite sure which, LOL!

We watched some TV and half of a movie. Then, we decided we were all tired and could finish it tomorrow.

I read in bed for just a bit and then went to sleep.

Sidebar: I have developed a method of knowing just when its time to actually go to sleep. I read in bed with my glasses off (so they don’t get broken) and, when I realize I’ve been staring at the same page for over a minute without actually reading anything, I close the book, turn off the light and go to sleep. Works every time!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015



Jake was already gone to work by the time I woke up Friday morning. I got a cup of coffee and sat on the couch, watching the morning news and chatting with Carla.

I finally got off my butt, shaved, showered and filled in the blog post.

Around 11:00 a.m., Carla fixed herself a half turkey sandwich and some chips for lunch. It was a bit early for lunch (for me), but that sounded good. So, I did, too.

Jake was back home by noon. Apparently, everyone (including the boss) decided they'd done enough for the day.

So, we spent the rest of the day just chillin'. Well, they did laundry and such, but not me.

For dinner we had leftovers. Carla went with a repeat of the whole Thanksgiving meal. Jake went with a whole turkey sandwich and chips. Me? I switched it up a tad and went with an open faced turkey sandwich with a little potatoes and stuffing, all topped with the last of the gravy. Yummy!

We watched the first Hunger Games movie. I must admit, I've never been interested in it (I'm not a big fan of movie series, like this, Star Wars or Harry Potter). But, I also must admit I really liked it!

Sidebar: I did watch the original Star Wars, too, but none of the sequels.

Then we watched a little taped TV (some cooking shows, some silly shows like Tosh.O) until Carla and I decided we were tired. So, we went to bed. God  only knows what Jake did...

I read in bed until I was sleepy and then shut it down for the night.

It was the perfect day after Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Day!

I woke up to go to the bathroom at 3:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning and the entire room was lit by the full moon shining through the mini blinds. I got up for real around 5:30. Everyone else was still sleeping, so I took the opportunity to shave, shower and get dressed. I finally went downstairs to find them all up. I made a cup of coffee and watched the morning news.

Now, as long time readers know, my job down here is sous chef. But, I learned that most of the prep work had been done in the days preceding today, when I offered to help! :(

Eventually, Jake put the turkey breast in the oven. It was in the fridge, with herb butter already under the skin and on top. It had sat overnight in the fridge to let the skin dry out.

The gravy was done, made with homemade turkey stock and in the fridge, ready to reheat. The dressing was already mixed and in an aluminum foil pan, ready to bake. The the main dessert was also done: sweet potato cheese cake with homemade whipped cream.

My ears picked up when Carla said she was going to roast some Brussel sprouts with bacon. So, I offered to trim and half them. Carla said that was already don Sigh...

Jake made the mashed potatoes. No gourmet crap (garlic, cream cheese, etc.) Just good old-fashioned russet potatoes, mashed with butter and milk.

The turkey finally done and resting.

Jake baked some puff pastry layers for the second dessert. The homemade apple pile filling was already in the fridge as well. He also baked some dinner rolls.

In the end, I got to do one little thing. I lined a half sheet pan with foil, tossed the trimmed and halved Brussel sprouts with some melted bacon grease and olive oil, then seasoned them with salt and pepper. I put them all cut side down on the half sheet ray and sprinkled some bacon lardons around to cook with the sprouts.

They went into the oven to cook with the dressing. When they had a nice char on the edges, we pulled them and I flipped them over. The dressing and the Brussel sprouts swapped racks and went back in to finish cooking.

The gravy and mashed potatoes were reheated in the microwave while the dinner rolls reheated in the oven. The chitlins were reheated on the stovetop. Jake carved the turkey breast in my favorite way: cut the whole breast off and then cut slices through it (so each slice has some of the skin).

Finally, everything was on the counter, so we could build our plates. 
The beautiful turkey breast, resting

Carla's special dressing

Jellied cranberry sauce (the kind Jake prefers)

Sliced turkey meat

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with bacon
Mashed potatoes

Gravy, made from homemade turkey stock

Dinner rolls

Part of the spread on the counter

My (first) plate

Carla's sweet potato cheesecake. with homemade shipped cream

Jake's riff on deconstructed apple pie

We all had a glass of Pinot Noir wine and water to drink.

Dinner was fantastic!!!

I made the mistake of going back for seconds on the turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing (with gravy, of course) and had to wait to eat my sweet potato cheese cake. I was too full, dammit!!!

Jake started cleanup the moment we were done (he’s like that). He refused any help (he doesn’t like it), so Carla and I waddled over to the couch to veg a bit.

When I could move again, I went back into the kitchen and found everything put away, the counters cleaned and disinfected and the dishwasher running.

Sidebar: I need somebody like Jake at my house!!!

After a while, I had to try the cheese cake. So, I made a cup of coffee and topped a slice with the whipped cream. OMG! Fantastic!!!

Sidebar: Originally, she was going to make pumpkin cheese cake, but decided to tweak the recipe using sweet potatoes. Excellent choice!

We watched some TV and talked.

Then we started watching a movie called “Inside Out.” It is an animated Disney PIXAR movie that I thought was for kids but it was a bit dark for small children. However, it was fascinating.

Spoiler Alert: For once, a movie Carla chose where nobody died in the end. LOL!

Then Jake brought out the second dessert. It was a mound of layers of puff pastry, with the center scooped out. The center was replaced with vanilla ice cream, and the apple pie filling piled around the outside. Outstanding!  

Then we watched the Quentin Tarantino movie, Jackie Brown.

It was after 8:30 p.m. and Jake had to work on Friday. We were all bushed, so we went to bed. I read in bed for an hour or so and then crashed.


I'd like to take a moment to say just how thankful I am for my family, friends and life in general. No, nothing's perfect, but I feel I have truly been blessed.

Except for maybe that damn cat...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday Wanderings

I woke up to the alarm on Wednesday, even though I had the day off. I took my pills and ate the last two pieces of Spam (with toast) for breakfast.

I finished packing and did one more check of the place: Windows and doors locked, cat’s food and water more than sufficient, two extra kitty litter trays in place, etc., etc., etc. I shaved, showered and got dressed in comfortable traveling clothes. I put the last few items in the suitcase and headed out to the airport.

I left 2 1/2 hours early. I allowed myself a half hour to find a parking space and two hours to get through security (recommended due to the increased terror alert). I found a parking spot easily enough.

But, there was a problem using the kiosk to get my tickets and I had to see a real person. Then they had to call their IT Help Desk (which I found ironic) to fix the problem.

Note: The transfer from the old US Airways to US Air is complete (except for repainting the planes). However, I don’t like their tickets. They don’t tell you the gate, or the arrival time. So, I asked about the gate. The lady told me I had to check the monitors!!!

It took over an hour to get through the security lines. Not only were they huge (worst travel day of the year, I’m told), but a drug or explosive sniffing dog had to vet each individual person (before they just walked up and down the line).

A thorough pat down later and on I went to the monitor and found my gate. I checked my ticket and there was no seat or “group” number! So, I asked. Turned out they try to keep families together as much as possible, so I had a seat, just not a number yet. I ended up in an aisle seat in the last row on the plane.

But, my seat companion was an attractive woman and we had an enjoyable flight, chatting most of the way.

Once in Charlotte, I checked the monitors again, found my gate and boarded the next plane for the hop to Columbia. This time my seat companion, another woman, never said a word until almost the end of the flight, when she asked, “If you don’t mind, can I ask what you do for a living?” I said, “I’m a business analyst in an IT department. Why?” She said, ‘Well, I thought you were a college professor. I work at a college in administration and you just have that look!”

I said, “Well, I’d like to be a college professor, but I don’t think I’d make as much money.” She laughed and said, “No, no you wouldn’t” End of conversation.

I retrieved my suitcase after landing, sent a couple of texts letting people know I made it safe and sound and then waited for Jake. He had sent me a text saying he would be a little late, due to traffic.

I sat outside on a bench, enjoying the warmth (60 degrees) until I had to go to the bathroom again. I went back inside, took care of business and then Jake sent me a text saying he was there.

He loaded my stuff up and we headed home.

I got a warm welcome from Carla and Whiskey. Jake carted my suitcase upstairs and I went to change into something a bit more comfortable.

We sat in the living room and chatted until we all decided we were hungry. Carla had been working all day on the Thanksgiving dinner prep, so we decided she deserved a break and we ordered pizza.

We ate that watching some cooking shows (and chatting still). I was beat, so when Jake suggested bed around 8:00 p.m. I readily agreed.

I spent some time getting things unpack, pill box refilled, setting up my bathroom, etc. I read a little in bed, but was asleep just after 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

It was cold again on Tuesday when I took the trash out to the road. It started snowing again around 10:00 a.m. and was sometimes heavy. But, none of it stuck, so it must be just above freezing.

I went to Big Boy for lunch. I got my favorite waitress and my favorite meal, veal Parmesan.

Jyl sent an update on Joe. He is still getting tests.

Back home after work, I went to get the trashcan and found the garbage man broke the wheel! Dammit!!!

I got two more updates on Joe from Jyl. Still sounds serious, but it looks like they are getting a handle on it. The doctor wants Joe to have an MRI at University Of Michigan in Ann Arbor first before he declares a diagnosis.

I made fried eggplant for my dinner. It was delicious!!!

I watched NCIS and then went to bed, letting NCIS New Orleans tape.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, Monday…

Sidebar: I normally do not report “family’ things. My instructions when I got the gift of this web site was to document my daily events. And, I believe I have done that for years. But, today I am going to make an exception.

My grandson, Joe (Jose) was taken to the hospital in the middle of the night by my son Jeremy and Joe’s wife, Jerica, exhibiting all the classic signs of a heart attack. But, his heart was fine.

I got an update from Jeremy around 10:00 a.m. saying, and I quote:

“It happened again. Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach) with pulse of 180-200, to the point where they shock him (cardioversion). The hospital has moved Joe to the intensive care unit.”

I have not heard an update since then although I sent Jeremy an email. I am believing that, since he spent all night at the hospital, he is taking a well-deserved nap.

I am worried, but, moving on…

It never got above freezing today. So, I walked inside both times.

I went to Newburgh grill for lunch and got a cup of the beef vegetable soup and a Pattie melt.

Back home after work, I putzed. I warmed up leftover soup and mac & cheese for dinner.

I watched lame TV until I went to bed at 9:00 p.m.