Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Well, this is different!

Ok, how about a kind of dull story?  Usually my wife and I drink decaf coffee because she has a problem with the caffeine.  Today she didn't want any coffee so I decided to drink some instant with caffeine (Starbuck's Colombian) that I bought for our daughter-in-law back in 2013.  Turns out there were six packets left and I've had them all.  I'm actually high!  I'm so wired I can't believe it.  This is like being drunk without the alcohol.  I'm amazed.  Ok, it doesn't take much for me but really this is bizarre.

There is a danger of this becoming a bird blog but I've got to share another bird photo.  Our new hawk friend showed up again yesterday but not for lunch. 
He came by for a bath!  What a deal.  Like I said, it doesn't take much for me these days does it?  LOL  Anyway it was great seeing this lovely creature enjoying himself. 

To balance all the bird photos I've been posting; here is one of a shadow I spotted this morning.  We have this little wooden figure of a coolie carrying water.  It's been in the family for quite a while.  It's just a cheezy souvenir kind of thing but it certainly has sentimental value.  It also casts a great shadow!

Aren't you glad you don't have to earn your living carrying water in barrels?  I am!  Have a good one!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Deja vu all over again!

Happy 3rd day of the new year!  I'm sure most people are like us:  up to their ears in leftovers.  Wow.  Even when you try to reduce the proportions in a recipe there still seems to be a lot.  Of course there are those times when my wife says 'should I make a smaller amount of X' and I say 'no, that's really great.  I can deal with the leftovers'.  Hmmm.  Does the word 'idiot' spring to mind? 

We were happily dealing with some of the afore mentioned leftovers yesterday at lunch when my wife looked outside and saw another hawk-pigeon interaction.  Yep, another pigeon lunch for the hawk. 
This time at least he/she was dining on the rocks so we didn't have a bunch of blood to clean up!  I was shooting through the venetian blinds so that's the reason for the blury parts of the photo.  The hawk was keeping a pretty good eye on me!  Apparently it prefers to dine in private.
It's a pretty bird though.  Because of the varigated chest feathers we assume it is rather young.  After being sure the pigeon was no longer going to escape the hawk took it's prey off over our wall out into the desert to finish eating.  You might think this would give our back yard a bad rep with the local pigeons.  Nope!
This was taken 3 minutes after the previous shot.  Pigeons sitting on the electric line as though nothing had happened.  Hmmm, kind of sounds like some people.  Turn your head and what you can't see didn't happen. 

Can you tell that things are a little quiet around her these days?  My big deal is hoping this old laptop keeps on running for a while.  I'd like to go directly to a Windows 10 model but that might be a while.  As in so many things only time will tell.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing a safe, healthy and profitable new year for everyone!   2015 sure came around quickly.  It takes me about six months to get used to a year then we have to start planning for the next.  It's confusing sometimes. 

Just in case you saw the post about the hawk and his/her lunch, I'd like to point out that there are plenty of birds left in the 'hood. 

We typically have a pretty low-key New Year's celebration and this year was no exception.  My wife and I celebrate it alone and mostly talk about the past year and plans for the next.  I used to be pretty good at having a 5-year plan; lately that's gone by the wayside but I'm hoping to resurrect it this year.  There are always the lose weight kinds of thoughts but also places to go and things to see.  I'm 67 this year and realistically traveling around for another 10 years is posibbly optimistic.  Who knows.  I had a nephew die this year and it's not like I live such a superior lifestyle! 

Our plans for 2015 include travel of course.  We have tickets to visit Ireland; that's the big international trip.  We've spent quite a lot of time visiting 'mainland' Europe but missed out on Ireland and we each have ancestors who lived there.  That should be fun.  We are also hoping to make visits to some of our 'local' sites like Yosemite, San Franscio and the Grand Canyon.  The last time we visited the Grand Canyon was over 30 years ago!  Not that I expect it to have changed but it is certainly worth a re-visit.  Also we have another one of those 'special' birthday years coming up so that will probably involve travel, maybe even extended travel.  We'll see how that works out.

I don't really have a 'bucket list' but there are certainly places I want to visit and re-visit.  We spent a week in our nations capital back in 2003; we both want to go back for at least two weeks this time.  In spite of living in New Jersey for a couple years, we haven't seen nearly enough of New York City.  All of Western Europe is calling to me.  Australia and New Zealand are on my list.  We talk about Central America but I have to admit the media attention about the drug cartels has us a little gun-shy (so to speak!  Sorry about that!).  A trip to Alaska via the water is definitely on the list.  My wife has known for years that an Alaska Cruise is about the only one she is going to get me on.  Even better, I'd like to visit using the Alaska Ferry system because then you choose the amount of time you stay in various areas for yourself  rather than have the cruise line 'help' you.   We'll see:  there are certainly 10 years worth of destinations.

There are also plenty of things I'd like to do here; chief among them managing to contribute to the community in various ways.  Good thing I'm retired!  I wouldn't have time to do all this stuff if I was working.  Gotta go.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season.  We are keeping it pretty low key this year:  no visitors and no gifts.  Just a lot of holiday music and a little extra care with food and drink.  Not having kids around makes a big difference!

We have lots of wind today with gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph).  We'll be going into Las Vegas to visit our daughter but it shouldn't be a big deal.  The desert is normally pretty windy if it isn't absolutely still so we've plenty of experience driving in it.  There is a little snow on the mountain but not a lot.  California has been getting the brunt of the rain only leaving a bit for us. 

We had some excitement the other day.  A hawk came in and caught a pigeon!  We didn't see the actual capture but he sat on the pigeon on our patio for a while and nibbled on it.  Finally he took it off to the far corner of the yard to complete his meal.  Wild life includes death for some.
Now that I've got that cheering news over; guess it only remains to repeat my wish that everyone have a great holiday season.  I'll try to return before New Year's Day!  Take care.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Well, actual rain!

On December 2, last Tuesday, I looked out the window and saw it!  Rain!  This is what it looked like at first.
It looks like there is more rain closer to the camera because it is splashing off the house.  But then it actually turned into a nice gentle rain the kept going all Tuesday afternoon.  Wednesday was overcast then on Thursday we got more rain.  This is just crazy!  Granted it's probably not going to amount to much but still.  It's been a long time since we had any rain. 

I had to take this photo on Thursday.
The pigeons didn't care about the rain; they wanted to bath anyway!  We started with two bird baths; one deeper and one more shallow.  The shallow one is plastic and decided to crack.  I have been fooling with it for months trying to get it to hold water again.  No luck!  Maybe it's time for a new one.

It's still kind of foggy today so we are enjoying the difference.  This photo of the mountain behind our house  was taken on the 1st.
The following was taken this morning.
Pretty cool!  We used to live in Seattle and it wouldn't be unusual for Mt. Rainier to be cloud covered for a month at a time.  Here it's pretty unusual. 

We are flying the flag today.  It's December 7 "a day which will live in infamy".  Here's hoping THIS December 7 won't be so bad.  Have a good one!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Turkey Day Report

OK, so we did a little turkey for Thanksgiving - a 7 lb turkey.  I didn't know they came that small.  Anyway, it was for just two of us so was plenty big!  We decided to brine the little guy and I have to say it was not a great success but maybe I screwed it up.  The brine recipe called for a gallon of water and a cup of kosher salt for a 12-14 lb turkey.  Since we had half that amount of bird, I cut the recipe in half.  I also added some cracked peppercorns and a few bay leaves which I did not taste at all..  The place where I may have hurt our outcome is that you are supposed to brine for 8 to 18 hours.  Our little guy was in the brine for almost 24 hours.  We did rinse him off after the brining.  After cooking he was certainly moist but he was also quite salty.  He had nice color when he was done and his skin was nice and crispy.  Here he is after resting for about 10 minutes.  I'm not at all sure why the foil that was tenting him is so discolored.  It's just one of those mysteries of life.
You can see his small size by that ordinary table knife that is in the lower lefthand corner.  My wife likes to put a combination of butter and herbs under the skin which really adds a lot of flavor.  She also uses the pan drippings to make gravy.  Unfortunately the gravy ended up REALLY salty without adding any additional salt.  So while the turkey was acceptable, the gravy ended up going down the drain.  Will we brine again?  I doubt it.  We casually watch our sodium intake and this was just too salty.

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, was spent watching tv that we'd collected including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  It's kind of funny how not having grandchildren means that we aren't familiar with some of the newer balloons.  The Sesame Street float is from when the kids were keeping us up to date with toys!  That's a long time ago now.  We didn't bother with shopping even online.  When we buy we are pretty careful to get what we want; it the hurry to get a bargain it's way too easy to get something that isn't quite the thing.  Well, at least it is for me! 

Man!  December 1st is tomorrow!  It's just a matter of moments until it will be 2015.  Amazing.  Hope things are going well for you and yours.  Take care.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Just a touch chilly!

Here in the desert it does get chilly.  It mostly looks the same outside whether it's 20F or 110F (-7C or 43C)  so you have to look elsewhere for hints.  The birdbath is a great example.
When the water doesn't drain maybe it's chilly out.  After a while it looks a little different.
The melting begins to loosen the grip the ice has on the sides of the bath and the ice starts floating and it just slides out onto the ground.  Pretty cool!

We weren't in Vegas for the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau but we were only a couple days late.  This year doesn't seem to be the best but it's always good.  It's so young and fresh!

Happy Thanksgiving all you locals!  Hope the rest of you have a good day too!