Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Life goes on

We were actually quite prepared for losing the cat.  He was old, not a world's record, but old enough and was remarkably thin.  He was clearly slowing down too sleeping more and more.  So it was his time.  We can all only hope to go so gracefully.

I did manage to find a pork butt to smoke.  No, I'm still way too slow to remember to take photos so you'll have to take my word for it that it was quite good.  The butt is actually the front shoulder of the pig (as if that mattered).  The one I had was sold in a saline solution, 4% if I recall, so I didn't think brining would do much for it.  I simply made up a rub of salt, various peppers, onion and garlic powder and tossed it into the smoker.  Smoked it for about three hours then wrapped it up and gave it another four hours in the oven.  It turned out really good.  Next time I'll try a more sophisticated rub but otherwise leave well enough alone.

We are dreaming up another trip but I'll leave that until later.  Sorry about the short post but life intrudes even upon the internet.  Have a good one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

RIP Scotchie

We took our cat to the vet yesterday for a check and she agreed with us that he was ready to leave this world.  So, of course, we helped him on his way.  The vet has a room especially for people to spend some last moments with their pets.  We were shocked but it was actually quite a nice experience - much better than some sterile exam room.  We came home and had a bit of a wake with both alcohol and tears.  Today we are entering into the next phase:  seeing all the places we used to see him but without him.  We are thinking that he may be our last cat.  We love travel and want to spend more time overseas and you sure can't take your animals with you.  Well, not easily!  One last cat photo and that's over; it's his Christmas photo from a couple years ago.  You can see from his look how happy he wasn't!  Now we have no more cat to make fun of.

My wife's folks are in their 80's and just aren't up for travel any more.  That's embarrassingly close to my own age these days so we want to travel NOW!  We have a trip planned to visit Ireland soon.  Even though we both have Irish roots, we've never been there.  In the summer we hope to spend some time in Alaska.  We visited Anchorage once something over twenty years ago but this time we'd like to check out more of our largest state.  It's just one of those places you have to see.

Anyway, today is going to be quiet even by our standards.  Things will start improving but for the next couple of days we are going to be a bit down.  We are planning a big trip to the shelter later today to donate lots of food, litter, toys, etc.   

Hope you have a good one!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A few interesting things

Life isn't really in high gear but we do have some interesting things going on here in the boonies.  First an update on our cacti; the new parts are coming along nicely (I can't figure out if they should be called leaves or what!).

At any rate we are glad to see them growing.  When you only have two plants in your life any advance by either is great and happily both ours are doing well.  Here's the staghorn.

We did just observe St. Patrick's Day in our own quiet way, no green beer or drunken parties required!  However we did have a lovely dinner of corned beef, new potatoes and cabbage (two ways).
We found this recipe for a 'sauce' for the potatoes and cabbage so tried it.  It consisted of butter, horseradish and mustard and was about a thrid of the way to a success.  It basically melted off the potatoes leaving them pretty much unchanged.  It did sink into the quarters of cabbage (at 10 o'clock in the photo) and pretty much obscured the flavor of the cabbage.  So if you want to eat cabbage but don't like the flavor; it's made for you.  My wife likes a lightly sauted cabbage (1 o'clock) but not 'well done' so she got the one and  I got both.  My wife did a potato bread that was pretty different.  The recipe called for a mashed potato and a raw one that was grated.  It is both dense and fragile.  Anyway, it was pretty darned good!  Pretty too.
On a sadder note, our cat who would be 20 this summer is not doing well.  He hasn't eaten since last Tuesday and is drinking far less than usual.  Here he is just a couple of weeks ago trying to lick up an ice cube that fell from the ice maker.
He's a skinny little guy who has been running about 7 lb for the past couple of years.  It's not like he can hibernate so I'm thinking he isn't long for this world.  If I give him a 'treat' he'll eat it but the regular kibble just sits there in the bowl.  He's getting weaker every day so the end has to be near.  Since my wife and I both believe in euthanasia for people, it's safe to say that we'll be saying 'goodbye' to our kitty before long.  RIP Scotchie!  And yes, we will undoubtedly hold a wake for the little guy.

Off to do exciting things. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Not bragging but....

Sorry Boston but I've gotta say our average temperture for this time of year is about 65F (18C).  This year we are about 75F (23C) today and the forecasters are talking 80F (26C) by the weekend.  I've got to admit though that it's not real pretty around here.  The mountains are nice.
That photo was take March 2 from our front yard.  We are at 2,600 ft. (790m) elevation so I imagine the snow level is down to 4,000 ft (1220m) or so.  Sorry I don't remember the temp. that day.  The camera captures a lot of information but not that.  Not yet! 

Has anyone checked out the new cameras with GPS built in?  It might be cool for a professional photographer but as a private citizen I'm not so sure I want that information available on my photos.  Say you post it on a blog like this; you would be giving the location of your home to anyone interested.  So if you are blogging from San Diego all a person would have to do is look at an older photo of your home to have the address of your empty home.  Nah, I'm going to skip the GPS attachment.

The weather has been so nice our cactus have decided it's spring so it's time to bud.  We don't have any other plants in our yard but the neighbor's trees are budding out too.  Here's the staghorn buds.  It's the small red mass in between the spikes!

Our other cactus has had a dry winter too but when it is stressed by the cold and drought, it turns red or purple.  Now that it's spring I'll start watering it regularly and it will return to green.  Here the buds are the little round guys in the lower third of the photo.

To get off the weather for a moment let me show you my latest adventure with the smoker:  pork ribs!
I finally found some decent advice on smoking them and they actually turned out quite well.  I made up a rub that was basically salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder then smoked them for two hours.  After that I read that I should wrap them in foil and cook for another two hours.  I figured that they sure weren't going to get any more smoke through that foil so brought them in to finish in the oven.  The final step was to just cook them for another hour but not in the foil.  In the last half hour I did baste them with just a bit of bbq sauce.  They were really pretty good.  The first time I skipped the foil and just let them ride in the smoker.  They got dry and tough so foil is my new friend!  There is a pork butt in the fridge.  I'm trying to figure out what to do with it.  Hopefully I'll take a photo or two of whatever becomes of it.

That's the quiet life for now.  We didn't go out to lunch yesterday so I'm thinking my wife will have plans.  Take care!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Home again...

We decided that since with had the trailer out we'd head out on a road trip.  Not a very long one, just over to San Diego to see Number One Son, Significant Other and the sights.  It was a good week.  Long enough to see stuff; short enough to still be happy in the trailer when we got back. 

What do you think the odds are that in a place where we get maybe 2" of rain a year that it would be raining when we hooked up?  Small odds for sure.  Now what are the odds that it would be raining when we unhooked a week later?  Tiny, right?  But that's what happened.  Rain around here is usually like mist in other places but we had it going on both when we hooked up on the 22nd and when we unhooked on the 1st of March.  Not only that it was really raining (by anyone's measure) when we hooked up to leave San Diego.  Jeez! 

The trip down was pretty uneventful except there was some kind of traffic slowdown on Cajon Pass so rather than worrying about keeping everything down to a reasonable speed we got to worry about getting to the park before they closed.  The GPS estimated our arrival at 15:30 when we set out but we actually made it to the part at 16:55; only 5 minutes before the office closes.  Doing 6-7 mph for the entire length of the pass makes quite a difference!  The uphill side was going fine; it was just the downhill side that had the problem.  We called the California DOT hotline but they didn't know of any problem and we didn't see one.  Who knows; it's just California traffic.  

We got one of our usual spots overlooking Mission Bay. 

It's expensive but we get that water fix whenever we look out the window.  Water, boats, ducks; what's not to like?

We managed to hit Pacific Beach a couple times.  It's fun walking along doing people watching.  We saw this one guy who was shirtless; he must kiss the mirror every time he looks in one.  Then there was the woman who had some obvious help in the bra department who also thought that 5 lb. of makeup was appropriate for the beach.  Wow, some poeple.  Happily they were the minority!  We also went to IKEA.  I know it's not to everyones taste but I like seeing different things and IKEA has it's own style.  I believe they are planning a store in Las Vegas but that's down the pike a ways.  One of the most fun things was going to the Poway Farmer's Market (son lives around there).  It was fun looking at all the stuff and we got a couple little items.  The stalls were really into organic almost anything.

Trip home was pretty much like the trip going except we were spared the slowdown.  Instead we got rain most of the way!  The forecast was for wind and snow above 4,000 feet so I was happy enough with the rain.  We got here to find an entire weeks newspapers thrown in our yard.  The delivery person apparently doesn't read the 'hold' notices.  Needless to say we aren't impressed.  The paper is my wife's thing so she is trying to figure out if she wants to cancel the subscription or if they can manage to convince her to keep them on.  We'll see.

Now that we are home; I can BBQ again so I'm off to the store looking for a likely subject.  Maybe I'll even remember to take a photo.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Excitement - over stupidity!

Ok, so my wife and I decided we should get our under-used trailer out of it's parking spot and do a little cleanup on it.  How tough could it be aside from the obvious washing, waxing, etc.?  So we back the big bad F-250 up to it and....  Hmmm,. can't get the tow ball under the trailer hitch!  Hmmmm.  I do remember when parking the trailer that I thought there wasn't much extra that I could raise the hitch.  How the hell do we raise the trailer hitch?  I've got to admit it took us any embarrassingly long time to figure out we needed to dig a couple holes to let the truck wheels down thus lowering the ball rather than raising the hitch. 

ANYWAY, 15 minutes with a pick axe (even the ground is tough out here) and a couple shovels allowed the hitch ball to dive under the hitch and away we could go!  Apparently during the time without the trailer the truck's rear suspension found another half inch or so of height.  Interesting!  So now we have the rig out and are cleaning away.  Not sure yet if we'll go anywhere; My wife isn't happy with the slideout; she is afraid it has gotten crooked in the frame somehow.  Maybe we'll just tow it over to Las Vegas and get the dealer's opinion. 

In my spare time I decided to make hummus.  No photos, sorry.  The recipes aren't tough.  The one I decided to follow included a can of chickpeas (garbonzo beans), tahini, yoghurt, garlic, EVOO, lemon juice, salt and pepper and a jalapeno.  They carefully recommend removing seeds and membrane from the jalapeno first. Then you basically beat everything up in the food processor and there you are.  Well, the jalapeno's we've been getting aren't very spicy so I not only don't remove the membrane, I add a second, quite small, jalapeno.  The first problem was that the food processor would just throw everything off to the side of the container without even mixing it.  Grrr!  Finally I pulled it all out and fed it into the processor a spoonful at a time.  Pain in the ass but it got the stuff to a reasonable consistancy.  Hmmm, I've got to admit, my inner Mexican (I'm from Iowa, German and Scotch-Irish parents, so he's not a big influence) failed me.  Damn, that's hot stuff!  Well, not to some people, but a little goes a long way for me.  Should have doubled up the garlic instead; can't be far enough from the vampires! 

We did have a little rain a couple weeks ago; just enough to wake the weeds really.  So we have to go kill weeds.  We have a fairly large yard and it's all covered with just rock so when the weeds grow they have plenty of room.  So my wife and I load up sprayers with Roundup and go to it.   We get tired spraying after a while so it takes us several days and took 18 gallons (68L) of spray!  We buy the concentrate whereever we can find it (Walmart or Home Depot) and it runs about a $1 a gallon of spray in the really large size and I've got a few more years worth besides.  I'm hoping most of our lawn mainenance is done for the year. 

Otherwise, not much to report.  It's been a REALLY mild winter.  Back in December the bird bath was freezing; not much since then.  The last half of January and most of February have been about 10 degrees (F) above normal.  For example, that means today was 74F (23C),  Not tough to take!  We had our daughter over for lunch last weekend and ate outside; had a hard time not just laying out there all afternoon.  Sorry Boston but there it is.  We'd sure love some of that snow melt though!

Friday, February 06, 2015

I am not dead

Stealing the title of my post from Croft is just one of the things that's kind of lame about these days.  It's being a nice quiet winter with a few bumps in the road.

Like lots of people my wife and I caught the bug that is going around though it was pretty mild for us.   My version included going through about a box of Kleenex a day for a week.  My wife's version was more about coughing her poor head off.  We spent quite a bit of time hiding at home and preparing comfort food for each other.  There are a couple other physical problems we are dealing with but this isn't that kind of blog.  Life in the fast lane!

We did manage to find some salmon that we smoked.  It's not the same as the wild caught Pacific salmon we used to get in the Pacific Northwest but it was pretty good.  This is farm raised Atlantic salmon; it's got more fat but I guess is easier to raise.  We took a filet that was about a pound and a half (.5 kg) and cut it into sections that were about the same thickness.  Then we marinated it for about three hours then smoked it for about five.  Pretty good stuff.

We also had time to do more bird watching.  We bought a new hummingbird feeder; the first one we've ever had that has a perch for the birds.  Amazingly the hummers are happy to sit down while eating.  I never knew!  Anyway now we are sold on perchs for the hummers.  We had a group of six at one point but I was slow; only got three in this photo.  Still, it's a new high for us.

Every now and then I have to get a photo of the mountains around here.  They really make the place special even if I am too lazy to look around for a position without the light pole in the way!

So, you see, you haven't missed much by my lack of blogging..  It's pretty sad when cooking a piece of fish is the big deal in your life.  Hopefully we can get things going here in the near future.  Thanks for stopping by.