Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesday, December 19

I'm driving around town looking for Xmas presents. It is 83 degrees and I've got the A/C running. What the devil is this? I know people visit here in the winter so they can enjoy this kind of thing but, frankly, I'm tired of it. We have a propane fireplace in our home(no, I didn't install the thing). We are out of propane & can't get any until after the holiday. I was all bothered until I figured out that it would be too warm to run the darn thing anyway. We are actively thinking of places we'd rather live. We've replaced the fence around the yard, replaced the roof, tore out the carpet & replaced it with hardwood, rebuilt the lawn sprinkler system and refinished the pool and deck. We are taking bids to paint the house & have decided on replacing the heat pump. The house is in a LOT better shape than it was when we bought it. If the housing market revives a bit, we'll be ready.

Right now the west is calling to us. Go somewhere and find four seasons but not 30 feet of snow in the winter. Well, actually, being retired we can pretty much wait out a snowfall as long as the power isn't interrupted. The state of Washington is definitely OUT of contention. We've lived there and I need more sunlight. Ditto Oregon. So we'll work on finding places that seem feasible. California is also out but because of prices and taxation. Parts of Colorado, Nevada, Arizona & New Mexico are the current favorites but I wouldn't bet much on any of them.

To change subjects radically, I read people's blogs to learn about them, their problems and their ability to deal with them. Recently I've been reading about having a written set of values and goals. It sounds to me like a good idea and I'm going to try to implement something like that in my life. One list I saw included: consideration, integrity, the Ten Commandments, character, health, order, time, communications, honesty, charity, prudence, and goals. Whew! It made me tired to simply read the list. Besides, I don't really feel that I need to work on some of those values; it's a very long time since I've worried about my integrity or honesty.

Order is certainly something I need to work on! We have lived in this house for almost 6 years; TODAY I emptied some boxes that have been cluttering our spare room all this time. Procrastination is another thing. I have at least 20 or 30 items that I've earmarked for sale on eBay. I've actually sold 2. Health - now there is a problem. I'm basically in excellent health but I'm 58 and 30 pounds overweight and obviously that isn't the start of a good news story. We'll see if I can do something about that problem.

Finally, two sites I'd like to recommend. The first is written my a woman whose husband is a career officer in the Army and is scheduled to be shipped to Iraq. Her blog is: http://blogs.tampabay.com/standingby/

The other is a bit different. I read many sites put up by RVers who want to let their family & friends (& others) know about their travels. Recently they added a page about a man currently in Iraq. He writes some things & the RVers add a bit here and there to put things in prospective. The page is: http://www.1tree.net/adventure/soldier_story.htm

If I haven't said before, I think this war in Iraq is beyond stupid. The invasion of Afghanistan MIGHT be explainable though I'm not sure our continued presence there is but invading Iraq was stupid beyond belief. But shit happens. Even intelligent people make mistakes. But we are still there. I'd leave in a New York minute. I know the country would go immediately into civil war mode but they will anyway whenever we leave unless we install another dictator who is so powerful that his enemies simply cannot afford the fight. Sounds like Saddam to me.

HOWEVER, the men and women of the armed forces deserve our complete support. I'm a veteran but I didn't have to do much. Some of our soldiers have to do and give so much. They go places and do things because they are ordered to do so. Sometimes things go wrong and they get a little crazy and hurt people they shouldn't. So what? They are in the middle of a war and in war bad things happen to good people. These two sites approach the soldiers life from two angles: the family left at home and the soldier himself. They are really very good.

Have a good week and if I don't make it back until after Xmas - Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Back to normal

My back finally got more or less normal so I've been out and about again. Yesterday we drove up to Citrus Springs, Florida to visit some relatives & go to a Xmas party. That whole area is mostly retired folks so the average age at the party was probably 70. The stories I was hearing just reinforced my desire to go places & do things as soon as you are able.

There was a couple where the guy just retired & they find that his wife has breast cancer. Another is a lady undergoing chemo while caring for her half-crazy husband. The hostess can barely move from back pain; yesterday she was taking drugs that would knock out an ordinary person. You just have to go early, go young, go poor but go!

We are planning on taking our own advice after the new year and visiting Ireland. We've been in Western Europe quite a bit but never made it to the Emerald Isle. We even have ancestors from Ireland but haven't made the trek. Now we figure that we'll just go for a couple of weeks & enjoy ourselves. We have friends who will keep the dog & cat; it certainly isn't the 'high' season so it shouldn't be crowded; & we both love Guinness. What's not to like! If anyone has any advice about places to go & things to see, please either leave a comment or email me.

Have a good week!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Life goes on.....


On the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, I developed what is sometimes referred to as a muscle spasm. The definition is a one time muscular contraction that is soon forgotten. The reality, for me, is something that it continues for some time. Several years ago I was prescribed SOMA, a muscle relaxant, for the condition. I've been taking leftover SOMA for three days trying to get things back to normal. Today, Saturday, I finally went out to a couple of stores. I wasn't great but I wasn't taking drugs either! The point is that shit like this happens more often as you age so get out there & have fun while you can.

I have to tell you folks; you're dumb if you don't retire as soon as you can. Have your fun while you can; your income is less important than your ability to have fun. As one ages, the things that would have been minor aches become things that keep you in bed; the things that would have meant a day off work become something that no one understands. I have a history of muscle spasms that started about 10 years ago. I'm 58 now. Do you really think I'll be more healthy next year? Are you really that foolish? These things will lay me low for 1 or 2 weeks a year. What if it happens to you while you are having that once in a lifetime vacation?

If you have visited me before you know that my attitude is that THIS IS my once in a lifetime vacation; my next lifetime starts tomorrow! The only way my last vacation will be my best is if I die before I take another! Join me in enjoying the present; remembering the past and hoping for the future!

Best regards,


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Thanksgiving that was....

We had a very nice Thanksgiving; quiet, peaceful & we all ate too much. Daughter brought a guy from work; just a colleague we are told. The local couple who are relatives showed; & us. Just 6 but, for us, a nice number. Daughter noted that her mother was much calmer this year than in the past. When I asked MrsD about it she said "no more mother to worry about". Amazing that her mother weighed so on her. But now, she's been gone for about 10 months and things are calmer for MrsD.

The bad thing about having people over is that we need to clean the house - that is MrsD works in the kitchen and I have to clean the rest! Oh well! It is a lot cleaner now. Remember how people used to do "Spring Cleaning" = in our house it is "Before someone comes to visit" cleaning. I'm not all that good but I'm the only person here who isn't slaving away in the kitchen.

After the dinner there is a traditional game of cards called "Piss and Moan". I don't play (hate cards & especially with her family) so I get to strip the meat off the turkey, package it & do general cleaning in the kitchen. It didn't stop me from taking a nice little nap in my chair though before the game ended. Ha! I sure won that one!

Now we get to the greedy month. Corporate greed at it's best! We usually have dollar limits on gifts so it doesn't get stupid. I read about others who end the month with $5 or $10K in bills. Those are definitely NOT people from Iowa born of Depression Era parents! Work on keeping it down folks, there's plenty of personal debt in this country already. But don't forget your local food bank. There are plenty of less fortunate people around.

I've been listening to the downloads from the 2005 conference on Science and it's relationship to Religion. URL is
http://beyondbelief2006.org/ - it's interesting but, so far, not enthralling even though I agree with a lot of what is being said. Most of the speakers are professors and we've all fallen asleep in class! The 2006 conference was supposed to be held in early November so there may be a whole series more if anyone wants to check it out.

BTW: it's 74 with a projected high of 82 today. Eat your heart out Seattle! Have a good one!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wine Tasting from Hell

We went to a neighbor's house tonight for a "wine tasting". We were told to bring an appetizer and a bottle of wine from Chile. We got there a few minutes late & were the last ones to arrive. It turns out that the wine tasting was just an excuse to have a quiet little party, drink wine & eat. Now that's ok but it sure wasn't what we were expecting. All the folks brought nasty shit from the grocery store to eat with the wine. For example, a shrimp platter that was still partially frozen. Yecch! And then there was the guy who tried to tell us that brie is a Dutch cheese! We took pate which was totally unknown to everyone there. Never again!

Other than that excitement, we are just getting ready for Thanksgiving. My wife likes to cook and tries to make the holiday special. The only problem is that she thinks that we ought to have sweet potatoes. However, she doesn't like them so can't really cook them. One year she did a sweet potato casserole that no one could stand. She thought the recipe sounded good but it tasted awful. Now I just talk her out of having sweet potatoes and everyone is much better off. She also doesn't care a lot for vegetables so they are sometimes bizarre. Haven't had any that were inedible yet though! Tomorrow I start doing the shopping; I'll start with easy stuff: the wine and maybe the turkey.

Anyway, hope everyone has a good week. Take care!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Still crazy after all these years.....

Had to go out & buy a new computer for my wife the other day. It is a really odd feeling because she is as computer savvy as I and has never asked me to do anything like that before. The problem is that her computer has been doing weird stuff for over a year. It is a Gateway 510 (I think); about 3 years old. It started crashing & restarting occasionally. We took it in & had someone check it out. They said the hard drive was dying so we replaced that. It gave us lots more storage but didn't do anything about the random crashes. Then the monitor started flickering. It just got to be too distressing for her to use it & it was too distressing to go buy another box. I looked around a bit then got an HP from CompUSA. We plugged it in and I haven't seen her since! (Kidding, but not much.)

It's funny how things can assume absurd importance. The fact that this computer was faulty & the tech's couldn't find anything wrong bothered her so much that she thought it was wrong to replace it. It wasn't 'mine' so it was easy for me to go buy another box. Now, maybe, we can be happy little computer nerds for a while.

Oh, and it isn't like she couldn't reach the Internet or play her games or whatever. We have a nice little Toshiba laptop that she uses in the living room while she is watching tv. Are we nerds or what?

Have a nice week!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Why Live in Florida

Today has been one of the days that makes living in Florida seem reasonable. It was warm but not hot; and the humidity that is the curse of our weather was gone. After a late breakfast we sat out by the pool with a drink just enjoying the world. We even had a ham bone for the dog. There are things we need to do; things we planned to do today but they will be done another day and I am glad of it.

Tonight in the early evening I was outside reading when I heard a commotion; a man yelling. It turns out that some of our neighbors was having a "domestic disturbance". After a few minutes a police car arrived. Then the woman put some things into her car and drove off. The police left shortly thereafter. No one was injured; no one arrested but it was disturbing. Marital problems happen, of course. I guess it just reminded me of the fragility of our happiness.

Though I am not a believer, the Compline service says it very nicely:

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end. Amen.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Almost back to normal

We are almost back to normal here in Tampa Bay Land. Put out 6 bags of grass clippings last week from the back yard alone. It was just a little tall! That's what I get for making the back yard too tight for professional yard equipment; I can't hire anyone to cut it while we are gone. What the heck. I need the exercise!

We are working on our long term plan to leave the area; it's starting to look like the process will take a year & a half or so. We have SO much house maintenance that hasn't been done for starters. Then we have to shave our belongings down to some reasonable amount for moving. Finally, it's sell (which may take some time, certainly) and go. Like the rest of the country the Florida housing market has slowed quite a lot. Besides, we have a house that really cries out to be sold either in the early spring or the late fall. When you enter the house, if it can be open to the outside, it sells itself. You have 2000 sq ft of house that connects almost seamlessly to 1500 sq ft of pool deck as your living area. It's great and looks even better. When it is too hot to have the house open (in the summer) you have only the relatively small house to show. It's a nice enough house but in this market you need the extra zing of the outside. Spouse and I have both worked as project managers so you KNOW we'll have list upon list upon list covering THIS project.

In the middle of that 'leaving' plan we need to develop and explore places for the 'where the hell are we going' plan! We really have almost no idea of where we want to move. It could be Northern Florida, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico or even somewhere we haven't considered yet. It's odd to be able to move anywhere we would like. We've always moved for and by our work until we moved here & we moved here to be near our mothers. Now that they are gone, we are free to fly. It will be interesting to see what we eventually do. We plan on doing more traveling to visit possible home bases during the months that the house will be on the market. Should be fun!

Have a great weekend everyone. And don't get stuck on Friday, the 13th!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Home Again, Naturally

We got home last Sunday evening and here it is nearly a week later before I manage to get to the blog. Well, let's face it; I'm lazy! Plus there were a few things to handle. Like on any trip you decide not to do laundry until you get home - we had a zillion loads. We had someone cut our front grass but not the back since they can't use their equipment in the back. It was at least a foot high! The house had somehow gotten really dirty in spite of the fact that we weren't here to make it so. Funny, but it really did need cleaning. The mail was impressive; about 3% was actually something we'd care about. But we are making it more like a home again.

The trip was excellent. Drove almost 5,000 miles towing the trailer 3,600 of them. (8,000 km total; 5,800 km towing if I'm to believe the web.) It's a long way for under a month and including all the stuff we did. I was able to meet and talk with relatives that I didn't know I had; actual cousins. We got to visit effigy Mounds National Monument; it is a place the ancient people of North America buried their dead and communed with their gods. It was very quiet, lovely and somehow touching. We got to eat wonderful catfish in Missouri and wonderful pork ribs and pulled pork in Georgia. Had a great time visiting the USS Alabama in Mobile. It brought back some of the hardships that men endured during World War II. Along the way we met some nice people; some weird people and some that I certainly don't want to meet again! We were in Sikesville, Missouri in the wind and the rain with tornados north of us and tornados south of us. The next day was dry when we woke but by the time we wanted to leave we were wading in 3 inches (7.5cm) of water with more landing on us every second.

We love to travel but getting home is pretty great too. I'm reading all the usual blogs; it just takes time to catch up. Have a good weekend all!

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Have moved on to Clear Lake, Iowa. Since we left Columbia we had a wonderful family reunion on a cousin's farm. It wasn't actually fantastic but it wasn't bad and that's good. Met a couple of relatives that we actually liked! We stayed in a city park that was really nice; they were having a Fur Trapper's Meeting. We checked it out but all traps look the same to us!

This is a nice little park with wifi for $1 extra a day. Don't we love it! Next stop is the Winnebago factory; gotta see where all the Winnie's are built. We are thinking about a new RV but haven't any clue about what we want. Seeing how the things are built is at least a first step. Don't know that Winnie is even in the running but you can learn from the losers as well as the winners.

Keep on having fun!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Gone - Definitely Gone

I say at the start of the blog that we like to travel as much as possible. We are doing it now! I'm writing from Columbia, MO on the way to a family reunion. Then we'll wander back to Florida stopping at a couple of RV factories in between. We like to see how they are built in case we might like to buy one some day. So there won't be much updating between now an the end of September; like anyone could tell anyway!

Have a safe rest of the month folks.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fallen off the Wagon

I see that I've fallen off posting again. I guess think my life is just too dull to be of interest to others. Anyway, what's been happening? Well, we took another 3 day trip in our trailer. The poor thing needed new tires (they degrade from the UV rays and should be replaced every 5-7 years regardless of mileage) so we got tires then went down to Sarasota for a couple of days. Got to see the Ringling Museum. It's pretty nice but didn't really knock my socks off. Had an episode of dumb: left the awning out in the rain. It filled with water and bowed the roller, which is supposed to be nice and straight. Luckily it did roll up again with a little encouragement. We'll need to replace it though.

We are trying to get some work done around the house and it's turning into a giant pain. The sprinkler system hasn't worked for several years & we are getting estimate for fixing/replacing it. One guy wanted to replace it; a second guy was going to fix part & replace part; the third guy didn't show up. What a pain! The guy we wanted to do some lawn cleanup didn't show. These guys doing this type of work are doing really tough work in the heat & humidity but they don't seem to have the greatest work ethic/business sense. Oh well, we'll just keep looking. We'd like to have the house painted too but that's another group of people to deal with!

Our daughter's 36th birthday came & went. She never wants anything special for her birthday so this year I went down & got the information about opening an IRA for her & gave her a check to start it. Thirty-six is really late to be starting an IRA but it's better than 46! She's been in the service industry for a long while & it's tough to save when you have cash tips. Now she has a job with a paycheck so it's easier. If you don't have one; start one!

We are also trying to figure out a 5 year plan. I love the idea that if you don't know where you are going you won't get there. Got our first major plan from a financial advisor around 20 years ago. Now, for the first time, we don't have to take into account work or parents; the freedom is almost scary. We are thinking of trips we want to take; moving from Florida; financial considerations; lots of choices! If you've never made such a plan; DO IT! You will certainly surprise yourself with the things you can accomplish. We did from that very first plan 20 years ago.

Gotta go. Have a good week everyone.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Today is the birthday of a wonderful friend, Elga. She and her husband have been our best friends since we met them 8 years ago. She has grown children so we don't need to go into her exact age. However, this would also be my mother's birthday; she would be 94 today but she missed it by about 9 monlths.

A couple of years ago we adopted a cat who had at least a couple previous homes. We took him on and, because no one could tell us differently, we anointed today as his birthday. Today we celebrate Scotchie's 11th birthday.

Happy Birthday to them and to everyone else born on this day!

Monday, July 10, 2006

A trip!

We were invited to a 4th of July party at the home of some relatives who live about 2 hours north of here. We keep our travel trailer at their house since they have several acres. Went to the party; they are in their mid-sixtys and are the young people in the neighborhood. NOT a hot party but ok. It was one of those "men here; women there" things & the men were outside. I almost melted. Went over to the trailer in the afternoon & took a nap! In the evening someone set of a few fireworks to celebrate the holiday. I liked them but the others were kind of disappointed in the quality of the bangs. I think they are dangerous & ought to be outlawed. Florida does, in fact, outlaw them but allows explosives to be sold to people for use on farms to clear away tree stumps, etc. You sign a waiver that says you are using them in that way & can by all kinds of stuff. Laughable but there you are.

The next day we took the trailer away for a couple of days. We hadn't moved it since October of 2004! The tires needed more air but otherwise things seemed ok. Towed it about 50 miles to a park we know & like. Found a spot & stayed from Wednesday through Friday. We wanted to be home Sunday to see our daughter or would have stayed longer. We did almost nothing for the days we were there but trying out all the systems on the trailer made us happy. Now we know that everything works! There were some Sand Cranes at the campground & I got a few pictures of them. Big birds, about a meter tall, with a very distictive cry; we enjoyed their company. I'll try to post their pictures somewhere & add the URL later.

Friday night went to a favorite restuarant only to find that it will be closing next weekend. Very sorry to see it go but that's life. It sounds like the owner got a good offer on the building & decided to close. Saturday we came home & Sunday visited with the daughter. She is going out West next week to visit relatives so we wanted to wish her a good trip. Had bbq'd pork loin and salad for dinner. Lately we've been mixing a 'regular' bbq sauce with a mustard based one & like the combination. It works well on pork & chicken; I'll report later on other meats!

All in all it was a quiet week. Hope everyone had a good one. Take care!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Hmmm, haven't been blogging lately!

I keep thinking that I'll be a more consistant blogger but then something come up and it's been a couple of weeks. Bah! What's been happening? Well, week before last we were little social butterflys in spite of the fact that the Mrs. came down with a cold on Tuesday. She seldom becomes ill but this was a nasty cold. It didn't keep us from celebrating our 22nd anniversary on the 22nd. Went out to a local restuarant with a really good reputation.

The place is called Six Tables; guess how many tables they have! It is price fixe at $80 for a 6 course dinner; you pay extra for wine & gratuity so they don't really need tons of customers. They had 3 reservations for that night & one table didn't show so we got lots of attention along with really fantastic food. My spouse had the chateaubriand and I had rack of lamb. Both entrees were very nice; they also had venison, duck and salmon. The food was fairly simple but nicely prepared; just what we were wanting. Neither of us cares for these places that invent extravagant entrees like 'veal chops with eggplant and pepper stuffing and roasted red pepper sauce on a bed of radicchio with a pomegranate-hazelnut glaze'. I just made that up but you know what I mean. The staff is probably trying to be original but I think they only succeed in obscuring the basic ingredients.

Anyway then on the Friday we went to a friend's surprise birthday party. The Mrs left after half an hour but I stayed a couple hours. These people are so nice that one always feels at home at their house. I imagine they have trouble with people staying on too long from time to time.

On the Sunday I went to another neighborhood party. Mrs skipped that one entirely. Nice folks; they are from England and he works for some telecommunications company that is basically unknown here. They are always on the run and have visitors staying with them about 40% of the time. Don't know how they do it!

By the following Tuesday the Mrs was feeling better and I felt a little off color. There for a moment I thought we might be tossing the cold back and forth but I managed to shake it & am thinking it's gone. Thank goodness!

We used to have a palm tree in our front yard but someone offered to buy it and we finally decided it was time to sell. These people give you a few hundred dollars for the tree then sell it to a hotel or the state for 3 or 4 times what you get. But our tree was starting to get tangled in our oak tree and of the two, we really like the oak. It was time for the palm to go. The crew came in & dug it out by hand then picked it up with a crane and off it went. The house looks a lot better without the palm so we are happy. Now I have to do landscaping in the front yard though! Boo, hiss!

This last week we just did all kinds of foolish stuff. Like, we were sitting watching tv and there was this big bang. Looking around we discovered that one of the shelves in the garage had fallen off the wall! It took me most of a day to pick up all the stuff that had been on the shelf, re-attach it then reorganize the contents.

Yesterday I did Carnitas - it's a pork dish that is a filling for tacos or burittos. You chop up about 4 lbs of pork shoulder and cook it for a couple of hours in broth with onion, garlic, tomatos, and seasonings. When it's done you just break it up with a spoon and dig in. I guess you can fry it afterwards to make it crisp but I've never gotten beyond sticking it in a tortilla. Yum!

Gotta go. Have a fun and safe 4th. We'll be out of town for a few days but should be back by the weekend.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Wow! Yesterday we finally closed on the duplex. Now this house is the only real estate we own. Six years ago we moved back to Florida thinking we would be working and being close to our mothers for a few years. The working part didn't work (urk) but the taking care of moms sure did. Now both have passed away and the duplex, the last big hangup, is gone.

We thought that we'd go out and have many drinks and maybe a fancy dinner. I have a nice bottle of champagne that I bought some time ago for the occasion. Nope! We did drive up the coast via the beachs and stop a couple of places but then we just stopped in a local Mexican place for dinner. It was all I could do to keep awake until 22:00. Rather than being in a party mood it was more of a numbness. We are like the wild animals who are caged for so long that they don't know how to respond when the door is left open. It will wear off, I know, but for right now we are moving slowly. The champagne will wait.

Today the lawn is calling. Alberto (the tropical storm one) left us with 4-6 inches of rain and our grass responded with an enthusiastic growth spurt. Mowing it & taking the resulting shower are my only plans. If my wife isn't up to cooking I might lose an ounce! Have a good one everyone.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Life in the fast lane

Wow! This being retired is tough. This morning I'm going to dump a mutual fund that hasn't been performing. Then this afternoon I'm taking the truck to get an oil change AND going to Sam's Club. How's that for a full schedule?

It's funny. When we were working we'd both have days where we went from meeting to meeting all day long. Now if we have one thing scheduled for the day it's unusual. Like yesterday, I did a bunch of shopping but none of it was absolutely required doing yesterday. If I'd put it off until today; well, we'd have had something else for dinner. Or my wife's printer would have had to limp along without color for another day. Real earth-shattering stuff, huh.

Dinner last night was baked ziti. It's a pain in the ass but we needed the comfort food thing. It's just layers of ziti, three cheeses and sauce but seems to take forever to make. Got home at 5 & it wasn't ready until 7. And I dirtied nearly every pot & pan in the place. Well, actually only 8 or 10 but it sure looked a heck of a mess. Thank goodness that we have the "cook doesn't have to clean up" rule!

Have a good one!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bah Humbug!

Our closing date on the duplex came and went without closing because somehow our realtor had convinced himself that it was the 31st - it's June 14 and always has been. Bah! My wife is busy writing them a letter telling them they are idiots. I don't give a damn. Got tired of being nervous & am ready to party. Unfortunately my wife is still stressed so it would be a one person party; not optimal! Champagne opening will be delayed until she joins me.

Today my kind of party will start with making bean soup using a ham bone that has been sitting around. As usual for us, the only thing I had to buy was the celery. Just can't make bean soup without it but seldom have it for any reason but soup. There is a decent chance that the kid will come up for a couple of hours. That usually leads to bbq'd chicken later in the day. It's easy; she likes it & it doesn't make much of a mess. Add a bag of salad, nuke a potato & you are good to go.

Enough high tech cookery. Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Got a call yesterday from a relative who has gotten the idea that wife and I know something about computers. Her new machine, that we set up a couple of weeks ago, has started smoking and shutting down! She called the help line and they are sending her a box to return the machine. We are going up to see about setting up the old computer again (which they were using as a standalone). It's mindless, I know, but it will keep us from thinking about closing on the duplex.

My wife has associated the duplex with her mother for so long that selling it has brought her mother's passing back to life (how's that for lousy writing!). Anyway, now we are just waiting for the closing day and this little adventure will get us another day closer. After the closing, we feel like our new lives will begin. We bought the duplex for her to live in before we were actually married. I took over my mother's affairs when she was diagnosed with dementia on our 12th anniversary. And this year is our 22nd anniversary. It's a long time to be responsible for two little old ladies. It hasn't stopped us from living but it has intruded from time to time and the weight has always been there. Now it's over and we'll just have to figure out how to be responsible for ourselves; or maybe irresponsible!

Have a good one!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Is life returning?

I've begun to exercise again. Hopefully that is a sign that I'm returning to a more normal type of life than we've been living since my mother-in-law died in January. We all know the benefits that regular exercise brings both physical and mental. I've always tried to exercise but in times of stress I lose it. Of course if I had a physically challenging occupation or say a 50 lb kid to cart around, I wouldn't need it! In my professional life, if I had a 5 lb printout to carry it would be a big day, a 8 oz printout and a cup of coffee would be more like it. Anyway, life MAY be returning to normal.

Of course things aren't completely trouble-free; but who would expect that? The tenant in the duplex appears to have left town. He isn't answering his phone and when I was down there late yesterday he wasn't around. Let's hope he returns or we'll have to figure out how to evict someone who isn't there. And God knows what to do with the junk he left behind. Maybe we'll just cross that bridge another day.

Florida is in the news because of the gator attacks; the one described as north of St Pete was within probably 2 miles of our house in a very nice subdivision. What people don't understand is that the gators are in EVERY natural body of water in the state. People think that because the yard is manicured right down to the lake that they are it must be safe. Well, NO! The guys on mowers aren't worried about gators because the mower is a nice defensive tool but some nitwit wading in a pond dreaming about cream puffs would make a nice little snack. Really most gators won't attack a person but if the person seems to be attacking them or is close to their nest; well, it's called self defense. I sure wish I could post pictures (I use a Mac and Blogger+Mac does not equal picture) because I have a picture we took at a local resturant. We were sitting on a deck about 4 feet above the water and there is this gator down below us. I don't know if the drunks have been feeding him or what but you wouldn't want to fall off that deck!

Well, gotta go. Have a good one everyone.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Breathing again!

Well, it looks like we've sold the duplex. A guy is buying it as an investment. He's owned duplexes before and wants another one. Cool! We've been on pins and needles during the negotiation process. And now, it's almost over! Boy, am I ever glad. We've been eating & drinking too much, snapping at each other (and the animals), have been afraid to leave town & more but now all that is behind us. Well, the extra 5 lbs that I've gained is in front of me but we can do something about that. ;-)

The other day I made something called Armadillo Eggs. It was kind of a pain in the ass but different. You take 7 jalapeno peppers & seed them. Grate 1/2 lb of monterey jack cheese. Stuff the peppers - they take about a teaspoon full each. Now mix 1/2 lb breakfast sausage (like Jimmy Dean) 3/4 cp Bisquick & the rest of the cheese. Take pieces of that mix & wrap the jalapeno in it. Now roll the thing in egg then in breadcrumbs. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. I've got to say, they were only ok. The jalapeno gave it a crunch and some taste but the bisquick kind of overwhelmed everything else. I was surprised that the cheese in the covering didn't melt but it just melded with the other stuff I guess. I was also surprised that the 'eggs' weren't oily with all that cheese & the sausage grease: guess the bisquick took care of that too. Anyway, if you want to fix something weird and filling - there you go!

Dinner tonight is a bbq'd pork loin with brocoli and a salad. Should be quick, easy & pretty healthy. Have a good one!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Two weeks later......

Wow! I am really in awe of those bloggers who have a daily update. I can find so many excuses for not blogging that it isn't even funny! But now that I'm here... I really don't have a lot to say. We do have an offer on the duplex and are hoping that the buyer won't get all weird at the last minute. We had an offer but part was a)that we close on 16 May and b)that we kick the tenants out by that date. We weren't liking part b of that offer because it was only 20-some days notice. Plus the offer wasn't all that great. Not awful but not great. This second offer is good but the buyer has until May 12 to inspect and decide whether or not he needs to re-negotiate the deal. We'll see what happens but we are sure on pins & needles until it clears!

In the mean time, the tenant had a party or something last weekend and broke one of the fence gates and a swing. Bah! This is in addition to letting the grass die so he doesn't have to mow it! And I'm in the middle between him and my wife: she nags me; I nag him; he gives me his excuses; you can imagine the fun. The tenant is also going to be late with the rent this month. I was a fool and let him have a customized payment deal and easy payment schedule: he pays us in cash on first Friday of the month; and it will bite me in the butt until we sell the place. First; I have to go down and collect the rent; second; we sometimes get paid on the first of the month and sometimes on the 13th. That isn't so bad but I don't like Friday & shouldn't have let that happen. Friday is when all the amateur drunks are driving home so I don't like to be out there if I don't have to be. Therefore I often eat downtown when I have to go down there but the resturants are full because it's Friday. And, finally, there are times like this weekend when it's Cinqo d'Mayo. Now that will really bring out the fools. So I'm just as glad he's being late this month.

Paying in cash means that we could avoid reporting the income and paying the resultant tax. I never do that though for two reasons: I don't believe in breaking the law and I'd probably get caught anyway! Every time I get stopped for speeding by a cop I get a ticket. I know people who have been stopped a dozen times and get maybe two tickets. I just wasn't born on that lucky day. On the other hand, I'm healthy, retired early & aren't likely to be eating dog food so I can't bitch. I'll pay the damn tickets AND taxes anyday.

BBQ'ing pork ribs tonight. Florida has given us 3 or 4 days of low 80's and low humidity just when we thought we'd have to be under a/c for the rest of the summer. It's great! So, bbq, salad & wine is awaiting. Gotta go! Have a good one.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


As those who have time to read this drivel know, there have been a lot of changes lately in my life. Now my dreams are all filled with change. I go into my office but the furniture is all gone, the walls are bare but I know I have a place somewhere; I just have to find it. Or in another one I'm in my old high school with all my high school friends and I have to go to class but don't know where it is. Or just last night I was helping a friend try to make a career decision; whether to be a specialist or a generalist. Funny how our dreams are sometimes totally off the wall and other times so perfectly reflective of the times of our lives. This is certainly the latter. I'm not being chased or fighting or falling, it's just all about change.

On another note, I'm hoping that Cinn (at Dead on the Gearshift) has a good result when she takes her Kidlet in to see the doctor. Kidlet has so many problems already, she sure doesn't need surgery on top of it all. Hopefully the test lied and Kidlet is just fine; like so many of us, a little crazy but fine. Our thoughts and hopes are with you both.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Family History

I was reading another blog and the person has just discovered that his grandfather was an actual spy in World War II (that's what we Yanks call it, I know it has other names in other places, sorry I don't know them all!). I think that's really cool! Anyway, this brought to mind something about my family that I think is either fine or sad depending on your outlook. I believe that between my family and my wife's we've been represented in every major military action that the US has been involved in since the Spanish-American war.

My grandfather was in the Spanish American war. Went to Cuba even but not with Mr. Roosevelt. I had an uncle who was in World War I but I don't know much about it because he came home and died in the flu epidemic! My dad was in WW II; he was 36 when drafted but was divorced so he was fair game! My wife's step-father was in Korea; landed at Inchon (sp?) even. I was in the Army during Vietnam though I was stationed in the US for my whole service career. My wife's brother joined the Navy right about the time I left the Army and stayed until 2000 which covers a whole bunch of non-war hostilities. So I think that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are the first two military actions that we haven't been involved with in over 100 years. Pretty weird, huh. I wonder how many other families there are like ours.

BTW, if you don't have anything else to do, would you mind praying or wishing or dreaming for peace? It really seems like a good thing, especially since we seem to have invaded a couple of reasonably innocent countries who just happen to have religious beliefs that aren't the same as ours.

Have a good one!

Monday, April 03, 2006


Just in case you wanted to know this.

On Wednesday of next week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00
in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

That won't ever happen again.
You may now return to your (normal ?) life.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

No god please; we're atheist

A quiet Sunday. What a lovely sound that phrase has! The only thing I admire about religion is that they almost all have a designated day when you are supposed to think about your god and your life and how you are following the creed. It's a good idea; maybe if I left the god stuff out I could do it.

Should be quiet around here. We have the paper and coffee thing going. Soon we'll watch the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix which we taped earlier. F1 is the only sport I regularly follow but I've followed it since I was a teen and Jim Clark was driving. It's an awful thing with weird, pointless rules and incredible politics but I still love it. At least SOME of the political shit has been cleaned up. And if I ever win the lottery, one of the things I'm going to do is to attend every race some year. Well, don't have to worry about that now!

I was awake half the night thinking of things to do at the duplex. It is supposed to be done but projects never are! And when I wasn't awake I was dreaming about the darned thing. Dreamt that I found a huge hole that needed repair; then sanding; then paint of course all of which would take days but I had to get it done quicker because someone wanted to see it.... All the usual crap when I'm under pressure for something. Jeez, this is a bad as work!

Found an old email with the usual 5 cent philosophy but I thought I'd share some of it anyway. Have a wonderful week!


To all my friends who are SINGLE:

Love is like a butterfly.
The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.
But if you just let it fly, it will come to you when
you least expect it.

Love can make you happy but often it hurts,
but love is only special when you give it to
someone who is really worth it.

So take your time and choose the best.


To My Friends Who Are HEARTBROKEN:

Heartbreaks last as long as you want
and cut as deep as you will allow them to go.

The challenge is not how to survive heartbreaks
But to learn from them.


To All My Friends:
My wish for you is a man/woman whose love is:
honest, strong, mature, never-changing,
protective, encouraging, rewarding and unselfish.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

No, I'm not dead....

We've been cleaning, painting and fixing up the duplex to sell and I've had no time for fun or even blogging! We'd leave home about 08:30 and return at 19:00 or even later. Not a fun week or whatever. You know those little containers of spackle; the kind you use once then have 99% of the stuff dry out before you need it again? I used an entire container filling the holes in the walls of this 1,000 sq. ft. duplex. An ENTIRE container; I've never used more than maybe a quarter of a container.

Neither of us is used to climbing up and down ladders all day so we were both hurting. We were taking ibuprofen like M&M's. The stove had to be replaced because when we looked in the oven there were little holes all over the floor. Can't figure out how that happened but obviously we couldn't leave it like that.

So yesterday we have a cleaning crew from Merry Maids come in and clean the place. They managed to break two blades off one of the ceiling fans! WTF is that? How do you break off ceiling fan blades? Anyway, I wasn't doing anything this afternoon so I'll go down & install a new fan. Bah! Humbug!

Have a good day, y'all.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Quiet & productive week

Just figured out that I haven't written anything since Monday. Bad Don!! Still, it's been a busy week. Monday was devoted to making our house look a little more cared for; Tuesday was a day off after we went and got the new Harry Potter (had to watch it, of course); Wednesday we worked in the duplex removing wallpaper that should have died a quiet death many years ago; Thursday was Home-Depot-Day: $350 for paint & other supplies. It really was kind of funny; we got 5 gallons of paint @ $108; 1 gallon ceiling paint @ $18 and the rest of the order was all cheap stuff, a buck here and two there. Took the checker quite some time to get rid of us!

Today we worked around the house some then hosted some relatives who live North of here but come down to MacDill for the BX, pharmacy services, etc. It was a really nice day; having lunch out by the pool made Florida make sense. Next hurricane I must remember today! LOL

Lunch was chicken quesadilla's. I used some little eight inch tortillas, some green onions, lots of jack and cheddar cheese and a can of chicken. I warm/cook the chicken because I don't like the look of it right out of the can - but, damn, it's quick and easy. I read just yesterday that things don't brown without oil so I started brushing my tortillas with olive oil. Works so well that I burned a couple! Still they seemed to go over ok. Mostly because of my wifes homemade salsa! My wife is so glad that she doesn't have to cook that she'll eat anything before criticizing my cooking. It's a nice thought but doesn't help me improve.

Weekend should see more work on the duplex and a visit from #1 daughter (also only daughter!). BTW a note to Cinn and others visiting Florida: hope you have a great visit. We locals grouch a lot about visitors but this would be a much poorer state without you. You make possible for many of the restaurants, attractions and civic improvement projects. Without you Florida would just be a big sandbar covered by farms and ranches. Kind of like Oklahoma without the oil & with more bugs. Have a good one!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Happy Day

I got a happy surprise over the dinner last night: the dijon marinated pork was really nice. We just added a salad and there we were. Watched the Oscars until we were falling asleep so recorded the rest for viewing this a.m.

This is home maintenance day. I'm off to mow that lawn, sweep that pool and all that good stuff.

Have a good day!

Well, it was happy until I heard about the SD decisions on abortion. My wife is pretty sure she couldn't have an abortion; I'm not sure where my mind is but we are both certain that it is no business of any government to tell us whether or not someone can have or must have an abortion. For that is the other side of the stick.

I'm trying to love my fellow man, honestly I am!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Quiet Sunday

The Great Garage Sale was yesterday. We were just a little excited about it: woke at 03:00 or so. Showered 05:00. Got down to St Pete in time to have donuts before opening the sale at 08:00. Yeah, I know we were weird; also wired! Anyway, it turned out ok. I took the actual garage with the big furniture and wifey took the sunroom with the smaller stuff. We sold about 75% of the little stuff and 50% of the big things. Now we have to find a charity who takes furniture! The really wonderful thing is that it didn't bother my wife at all. She was really zonked by the end of the day but she had a great excuse! She wasn't upset at seeing her mom's stuff sold and actually was exhilarated at selling some things.

Took today off. I made a ham & cheese omelet this morning & we had a few drinks. Wifey went for a nap & I spent the afternoon reading out by the pool. I should have worked in the yard because not to put too fine a point on it, the yard looks like shit. But I needed my recovery time too. Next week we start getting the duplex ready for sale. Should be fun!

Dinner tonight is grilled mustard marinated pork loin slices with whatever we find for sides. Cinn over at http://deadonthegearshift.blogspot.com/ talked about this recipe but, being a professional chef, doesn't need the kind of detail that we beginners need; and doesn't usually supply it. We'll just see if mine is even half ok; I'm pretty sure to have the marinade fouled up. The pork loin was sitting the the freezer calling to me though so at least it will be outta there.

Have a good week!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Getting Better All The Time

It seems that my wife is recovering from the loss of her mother. Part of it might be time but all our talks and the talk she had with the woman from Hospice seem to have helped her. Of course she occasionally thinks about her mom and is sad, even teary, but then she gets over it. MUCH more like normal. Thanks to everyone for their advice & concern.

Took a drive today on the Dunedin Causeway. It is a thin spit of land that sticks out into the Gulf. There is a road with beaches on both sides and a walk-bike path; the whole thing is perhaps 100 feet across and a couple miles long. The beaches are pretty lousy, lots of rocks, but its popular because it's quite a drive to the better beaches AND because you can take toys like Ski-doos, beach catamarans, kayaks, etc. I like to drive out there and walk on the path but didn't want to take the time to walk today. It was cool, maybe low 70s, but there was just a ton of people out there. The cars were mostly from Ontario, Ohio, New York; snowbirds. They all want to have a tan when they leave so they are out in the sun when us locals are hiding inside. I just needed to see the water. I get weird if I don't get to see water ocassionally.

Hope everyone has a good day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Body Language

There have been tons of books written on body language but I just need to add my 2 cents worth. This is three comments on body language from the over 50 perspective.

My wife tells me that young guys don't look at her any more. (She's mid-fifties & looks good, she's well preserved but, yes, well over forty-five.) I tell her that all us older guys certainly do look at her. And, of course, I get this look that says, better than words, "Don, I love you but you are a total idiot. I don't give a shit about you old guys." Hmmmm. Is this one of those lose-lose discussions?

I went out to lunch with a male friend who happens to be about 2 weeks older than I. He's a good looking guy but I never really thought he was vain until he remarks "Did you notice? The girls don't look at us any more." Shit! That is definitely a lose-lose question.

I was in the grocery store today. I've been doing the shopping for us since we got together 25 years ago so I'm familiar with the environment. As I was leaving there was a woman, a fiftyish woman, entering. She was wearing a shirt with a reasonably scooped neck; and she bent over the cart displaying her lovely cleavage! Now, damn! Twenty years ago many women managed this little display for me but it's been a very long time since I've been so honored. Don't know who the woman was or why she did it but I certainly thank her for making my day.

A compliment is a compliment whether in words or gestures. Hope you all got a compliment today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yard Sale

I'd like to thank all the people who have left messages of condolence and comfort regarding the difficulty my wife is having with the death of her mother. I'm keeping your ideas in mind while talking with her. One thing that I think you might be missing is that my wife is in her 50's and her mother was 88. We aren't talking about someone who died prematurely.

Since my mother-in-law passed away we've been putting off the difficult job of cleaning out her apartment. This week we started in on the job. We bought a duplex for her over 20 years ago and though she wasn't really a packrat there is just a ton of stuff to go through. We had brought most of the personal stuff to our house and now are planning a yard sale for the 4th of March to dispose of the furniture, appliances & knick-knacks. It is emotionally tough because every now and then my wife is overcome by the memories associated with something. Still, as the apartment is cleaned out it becomes more anonymous; therefore easier to handle.

In the rest of life, things go on. Went to a birthday party for two of my wife's uncles: one just turned 67 and the other is almost to 70. Parties like that make even a guy my age feel young. Well, younger! It makes me want to go out and have fun though because I sure don't know what the future holds. Took various dishes for the potluck dinner but my special contribution was beef jerky. I get the leanest cut of meat I can find, usually round steak. Slice it very thin; like 1/8th an inch. Marinate overnight in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, liquid smoke & red pepper flakes. Then dry it in a dehydrator. I like to grind some black pepper over the meat when I start the dehydrator for a little extra heat. It is a pain in the ass but not at all difficult and I couldn't keep up with the demand if I tried!

Have a good one everyone!

Update: Wife is over at the Hospice office talking to the 'social worker' about her mom. I hope this woman can help her and, if not, suggest other assistance that we might pursue.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Screwy Florida Days

Yesterday was a screwy day. Made breakfast then got smashed drinking and talking mostly about the late mother-in-law. Took a nap then got up and made lentil soup. But rather than eating it, we went out & had Italian. Came home, walked the dog, & stayed up until 02:00 reading. It was definitely a full moon day and night! And to top it all off, it was 39 degrees when I got up this a.m. - brrrr.

My wife is having a LOT of trouble getting over the death of her mother. And I seem to be unable to help her with it. She seems to be unable to escape either talking about her or at least thinking of her. It has been almost a month and it's driving me crazy. SOON we will finish cleaning out her place then we can paint it and get it on the market. Then, maybe, we can go on with life. Hope! Hope! Hope!

Have a good day. It being St. Valentine's Day; someone should kiss a frog. Maybe you'll get a prince/princess. Good luck!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Quiet Times

Just got finished reading Cinn's post about the Friday from Hell and it reminded me again how glad I am that the kids are out of the house! Cinn has a special handful but all children have those days when they just really want to torture their parents. Even when they are grown up. Best of luck Cinn!

Made Baked Ziti last night. Cook ziti. Spice up a jar of pasta sauce with hamburger, sausage, etc. Layer the ziti, mozzarella, ricotta, and sauce until you fill your largest casserole and bake for 40 minutes. Yum! Only problems are that it takes forever to put together and you have enough to feed a small army. Fortunately it freezes well.

We are off on a trip today to visit relatives who live about 70 miles north of here. We keep our trailer on their property and like to visit them and it occasionally. We usually take them out to dinner to repay their kindness in letting us keep the trailer there. We also perform computer maintenance for them which is the object of this visit. Something has happened to their Outlook Express. Most likely it needs to be deleted and reloaded. Like most Microsoft code; it sucks.

Once in a long while I wonder what would have happened in my life had I joined MS. I got a Comp Sci degree in 1978 from Western Washington in Bellingham, just 90 miles north of Bellevue. Going down there and signing on would certainly have changed my direction. I didn't even try though so we'll never know. Reading 'Five People You Meet In Heaven' was an interesting take on that idea of how our lives are interrelated. And since I met my wife while working in Seattle, we wouldn't have met if I'd been elsewhere, and that would be a sad thing.

Gotta go; have a good day and a good week.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Thanks to Cinn the meme is:

the IMperfect partner meme. Or "Let's Get Real!" List 5 imperfections that you find annoying but could or have learned to live with. These are NOT deal breakers but they are irritating and annoying. But if your 8 perfect characteristics were met, you could learn to put up with these. Pass this on to 5 people. Preferably those with impossibly high standards.

Well, I'm not going to pass this on; just don't know that many people! However, I can be as picky as anyone. Here goes:

1. Some people HAVE to get in the last word. Even at the cost of yelling something at you from the next room as you or they leave. Bah!

2. Some people seem incapable of putting things away.

3. If I wanted your opinion, I'd ask. Can you possibly shut up? I'm not talking about discussions, I'm talking about offering an opinion on things that are none of your business when you aren't even involved in the conversation.

4. White people who use Black expressions (should be widened to include all who use expressions that belong to other groups): women calling one another 'Sister'; guys calling one another 'homey'; etc.

5. The inability to exist in a quiet environment. Some people have to have the tv on; radio on; have someone to talk to; etc. all of the time. I like some tv; I play the radio & CDs; I like conversation but sometimes it is nice to sit quietly and read or think or just be.

BTW, since I am married, my wife certainly has some of the above traits (not all, thank goodness). I wouldn't be annoyed about them if she didn't. I mean, would I care if Cinn played the tv all day?


Not a quiet day in the neighborhood. It was 78 and sunny yesterday. A heavy shower, formed by a cold front coming in, got stalled above the area. There are estimates that some parts of St Pete got 12 inches of rain today and it isn't over! In our neighborhood it is probably more like 5 or 6 but still it's a heck of a lot of rain.

Made what I call Fried Rice for lunch. Not the real thing for sure but we like it and it got rid of the chicken breast that was bothering me!

Diced chicken breast marinated in soy sauce & vermouth, rice, sliced mushroom, green onion & 6 or 8 cloves of garlic. Haven't made it in a long time & got the proportions AFU but it was still ok. Next time; more mushroom & green onion.

Have a good one!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Meme - and more

I'm taking on Cinn's challenge. I kind of like the idea of a marriage contract that runs for a limited period of time. Just because you've been together for a while, you shouldn't assume it will last forever.

The rules of this particular Meme are that you have to list 8 traits about your perfect partner, and have to tell if they are male or female.

a - preferred partner is female

1. loves self - you can't love others if .....
2. loves me - duh
3. independent - I can do almost anything in the house or out - expect the same from my partner
4. attractive and sexual- duh - better think I'm ok in these departments too!
5. trusting - I will believe in you until you prove me wrong; I expect the same. However, once trust is broken, good bye!
6. reliable - NO, 30 minutes late is not acceptable - NO, spending $5K on furniture (without discussion) ...
7. no games - together we can do anything; games will keep us from being effective.
8. optimistic - Thanks, Cinn. My MIL, who just passed away, was "an unhappy person". It was catching; her daughter caught it. Very, very sad! However when we are away from the family stuff, she becomes more optimistic. Love it! So we have to go away ;) ....

BTW, my wife is a 95%er here. She had 100% going up to number 8 and if we are off traveling she gets a 100. Lucky me!

Prepared meat for jerky today. I buy the cheapest round or London broil or whatever that I can find; so long as there is almost no fat. Originally jerky was made from wild meat, like venison. It is naturally very lean. The fat will spoil and taint the jerky. I'm trying to find a beef cut that is almost that lean. I cut it thin (1/16th inch or less) and marinate overnight. The marinade came off the net then got modified to suit my 'customers'. Now it is: 1/4 cp soy sauce, 1/2 cp worchestershire, 2 T red pepper flakes, 1 t onion powder, 1/2 t garlic powder, 1 t liquid smoke. Marinate overnight in a freezer bag with all the air pressed out. If I can I like to massage the mass a couple of times to redistribute the marinade/meat mixture. Tomorrow I'll put it on the dehydrator for 5 to 7 hours. (Dehydrator being a cheap $40 version with really NASTY broken plastic trays!)

Dinner tonight was steak, potato, corn. BBQ steak with special soy-worchestershire-garlic marinade; nuke a baker (dull and not very good but quick); warm canned corn spiked with pepper & a little butter. Pretty dull stuff but easy.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sunny Florida

This is generally the dry, comfortable season in Florida. Highs are in the 70's; lows in the 50's. We get rain once every couple of weeks. At least that is the hope! So far this year has been quite nice and that equates to using the bbq! If our bbq isn't used 50 weeks a year I'd be surprised. The other day was salmon.

We get farm raised Atlantic salmon here; mostly filets rather than steaks. A normal size filet runs about 3 lbs. It seems to have more oil than the Pacific salmons but we managed to choke it down. We marinate it in a little lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle on some lemon pepper, salt, regular pepper, perhaps some herbs and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes.

When I cook it I do something that will definitely piss off real cooks: I put the salmon skin side down on a piece of foil on the bbq. It slows the cooking but the skin sticks to the foil. To release it I slide a knife under the fish and leave both foil and skin to be disposed of later. The salmon is lovely eaten immediately or later. Which is what brought this post to mind: dinner tonight was salmon salad. Yum!

Hope you all had something as fine.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A New Era

A new era in our lives began today at about 14:45 EST. My mother in law, one of the reasons we moved here, died. She died while we were visiting her along with her last surviving sister and one of the sister's children. The people at the home were just great; the LPN had only been there as an LPN for 4 months as was nearly as affected as we. Anyway, now we have no reason not to move on. Whether we sell this house or stay; whether we travel the US or not; whether we move to Europe or not: now we have only children and cousins to consider and, while they are important, we don't feel the need to stay here for them.

I read of a healing mantra that one could say on New Year's Eve in which one forgave all of one's enemies. I am happy to say that I couldn't think of a single person that I was so angry with that I felt the need to exercise the mantra. I am not sure why this is so; perhaps it is a result of a retirement in which I feel no need to associate with persons who make me angry. More likely it is a result of a temporary lull in relations with people. Whatever, I am thankful for it and wish that everyone may find themselves in this happy state on the next New Year's Eve. If not, I hope you may try the mantra, or something similiar, and forgive and forget the wrongs you have been done. In any event, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Wow! A month later.....

It seems that I've let time get away without writing. Well, the holidays are fun for everyone, aren't they!

The good news is that we survived them all pretty much without injury.

Let's see: Xmas eve was the traditional (for us) enchilladas for my wife's aunt & uncle, our daughter and her friend. At the last minute the daughter decided to go home rather than stay the night, it's only about 25 miles to her place so it was no big deal. I think she had forgotten how dull a bunch of full, sleepy, middle-aged people can be. Unfortunately, as it turns out, her friend didn't want to go do anything exciting either so she was stuck with her cat. Now that's life in the fast lane!

Xmas was fine. The kid was back at 08:30 so she wouldn't miss any presents. We opened stuff to and from the people who were here (aunt, uncle, daughter, wife & me). Then she and I went & got my MIL from the nursing home. They got in an argument during the 15 minute ride home but that isn't news. The daughter doesn't like seeing her Grandmother old and infirm. It makes her act badly; as though she were a kid rather than a 35 year old woman. Anyway, we finally got here, opened presents to and from the MIL. She buys these stupid, tv-ad type presents & everyone has to say 'oh, gee, just what I always wanted'. And, of course, she hates everything that anyone buys for her: too heavy; too light; too big; useless. She is quite the piece of work! Dinner was prime rib, potatoes, vegie, salad. The meat was good; should be at that price but you always worry. I even ate all mine and I'm not much of a fan. Then we took the MIL back to the home & everyone else left. The wife let the tension out by getting completely drunk between the time I left and the time I got back; 40 minutes at most. It was pretty impressive actually. It's one thing to drink for hours and hours but to go from 2 glasses of wine with dinner to drunk in 40 minutes; it takes talent! But what the hell, it's Xmas.

New Year's Eve is a time that my wife and I reserve for just us. We talked a lot about what the future may bring. We'll be selling the duplex we bought as a residence for the MIL. We may leave Florida but since we don't have any place that we really prefer we may not. Decisive, huh? Filet & salad and cab for dinner.

New Year's Day we did ham, mac & cheese, vegie, etc for ourselves and the MIL. Daughter was invited but thought she would rather have a quiet day alone. We didn't push it because we didn't really want to have just the two of them as guests. It worked out well. Extra attention for the MIL always works for her! We always make Hoppin John for New Years. Having it on New Year's Day is supposed to bring you luck for the entire year. It is a Southern tradition that we strangers have adopted. It is rice & blackeyed peas cooked with ham hock, ham, red pepper flakes, etc. Very nice comfort food whether it brings luck or not.

So that's our holiday report. No big changes but some gradual movements.

1. The daughter is going to try to get away from her 'friend' since they don't really get along that well. Theirs has been a friendship of convenience since they lived next door to one another for almost five years. Now she has moved and, hopefully, can find other people to have fun with.

2. The MIL seems to be settling into the nursing home though she steadfastly refuses to have anything to do with the social side of the place and simply stays in her bed all day. She is probably declining but it is imperceptable to me.

3. We are going to clean up and sell the duplex. No hurry but it will be great to be free of it. Not to mention the cash will be a welcome addition to the old bank account!

I'll try to do this again before the month is out! Not a resolution but... a hope.