Hot from the oven! I have to say that this was a successful experiment. I wanted to slow-roast primarily to keep my oven from spattering (sad, but true), but also because it's supposed to produce succulent results. I think both ideas worked, although after a couple of hours at 300 degrees, with a few spatters appearing on the pan, I turned the oven up to 350, covered the pan with a big sheet of aluminum foil, and let it cook another hour or more until I was reasonably satisfied I had the instant-read thermometer in the right place and it was sufficiently cooked. This was a big chicken: 7.33 lbs, so it took awhile. Sorry I didn't keep better track of time or I could tell you exactly how long, but about 3 hours total, I think. The breast meat is as tender and succulent as anybody could want. Haven't tried the other parts yet, but much of that will be used for chicken soup, so if the joints are still pink, it won't matter. The skin was a bit tough, rather than crisp, but I guess that's the price I pay for keeping my oven clean.
The Recipe: Well, it isn't much of a recipe, more of an experiment and a process.
First, I put some raw onion wedges, a few lemon slices, some garlic cloves and a couple of spears of fresh rosemary from my garden into the pan. The chicken went on top of all that. Then, I melted some butter with more garlic, chopped rosemary and salt and pepper. Once that was cooled and congealed enough that it was nice and thick and spoonable, I very carefully eased the skin away from the breast meat and spooned the butter mixture underneath, spreading it gently using the skin itself. You don't want to tear the skin, as it helps keep the meat moist. More rosemary, garlic and a lemon wedge or two went into the cavity in lieu of stuffing, then I sat back and watched and waited and wished it wasn't taking so long.
Dinner! Gravy made from pan drippings over cornbread dressing, with a side of sweet potato souffle. When I cook for just myself, I don't bother with other sides. I go for what I love and want and stuff myself to the gills. It's only once a year, after all.
One thing I love about my Netflix subscription is that all kinds of movies that I've never heard of come across their pages and somehow, attract my attention. I have a queue of something like 38 movies on my 'instant watch' list, and every time it gets low, I manage to find a bunch more to add to it.
Tonight, I watched a movie that's been on the list for awhile: American Flyers. Now, nobody is going to win any acting awards from this 1985 Kevin Costner blockbuster (not), but if you like cycling, bicycle racing, and/or the Colorado Rockies, you'll like this movie.
Set around a fictional bicycle race (thinly disguised from the Coors Classic, complete with Coors Classic signs at various finish lines), there are some fabulous cycling scenes with people who are clearly real cyclists (you can't fake those quad muscles), amid the Colorado Rockies and a plot that's not all bad. This was one of Costner's first movies where he actually had billing -- he was really young. But, the bikes are the stars of this show.
Kind of reminds me of my own summer spent bicycling around the Colorado Rockies, except that I wasn't racing (although I did watch a segment of the Coors Classic in Estes Park one day). On the other hand, I had a heavy touring bike and a good 50 pounds of equipment on 4 panniers and the rear rack.
My bike atop Trail Ridge Road, in Rocky Mountain National Park outside Estes Park. This was the true beginning of my summer cycling adventure. I'd wimped out on the road up to this point, hopped a ride on a shuttle, then started down the other side. In the meantime, and always, the scenery was spectacular!
But, I digress. The movie was good. Actually kept my attention, which takes a lot when I'm sitting here watching the computer with two cats doing crazy cat things around me. If you like cycling, and if you can find it, give it a try.
Granted, it's still not exactly toasty here, but the temp range is far more to my liking and expectations for the three places involved than what I posted a couple of days ago.
Can you believe that yesterday morning it was in the mid-teens and we had ice storms late in the day, and now it's sitting at 61?!? The weather gods have indeed run amok. PV is still sounding pretty good, but I'm afraid I'll be staying right where I am, itchy feet or not.
..... of all the cooking oils, only real butter and coconut oil can handle the heat of cooking without turning into the dreaded trans-fat? Even olive oil, which is still great for you as long as it's not heated. Keep it for salads or dunking bread, but don't cook with it.
.... cod liver oil, which is a fantastic health supplement, turns rancid during the process of heating in order to put it into those convenient gelcaps? Take your cod liver oil, but take it from a tablespoon, right out of a bottle. Toss the gelcaps.
.... fresh eggs are good for you? There's a component in egg yolks that is one of the best cholesterol-fighting substances available. Science has long discarded the 'egg yolks are bad for cholesterol' line, but marketers are still using it to sell you artificial eggs or egg whites and sadly, many doctors haven't gotten the message, either.
.... you can boost your immunity to colds and flu and other such things by eating more of certain foods? Garlic; mushrooms (any mushrooms, but shiitake, maitake and reishi have the biggest punch); yogurt that contains lactobacillus reuteri, which stimulates white blood cells. Most brands don't contain this particular bacillus, so check the label. Stoneyfield Farms has it and so does Nancy's, if you can find it. Oats and barley, fish, black or green tea, beef, sweet potatoes all help keep you healthy. And don't forget grandma's remedy of old fashioned chicken soup, which blocks migration of inflammatory white blood cells. Garlic and onion added to the soup add flavor as well as even more immune-boosting power.
.... using anti-bacterial soaps and gels can actually lower your immunity to colds and flue and other nasty bugs because those products kill off the good bugs as well as the bad bugs? Your body's good bugs will fight off the bad bugs if your immune system is in good shape to begin with.
.... Grandma was right about something else, too. You are what you eat! If you eat healthy foods, your body will be healthy. If you eat junk food and processed foods, your body will be, well, junk. Your body makes new cells every day. It will make new cells tomorrow from the food you feed it today. Think about that before you decide whether to take the shortcut at a drive-thru or take a little time and eat something healthy -- perhaps from the immune-fighting list above. (She says, as she opens a can of very processed soup for lunch -- yuk! But, I had farm-fresh organic eggs scrambled in coconut oil for breakfast, will have beef with onions, garlic and mushrooms for dinner. Nobody's perfect all the time!)
Just want y'all to stay good and healthy this winter, amigos.
Have you ever noticed how often what you perceive is totally different from reality. By reality, I mean truth, not reality slanted by bias or yes, our own perceptions. Going around in circles here, I know. And, I'm not trying to be either philosophical or political, merely noticing my own perceptions of temperature today vs. what is really happening and forecast to be happening.
Because of all the ice/snow/sleet warnings, and because birdbaths and driveway puddles have been frozen solid for a week or so, and because the lake not far from here was icing over when I drove by a short while ago, I've been running around here turning all the heat on and up to take the chill off before night falls. That's my perception. Reality is that while yes, my windshield was icing up in the bottom corners as I drove home, from light sleet falling, the outside temp was and is hovering around 33, whereas it was around 16 when I left home this morning. Reality is that the ice/sleet is due to pass by quickly, temps are due to stay slightly above freezing tonight and tomorrow should be relatively balmy, in the 50s.
So -- perception vs. reality: the cold wave we've been living with for a couple of weeks now is on its way out the door but I'm suddenly trying to batten down all the heat hatches as if it were going to be below zero here tonight. Silly me. My perceived reality is that it's damned cold and has been all day!
But, I did hear on the local radio as I was driving home that this has been the coldest December on record in this area for the last 100 years, which predates even my childhood memories of what December ought to be like. And to think I heard not too long ago that we were forecast to have a warmer-than-usual winter. So much for the weather guessers.
Real time temps, just a few minutes ago. Did I not move south from Eugene so I'd be warmer? Right now, I'm seriously wondering why I wimped out of moving to Mexico near PV when I retired so I'd really be warm. Granted I wouldn't have had a lot to do down there to fill my time, but right now, 77 sounds one hell of a lot better than 26. I could stand the boredom, I think. Always a beautiful, warm beach to walk on.
It's kind of too late now, but I gotta ask.....how did I screw this up so bad?
This drafty room has had me looking seriously at ways of keeping the drafts down during these cold evenings. One of my favorite bloggers, Layla at The Lettered Cottage, has used plain old painter's drop cloths from HD as curtains in her house and they look great. It's an idea I've wanted to copy, but right now I can't afford to do it right (with nice black extra-wide rods so the curtains don't cover the window). I just wanted to see if it works, so I took a used one and clipped it roughly to a rod that came with the house so it will close over the window at night. Not sure how much good it's going to do for drafts, but we'll find out later when it's cold again. Certainly provided The Brat with one more thing to be curious about.
Closed, to hopefully keep the cold drafts out.
I also found that some serious cold air is coming from around my front door, at the bottom corner. I bought some of that cheap self-sticking foam tape yesterday, but it was too thick so the front door wouldn't close enough to lock. I did use some in places and while it isn't pretty, it's helping. Then today, once the outside temps warmed to their highest (around 45), I opened the door and did some serious caulking on all sides where there were spaces. The door is still open to let it dry, and it almost feels balmy. Almost. Some foam inserts that go behind electrical outlets and switches completed my day's work of more winterizing. Let's hope it works. I really hate the draftiness of this room, and the cold spots.
I really should have moved a lot further south! Mexico is sounding really good again (but no, I'm not moving again).
We have a sort of detente in the feline wars after an uncertain day on the battlefield with a few minor skirmishes. I believe there may be acceptance in the offing for the kitten, who is, after all, only defending her home territory against an invader three times her size. Some sort of peaceful coexistence has been reached between the two combatants, at least to the extent that they can be in the same room in full sight of one another while peace prevails. At least for a little while.
FULL SNARL IN PROGRESS!!
As I was about to finish this post, I heard some hissing and growling and turned around to find this. The photo, once I downloaded it, made me laugh so hard tears rolled down my face and the kitten came over to see what all the noise was about. Note the shaved belly from her surgery.
Sam came with that really neat bit of cat furniture, but this is the first time she's made herself at home on it. Both have climbed around on it over the past few days, but not in comfort or quiet. It's a good sign for both. I've had a day of playing psychologist to a couple of cats. The Brat is threatened by and frightened of this huge enemy thrust into her home; Sam is equally scared because she's in a new place with a hissy kitten on her tail all the time. I've had to try to make nice with each of them, make them both feel comfortable and welcome. Looks like it's worked, for now. Sort of.
I just watched a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed -- Great Balls of Fire, from 1989, the story of Jerry Lee Lewis. As you might expect, it was a wild, crazy and very entertaining ride, much like the man himself, who did all the singing and piano playing for the film. Dennis Quaid was wonderful as the irrepressible Jerry Lee, Winona Ryder wonderful as his teenage bride. The most eye-opening part of the film for me was the fact that Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart are cousins who grew up together in Louisiana. Now, I've heard my share of oxymorons and dichotomies and such, but this one takes the cake. Maybe it's common knowledge, but I managed to miss it all these years. Hilarious! Swaggart was played by a very young, very delicious and gorgeous Alec Baldwin. I managed to miss his movies from this era, am more familiar with the older, fatter version. Now, I know what the fuss was all about! All in all, great entertainment and great nostalgia, because I grew up in this era and I can't help liking the man's music.
The poor man's version of Julia's Boeuf was unbelievably good. I have no finer words to say about that, other than that I have enough left for 4 more luscious meals. The storms passed quickly and with no damage, the tornado warnings were called off, and other than some cold days and nights in the offing, all is well.
There's a new feline in the house and, as you might imagine, The Brat is not too amused. In fact, she literally has a hissy fit anytime she gets near the other cat or smells her on my hands.
A few weeks ago an ex-coworker who'd quit to be "Mr. Mom" to his new daughter while his wife returned to work called and asked if I'd like to have their cat, since both his wife and the new baby are allergic. My response at the time was something along the line of "no way in hell do I need another cat!". In the meantime, I've been thinking about it and wondering if having another cat in the house might be good company for The Brat, and since she's so fascinated by the ones that come around when she's hanging on the front porch in the evenings, I finally called Daniel and asked if they still had the cat. Long story short, they brought the cat over last night. The new cat, Sam, is a huge and beautiful long-hair who has done nothing but hide under furniture since her arrival. Daniel said they didn't see her for two weeks when they first brought her home.
By morning she was behind the chair in the corner, rather than under it, so I reached down and petted her and talked to her. Eventually, after I locked The Brat in the bedroom, she let me pick her up and hold her for awhile, shaking with fear. And even with all her fear, not once did a claw or tooth threaten, unlike The Brat whose claws and teeth seem to come first in almost any instance. I held her for awhile, walked around the house with her so she could see where she is, but as soon as I let loose she headed under the sofa. Eventually I coaxed her out once, and she cuddled and walked around a bit, but headed back and for now, I'm going to leave her there in peace. I'll get her out, bit by bit, at her own pace.
So -- we'll see what kind of standoff continues. I took The Brat into the bedroom with me last night because she had just calmed down and curled up for a nap, and I'll do the same tonight, to give Sam a chance to come out and prowl around if she wants to, in peace. Sam, by the way, is about 3 times the size of The Brat and well able to take care of herself if the young whippersnapper gets too annoying. Part of my thoughts included the idea that if The Brat continues to be such a little claw-and-tooth-first evil critter, I'll find a home for her and keep Sam, who is by all reviews a sweet cuddler.
We had a really cold night -- down to 26 or so, depending on which weatherguesser site I look at. Lots and lots of heavy frost that's finally starting to burn off. Later, once it all burns off and unfreezes, I think I'll go out and turn one of the compost piles, because I need some exercise and walking is boring.
I promise you, I am not making this up. The word -- Beeturia -- sounds like a joke, like some futuristic word, perhaps. Actually, it's a medical term for people whose urine turns red after eating beets, and it's something that afflicts a small percentage of the population -- about 14 percent. Including me, apparently. I ate a few beets from the garden over the weekend, and whammo -- red pee! Since I've studiously disliked and avoided beets until this point in my life, it's not something I've had occasion to notice before.
In and of itself it's apparently harmless, but is a good 'test' for insufficient iron in the body and can also be a sign of pernicious anemia, which my recent blood tests also revealed as a possibility (from my own research, as the doctor -- like most doctors before him -- shrugged it off). For years I've been seeing abnormalities in my blood work, which all the docs suggested was 'mild' anemia. Not one of them, including my naturopathic doc, ever wanted to make any efforts to solve the issue even though I've been fighting fatigue and lack of energy for many a long year. I will give the naturopath credit in that he reacted swiftly to some real abnormality in my blood work last December and referred me to a hematologist. My next test was normal (because I ate lots of good foods to boost it) but the last one was back to that low point and the current doc just said it was 'normal for me'. Sure it is. But, let's not allow this to become another diatribe against the medical community. I can and will get more iron in my diet and continue to check the progress with more beets. Once my body has enough iron, I should be able to eat beets with no red aftereffects. It's a good test, and I have more of them out in the garden so I can gauge my progress.
It's unfortunate that we live in a world where good healthcare and blood work are accessible mostly and sometimes only to people with money. Medicare doesn't consider blood work a necessity unless a diagnosis is involved, so I can't have it done nearly as often as I'd like or as I seem to need and because I have a $50 co-pay every time I have blood drawn. My local doc is practiced and good at finding diagnosis codes to use on his lab orders so I haven't had to pay beyond that, but $50 is a lot of money to me, people. Pointless anyway, unless I have access to a doctor who seeks root causes for bodily malfunctions, rather than treating the symptoms with drugs, or who just shrugs blood abnormalities away as 'mild' or 'normal'. If it was so mild, why do I feel so tired and exhausted? Preventive medicine doesn't seem to be in Medicare's lexicon, but they're happy to pay for serious diseases and surgeries that come about for lack of preventive care or from poor lifestyle choices. But, I did say I wasn't going to let this become a diatribe against the medical community, did I not?
I've done a world of research on this during the past few days. Learned about heme (animal) sources of iron and non-heme (vegetable) sources. Heme sources are most easily absorbed by the body, and surprising to me was that iron-rich dark leafy greens, such as spinach, chard, and beet greens, actually inhibit iron absorption, which is an interesting contradiction. One source says that this is the case primarily if these foods are eaten raw, and I generally cook them so I am perhaps OK to continue eating them. I'll make an effort to not consume them at the same meal as iron-rich animal sources however, to be sure.
I've also researched iron supplements, to learn which of the various types is most absorbable by the body. I have some on order from my usual source, but picked up a generic brand at WalMart last night so I could start taking it sooner. That was when I thought my order was going to arrive next Tuesday, but since it left the UPS facility near Atlanta yesterday afternoon, I don't know how they can do anything but deliver it tomorrow even though they still give Tuesday as a delivery date.
Really now, could anything be cuter? Meet Dino, the pal I bought around 1987 in Atlanta, after someone tried to break into my apartment. Royal pedigree from German stock, sweetest little bundle of fur you could ever want. Smart as a whip. I loved this little guy dearly but had to let him go when he was six months old and my mother came to stay with me for awhile and since getting rid of my mother was impossible, I had to send him on to another good home with a local news anchor, whose house had just been broken into. I want another Dino -- but can't really afford this quality and don't want to buy an unknown quality, at any price.
Yesterday at work the subject of Orcas Island and the house I lived in there came up in conversation and a co-worker wanted to see photos. Some of the remaining photos are prints, others slides that have been digitized, so it was easiest to digitize the prints and put it all here for him to see. This was the place -- a garage apartment just above Eastsound, overlooking the sound and other side of the island, to the west. From that little window up there and from the deck, I could see the lights and snow-topped mountains of Vancouver, BC.
I took this photo right after I moved in -- from the corner of my sofa that I'd positioned just so I could see this view while I sat and read or watched TV or anything else. The view from the deck was, of course, much grander, but this was pretty damned nice.
Sunsets were spectacular -- almost a nightly occurrence but always different in colors that ranged from blazing hot to lavender cool. My camera lens just wasn't wide enough to take it all in and I always tried to shoot above my landlord's house, which sat below mine.
Spectacular skies, always! Add that to the ever-changing colors of the water and island amid the mists and fogs and weather and well -- suffice it to say that this was a wonderful place to hang out for a couple of years.
Found this while I was rooting in the photo album, thought I might as well add it to the other 'younger Kitty' photos I've put on this blog. This was an unknown outing with the GATC, probably somewhere around 1990. I would have been 48 then -- and that's me on the right. Sigh.
I'm enjoying this sunny day. Did my weight work this morning then went out for a walk, running various errands, for about an hour. Introduced myself to a distant cousin who owns the pharmacy I use and we had a nice chat. Harvested some greens from the garden for dinner. Reading -- a book set on Orcas Island which probably started all this nostalgia.
I've got this love affair going with how the sun hits my stove on these winter afternoons, making me need to photograph whatever food happens to be there. This is swiss chard fresh from the garden, tossed into the wok with lots of chopped fresh garlic, a little salt, and coconut oil. Yum.
I saw this photo on a blog I discovered today, kissssing, and remembered once more why I've always said that if I could be reincarnated as any female from history, it would be Rita Hayworth. She was not only beautiful, she had an incredible verve and joy about her. I love this blog, by the way -- wonderful old photos, great quotes.
And speaking of such things -- have any of you been watching Jennifer Grey on Dancing With The Stars? I'm sure not, for most of you. She was 'Baby', dancing with Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, also the daughter of Broadway star Joel Grey. But none of that really matters. She was 27 when she made Dirty Dancing. Now she's 50 and if you go to the ABC site and watch her on Episode 9, you won't believe she's a bit older than 27 even now. Amazing. If I sound envious, it's because I am. ABC has the world's worst video player, but she dances early in the show and it's worth the effort just to watch.
The kitten still loves her new toy and, in fact, walked over and scratched the hell out of it a few minutes ago then curled up in the curve for a little bath. It's looking good, folks. Her incision looks a little odd this afternoon -- but I think it's just that the stitches are coming out or fading away or whatever they do. No sign of the thread any more, but a little pinkness around part of the incision that's made me uncomfortable enough to daub a little alcohol on it a couple of times. Needless to say, she is not amused at this.
The latest permutation of the 'cake for one'. Lemon poppy seed with a hint of sour cream. Too damned good, and I'm doing this waaaaaay too often. If I had a smaller souffle dish, more suitable for one person, it wouldn't be so bad. As it is, this one would feed two, and guess who eats all of it. Yep. So, today the remaining sugar in the very small bag I purchased is going into the compost piles, where it will happily encourage all those lovely microbes.
Captured from the Crater Lake webcam last week. It's been snowing up here for a few weeks now, but the camera more often captures fog and gray skies, rather than this spectacular sight.
The latest cold front to hit the deep south brought cool days and drizzly, constant rain to this area yesterday and probably through the day today. The good part of that is that the nights are much warmer -- various weather sites put our morning temp at anywhere from 57 to 61. Not cold, whatever it is. Merely damp. After this, we go back to sunny days, but cooler temps day and night.
The Brat is back to normal, trying to destroy the house. I need one of those climbing towers covered with carpet or sisal -- I think she'd make good use of that and perhaps spare the carpet and furniture -- but alas, I cannot afford one. They are not cheap.
And then there is Netflix. Yesterday I received the front part of an envelope from them, the part with my address on it, stamped "received without contents" presumably by the post office. Tried to report it as a problem (and they even had a 'problem' to click on about receiving an envelope without a disc), but when I clicked it, I got a message that while the disc was expected to arrive on the 15th (yesterday), there could be delays in the mail so this issue couldn't be reported until the 17th. Hello! What part of 'received without a disc' makes you think the PO will somehow or other magically find and deliver the now unaddressed disc envelope to me? Contact Netflix? Forgetaboutit. If you can't click on a issue, there is no contacting them, that I can find. Tried last week on another issue.[edit, a couple of hours later] OK. I got an email that the disc was received by Netflix and they would be shipping the next disc. That won't work, since it's disc 2 of a 3-disc series, and I really don't want to watch disc 3 before disc 2. There is a phone number, but when I called it last week I got the sweet message that they had a high volume of calls and to please try again later. Not too encouraging. This morning I called, waited 2-3 minutes then got a very helpful young man who overrode the system and is having the disc reshipped. A frustrating process, but hopefully it will turn out ok in the end.
The day is young. For me, there'll be a trip to the library and pharmacy, preceded by a workout with the weights. After that, it'll probably be moments of peace and relaxation interspersed by longer moments of yelling at The Brat. Stop that! Get down! No! It's the litany of my life. Yep -- I really need to get a life!
The brat -- otherwise known as this 'sweet' little kitten, has gone to the vet to be spayed and I won't pick her up again until after work tomorrow. I've been looking forward to this day and a chance to relax. I felt sad to be leaving her for some reason -- and while it's nice to be able to eat in peace, for example, it feels strange, too. Turns out that she's still a tad less than 5 pounds, and that if she's under 6 pounds they have to put a heart monitor on her, which isn't covered by the Spay Georgia certificate I got, so there's going to be another $20 and maybe another $45, if she's in heat. That seems to be the refrain of my life lately -- another $40 here and there, what's the big deal? The big deal is that I don't have a lot of extra $40 to spend and while the income is limited, the demands certainly are not.
She really needs a new home. I've tried to be patient with her hoping she'd grow out of it, but I think her craziness is more than typical kitten craziness, and she has a serious anger management problem. If I'm typing at the keyboard, for example, and gently move her aside when she wants to walk across the keyboard, she'll get mad and attack my hand -- teeth and claws and not being playful. Other times she'll stalk around growling, waiting for her opportunity to retaliate (i.e, attacking with teeth and claws) and she'll retaliate several times for any given 'offense' by me. She's sweet when she's sleeping, but that's it. So, somehow or other I need to find her a home, now that I've spent $$ with shots and spaying. It saddens me, but I really need the peace and I need to not have the stress this little critter brings into my life.
I'm struggling -- feeling very fragile emotionally -- and every financial or emotional setback or stress brings me closer to spilling over into.....whatever. I always said that I'd know I was crazy if I found myself running naked down Main Street, and I'm not quite ready for that, but I don't like this place I'm in, and I have to do whatever I can to make life more stable for myself. I've lived on the edge -- financially and emotionally -- for my entire adult life and at this stage of the game, that delicate balance is more delicate than ever.
A large part of all this is a noise issue in the neighborhood that I've been struggling with the city to solve for months now. There's a church a block away, housed in an old corrugated metal furniture store that obviously has no sound insulation. They hold services every night and all day Saturday and Sunday and blast out rock music into the surrounding area. All I can hear/feel is the bass thump, which is something that's always driven me crazy, but when it's day after day, hour after hour, it literally about drives me mad. I want to (and sometimes do) scream and cry, but there is no escape other than leaving home. This morning I met with our new City Manager who struck me as a reasonable person and promised me he'd make every effort to get this solved for me. We both know that the biggest issue is that it's a church -- in this city and county that are very deeply in the Bible belt and feel strongly about the right to worship. We both also agreed that the issue is not a right to worship, but that they are breaking the law. He's going to have to work carefully around this issue and I understand that and more importantly, feel that he has the political savvy to do so. He's also been fighting a similar problem in the community he served in recently, so he's no stranger to the problem. I sure hope he finds a solution -- because at the moment, and for a long time now, I'm sorry I ever bought this house and sorry I ever moved back here, because of that church and the noise that inundates my already fragile emotional system.
It's not yet noon and I'm already drained. Think the rest of the day will be for rest.
There are ways around most things, and while none of these really compare with being there, I've found small solutions to at least some of the things I was missing. My Oregon sweatshirt arrived yesterday, and I was more than a little surprised at the strength of the emotion that I felt when I opened the package and saw the logo. I'm not an alumni, but I spent plenty of time walking or cycling through and around campus, which was only a few blocks from my home. I also spent hours at Hayward Field volunteering for various track and field events, including the Olympic Trials, so I certainly forged an attachment.
Do I dare wear this around here? Lots of rabid Auburn fans who might take exception!
And -- this makes a pretty good replacement for a Dutch Bros. mocha, I must say. In fact, I just finished one, after my morning coffee and breakfast.
Not much to say about the farmer's market -- no solution to that, other than a raft of fresh greens in my own garden. The variety isn't great, and some things aren't growing as well as I'd like (spinach and chard in particular), but there is plenty of lettuce for big salads and eventually, the chard will get bigger. Maybe it's time for another spraying of Garrett Juice. I pulled all the collard plants out and tossed them into the compost pile the other day, after discovering that I don't like collards any more now than I did when I was a kid.
All things considered, even if money wasn't an issue I don't see that I could ever live in Oregon again, as much as I love it. Emotionally, it's best that I put distance between Eugene and me, and that's all I'm going to say about that.
I'm not sure quite when it was that I discovered I could bake a 'cake' for one person without a recipe. I believe it began with chocolate waffles and went from there. The waffle part happened in Corvallis a dozen or more years ago and was so successful that suddenly the mystery veil of science that always covered cake recipes lifted forever. It's one of the downfalls of cool weather, for me, although I try not to have the ingredients on hand (cocoa powder and flour, in particular). I've also intentionally avoided having pans of a suitable size on hand for several years now, but then I bought a couple of souffle dishes to use for cat food and water. Naturally, these are larger than what I used in the past and hold enough for two, so I've doubled the guilt -- as well as the pleasure.
It's pretty simple. I use one egg, vary the amount of flour, sugar and cocoa to fit the size of the pan, add a little baking powder and salt, milk and cooking oil and vanilla, and that's it. The waxed paper collar is the lazy way of lining the dish so the cake doesn't stick. Always tastes yummy, because I always load it with cocoa powder.
I did have some good, homemade beef veggie soup that I made yesterday from some natural beef soup bones I grabbed from the meat freezer at the dairy. I guess that's kind of like having a huge calorie-laden meal then washing it all down with diet soda, but at the moment, I don't even care.
I've found myself really missing much about Eugene the past few days. What brought it all on was the urge for a good Mocha from Dutch Brothers Coffee, or from any of a myriad of places in Eugene to get good coffee. I didn't take huge advantage of the plethora of coffee shops and kiosks that proliferate everywhere in Oregon and Washington, but I always knew it was there if the urge hit. Rome has one Starbucks, and frankly, I don't consider that good coffee. Certainly overpriced. I can make good plain coffee here, and I do so, but a Mocha or Latte takes a good machine. Plus for me, there was always the sense of a little splurge involved.
I'm also missing the crackle in the fall air of Ducks Football Fever. I'm the first to admit that I don't know a damned thing about football, and have never really cared to learn. But Eugene is something else entirely when a game, especially a big game, is playing at Autzen Stadium any given week. Literally, you can feel the excitement and it's catching, even for non-football types like me. This year, I can almost feel that excitement all the way out here in Georgia, but it'd be a lot more fun to be on-site. I ordered a Ducks sweatshirt the other day, mostly for me, but partly to irritate the many Auburn fans around here.
I always miss the Eugene Saturday Market and the 3x week farmer's markets filled with fresh, wonderful organic produce. Frankly, easier and better than growing it myself. No such thing exists here, and when you can find a farmer's market I'm afraid the variety and quality pale in comparison to Eugene. And forget the local stores. Chard? What's that? If it doesn't come in bags, or if it isn't collards, forget it. Speaking of collards, after I cooked that mess of 'em the other day, I remembered why I hated collards as a kid. Yuk. So, I guess all those healthy collard plants in my garden are going to see the compost pile and hopefully be replaced by seedlings of something more interesting. Too late to start seeds, so I'll have to see what HD has.
Back to Eugene. Missing these things doesn't mean I have any slight desire to move back (although after the elections last week I found myself wishing I'd moved to Western North Carolina, near Asheville, which not only has great organic farms and farmer's markets, but is also more like Eugene politically -- more blue than red. But, that's another story. I'm content where I am, but I do miss that Dutch Bros. on the corner next to my apartment building.
China Beach, First Prize, Landscape category. CNN liked this one, too, as do I. A wonderful memory of a one-time hike to find this beautiful beach that is inaccessible other than by hiking down -- and back up -- a steep, rough trail. SO worth the effort!
Ajijic, Mexico, First Prize, Plants category. It's nice to have an unbiased professional photography judge agree with me that this is a lovely photo.
Remember the GATC photo contest I entered months ago? The results arrived yesterday, and I was honored that the above photos did rather well. With all the photog talent in the club, winning blue with two out of six entries is nothing to be sneezed at. Didn't win best of show, however, so I can't be too egotistical here. Grins.
New plumbing! Not completely, of course -- just the drains, but the rest of it is OK, for now. I should have no more issues with drainage of any kind. Best of all, that ugly mess behind the washer is gone.
Before -- old pipes, old, too-short blinds. They wouldn't go any lower than this.
After -- washer now fits farther back into the space, is nicely balanced, and while you can't really see them, new blinds that actually cover the entire window. Imagine that!
The men who did it were great -- good southern 'boys' who actually cleaned up after themselves fairly well, for men and for plumbers. Nice local family that's been in the business for years, came highly recommended.
So -- one more major chore out of the way on the long road to making this house a good retirement home. When you think about it, I've actually accomplished quite a bit over a period of nine months. All the yard work, roof ventilation, replaced some dry rot at one end of the front porch, two new and one rehabbed window, old insulation out and new insulation in, vapor barrier down, a new heater, new washer, new cooking stove and now, new plumbing. The goal is to work a couple of years and earn enough money to make all this rehab possible, so I can relax and try to live on social security. I think I'm well on the way to that end.
What we found when the cover was removed -- tons of ashes and debris, part of which I'd already scooped up here. The cover was replaced, of course, after the vent hole was covered. Interestingly, he used his lighter to see if there was an air draft in the chimney, and it didn't budge. Something up there is stopping it up, as suspected, and caused the gas smell in here. We stuffed some insulation up in there anyway, to be extra sure there were no drafts.
This was more of an effort than any of us thought it would be, but then, everything in this house turns out to be more than I ever think it will be. Story of life in old houses. They had a hard time getting the pilot lighted, and I hope it doesn't go out because I don't know if I'll ever get it re-lighted if it does. Not going to worry about that now. I'm not too impressed with the 'thermostat', which is just a knob with High -Lo settings and lots of gradations in between. Not my idea of a thermostat. But, the thing is made by Buck Stoves in South Carolina and carries a 5-year warranty, so I'm sure it'll be fine.
Before -- ceiling fan and heater
I really do like the white ceiling fan better, and I like it lower. Eventually, I'll get a light kit for it, but that wasn't necessary right now. I need to to move the warm air away from the ceiling, rarely use the ceiling light anyway. And yes, I do like white and light, although this photo is a little 'whiter' than the real room.
Since the afternoon is warm and balmy, haven't tried the heater other than long enough to know that it works. I doubt that I'll be using it much for awhile, other than on mornings when I don't go to work, or maybe even mornings when I do go to work if it's cold enough. But then, it's set to lowest position, so it'll come on and off when it feels like it. I'm glad it's here. One more bit of stress out of the way. Odd that I don't feel any less stressed. In time, surely.
The kitten was righteously discombobulated by all the activity in the house, even though she was closed off in the bedroom while it was happening. She's still stalking around uncomfortably.
Sorry, there's no do-over here, but 'oops' is the underlying concept behind a lot of my thoughts lately. The question? What the hell was I thinking when I bought this house?
Oh, I know what I was thinking: housing security in retirement, a place without people on the other side of walls, with their corresponding noises and the corresponding need to be always aware of noise from my own space. I wanted a project -- something to do, because I wasn't quite ready for the rocking chair and didn't see that happening for a long time. Grow my own food -- fresh and healthy, always at the ready when it's time to eat.
A lot of hard truths have risen to the surface over the past 9 months: this place is in need of more time and money and energy than I have to give it, for one. But, there's not much I can do to change that. Even if I could sell it in the current housing economy, I'm required to live here for 3 years because of the rebate I got from the government, such as it was. All I can, and probably will, do is slow down, re-evaluate priorities and needs and do what I can, rather than trying to do it all. So much is needed that it's hard to know where to cut. The exterior certainly needs painting. The roof is OK for now, but in a year or so, who knows? The refrigerator is on its last legs. Some bracing is needed underneath because of the vibration from that damned washer I wish I'd never bought. I've got that back room torn apart and need to put it back together. I want revisions in the kitchen, a dishwasher, revisions in the bath, a carport. And so much more.
And the garden -- I noticed last summer that I wasn't always very excited about whatever was growing out there. The tomatoes weren't very good, the squash kept getting bugs, the eggplant was rampant, the peppers so-so, the green beans good but not very productive, and I just wasn't always interested in whatever was there. I'm finding the same now, with the greens. That's all that's there -- greens. Now, when I lived in Eugene I bought large amounts of Swiss chard every week at the farmer's market, along with salad greens and other leafy greens, because I like them. Now that I have them growing, I've quickly become less interested in them. They still need to grow some more before they're at all prolific, so I need to be patient. And heaven knows, there certainly isn't any source for decent fresh veggies in this town. I stopped buying bagged lettuce and spinach because of contamination problems with so much of that kind of thing. The local stores don't offer much and there's no farmer's market. So -- growing food is a good thing and I enjoy it, aside from all the work I've put into it, and all the work that still needs to be done. Here it is mid-October and I still haven't turned the compost piles this month. I've been doing it monthly, around the first of every month, but there just hasn't been the energy or time lately. I'm guessing it won't happen for another couple of weeks.
When I was toiling in the garden over the weekend, I found myself thinking that life would be so much easier if I did like 99% of people do and use Roundup to kill unwanted grass and weeds, but I just can't do that. So, I do it the hard, labor-intensive way that is slow at best. If I used bagged chemical fertilizer it'd be easier, too, but no, I can't do that either. I'm building soil the hard way -- green manure cover crops, compost, and if I had a way to haul it, some good old horse manure, or chicken or rabbit manure. I'm not fussy, and neither are the plants.
And I'm so cold! This house just doesn't warm up easily, which is nice in the summer, but not so nice in the winter. Doesn't help that I don't have a real heat source right now, although that should be corrected today.
Right now, that rocking chair sounds pretty good. Whine.
Here it is near noon on Saturday and I've managed to run my errands (including buying a new ceiling fan for this room) and put the first coat of primer on the raw window areas. Pretty sloppy job, but once this coat dries I'll follow up with some caulk (the white paint really shows areas that need it) and some filler here and there, before putting the second coat on. Gotta start somewhere! Then I hit the garden.
The result of two hours work, prepping for sowing the cover crop that'll go in this area. It wouldn't have been so difficult except that I'd let the edges go all summer (not enough time and energy!) and tendrils of Bermuda grass had grown over the plastic, and holes in the plastic caused by James' weedeater had let light through and the invasive pest of a plant had taken hold, although not as strongly as before.
All the edges were like this, and some still are. It's a pretty good-sized space. I had to cut the grass with scissors (who can afford tools!), then once the plastic was gone, use my hand fork to get any stray runners up and out of the way. There was, however, a very large, very satisfying amount of DEAD Bermuda grass underneath that plastic.
This was after the first hour. Getting the plastic up between the beds was easy enough -- little or no runners or anything green in that area. I did have to rough up the dead grass and get it out, but that was easy enough. I should be able to finish this back portion tomorrow, get it seeded. I haven't figured out yet what to do about the area around the bed that's producing greens, since I'll need to walk all around that for quite awhile. Some paver steps would be nice, but like everything else, it comes down to money, or lack thereof. Still, it was a satisfying day's work and now I feel no guilt whatsoever about doing no more the rest of this day.
It was cold out this last night and this morning and will be again tonight. Sure wish I had that heater ready to use! The house starts to warm up when the sun comes out, and I was a bit too warm out in the sun doing my garden work in sweat pants, but I love that sunshine and make no complaints.
It was quite an occasion, all in all. I'd never been to a Confederacy memorial service before, or been to any of the battle re-enactments, but The Sons of Confederate Veterans did a great job setting up, hosting and bringing a good air of the era into the world of 2010.
Loved this old cannon, with all the attention to detail in the ropes, gloves and leather satchel.
The people in costume were marvelous, although no doubt sweltering in all those clothes in the warm sun.
This fella was like a statue -- stayed in place the entire time I was there. He was way, back at the far end of the cemetery on the hillside.
The Eighth Regiment Band of Rome, Georgia, conducted by Mr. John Carruth, did a fine job as did a bagpiper whose photo I never managed to get. This is a really big deal band -- one of the top bands of its kind in the world. All of their instruments are authentic to the era, their music is authentic to the era. They have 3 cd's out and sell them in Europe and other parts of the world. A couple of days after this event I met one of the band members who told me so much that impressed me. They are booked 40-50 weeks per year for the next five years, in places like Ft. Sumter, Antietam, Gettysburg, Europe, DC. They've been in a couple of movies. The big drum is, if I remember correctly, from a Maine regiment, but I wouldn't swear to my memory on that one.
Maybe the best moment, for those of us who know Greg and his wife, Brenda, was the presentation of a plaque that will hang in the church in recognition of their efforts to restore this church and cemetery. I haven't known them for long, but their dedication to this as well as our Cemetery Preservation Committee is more than clear. And they are super people, to boot. I wasn't at such a great location for this photo, wish I could have shown their fronts instead of their rears, but I'm sure they will forgive me.
Once the speeches began my interest waned and since I really had a lot to do, I headed on home. I think the 'good old singing in the church' that was to follow the speeches might have been fun, but....
If you'll recall, I mentioned that I'd put Krazy Kitten out on the porch with all hopes of leaving her there permanently earlier this morning. When I left to run my errands, she'd gotten up on her high perch and I couldn't get her to hop onto the cushion that allows me to get her down, so I just shrugged my shoulders and went on my way. By the time I got home, she was much more amenable to the cushion. She even seems to be trying to behave herself. Most of the time.
I've sanded and applied Citristrip to the window framing and hope I can soon have that ready for painting. I can't paint the outside of the lower sash yet because the putty I used to seal off one edge of the glass still has not dried. The 'helpful' man at HD told me that product should dry quickly and be ready to paint fast. Well, a couple of days ago when I realized it was still soft, I put my specs on and read the fine print: 7 to 14 days to cure. At least there is plenty to do on the frame.
And -- since the day was wonderfully warm -- I decided to open up the other, newly installed, window. It would not budge! I'd had it locked, and it looked as if the paint from the two sashes had almost fused together where the lock had pressed them together. Talk about a moment of fear! I struggled with it, eventually got both the top and bottom sashes to move, and don't think I'm going to lock them again until that paint has a chance to mellow out a bit more.
And then.....off to the garden, where I planted a bunch of tulip bulbs and edged the herb garden to free it of bermuda grass runners. Picked a few collard leaves (the most plentiful thing I've got) for dinner, and pretty soon I'm gonna chill out for the rest of this day. Would you believe it's 84 degrees here right now, at 4:30pm? Folks, that's what I like about the south! Even if it is unseasonably warm.
This seemed like a photo-worthy occasion to me: my first mess of greens from my garden! All kinds -- I just grazed through the bed and pulled off larger leaves of everything: lettuce, chard, spinach, beet tops (which are actually chard), then turned it into this:
A quick stir-fry with coconut oil and lots of fresh garlic, add a little sliced leftover steak, and you've got dinner. Yum. Not a terribly appetizing photo, but it tasted great.
Other than that, I've been working every day this week and that's a real drag when it's not something you're used to doing. We've actually had fun with the boss gone, but I'm missing my time to work here at home, and I'm running out of time to get all this pre-winter stuff done. Fortunately, we're back to Indian summer today for a few days -- sunny, temps in the mid-80's, just lovely. No ice on my window this morning (unlike yesterday morning).
Remember that old principle that goes something like "anything that can go wrong will go wrong"? Well -- the saga of my insulation continues. I called Lowes yesterday to check and see if the delivery date of 10/10 was still good, and learned that the vendor had changed that to 10/21. Well, that's a little too late. So I talked to the folks at my local Lowe's, and since I don't carry the checkbook or debit card from my Oregon bank with me, had them set aside 8 bales of what they have in stock, and went back today with the checkbook, canceled the original order and bought stuff from stock. Another $109 out of my pocketbook, but in the end it'll only cost $50 more because I'll get a larger rebate. We'll pick it up Monday and get it home, hopefully it'll be installed on Tuesday.
Today was my follow-up visit with the cardiologist on my EKG, and things tried to go wrong there, too. My doctor's office said they'd faxed the report to the cardiologist, but they didn't have it. Fortunately, having lived long enough to learn from experience, I had my copy with me and gave that to them. The doc said he wasn't terribly impressed with the EKG -- said it looked pretty normal to him but had red-flagged because it appears to show evidence of a prior heart attack (and if I ever had one, I sure didn't know about it), so he's ordered an echocardiogram. I haven't had one of those in many years anyway, so it's probably time. All in all, the 'abnormal' EKG doesn't appear to be anything to worry about, which is good news, of course.
In the small world category, I asked the doc (wonderful person, apparently the top cardiac doc in the area) if there was or had ever been a John Garner in the administration of that clinic, and he said yes, but that he wasn't living in the area now. I worked with John when I first moved to Atlanta in 1986 for awhile, and we stayed friends for years. His wife was a top cardiac surgical nurse and he'd been in cardiac clinic administration for years. One of his cardiologist buddies from California came to Rome to open a new cardiac clinic and John moved there to work with him. I didn't remember the name of the clinic, but I don't think there's more than one large cardiac clinic in that small city. We had a nice chat about John and his wife (who had been this doc's nurse while they lived in Rome).
Karen worked at the Emory Clinic cardiac unit in Atlanta when we all lived there and worked crazy hours -- lots of nights, weekends and holidays. John would get bored, so sometimes he and I would go out for a drink or find something to do. I have several specific memories of John, but some of the more special are: bringing a copy of Little Shop of Horrors to the office and sitting me down to watch it in the conference room; convincing me to bring an amazing amount of utensils and food to his house one evening when I was going to make some fresh lasagne for a potluck, so he could see how I made it. This included the cuisinart to make the pasta dough, the pasta machine for rolling it, plus the ingredients and such. I remember making two batches -- a small one for us to eat, and the larger one to take to my potluck; John talking his way past the guards at the federal prison in Atlanta when it was under siege by the inmates, and getting inside the prison (you'd have to know John to realize that this is true -- he told me about it in detail the next day and I know he wasn't lying and I know he doesn't drink or do drugs); a wine-tasting party at his house when Karen was working and I had a bit too much wine, got sick, crashed on their sofa. I don't think Karen was amused when she got home that night; one Christmas eve when Karen was working and John and I hit the movie theaters -- an Eddie Murphy movie at the first theater, then on to a second theater to see Dirty Dancing. But the best memory of all is when I turned 50 and was feeling pretty traumatized by it all. My boss at the time had promised to buy me a drink, but on the day he had to cancel because of obligations at home (my birthday is, after all 3 days before Christmas). Right after he'd told me this the phone range and it was John, asking if I had somebody to buy me a drink on my birthday. I was almost in tears, and said 'no', and he said, "well, you do now". He drove all the way to Atlanta from Rome, about a two hour drive, bought me a drink and a light dinner, then turned around and drove back to Rome. I'll never forget that one. The doc said he hadn't heard from him in years, thought he was in California. Sure wish I'd stayed in touch with him.
I don't usually put names of people in this blog, but John, if somehow this finds its way to you, give me a holler, and Mike said if I ever heard from you to tell you to call him.
At last, I have a window! It fits, it goes up and down from the top and bottom, and it locks. Guess that's about all you can ask of it. I never thought to paint the little strip of wood at the top, so that will have to be done, and there'll be a little more touch-up once the stop trim goes in, so I'll do it all at once. But, this is certainly going to keep the cold air out. The side pieces are odd -- they were hard to 'snap' into place on the brackets, and at least one of them keeps popping off. I'm going to call the Jeld-Wen customer service tomorrow to ask about that. The top sash is a little hard for me to move, but doable, certainly, and I won't need to worry about that until next summer anyway. I've peeled the film and stickers off the inside, but will have to wait to do the outside until the storm window comes off, which should be next week. They didn't have time to deal with it today, and it wasn't crucial. They got the window in and the heater lighted, and those were the main things.
See, it works!
While we were in the back room working on the window, another drama was unfolding in front of my house. As we went back into the living room I looked out and saw this big coach stopped. Apparently, they'd tried to turn this behemoth into the little street that intersects my street, and it wouldn't make the turn. Duh! I don't think it would have taken a rocket scientist to figure that out! As we watched, they started it up and carefully back-tracked the way they'd come, and our attention went to my heater. Then -- one of the handymen went outside and saw that this thing had apparently bottomed out in a driveway down at the other end of the street and was stuck. I'm not sure what driveway it was, probably that patch of concrete to the right of the coach. We couldn't figure out why he'd tried to pull into that narrow driveway anyway. Clearly, he wanted to turn around, but there's a small shopping center with a big parking lot just another driveway down from where he'd pulled in.
I didn't have the camera outside at first, but what they did was hook a chain or something to the back of this pickup and the back of the coach, and between the pickup pulling and the coach presumably in reverse, they got it unstuck and into the position shown in the first photo. Eventually, they backed it all the way out into the main drag, with someone flagging traffic, and it went on its merry way. What we couldn't figure out is what this thing was doing in this neighborhood in the first place. That coach cost more than any four or five houses around here put together. Wonder if it was a case of GPS run amok? I've heard tales of people ending up in very strange places while following GPS. We all felt sorry for the people who owned it -- although we certainly didn't mind giggling and offering up opinions. Half the neighborhood was out watching -- the last thing this interesting that came down this street was the moving van that moved me in. All the little Mexican kids were fascinated by that, too. Not a lot ever happens around here, which is a good thing.
All photos and text on these pages are the property of and copyrighted by Kitty Johnson and are not to be copied or duplicated in any manner. Thanks for your cooperation. Contact: mskitty42 at gmail.com.
I'm a woman with many interests, an eclectic background and a wandering nature. Photography and writing are great interests, as are nature and making the most of life. My blogs are simply extensions of my life and interests. I hope you enjoy.