What did you do Today?

Or what did you do all day? This was a question that we got a lot when we first retired. Usually when asked this I go blank. I know I didn’t just sit around (though that occurs), or take a nap (Curt does like to nap) or read ( yep, everyday), but what exactly did I do with the rest of the time? Well here goes, not a typical day but close.

I am not an early riser but I did want to go to the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning and Curt promised he wasn’t planning on being out the door at 7am. So we were up at 8 am and out the door by 8:20 am. We found a good parking space (yes, it is much more crowded when you get there a bit later) and hit the market. Four bags later we had mushrooms, zucchini, butternut squash, eggs, raddichio, peppers, cilantro, Spartan apples, carrots, eggplant, baby pattypan squashes, blueberry kringle (our breakfast) and apricots. Home by 9:30 where we made coffee and ate the kringle.

Apples, squash and apricots from Farmer’s Market

Once home I got the first of two loads of laundry in the washer. Curt started working on his chicken which was to be smoked. I got the miscellaneous dishes cleaned up and loaded the rest in the dishwasher. By now it is close to lunchtime. After lunch I got the last load into the dryer and went off to printmaking workshop over at the university. Last weekend we were part of a huge printing project ( 26 artists, each doing a 7″x7″ woodblock of a letter of the alphabet. These were put together into one huge print.) This week the print studio was open to anyone who wanted to do shorter individual prints using the same letters. I did three prints. You may notice I made a rookie mistake on one of the prints. Yes, the word DRIB was supposed to be BIRD. Whoops!  Later I’m cutting the letters apart.

Top: HEUER (read vertically). Middle: Individual letters/symbol RX@X Bottom: DRIB (Bird backwards)

Once home again, I saw Curt had potatoes on to boil and he had already smoked a pile of chicken breasts. One breast for dinner, the others to be frozen for meals later in the fall or winter.

I had muffins planned for the zucchini I had bought in the morning so I got those mixed and into the oven. While they baked I folded and sorted the laundry.

The potatoes for our dinner were done and cooling. The chicken was done. So Curt worked on a batch of cherry tomatoes (blanched and skinned) to put in the smoker. These get frozen in small batches and are great additions to soup, stew or sauce.

Smoked tomatoes

The tomatoes and chicken got packed and put into the freezer. We had a great dinner of potato/smoked chicken salad and finished out the day cleaning up the kitchen which looked pretty trashed after all the cooking and smoking and baking. Time to collapse into those comfy front room chairs.

What’s on for today? I think some reading, napping, a little football (Go Pack!). Afterall, Sunday is the day of rest. Ha! Oh wait, I was going to do something with those apples.

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Eclipse Fever

We had this little event on Monday called The Great American Eclipse. When I first heard about it I wasn’t too excited because the path it was taking was either way West or South of where I live in the upper Midwest. But my son visited about a month ago and said, “Well you’ll get about 78% coverage.” That seemed more significant than I originally thought so I marked it on the calendar, noting the time of maximum coverage and waited for the day.

When August 21 arrived I still hadn’t decided how I going to do to view this celestial phenomenon. But as I started watching the coverage on TV and saw the first excited crowds in Idaho, I thought I should do some preparation, quickly. I hadn’t bought any glasses but I vaguely remembered something about making a viewer from a cereal box. I did recall as a kid there was an eclipse and we just poked a pin in a piece of paper but that seemed pretty minimal. So about a half an hour before the event would begin here I found a narrow box just a bit wider than a cereal box. Note: All my cereal boxes were full of cereal. I quickly googled instructions and slapped together a viewer. It worked.

Me w/ viewer (left) and what I could see (right)

Meanwhile Curt had come home and said he had read that using a colander or a strainer or something with holes would do the trick. We gathered our holey devices.

Ultimately the large colander worked the best. OooH! Aaaah!

One colander. Many eclipses!

We then remembered someone saying that during an eclipse the dappled light coming through the leaves of trees would turn into crescents. Sure enough! The left side of these pictures of the side of our house and our deck are the normal views, the right side is during the eclipse.

Can you see the crescents?

So without much advance preparation we had one good time last Monday even if we couldn’t experience the awe of a total eclipse. Though after what I saw on TV it might be worth driving to a nearby location for the next one full one, only seven years away.

This Great American Eclipse report brought to you by:

Mrs. and Mr. Science

Where Does the Time Go?

End of May we got together with an old friend. He lives in Maryland but was going to be in Wisconsin for a funeral. I estimate it has been over 30 years since we have all seen each other face to face.

We met Jon, and at that time, his wife Molly, when we were in graduate school at Northern Illinois University. Curt was a Graduate student in Ceramics and Jon was one of his ceramics professors. The unusual part was Jon and Curt were the same age, separated by 25 days, Curt being the older. A friendship and a mutual respect developed between the two of them. I got to know Molly better and the four of us became friends. Once we graduated, we left Illinois. There was no email then, no Facebook so  but kept in contact with each other through letters and Christmas cards. Jon and Molly visited us once in Green Bay and we visited them once in Maryland.

Then: Curt and Jon

But over the years the cards and letters got fewer, life happened, as it does, and we lost track of each other. A few years ago I found Jon (or he found me) on Facebook. Our mutual interest in birds, love of food and Jon’s connection to Wisconsin (he was born here) brought us together. He was going to be in LaCrosse in May and then planned on doing some camping in Door County, so we knew this was the time to rekindle an old friendship. In the intervening years there has been homes in 5 states, 3 children raised (He-2, Us-1), careers built, a divorce, less hair, gray acquired and a couple of retirements. But here we were again eating and talking and laughing.

Now: Curt and Jon

Funny thing with good friends, the conversation picked up like we just saw each other yesterday. And with that many years gone by we had a lot of catching up to do.

Pharma-Scrabble

I’m sure you’ve noticed the proliferation of advertising for prescription drugs on the TV in recent years. Gone are the days when the name of a drug might give you some understanding of what it does. The names are often a meaningless and atypical grouping of letters (with frequent use of “bohemian” letters like J, V, X, Y & Z) that are intended to make the drug name stand out but instead makes them all start sounding the same.

Over the past several weeks I’ve been keeping track of the drugs (mostly prescription but a few over-the-counter) advertised on broadcast TV during prime time. I’ve come up with 31 different drugs although I’m sure I’ve missed some.

In looking over the names it occurred to me that many of them would be great Scrabble or Words-with-Friends words (if proper names were allowed) so I tallied the scores each would bring, not counting any double/triple letter/word bonuses.  Any thing above 15 is a respectable score but some drug companies are just not trying very hard to win the game and use too many low scoring vowels and consonants in too short names.  A few load the deck, using hardly any vowels and extra “bohemian” consonants.

Of course, their scoring potential aside, I doubt you could tell me what more than a handful of these drugs are for.

The addition of the X saves the day with a score of 19

Score = 8    Too short, too many low scoring vowels

Score = 13

Score = 20

Score = 17

Score = 16

Score = 18

Score = 11

Score = 13

Score = 15

Score = 18

Score = 16

Score = 15

Score = 16

Score = 11

Score = 17

Score = 21

Score = 15

Score = 12

Score = 12

Score = 12

Score = 14

Score = 14

Score = 14

Score = 10

Score = 21

Score = 14

The winner at 39 points. Too bad there aren’t two Xs in Scrabble

Score = 24  Good job of packing the high scoring letters into a short name

Score = 17

Score = 20

Not Dead Yet

I can’t believe it has been almost a month since I last posted any recipes, book notes, inspiring stories or general ramblings. What have I been doing? A friend of mine emailed me wondering if I was well since she hadn’t seen any postings. Well, let me rack my brain, what have I been doing?

Since we last talked on March 8…

• I have attended two different book groups.
• Sold two journals, one was a custom order so I had to build that one.
Brushed the cat
• Worked on a brain hat for the March for Science. ( I made Pussy Hats so I know I can  make Brain hats)
• Got the taxes done
• Worked the Big Book Sale at my library
My son was home and he brushed the cat.
• Raked lawn (we had one warm day)
• Baked a batch of ‘They Might Be Breakfast’ cookies (from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan)
• Baked Raisin Bars (same as above)
• Continued at the Health Club 2x a week exercising and strengthening my new knee
Brushed the cat.
• Got on an embroidery craze. (Worked on my Stitch a Day project and finished one auxiliary project and started another)
• Binge watched season 3 of Grace and Frankie.
• Binge watched Season 3 of Chef’s Table
Brushed the cat. (Damn! She should be bald by now.)
• Read or listened to 8 books (3 graphic novels, 3 audio books, 2 book books)
• Got my hair cut
• Went to the chiropractor
• Did a little birding, (added grackle, cowbird, sandhill crane, black duck, hooded merganser, northern shoveler, killdeer, redhead duck, lesser scaup, song sparrow, ringneck duck, coot and white pelican to my 2017 list)

Starting upper left: custom journal, Chef’s Table, Raking, Stitch a Day, The Cat, Cookies, Hooded Merganser, Book Sale Boxes, Knitting brains, Leg Press, Embroidery 1, Embroidery 2, Reading, The Cat again!

And then when you add in all those pesky weekly and daily chores like washing dishes laundry and grocery shopping…well, I guess I’ve been busy. So to my friend in Colorado, I’m alive, sort of busy, but nothing too exciting. Unless you count filling up a grocery bag with cat hair exciting. Hmm, I think we can build a new kitten from all that hair.

Another Idea to Try: The Street Store

Lately in some of the various magazines and publications I read I have been coming across little ways to make a difference. Some are just simple ideas or information that might just make life easier. Whether that be in my life or in the lives of others. Many times it has something to do with the environment because that is where my mind is these days. Some I can do personally but many times there are projects or initiatives that I know someone or a group of someones out there might just seize on. Maybe you are in the right place, or have the right resources or you know someone who would be the perfect partner.  Anyway, I’ve decided that when I find one of these I am going to do a very short post. Who knows? It might make a difference somewhere.

Today I went to send out a link to The Street Store. It is a pop-up clothing store for the homeless. Watch the video. It is a great idea and if you live in a city or town it might be perfect for you. It started in Cape Town, South Africa but it has expanded to many places around the world including the United States. So what is: “The world’s first rent-free, premises-free, free “pop-up clothing store” for the poor, found entirely on the street.

Their mission is to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, making it easier to donate and more dignified to receive.

This store is made just out of posters where you “hang up” donated clothes and drop shoes into “boxes”, and then the homeless help themselves. All of the art work is sent to you, free of charge.”

So watch the video, pass it on if you know someone who might be able to do this, or just be amazed that in spite of it all there are good things going on in this world.

A pop-up Street Store

Institutional Food #2 – The Rehab Facility

So I was discharged from the hospital at 11:00 am and got to the Rehab Facility around 11:30. Got checked in and installed in my room by 12:30 pm. I know someone asked me if I had eaten and something was brought to me but that is lost in the mists. Probably because dinner that evening was very memorable, a Pizza Burger.

Now before I go any farther I have to explain the meal situation at this place. It is an  Assisted Living and Rehabilitation Facility. That means there are short-timers in rehab, like me, and there are long-timers or people who actually live here. We are separated into two wings but we can intermingle. I could have gone over to the other side for Bingo and a Packer Party on Sunday but I passed. Long-timers are mostly elderly seniors (Hey! who you looking at?) and as a group they mostly want their noon meal to be the main meal (what I call dinner) and their evening meal light ( what I would call lunch). They outnumber us so that’s how the meals are served. This will all make sense later.

Now, the Pizza Burger. As in the hospital you get a little menu ticket. On it are usually two choices for a main and then a bunch of sides. You can circle everything if you want. I think one of the choices that night was fish so I went with the Pizza Burger, on my Certified Nursing Assistant’s (CNA) recommendation. Later, I had to remind myself that I really didn’t know anything about their taste in food so recommendations were a crap shoot.

Pizza Burger

Pizza Burger

My dinner included a very soft bun, a beef patty covered in Marinara sauce and a few bits of cheese, a bag of chips and yellow jello w/ cool whip top. But that’s not all that made this a PIZZA burger. When I bit into it, surprise! it was stuffed with mozzarella. The cole slaw was good.

After getting pancake/sausage bites one morning for breakfast, I decided to stick with cereal, raisin bran, because I needed to stay ‘regular’. However this place is the same as the hospital, that is, make sure you ask for everything. If you don’t circle milk, you’ll eat your cereal dry. And the raisins are usually dumped in a pile in the middle. So I would break up the clump and get some milk and it was a good breakfast.

Sausage/pancake bites are soggy pancakes around breakfast sausage with some syrup for dip. A three year old would love them.

Sausage/pancake bites are soggy pancakes around breakfast sausage with some syrup for dip. A three-year old would love them.

Remember my explanation of lunch vs dinner servings? This is what I mean.

Meatloaf, Turkey and Swedish Meatballs

Meatloaf, Turkey and Swedish Meatballs

These were usually pretty good but whoa, that’s a lot of food for lunch. Each had a dessert and beverage as well. Veggies could have been crisper but I don’t think they were from a can. Then there was dinner.

Billed as chicken salad (left) and potpie on a bisquit (right)

Billed as chicken salad (left) and potpie on a biscuit (right)

On the menu it said chicken salad on tomato slices. I love chicken salad but an ice cream scoop of salad on one little tomato slice was pretty disappointing. Potpie on a biscuit was also a controlled serving. More like chicken a la king. It was fine but I wanted more! And come on folks! It was September. Our garden and our local Farmer’s Market still had really good tomatoes coming in. So did the grocery stores. Where are the people at this facility forced to shop? Here’s what I mean. One night a BLT was on the menu. Well can anyone resist a bacon sandwich, with a red ripe tomato and crispy lettuce on toasted bread? Sorry. This just didn’t come close.bbllttFortunately when I got home my Sweetie made me a BLT worthy of the name.

Finally, did you recall that tossed salad I praised in my hospital food post? When I saw tossed salad on my Rehab menu I thought oh yes! that will make up for any sins of limp bread, pink tomatoes or fruit cocktail. However, one tossed salad is not like another.

1. Actually different items to toss 2. iceberg lettuce.

1. Actually different items to toss (hospital) 2. Iceberg lettuce (rehab)

Oh well. I don’t mean to diss the food service at rehab too badly. The food came pretty promptly, I had choices and except for a few missteps, it was all edible, sometimes pretty tasty. However the whole time I was there I kept clicking my heels and repeating, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

I Had a Little Adventure

Hello there. I’ve been off having a bit of an adventure. Well if you can call knee replacement surgery an adventure. But after numerous cortisone shots, repair of torn meniscus six years ago, more injections ( this time some stuff made from cock’s combs that helped lubricate all those bone-on-bone moments ) and finally bone spurs that did me in, I had to have the whole darn thing replaced. It was the last resort.

Here’s my leg, the afternoon of September 20th, almost two weeks ago.

About three hours after surgery

About three hours after surgery

I was propped up on a machine I called the sled (I guess it looked like a one-legged toboggan to me) which was slowly pumping my leg , moving it up and down. My feet had little pumps on them, keeping the blood movin’ and the big blue thing is an ice pack. The tube on the far end is attached to an ice chest on the floor. Icy water is flowing through that tube and into that honeycomb pattern. It is very effective. I have spared you all of the wrapping and ace bandages and staples and ripe red plum bruising and I promise you won’t see any further down the line.

I am home now with my crutch, my walker and my exercise plan. But three nights in the hospital and eight nights at a rehab facility have certainly provided the fuel for a few more posts. Food, definitely, will be at the top of the list.

So as I continue to heal, stay tuned for reports from the field. A few from my fun time away and a few from my homecoming. Hey, If you can’t complain and laugh about a situation you don’t have any business going into it in the first place. See you soon.

BFFs

Last week I spent three fabulous days with two dear, dear friends from high school  (graduation: June 1967). We have been getting together on and off over the years either going out to Colorado to where Lynn lives or up here in Wisconsin with me or to Arlington Heights in Illinois, Audrey’s stomping ground. Last year we got together in Santa Fe, New Mexico and vowed that we would not let years go by before getting together.

Reason 1) We ain’t getting any younger.

Reason 2) We heard about the untimely death of one of our former friends.

Granted we had lost touch with Sue but it still was a shock to hear of her death in a car accident. In high school we used to be a “group” of five but Marie left us very early from a severe health issue. Then we were all working on marriage and kids and everything else that comes with life so we hadn’t even started to think about our mortality or getting together to celebrate old times, since those times weren’t that far in the past.

But hold on, this wasn’t supposed to get so maudlin. This year was our 2nd consecutive gathering and I was not going to miss it no matter what. That meant hobbling around on my arthritis riddled knees (coming up this fall: knee replacement ). So with drugs and a knee sleeve, I made it. Of course my besties sure made it easy. We held back on the walking (the tram around the Chicago Botanical Garden was great) and Audrey even had a small stool for getting into the back seat of the van. However the bag of frozen carrots I iced my knee with in the evenings might never be the same. The rest of the time we talked and ate, and laughed and drank, and talked and ate some more. Another year, solving all the problems in the world. We’ve all had our trials and tribulations, our health issues and setbacks, our joys and celebrations. It was good to share them. So I am ending here with some pictures that I know Audrey is going to kill me for posting. I subscribed her to my blog last week but I think I heard her say something about not wanting to see herself on it. Close your eyes Aud!!

Then: circa 1967. Looks like Aud and Lynn went to the same hair salon. Hmm, so that's what they did on those weekend outings without me.

Then: circa 1967. Looks like Aud and Lynn went to the same hair salon. Hmm, so that’s what they did on those weekend outings without me.

Now: circa 2016. Looks about the same to me except Aud and I have exchanged smiles.

Now: circa 2016. Looks about the same to me except Aud and I have exchanged smiles. (from left – Jeanne, Audrey, Lynn)

Rule of thumb: Planting Potatoes

dandelions blooming

Rules of thumb are common guides to navigating everyday life without having to refer to some authority. Wickipedia says the term is thought to originate with carpenters who used the length of the tip of their thumb (approximately 1 inch) as a handy – get it, handy – unit of measure rather than resorting to a ruler. In general, rules of thumb are principles with broad application not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. They are easily learned and easily applied for approximately calculating or recalling some value, or for making some determination.

Farmers have many rules of thumb.  One that I remember and invoked today was “Plant you potatoes when dandelions bloom in an open field”.  The logic is that the weather (and soil) is warm enough for the seed potatoes to flourish.  Why in an “open field”?  Because the soil near a foundation is warmer than the soil in a field and dandelions will bloom near a foundation days or weeks earlier than those in a open field where the soil will still be too cool.

These wizened things will sprout in several weeks and yield a nice small but nice crop of Russian Banana potatoes.

These wizened things will sprout in several weeks and yield a small but nice crop of Russian Banana fingerling-type potatoes.