Sunday, May 28, 2006

Photo Sunday...

brings a quandry of old, new...what to do...

Memorial Day weekend, yet I'm not in that kind of mood...

Last Monday was my oldest's 2nd anniversary. Bill waited a long time, but when he found the one, she really was the one!

Laura is a joy; that wonderful person you meet once or twice in a lifetime who 5 minutes after you meet her you wish you'd known her forever! Though it hasn't been easy for them, trying to make ends meet while he works on his Masters and she on her degree, they delight in each other in every way.

Their wedding was a gorgeous ceremony, done on a shoestring with them paying for most of it themselves. I bought my Nikon to shoot it, and helped a bit here and there; in the end her parents helped some as well. They got the outdoor ceremony they wanted, at the place they wanted and though it turned out to be the one of the hottest days that year, it was wonderful!

I started with over 400 images and started learning Photoshop "the hard way", then found that what you see isn't always what you get from your printer; more than a bit like my Dad when he learned the color darkroom all those years ago while I was off floating in the Pacific. It took months, but I finally put together an album that even Dad would have been proud of; over 100 8x10's and almost 50 5x7's. As I look at these images today for the first time in a while, it's hard not to start tinkering with them again...

I don't remember much of the day; for me it was focus and shoot, focus and shoot. When I go back through the images now, though, each brings a smile. Hopefully a couple of generations from now, they will still evoke smiles and through those smiles I'll still be a part of things even then!

So I guess in a way this ends up being a "Memorial Day" post after all; for the skills I learned shooting weddings with Dad; for the grandparents that taught me the treasure of family and handing down memories; for the generations before and the ones to come.

May you each have a wonderful holiday! May your memories glow brightly with love!


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Simple and delicious!

Chicken Marsala

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, fresh, sliced (I was out, used a jar of Giorgio's)
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast; four 4oz pieces
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup wine, Marsala variety
1-1/4 cup canned beef broth (divided)
1-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until
tender and releasing liquid, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place chicken on a plate and season both sides with thyme, salt and pepper. Move mushrooms to outer edge of skillet; place chicken in center of skillet and saute until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side. (Mine took longer and several turnings.)

3. Add wine to skillet, simmer 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of broth and simmer uncovered
until chicken is tender and cooked through.

4. While chicken cooks, dissolve cornstarch in remaing 1/2 cup of broth in a small bowl; add to skillet. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring constantly and incorporating mushrooms into the liquid, about 1 minute.

Serve chicken with mushroom sauce spooned over the top. Yields about 3 ounces of chicken and 1/3 cup of sauce per serving.

I served it with brown rice on the side. Dottie thought the chicken was "OK" but didn't like the sauce at all. She also doesn't like brown rice. Next time I'll cook her chicken in a seperate skillet, and serve it with "Rice a Roni" chicken or a pasta salad...

We didn't end up doing a movie before I went to work today; her cold was bad enough finally she didn't sleep a lot and so we both got 2 hours extra sleep (my first 8 this week) then did most of the shopping for the week together instead of me trying to do it tomorrow. After I went to work she went to "Urgent Care" and got prescriptions for antibiotics and nasal spray.

My clock is set for 10, I'm hoping to mow, and then take my bike out to the park for a while before she comes home from work. If I get back from there early enough, I'll change the oil in my car when I get back. Dinner will be the other half of the chicken we bought at Sam's today with whatever I throw together to go with it (stuffing and a salad sounds good!).

Way too much going on in the news this week; although they'll keep appealing for years, at least Lay and Skilling were convicted once! Not so sure about the B&B show I heard Thursday night on the radio; Bush being all introspective all of a sudden really gave me the "willies". A 6.2 earthquake in Java tonight; no tsunami thank goodness, although they were talking about it affecting the volcano that had become active there lately! 450 dead the last count I saw; I can't imagine going through that! The little tremblers we got when I lived in California were just a inkling of what's possible!

Off to bed! Have a wonderful weekend all!


Thursday, May 25, 2006


I finished putting my son's Neon back together late yesterday afternoon, and we ferried it to his house last night. It's much easier to put things back together when you are the one who took them apart! I let him disassemble most of it while I puttered and put things away,etc., then he got busy and then left on vacation, so I was stuck...

So today I made it to the gym for the first time this week. My back was beginning to "bug me" so that was what I worked; now I should make it through 'til Tuesday when they reopen.

Dottie's off tomorrow; we're going to try and see "X-3" and hit Sam's and Costco before I go to work. She works Saturday and Sunday, so I'm planning on mowing, riding my bike some, cooking, and watching Indy and Monaco if I'm lucky. She's off on Monday as am I, so perhaps we'll make it to another movie or two.

3:19, gotta run. Hope everyone is doing well; I'll try and catch up over the next few days. If you all only knew how many times a night you pop into my head while I'm at work...(you'd probably commit me)!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

As Monday turns to Tuesday!

I finally found my way back here for a few minutes!

By the time we ran errands on Saturday and got home it was getting dark, we were hungry, and I decided to skip working on John's car and fix dinner and watch a movie. The chicken marsala turned out well; I loved it, she didn't. My wife has decided she wants nothing to do with anything cooked in wine, even though I fixed something else a year or so ago she thought was OK. I'll share the recipe this weekend.

My nephew's graduation went well on Sunday, in spite of Fred Phelps picketer's waving signs and shouting at the entrance to the stadium grounds. I'm glad I didn't have to explain to my grandkids what the words on the signs were! Some of the sign carriers weren't a lot older than they are.

My wife and I picked up my mother here in K.C. and took her; it's the first thing like this she's consented to attending in a very long time. It was outdoors, and the temp got close to 90. I had stuck a golf umbrella in the trunk in case it rained as we were taking her home; instead she and my wife shared it for a sunshade. Heat being one of those things that sets off MS, when we wheeled her back out of the stadium and got her to the car she was too weak to stand, but we got her back in the Malibu and once she spent some time in the air conditioning, she was fine again.

My nephew decided on his future several years ago. Not being the most academic of kids, but a "hands on" type, he decided he wanted to be a mechanic. As he went through high school he has turned out to be adept at welding and fabricating things from scratch, along with being a pretty good wrench. He spent part of his last two summers in "The Great Race" with an entry from his high school, the first year as a navigator and mechanic, last year as a driver and mechanic. He's met people who are only legends to me, Jack Roush among them.

In July he leaves to start school at Wyoming Technical Institute, one of the top mechanic's schools in the nation. If everything works out, he might be one of those lucky people who gets to do something they truly love and make money at it; I hope so!

I had planned to get here last night and write my little update and visit you all, but it was a long day and I was wiped out by the time we got Mom home, got home ourselves and got things ready for work today. My wife ended up staying home sick today; the cold she brought home from work had degenerated to where she was losing her voice and her ears were bugging her along with her throat. I spent the day putting what I could of John's Neon back together without the new timing cover, which showed up at Chrysler this afternoon just late enough I couldn't go get it before work. So I know where I will be tomorrow! Since they left for DisneyWorld this afternoon, I need to get his car back in his driveway just so it looks like someone is home! Meanwhile, their dog is here for two weeks, and Frankie has disappeared to the basement in protest, lol!

Off to bed; I need sleep before the morrow!

Thinking of you each!


Friday, May 19, 2006


Though the weekend will be a whirl of activity, I'm glad the week is done!

Before work today I'm putting back together what I can of my son's Neon as we await the timing cover, due tomorrow or Monday from Chrysler. Since I won't be doing the shopping today, that waits 'til tomorrow and my wife and I will go together. I also need to pick up dress slacks and a shirt (replacing more of my wardrobe, though I hate to) because my nephew graduates high school on Sunday and at this point I have two pair of jeans and the shorts I've picked up for the summer.

Needless to say, I probably won't be here again until Monday!

Hope you each have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Murphy strikes again!

Got a phone call Monday; "Dad, what do you think it means when my car has a huge puddle of antifreeze under the right side. I shut it off at the toll plaza and it looks like about a 1/2 gallon of Prestone on the ground?"

My brother-in-law was meeting him there to exchange something (it's a halfway between the houses thing) and ended up bringing him home. I told him a hose or a water pump, maybe a freeze plug. At worst, a head gasket.

Got up at 8 this morning, gathered tools and hoses, clamps, etc., and rode out with him to look and see if it was major or minor while he got something he needed for work out of it. (He's one of those lucky people who can work from home sometimes when he needs to!)

I put a pressure tester on it and even in my hearing reduced state, I could hear the biggest gurgle I'd ever heard from a car. It's a '98 Neon w/119,000 on it, so there's not much seeing since it's front wheel drive, but I knew there was no fixing it there! We got it towed in to my house (the first thing the old wrecker driver said was "water pump, huh?", rolled it down the driveway, then he went home to get his manual. He ended up working a bit, and came back about 2 hours later. I spent the time cleaning up the part of the winter clutter I hadn't gotten to yet. Since it was trash day, I just started pitching stuff! They were running late today, and by the time they got here I had quite a pile for them!

Somehow I just knew it had to be the water pump, so we went and got it and the timing belt and idler pulley and fan belt; might as well replace everything you could you were taking off anyway. We got back and started tearing it down and found a crack in the plastic timing cover I didnt understand. It worried me...never having torn down a front wheel drive like this, and seeing things I don't understand a bit...hoping it wasn't something really major!

He went home to get his kids and I had to go buy a special pulley puller to get the balancer off the crankshaft, none of the old ones I had would work on this new fangled critter. We ran by the grocery on the way home.

Finally getting it torn the rest of the way down, it turned out that when the water pump died, it locked up and pitched the belt off the front of the pulley and cracked the cover; it also went cockeyed enough to make an opening bigger than my thumb for the coolant to leak through, under pressure. No major damage; the timing cover is $34 from Chrysler and will take a few days to get; all told, by the time it's back together with parts and wrecker bill he'll be out just over $100.

His wife had to go to a graduation tonight, so while we worked on his car my wife grilled burgers and brats for the grandkids and us, and when we went to pick up buns we had grabbed a French Silk Chocolate pie for dessert (the first time the youngest grandson had had that pleasure, lol). The kids all loved it, eating in the backyard just before dusk like a picnic.

Needless to say, I got in from the garage about 10 and cleaned up, we watched a bit of TV and then she went to bed; I'm headed that way now!

The Marsala is waiting until the weekend...

Back to the gym and work tomorrow!

Hopefully I'm done with Murphy for a little while, anyway! And my garage is a whole lot cleaner than it started the day!


Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday rolls around again...

Just in from the gym, a bit early so I can call my grandson and tell him Happy Birthday before I go to work, since he goes to bed before I get my lunch break.

Vacation day tomorrow; hoping to take Dottie to a movie and fix dinner after, then have a quiet evening at home.

If I get to fix the Chicken Marsala, I'll let you know whether it turns out or not on Wednesday; if she wants something else, I'll fix that instead. It's our last mid week day off together until after July, so I hope to see she enjoys it!

Hope all of you are having a good Monday!


Saturday, May 13, 2006

From Sly's kitchen! (and an Angel)

Saturday afternoon; Dottie's at work, so I went to the gym and got in some of the cardio (3.75 miles, 48 minutes on a treadmill; another 10 on a stairmaster, plus a light arm workout) I haven't had time for as they keep closing streets and highways around here. What used to be a 7 minute trip to work (and the gym since it's there) now runs 12-22 depending on traffic and lights! The time I used to spend on the treadmill after a couple of hours of lifting has become travel time, lol!

I had planned on making a Chicken Marsala recipe tonight, but our oldest and his wife came from Lawrence last night and spent Friday evening with her while I was at work (they used to do Sci-Fi Fridays 'til everything went into repeats) and she fixed a large roast with potatoes and gravy, so we have leftovers for tonight. Tomorrow I plan on having a steak ready for her when she comes home from work...

So my recipe for today comes from Stallone's kitchen, courtesy of his book "Sly Moves". They are a "good carb" cookie, meaning a "slow" carb instead of a fast one, so they don't "spike" insulin levels like most (triggering fat storage).

Rocky Cookies

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/8 cup brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/8 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup Quaker old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 egg (ain't that a mean trick?)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon molasses

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium-size bowl, combine wheat and rice flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar and oats. Make in indentation in the center and add egg, olive oil, water and molasses. Mix vigorously until the dough is moistened. Roll tablespoon-size balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until done. Remove cookies from oven and cool on wire rack. They should be soft and slightly chewy.

I was surprised at how much I like these. I took some extras in my lunch and the 3 or 4 people I shared one with wanted the recipe.

Not sure if I'll get something up in time for tomorrow or not; I have a lot on my plate the rest of the day. Need to brush the dog out again to try to get her ready to bathe so I can clip her for spring (and quit vacuuming her winter coat up finally), I need to mow, and I need to wash the "nectar" from the tree off my car, then be ready to go visit my Mom when Dottie comes home from work, besides filling my car and renting "The New World".

So just in case, I'm going to post one of my poor dog Angel. We cut the matts out of her winter coat about two weeks ago, and then I let some more brushing and a bath slip last weekend. If I get time I'll post how she came into our lives for tomorrow! Somehow I doubt I'll have her clipped in time to shoot and post...


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Roses and that tree again!

Back in 1953, the spring after they moved in, Mom planted a climbing rose at the corner of the house. When we moved in in 1978 it wasn't doing too well, but each year it gets a bit better. It's just now starting to flower out; this photo is from 2 years ago when I first got the Nikon and hadn't learned yet about using a polarizing filter to shoot flowers, or shading them to hold all the highlights.

Yesterday when I got home from the gym the sun was finally out for the first time in a week, so I grabbed the camera and walked across the street. Hopefully this holds enough detail you can see all the flowers if you click on it for the large version.

Off to the gym, it's leg day!


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fly by...

A very quick passing here...

Tried Sunday night to post the roses part of my Sunday post, Blogger was still having none of it. I didn't start the computer last night because of the beautiful thunderstorm I drove through coming home.

I spent Monday reading and re-reading health insurance stuff as they are closing the PPO I've been in for years and I had until next week to choose between two other plans, a "traditional" and an HMO. Although the idea of paying 100% of our office visits makes my wallet ache, with the fine print that's in what I get to read of the HMO before I'm in it I just can't see giving them the option to deny or delay whatever they'd like. I went and talked to one of our benefits reps at first break last night; he said he's going through the same thing right now, and that his wife was just diagnosed with cancer, and he went with the traditional plan for those exact reasons as well.

So it's 11AM, I just booted the computer so I can go make our plan election (if I don't do it they automatically put me in traditional, but drop her!) and print a copy. Then I have an errand to run and I'm still trying to make the gym by noon as I lost yesterday!

Thank you all for such wonderful comments on my Sunday post. I "Googled" George Washington Poplar and did come up with some links that still call it that, including some pics of one at Mt. Vernon that George planted! They all do get around to the Latin name from the Wikipedia post.

I'll try posting those roses tonight and try to visit you all!

Tried parking on the street last night again as it was storming and I didn't feel like swapping cars...hope my doors aren't glued shut from the "nectar"!


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tulip trees and roses...

Blogger seems to be unhappy again; I've been trying to upload a second photo off and on for 6 hours, and I'm giving up for tonight!

Funny how I've been told my whole life my "tulip tree" is a George Washington Poplar; when I went to Wikipedia to make the link above, I find out that's wrong and it's really a magnolia!

Their photo is better than mine. This is from about two years ago; I was going to take some new ones, but too busy for my own good this week. This afternoon after the birthday party I ended up washing my older son's Neon because they parked under the tree last night (these flowers really drip sap), my Malibu that was under it for about 20 minutes this afternoon and covered, and my Chrysler that I thought was far enough down the street to be safe, but I was wrong! That was after cooking dinner, so I was rather wiped out by the time dark rolled around!

Hope everyone's weekend is lovely!


Friday, May 05, 2006

Recipe Saturday early...

Since Dillon's party is early and I might not get here tonight, I'm going to put this up now!

Honey Chicken Stir-Fry

(from "The Essential Wok Cookbook")

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound (500g) chicken thigh fillets (I used a pound of breast meat)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/3 cup cornflour (couldn't find it, used rice flour)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (used peanut oil)
1 green pepper, cubed

2 onions, thinly sliced*
2 carrots, cut into batons*
3.5 oz snow peas, sliced*
*I used a half a one pound bag of frozen Bird's Eye Stir Fry Mix with these and mushrooms in it and added the pepper

1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons roasted almonds

1. Dip the chicken cubes into the egg white, then lightly dust with flour, shaking off any excess.
2. Heat a wok over high heat, add 1.5 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat the sides of the wok. Add the chicken in two batches, stir-fry each for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and just cooked. Remove the chicken and drain on paper towels.
3. Reheat the wok, add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir-fry the vegetable mix and pepper for 3-4 minutes. (If you do your own, it's onion first for 3-4, then pepper and carrot for 3-4, then the peas go in last for about 2 minutes.)
4. Pour the honey into the wok and toss the vegetables in it until well coated. Add the chicken and toss until it's thoroughly coated and reheated as well. Serve immediately sprinkled with the toasted almonds. Serve with white rice.

I never thought I would be able to do something like this so easily, or have it turn out so wonderfully!

Hope you each have a wonderful weekend! Will try and put something up for Sunday...


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

No Superman here, lol!

Wednesday; it's 3PM again. Same schedule as Monday.

When I read Stallone's book "Sly Moves" I was shocked to read that for each year we're past 30 we lose 1/2 pound of muscle a year! Meaning that since I had done nothing to maintain what I started with (which wasn't much, I was never a jock) let alone gain, even though I wasn't eating that much more volumewise than I had since my 20's (though probably much better than the hamburger and mac and cheese days), I kept gaining and gaining, like the snowball rolling downhill.

When I went through therapy for my back, after I did my stretches and all, they let me hang around and started teaching me a bit about using their weight machines. I found that when I used their rowing machine, lat pulldowns and chest flyes, the nagging ache in the middle of my back I had thought was arthritis suddenly quit!

When I went back to work I starting going to the company gym. It has cardio, weight machines and free weights. I started doing cardio and some of the weight machines. It took 6 months before I dared try moving to the freeweights. When I started with them I couldn't bench 100 pounds, and only knew what I was reading about other lifts. Today I broke 150 for the first time.

Now I'm trying to work a 3 day "split": chest and back one day, legs another, and shoulders and arms the 3rd day. If I have any extra time I try to get at least a 1/2 hour of cardio.

I've still been slacking on the other 4 days; ideally I should be doing at least a 1/2 hour of cardio each day, plus my stretches and stuff from therapy. Instead, when my back aches a bit, I do the therapy stuff and if I get a chance to ride my bike, jump rope or something else I try to work that in, but it's hard to do all the things I should and have a life!

Speaking of life, it's 3:15 and time to shower, eat, pack my cooler and run out the door again! Storms tonight so I'm shutting down my "magic box" even though I have a battery backup that is supposed to shut it down if the lights blink; Lori ("Thoughts of Laurel") lost her computer to an electrical storm a few weeks ago. Usually I leave mine running SETI packets 24/7 when I'm not using it...

Hopefully I'll get some time to blog-hop tonight and catch up with all of you!


* 2:24am- I left out a line because I was writing so fast earlier! That 1/2 pound of muscle burns calories no matter what you are or aren't doing; awake, asleep, lying on the 50 that meant I had lost 10 pounds of muscle. Somewhere there's an equation that will relate that into calories, but I don't have time to dig for it right now!

Sorry about leaving out that line!


Monday, May 01, 2006

3:00PM on Monday...

just in from the gym. Up at 10:30, at the gym at 11:45, 2 hours of weights, a half hour (2.2 miles) on the treadmill, then home to shower, eat, pack my cooler and change and be out the door by 4.

Bill had too much grading and research work to do to come to dinner yesterday, so I got to try a recipe from my wok cookbook, a honey chicken stir fry that we both loved. (She said I can fix that one anytime I'd like!) I'll share it on Saturday.

Vacation day tomorrow, as she worked the weekend so she had Friday off and tomorrow. Dillon's birthday bowling party is this weekend, so tomorrow we finish birthday shopping for him. If it doesn't rain, the car will get the two new roof moldings to finish off the hail damage repairs, and if I end up with some extra daylight time maybe I can get her to go to the park with me so I can ride a bit...not going to hold my breath for that one! I need to build my legs up quite a bit before I try hitting the dirt trails!

This next Saturday was supposed to be a work one, but I asked for it off back in February. When I was in the gym (which is in the plant at work) someone came in and said Saturday was cancelled; guess I have nothing to feel guilty about, not that they'd miss me anyway!

Hope your Mondays aren't too blue; mine is a bit brighter knowing I get to play hooky tomorrow!