Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cats Video

After going to Jill's to visit and seeing how long it took her computer to download my simple website, after I'd loaded it with a bunch of videos I wanted to keep, I swore I cut it out. But I have to break my oath. I came across this compilation of cat videos that actually had some of the funniest ones I've ever seen all put together in one video.

So for your viewing pleasure and Jill's frustration, here is one video with cat clips that will have you rolling on the floor laughing your proverbial ass off.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Max's Visiting and Lola Update

Max arrived early this evening for a visit. Since it's been three weeks since his last visit, I'm especially glad to see him.  It's been so long that he hadn't had a chance to try the new batch of bacon; so we had BLTs for supper. His response on his first bite was all a cook could hope for: "OMG, this is fucking wonderful!" (Remember, we have no kids to curb our use of profanity, nor do we mind an occasional profane word.)

After unpacking the truck, he gallantly went out back to see if he could get the lawn mower started. I'd mowed a bit for Larry to till the garden area, and for the life of me couldn't get it started again, which left it sitting outside. Guess it showered last night because he plopped down on the seat and immediately got a wet pair of pants for his kindness.

We'll likely not come close to doing all the things we'd like to do while he's in this weekend. The bad thing is that it seems it will be another 3 weeks before he can visit again. That's bad in the spring. In fact, that's about the worst thing that could happen.

For one thing, we really need to finish taking out the cabinet in the garage so I can park  the truck in there. That's going to take some time. Additionally, Larry broke the ground for the garden, but I need Max to till it. I've ordered some heritage transplants that I want to try, and there are a rose bush, a lilac, and 4 raspberry bushes needing holes dug for them.

Face it, there are things that can be done by an out-of-shape, middle-aged woman, but they can still be done far more easily by an out-of-shape, middle-aged man. I've been bushwhacking  overgrown bushes and pruning deadwood from about a dozen dogwood trees neglected for the last decade. Three hours of that at a time is about all I can do right now. Hopefully I'll eventually get back into some semblance of physical fitness.

Anyway, I wouldn't have bought the plants if I'd known Max wasn't going to be able to come up at least two weekends in a row. Y'all better invest money in an Ibuprofen company - I'm gonna be running the stock up.

Lola Update:
A minute ago when I walked through the living room, Lola was sitting there waving her hand around and pointing. I laughed and asked her if she was talking to herself. She laughed and said she was. I just told her I hoped she was having a good conversation.

We had a few days last week that I didn't have to wash bedsheets. That was nice. It's a sure thing now that I have to do laundry at least every other day. Who knew that 4 pairs of pajamas were not going to be enough? Seriously, though, if she gets the pair wet that she's been sleeping in, and then has an accident during the day, that makes three pairs of jammies in one day. So the 4th pair gets used the next morning, and I bloody well better get a load of washing done.

She's still able to walk, but she's creeping even more and more slowly. I do hope she remains able to walk until her death.  Her appetite hasn't waned one bit. She still eats most anything I put in front of her, and eats all of it usually.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Visiting Jill and Lola Update

I just spent a lovely day with my cousin, Jill. Went down on Tuesday at noon and got back here about 4 p.m. on Thursday. That was a great little break. We gabbed, commiserated, ate, socialized, shopped and generally had a great time.

Sheila came over and sat with Lola while I was gone. I imagine Lola had a great time, as Sheila stayed with her in the living room quite a bit more than I can manage. Lemme say, I love my sitters. Sheila cared for my mother, helped her, fed her, was here if an emergency happened, and helped with the cleaning. I haven't taken a break in so many months, this was so uplifting for me.

When I got back, I had gotten out of the habit of checking Mom for incontinence, and darn it, when I finally remembered to get her to go to the bathroom at 10:30 p.m. it was far too late. So she's changing clothes right now. Sheila agreed that Lola has simply now forgotten what to do in the restroom.

Okay, so it takes at least 15 minutes to handle things when Mom sits in her chair and pees on her self. She has to take off the wet clothes and incontinence underwear, put new diaper/underwear on and new clothes. She has to clean herself, which she sometimes can and sometimes cannot do. Then put on fresh clothes. Then I get to go into the bathroom, get rid of the underwear, which smells unbelievably bad. If you're inexperienced with this, just know that urine stinks, badly. Then pick up the soaked clothes and get them in the laundry room.

While I was in Waverly, I finally got to visit Jeanne in her new apartment. It's absolutely lovely. It is one of the nicest apartments I've ever seen for middle class apartments. She has one side of a red brick duplex with large rooms, walk in closets in both bedrooms, a private master bathroom with tub and shower, a common-area/2nd bedroom full bathroom with a shower of which I'm jealous. She has linen closets, a hall closet, and a huge pantry in the kitchen. Her kitchen reminded me of the kitchen that was in the house they owned in Martin, except sunnier. It's a galley kitchen with an amazing amount of cabinets and counter space. She has a full-sized washer and dryer in a large closet in the hall. There's a nice concrete porch at the front entry, and a lovely wooden deck off the sliding doors in the back.

Jeanne started her new life in Waverly with new furniture for her living, dining room and kitchen, and her decor is lovely. She has white walls, white dining room furniture, pale green sofas, and striking deep burgundy accents. It's an absolutely lovely apartment.

While I was in Waverly, I had a chance to shop at Wally World without worrying about getting back to Lola, and that was so very nice. You never know how much simple things like shopping mean until they get taken away. I treated myself to a new blender, and got one of the Ninja blenders, which you can see by clicking here. My mom's old blender is so shot, it won't even blend a milkshake well.

I don't think my parents really used the blender; I just think it's old. However, Jill laughed and said she was still using the blender they got as a wedding present too many decades ago to mention.

In addition, I managed to finally pick up another towel rack for the laundry room, a new TP holder to replace the one that fell out of the wall, and a new saucepan. I finally found the unusual light bulbs that go in the old, really old, medicine cabinet with lights in the bathroom - they're cylindrical and fit inside tubes of milk glass. It's amazing the things that become difficult to buy when 1. you live in a rural area, and 2. you get tied to not being gone from the house for long shopping trips. Light bulbs - who knew they'd become a problem.

We picked up some good chorizo and made scrambled eggs and chorizo for breakfast this morning. I found some creama Mexicana and introduced both Jill and Sheila to it.

Since I've been home tonight, I've caught up on email, messaged with Max (which I missed doing the last few days), read my elists, watched Rachel Maddow, checked my youtube channels, and researched driving a well point. LOL. The joys of being home after being away without a computer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cajun Cooking with Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse

I'm embedding this video because I want to keep the ingredients for Cajun spice so that I can make it myself, and, LOL, reduce the amount of cayenne pepper. Maybe then I can enjoy the flavor of Cajun without being turned off by the heat. This video is from 1993, and my, oh my, doesn't Emeril look young! in this video, he shows how to make a Shrimp Etoufee and a Crab Boil.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spiders and Forsythia

Okay. We are at war! Yesterday I picked up a strange plastic tube in the garage, and luckily spotted the black widow spider on it before it bit me. Last night I found a tick on myself in a totally unacceptable place. Today I picked up a metal folding chair in the yard and fortunately looked at it before I grabbed the seat to carry it off. OMG, there was the biggest, shiniest black widow spider I have ever in my life seen. Look at this sucker:

Finger for scale
Its hiding spot.

Now, I'm not all that hip on a lot of chemicals in the yard, but I'm about ready to put a bubble over the house and the yard and bomb the whole place with insecticide.

On a lighter note, I finally finished bushwhacking out the forsythia-gone-wild at the corner of the garage, and the neighbor kindly used the scoop on his tractor to dig the huge stump out. Here's a shot of the bush yet to be taken to the burn pile and the nice spot left after Larry dug the stump out.  Thank you, Larry! Can you believe the amount of bush from what started out as one forsythia? I have a lovely lilac bush to put in its place.

The Fresh Prince of Downton Abbey

Ran across this spoof on the BBC show "Downton Abbey" that was just too cute to resist.

Oh, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the first season of "Downton Abbey."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grinding Your Own Cornmeal

The question is: Can you make your own cornmeal easily and cheaply? The simple answer is: Yes, if you have an electric coffee grinder and buy a bag of feed corn. If you're wanting to live off the grid or grind cornmeal during an electrical outage, you need to find a different method - hand-powered grain mill. Otherwise, if you're just looking for corners to cut on your grocery budget, an electric coffee grinder and a bag of feed corn are dandy. Oh, and you have to be willing to invest a little time, a little elbow grease, and not be distressed by the things YOU are going to have to do that are usually done by the people behind the bags of cornmeal in the grocery that you don't see.

On the other hand, you can shop online at many places and buy buckets of ready-to-go corn sold to people who want to either store corn long-term or not fiddle with any cleaning process. It's all up to how cheap you are, how squeamish you are, and what your goals are - long-term storage or let's get this done.

Corn still needing to be ground.
The coffee grinder, finished cornmeal on right,
leftover corn to be finished on left.

Lola Update 4/10/12

Lola's putzing along in lala land just fine. Let's see, I took her trashcan away recently because she'd taken to dumping in it whatever liquid she had that she hadn't finished. Additionally, she was spitting out meat that didn't strike her fancy, and the cat was dumpster diving in it in the middle of the night.

I'd switched her over to toilet paper instead of Kleenex because she was breaking the bank going through tissue. Sometimes I found a half inch of unused tissue in it. Today I'm swearing I'll take away the toilet paper because she's taken to bombing the cat with it. Once the cat gets over being bombed, he decides to play with it. I'm getting mighty tired of walking through the living room picking up toilet paper shreds, rolls of toilet paper, and her lap towel (which also gets slung at the cat.)

Speaking of the cat, sigh. Does anyone want a cat? Lola hates it. I call it Stupid, but it doesn't offend me as much now as it used to. I still really don't want it, though. However, I absolutely cannot just lock it out of the house. It's been in this house for at least three years, and it would be utterly cruel to stick it outside. It slept on Joe at night, and now it's switched to sleeping on me. Some people don't have a problem with suddenly locking a cat out, but I do. I'll gladly give it away, though.

The skin underneath Lola's breasts is looking better. The diaper rash creme is doing the trick. Lordy, though, it's a mess and a pain to wash off. Also, I've been trying to keep some cloth underneath them to keep them from resting on other skin. That's a losing battle. I absolutely could not find any cloth diapers to use. They would have been ideal - soft, cotton, and not too big. Pampers just won't substitute. What's up with people that don't realize the myriad uses of cloth baby diapers? So I bought a new package of washcloths to use. Shortly after I put the washcloth there, she's forgotten why it's there, gets irritated with it, and I have to pick it up off the floor.

Mom's getting a bit of red around her nose, not just at the end, but on top and leaking off onto her cheeks. I don't know what's up with that. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it's just spring and allergies.

That's it with the Lola update.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Can You Really Trust Your State Legislators?

So do you really think you can trust your state legislators to obey the laws of your state? Maybe you shouldn't, especially if you live in Michigan.  Is this coming to a state near you? Your state maybe?

Bacon in April 2012

I just finished my first batch of bacon for 2012 and thought I'd post some pics of it. To the left are pics of this batch from one hog belly, except for the two hunks I'd taken out of the smoker earlier and forgot to include in the pic. On the far right you can see the inside of the bacon because I cut into one hunk for supper.

The house is still full of the smell of smoking bacon, and that's great. This batch was done with apple wood, and I liked the smoke from the larger chunks of apple wood more than the smoke from the little chips of hickory you buy in the stores.

Since I'm still in my first year of curing my own bacon, each time is a learning experience. Hopefully I'll get it all together and post a final post on making bacon. The first time I learned not to pile the salt on like you're baking a fish in a salt dome. So this time I salted lightly and appropriately. However, I put the bacon in salt on March 20, 2012, and didn't get it smoked until April 8, 2012. That's too long in the salting process. The bacon didn't end up salt pork, but it was a close call.

The second thing I've decided is that I want to cure the bacon in larger slabs. For some reason, maybe because it's what I'm used to buying, I keep cutting the slabs into pieces about the size of what I'd buy in the grocery. I decided that's really not the way to go with it. I'm going to keep the slabs in the largest pieces possible on the next batch. Once they're cured and smoked, I'll cut them into sizes appropriate for storing.

The third thing I've decided is that I need a different smoker. I bought a propane Char-Broil Smoker and thought that would work for the bacon. However,  I've decided it's simply too hot for the way I want to smoke bacon. Everything I've read recommends a cool smoke for curing bacon, and after this last batch I think I'm going to try that route. A bit ago I saw a smoker with the bin on one side, and the racks for the meat in a different chamber. I want to try that for curing the bacon.

This time I had all three racks full of bacon, and after about two hours I noticed grease pooling on the patio around the legs. When I checked on it, enough grease from the bacon had dripped into the pan holding the wood that I was worried about overflow of grease and blow up from the grease spilling into the propane flame.

Ah, no problem, thought I. I'll just get my ladle and scoop some of that grease out. Don't try that if your ladle isn't stainless steel. Otherwise, you'll simply melt your ladle.

The last thing I've learned is that you really have to shop and search for a place to purchase the hog belly. The first I bought from the good meat market in Memphis, Charlie's, and it didn't cost more than $35. The second I ordered from a local grocery in Carlisle County, and that price was $120 for not much different poundage. I ordered one from a butcher near Paducah, but they never ever called me to let me know the order was in. What? Did they think I wasn't serious about the order? So Max agreed to take time from work to drive over to Charlie's in Memphis and get this last one. Again, 30-something pounds of hog belly for about $35.00.

Don't ask me what's up with the meat market. I can't figure it out.

The New Truck, the Garage, and JUNK

I think I told you that Max called me few weeks ago to let me know I had a new truck. It's a great old but new-to-us truck. We seem to really need one for here.

There's just one big problem with it (well, besides needing an elevator to get into it) - it won't fit into the garage.

Dad put some fantastic floor to rafter cabinets on the back wall of the garage. Even when the front bumper of the truck is resting against the cabinets, the garage door will only go half-way down. One day last week we were predicted to have possible thunderstorms, and the weather radio was blaring hourly about severe thunderstorms right on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. So I pulled the truck into the garage and lowered the door as much as it would go.

Our next-door neighbor, Larry, is so very nice. He was sitting at the table eating supper and noticed the door. He got up from his supper and came over to help me with the door because he thought it had gotten stuck. I told him the problem, grinning rather foolishly. He walked to the back of the garage and looked at the truck bumping just into the cabinets; then he walked back to the front and looked at the garage door resting halfway down the tailgate. Then he shook his head, looked at me and said, "I'm going back home and finishing supper." He and Julia probably got as much of a laugh out of it as I did.

Our decision is we prefer the truck in the garage more than we prefer the cabinets. So this weekend Max started working on emptying the cabinets so we can dismantle enough of them to get the truck in the garage. This is where the junk comes in. After Max got all the stuff out of them and sitting on the garage floor, we simply stood there in amazement looking at the crap Joe had stuffed into those cabinets.

To be trashed
The heater is brand new and ours.
The rest of the stuff is to be gone through.
Larry came over and got the guards for the table saw he traded me the lathe for. He didn't want anything else. Uncle Charles came over and got a few things. These are pictures of some of the things that were left after Max had already filled a garbage bin of stuff.

On the left are a vacuum cleaner from, what, 1950? An electric typewriter from when, the 60's? A compressor from a Chevy air conditioner. Battered hubcaps. A radio/sound system from something that's at least 40 years old. The legs from an old TV tray. On the right is a myriad of "stuff."

Now remember, these are pics from what was left after 2 people came and got stuff, and Max filled a huge, wheeled garbage bin.  I suppose for quite a while I'll be shaking my head over the stuff my parents kept in this house. I'll be cursing them, too, but that's another issue.

I get the whole living in the Great Depression thing, but isn't there a thing of taking things too far? That vacuum cleaner was the 2nd broken one Joe had kept. He's going to use the air conditioner compressor for parts for what? He's going to use the electric typewriter without a cord?

Seriously, folks, if you are doing this to your children, get a clue and get over it. Throw the crap away. Last week I cleaned out the "gardening cabinet" and threw away a broken garbage disposal and a huge thing of beef jerky from 2004.  When you can't remember what you've got, you've got too much, and your heirs don't want to deal with it.

We were really hoping to save the cabinets and move them over, but we don't think that's going to work. Max had to take the truck back to Memphis this time to get it inspected and registered. So I've got the Kia for 3 weeks with no problem of getting it in the garage.

Canning Pumpkin Question

At the end of fall in 2011, I canned some pumpkin and have what may be a problem with it. There has been some discoloration which I can't decide is actual spoilage or something home canned pumpkin does. Because I'm unsure, I'm tossing it.

It's seeming to come from one particular pumpkin - I only had two, but I'm not sure. I may have been sloppy with one pumpkin and took too long to get it from the roasting into the jars. That and the fact that I've never done pumpkin before is why I'm so unsure about this.

I'm really hoping someone that reads the blog will know something about this and can give me some information on it. Please, if you've canned pumpkin before or seen this let me know what you understand about it.

Following is a picture of the discoloration. It's a bright orange that seems to develop around where the pumpkin has bubbled during processing.

Great Fake White Wine Experiment

We're off on another Great Fake Wine Experiment as of March 2, 2012. This experiment is to make a white wine easily and cheaply. I have a problem with the tannins from red wine - they have a tendency to give me a headache. So I thought I'd try a white wine.

After tasting the Great Fake Red Wine, it was far too dry for my tastes. After decanting the peach wine, it was sickeningly sweet. Four pounds of sugar for the red grape wine; 10 pounds of sugar for the peach wine. This white grape wine will get 5 pounds of sugar.

It generally follows the original Great Fake Wine Experiment recipe:
4 cans of frozen white grape juice
5 pounds of sugar
1 package of yeast
4 gallons of water

Before beginning defrost the frozen juice.

Put the sugar in a big saucepan; I used my pressure cooker. Measure out one gallon of water and pour enough of this in the pan to cover the sugar well. Pour the rest into the container in which you're going to make the wine (5-gallon carboy/water jug). Heat the sugar just enough to get it all melted; it melts better with as much water as you can put in your pan without sloshing over.

While stirring sugar and waiting for it to dissolve, in a small container, cup measure, bowl, whatever is easy for you, put about 1/4 cup warm water, not over 115° F, and add the package of yeast and stir in. Let this set and bloom while you're melting the sugar and doing other things.

Pour the grape juice into the carboy. Add 1 gallon of water. Add the dissolved sugar water. Add the yeast; don't worry about this extra 1/4 cup of water - it won't break the recipe. Add the last 2 gallons of water. Put the lid on and give this a shake to mix everything up. Take the lid off and tape the balloon to the top of the carboy. Electrical tape is the best as is doesn't leave tape goo on the carboy.

Set aside somewhere that doesn't go below 70°F until the balloon deflates and falls over, usually 4-6 weeks. When the balloon flops over, the fermentation is done, and it's wine.

The Great Fake White Wine Experiment
Due sometime after May 2, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Food Discussion - Up With Chris Hayes

Here's a very thoughtful and interesting discussion on the food we eat. It's from the show "Up With Chris Hayes" aired on April 4, 2012. The panel discusses the "pink slime" issue which has finally hit the mainstream, along with legislation, inspection, finance, drugs, husbandry and a bit of morality.

See my post from April 11, 2011, by clicking here, if you're interested in more information on our meat industry. Looking at the dates makes wonder if these discussions are an annual thing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lola Update 4/2/12

Quick update and documentation on Lola. She's doing as well as she has been for months. Mostly nothing has changed with her condition except for small things.  She is now totally off all Xanax and has been for 3 days with no obvious signs of distress, hallucinations, or tremors. Throughout the last two months, I decreased the dosages until she was getting one-half pill in the a.m. and in the p.m.; then only getting the p.m. Three days ago, I stopped the p.m. pill.

There's been little change in her. She seems to be a bare bit more aware of movement in the house - her head is more pointed towards a door which someone is entering than before. She doesn't speak to me anymore than she has in the last months. She isn't any quieter than she has been in the last 6 months.

Her sleep patterns haven't seemed to be affected. At one point, I didn't want to stop the Xanax because she was wandering so much in the night. In the last 2 months, the wandering has almost stopped. Every now and then I'll notice something that makes me realize she's doing some wandering, but it's nothing like it was some months ago.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Health Care Discussion

This post is for me to save links to a discussion about health care because I want to listen to it again, and I'm scared the links will either go away or be so hard to find they get lost. It's the subject of a weekend show named "Up With Chris Hayes." The show on Saturday, March 31, 2012, had a panel of both conservatives and liberals discussing this last week's hearing in the Supreme Court deciding the legality of the health care bill up for approval in 2012.