Thursday, January 29, 2009

keep our pets safe

Ice, Ice, Baby! Seems like it is everywhere. We had a solid sheet of snow and ice on the driveway and after trying to wait it out for some of it to thaw the reality of it was that we had to shovel. So finally we got to use the snow blower, however I don't think it was made for all of this ice. I was tempted to get some flavorings out and make snowballs. After three hours of this snow blower dragging me around up and down hills I am beat. Of course the crazy dogs were having a ball running in front of the shooting snow then race around and come back for a face full of more. Idiots! We had to use 280 pounds of ice melt! I gave the mailman a good laugh. As he was putting mail in the box I waived only leaving one hand on the monster machine as I hit a patch of ice and landed on my butt.

I was able to get a picture of one of the woodpeckers a couple days ago and hope that you will be able to see it. This one is a small version compared to some of the others that we have.

Click on picture to enlarge and look to the middle of the second tree from your right.
Speaking of birds I have to share this story. We went to MacDonald's in town about 4 months ago and I noticed a one legged seagull there in a flock of about 50. They have migrated from where the water is about 20 miles to this parking lot. Well we ate their the other day and who should I see but this one legged sea gull that stands on the hood of my truck. He was really pitiful to look at. The leg was missing from let's say the knee down. I know birds probably don't have knees but I will use this since I am not up on my bird anatomy. Then I realized after looking around that several of these birds were missing legs. It was just terrible to look out and I am assuming that this may be due to power lines. I felt so bad for those poor birds!

Finally some of my herbs are taking off and maybe in a couple of months I will have enough to use.

I have heard about ILL. Governor Blagajevich inevitable ousting that is approaching. Please give me a break on this one. Now is there anyone you know that could keep their job after all of this? Is this man in his right mind to even think that Oprah Winfrey would consider giving up her time and the money she makes to be a senator? Sheer craziness if you ask me that is tolerated way too long.

Must say that the Indian cuisine that I prepared the other day turned out really well. Lisa enjoyed it and as I ate mine I had beads of sweat present on my forehead and brow. It was hot! The whole house smelled like a spice factory. I counted and it was 14 spices total. One of the many spices they use in cooking is called garam masala and is a blend of cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and saffron. You actually roast most spice seeds than crush and blend together. The smell of the roasted spices is really aromatic and wonderful to smell. The house smelled like a restaurant for two days.

I was researching dog food when I came across a site that many consumers had complained about the Nutro Natural Choice dry dog food. This is what I use myself and was horrified to read about the deaths and sickness that many pet owners contribute to this dog food in the recent months. So as a heads up, anyone who is using this may want to do some research on this to see if your pet may be in danger from consuming this brand of food. Just reading what goes into dog food was kind of really gross to think about. Most people can not afford those really high priced foods and are relying on the fact that most food is safe for our pets. They even use sick and dead cows to add to foods along with the intestines, heads, hooves, and many other gross parts. There seems to be alot of room for error here and maybe the government should create and impose stricter guidelines to keep our pets safe.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just stuff

Well we finished the painting job a day early and may capture an additional job from this client which is great. Things turned out good and I was really happy with the job. I have learned one thing since Lisa's days have been cut and she has helped out to save money ( she can not paint!). It was like a laurel and hardy episode one day. She has gained alot of respect for blue collar work since helping with some of the jobs and can be quite amusing sometimes to work with. A good belly laugh is worth more than money sometimes. Next we hope to pick up the job of two downed trees this week. It is tough but we are really trying to give good deals to get the jobs and help out the client at the same time.
I had to laugh at Janie's comment about hating hot dogs and beer. I will admit to probably being the hot dog queen. I just love them and it can be with all the trimmings, plain, bun less, or just with mustard. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snack. The only thing is that it has to be one of those junk dogs with variety meats which I consider to be the original hot dog. Can't handle the beef ones. Of course we are gearing up for Superbowl and hope to get on a pool at one of the local bars. We went out to dinner over the weekend to a local bar and restaurant that has some of the best seafood you can find at a really good price. The catch is the atmosphere needs alot to be desired but at least you don't have to get dressed up. We had crab cakes, raw oysters, fried clams and french fries with a couple of beers and it was really cheap.
I noticed that some of the patrons were playing Wii bowling and I found that unusual for the area. It was pretty cool to watch but then I thought about how the electronic world has taken away from the physicality of participation. It seems that less and less people bowl, play pool, roller blade, hike, and are active outside of the IT realm.
We are preparing for either snow or sleet coming are way. I did get the snow blower started on the first try but of course the weather was like 48 degrees so I think the problem of why it would not start before was due to the cold weather at 22 degrees. I am guessing that some gas additive might work but if anyone has a suggestion it would be greatly appreciated. I've been studying some spicy curry recipes to try for today and have found that Indian cooking is very interesting. I have decided to try a spicy curry beef over rice. I did need to get some extra spices for this one and Lisa almost died when she had to pay $12.00 for a bottle of cardamom. Spices can be expensive at the regular grocery stores and I would advise people to check out local markets and small foreign speciality shops where they are much cheaper when you want to make original dishes. Another thing we ran into this week was the difference in a cost of a bottle of shampoo. We buy ours at our hair salon which I paid $29.00 plus tax. We went to Walmart an I noticed their beauty salon had the same kind of shampoo at the cost of $18.95 plus tax. The same size bottle and exact shampoo. That is a big difference! For all that buy your hair products at your local salon you should check the Walmart salons to see what type of savings you may be able to get.
We did watch 60 minutes last night about the loss of jobs in Ohio from the DHL plant. I wanted to cry because I felt so sorry for those people and the town. Especially those that had both the husband and the wife working at the same plant loosing their jobs. Ohio has been hit hard with the recession and was having problems before this happened. The question next is what will people do for medical and how will this take its toll on the state and the hospitals. The snowball just keeps rolling and getting bigger by the month.
As for the football that I had signed only the memorie remains due to a fire we had when we lived on one of the farms. My parents were having a house built and stored our childhood memories in the barn until its completion. The barn was struck by lighting, caught fire and burned to the ground. My sisters and I still talk about it to this day. Of course no one was injured and that is the most important thing, but we often talk of what things would be worth today. I know I had a collection of about 400 comic books that I had collected since early childhood and my dear friend Charlie McCarthy was in there. I was a comic book junkie as a kid and still have that childhood tendency to capture anything to do with Spidey and the gang. Yes some of us never completely grow up!
The other thing I learned this week is that Lisa thinks that I cannot sing. Imagine that! She even had the nerve to tell her mother had bad it is. Of course I find this amusing and it gives me that little edge now to tease her with. My sister is coming soon for a visit and of course I have been thinking of a good joke to play on her in my little evil mind. Perhaps something scary this time?

Friday, January 23, 2009

the golden arm

There are those great encounters that some experience as children that seem greater than life at the time.

It was an ordinary summer day and as usual myself and other neighborhood kids were outside running around playing like the world was ours. As normal thirst called and I headed home to get a quick drink and a handful of bubble gum. Bubble gum was of course a must have staple to survive then. I headed into the side door entrance that lead to the restaurant kitchen and around the corner into the walkin to grab a sprite. It was midday and I could hear the stir and voices of the patrons. It was unusually loud and not the normal lunch crowd because it was a Saturday.

With inquisitive interest I peered out the dining room door to see a group of patrons and my mother hoovering around a table with a lady and man seated at it. I could only see the back of the mans head from where I was at. While everyone was busy I figured I could sneak around to the stock room and get some extra gum for my friends. I often wondered if my parents every really noticed a missing candy bar or handful of gum when they opened up the boxes for display behind the bar.

I had my gum and was rounding the corner when my mother almost bowled me over rushing into the kitchen with great excitement on her face. Then she said " do you know who is here?" Well of course I didn't I was outside all morning. "Quick go get your football" she blurted as she started the kitchen check. Still standing there completely in the dark with my pocket full of surprise I asked "why?". Getting out two beef patties from the refrigerator (they made their own fresh burgers) my mother said "hurry, quick go get your football because Johnny Unitas is here!"

Now for all of you who don't know, Johnny Unitas was one of the greatest quarterbacks to play football and played for the Baltimore Colts back in the day. He would be the equivalent to today's Brett Farve or Peyton Manning. Oh my God! I couldn't believe it, I ran upstairs to get my football for him to sign. This was so cool! Little did my mom know that I kinda of made a detour through the back yard and around the neighborhood to tell my friends that Johnny Unitas was here in the flesh actually eating a burger at our restaurant with his wife. Before you knew it the dining room was filled with fans wanting to say hi and get autographs.

He was really nice and did sign oddities (footballs, scraps of paper, tee shirts, and even a baseball bat) for all the kids and shake hands with the patrons. They of course seemed very used to this type of greeting and were very humble. His food arrived and we left leaving his wife and him to eat their lunch in peace savoring a fresh burger and what small town fame is all about.

My mother was thrilled that she met him and that he actually stopped there for lunch, but never made a big deal about it and would remember it fondly. Myself and the gang sat for a long period of time that day enjoying the sun, the gum, and sharing the stuff that we had signed by the man with the golden arm.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kudos to Obama!

I watched the inauguration, the parade, and history in the making but there was one thing that really struck me that I had not seen for a long time. A positive role model. There were so many young people that were touched by President Obama in the most positive way that you don't see very often. He is not a sports legend, movie star, or current rock star on tour, but the President of the United States. Kids of all ages seemed to be impressed and interested in something and someone that can truly make a difference for millions of Americans in many different ways. It was truly impressive, and touching. At the same instance I was imaging the change that was actually taking place that would last a lifetime and change the direction and mindset of our future generations. Kudos to Obama!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


It has been an interesting couple of days here. The big hype for the playoff game. The grocery store only had six packs of hot dogs left. Now that was hard to believe. Everyone was in their team shirts and hats purchasing snacks and other goodies getting ready for kickoff. Of course we had the big let down when the Ravens lost to the Steelers in the playoffs. Steelers have been playing a great game and deserve it to win the Superbowl.

Things must be quite different here as compared to the west coast and I am assuming it is due to the weather. Betty had mentioned about going out to eat and having to wait for a table. Saturday we decided to go to dinner and a nice restaurant on the water and made reservations. We were the only ones in the whole dining room! The good thing was that we received excellent service and the food was delicious. I did feel sorry for the staff knowing that they make the majority of their salary in tips. Afterwards we strolled the waterside town (in 5 degree weather) and it was close to empty everywhere which is unusual for here. I have heard many people say they were staying home because it was just too cold.

I started a painting job on Monday that will take up the week, which is good. So I am painting and it starts snowing. Now they only called for a snow shower. It started snowing harder and harder with really big flakes. I really needed to get one room finished with primer and was moving at a faster pace in case the snow kept coming. Finally finished around 4:00, cleanup and headed for home which was a really good thing because the temperature was dropping and I could see some ice already forming. We live in a development that we all pay a fee for the roads to be cleaned. That is really funny due to the fact that it doesn't happen until a day or two later. The problem is that it is hilly like a mountain with trees and no roadside. So I come around the corner in my truck and see like 20 cars at the ponds and people standing around. I just gave thought that they had something going on. Then I saw the ice. No I didn't panic just put it in low gear and kept up a good speed made it up the hill then popped into the drive. Now I bought this truck for this reason alone. A big four wheel drive Chevy that can handle snow and it holds good to its name. Later after talking to the neighbor who has AWD and couldn't make it up the hill that is the reason everyone was at the ponds. We watched car after car slide sideways, spinout, and one do a 380. Finally after mega complaints the snow trucks came bearing gifts of salt. Everyone was happy for about 30 minutes until we lost power.

I cleaned up the walks and then was going to rev up the snow plow for the first time removing snow. I pulled the started and nothing! Okay this thing was just serviced it should start right away. After about 45 minutes of trying to start this thing I was worn out. Used starter fluid and everything. It was just too cold! This thing had started all summer and fall, now it just quenched up. This seemed really strange because it is colder in other states and I am wondering how do they keep everything running. So it was back to the trusty old snow shovel.

Losing power here is like changing your underware. It seems to happen everyday. Well now we are down for hours and I don't really mind it as much as Lisa. So I made this really nice butternut squash and apple soup for dinner, started the fireplace and this seemed to appease her need for electricity for awhile.

Friday, January 16, 2009


The weather has turned really cold here at 5 degrees. Actually I kind of like it because the ground is nice and hard in the backyard for the dogs, which means less dirt in the house-yeah! They won't stay out there too long when it is this cold.

I have actually taken the time to do some painting which I haven't done for years. Now I have to clean up the basement. I just imagined myself sitting across the mountains in a row boat on a quiet lake fishing for bass. Looks as if this may be in Colorado. See I told you I day dream.
Now I am going to start a new herb garden with oregano, basil, Italian parsley, and mint. I had an earlier one but the light drew small gnats during the summer. It seems to be the time of year for small projects and hobbies. I bought a really neat vase for the kitchen table and now am in the search for a nice water plant to go with it.
Things are not so hot in town. A friend of mine owns a bar and restaurant which she is really struggling with. I have noticed that she is not opening during the day and has cut back on the days they are open. I should stop in to see her. I tried to tell her in a nice constructive way that the previous chef was ruining her business but it came too late and then the downside of the economy hit. Most of all I can't believe she is not open on Sundays. She is missing a large part of business during football season. I went to the feed store to get dog food and the owners are really struggling and one went back to work full time. They have cut down their inventory and staff. Then I noticed the signs in the development behind us that has not finished building the total number of homes. The poor guy got foreclosed on leaving two new homes never lived in and four other lots that were up for auction. Over 1.5 million dollar in investment! After doing some research I wonder what happens at this point. People that bought those houses paid $450,000.00 under the assumption that the development would be finished and all the homes would be of equal value. Now what happens to the value when the new builder goes in and puts up $150,000.00 home. That is a loss for everyone and such a shame.
It is getting nasty around here with the playoffs happening on Sunday. A brutal rival between the Ravens and the Steelers. The fans are going wild over this. Then when you throw the Eagles into the mix it is really wild. Everywhere we look people are sporting their team shirts and colors. Actually it is a lot of fun! Our neighbors are from Pittsburg-booooo! only kidding. Let's hope that the officials get all the calls right and we see Big Ben on his back most of the game. Go Ravens! I have been glued to the TV on Sundays watching the games and have been surprised at the outcomes. I really expected the Giants to be there but maybe Plaxico is that missing link after all or should we say Eli's security blanket. It was just really weird seeing Brett Farve in a jets uniform, Peyton Manning sitting on the sidelines as he watched the hopes of the colts being dashed once again, and LT out for the playoffs once again. We are hoping that purple power reins once again in the playoffs.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The tide may be turning

Among all the negatives I have felt a sense of well being underneath waiting to climb to the surface and bring good things. It has started! Lisa got a phone call from HR at the hospital she applied and she is still in the running for the job she applied for. They have narrowed it down to three and will try to make the decision in two weeks. We had not heard anything and assumed that they hired someone-whew! This is really good news and I am hoping she gets the job not only because of the pay, but I think she needs a boost at this point in her life and this would be just the thing, plus she is deserving of it.

I had a dream the other night and when I woke up I could remember everything very clearly like I was awake the whole time. Okay you know I am a gambler but I had not gambled for sometime. I have been playing some scratch offs and won three chances to win a thousand dollars a week for 20 years. Wouldn't that be nice? So we are waiting for the drawing and of course just planning that dream vacation (which we will probably wind up taking in the back yard-HaHa). Well anyway in the dream I had bought three scratch off tickets and there was a winner on each one. The first was 75,000.00, the second one was 7,000.00 and the third was 700.00. Now I have been researching what scratch off has this amount on it to buy and in the meantime I have been playing a four digit daily number that has not hit for along time which is 9850. Well yesterday and tonight I just missed hitting this four digit by a hair. Then the mega million (currently12 million) was drawn and I bought one random ticket due to the fact that I never come close not even one number. So I am watching the drawing (which I never do) and decide to check that ticket (which I never do) and to my surprise we had numbers. I actually was getting excited since I always have crappy numbers. Then to my surprise we had four numbers and it is worth $150.00. Yippie!
Things seem to be changing!

I was so excited just because we never win on this game that I woke Lisa up and showed her the ticket. Still groggy and half asleep she did comprehend what I was saying and was surprised also and said "things seem to be turning around". Now I had not mentioned what I have been feeling to her and I thought wow that is just too coincidental.

There would be so many things to do if I hit the big one. I often wonder what I would do with the money and usually I have the same outcome when daydreaming of this.
1) Pay off all debt
2)Take a nice vacation to Tahiti
3)Start large restaurant chain
4)Put money into the community
5)Give to Katrina victims for their homes
6)Open food pantry and soup kitchen for the homeless
7)Share with siblings so they can live comfortable and retire

I have always been a daydreamer and I do feel the tide may be turning.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just stuff!

It's cold, raining, and gloomy. I have been on a cooking spree this week and will be hunting for a treadmill before long. Since Lisa and I have been home together for the first time in 25 years it has been a treat to enjoy the holidays and have dinner together in the evenings. The problem is it is starting to show in my stomach. I am not used to eating three meals a day plus snacks even though I am a chef ( we just taste little samples of food all day). Lisa don't seem to have this problem (lucky her!).

This week I made black eye peas with sauteed onion, garlic, bacon, and thyme ( a good luck thing), home made basil and ricotta ravioli, red sauce ( a basic light marinara sauce not as chunky), fried crabmeat wontons, bourbon chicken wings, spicy hot grilled chicken breast croistini with provolone and bleu cheese dressing, antipasta, vegetable beef soup, coconut smoothies, apple pie with caramel, tomato and basil pizza, hot bacon salad, and the list goes on. Now you know why the need for a treadmill. Rusty and Abbey are in heaven when I get in the kitchen. They will lay at the doorway for hours waiting to devour any scraps or goodies that will pass their way. In my entire life I have never seen dogs eat so many different types of food.

Each one will finish any leftover salad or component of one. They eat wedges of lettuce, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, any type of fruit such as tangerines, apples, and watermelon. I have only found one food that they snub which is shrimp. They don't really like the texture of it. Rusty is a sugar hound. One whiff of something sweet and he is walking around with his nose in the air, eyes just begging for a taste of it. So of course I give in and make them a not to sweet smoothie and they are happy.

We got our tree cleaned up that fell outside and it was enough to fill the whole back of my truck up to the cab and an eight foot trailer. It looked like it was going to be more than we thought. Our neighbors gave us a hand which was really nice. The one young guy finally moved out across the street where the supposed robbery happened. I really think it was a set up due to the fact that he did not have the rent.

The economy is really hurting business and things have been more than slow. I really anticipate slow winters but this has been the slowest. Everywhere I look I see more and more people home from work. If the housing market would not be so bad we would consider selling and moving to somewhere like Seattle Washington. They seem to be holding there own with a good job market still going on. It has gotten brutal here! Went for an interview that was an hour away and during the interview they stated it would be several different shifts. I was actually kind of pissed that they did not include this in the job posting or make mention before hand. So I am still looking and of course holding on to business at hand. Things seem to get more interesting everyday and I can't wait until Obama gets sworn in to see what will happen.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year!

I can't express enough how glad I am to see a new year! I rang out the old with great excitement and a positive attitude that this year is gonna be a better year. They cancelled the fireworks downtown and it was windy and cold. We were disappointed until our neighbors let us know they had bought plenty of really big ones. It was so cool! We had great stuff to eat and just watched from the back deck at an array of colors in the sky. Yes they cancelled most fireworks displays around but leave it to our little redneck community to make sure they rang in the year right. It's a wonder they didn't set someone's house on fire, but everyone had fun.

Of course we had to have some bad luck before the year ended and during the morning the wind was just howling outside. Now in the past I had said that we just had three huge pine trees removed and the others trimmed. I heard a cracking sound and just knew but had hopes it wasn't ours. I looked outside and just wanted to scream obscenities when I saw that it was the top of a pine tree in our front yard that had broken off and blocked the road and our neighbors driveway! You have got to be kidding me! No this couldn't have happened when it was 60 degrees outside the other day. So we spent the morning doing cleanup to unblock the road and the driveway. This summer the other two in the front are coming down. If that would have hit the house or a car we would have had some serious damage. Never again will I move somewhere that has pine trees.

On a really good note I did notice at the end of October that the buzzards were not here. Yes, if you remember we had the problem of about 100 buzzards that used to roost in these pine trees. For ten years now I have been fighting this problem. November came and still not a sign of the buzzards. I started to contribute this to the warm weather that we were having. Then finally in December we realized they were not coming and have not seen hide nor hair of them (or should I say hide nor feather). I think it is because we have cut down the major roosting pine trees that they used for years. Only time will tell for sure. It is really nice and I sure don't miss them this year.

I have a sense of well being with the New year starting and can't wait to see what it will bring. To all of you Happy New Year!