December 27th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

I finally got a decent night’s sleep last night and today is a slack day. Well, it started out to be one but I ended up rearranging the kitchen a little. I took out my toaster oven since I have both a toaster and a convection microwave. That freed upon some space so I put the Nespresso over in its place. There is a big drawer to put coffee in but I can put my coffee cups in there. I still want to get a set of espresso cups and have also been looking at a pod storage drawer that goes under the Nespresso. That would free up the drawer space in the cabinet to put the coffee and coffee accessories (thanks, Hank..Ha ha ha).

After that I had to do some sweeping but I wanted to wipe the counters down before I did and pick it all up at once if there was anything that fell. It’s not that I am a slob; my countertops are fake granite and it hides stuff pretty well plus there is dog hair. The heat is radiant built into the concrete floor so there is no air circulation. The means I have to sweep every day at least once. I’ll get my dehumidifier and air filter in here at some point and that will help with dust and the dog hair (even after I brushed him).

I still have not gotten a bicycle helmet yet. I have had other things going on that I needed to do, plus crowded stores means I was not going to the store until after the holidays. I have been fine with that since I have been busy but I will get out in the next few days to see about getting one. I would really like to ride the bike! The pavement has been a bit damp, so that means slippery and I don’t care to do that with or without a helmet.

Even though I haven’t been doing any biking yet, I am still dedicated to getting in a good amount of walking every day and I should start seeing some benefits from that soon. I think I am even wearing out the dog! We went out several times earlier and he was walking a bit slow the first time for some reason so when we got to the driveway I took off running and he perked right up.

I am getting a grocery list together and I am finally gonna get the ingredients to try to make a cottage pie. It doesn’t look that hard so I hope this recipe turns out. Luckily I have most of the ingredients and don’t need to buy more than a few things. I am also getting the stuff to make a fruit pie. Actually, I am buying frozen pie crust and gonna use frozen berries to make the filling from scratch. Last time I bought a can of pie filling it was almost $4 and the can was mostly goo and not much fruit. Not doing that again. Eventually, when I get ambitious, I will try to make the whole pie from scratch.

I remember when I was a kid one of my grandmas made the best apple pie in the world. She would slice up the apples and toss in the spices and sugar, spread some out in a pie pan, and freeze them. When she was ready to make a pie, all she had to do was whip up a crust – which she could do from scratch in about 17 seconds. She would take a pan with filling out of the freezer, pop it out of the pan, toss the crust in, toss the fruit frisbee back in the pan, top crust it and toss that bad boy in the oven. She also used to make these incredible fried peach pies cooked in lard in a cast iron skillet. I want to learn how to make those peach pies and try some other fillings as well. Wish I had that recipe…oh well. I will see what I can find online when I am ready to tackle that.

Along with those fried pies, after I can learn to make a flaky crust I want to try baking a savory meat one like in the UK and Ireland. I have food in the freezer to eat while I experiment with recipes and I have plenty of time on my hands to expand horizons. The last few days I was able to free up some real estate in the freezer to store some new creations.

It’s nice to not have anything to do now, but I have to say that it is still odd having no place I have to be. The holiday rush came and went, appointments are taken care of and a few things were changed around in the house (a work in progress as needed). It is looking sunny tomorrow so I will be taking advantage of that with the chance of rain looming the few days after that.

That’s a wrap for today.

December 26th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

A belated Happy Festivus to all. I will not be doing Feats of Strength or an Airing of the Grievances, as most of 2020 has mostly been one giant grievance as well as a feat of strength just to get through it…’nuff said.

My oldest granddaughter and her boyfriend were here the last few days. We hadn’t seen each other in quite some time (several months) so that was fun. We went to a few uncrowded places close by and did some hiking and tide pooling.

It was cool on the water but not cool enough to turn around and go back to the car. It is always fun to go tide pooling and it is good exercise, too. I left them on the beach so they could have more time there while I went on a hike to get the car. It was a trail I had not been on and it was a really nice hike.

We had a couple of really nice days then some clouds but very little precipitation. It did get pretty windy last night but nothing came of it other than a wind chill. There were a couple of nights of some great stargazing even though the moon was so bright.

They went back home today so I have been catching up on e-mails from the last few days and relaxing after doing a bit of straightening around the house. We were pretty busy and I am tired. I forgot my coffee this morning and fought a headache from it all afternoon.

I think I am going to kick back with a cup of decaf and watch a movie. I have a feeling it might be an early night.

December 17th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

…think I’d rather walk, thanks. LOSER!

No more eye appointments! Yay! Everything has healed up fine and now I don’t even need to get real glasses unless I want to get real glasses for reading and not the $5 ones from the store. I haven’t had any problems so I would have been surprised if they would have found a problem.

The girl said she needed to dilate my eye. That way, when I got in there they could check it one last time in detail. I told her if they had told me I could have dilated both of them myself. She said it would but not the way they need it dilated. We both laughed. They gave me those cool little rollup sunglasses that hug your face. When I came back outside it was so bright it was like the sun was right in front of me. And I had to drive home. I did fine with the “glasses” I crimped onto my face.

I figured while I was in the area I would hit Trader Joe’s so on the way out I stopped. It would also give my eye a chance to calm down with the light. I barely got out of the car and saw that there was a line to get in the store. I’m just not going to be doing that. I am not waiting in a line or going in a store that is so busy that that there has to be a line to get in. I was just gonna stop and grab a few unique things they have while I was in the area. I guess I really should consider getting a few extra perishables with the stores getting busy and they will be closed the 25th. Gotta love that curbside pickup!

I started the truck this morning and it was running a little rough, but maybe not as rough as before. I know when you change things or even unhook the battery a car can run bad until the computer sorts things out. It did seem to run better after a while. I was averaging 14.4 MPG, but today the readout on the dash said 17.5. I’ll take that; it used to get better mileage but recently it seemed to have decreased. I am thinking it might make a difference pulling the trailer and I can hopefully get more mileage and power. I will still have them check it to verify and hopefully all it needs is a code reset to clear the check engine light in the dash.

Along with some great deals I have been seeing some clever travel ideas lately. Pre-flight ‘rona tests, non-stops, post-flight tests…some interesting ideas but I would not get on a plane yet. I am always ready to go again but I just cannot do it yet, and the places I am most interested in going are still closed to Americans anyway. I need to get my passport renewed before I can really go anywhere. It expires next year and if you have six months or less before it expires many countries won’t let you in. I’ll be working on that and some road trips after the holidays.

Another day marked through on the calendar and it’s time for sleep. A good night to all!

December 16th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

As I sit here and start typing this post I am enjoying a cup of Cuban coffee. It is one of the coffees in last batch of coffees I ordered. It is not bad but there are others I got in that order that I like better. They have so many coffees I have to keep a list of what I like and don’t like so I don’t re-order one I don’t like. I should have had a decaf but it is early enough in the day I will be able to sleep after drinking this. At least it’s not a double espresso, but I do need to order a few tubes of those and single espresso. It’s a great jolt first thing in the morning and the flavors are intense but delicious.

It’s a cold, blustery day here today and the wind has picked up this afternoon. Glad it is the exception and not the rule or I would not be hanging around here. That means today is one of those stay-in-the-house days, but I have things on the computer I am trying to do. It also means getting out for walks is only out of necessity and they are quick trips out and back in.

I am trying to organize and clean up files on my devices and on my cloud service, which I should have been doing all along but didn’t. I am also trying to get Word and Excel documents converted to their Apple counterparts. I purchased a year of Microsoft Office in August and I am really disappointed with Outlook, the main reason I spent money on the program. Microsoft just cannot make Office work on a Mac like it does on a PC. I am tired of fighting it and going back & forth between different programs so I am gonna simplify it. I don’t really need Word or Excel bad enough to pay for it and I can use the web version if I need to, but my Apple programs will open those documents and spreadsheets with decent compatibility. And I don’t need to spend money since Apple’s programs are “free” (there is that premium price on Apple products though…).

My gripe with Apple’s native programs has been that they would build a basic program and then let third-party developers do the real work on apps that you then have to buy those to get the cool features. Apple has apparently heard the complaints and is putting out some pretty decent apps for their products. Since they are doing that I find myself embedded deeper into Apple’s “walled garden” and I am fine with that. Not an Apple Fanboy; I just like technology that works; I don’t like it well enough to camp out in a line for a week in front of the Apple Store.

Other than organizing that stuff most of the day I went to town and got the new airbox for my truck. I hope this fixes it but I will still have the dealer check it Friday in case it is something else. I hate chasing problems like this with my wallet as it gets expensive fast and you may end up spending money on changing parts that were not bad. The lid on my airbox was cracked so it needed replaced anyway. I cannot really check it to see if it runs better at idle until the engine cools down. At least it is in there.

I ate the rest of my Lou Malnati’s pizza for lunch. It is odd to have room for so much food that I cooked ahead plus things like the pizza. It is convenient but cooking is SOMETHING to do during a day and on a day like today it would be a break. I took some of that chicken/broth base in the freezer and cooked up some chicken and dumplings. It is a great day for something warm and rib-sticking and it hit the spot. Another thing to make with dumplings is a recipe my mom made only once for some reason when I was a kid. Blackberry dumplings. Make the dumplings the same and drop spoonfuls into some boiling blackberries. It is sooo good and filling as well.

I don’t remember if I posted anything about my microwave or not; it is a convection oven/microwave. I bought one of these for the trailer – I had too many other things on my mind to figure it out so I never used it. When I made the Malnati’s pizza I did it in the convection mode. I am very impressed by the utility of this appliance. Two handy appliances in one! I will have to experiment with mine since it is in a tight space in the trailer so I don’t know if it will get too hot or pull too many amps. If it won’t work I have used the microwave part; next time I move into someplace I can use it for baking too.

One more eye appointment tomorrow and I think I am done with follow-ups for that. It is amazing that after 35 years of wearing glasses (and a brief couple of stints trying contacts) I no longer need glasses except to read. It is so fantastic. Everything is so clear and better looking than through glasses. I need to get laundry done tomorrow some time since I have the truck service on Friday and I also really need to wash clothes. Apparently I am back in my old habit of waking up in the mornings around 6 so I can hit the ground running to get it done and have some downtime before I have to leave.

I decided to get my guitar out and try to get back into playing now that I have room to stretch out. Having a hard time with dexterity in my hands so I don’t know how this is going to work out and for how long. I had to struggle a little working on the truck because of arthritis in my left hand and some possible nerve stuff in my right hand after tearing up my shoulder in 2019 – I kept dropping the bolts. However, a few years ago I kinda saw where my hands were headed. I thought I would play around with the keyboards and the textures and things I can do with my limited knowledge of digital music creation. I think I have come up with some interesting things for my tastes but it doesn’t mean that I would do some things a bit different here and there (I still could at some point).

As usual I loosened up a little and it was a little frustrating doing so fumbling along. I did come up with two ideas in about 30 seconds so I recorded those. Then I started some music on the computer to play along with before I started to really work on a few ideas old and new. The next song up I have talked about before. It is an instrumental by Camel (*and that is NOT Frampton’s Camel or Sopwith Camel), and the song is called “Ice”. A beautiful, emotional, heavy/melodic guitar-oriented beautifully-constructed song with a keyboard solo. I used to be able to play along with the guitar parts fairly well but I could not do it tonight. I will not go quietly into the night. I am not giving up. Then some Metallica came on and the mellow mood got moshed. It was an old one called “Escape” off of “Ride the Lightning”. Certainly picked up the mood.

Wow. Talk about some great memories. A song that John and I wrote – actually, it is the very first one we did together probably somewhere around 2006-2008 – just popped up in the shuffle on my computer. He had written the music before we met. I threw the lyrics together in about 20 minutes as I remember and then we recorded it. Those were such great times. Some good stories from those years! Hahaha.

That’s it for tonight. Be safe!

*obscure musical group references from the 60s & 70s

December 15th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

A few nights ago I was watching a movie and I saw some lights through the door glass. I wasn’t expecting anything until Monday and Tuesday but my items were in town. Could it…no, it can’t be…YEAH!!! It was my electric bike! It showed up TWO days early!

I got the box in the house and pulled the bike out. It was folded up and wrapped in all sorts of padding and packing materials to keep the scratches at bay. It took several minutes to get all of the padding off before I could unfurl it. It is pretty easy to figure it out, but it does have a very well-written manual in case you want/need to use it.

The way it is designed it definitely feels different than a regular bike. The frame is low so you feel like you are sitting pretty high up. It is different to ride than a regular bike so it will take a little bit of getting used to riding it. I took it out for a spin yesterday morning and it moves along pretty good. I haven’t even changed the setting in the controller to a Class 3 yet. Even with very little pedal assist it moves along pretty good. It will be fun to ride and get exercise plus riding it to town will save fuel. I looked at helmets yesterday and won’t ride far without one. I want to get a few more lights and reflectors on it; visibility is a good thing. It came with some actually decent saddlebags, headlight, taillight and cargo rack behind the seat so it is pretty well set up. The seat has a suspension post and the upgraded saddle is bigger and more comfortable.

I did more research on my truck’s check engine light and I have one more thing to try out before the appointment on Friday. The lid of the airbox is cracked and I am thinking that might be affecting the airflow and it is causing a computer error. I stopped at the parts store to buy one. I ran what I think the problem is by the counter guy and he thought it could be the issue. I will get the new one tomorrow and get it installed. If that still doesn’t fix it the dealer gets a turn.

A friend gave me a pizza for the holidays. Not just ANY pizza, mind you. A Lou Malnati’s pepperoni pie, imported straight from Chicago. That was a damn good pizza. Along with it was a catalog from Tastes of Chicago. Italian beef, Vienna Beef hot dogs, desserts, baked stuff…hardcore food porn.

I really need a travel fix so I started watching “A Cook’s Tour” again. It was Anthony Bourdain’s first travel series. I remember seeing a few episodes years go and thought it was interesting. He was visiting Vietnam in the first ones I remember, and it was probably the first time I had an interest in going to that part of the world and it was because of him. Growing up in the shadow of the Vietnam War it was never really someplace I had an interest in going to visit. He had the gift of making it all interesting and within reach to every person.

I’ll probably be hitting the travel shows hard again pretty soon. It was about this time in 2017 and 2019 that I was getting things together to go to Europe. I wish I were doing that for real in 2020 but we know how the year has gone for the most part. It’s nice that I now know the best way I need to pack after being there twice. It’s not to say that I won’t make some minor changes, but at least now I have the gear I need, have a good idea about how to travel, and know what to take and leave as far as clothes and toiletries. I think I will be looking at my travel items closer and may thin out a few things (I need to thin out a few things anyhoo). I have some things I really could do without and maybe some other things I really don’t need to keep.

I have definitely been getting much more exercise in even with the short days (glad to see that changing next week!). The dog and I are logging about 3-5 miles a day. Nothing wrong with that! When I first got in the area it was pretty rainy so we did not get out much. Being in the trailer at the time I did not want everything smelling like a wet dog and mud all over inside. We got out as much as we could; he cannot hold it forever! We have had some really nice days lately but we have a few days of some showers coming up. I am looking forward to some more.

That’s about all I have for now.