January 22nd, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

What day is it? Other than Wednesday being trash day and the garbage was taken out, they are all the same anymore.

A few days ago I got the parts to fix my truck so that was on today’s to-do list since it looked to be a sunny day when I got up this morning. I got the new fuel filter, spark plugs and wires. Even with the cost of the parts I am still saving over $600 by doing it myself. I don’t really enjoy working on vehicles but I can do some things. These things are easy and fairly quick to fix but my hands didn’t cooperate with me to get it done without much problem. I struggled a bit to get the plugs changed and had trouble trying to get one of them replaced so I will have to come back and revisit that last one. The fuel lines on the filter were stuck so I sprayed them with some PB Blaster to soak a day or two then I will try again.

My arthritis hand is really mad after working on the truck earlier. The only real option, other than a surgery that will only be a temporary fix for ten years or so, is getting a big needle jabbed into my hand at the base of my thumb and pumping it full of cortisone. I have had a similar thing done before and it is really not pleasant in the slightest bit. I think getting a shot in my neck without sedation (which I have done it several times) didn’t hurt as bad as that one needle in my index finger. I think I am going to have to get this injection done though. I cannot deal with this much longer but am trying to put it off as long as I can tolerate the pain and swelling and lack of dexterity.

It is good to see the sun more every week and it really helps with our moods; really…who doesn’t need that right about now? We are gaining about 15 minutes a week so in a month it is another hour of daylight each day. It is still dark until 7:00 A.M. but instead of the sun going down at 4:00 P.M. it is now setting at 5:00 or so and actually gets dark around 6:30. I am so ready for some spring and summer and the long Spring/Summer/Fall days are really nice for being outside. Of course the time will change sometime in March (as usual, for no good reason) since we can’t quit trying to control the things that we cannot control.

No meal kit in this week’s mail, but I finally got the last one from last week cooked last night and it was something different – beef banh mi bowls. It was pretty good and it made quite a bit of food. I won’t have to do much cooking until the next one gets here, but I will still be cooking and try to use up some stuff like pasta.

I went to get something out of the trailer yesterday to use at the house (glad I have that stuff to fall back on) and it was odd in a sense. I kinda missed it, yet didn’t miss living in it. I spent a lot of time in it over the summer and into the Fall so I got used to it but at the end the dog and I were ready to have room to spread out. It is fine for trips but staying in it full-time is difficult with the limited space. I am excited to get it back out for some trips and it’s really looking like that is going to be the only real travel option for some time yet.

I definitely won’t be going far if I do go someplace with the trailer, and it will just be within the state until some things calm down. It also won’t be very soon – there is some colder weather with snow (BOOOOO) forecast so I don’t want to unwinterize the trailer yet – once I get it ready I don’t want to redo it. With all of the things I have worked on, the trailer is in pretty good shape and is ready to go. I still need to fix the shower and reseal the windows. I will start working on that when I can, hopefully next month. I should have done it last year but didn’t since I was staying in it; I did not want to live in a 15′ construction area.

For now it will just be some day trips. Pack a lunch and find a quiet place to sit on a beach and enjoy nature. It is the safest way to get out of the house and maintain some sanity while limiting exposure.

January 15th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Music, Outdoors, Road Trip, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

It was a busy afternoon today.

I got up this morning and it was time for coffee, then I got the dog out for a walk. He never seems to be in a rush to get out in the mornings so I am gonna caffeinate myself first. It seems odd that he doesn’t wake up doing the pee-pee dance, but then again he is odd. He didn’t even eat his breakfast until a few hours before dinner.

I locked the dog in his crate and got the bike out for a longer shakedown ride around the block (2-3 miles or so). I need to make a few adjustments – the front fender is rattling a bit against the front fork and the brakes need tightened up some. I really don’t know much about working on bicycles but these are minor things that I feel comfortable with tackling. I can look at some videos online and figure it out if necessary.

It is definitely a different feel riding this bike and it will take some getting used to it. Small tires and sitting up so high are not what I am used to but I will adjust. I also need to get mirrors, a bell, and more lights along with maybe some other things for more visibility. My motorcycle wreck affected my neck and I now cannot turn my head very well to see if anyone is coming so some mirrors are high on the list before I ride it again very far. It does move along pretty good without the Class III setting, but I DO like speed…

I got back and we went for another walk, then came home and started cooking. I made some beef & bean burritos and some beef stroganoff. I got everything labeled and in the freezer; I have a total of 12 meals frozen as of now. I still have to cook dinner yet, and I got another EveryPlate box yesterday so that will be for the next few days’ meals.

I went to Costco yesterday to get a few things and got the 1000-pack of tortillas (you know what I mean), so I used some for the burritos and I will be making up and freezing some breakfast burritos the next few days. I am still trying to do the cold oats with berries and cashew milk for breakfast every morning but breakfast burritos are great any time of the day. I always like doing something different for breakfast on Sunday mornings so since I cannot go out for breakfast I cook something for myself and forgo the overnight oats. It breaks up the week and when it is possible I’ll be meeting up with friends for a restaurant breakfast on Sundays.

While cooking I decided to listen to some music. Last night I watched a couple of videos from the new AC/DC album. Damn, that album rocks and sounds like the old days. I got on Apple Music and added that album and Highway to Hell. I listened to Highway to Hell while cooking and that is a great album. I am waiting until later to listen to the new one; I have a giant playlist of new music I have added but have not listened to yet so I am trying to knock that list down a little before listening to anything else. I listened to some old Porcupine Tree while cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes.

After taking my truck in to get fixed, the “Check Engine” light came on again; it is why I took it to the dealer to start with and they replaced the part that THEY said was bad after I replaced parts I thought were bad. It is going in early next week to get looked at again. I am really hoping to get it fixed correctly this time and get out for some long day trips to help maintain sanity. I don’t need (or want) to be around groups of people…I just need some new scenery to look at. Once I get this fixed I will feel better about going in the forest to explore or on a longer drive, plus the fuel mileage will improve.

I guess I could even take the trailer out to get away once the truck is fixed, but I must say it has been nice being out of it for a while so I have not been too excited about getting back in it yet and I am fairly certain the dog agrees. I would have to de-winterize it so I will wait a few more weeks to do that to make sure the danger of freezing is past. With the last-minute storage after finding this place I had to put water line anti-freeze in it again so I would have to go to a campground to de-winterize for the first trip. I am glad I did dump some in it since it did freeze several nights, but I still hate putting that stuff in there. It makes that first trip a pain and it takes a while to flush it out of the system.

I am still working on the airline tickets but I am finding more places, even in the US, are talking pre- and post-arrival testing and quarantines. With these things looming, and the additional concerns of new strains being discovered, it is extremely difficult for me to get very excited about even looking at flights let alone actually booking one. I won’t let it get me down and I will keep looking. There are still a couple of big U.S. cities I would like to go visit but I have big reservations about doing that since I travel to cities to explore and try the local foods. On top of that, I don’t feel safe with all of the nonsense going on and that is also a problem for me wanting to go on long road trips. I will get something booked before my vouchers expire.

That’s about all for this update. Forgot to send it before I passed out last night!

January 7th, 2021

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

Yesterday I went to town to pick up a new porcelain-coated Dutch oven. The one I have is just a bit small for meal prep so I wanted to get a bigger one. Costco had a good deal on a set of two Tramontia pots so I just got the set. I will take the one I have in the house and put it back in the trailer. I have found that in the last few months I have used my Dutch oven for more cooking; I have used my cast iron skillet once in that time. I like the versatility of cast iron, as well as the taste it imparts in foods, but the Dutch oven is even more useful and versatile plus the clean-up is easy. I would love to have a couple off Le Creuset porcelain-lined saucepans but they are expensive ($400 for a Le Creuset Dutch oven!). I will keep an eye out online at some auction sites. I almost had two yesterday but got outbid.

Before I picked those up, I made a stop at Goodwill to see if just maybe they had one but no luck. I DID, however, find something I always wondered about…a Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker. It was priced reasonably and was 50% off so I brought home a $40 appliance for $3.50. No loss if it didn’t live up to the hype.

So, I cleaned it up and this morning I gave it a try. I have to say, I was totally surprised at how well it works. It is awesome in its ease of use and simplicity. I think I won’t be making sandwiches ahead of time anymore. They taste better fresh than frozen (at least the egg part doesn’t reheat well) and fresh is always better if possible. This makes it easy.

I also got something else I have been wanting to get but never have yet – a mandolin slicer. No, it is not to slice mandolins (aren’t they small enough anyhoo?). It is to slice fruits and veggies easily and more uniformly to cook evenly. It looks to be new and I got it for just a few dollars. It is a pretty basic one but it is all I need.

Last night I ended up eating my leftover cottage pie instead of cooking the next meal kit of “Silky Sicilian Penne”. I wanted to get the Dutch oven cleaned out and set aside to take back to the trailer. I still had one meal of flautas left to eat so I had that for supper; it had fresh salsa and it won’t freeze. Today at lunch I made that last kit with the penne and it was delicious; penne, zucchini, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes in a butter and crême fraiche sauce with lemon and chives. Silky indeed! So delicious. Glad I have leftovers of that one. I even got to try out the new slicer!

I got that cooked up just in time as another box from EveryPlate showed up this afternoon. Garlic rosemary chicken with roasted root veggies, chicken sausage gnocchi bake in a cream sauce, and something called “Super smashed” burgers on a potato bun with caramelized onion, chipotle aioli & potato wedges on the side. I will probably cook two of these meals tomorrow to get a jump on it.

The one thing about these kits I have found is the produce is fresh so you gotta use it quick before things wilt. I do try to cook one each night as soon as I get them because of this. In the EveryPlate boxes all the ingredients are in one open box, whereas the HelloFresh has all the meals separated out in labeled paper bags. That is a better way to get them but the EveryPlate method uses less bags/packaging and a smaller shipping box so there are a few tradeoffs. EveryPlate is a little cheaper by cutting a few corners that can be cut. I like the bagged meals a little better just from first appearance but I will know more tomorrow after I make the first one. The bags just make it easier and help if you have OCD; otherwise EveryPlate is just like groceries from the store loose in a box. Both are well-packaged though.

I have not been traveling much at all lately (as you know), just going the few miles to town and back along with walks and hikes. My pharmacy is not close and I need refills so I will be making a drive soon (by choice; it’s a local mom and pop – old school). It is a nice drive though and I can enjoy the scenery and spend several hours of the day doing it. It would be nice to get out for a road trip of some distance. It is looking like showers tomorrow morning and then some sun on Saturday so maybe I can get the bike out.

My truck goes in next week for another repair but it won’t be too bad of a bill. I looked underneath to see about the emission part needing replaced and I decided to let them do it for the price. Not worth the little bit of savings for me to crawl under there so they can. They did quote me a sky-high price for plugs and wires getting replaced so I will be doing that myself. It is starting to get in my pocket and this needs to stop. At some point I will need to make a decision if it is still worth fixing. Until then I have to do a few things to it or it will not last long. At least it will be ready to go after doing these things.

That’s about it for now. Gonna go finish my cup of decaf and find a movie.

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