Old Diary

Set the Date!

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I guess I’m not a security risk — I got my ‘Credentials’!

Our recent trip to Junction City / Eugene / Springfield turned out to be extremely productive!

The one un-anticipated benefit was receiving an email telling me my government LincPass was complete and ready to be picked up.  The email came to my personal email, so I could respond from Junction City, and I made an appointment in Springfield at the GSA/USDA offices there for the following day.  So, for a volunteer gig that we started on December 12 last year, I have finally completed the process of getting “set up” to do my job.  Oh how things move when they move at the speed of government!27gallon

On another front, we had time to get over to Home Depot and Lowes to shop for storage tubs for the basement. I found a size I liked.  We bought three of those big boys and now I need to figure out what to put in them.  Well, I KNOW what is down there and NEEDS to be put into them — just how to organize them efficiently so we don’t have to pull everything out of the basement on every occasion!

On another storage front we have been considering no longer HANGING our shirts and trousers in the closet — once we leave the Forest we won’t need to have wrinkle-free hanging uniforms — and our total number of clothing items will drop by nearly 1/3 (I have 4 shirts, 3 trousers, a vest, a windbreaker, a 3 season jacket and a hat, Peggy has almost the same). No longer carrying all that stuff around will make a big empty spot in our closet!  The closet already has shelving brackets and I decided to make two shelves so that we can utilize the space more efficiently.  We picked up the material we need for that as well.FH100410_003_SSHELI_03

I have to say…  these little snap-in clips are never easy to find at Home Depot.  They are the perfect small solution for shelving — especially when the shelf bracket is already in place — but the Home Depot people never know where in the store to go to find them.  I had to ask 4 different employees this time.  When we had Journey and I put in the additional spice shelves we went through the same exercise.  But — I have them now.

Market of Choice

Market of Choice

While we were in Eugene, we also stopped at Market of Choice to replenish our supply of non-oily coffee beans.  We’re getting a little better at remembering what to shop for when we are 80 miles away from home and not wanting to make extra trips. For a while after arriving here we seemed always to be forgetting things on our trips here.

AMSOLARAnd then there is AM Solar.  Their store is literally only 1/2 mile from the GSA/USDA office I had to visit, so we stopped off on our way to make an appointment to have solar installed.

We take the coach in on September 3.  It should take them 2 1/2 days to do the job, and while they are working on it we’ll drive down to see Peg’s brother and SIL in S. Lake Tahoe prior to our heading East for my annual Dr. Appointment.  We’ll pick up the coach the following monday.    Glad to have that settled, and glad to get the installation date we wanted.  Good, good, good.

AMSI’m happy with the package we settled on.  We’re replacing our modified sine wave inverter, and getting 4 AGM higher capacity batteries, and, of course the big thing:  we’re adding about 940 watts of panels to the roof.  I’m happy with the overall package — now lets get it done and get to boondocking!

So, there you have it — the final story from our recent trip East.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary, Travel

Heading Back Home

A pleasant visit with old friends and today we head back to Cudahy.

I’m not sure how to describe our outlook for post closing travel.  We are both aware that some of our decisions are skewed.  Blame it on tension, or stress, or who knows what…  We have reached a conclusion which gives us about a month worth of plans.

We need to be out of the school by the 3rd or 4th of June, but I need to be around to talk with our attorney AFTER the closing.  We’re hoping to get an early-in-the-day closing making possible a Friday afternoon attorney meeting — but can’t count on that.

So…. we decided to plan one week of easy access to Milwaukee followed by one month of decompression time. After that we are agreed to head out on our unscripted life with undefined destinations.

Ta Da!

June 3-12 we’re in Bong Recreation Area — one of the Wisconsin State Parks that we’ve never stayed in but have walked.  With some nice trails it’s the perfect place to hang out for a week and a half.

  • close enough to Milwaukee to make repeat visits if necessary
  • less expensive than the State Fair Park RV park
  • plenty of exercise opportunities
  • close to Home Depot’s and such in case we have fresh-from-de-winterizing issues

June 12-26 – Blackhawk Park – De Soto WI — back to the Corps of Engineers campground.  Lots of space to walk, not too far of a drive, and familiar territory — time to just set-a-piece, relax after anticipating the closing and rushing to get things done.

June 26-July 10 – Thomson Causeway – Thomson IL — another 2 weeks in familiar Corps facilities.  Again, lots of space to walk, some trails we  never got to walk last summer.

After that we’re still making decisions:

  • Part of us is inclined to pay our mandatory visit to Peg’s brother and S-I-L in S. Lake Tahoe, CA. They are getting up in years and a visit is a good idea.
  • I have been thinking that we would spend our first winter in TX — but if we do that it doesn’t make much sense to head way West — whether to CA, or OR or WA
  • We are eager to check out Hemet CA where a friend of our has settled after moving from Milwaukee.

Clearly we have conflicted ideas about what to do, but we haven’t been able to focus on the future long enough to sort them out.  The month of quiet will give us that time.  Stay tuned.

On a more touristy train of thought we had a really interesting tour though the Dana Thomas House — Frank Lloyd Wright’s first open checkbook commission. It’s quite an amazing building, built at the beginning of the 20th century.  Walking through I seemed to remember other Wright buildings that we have toured as being brighter — but this one seemed quite dark and oppressive.

We are (fingers crossed) counting down the 40 remaining days.numeral 40

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Journey DL, Old Diary

Ahh, the Sweet Sound of Tires on Pavement

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First I thought I’d share the image my daughter sent me.   She does know how much I love Bullies, and who wouldn’t love such a lovely English Bulldog face?

And to that sweet dear and her hubby — I say, a happy anniversary to you both.  22 yrs of marriage!  You guys are terrific — you’re 22 years behind us. 🙂  Keep up the good work!

The weather’s been nice so Journey got some exercise today.  We didn’t go quite as far as we usually do on a winter’s day exercise.  No particular reason for the shorter trip other than simply our state of mind, but it was a great day for a drive. Continue reading

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Old Diary

The 50 Dollar Baked Potato

Last evening we didn’t know what to prepare for dinner.  The first thing that popped out of Peggy’s mouth was, “Why not baked potatoes?”  only to be followed a few moments later by, “Oh, we don’t have a microwave [oven].”  Then she made a face.

We’d eaten a large lunch, weren’t all that hungry to begin with, and ended up having whole wheat pancakes instead.

The word “Microwave” hung in the air.

This morning it was still hanging there.

Mid morning Peg said to me, “Should we buy a microwave?”

I merely asked, “Do you want one?”  I have steadfastly resisted buying more stuff while we wait for the house to sell, if for no other reason than, what do we do with it when the house is sold?   An hour and several Google searches later we knew we could buy one, if we really wanted, for about 50 clams, samolians, or smackers.  But again…. DID WE WANT ONE?

We hopped in the car, drove 5 1/2 miles to Home Depot.  Along the way we saw a friend of ours walking her boarder’s dog to which she has claimed ownership (long story there involving family, young love and skittles).  Home Depot had countertop models for anywhere from $50 to $400.

Nah… for 400 smackeroos I don’t NEED a temporary microwave.

We drove 1/2 a mile further and pulled into the Walmart parking lot.  We got out, I reached for my phone and …. no phone.  Where’s the darned phone?  (expletives deleted).  Wife calls my phone — no ringing in the car, in the ears or anywhere.  Where have we been?

Back to Home Depot — check out parking spot there…. did I lose it on the way out of the car, or getting back in?  NO!

Back into car.  Drive back 5 miles to corner where we saw old woman and little dog.  AHHHHHH.  Sigh of relief.  There is phone, laying on ground, next to curb whimpering, “where’s my owner, where’s my owner?”  I pick up phone and pat it sympathetically, mumbling words of encouragement and consolation.  Wife stops frowning.

Drive back that same 5 miles to Walmart.  Inside to look for microwaves.  No brand we like, no price we like, but we find a small makeup mirror for Journey that we have been wanting.  Cost: $4.00 plus tax.

Hop into car again.  Drive 1/2 mile to Lowe’s.  Look for microwave.  Not much to choose from, nothing for as good a price as Home Depot.  Pursuit of microwave has now become merely an excuse to get exercise out in the cold.

Drive additional 7 miles to Menards in Hales Corners.  No satisfactory option available there. We decide if we find a microwave with the same features and the same or better price as at the Home Depot at any other store we’ll buy it.

Drive additional 5 miles to Home Depot in Hales Corners.  They have the same microwave we saw at the first stop.  But alas only in black, not in white.  First store has stock in White.  Salesman offers to let us pay for it in his store and pick up in Franklin.  Agreed.  Except, automated cash register won’t handle that tranaction — microwave is a clearance item.  Can’t pay and hold in another store.

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By this time we’re hungry. Stop at favorite Thai restaurant:  Singha Thai for quick lunch. While eating lunch decide, if we head out of town early, we won’t get much use from said microwave.  Will wait to see if we have to return to Cudahy next fall.  If so will purchase microwave THEN!

So, now, I still can’t bake a potato in a microwave, but we had a $25.00 lunch, drove about 35 miles before we got home, and didn’t spend $50.00 for a microwave.  I’m not sure what we accomplished this morning other than having a good time, and driving in the rain.

Retirement sure is interesting.

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Old Diary

The Six Sisters Dauphin Aren’t Rude At All

The Sisters Dauphin greet you as you enter Dauphin Island (AL).  They are a pleasant, and (to me) unexpected welcome to a small resort community just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.  As I sat working on this image in the wee hours of the morning I got to thinking about greeters… the human kind.

Walmart has greeters.  Sometimes I see them at Target and Home Depot.  But wouldn’t it be interesting if greetings were a part of normal american life?  I say that as a typical american; one who sometimes jumps straight for the jugular when encountering others.

In France it’s expected that you’ll open any encounter with Bonjour. It’s quite rude not to do so. It’s only one among many reasons americans are disliked when traveling abroad.  We’re just plain rude.

I can’t begin to count the times I have heard, and have done this myself.  You walk into a store.  You are greeted by a smiling employee and the first words out of your/my mouth are:  “Where do you keep….” as if whomever is being spoken to is nothing more than an information machine. I’m ashamed every time I catch myself doing it;  but next time in the door I do it all over again.

The problem with being goal oriented is that you are…. duh… goal oriented.  People get in the way. Especially if you aren’t naturally gregarious.  (author raises hand sheepishly)
2013011812352098I sometimes wonder what life is like in a family with siblings. I had no siblings.  Most of my parents friends had only one or two children, and as I was growing up I spent a lot of time with adults. Some of my friends had multiple siblings — the family down the block had 8 kids in the family but interestingly enough when I played with the boy my age in that family he always wanted to play at my house. When I was a scout I don’t know if I learned any manners or not.  I don’t remember much about my interactions at that age — though to tell you the truth I don’t know how many guys pay attention to things like that.

New-Season-3-Promo-the-big-bang-theory-7445896-1500-2051I have been aware for a long time that I am socially obtuse.  I tend to miss social signals and plod on through not altogether unlike the nerds on Big Bang Theory.

A few years after we were married I had a job at Furnas Electric.  I was a “sales correspondent” — meaning that I expedited production and deliveries for customers and distributors.  One day I was expediting a particularly problematic production delay and walking through the factory lost in thoughts about how I might pull off the impossible.  One of my co-workers came up and asked if anything was wrong because I looked sad.  To tell the truth, I wasn’t sad at all — I was just focussed on what I was doing and it never dawned on me to smile at someone just because they were walking past… I was in another world.  As I say, I can be pretty socially obtuse.

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And yet when I was working; when I had clients or models in the studio we (client/model and myself) always had a good time.  We laughed, we joked, we told each other stories — always a good thing to keep the mood light when you’ve got a nekkid woman right in front of you.  I’m not unpleasant to be around — but I have to turn on my social skills for that to happen. I can shoot my camera instinctively but I have to think about being friendly.

It’s just not an unconscious, habitual thing for me. It’s also not something I react naturally to.  There are times when being greeted isn’t a welcoming feeling at all. Don’t you ever have times when you don’t want to be noticed — when you just want to go about your business and get done what you want to get done?  At the time we drove past the six Dauphin sisters I never thought of them as “greeters.” They were just six houses dockside.  They were just six old houses, six skinny houses, six semi-dilapidated houses.  Nothing special, nothing noteworthy.  But the truth is that anything can be noteworthy — even six plain little shacks.

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Old Diary

Baked Potato Soup – Memories of the Olde Country

(Not MY “olde country”,  My grandmother’s.)

When I grew up my mother made pretty much everything from scratch. The smells in the house when I returned home each night from school were amazing. She was the daughter of a Polish immigrant, who herself made everything from scratch. There was no choice in those days, when my grandmother emigrated from Poland there were no Campbell soups, no Mrs. Butterworths, no M&M’s. When I was growing up there was no Food Channel and american wives were just beginning to learn about world cuisines.  But I didn’t need to learn about world cuisines… all I needed was a kitchen that smelled as yummy as my mom’s.  Good food doesn’t depend on posh ingredients.

We didn’t have a lot when I was growing up.  My parents told me of times when they opened the pantry door but nothing was on the shelf.  Dad wanted to be a businessman, so they had bought a hardware store.  But it was the days when True Value or one of those chains was starting to take hold and independent hardware stores weren’t doing too well.  Now the True Value people are having their own twist of history as Home Depot cashes in on their territory, but that’s another story.  They moved their entire store from Algoma Wisconsin to Milwaukee, and tried again to make a go of it — to no avail.

JP's Lakeside Hardware

This is a shot of our first hardware store in Algoma — It’s 50 years older — and it wasn’t much less of a dump when we lived there.

At any rate…

Mom made a lot of really tasty (thanks to pork fat), earthy meals.  One of the ones I remember most was a potato soup with onions and bacon.  The bacon part isn’t so “vegetarian” — so now I’m making more veggie friendly version.  Mom’s version didn’t include as much cream — in fact real cream was rarely found in our house.  We drank whole milk (back then almost everyone did — at least everyone I knew) so her version was less creamy than this one.

I’m including the full fat – non veggie version of the soup.  Removing the bacon gets you part of the way there.  Replacing the chicken broth can be remedied by making your own veggie broth but I don’t know how many out there would go to the work ( I am — I can smell the celery, onions, green pepper simmering as I write ).  The half and half – cheddar – sour cream depend on whether you just don’t eat meat  or want the vegan version.  I don’t usually like recipes that use flour as a thickener — but somehow for potato soup it seems right….

Baked Potato Soup

  • 8 slices thick cut Bacon
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 5 potatoes, baked, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste (optional) 

brown off the bacon in a pan. reserve.

discard (or save) excess bacon fat but use several tablespoons to make a roué — cooking the flour slowly in the hot oil — substitute vegetable oil if you dont want the bacon fat.  

add the ‘taters, broth, and bacon to the roué and simmer while the soup thickens.  Near the end of the cooking time add your parsley flakes and half and half.  

when you’re ready to serve dish up the soup, garnish with grated cheese and a little dollop of sour cream floated on top. 

This really is farm food from a time when farmers had all they needed to survive in their own fields and barns. My grandmother spent her early youth on a Polish farm. Her mom died when she was around 11.  Her dad quickly found a girlfriend with whom my grandmother did not get along, so dad sent her off to keep house for the town carpenter/mortician.  She did all the cooking and cleaning for several years in a rural Polish farming town along the border with Russia.  When she was about 14 she received a package from America.  Her older brother Lawrence had emigrated to America some years before and eventually saved up enough money for passage to Detroit via Montreal.  Gramma didn’t have much more than some recipes in her head and a small valise to her name.  But she bravely made it across the ocean to Quebec, from there by train to Windsor Ontario, and there she was met by her brother.  They made their way to Milwaukee where Lawrence worked in a tannery. She was 16 when she arrived in the U.S.

The town carpenter seemed to enjoy the best of everyone’s larder, so Gramma learned a lot in those few years before leaving Poland for the New World.  She cooked things she never could have afforded living in her own father’s house. And she had access to a newspaper.  The carpenter could afford a newspaper and Gramma got to read the paper to the carpenter — as part of her job.

She had a good, long life (dying at age 102 if I remember correctly) with three daughters but a husband who died young and left her a widow for over 50 years.  And the smell of home-made food was always in the air.  It’s not hard imagining why mom adopted all those old recipes of her mother as her own.

Anyway….

I came across a recipe for potato soup and it brought back so many fond memories I just wanted to share them.

It’s funny how stories just pop up when I think about food…..

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