Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Day 2007

From left to right; Chris, Scott, and Danielle Christmas Morning
(Click on any of the pictures for a larger version in a new window)

I banged it in Christmas Day sleeping later than I ever had on Christmas morning! In the past it has always been opening presents around 7:30AM but this year we started a new tradition...we had decided not to meet up at the X's house until 9:30. I arose shortly after 8AM and immediately set to work on the getting the sauce for dinner going. I coated the bottom of a large pit with imported olive oil (thanks Steve!) and sauteed a large chopped white onion, fresh basil and oregano, and some other spices before adding several cans of tomato puree, and 10 small sticks of Hormel pepperoni. I also added some tomato paste thinned with a bit of water to increase the thickness of the sauce.

I released Tails and for her first Christmas feeding gave her some of the Sheba shredded chicken she loves so much. Danielle arose and had her Cinnamon bun I had bought at the bakery of Forest Hills Food in yesterday's mad shopping frenzy, and Scott soon around and had his; I enjoyed a rare treat, a blueberry muffin from the same source. At 9:30 the phone rang, it was the X wondering where we were, we headed out with Scott remarking it was OK for his Mom to be late constantly picking them up and such, but is someone else was a minute late...well!

We arrived at the X's house to find Christopher, up and alert very unexpected as he has been keeping very late hours, often staying up most of the night and getting up an hour or two before work, or after lunch if he has the day off. Jeff, the X's new roommate (used to be her business partner) was there too and the kids began the frenzy of opening the gifts. The X was pleased with what I and the kids had bought her and I received on DVD the Muppet Show Season 2 and The Original Christmas Classics (which includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town/Frosty the Snowman/Frosty Returns/Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol/Little Drummer Boy/Cricket on the Hearth). From Chris (The first year he had bought anyone Christmas presents without parental help or funding!) I got a Nesco Jerky Xpress, which he and I will use together for the first time. I can't wait!

The present opening festivities over I exchanged hugs with the X and kids, and headed back home; there was much to be done before guests arrived for dinner!

I began by slicing imported Soppresata and Swiss and Cheddar cheeses. These were then placed in zip lock baggies and returned to the fridge but not before Tails and I had each sampled a piece of the cheeses and the Soppresata which was excellent!

I took the ends of the Soppresata and put them in the pot of simmering sauce which was being stirred every 30 minutes. You have to be careful when you make a thick red sauce like I make even on the lowest flames it can burn and stick to the bottom of the pot.

I vacuumed the main level of the house and, after filling out gift tags and affixing bows I placed all the presents for the afternoon under my tiny Christmas trees. I added to 3 gift bags gift cards from my brother and Camille (his wife) plus $25 each from my dad. These were for Christopher, Scott, and Danielle. These were placed by the tree as well; below is a comparison of the tree and the X's house and my house. I let her keep the tree when we were divorced, at the time I just did not give a damn, and realistically there is just no place in my living room that tree could fit without severe room rearranging.

The tree at X's house

The Tree at my house

I got cleaned up and around 12:30 I began putting out snacks; I had mixed nuts, three kinds of crackers, cheddar cheese 'nippy' spread, the sliced Soppresata and cheeses, fresh salsa and tortilla chips, and sliced pepperoni. The X and the kids arrived adding a tray of baklava.

Mom and Dad arrived there was conversation and snacking (the Soppresata was the star of the snacks!) I began the Chicken Parmesan preparation. I made a coating of Italian breadcrumbs, some spices, and some grated Romano cheese. A dip of egg beaters, 2% milk, a dash of olive oil and some dried spices preceded each boneless chicken breasts drag through the dry ingredients. I then sauteed these over a medium high heat for 3 minutes on each side in a blend of two types of olive oil. (again, thanks Steve for last years present of olive oil!) and then these were placed single layer into Pyrex glass baking dishes which were coated with olive oil PAM type spray. They were baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The X saw them going into the oven and asked about sauce and cheese. I explained that this step is necessary to crisp up the coating.

While the chicken baked presents were exchanged and opened. Dad seemed to like the bottle of wine I had selected for him and his Texas Roadhouse gift card. They game me a box of assorted spices and a covered serving dish Mom had decorated herself. Both were awesome! I also got a $25 gift card to GameStop.

I had fiendishly wrapped a preset for the X, it was about 8 layers of wrapping, bubble pack strapped tightly with packing tape, and tissue paper in ribbon, all inside a nicely wrapped box; it took her about 15 minutes to open it and it was most amusing; everyone enjoyed it as she finally arrived at the Texas Roadhouse gift card inside.

I had picked up a six pack of Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale for Jeff but did not want him to know what it was. So, I took a long thin HP box I had, and wrapped bubble pack around the bottles which were laid flat in a single layer with the flattened out six pack placed underneath. I then wrapped it upside down so when unwrapped it would look like a factory sealed HP box. He was faked out but very pleased with the gift! He gave me a Celebration Cinema gift card and popcorn bucket to use with the kids. I was most pleased!

Dinner was soon served and we all enjoyed an excellent meal if I d say so myself! We then watched some TV, breaking into several groups, the boys playing video games, Dad, Jeff, and I watching TV, and Danielle, the X, and Mom playing "Are you smarted than a 5th Grader", which was one of the gifts Danielle had asked for.

Around 5 PM we had dessert which was Chocolate Torte, baklava, and home made chocolate cherry cookies Mom had baked.

After dessert, the X left to run Jeff back to her house, she returned, they finished their game, and every departed around 7:30 PM. Tails and I spent the rest of the evening watching Christmas themed shows off the PVR. I think this was the best Christmas I have had since the divorce. Perhaps someday Christmas will return to it's former place of my favorite holiday.

Christmas Eve 2007

After arriving home from Forest Hills Foods slightly battered and numb from the experience of being in the store with such crowds, I put away the perishable items and relaxed for a few before continuing with house cleaning and last minute gift wrapping. Around 5PM UPS dropped off a preset for the X's mom that we thought was going to be delayed until after Christmas. Murphy's law; I had already spent an hour making a nice certificate sowing a picture and description of what was coming!

The X dropped off the kids shortly after 6PM and departed. The kids and I spent a very enjoyable evening watching Christmas shows and them occasionally playing on the computers. I made them Nestles Chocolate Chip cookies and mixed up the garlic butter for tomorrow's dinner (no, I did not slather any of the cookies with this!)

Danielle wrapped the Christmas present that had just been delivered, and finally all the wrapping was done and the dinning room table which for days had sported has sported scissors, rolls of paper and tape, bows, ribbons, and bubble pack could finally be cleaned up!

We watched holiday episodes of Sabrina The Teenage witch, Monk, and more, finishing up the evening later (around 10:30PM) with A Muppet Christmas Carol which we all love. I bid the kids Merry Christmas at midnight and let them stay up until 1AM. I hope they had pleasant dreams anticipating Christmas morning. It was a most enjoyable evening!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Charlie Brown Christmas

From our house to yours
Merry Christmas to all!

Never in my humble opinion has there been such a timeless Christmas Special as A Charlie Brown Christmas! Released in 1965 I was 9 years old the first time I saw it. While living with my family my brother and I watched it together every year. After he moved out we still managed on occasion to do this, more so as the years went on. Now, with me living out of state, we have been unable to do this which saddens us both.

I brought my children up seeing this each year...though now they are at that age where they feel they are too old...though my daughter may watch it with me on Christmas Eve. I hope as they mature, they will see the worth of this and of the message it contains.

With all that is gong on in the world, now more than ever, is the message conveyed in this classic more poignant; Christmas is not about getting presents. It is not about wining decorating contests. It is the Celebration of the birth of Christ and a time when more so than ever, we should be kind, loving, and considerate to our fellows on this earth. It imparts the lesson that giving truly is more important than receiving! This is something most people seem to have lost sight of.

Who can forget the following scene where this dialog passes between a frustrated Charlie Brown and Linus:

Charlie Brown: "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about? "

Linus Van Pelt: "Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about."

[Linus moves toward the center of the stage]

Linus Van Pelt: "Lights, please. "

[a spotlight shines on Linus]

Linus Van Pelt: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

[Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]

Linus Van Pelt: That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

So, look at the Wikipedia article, and then watch it again, and truly believe in the miracle that is Christmas!

From Me and Mine, to you and yours, Have a very Merry Christmas!

All Our Love to you!

The Falco Family

Monday, that's my fun day

I arose this morning to about 6 inches of snow with assorted drifts. I released Tails from her room, gave her some quick cuddling and scratching, fed her, and journeyed outside to clear the snow. With People coming for dinner tomorrow I did not want to follow my usual drive over the snow to get to work and then clean the driveway later. That always makes ice where the car compresses the snow down so this morning's mission was to clear the driveway before departing.

I fed Tails, suited up, and went into the garage hoping I would not have another incident with the snow blower. It started on the first pull and I began clearing the driveway. I was pleased as it appeared I was not going to have another incident with the snow blower......or so I thought.

It had been very windy last night but it was not until I was outside that I saw just how windy; there was not a single snowflake on my roof! Not a one!! I had also heard on the news this morning before heading outside that there will still over 20,000 homes in the viewing area without power, some of them would not have it restored until after Christmas!

I was about 90% with the driveway and the sidewalk still needed to be cleared when the snow blower made a THUNK noise and died. I had been pushing it into some heavily packed snow and I thought it had stalled on that or perhaps torn the shear pins. I pulled it back and started it. Again it started on the first pull, I engaged the bladed and THUNK again it died.

I rolled it over to where I could see inside the chute by the light of the garage and wedged tightly inside and caught into the impeller was the local free garden newspaper which I had asked them to stop last year. For some reason they started delivering it again this year. I was most displeased the more I worked, I could not get the paper out, even with giant industrial sized lockjaw pliers. I uttered some phrases against this paper that were certainly not Christmasy!

Finality in desperation I got the pair of manual hedge clippers and chomped halfway down on the paper. Then I slowly began twisting as if I were twirling spaghetti. I saw the impeller move a bit and then the whole mess popped free!

One pull and the snow blower started again and I finished up and headed into work.

They say that bad things come in threes. I think I will have to get someone else to start the snow blower next time I need to use it!

I departed work around 1 PM and stopped at Forest Hills Food on the way home to pickup bread, chicken, and spices for tomorrow's dinner. IT WAS A MADHOUSE. Note a single space anywhere, even at the fringes of the lot or around back where no one ever parks. On the second circuit I found an outlying space and snagged it. Navigation through the store was like some insane video game, carts, old ladies, kids, skid movers everywhere! I lucked out at the crowded butcher counter by going all the way down by the far end where on of the clerks coming out took my order, I gathered the rest of my purchases, paid, and got the heck out of dodge!

Sunday's Storm

I arose Sunday Morning around 7AM. By the time I fed tails and such and departed it was 8AM and the temperature was 45 degrees. We had snow on the ground the past week and frozen ice underneath but Wednesday started warming trend and as of this morning almost all the snow and ice was gone.

I went to Forest Hills Foods and did the remainder of the Christmas dinner shopping save the last minutes items I will pickup today. This is Italian bread, boneless Chicken breasts, and fresh herbs as I will be making Chicken Parmesan with butter and garlic bread. The garlic bread of course will be my infamous homemade garlic butter spread on the bread.

It was noticeably colder and windier when I exited the store. the bag boy and I loaded the Mustang, exchanged Christmas pleasantries and I was on my way. After putting away the groceries I noticed it was a little after 10 and the temperature had dropped to 32 degrees and snow had started. They had been predicting a big blow for several days now and it looked like they were going to be right this time.

I spent the day cleaning, doing some decorating, and wrapping the remainder of the Christmas gifts. The storm built and the winds increased. Tails and I stayed inside, her mostly snuggled up on my chest or darting around the windows to look out every time the wind howled outside. I also learned it is a fools errand to wrap presents with Tails around:

Click for a much larger picture in a new window

As the say wore on the weather got worse and worse outside; It was incredibly windy and near whiteout conditions as darkness came on. I heard on the news that 74,000 customers were without power.

I went to bed around midnight wondering what the morning would I had to go to work.

Friday and Wing Heaven

Friday my son Chris and I got together; I picked him up at 2 PM and we braved the holiday crowds and went to the Woodland Mall for Chicken wings at Wing Heaven. This place has some excellent wings and they do a 12 piece sampler where you can choose 4 different sauces. So far I have sampled the following of their 17 sauces:


After finishing our lunch/dinner we hung at my house watching TV together alternating with us each playing games on our computers. Around 11PM I took him home, this was the longest time we have spent together in one day and I greatly enjoyed having his company.

Friday, December 21, 2007


It was bound to happened, yesterday the kids and I were malled in Grand Rapids! Hmmm, I may have spelled it wrong on the title! I have done virtual all my Christmas shopping from the comfort of the computer this year. But, Scott and Danielle needed to get gifts for their Mom and each other so I took them to the mall yesterday. We went right when they came home from school and I let Scott drive; he did pretty well though he still needs a bit of work on corning.

The mall and parking lot was very crowded, we parked near the end of a row and hiked in. We hit Clair's so Danielle could get some gifts for her Mom and Scott and I chatted outside while he stretched out on the base of one of the ugly looking kinetic-type sculptures that malls seem to buy for some reason.....

We headed down by Paylees so Scott could get slippers for his Mom and while He and his sister did that I went into Walden books to pick up a gift card from Scott to his sister so she would not see it. I also snagged a half price teddy bear gift card holder.

The kids had to head into Sears as Payless did not have suitable footwear. Danielle bought herself two pairs of holiday novelty socks and Scott got the slippers. We headed to the food court when they had Chinese food and I tried a 12 wing sampler from a place called Wing Heaven. You get 3 x 4 wings with four different sauces so I got Caribbean Jerk, Spicy Garlic, Mango Habbenero, and Scorching. They were all very good with the first two being the best and the Scorching ones being mildly spicy but tasty. We headed home stopping at Forest Hills Foods for a few items.

Total time out about two hours which was excellent considering how crowded the mall and the grocery store were.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Screen Savers

For those who do not know I make free screen savers in my spare time. I just got a query from an old friend in New Jersey wondering if I made one for this holiday season. No, I did not, but, below are the links for most of my popular screen savers. Like McDonald's, millions served! So, if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind Christmas screen saver for your Windows PC, try one of the Happy Holidays screen savers below.

Starships in Flight

Scooby Doo 2001

Happy Holidays 2000

Happy Holidays 2002

2003 Happy Holidays

2005 Happy Holidays

Halloween 2003

Halloween 2001

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Wallmart Moment! and this past weekend

Danielle came home from school sick Friday with a nasty cough, sneezing, headache, etc. I medicated her her with OTC medicine and by Sunday she was feeling much better.

We awoke yesterday morning to half a foot of snow, the first real snow of the season. As Scott's girlfriend was picking him up at noon, I went out to start the snow blower. That sucker just did not want to start, and it has never given me a bit of trouble before, even the first start of previous 2 winters has just been "add gas, prime, pull starter maximum of two times". After the third yank of the cord with nary a sound of engine catching at all, I got my long extension cord out and plugged in the electric starter. It took many primes and many applications of the starter before the snow blower roared into life, and it ran very smoothly after a few seconds. HOWEVER the drive refused to engage and the wheels would not turn at all as they normal do if you have not engaged the drive. Engaging the drive caused the engine to rev down a bit as it normally did but no wheels moving. After fidgeting around for a few minutes and doing nothing to really remedy the problem it started working and I was able to do the whole property without a mishap! Go figure!

I am having a rare good Monday as I have it off under GE's vacation "USE IT OR LOSE IT" policy. In the past before we were bought by GE at Smiths, you could roll unused vacation days over for a year, but not with GE. So, I have today off, half a day Thursday PM, and Friday off this week, though I have to work Christmas eve on Monday since too many of my people took it off already. As I had today off, I drove Scott and Danielle to school which they really enjoy. I plan on doing that Friday as well. After I dropped them off I headed to Walmart figuring to beat the holiday crowds which I did.

I had a really good Walmart moment! To me shopping at Walmart is a bit on the trailer park type shopping, there's always lots of stuff, and good deals, yet it all seems to be very disorganized and the folks int he store don't seem to waste time on any pleasantries with you. They are not rude, but they do not go out of their way being overly friendly, at least not at the Walmart by me. The cashier this morning though was a delightful exception, being very pleasant and giving me a very nice smile. I digress though....

My brother and I grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas ever since I was released. When we moved out of our parents house we then got into the habit of watching it together. This of course stopped when I moved my family to Michigan. I misplaced my DVD of this classic and really wanted to get a replacement.

Well, on Amazon, the DVD 23 bucks, and the collection of the three holiday episodes is 45! Imagine my surprise when I found the 3 DVD collection at Walmart brand new for 19 bucks! Needless to say I snagged it right up! I also picked up some Christmas wrapping paper, bows, boxes, etc. I stopped at Forest Hills Foods on the way home for a few necessary supplies, such as more food for Tails.

So, that was the high point of my day. I came home, did some work email, rode the exercise bike, got cleaned up, and after lunch I think I will head to Lowes and get one of those plastic sheet things for the bathroom window which is the oldest window in my house, you can literally feel the cold air coming in many places around it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dragon Picture

I've done the majority of my Christmas shopping on-line. While ordering a framed picture for someone I saw the following image and ordered a framed version (poster size) for myself.

Alchemy Sagnov
Alchemy Sagnov

Monday, December 10, 2007

Quiet and Sad Weekend

A somewhat quiet weekend, marred by news of two health issues in the family, Sigh! After all he went through with the surgery for his back my Father's emphysema is getting worse and basically there is nothing that can be done. He will be seeing doctors and specialists starting this week for second opinions but the outlook is not good. I am, quite distressed by this and the other news I heard this weekend.

Friday with Chris

It was a nice Friday evening with my son Chris as he stopped over for dinner and TV watching. I ordered Domino's Pizza (one of his favorites) and we watched about 5 hours of TV together. He left shortly before midnight to hang out with his friends.

We watched Episodes of Scrubs, That 70's Show, and the current episode of Star Gate Atlantis. We also watched the Futurama DVD Movie Bender's Big Score which he really enjoyed, as did I for my second viewing. Chris also enjoyed spending time with Tails kitty!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Scott's Birthday

Thursday was Scott's 16th Birthday. I know from talking to the X that his girlfriend Emma surprised him at the house that morning so she could go to school with him; wish I could have seen his face when that happened!

I left work early to pick him up at school. When he got in the car I surprised him with a pack of Peanut M&M's, his favorite candy snack and wished him a happy birthday. I could tell he was pleased by my small but thoughtful gesture, and we headed over to pickup his sister from her school which is int he same complex as the high school. Scott informed me that he was wearing the shirt and scarf Emma had gotten him, and they were both quite nice. I teased him a bit and asked if he complained to her about getting clothes as a present, as he has all through the years, as most kids do, when this happens.

We headed home, Scott getting first dibs on Tails as it was his birthday! After greeting her we all did a quick cleanup of the messy house common areas and our bedrooms, and then spent some time watching TV including the new Shrek the Halls Christmas special which we all thought was excellent!

A bit before 6 PM we headed out, stopping at the 5/3 drive through so I could stoke up the wallet with some Yankee Dollars, and we arrived at Outback where Scott wanted to have dinner. having just witnessed his brother Chris being embarrassed to no end at Texas Road house on his birthday, he opted for outback. At Texas Roadhouse, they can really embarrass the heck out of you on your birthday like no place I have ever seen.

Mom and Dad were already there and had a table setup and the X along with Chris and Emma arrived. We had an excellent dinner and at the end Scott was presented, quietly, a small bowl of ice cream and topping with a candle in it. Around this time the X's cell phone rang, it was Uncle Kevin (and family) who called t wish Scott a happy birthday. once this had wound down a bit the bill was settled and I headed out with Scott, Emma, and Danielle as Emma had to get back home. The X and Chris headed off to get Scott Chris' birthday present.

Arriving at Emma's house I dropped her off and we headed back to the X's house where I watched Scott open his last present. This was a Legends of Zelda jacket and shirt which Scott had been wanting. He was most pleased with it. After he disappeared to play his Wii I got ready to leave, and, after recalling them, hugging the kids I then headed home. Thus ends post 3 of 3 and below is a picture taken of Scott with Tails. Needless t say, though obviously I am saying it, you can click on this to open a new window with a much larger version.

I know from IM'ing with the X this morning that Scott and his friends had a good elebration having Pizza, snacks, and Cake and were up until at least 1AM. As of noon, they were still sleeping. I was pleased to hear this!

Things that go bump in the night......

Last night Chris and I had dinner and he came over to spend the night. It was, I think, a mixture of wanting to spend time with his Dad and not wanting to be at his Mom's house where Scott was having a birthday gathering and sleepover. I am happy to spend time with him no matter what the reason though!

I took Chris to Pizza Hut where we enjoyed some good conversions about school, games, computers, work, and family issues. Since Pizza Hut frowns on people coming in, sitting down, and just chatting we also had some pizza and their new chicken wings made with Frank's Red Hot Sauce. They were very good and actually had a bit of a bite to them, something never realized in eating Pizza Hut chicken wings since the kids were very, very young. Paying the bill, we departed and stopped at Forest Hills Foods on the way home to pickup beverages and snacks.

Surprisingly Chris watched much TV with me including four episodes of Scrubs, one Futurama, an Iron Chef America, and finally Stargate Atlantis for which I made us some hot chocolate. He also spent a bit of time on the computer. Around 11:30 PM his Mom called as some of his friends were not able to reach him on his cell. He headed out with his friends who picked him up and I reminded him to be quiet when he came in.

I stayed up until 2AM, spending time with Tails, the TV, and the computer. Around 5:20 AM I was jolted awake with the usual sound of the metal storm door slamming shut and then the inside door shutting. I got back to sleep only to awaken and hear more bumping and thumping around 6AM.

At 7:15 or so I heard "Thump! Thump!! Thump!!! Thump!!!!" coming from the door in my bathroom. I opened it and in came Tails...sigh....Chris must have let her out of her room for whatever reason. She was playful but I managed to calm her down and I spent a couple of hours fitfully napping (I was tired!) with Tails first under the covers with me (her purring resonating through the bed and covers like a small earth quake!) and then on top of the covers. She and I got up around 7:30AM. After feeding her I began blogging. This is post 2 of 3 I wanted to get done this AM. Work has had me so rattled I have not felt like posting regularly in several weeks.

I can see why his mom complains of his nocturnal habits while he is living at her house; as I did not have to rise for work this AM it was no big deal, though I certainly would have enjoyed a better nights sleep. On work nights this would not be acceptable!

It is now just after 11 AM and the thing that went bump in the night sleeps below me now.... The fun side of me feels like making things go bump in the day, because, undisturbed it will slumber late until the day until hunger gnaws at its belly driving it back to will rise, seeking sustenance! Probably on my dime no less!! The horror! The HORROR!!!

Turkey Part 2

I am just getting around to writing this now; we had a quiet but enjoyable Thanksgiving. I arose around 8:15 AM, later than I have in previous years, but I was only cooking for five; Scott, Danielle, myself, and Mon and Dad (The X's folks). The X elected to go out of town for the holiday and Chris had to work.

I prepared the following meal with Danielle acting as assistant chef ,(a role formerly held by my brother Rick who, along with his wife, my Dad, and Julie his girlfriend were sorely missed!) for much of the preparations.
  • A 15 Pound Butterball turkey
  • Sausage and cornbread stuffing with onions using chicken broth, seasoned with assorted spices including hot Chili
  • Onions roasted in with the Turkey
  • Fresh button mushrooms sauteed with a bit of the sausage drippings
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
  • Gelled Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce (one of Scott's favorites)
  • Corn Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Niblets corn with butter sauce
  • Gravy made from pan drippings, milk, chicken broth, and assorted spices. Thickened just a bit with a small amount of corn starch. Also a dash of hot chili powder here and fresh ground pepper.
For Dessert (Many thanks to Mom)

  • Brownies with icing and half topped with marshmallows (Danielle likes this Scott does not)
  • A Mrs. Smith's Blueberry pie
  • Vanilla Ice Cream (went great with the slightly warmed pie)

I had the stuffed Turkey in the oven by 9:45AM. All my life I have feasted on Turkeys prepared the way my mom had made them; cooked in a covered roasting pan and over the years I have used the same method. This year I followed the Butterball method and used a 325 degree oven and had the bird uncovered. I had also rubbed the bird down with some of the sausage drippings.

Mom and Dad arrived around 2PM and after some frenzied last minute finishing up of the dinner, such as cornbread, biscuits, gravy and mashed potato creation, we sat down to eat.

Tails instantly became a royal pain jumping up on the table and everyone's laps so she was banished to the basement until we we were nearly done. She then received a bowl of sliced turkey, a dollop of stuffing making sure there was sausage in it, a bit of cranberry sauce, and a few nibblets of corn. She ate it all.

After dinner we watched thanksgiving episodes from Dharma and Greg, Everybody Loves Raymond, and the Cosby Show, plus a thanksgiving episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

We then sat down to dessert which was very good. Mom and Dad left around 7PM. It was a very enjoyable day.

I always like to give thanks for something special on Thanksgiving. This year I give thanks to Mom and Dad, my former in laws, who, are still like family to me. I love them very much and I am so pleased to have them as grandparents for my kids.

Oh! Below is a picture of me getting ready to enjoy a small portion of Turkey, followed by one of Tails enjoying an appetizer before dinner. You may click on either for a much larger version in a new window.

It may look like I am licking the bird but I am not! I swear!!

A note about Tails; when I started this post I had to stop twice to get her out of the kitchen sink, then out of the planter by the stairs. She then found her way on the couch playing and biting at my arm, then onto the back of the of the couch sitting by my head. Purring now she has ended up on my chest where she demands petting, stroking, and scratching under the chin!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Where's Tails!??? A True Terrible Tale of Tails

Last night after the kids left I noticed Tails around 7PM. Then, no more Tails. I did not think anything of it, until around 9PM, particularly after the sounds of my evening snack preparation, particularly the microwave I use to heat her canned food, did not prompt an appearance.

I enjoyed my snack, and by 10PM I was starting to get concerned. I called her in various parts of the house, she did not appear, and she did not respond with a meow. By 11PM I was frantic; she was nowhere to be found. As I had not gone outside the house or into any of the kids rooms, or the unfinished part of the basement, I had not checked these areas. I did, and there was no trace of her! I opened every cabinet, every door, even the dish washer (because she loves to go in there when it is open).

I even checked out the inside of recliner in case I had injured her (though I would have expected to hear something if she snuck in there and got trapped by the mechanism. I upturned both sofas in fact so I could look inside. NO TAILS!

Midnight approached, I even went in the garage and outside, in case she had somehow escaped. I was quite frantic, upset and so worried at this point!!

Again I went into my bed room calling her, and this time I heard a faint meow. I called again and again and finally heard a bit louder of a meow coming from my dresser. I opened one of the drawers, and there she was, curled up in a little ball sleepily looking up at me. I do not know how she got in there and I had not been in that drawer all day so I would not have closed it.....yet there she was! The only thing I can think of is she maybe was in another drawer I had opened and get in that way. I picked her up, so happy to have found her!

Water, Water, Everywhere!

Last Friday was my son Chris' 19th birthday. He had to work later in the day and he had slept over my house after work on Thanksgiving. He got up around 10:30 (that's got to be some kind of record) while I was riding the exercise bike. I told him we would go out afterwards. Scott was off at the mall with Emma, so Chris, Danielle, and myself headed out. I bought lunch for us at Smoky Bones and we headed over to GameStop so we could pick up the present I was buying him for his birthday, Guitar Hero III for the Wii.

As we were looking around the store my cell phone rang. It was facilities at work informing me a chiller on the second floor at work had died releasing copious (so copious!) amounts of water and some was leaking into my data center and there was smoke and sparks coming from some equipment. We paid for Chris' present and then I speedily (thank you Mustang) dropped them off at my house and headed into work calling one of my people to meet me there. Upon arrival I found that a row of equipment was getting hit by water from the ceiling. Facilities had already gotten some buckets and plastic on them but it was not enough. With security's help we got a large tarp over the row of equipment and began venting the room so the automatic fire suppression system would not kick in as that automatically powers off the whole room which contains about 300 servers and other equipment. THAT would be disastrous!

To make a long story short the damage could have been a lot worse. I spent 5 hours insuring that all the water was pumped out from under the floor and that the owner of the server equipment was in looking at the problem.

What a day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey Dinner

With thanksgiving tomorrow I thought I would share this recipe someone sent my way. From what I understand this works best with a large family gathering, particularly if the Chef really does not want to be there or does not get along with their in-laws or other guests present! If you don't like turkey, it will probably work for any bird or roast. Try it - the results are great!

Step 1: Go buy a turkey
Step 2: Take a drink of whiskey, scotch or Jack Daniels
Step 3: Put turkey in the oven
Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whiskey
Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens
Step 6: Take 3 more whiskeys of drink
Step 7: Turn oven the on
Step 8: Take 4 whisks of drinky
Step 9: Turk the bastey
Step 10: Whiskey another bottle of get
Step 11: Stick a turkey in the thermometer
Step 12: Glass yourself a pour of whiskey
Step 13: Bake the whiskey for 4 hours
Step 14: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 15: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 16: Floor the turkey up off the pick
Step 17: Turk the carvey
Step 18: Get yourself another scotch of bottle
Step 19: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey
Step 20: Bless the saying, eat and pass out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yet more Tales of Tails

Last night around midnight, before putting Tales to bed, I gave her a small can of Sheba chicken cat food. Since she could not have any food after midnight because of her surgery today I waited until right before the deadline for her last feeding. I had been dreading this trip to the vet all week plus the loss of my constant feline companion for a few days. Particularly this week when I do not have the kids overnight, as tails has been an excellent source of companionship in such circumstances.

This AM after I got cleaned up,she spent about 20 minutes on the couch with me getting petted, scratched, and cuddled. I was going to miss her!

Looking at my watch I realized it was time to go, so with Tails safely encased in her cat carrier, I took her out to the Mustang and we headed off at 7:45 AM arriving just in time for our 8 AM appointment and drop off.

This is only the third time I have driven in the car with Tails and she was her usual vocal self, perhaps louder than last time. I was filled with memories of my last trip to Cascade Hospital for Animals with Spock, my long time cat of 17 years, who was very ill and I was taking her to be put to sleep. That was a most painful day....and a journey most sad. I remember once I had arrived I stood outside, not wanting to go in, for about 20 minutes cuddling and petting Spock and crying into her fur, telling her how much I loved her, what a good kitty she was, and how much we were all going to miss her.

Anyway, back to the present, Tails and I entered Cascade Hospital for Animals, and sat next to two women with a sick cat. Tails, bug-eyed, opted to venture out of the cat carrier and let me pick her up as she glanced nervously around. Something spooked her and instead of successfully bolting as she intended, I kept a hold of her and got her back into her carrier until we were in the examination room.

I signed the requisite forms, answered questions, met with three people (one of the handlers, the Doctor, and a technician) and Tails was given a complete physical. She did not like the getting my temperature taken portion of this exam at all! She did manage to charm everyone who came in contact with her and prowl around the examination room, walking across the computer keyboard and playing with the cords.

After a final hug and cuddle with Tails (I am so attached to this cat!) I headed into work, feeling buoyed by the news that she seemed to be in excellent health, only to get a call shortly afterward that her blood test have higher than normal numbers on some liver and kidney functions. This could be as simple as too much protein from kitten food, or a sign of something else to come I was told. They recommended having Tails on intravenous fluids during the surgery because of this and I agreed. Of course this is an extra costs, so with all the tests and shots and such to bring the Tails up to the minimum rev for surgery plus this cost, my $400 spay and laser declaw is now around the $600 range. Sigh!

I am more worried about Tails than the cost, but, this is one of the reasons I held off getting a cat that the kids just do not seem to understand. This is expensive and I really do not have the money for this. However, she is one of the family and will have the best possible care I can swing for her. I'll just tell the kids no presents for Xmas this year to offset the surgery costs! Ha! That should go over well!

Oh well. Tails will have to go back in a month after being off of Kitten food to see how her numbers are.

I will be calling this evening to see how Tails fared with her surgery.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Alas, a Tale of woe for Tails

Poor Kitty! She does not know it, but, Monday she goes into the vet for spaying and laser declaw on the front paws. The laser declawing costs more, but, it is evidently a more humane method of declawing a cat. There is less pain and bleeding and recovery time is faster too.

I will miss her! She has been my constant companion this weekend (a weekend I do not have the kids) and she has either been on my lap or within arms reach except for some brief intervals of tearing around the house kitten style.

Jack Frost Sucks!!!

Tuesday morning at 3AM as the winds howled outside at around 35 MPH and the sound of hail impacting my bedroom windows brought me forth from slumber, I decided Jack Frost really sucks!

Yesterday there were snowflakes falling, though at least around here no accumulation to speak of!

Winter indeed has already come to Michigan! On the bright side, temps in the 50 range by Sunday for a few days.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Kitty Cartoon

The video below, suitable for viewing by all age groups, is amusing, cute, and startlingly true to life....up to a point. Whether you own a cat or not, you will enjoy this!

The Prodigal Son

My son Christopher came home from school at the beginning October. He goes to a co-op school so he has 3 months at school, the three months at a job, etc., etc., until he graduates. As his Mom has a much nicer, much bigger house he ops to live there when not at school. Can't say as I blame him, her house is much nicer than mine. Oh well, a divorced Dad paying his own bills and mortgage, plus child support, can only do so much....

Well, he came over Friday and we spent about five hours watching TV and hanging out, it was nice to have his company for an evening. I hope he will come back sooner for his next visit....that way I don't have to leave the mess he left around too long waiting for him to come back and clean it up!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

No Tricks, No Treats

The night before Halloween so long as I remember is mischief night when all manner of tricks including toilet paper on trees, soap on car windows (or worse, wax by nasty kids), eggs, and such can happen. Back east this was a lot more pronounced and this year in my neighborhood I did not detect any traces of this at all.

As this was the first Halloween in at least 17 years that I would not be trick or treating with at least on of the kids (it was there turn to have Halloween at their Mom's, and had friends to go with). It was somewhat sad that I was not part of the kids Halloween, but, as they get older this is something that happens and something I am getting used to. So, I decided to give out candy here.

Anyway to make a long story short the weather was chilly and there were some brief periods of showers and over the course of the evening I did not get one trick or treater nor did I see any down the street the several times I checked over the course of the evening.

My kids were happy though since I sunk about $20 into candy that they get to eat; I think i shall have to take some into work next week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recipe - Pasta Samball

Pasta Samball (Serves four)

I had the urge to have some Samball Olek last evening. It turned out so good I decided to share the recipe. It's quick, easy, and tasty and nowhere near as spicy as you might think from the amount of Samball in it.

I was out of tomato sauce and since I already had items cooking on the stove I could not go back to the store, so I substituted Heinz low carb ketchup, and the dish was awesome!

Once again, I must stress that the Conimex Samball is by far the best! If you can't get it locally you can order it online here. In my humble opinion, you have NOT had Samball Olek if you have not had this brand.

1/2 pound Dreamfield Rotini Pasta
3/4 pound 92% Lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup Conimex Samball Olek
1/2 cup Heinz low carb ketchup
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Romano cheese to taste
PAM Olive Oil Spray

Put on water for pasta and spray a large frying pan with PAM and place over medium flame. Add sliced onions and garlic. Cook until unions just translucent, stirring often.

Add pasta to water and cook to package directions while following rest of recipe. Drain pasta and return to covered pot after spraying the bottom of the pot with olive oil PAM.

Add mushrooms and basil to frying pan and cover. Let cook for five minutes, stirring once or twice. Add Samball and ground beef, cover and cook for five minutes, stirring once midway through and making sure ground beef is broken into small pieces as cooking proceeds.

Season with with freshly ground black pepper to taste and add low carb ketchup; stir to heat through. Turn off heat and stir in pasta, cover, and leave sit for 5 minutes.

Before serving sprinkle top with freshly grated Romano cheese.

Not too many posts

Its been a bit over two weeks since the last post; much going on, lots of stuff related to work I won't go into here (other than to say I still do not know if I will have a job down the road). Morale at work is somewhat lacking these days.

The X had surgery on October 17th which had some complications, I had the kids through the 28th, 12 days with the kids is always great! X is doing better, but, having trouble recovering; she just won't take it easy as the doctors tell her to.

My Dad is doing somewhat better, still has some post-operative pain but overall he has much less pain that he had prior to surgery and has left the house!

I have been having fun hacking my iPod touch and installing all kinds of software on it. So far I have rendered unbootable twice. Now I have a backup and restore procure which lets me recover all of my applications and data after restoring it to factory settings and re-hacking it. This saves me tons of time over the previous method which was install applications one by one, redo all settings, etc.

Danielle had her Halloween dance and party at the school Friday night; she and Scott are both looking forward to Halloween on Wednesday.

My brother's wife's father passed away last week; he was old and they had to amputate one of his legs to try and save him, but, he did not make it. Couple this with a new job (that has a long commute!) and trying to sell their house, and she really has her hands full. I wish I was closer so I could help out.

Chris got a part time job at Meijer; he will be challenged to come up with suitable finances though and it looks like a student loan will be in order. I gave his mom some extra cash to help offset him living at her house since he has been unable to pay the rent that was agreed on.

Tails continues to grow and to be cute, she really enjoyed having the kids around for the extra time; after they left yesterday she became my shadow, either napping on me or next to me on the couch. She does not realize it, so, please do not e-mail her at and tell her, she will be getting spayed and laser-declawed sometime over the next few weeks.

Not much more to tell really, though I will try to post a bit more often.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tails Tales on a Saturday Morning

Saturday morning; I dislike weekends when I do not have the kids. Having them half the time every week is certainly fun, but, I find myself wanting them everyday! Is that so unnatural, a parent wanting their kids full time?

So, I am a bit broody and distracted, but, Tails is doing her best to keep me amused! Racing around like a Tasmanian Devil, carrying objects in her mouth, bouncing off walls! This has been going on for more than an hour since I woke up.

Uh-oh! She may be winding down, she is padding over this way! She just jumped on my chest purring (this is her way of saying "I command you to stop whatever it is you think is more important than me and pet me and scratch me under my chin for at least 20 minutes straight so I can fall asleep against your face!"),

Pheewwww! She smells like fresh cat crap! Heavily of fresh cat crap! She obviously just came from her box, so, not wanting to seemingly reject her when she came looking for attention I tossed a bottle cap and she is now merrily chasing that around the house! It will be a little awhile before she calms down as she seems fully energized again.

As it is 44 degrees out this AM and thus too cold for a walk (I hate bundling up for a walk!!) it will soon be time for the morning ritual on the e-bike, and the decision should I listen to music while I pedal, watch TV, read, or a combination of the above?

Below is a recent picture of Tails for your enjoyment! You may of course click on it to open a much larger version in a new window.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Take a picture, It'll last longer.....

Yea, it'll last longer, maybe too long in fact!!

After getting my iPod Touch I decided I was going to put all my digital pictures on it. This took a weekend and much CPU time, plus I had to start over as the drive the images are on ran out of space as iTunes was converting them.

After getting them on the iPod and viewing some of them I was reminded of an issue that has been growing since 1999. This is when I got my first Digital camera, a Kodak DC210 courtesy of my friend David, and began taking pictures.

This issue is simply that I have too many pictures! Those of you with digital cameras know how it is; since there is no film to deal with or associated developing costs, you just tend to take many more pictures than you would with a film-based camera.

So, the weekend before last I began the laborious task of going through over 12,000 images. There were instances where, to get a good shot, I had taken multiples, anywhere from 1 or two, to 15 at the burst rate of whatever camera I had. Do I really need more than one image or a given shot? In almost every case, the answer was "No!", but, going through the multiple images and choosing the one to keep is very time consuming.

There were also a lot of blurred images so there were deleted. Poorly kit or bad contrast images? Ones that could not be tweaked, candidates for deletion, and this too was a time consuming process. How about pictures with no family members, but kids that even my kids do not remember? Gone!

Series of shots of kids soccer games? Greatly reduced by eliminating pictures where my kids were occluded behind another player, or by using the rules above for multiple shots of a given scene.

Then there were a number of shots in the "What the heck was I thinking category!" when I took them!

All this takes time, and this last weekend, other than caring for the kids and spending some time with them when they were not playing, I did nothing but work on whittling this down.

It was also quite sad in some cases as I went through several years of pictures when the X and I were married. I have been quite blue with this all week in fact. On the plus side, I have seen many pictures of the kids growing and cavorting around that I had forgotten! I've also got the idea to make some themed slide shows from recurring subject matter over the years.

I hope to be completed with this painful task this week, and I will post a recap of number of pictures and storage requirements before and after the great purge of 2007!

Going forward I will be doing this cleaning process as I offload the memory card, and I wonder why I just did not do this from the get-go!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Monkey Dance

I saw this video the other day and it cracked me up. Click the Play icon in the video below to watch. Suitable for all ages.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Healthy Carbonara Style Spaghetti

It has been quite awhile since I have posted a recipe, so here is one. I was craving Spaghetti Carbonara the other evening and that does not fit into my dietary guildines. Note I was craving the Traditional Italian version not the Americanized one that uses milk or cream as part of the process. I may do one of those at a later date, we shall see!

8 slices Louis Rich Turkey Bacon diced into small pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil or PAM-type olive oil Spray
1/3 cup Egg Beaters
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Put on pasta water to boil and add salt. Cook to your preference (about 10 minutes to al dente, which is how I like it).

Once pasta is added to water above, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add diced turkey bacon and cook until crisp. Stir frequently. Cover frying pan and remove from heat.

Save some of the pasta water (about a half cup should do it) and then drain the pasta and return to pan. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the empty pasta pot and heat over medium heat.

Add pasta back to pot, turn off heat and add turkey bacon and any drippings, Egg Beaters, pepper and cheeses. Stir well letting the heat of the ingredients cook the Egg Beaters. If the mixture is not creamy enough slowly stir in some of the hot pasta water you saved until it is the consistency you like. Place lid back on pot and allow to sit for one minute. Toss and serve with additional greated cheese of your choice.
Serves two

Healthy Carbonara Style Spaghetti with Peas and Mushrooms

Here's a slight variation on the traditional version of the recipe above, this one with peas and mushrooms.

8 slices Louis Rich Turkey Bacon diced into small pieces
3 teaspoons olive oil or PAM-type olive oil Spray
Four Ounces Dreamfield's Spaghetti
3 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
3/4 cup frozen peas, rinsed in cold water and drained
1/3 cup Egg Beaters
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add diced turkey bacon and cook until crisp. Stir frequently. Pour into small bowl and cover.

Put on pasta water to boil and add salt. Cook to your preference (about 10 minutes to al dente, which is how I like it).

While pasta is cooking add another teaspoon of olive oil and the chopped garlic to the frying pan. Saute until garlic just starts to brown and then add mushrooms. Cook, stirring every minute, for five minutes until mushrooms are cooked and light brown. Add peas and heat for an additional minute. Cover frying pan and remove from heat.

Save some of the pasta water (about a half cup should do it) and then drain the pasta and return to pan. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the empty pasta pot and heat over medium heat.

Add pasta back to pot, turn off heat and add turkey bacon and any drippings, Egg Beaters, pepper, mushroom and pea mixture, and cheeses. Stir well letting the heat of the ingredients cook the Egg Beaters. If the mixture is not creamy enough slowly stir in some of the hot pasta water you saved until it is the consistency you like. Place lid back on pot and allow to sit for one minute. Toss and serve with additional grated cheese of your choice.
Serves two

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tales of Tails

Not really so much a tale, but a picture, as Danielle was reading in my office this evening, all comfortable in her Bean-bag chair, Tails decided to join her, and soon feel asleep. I had to sneak ever-so-quietly upstairs to get the digital camera, because as anyone how has had a kitten knows, they never really sleep! In fact, the phone rang while I was upstairs, and she had awoken, so I waited after returned to my office. Fortunately for you, Tails did slumber again. Hmmm, perhaps this is a Tails tale after all!

As usual, click on the picture below for a larger version.

Recipe - Roasted Chicken & Corn on the Cob

Last week, I decided for Sunday dinner to make chicken, Cornish game hens in fact, and corn on the cob.

I decided to once again use my Thanes quartz cooker. I have had mine for several years and love to use it. The price has been considerably reduced since I bought it. A picture is shown below:

You can read all about it here on the product page. As the local supermarkets had none fresh I was forced to go with frozen (If I had fresh, I would have decreased the cooking time by about half).

This cooker can roast 4 rock hard frozen game hens to crispy juicy deliciousness in an hour flat!

Ingredients (for each game hen)
3 Tyson giblets removed frozen games hens (22 ounces average)*
Fat Free Olive Oil cooking spray (such as PAM)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Red Monkey Cajun Spice Rub
1/2 teaspoon Red Monkey Cajun Spice Rub
3 cloves garlic crushed

3 ears of corn on the cob

Rinse game hens and pat dry. Spray with oil spray and rub with crushed garlic. Sprinkle (evenly distribute on both sides) on sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and Red Monkey Cajun and BBQ spice rubs. Place in cooker. Set for 400 degrees and 30 minutes cooking time.

Turn chickens over, and set for 400 degrees 15 minutes cooking time. Add corn on the cob and set for 400 degrees and 30 minutes cooking time.

Your meal is done, the chicken should be crispy on the outside, yet moist, juicy, and delicious on the inside! The corn, roasted instead of boiled will be very flavorful. See the picture below for an example, you can click it for a larger version.

A salad of your choice also makes a fine accompaniment to this meal.

The kids loved it, and so did I, choosing to add a bit of extra kick by mixing a tablespoon of Samball Olek into the drippings from my bird and using it as a dipping sauce.

* If you get frozen hens with giblets you most remove the giblets before cooking.

Happy Birthday Steve

This post is dedicated to my friend Steve in New Jersey, today is his birthday, so, let's all wish Steve a big


Hope you have a great day my friend! I really miss seeing you each day at the office....seems like just yesterday some days....though somedays it seems much longer than the 7 years it's been.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Super Freaking Bad Mood

Well, it is that day of the year I love to hate, that day, if, I had my choice I would stay home alone!

September 28th, both my Wedding Anniversary (meaningless since the divorce) and the anniversary of my Mom's passing away. She died on my first Wedding anniversary.

I miss my mom though it's now been 20 years she's gone. And I still miss the X, though I must admit this year I do not feel quite as bad, and I have no desire to post a picture of us or her as I have done in the past and lament about lost love. It's her loss, and perhaps one day she will realize this.

And, as if the above was not enough to bring down my day, Scott's voice is having problems again and his throat hurts when he speaks.

Needless to say my mood is very BLACK today!!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The mother of all $2.64 salads

This HUGE salad has it all, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, celery, onions, mushrooms, peas, broccoli, banana pepper rings, sliced pickles, and in smaller health conscious quantities, about a third of a sliced hard boiled egg, half a dozen croutons and pepperoni slices. Served with fat free ranch dressing, it is simply delicious and a bargain at the price! A picture, sure to make you drool, particularly if you are locked up in your office with only water, is below:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dad Status 9/24/07

I just talked to my Dad who is doing a bit better this evening, post operative pain is less and he is feeling a bit better!

By the way, if anyone is curious, a picture of the spacers they used is shown below; my dad had more than one of these inserted.

Dad Status 9/22/07

I talked to my Dad Saturday, his pain has lessended a bit and he is feeling a little better, I will check in with him this evening!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dad Status 9/20/07

I talked to my dad last night, he was in a lot of pain, and grumpy, both of these are to be as expected! I told him to bear with the pain, that it would be much better in a few days, and hope that once that pain was gone his overall pain would be much improved. He told me his next biggest problem is to recover without getting an infection such as pneumonia, so, let's keep those positive thoughts coming!

I will be calling him this evening to see how he is doing.

Salad du jour

Here's today's $2.64 salad, with lettuce, carrots, peas, broccoli, onions, turkey, jalapenos, banana pepper rings, some hard boiled egg, a couple of slices of peperoni, celery and sliced pickle. not pictures, the Kraft Fat free French dressing.

It was delicious, and such a bargain! Let the lunch time feasting begin!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Father made it through surgery!

Just wanted to let folks know he survived the surgery; when we know how it has affected this problems he had with pain I will let everyone know. Thanks for those who sent their well wishes; yesterday was a rough day!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


My dad has been in surgery for over 7 hours...the suspense is terrible to endure!


Monday, September 17, 2007

Danielle's Birthday on Saturday 9/15

As the X had Danielle for her birthday I can only share from my perspective how the day went when I was with her. This started around 9:30AM when I found a voicemail on my cell phone as I neared the halfway point of my 4 mile weekend walk. It was the X and she was off to a meeting and wanted to know if D could go to my house. I called her back, she had already left, so, I called Danielle and talked to her telling her I would be at least another 40 minutes or so, but, I would come and get her.

The weather, cool to the point where I went back into my house to get a light jacket when I had departed, was nice and sunny, though clouds were in the sky when I returned home, and there had been none at all when I started.

I headed over and collected Danielle and Scott and took them to Steak n Shake for Birthday milkshakes and french fries. I enjoyed a Caffeine free diet code and a burger (no fries) for my breakfast. Danielle got a Halloween special shake, Double-chocolate fudge, which had half an inch of hot fudge n the top, and chocolate whipped cream with chocolate pieces and sprinkles in addition tot he cherry on top. Scott has his usual vanilla and was doing a little bit better dealing with the death of his friend, though you could still see the somber effect this has had on him.

As it was barely 11AM the place was not crowded at all, and the manager, a bit of a weird sense of humor on this guy, waited on us though he disappeared mid-way through and we had to summon another server. By weird, he asked if we were ready to order, we said yes, and he stated "Prove it!" and pulled his pad out. The rest of his attempts at humor were either so off the wall or fell far short of funny, so I will not recant them here, but, at least he was trying.

The X called as we were finishing up and asked if we wanted to go to lunch, I mentioned what we had just done and she asked what would Danielle like to do. Scott whispered to her that she should ask to go to the mall as people would buy her things on her birthday. Thus decided we headed out. I dropped the kids at the X's and headed home to change and headed back to the X's where we headed out to the RiverTown Crossings Mall.

X had not eaten so we stopped and got a soda and she had some pizza, then we did some shopping. Danielle had me buy her a Nintendo DS game, and her Mom bought her some Godiva chocolates. I bought Scott a Japanese to English dictionary he needed for school, and the latest Deathlands novel (A series I have been reading for over 10 years) for myself. Scott needed clothes for School, Sears provided this and I got several awesome t-shirts are discount prices. I will have to post pictures of them in a future post. On the way out I got everyone ice cream at Dairy Queen, myself having a small cup of vanilla as my lunch time carbs while they all had decadent creations from Blizzards to Scott's (the best!) being brownies with ice cream. I was just happy to some some vanilla!

Below is a picture of Danielle and I at the mall!

We headed towards home, I was dropped at my house where Tails and I watched TV and played video games...well....she watched me do those things and chase her out of the plants, counter tops, etc. A bit before 5PM I headed over to the X's stopping first to get a gift bag for Danielle's main birthday preset.

Arriving at the X's, who, sadly was not feeling the best, we gave Danielle her birthday presents. From the X and I, a digital tablet she wanted so she could draw easily on the PC. I also put a pack of Oreo chocolate stuffed Snack cakes in the bag, which she wanted to eat before dinner. Scott gave her a nice pair of earrings. From Chris...who totally forgot my birthday....Well, at least he called later in the evening to wish her a happy birthday.

Here's the tablet we got her for her birthday:

Presents out of the way we headed over to Red Lobster for dinner where we met her parents. After about a 15 minute wait, we sat down for dinner and had an excellent meal with some nice conversation among the adults as Scott and Danielle had their DS', only turning them off long enough to eat. I always enjoy watching Danielle eat crab legs, she is so meticulous getting all the meat out before drowning it in butter and consuming it. After she finished, she was pleased because she got birthday ice cream without anyone singing for her!

I was dropped off at my house and the only other things I know about Danielle's birthday were by brother and his wife called and spoke to her and Danielle said Sunday she had an excellent time on her birthday.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Today is Danielle's Birthday!

My little girl, who I explained last night will always be my little girl in my heart even when she is 40!, turned 13 today!

I told her last night how she was a gift to all of us, and the story of the day of her birth 13 years ago. Her Mom had many complications with the pregnancy and in the last stages was in a special ward in the hospital for mothers with such issues; there was an operating room right across from her Mom's.

We did not know if Danielle would be carried to term, and her Mom was given drugs to accelerate Danielle's development, particularly her lungs, so she would have a better chance at surviving.

I remember the call at work that morning from the doctor, and my incredible mad, and in retrospect foolish frenzied drive to the hospital, which I made in record time, surprising the doctor with how quickly I arrived.

I'll never forget the first glimpse of her as she was removed from her Mom by C-Section, nor how her Mom, jittery from the medication could not hold her right away as they feared she might drop her. it was quite the stressful and emotional time for our families, that period of our lives. There was the possibility we could have lost both of them from the complications, thankfully we did not.

I try to remember that and be thankful every time I see my daughters smiling face.

I love her so much, and she is still such a miracle and a joy to behold 13 years later. She is, my little girl.

Below is a picture of Danielle in 2000.
Click to open a larger image.

Scott and Life's Lessons

Scott's really getting hit by the sucks side of life; first the problem with his voice, which, thankfully is largely passed, and now this;

Last week a friend of his was in a car crash and went into a coma; he was very distraught. The friend passed away a couple of days later. He was so upset; sure, he knows about death, but, this was the first case where it affected him so closely with someone that he knew and really liked. The past couple of days have been rough for us worrying about him, and even rougher for himself.

Yesterday he was at my house and I with him during the day after his Mom left for work. Tails did her part too, providing affection and amusement and even coaxing a smile or two from him.

We always want the best for our children, wanting to spare them the harsher realities of life, and extend the joy and innocence of childhood for as long as possible. Sadly, I think Scott now is past some of that. He's weathered divorce, death, personal issues, and I hope he comes through OK, perhaps just a bit wiser as to what life can have to ofter on the negative side, while we strive provide as much positive experience as we can for him.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saturday, Media Players, Walks, and such

With the birthday behind me let's turn to today; after arising at 7:30 I had a nice four mile walk this morning, and the weather was sunny, clear and just gorgeous, it seems the next few days will be low humidity and normal temperatures in the 7o's instead of the 80's/90's of last week and high humidity. I love when the humidity is low and the sky is such a vibrant blue as it was this morning!

Yesterday I ordered myself a birthday present, one of the new iPod Touch devices, which is basically an iPhone without the phone portion, so, it is a portable media player with that slick interface, and it has built in WiFi and can surf the web and such as well. This will be the first Apple product I have ever owned; the previous iPods have done nothing for me, but, I have lusted for the interface on the iPhone since its debut, but, not needing a phone, I did not acquire one.

To pay for this present, I am selling off some toys; I sold my Nokia 770 tablet yesterday and am now looking to sell my Zune Player, which, until this new iPod has the largest screen for viewing video, and some accessories. I have the Zune, a docking station, and sports carrying case, and an AC adapter. All of these accessories are new and did not come with the Zine. I think I will ask $150 for the bundle and will probably post it on eBay if I can't find anyone locally to take it off my hands.

Low expectations are the key

Once again I realize that low expectations are the key as another birthday has come and gone. For the few that sent birthday wishes, I sincerely thank you! Most disappointing, yet totally expected was that my older boy did not even call or send an e-mail. He sure knows my number when he needs will be kids, but, I never missed wishing my immediate family Happy Birthday in 51 years.

I do not understand kid logic; yesterday when we got up they both wished me happy birthday and thought I should take them to school since it was MY birthday....I thought and thought about this but failed to see how driving 30 minutes out of my way was to my benefit or related to my birthday!

After work/school, the kids and I had an excellent dinner at Braan's last night and I got my free birthday meal certificate for another steak dinner; Save the one my brother gave me in New Jersey my sole birthday present, yet a tasty one.! After that we went to Coldstone, and I said to hell with it and had some ice cream for my birthday.

We watched a bit of TV together, Danielle and I Doctor Who, and the three of us watched Monk.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

51 tomorrow

I turn 51 tomorrow....Ahhh, another blue birthday approaches, they just have never been the same since the divorce; I'll be satisfied to get through the day without too much blueness!

Words from one of my favorite (well, when I was younger, now it hits too close to home!) Pink Floyd songs keeps running through my head....

By Pink Floyd

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but its sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in the relative way, but youre older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the english way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought Id something more to say

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
And when I come home cold and tired
Its good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Take a walk with Mr. Chris

I arose about 8 AM this morning, and all three kids were asleep. It was about 8:30 when I left the house this bright sunny morning for my four mile walk.

What's that? You wish you could come along? Well, you can! Almost anyway, I took my camera with me this morning as I have been meaning to for quite awhile, so, with witty comments (half witty?) I will show the progress and some pictures of the route.

Please note that clicking on any picture will open a much larger version in a new browser window.

Exiting my driveway we turn right and head for the main road where we will turn right again. This is Cascade and we will be on it for about a mile.

After making the turn, this greets my eyes

What a bright sunny day; good thing I had my sunglasses! I forgot them yesterday and walked with my head down for a good portion of the walk.

A few minutes from my house, across the street is Graceland (nothing to do with Elvis!) and on this side a small cemetery with graves going back to the 1800's, and possible beyond since some are so weathered you can't read them.

Ten minutes into the walk we come across Forest Hills Foods, a store often mentioned in my blog posts. Danielle and I visited there this afternoon in fact, picking up muffins for the kids breakfast tomorrow and a couple of other items including some delicious California peaches and half a watermelon.

Right past Forest Hills Foods is a double-strip mall, on the first one is China Garden where I often get the kids Chinese take out, though I will not eat there (even if I could, it is below my standards, but, kids will be kids)! on the right is an excellent place for home made candy including chocolate covered Twinkies and huge dipped strawberries. The cleaner in the middle has the most ANNOYING radio adds I have ever heard! The second one, not pictured, contains a Beaners (Coffee place) and a Subway.

At this point, the road stretches off into the distance!

This sign disturbs me every time I pass it, it's a sign for a dentist, but, i think perhaps he would be better of making footwear!

As we continue along we are about 20 minutes into the walk, still on Cascade. Note here you can clearly see the mix of old and new construction for different businesses; none of these are residences. Below we have a professional building housing multiple offices, a realtor, and a CPA.

A bit further down the road is a nice sculptured rock garden from a landscaping company; when I walk this way in the afternoon there are usually kids climbing on it.

Across the street is a church; on Sundays if I walk past at the right time, the priest is outside and he and I exchange greetings and pleasantries as I walk.

Below are a couple of other large building as I near the corner where I will turn for the more rustic part of my walk on the bike and pedestrian trial system of Cascade county.

After we pass the second building above, we make a right which takes us off Cascade, the main drag. this is the closest place by my house where I can pick up the extensive bike and pedestrian trail system. I wish I lived closer to it as we've walked a bit over a mile to get to this point. (Tails has just jumped on my lap and is purring in my face....I guess this is her idea of helping. Now she is chewing my beard......)

Instead of a four lane road with a speed limit of 55 MPH, we have a two lane road at 35 MPH and the view off into the distance is like so:

Another difference is there are no office buildings anymore; this is all residential and farmland now, so, when I turn to my right at the 30 minute milestone of the walk I see this:

and a bit further down on the right, this:

and this:

The road continues to stretch off into the distance

Here is a greenhouse place that opens in a few weeks and is open in the colder weather when the majority of the farms are closed. Following that is a picture of the residence of the owners.

At this point the road goes around a blind sharp curve and the pedestrian trail cuts inwards away from the road to circumvent this.

The view is even better now, note the nice house off in the distance at the top of the hill.

Just around the bend, here is view to the right; note you can see the house much better here beyond the corn field.

The path goes on for a bit more here before once again going parallel to the road. At the point, 40 minutes into the walk, we have reached two miles, and it is time to turn back.

At the far point of the walk note the farm across the street below is where the X, Christopher, Scott, Danielle, and I went the first Halloween after we moved out here 7 years ago to get a pumpkin. We went on a nice hayride before picking out the pumpkin. It takes about five minutes to drive here, and about 40 to walk it.

Since I mentioned getting a pumpkin at the farm, here is picture of the three kids from that outing in October of 2000.

This is the end of the walk looking where the path and road continue....while I have of course driven down there, I have not walked the path....though I hope to sometime soon.

As I started heading back my feet began to hurt; I was wearing new sneakers which I guess I should have broken in a bit more, though I did walk 3 miles in them yesterday. The trip back was endless and I discovered that my small toes were getting calloused after I arrived home. At least I did not get any blisters; being diabetic I get very paranoid about my feet!

So, thanks for keeping me company on my long walk today; I wish you could come with me every weekend when I walk it, I would be glad for your company and some conversation!

Note this is the most time consuming post I have done to date; with 29 pictures and HTML editing as blogger is not really too smart when it comes to many images, alignment and such. It took me two and a half hours to complete (I guess I really need a life, huh??) I ended up finishing it after Scott, Danielle, and I watched the latest Ninja Turtle movie.