January 2014 Beeson Banner

2 January 2014

There's half a foot of snow on the picnic table, two inches in front of the house, and it's still coming down fast enough to make the far side of the lake visible only as a not-quite-so-white silhouette.  This is a good day to update Web pages and catch up on reading e-mail.

I meant to change the sheet this morning, but before I got around to stripping the bed, Al had settled in for the day.  He had his paw over his eyes, so I closed the drapes — and the noise woke him up.

Yesterday morning the lake was all white except for a streak sorta lined up with the creek, and it's much the same today.

We forgot to re-fill the humidifier before we left, so Dave stopped in Silver Creek and turned down the thermostat with his browserphone.  Al not only didn't complain about the cold when we got back, he demanded to be let into the garage.



3 January 2014

Al isn't as enthusiastic about escaping as he used to be, but he did go so far as to put three paws outside once.

The cameras in the barn went on strike and had to be brought into the house.  Dave brought their UPS in too, just in case.  Blowing snow is predicted for tomorrow, and a high of twelve below for Monday.  I think I'll take a nap.



4 January 2014

Drat.  I just learned that the author of _Mother Tongue_ is renowned for sloppy research and egregious errors.

I wonder how he continues to get published?

Well, I do know:  publishers say "I need n words about topic x" and the professional writer delivers.  Hence the newspaper column saying that if paper birch won't grow in your yard, sycamore is an excellent substitute because both have white bark.

Today I put my boots on and took the garbage out to the compost heap because a foot of snow was predicted.  I had set the pan on the patio when it started to overflow and I didn't want to wade out to empty it; a prediction that it would get buried finally nudged me into action.

But the storm is going north of us and the prediction is for much less snow, and much less cold.

Which is good, because I can't find the brown wool slacks I meant to wear under my gown tomorrow.  There is a very small number of places where they might conceivably be, and I have looked very thoroughly into each of them several times.  Now I'm looking in silly places such as under the piles of fabric in my stash.  There aren't a lot of places where two pairs of long pants will *fit*!



6 January 2014

So I wore my corduroy slacks under three skirts, and in a pocket of the slacks was a nice wooden comb that's been missing so long that I'd forgotten it.  So I don't have to go to Townsend to buy a new pocket comb after all.

Then I got in sight of the church and saw that the few vehicles in the parking lot had obviously been there all night, and the only tracks in the parking lot were mine.  Carrying my church key on a Sunday never entered my head!

While I was trying the College Avenue door, the Redpaths drove up.  They must have seen me, because they waited while I walked back around the building — which takes a while because I had to go back to College and return to the parking lot by way of Tenth Street.  I remembered later that there are two gates in the fence around the playground, but I probably would have broken my neck coming down the steep slope and I don't remember whether the gates are kept locked.

We talked for a while and concluded that services had been cancelled for the weather.  (I checked the WLFMC website later, and it was so.)  Then I tried the ramp-room door and came home by way of Ninth Street.

It was a lovely day for a walk.  It hadn't gotten cold yet (At least not too cold for three skirts, insulated boots, etc.) and though the snow was coming down fast enough that I had half an inch in the brim of my bowler when I got back, the sky was bright, and all the trees were outlined in white — the snow was still sticky.  The big sycamore in the park was particularly pretty.

I made a spanish-hamburger pizza for supper Sunday evening:  browned four ounces of 85% ground beef, added some mint-infused olive oil, and fried sliced halved onion until translucent.  At this point I wanted to drain a can of mushrooms and stir them around until they had gotten less soggy, but it turned out that we don't have any.  (Just added "canned mushrooms" to my two-page shopping list.)  And I'd thought of mushrooms because we are out of fresh peppers.  So I slopped in some canned salsa, spread the mixture around on the pizza, and covered it with deli-sliced mild cheddar.

It wasn't good at all.  I thought that something was missing, and Dave complained that it was "sweet" — this from a guy whose favorite salad dressing tastes like pancake syrup.  I ate mine with pickled pepper rings, Dave didn't eat much.

Warmed over for lunch today, it wasn't half bad with capers on it.  I'll try again using arrabiata sauce instead of salsa.  I used up all but one slice of the mild cheddar, but we have worlds of cheese.  Five packages haven't even been opened — though two of those are sharp cheddar.

Unhappily, we are almost out of colby.

I was baffled this morning when I set the washer for "warm" and cold water flowed in.  Finally turned it to cold and got ice water.  (I held a thermometer in the flow of a later load, and it was about forty-five degrees, not freezing cold, but ten degrees lower than it ought to be.)

I never put the third load of wash in, but I did clean out the pencil-and-paper drawer.  We threw out a lot of trash, including about twenty non-functioning pens, and I moved all the maps to the pile of maps in the garage.

Now the map pile needs organizing.

Dave moved one of his IP cameras into the parlor.

We've been waiting for it to get cold so we could clean out the freezer, but this is definitely over-doing it.  Dave said that that meant that we could throw the food into the back of the truck and *not* back the truck outside, but we need to drain a lot of water while defrosting, and I think that narrow little drain hose would clog up with ice pretty quick when the *high* is minus eleven.  Pity there is no drain in the garage.



8 January 2014

We got our driveway plowed this morning and are all set to be comfortable in the deep snow — and the prediction is for warm rain on Saturday.  I'm not looking forward to *that* mess!

I set out to make another spanish-hamburger pizza this afternoon, but putting the air filter in the garage complicated access to the freezer, and I found sausage first, so I made a sausage pizza.  I thawed and browned the sausage, drained off the oil, and stirred in some "three pepper and onion" that I'd chopped a little smaller, then spooned the mixture over a thin layer of arrabiata sauce.  Then added seven slices of muenster cheese, two of them cut into triangles.

Pretty good, though the crust was a tad greasy.  I detected a slight bite of capsaicin, which I *didn't* detect in either the sausage or the arrabiata sauce.  Synergy, perhaps?

Finally got around to cutting out my new slippers today.  And started assembling them.



10 January 2014

One slipper finished, one partly pinned.

It doesn't appear to be precipitating, but I wouldn't be able to see the other side of the lake if I didn't know where to look.  60% chance of rain today, 100% tonight.

Finished the slipper, then in the process of deciding what to do next, cleaned off the mending hook and moved the stuff hanging from the shelf in the hallway onto it.  And there dangling from the shelf were the two pairs of brown wool pants I wanted to wear a week or three ago.  I looked right there several times!



12 January 2014

All dressed, breakfast eaten, carry-in dinner dishes in my bag, and it's still seven minutes before step-off.  What happened?

But it will take me that long to wrap up for the walk.



13 January 2014

I'd been planning to take a tossed salad to the dinner, but that would be very difficult to carry in my purse, and when I got back from shopping I realized that I already had the dry ingredients for a loaf of bread in a mixing bowl, so I filled a mini-muffin pan with miniature rolls and found a half-size loaf pan for the rest of the dough.  I think next time I bake bread I'll find two such pans and make one loaf to eat right away and one for the freezer.  Or one half-loaf and a pizza!

Found a serving box left over from Christmas and lined it with doubled paper towels; made a very nice presentation for the mini-rolls, except for the red and green snowflakes.

I think it was last Friday that I made a fresh batch of tooth powder.  I should have taken note, because I want to know how long a batch lasts.  I used a cup of soda, one teaspoon of salt, and a few dead rosemary leaves to check on whether I'd ground the salt long enough.  (When the herbs vanish, the salt is done.)  It smells nice, but I haven't used any yet because my pill box is still full of the previous batch.

Much to my surprise, it wouldn't quite fit into one of my "nine-ounce" mustard bottles, so this morning I checked:  level full, a jar holds one cup.  I must have incremented by one in the time —well over a decade— that has passed since I washed off the last label.  There was more than a teaspoon to put into a second bottle, so I presume that the soda fluffed up when sifted several times.

Hardly any wash today:  I added all the lights and whites to the load I didn't do last Monday and still didn't have a full load.  And Dave's shirt and jeans make up at least two thirds of the dark load.

Something I ate yesterday didn't agree with me.  Having been to a pitch-in dinner, I haven't a prayer of guessing *what*.  Perhaps the sheer quantity, though it seems odd that it would take until four in the morning for intestinal disturbance to start.  Seems to be slacking off.  Surely the offender is out of there by now!

I didn't know how tired I had gotten Sunday morning until I lay down for a nap and my bad leg started to ache.  That was a pleasant change:  explicable pain in an expected place!  It loosened up during the afternoon and evening, and didn't start up again at bedtime.

The nasty weather started about the time I figured that it was safe to resume going out after my fall, so it's been close to two months since I got regular exercise.  Last fall, I expected to ride to Leesburg in January, and now I'm wondering whether I can make it to Owen's.  (Owen's is 1.6 miles each way, according to the GPS.)

Re-filled my pill stick today.  The good news:  I've *finally* used up that huge bottle of calcium capsules.  The bad news:  the calcium tablets I'm now using look a lot like my glycosamine tablets.

Fresh hamburger patties on dinner rolls for supper tonight.  I'll put the rest of the hamburger into a meatloaf for tomorrow; I've already chopped onions etc. and put them on "Japonica Field Blend of Black and Mahogany Rice" in my big mixing bowl.

All in the bowl, but just piled in there; I'll mix it in the morning.  I was wishing I had some unsweetened cranberries to put in, then remembered that cranberries are a substitute for cherries and I do have a bag of tart cherries in the freezer.  Might chop some in the morning just before I mix up the meatloaf and put half of it into the oven.  (The other half goes into the freezer.)

Dave bought a new battery for the lawn mower today, and after installing it, he left the mower to run for a while.  The next time I looked out the window, he was cruising around the lawn on it.  I don't think the blade was engaged!

Lake was still frozen the last time I looked out that side.  There were geese swimming where the creek comes in.  I missed a cute phenomenon:  Dave says the melting snow was flowing over the ice in the creek, in two streams that looked like a divided highway.



14 January 2014

Take one bowl of well-chilled meatloaf ingredients.  Add a generous half cup of chopped frozen cherries.  Now put your arthritic old hands down into that frigid mess and mix it together.

Yield:  one loaf in the oven, two bags in the freezer.

Dave was upset when he saw me pour half an inch of tomato juice on top of the loaf; I told him it would cook down to a thin film and didn't mention that I meant to add more when it did.

Too low a percentage of beef, and I think I should have mixed in an egg or two.  It's fairly decent rice casserole, though.

When I thaw the frozen portions, I think I'll add a frozen patty to each one.



15 January 2014

I baked rye bread today:  a tray of mini-muffins and a half-size loaf.  Pity I wasn't making rye bread the day before the carry-in dinner; rye makes *much* better mini-muffins than red wheat does.

The last time I went shopping, I bought a bag of turkey bacon bits on impulse.  I should have known better:  Turkey bacon bits are one of the products made for people who confuse "healthful" with "unpleasant to eat".

What do I do with a bag of cardboard flakes?



18 January 2014

When I first heard the word "gorp", it referred to condensed milk that had been thickened by boiling an un-opened can like an egg.  I never needed any fanciful explanation of the term; imagine the substance, and "gorp" is a very good name for it.  The fellow who posted the recipe said that a can of gorp would get him out of any hole; I thought that how it worked was that he took the can out of his pocket and said "If I don't climb that rope, I'll have to eat this stuff."

That was nearly fifty years ago.  A few days ago, I noticed that my can of condensed milk was past its sell-by date and, therefore, could not be given to Our Father's House, so I decided to see whether the recipe worked.

It does.  All the sugar crystals dissolved and that made the product thick enough to eat with your fingers.  And it has a rather nice dulce de leche flavor.  It's not exactly edible, more of a tap it lightly and lick your fingertip, but I can see that after a few hours of exercising heavily in the cold and wet, it would take only ten or fifteen minutes for the fingertip to be wiping the walls of the can.  I recall eating a jellied-with-sugar-and-fat coconut Popsicle on a very hot day by licking off what melted.

I wish I could still exercise hard enough to make a coconut Popsicle taste good!

I baked whole-wheat bread yesterday:  two half-size loaves (one of which is in the freezer), and two slider buns.  The 2 1/2" Jello molds I used for muffin cups are too small; I looked for 3" cups while at Owen's today, and found some "portioning cups" that were the right size, but not oven proof.  Hmm.  Maybe I have some custard cups stashed away somewhere.  I measured Dave's bagasse bowls, and found the bottoms only a quarter of an inch wider than muffin cups.

In the clearance bin I found some "parchment" muffin cups.  I don't trust the parchment to be the non-stick variety, but the "lotus" shape would make it possible to grease them, and the paper looks a little bit stronger than the tissue paper used to make regular muffin cups.

They are, of course, way too small to bake slider buns in.



20 January 2014

Grr, grumble, snarl, snap, etc.  The washer stopped, so I took the first load out of the washer and thought that I should put the second in before hanging up this one, in the hope of getting it hung before nap time.  Then I remembered that it may drizzle later on, and thought that *first* I should get the sheet out on the line.  So I put on my hat and boots, waded out to the clothesline, untangled the sheet and pinned it to the line, came back in, unwrapped my head, unlaced my boots and set them on the walk-off mat to drain, put the next load into the washer and set it going — *then* remembered that the first load hadn't been rinsed!

So I booted up again and brought the sheet back in.  It felt a good deal drier already.

Then about seven, I realized that I'd forgotten to bring the sheet inside and had to go out in the dark to fetch it.  Each trip meant lacing my calf-high boots all the way up, lest I trip on the laces.  Poor Al missed all four donnings.  (He loves the way I flip the long, long laces.)

I cut out an Associated Press recipe for Pork Bolognese spaghetti sauce quite a while ago, and on my last shopping trip I bought carrots and "five-spice powder", so this afternoon I finally made it.  I substituted frozen basil for the fresh basil, and two grated unpeeled half-carrots for the peeled finely-minced-in-a-food-processor carrot.  I started out meaning to grate a whole carrot, but when I realized that the second half would be harder to grate because of having no handle, I got out another one.  And put two half carrots on the relish plate.

Dave not only couldn't eat it, the smell made him so sick that it was a while before he could fry himself a slider.  But I think that I'll try again, using beef instead of pork, italian herbs instead of chinese spices, and leave out the basil.  And not be quite so chicken with the garlic.  (Called for three cloves; I put in four of my miniature cloves.)

The recipe:  finely chop an onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery (I used two because they were small outer stalks, and I trimmed off the node and the leaves.)  Start frying ground meat, then dump in the vegetables as soon as the meat is well broken up.  Stir over high heat at least five minutes; the meat and veggies should brown.  Stir in a tablespoon of spice powder and a can of crushed tomatoes, garnish with basil.

I used my big skillet to cook it in, but I should have used the pot that takes the same lid, so that I could stir more vigorously without fear of getting sauce all over the stove.

The five-spice powder sort of neutralized the flavors of the other ingredients without adding any of its own.  I think I might like it in a sweet dish that hasn't much other flavor, but it does nothing for meat.

If I do make it with beef, I think I should go easier on the carrot; it added an unpleasant sweetness.  And it wouldn't be amiss to add some peppers.

I shall have to eat the 24-oz. container of left-over sauce by myself, and when Dave isn't home.  I think that a dash of MacKenna Farm's hot-pepper sauce would improve it.



21 January 2014

To test my theory with respect to five-spice powder, I sprinkled some into an egg scrambled into sliced almonds fried in butter.  It wasn't "I gotta have this again!", but I think five-spice powder would be quite acceptable any time you get bored with nutmeg or tired of cinnamon and cloves.



22 January 2014

No geese at the creek mouth this morning.  Every morning, it's either crowded or completely empty.  I wonder whether this is correlated with the direction of the wind, but I'm not curious enough to keep records.

The gorp is starting to re-crystallize.

I dithered over what to cook for yesterday's supper to good effect:  we went to the Great Wall.

Both dishes were fish:  Dave ordered shrimp, I ordered scallops.  Then I discovered that though I like scallops, I don't like *these* scallops.  But the sauce was ample without meat.  I also ate up all the shrimp sauce.  The shrimp were only on one end of Dave's platter, the other end being a chicken dish.  I did eat a few bites of chicken.  And I made off with most of the ornamental noodles that separated the two.



23 January 2014

I looked out this morning and said "what a beautiful day!", and I intend to suit up and take a walk as soon as I finish writing this.

Halfway through breakfast, Dr. Gilbert's office phoned to say that he wouldn't come to Warsaw today "because of the weather".

Dave is thinking of taking all his dermatology questions to our GP.

Dave got curious and ordered some Vegemite from Amazon.  When I opened the jar I said, "Oh that's just . . ."  and drew a blank, and I still can't remember where I smelled that smell before.  It's not a generic hydrolysed-yeast smell I'm remembering, but that precise scent.  Something I was once very familiar with.

Despite the strong smell, it doesn't taste of anything but salt.  Not bad on toast under an egg this morning.  I discovered that you can't spread it on an egg; the lump just slides around.

I suppose now he'll send for Marmite and Bovril.  I find it amusing that Bovril began as concentrated essence of beef, and is now vegetarian.

I'm puzzled by the circles on the jar.  One contains a swash V with "suitable for vegetarians" written around it; that one I get:  it's like the little emblems on Kosher food.  But the very similar other circle is an F, and says "contains folic acid".  What is *that* all about?  I don't think anyone is allergic to folic acid, and anyone in desperate need of it would look for the information in the nutrition statement.

Aha!  Wikipedia says that when B9 is found in yeast, it's in the form of foliate, so folic acid would be an artificially-added ingredient.  Must have been some sort of controversy about it in Australia.

And, checking the label, a hundred grams of Vegemite gives you ten times your RDA of folic acid.  Nobody is going to eat this stuff for its protein content!

Vegemite and Velveeta on stone-ground red-wheat bread ain't half bad, especially if you slice some giardiniera onion on it.

I don't do circling for exercise, so I walked to the church and emptied and re-filled the ice-cube trays.  They needed it; there was only one cube in the bin.

There were a hundred and sixty pounds of sugar on the counter; a warehouse somewhere got damp enough that they couldn't sell the sugar, but not so damp that you can't use it, and this is our share.  I presume the donor has already hit Our Father's House and the food pantry.  Well, sugar keeps forever, particularly when the bags are wrapped in plastic in sets of ten.



26 January 2014

It's lucky that I didn't wear those pants again in the intervening time.  When I found my church keys in the pockets, I transferred them with everything else.  But I pinned them into the pocket of an underdress, which led to lifting my skirt on the church stoop.  But I could have gone down three more layers without exposing anything man was not meant to see.

Then, since I don't need them to get out of the church, I re-pinned them without taking careful note as to which pocket they were in.  And on the way out, after taking up my ski poles again, I found that I was tethered:  I'd shut the door on my long skirt.  Now *that* was awkward!  But I found out which pocket by feeling for the string of beads, and managed to open the safety pin with only one hand inside the pocket.

The keys are now back in my jewel box.

It would have been a pleasanter walk if I'd remembered to put on my hat, particularly on the way back when I was facing the wind and the brighter part of the sky.  I kept tucking the edges of my outer scarf to make it into a coif, and it kept springing out to make a wind-catching funnel.

But it isn't all that cold out, it isn't all that windy, and it's getting warmer.  It's 21.1 F at the moment, according to "BigDisplay" on Dave's Web site.



27 January 2014

I just noticed that the dirt on my arm that I hadn't gotten around to washing off is a bruise.  And it's sore.  Didn't notice the "dirt" until late in the morning.  It's the sort of bruise I get when I pick up something hard and heavy, but I haven't picked up anything heavier or harder than a pair of flannel-lined jeans all day.  Well, various small, lightweight objects were harder.

Missed a pillowcase when I washed hot-with-bleach today.  Didn't even consider hanging the dishtowels out in the sun — partly because there's a wall between the house and the clothesline, and partly because the wind would have whipped them to rags, not to mention freezing my fingers off.

We have two humidifier pots on the stove, but even the flannel-lined jeans dried by evening.  (I did hang the jeans up in the draft from an air filter.)  I dried the dishtowels in the drier, and resented sending all the heat and humidity up the vent. 

I think that one can get a T-switch for a drier exhaust, but this is the first time I've machine dried a load of clothes since we moved in, so it hardly seems worth the effort.  I usually use it to fluff up shirts before drying them on hangers, and to soften Dave's white socks.

The snowdrift that drops where the wind stops when it hits the house, then gets scoured away on this side as the wind swirls between the house and the drift, is really cool.  Where it's scoured away, you can see layers, like the Grand Canyon.  All the same color, of course.

While typing, I suddenly remembered that Dave's socks were still in the dryer, and banged my right arm on the doorknob about where the mark on my left arm is.  But all the doorknobs I'm likely to bump into are on the right, and If I hit a doorknob hard enough to leave a mark, I would hop around yowling for a while.  A mark from holding pressure too long happens when I'm thinking very hard about something that makes pain a background consideration.



28 January 2014

Every morning I shovel the patio with a dustpan, collecting snow to feed my houseplants.  Wind-packed snow is weird when you pick up a sheet of it; you'd think that it was Styrofoam if it had any weight.  It isn't even cold.

Since it weighs nothing, I gave the plants a second coat today.

So I went to check on the second coat — when the snow has been in the house for a while, it starts feeling cold.  And stops holding its shape when you pick up a piece.



29 January 2014

Our snow tablet is getting lacy around the edges.  During the high winds, snow blew through the screen and got stuck between the screen and the patio door.  The top was sculpted into a dramatic curve; rather cool and we haven't disturbed it.  Now that it's subliming, I see that it is denser under the low point of the curve.

When I woke up this morning with Dave's head on my arm, I figured out where my bruise came from.

When I was passing The Hotel on my way to Owen's last Friday, an eagle flew across Park Avenue.  I called Dave after I got to the store, but the eagle didn't come down this way.



30 January 2014

A few days ago I looked at a fat, bored cat and said "We ought to get a Roomba to entertain Al."  The only part Dave heard of that was "We ought to get a Roomba" and it was delivered today.  It doesn't entertain the cat much, but Dave has had a lot of fun.  The thing went into the bathroom and shut the door on two separate occasions.  Then I noticed that it can't get out of the bathroom when the door is open, because the edge of the carpet is square enough to make it think it has hit a wall.

I think that this is the first time the bed has *ever* been swept under!  This gadget is actually going to be useful.

But part of the improvement in the appearance of the living room is that we had to pick up a lot of stuff.

This was supposed to be a sewing day, but I wrote a new page for my Web site instead.

Tried to steam cabbage over canned corned beef for supper, but put it on too late and we had hot cole slaw on bully beef instead.  Not bad, actually.

It was really *coarse* cole slaw!

Yesterday we had baked tomato-noodle soup.  It was supposed to be lasagna.

I have a good recipe for small-family lasagna:  Layer three Berilla lasagne and whatever you like in the way of meat, cheese, and sauce in a 6 1/2" by 9" pan.  Cover with foil, bake at 375F for twenty-five minutes, remove foil, bake five more minutes, turn off oven and let set fifteen minutes.

If you use jar sauce, you need the entire jar.  My jar of sauce had had about a quarter of it used on a pizza, so I pieced it out with the sludge at the bottom of a can of tomato juice.  (I poured the thinner part into a bottle for drinking.)  I appear to have put in too much sludge.

But it was good.  I fried half a pound of 85% hamburger, then added some olive oil and fried about half an onion until it was translucent.  Layered with arrabiata sauce and not much cheese.



31 January 2014

Playing with the Roomba again, this time using one of our two "virtual walls" to confine it to the living room.  Dave said he thought it just ran around randomly, but I don't think it's random.  I frequently see it taking the exact path it took before, it has thoroughly cleaned the nook between the living-room computer and the camera table several times, and it neglects the south end of the room in favor of wearing out the carpet at the north end.

Perhaps that is because the chair and sofa narrow the entrance to the north end, and the south end is wide open.

Dave came in from doing donuts in the driveway on his lawn mower and said he's had more fun this winter than any winter since we moved.