Local Jeweler

Today, the weather cleared sooner than was originally predicted, so we went to run some errands.  Deposit checks, withdraw cash, then the jeweler, and finally, on the loop home, a stop at the beer distributor.

This particular jeweler is wonderful.  Others in town are ridiculously snobby.  We’ve been to this one a couple of times before.  For something simple, such as replacing a watch battery, or replacing a pin in a watchband that fell out, they can do it while we wait, and charge us some nominal amount.  They once had to do a serious repair job on one of my watches, so I had to leave it with them for a week, but even then, the repair bill came in well under the original estimate.

For this visit, two of my Tag Heuers needed a new battery, one of my other half’s watches needed pins replaced in the band (we had all the links, though), another of his needed a battery, and a third one of mine needed some real work, because although it keeps perfect time, I can’t reset the time/date.  The third one of mine had to be left with them, which is fine.  Their estimate for repair was quite reasonable, and even it they find something else wrong with it, they’ll call me before they proceed with a firm quote.

While we were there, I thought it would be a good idea to get my other half a solar watch.  This place sells some really expensive watches, but on the other end of the scale, they stock Citizen “eco-drives,” which are solar.  Not at all expensive.  They removed links for him, and ended up not charging us at all for the batteries in our other three, or for replacing lost pins in the band of another.  If we had gone in there, and just asked for battery replacements, without buying anything new from them, it would have been $10 each.  Heck, that would have been quite reasonable, too.

I’m not a big fan of battery watches in general, although I love my Tags.  It’s easy enough to pull out the crown to make the watch stop if it’s not going to be worn for a while, to extend the battery life.  Solar watches, and kinetic (self-winding) ones are a better choice for workhorse duty, imo.

Comfort Foods

I read an article today that featured Nigella Lawson going through her list of favorite comfort foods.  Too many desserts on her list, but I do agree with fish fingers (not as a sandwich, though), and she had lasagne on the list.  Okay, my version of fish fingers is more freshly battered and fried fish, than that breaded frozen junk you bake, but anyway.  Tonight, I’m making a lasagne of sorts, but since we’re up to our eyeballs in yellow squash from our garden, I’ll be using slices of that instead of pasta.  Most intriguing to me was what she didn’t have on her list, that I would have included on mine.

  • mashed potatoes
  • mac & cheese (made from scratch — not the boxed garbage)
  • pot pie — chicken, turkey, or ham
  • chicken divan
  • moussaka
  • tetrazzini
  • egg-based things that are easy to make (quiche, omelettes, scrambled eggs, casseroles with beaten eggs that puff when baked)  These are all good for breakfast, lunch, or supper.
  • tuna noodle casserole
  • grilled cheese sandwiches

No desserts are on my list.  I almost never eat dessert unless it comes with a prix fixe restaurant dinner, and even then, I usually take it home for later, because by then I’m too full to eat another bite of anything.  Dessert is a treat, not comfort food, in my book.  On a steamy hot 100F+ day, though, a root beer float is glorious.

To me, comfort food is something that reminds me of the sort of things my mom might make for dinner when I was a kid, that was probably horrible for us, health-wise, but tasted creamy-gooey, yummy, and didn’t require cutting with a knife to eat.  My mom was a lousy cook, but it’s hard to screw up a casserole.  It’s something that warms a tummy on a Saturday evening, after hours of playing a pickup game of hockey on a frozen pond with the neighborhood kids.

There are morbidly obese people who are addicted to food the way some people are addicted to drugs, and think all food provides “comfort,” but that’s not what I’m talking about.  The people featured on cable TV show like “My 600 lb. Life,” “1000 lb. Sisters,” and “One Ton Family” would consider a full English breakfast an amuse-bouche.  Watching shows like that late at night when I’m still too awake to go to bed is a real eye opener as to how much food some people really eat.  For them, it’s emotional eating that has nothing to do with being hungry, or even snacking while bored.

Day-um.  I couldn’t eat in a week what they eat in a day.  A full English breakfast would last me all day, assuming I could eat it all in one sitting, which is questionable, and I wouldn’t want lunch or supper.  I might even put off my next meal until brunch the following day.

Well, I’ve assembled my “squash-agne,” and it’s ready to pop in the oven an oven ahead of when we want supper, to give it time to bake, then set up while it cools a bit.  It’ll be better tomorrow than tonight.  Like a batch of chili, it always is.  The tomato sauce is a homemade marinara from tomatoes we canned last summer, with fresh basil and oregano from this summer’s herb garden, and some added maitake mushrooms my brother-in-law gave us that he collected and dried.   It should be good.

“My Hand Hurts!”

No, not my hand.  My mom called to say her hand hurts, and it’s swollen.  This is four days after she went straight from first gear (“Are you going to visit me on Sunday?”) to fifth gear (“You don’t care if I drop dead!).  We were outside, and didn’t get her message until this evening, when we played back all the ones we got.  We’ll return her call tomorrow.  It’s not as if we could have driven over an hour to get there to pack her hand in ice fast enough, anyway, and she refuses to take aspirin, ibuprofin, or acetaminophen, but she will take any anti-inflammatory a doctor will prescribe for her.

I get that she’s old, and not very mobile anymore, but I’ve been living my entire life with her manipulative behavior.  “My hand hurts!” is not exactly an emergency.  She broke no bones.  I couldn’t have provided medical help for her, other than an ice pack, even if I lived five minutes away. Her retirement community basically is still refusing visitors, especially out of state ones, so I’d have to break the rules to get there, anyway.  “But I don’t have any ice packs” is not a valid excuse for her.  She has stuff in her freezer that she could have used.  She’s being manipulative, again.

She finally got a dose of “Please leave a message,” when she called.  That needs to happen more often.

We’ll drive all the way over there next weekend, and bring a few ice packs.  She’ll complain about them not being good enough, but that’s not my problem.  If they work on my knees, they will work on her hand.  She could stick her hand in a bucket of ice water if her problem was that bad.  But, no, she can’t figure out how to do that for herself.  Sheesh.  If it’s infected, that’s another matter, and I can’t cure that, either.

Eating Out

It’s been months since we could eat out, for sit down.  Sure, we could phone in an order for pick-up or delivery, but it’s not the same as sitting down, having a pint, relaxing, and having dinner brought to our table.  Tonight, we went out for wait staff service at out favorite pub.  It was $4 off burgers night.  The owner’s daughter was there, as was our favorite waitress.  In the evening, it had cooled down, the humidity wasn’t oppressive, and it was bug-free outside, so it was very pleasant eating al fresco.

We look forward to going there again.

Microsoft Sucks the Wind from the Sky

So, I went out to the swimming pool to vacuum it, fished out a frog to toss over the fence onto the lawn, and enjoyed an afternoon soaking up some sun, riding around on a float, and taking a dip.  Several hours after I first went down there, I came back into the house, and discovered that my laptop would not accept my password for logging in to my own G.D. hard drive.  Microsoft told me my password was invalid, and the only way I could get it reset was to go to my email to retrieve a new one they sent me.  Problem was that if I couldn’t get onto my hard drive, I couldn’t get onto my network to load a browser to get to my email.

Eventually, I got on using a password from 20+ years ago.  WTF!?!?!?  There was nothing wrong with my computer.  I have a backup computer I seldom use, and it seemed to be in perpetual airplane mode, which took me half an hour to cure.  The icon on that machine still shows it in airplane mode, although it isn’t.  FUCK YOU, Microsoft.

I’m running Norton 360’s AV, and VPN, plus some real-time malware app, so it shouldn’t be a matter of some hacker getting in.  Our cats have a habit of walking across keyboards, and screwing up some settings, but locking me out of both of my computers is really hard to believe, since they’re nowhere near each other.  Kitty paws don’t do that.

Well, here I am, back online, after major grrrrrs, and a more than a few swear words.  It involved a partial reload of Win10, which of course took damn near forever.  As Snoopy would say, “Curse you Red Baron Bill Gates.’

Hope Your 4th Was Good

Ours was wonderful.  The baby back ribs only had to smoke for ~4 hours.  They got a nice smoke ring from the cherry wood, and were neither overdone, nor underdone.  I usually get them right, but there have been a couple of times I’ve screwed up and overcooked them, although those were the St. Louis style ones.  It is possible to smoke animal flesh on a classic charcoal Weber kettle grill, but keeping the heat just right for the duration is impossible.  We’re not in TX, so mesquite isn’t what we have around.  Usually, we use hickory, but this time around, what we had on hand was cherry wood.

I made pasta salad to go with it.  We were running low on potatoes, so potato salad wasn’t really an option.  Pasta with ham, peas, some sort of gourmet hard cheese we had, and Italian dressing worked.  Could have made a mayonnaise dressing, but didn’t want something that heavy.  So, dinner was pork, and more pork.

We set off less than half our supply of fireworks.  They kept us entertained for an hour or so.  We left the biggest ones for the rest of the weekend, and just set off the ones that were roughly the size of a smallish adult foot.  Pffft … boom.  The remaining ones will have to be set off on the back lawn, much farther away from the house than the patio.

Evidently, one of our neighbors a block away invested megabucks in their fireworks.  They didn’t quite clear the 40′ tall trees between our property, but they came close enough that we could sort of see them.  Those had to have been mortar fired.  Ours are mostly of the “light the fuse, then back off 20 feet” variety.  The sparks maybe went as high as the attic windows, and they did make noise, but that was about it.  We’re not trying to set any of our buildings on fire.  That would not go over well with our insurance company.b firework

My parting shot to King George III is a tip of my Yards Jefferson’s golden ale, and a nice big firework in his general direction.  Cheers, buddy.

Happy Independence Day!

We have a rack of ribs to smoke, and a whole bunch of fireworks to set off after dark.  Fireworks are legal in my state.  I didn’t buy any that need to be mortar fired.  These mostly shoot sparks ~12′ in the air, and make noise at the end.  I might want to set off the one that’s the size of a half gallon of milk out on the sand mound, instead of on the back patio, but, whatever.  As long as it’s well away from the house.  The rest of them can be set off on the back patio.  Light the fuse, then back off a good 12′ away, and watch the show.

Happy July 4th, everyone!

Small Joys and a Giant GRRR

Joy #1:  Our favorite pub is finally open for business, with restricted hours, for indoors and outdoors dining!

Joy #2:  I got my vino “present” from my financial manager, although I had to fetch it from a local FedEx.

Joy #3:  Today’s predicted thunderstorms missed us.

Joy #4:  Our vegetable garden is going gangbusters.

Joy #5:  I owe no federal or state taxes, because I overpaid last year.

Giant GRRR:  Why did my accountant make me overpay so much last year?  Nobody can predict my income, year to year, but this sucks.  When what you overpaid would cover twice your property taxes, it gets into WTF territory.

Fireworks, Baby! Yeah!

Fireworks are perfectly legal in my state, and Independence Day would not be right without them.  Instead of just picking up a 20-pack assortment of weenie stuff from the Acme, we stopped by a pop-up vendor who set up shop in a shopping center parking lot.  The prices were average, but the selection was good — much better than you’d find in a grocery store, but not as good as we could have found at a fireworks superstore off the side of an interstate highway.

We didn’t get anything spectacular enough to have to be mortar fired.  Still, this pop-up place was within a 10 mile radius of us, the selection was good, and the prices were alright.  They’ll keep us entertained for maybe an hour and a half, after we eat our smoked ribs, and the sun sets.

Air Conditioning Fixed

I was looking for estimates from three different places, via Home Advisor, none of which contacted me.  A fourth company called me within minutes, talked to me about the problem, and gave me an estimate.  It was reasonable, so I agreed.  Their original appointment was scheduled for this morning at 8:00.  Yesterday, one of the two owners called me, saying they had an afternoon cancellation, and he could stop by here within an hour, if I agreed.  I did.  He showed up an hour late, but got the annex AC running, with the warning that it needed a new circuit board, and told us that in the meantime, the fan would be on constantly, but the cooling would kick in and out.  It did.  The AC in the main house is on a different system, and works just fine.  For the annex system, he was there for two hours yesterday, but charged me for the one hour I was originally quoted for labor.

As promised, he called again today to give me a price on the circuit board and labor.  It really was quite reasonable, so I agreed, and we set up an appointment for early afternoon, with a half hour window of arrival.  He got here on time, with the part, did the installation and testing, and was gone as soon as I forked over the check.  It was a blower problem, and, evidently a bad circuit board, rather than a condenser failure, so this bill came to nothing like it would have, if it had required a total replacement.

He showed up on time, worked his magic while I “locked” the critters in the main house, tested his handiwork, then gave me the bill, for which I wrote his employer a check.  He’s a good contractor, and quite reasonable, price-wise.

Now, I don’t have to worry about stashing a visiting niece of nephew in the annex, overnight, and having to give them a fan, if the cross breeze though open windows isn’t good enough.  There really aren’t all that many weeks of the year when open windows and fans get the job done.  Not in this part of the country, anyway.  Some of our bedrooms have ceiling fans, but not all of them.

In summary, this company is a good one.

Other than that, we need to get some decent fireworks for July 4th.  I don’t want mortar fired ones.  I just want the kind that sensdup a spark storm for 20′, and make a lot of noise for a few seconds at the end.  There’s a pop-up vendor ~6 miles away that has a much better selection than our local grocery store has.  I need to hit an ATM first, though.