Monday, April 21, 2008

Picture purr-fect posing

This is our cat, N.C. He's quite the camera ham. Seriously, when I go outside with my camera, N.C. is all over me. But when I don't have my camera, he's usually nowhere to be found. It's like he understands that I'm taking a photo of him, and he poses for me. If ever I've had an animal that would make me think of reincarnation, it's this cat... I think he was an underwear model in a former life.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Don't come here lookin' for cheerfulness

Will someone please tell the fat lady to sing already... !

This is my life...

Oh, yes, you may commence to pity me. Though, I assure you, I'm doing enough of that for the both us. Read on, you'll see.

Turns out the antibiotics pretty much left my system, oh, I'd say by Sunday evening. Turns out, my body responded better to Vicodin with the antibiotics in it. Vicodin, my sweet Vicodin, now nothing to me but a two-faced demon, a doubled-edged sword, a hypocrite. It turned on me... the vicious Vicodin.

Thus, I've spent a small fortune at Wal-Greens (well, actually, Kev did the spending, since I haven't left the house since Sunday evening, as it's deemed wise we not to stray too far from the throne, if you get my drift). But at least it all seems to be working, and I feel almost close to something like human just now, for the first time in 4 days.

Now, I'm afraid to take Vicodin. Even though not taking Vicodin now is likely to heap yet more misery upon this old, tired body. So I tried Demerol. But Demerol is simply Vicodin's evil cousin, in respect to the topic at hand, that is. Lovely, dependable Tylenol and Advil do their best, but the 2 combined cannot seem to budge the cement block at the base of my neck.

Also, I hate it when the Tigers play the Cleveland Indians... they and their stupid drum. Pound, pound, pound. In time with my cement block, it felt.

Anyway, I've risked it again tonight, finally, and took 1 Demerol. And an hour and half later, I swallowed down 2 Tylenol PMs... fingers crossed.

The only thing I feel certain of tonight is that sitting on my desk chair while writing this post is a sacrifice I'll not make again soon. Off to a horizontal position for me and my aching and pain-inflicted body.

O! Poor me.

Seriously, this has been 4 days of freakin' H-E-double-hockey-sticks. With no light in sight, as far down the freakin' tunnel as I can see. Boo. Hiss.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The courtship is on

I was just now watching a beautiful female Cardinal. She was sitting on a curved branch of the smoke bush right outside the window. She was in that chubby pose, with her feathers all puffed out. It's breezy out, so her feathers were being swished and swayed around. She looked so lovely. Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmouses and Goldfinches would flit around her, and she'd watch them with only the slightest of curiosity, occasionally turning her head this way or that. Then, a brilliantly red male Cardinal swooped over and landed next to her. He pushed his head forward at her, and then he opened his mouth toward her. She reached into his mouth with her beak and took his offering... he delivered a sunflower seed to her! Then he swooped away, and she sat there and ate her seed.

I have never seen anything like that happen between adult birds before. I told Kev about it, and he said, "the courtship is on... spring is in the air."

Too right.

This Red-winged Blackbird has been showing up at the feeder quite a bit lately.

I discovered he, or she, is the source of the birdsong I've been enjoying. I heard or read somewhere that Red-winged Blackbirds usually don't visit bird feeders. I'm glad this one does.

While I was trying to get a good photo of the blackbird, I got this photo with the Blue Jay... I love the pattern his feathers make on his back, he (or she) is such a beautiful bird.

Since this is my first post in a week, I have some news... Joycie and Mike returned from Florida, very happy. Also, I took my last dose of antibiotics, had a birthday (48th) and got my PICC line removed. I got to see 2 old Chinese men made of clay. Many goings on. Including working from home on 1st quarter close. Lots of stuff. So much so that I've had many early bedtimes, and no time left (or energy) to do blog posts. I will try to catch up with the news details sometime soon.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Foxy Momma

My folks live on the Chippewa River. Their house is built into the side of a hill, and the hill is actually the high bank of the river with a big horseshoe shape of river flats between their house and the river itself. This is a view of the flats from my folks' "basement" back door...

Behind those big spruce trees, you can see the opposite high bank of the river, like a big hill. Right there at the big curve of the river it's a nice, sandy bottom, and we used to swim there all the time when I was kid. Still do, sometimes. Further upstream, the river is very shallow and has a gravel bottom. We used to pick up clams there and have them squirt at us.

Also when I was a kid, a lot of the flats was our vegetable garden, and that's still where Mom and Dad have a smaller garden spot today... that's where Joycie grew her garden a couple of years. Part of it has also been a hay field. That flats is a beautiful piece of land. To the left, just starting to show in that photo above, is a big stand of pines. Where the river winds back around, before the high bank gets close, we have a fire pit there, next to the river and the pines. There's another camp fire spot on the opposite side, across the field.

Mom and Dad are usually doing something down on the flats, clearing brush and what not. They've got 2 big brush piles going. One of them is currently occupied...

Yes, that's a fox...

She's living in the brush pile with her babies. Mom and Dad have seen her out sunning herself often, and a few times, like today, she had her 3 pups out with her.

Dad said she fed them outside this afternoon (nursed them), then they played a while before going back into their den.

I have yet to get a photo of the pups, but the momma fox seems very accepting of the activity that goes on up at the house, so we think they'll be around for a while.

Here is Mike.

"Here is Mike. We had a long day at the beach today."

I texted Joycie yesterday evening and asked her about my daily phone pic, as in where was it...? She sent me text & pic above of Mike. Further texting revealed they found shells, but no beach glass. Bummer. And I was right, my girl with her very light complexion found way too much sun in Florida.

Then she sent me a bonus pic...

"This is Molly, Grandpa and Grandma's dog."

With "Grandpa and Grandma" being, of course, Mike's grandparents. When Joycie texts, she does so succinctly. I'll send her a text that probably makes her scroll through 3 screens, and then I'll get a 4-word text back. We often have conversations in person like that, too...

Anyway, the above pic is not a very good pic, but you can tell Molly is a cute, little black and white dog. I'm sure Joycie bonded well with Molly for 2 reasons, first, she loves dogs, and second, Molly being black and white probably reminded her of Reilly, whom she loves, and no doubt misses...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Quick Red Beans & Rice with Sausage recipe

Today was a gorgeous day. Sunny and warm. All the ice has left the pond. We still have a few little bits of snow here and there, but it was almost t-shirt weather.

Kevin and Sammy spent the afternoon cutting, splitting and stacking wood. They've set up a new area for stacking by leveling some sand out (sand that Kev took out of the pond), and now they have lots more room for pallets and rows.

Our pantry is getting kind of bare, since we haven't gotten groceries in so long... Kev's just been picking some up here and there, since I can't get out to do grocery shopping proper. He had bought some Johnsonville brats and Polish sausages the other day, and we still had the sausages... So I thought I'd make red beans & rice for dinner for my hungry boys. From scratch, because that's what I had to work with. I got online and started to look for a recipe. There are only about a zillion out there. Each one I looked at required hours of cooking, like in a crock pot, or overnight with the beans, or something like 24 different ingredients. Ugh. I'm more of the Rachel Ray make dinner in 30 minutes type. So I said to heck with the 'net and rolled up my sleeves. I made a red beans and rice with sausage that was quick and easy, and it turned out super duper delicious! Here's my recipe...

Quick Red Beans & Rice with Sausage

In large pan, such as Dutch oven (I used a wok fry pan), melt about 1/3 stick of butter.
Chop 1 medium onion, medium sized pieces, add to melted butter.
Slice 6 sausages on the diagonal and add to onions and butter.
Sprinkle with Tony Chacheres’; to taste.
Cook until well done.

Then add the following:
“Chicken Juice*” about 2 cups, or 1 can (or 2 cups) or so of chicken broth
About 1.5 cups Minute Rice
1 small can El Pato tomato sauce
2 cans red beans, your choice, drained and rinsed

Cover and cook about 15 or 20 minutes.

Serve with sweet corn bread muffins, aka johnny cake muffins. I use the Jiffy mix, and since I didn't have any eggs, I substituted a big spoonful of Activia vanilla yogurt again (like with Sammy's waffles yesterday, which is what I had in the 'fridge), plus I added about a tablespoon of sugar. They were sweet and yummy, soft, moist and chewy... I think the yogurt for eggs is a permanent substitution.

It was really good. Kev added more Tony C.'s to his, but the El Pato made mine spicy enough. Sammy even liked it.

*Chicken Juice is the juice from baking chickens, The Good Stuff, that I've mentioned before... this chicken juice adds so much to other recipes & makes them so good. And when I bake a couple of chickens like that, the meat disappears... it's so good, it's gone quickly. Since I always pick over the carcass and give the ukky pieces to Barn & Betty (our dogs), with a little to the cats, too, nothing goes to waste on those birds. I put the juice into one of those Ziploc containers in the freezer for just such days as this. This juice was from early January, before my surgery. I've done next to no cooking since then, so today it felt good to not only cook again, but to make up a recipe... and have it turn out so good that Kev told me 5 times how much he liked it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mad pancake skillz

Sammy has become the master of making pancakes at our house. I took these photos before his recent haircut, by the way... so you can see how badly he needed one... but doesn't he look like a great pancake chef? Oh, yeah...

We prefer Bisquick for pancakes, instead of any of those pancake mixes. And when his Uncle Jim gave us that jug of syrup, Sammy couldn't wait to make more pancakes. He's a pancake makin' fool & a fool for pancakes!

This morning, he took a little diversion to waffles... a while back, for either my birthday or Christmas, I can't remember which now, my in-laws (Dad T. & Sharron) gave me a Belgian waffle iron. Oh, man! does Sammy like those waffles, and so do the rest of us! Big squares for holding all that yummy syrup. Mmmm...

Sammy used Bisquick for the waffle batter, but when he discovered we had no eggs left, he was quite unhappy, as his little expletive would indicate. I convinced him that a couple of big spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt would work just as well, and he went with it. Couldn't waste the 4 cups of Bisquick. And it did work just fine. The waffles were real good. He and I had a wonderful breakfast together. Or rather, lunch, because it was close to noon by this time.

Sammy slept in late because he hadn't gotten much sleep the past couple of days with his friend, Austin, staying over night. It's probably good that he got some extra sleep this morning, because his friend, Zack, is staying over tonight.

I tried to get up several times this morning, but just couldn't seem to stick to it. I was up a couple of times, but laid back down. After waffles, I laid back down again, "just for a few minutes," and didn't get up until 7pm. Again, I tried several times to get up and going, but just couldn't do it... I felt ill and in pain, the waffles helped at first, and then they didn't & I felt sick, and then it was just like someone shut down my power button. Whatever it was, I must have needed it. And now it's almost 11pm, and I'm ready to go back to bed. What a wuss. When I finished my dose of Invanz this evening, Kev said just 4 more of those... I am so looking forward to be done with the IV thing and to get this PICC line out. My PICC line started to hurt yesterday, and today it's still very painful. Fingers crossed no complications with that. Or you would likely hear several expletives come outta me. (Can't imagine where Sammy gets it from.)

Today is my sister, JoAnne's, birthday. I didn't call her until 7:30pm to wish her a happy birthday, but I assured her she was my first phone call of the day! Happy Birthday, Joie!!!

I texted Joycie just a little bit ago and asked her to send me a pic of herself without her wearing sunglasses, and I got this lovely photo...

Joycie looks like she has gotten maybe a little too much sun. I miss my beautiful girl! She, Mike and Angel will be flying home late on Sunday, but then Joycie will stay over at Mike's house and head from there directly to class Monday morning, since they'll get into Bay City so late at night. Which means I probably won't see her until Tuesday evening. *sniff*

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fresh fish for dinner in Florida

I talked with Joycie this morning, and they're out on the boat fishing right now. She told me she had already caught a bunch, but kept only 3. Mike told her 2 were mango snappers and 1 grunt. Joycie said the grunts make a grunting noise when you bring them up out of the water, so I asked her to demonstrate. I seriously don't think she put her heart into it... it barely sounded like a grunt to me.

While waiting for a query to run on my work laptop, I did a Google image search for the fish, and found these. This is the Mangrove Snapper, also known as the mango snapper, grey snapper, black snapper or cabellerote, according to Wiki.


This is the grunt, also known as the White Grunt.


I found this article by Buck Davidson about fishing and grunts here. There are links to other articles about Florida sun coast fish by Buck on that link, too. Interesting stuff.

I'm sure they're catching lots of fish, and more than just snappers and grunts. Mike's talked about fishing there with his Grampa, and it sounds like they always get a lot of fish.

Joycie sent me this pic of Angel fishing on the boat... because when we were talking, I said, "Send me a pic of Angel fishing." Isn't she pretty, with her braids, big smile and fishing pole in hand?!!

Doesn't that look like fun? The cloudy sky looks a little bit like rain, maybe... and I think I'm right...

But it still looks beautiful being out on that boat with all that water and blue sky and clouds... especially if it's that hot there. And this doesn't look too bad, either...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Silver day

Kev and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary today. When he got home from work, we went out back on the tractor so he could pick up a small bit of wood yet to get from when he and Sammy were working out there yesterday. I drove his tractor; we went nice and slow because of my neck. It was fun! It was a beautiful day today... sunny, kind of warm and gorgeous.

After Kev unloaded the wood from the tractor bucket, we went over to one of the garbage sites on our property and started a small clean-up. Each spring, I find new bottles that are not broken, so I gathered those up. I found about 10. I'll have to explain the whole garbage thing in a separate post... it's a long story.

Then Sammy, his friend Austin (who is staying over another night), Kev and I booked on over to Mt. Pleasant to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Palominos. We had a wonderful dinner. Nice to get out. Sammy took our photo with cell phone, and it didn't turn out very well because it was too dark in the restaurant, but here we are... the old married couple...

I texted with Joycie a few times today, and she sent me this pic of her and Mike in the back of Mike's gramma's car on the way to pick up Mike's sister, Angel, from Tampa...

What a cute couple... I miss them! It's not so much that I haven't seen them in such a long time, it's more that they are so far away right now.

On the way home from Mt. Pleasant, Joycie texted me that they were heading out to the hot tub... sounds lovely. With the fresh air I had tonight and the great Mexican food, I'm heading to bed right now, and that also sounds lovely...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hello, April

Three young men, sitting in a row in those uncomfortable plastic seats at the Secretary of State's office... big shoes with big untied laces, baggy jeans, big jackets, portions of ugly looking tats visible here and there; loudish, lots of use of the word "dude"... & I overheard:

"Dude, are you serious, dude? Aw man, dude, every year I waste like half of April Fools not tricking people."

The Youth of Today just have no ambition. Back in our day, we spent all day tricking people.


Joycie sent me this pic today of them getting Mike's grandparents' boat ready to take out and go fishing...

But the boat played an April Fool's on them, and last I heard from Joycie, they were headed back in with no fishing accomplished. Something wrong with the engine, I think. I texted her that a non-fishing fishing trip in Florida with Mike is better than a snowy day here in Michigan.

We had some small, freezing windy snow for a short time today. Yesterday was all thunderstorms. The wind last night was fierce, and it knocked some branches out of the trees. One big widow maker came down from out of a big oak in our yard. Right now, it's still windy and very, very cold.

I actually had to go into town today. Town! It felt weird driving around in my car by myself. Haven't done that in a long, long time. I had to go to the Secretary of State's office, as mentioned, and renew my driver's license. I could have done it by mail had I gotten to it in time, but I really wasn't thinking about that back in March... So today, just because I went there in person, they took a new photo of me for my license. I tried to get the woman to just use the old photo, but she wouldn't. Crap. My hair looks like a homeless person's because I've missed my last 2 hair appointments, and I was wearing no makeup. Ugh.

Actually, I haven't worn makeup since January 17th. This is the longest stretch of time I've not worn makeup since I was 12 years old and in the 5th grade. Seriously. I've told Kevin that I may just start telling everyone that I'm 50 years old, quit wearing makeup and grow my hair out long so I can wear it in a pony tail or bun like an old lady. More specifically, like an old hippie lady. Doesn't that sound freeing?

I also had to go to Walgreens pharmacy to pick up 3 more of the Zyvox pills. My prescription for 28 pills which they filled last Thursday evening, my cost of which was $388.38, only had 25 pills in the bottle. I figured that out this morning with Pam, the nurse who came to get more blood out of me for tests. Since my cost of each of those pills is $13.87, that was almost $42 I paid and didn't get the pills... I called the pharmacist and, sure 'nough, my story matched his records, so I had to go pick up those 3 pills. And he apologized three times. Once for each pill, I guess.

Then I picked up Sammy from the salon where he and Kevin had went to get haircuts. Kev went on into work (afternoon shift), and then Sammy and I went and picked up his friend, Austin, who is staying overnight. We zipped through Little Caesars for a couple of Hot-N-Ready pepperoni pizzas for the boys, and since there is a Subway right next door, I got a sandwich. Not thinking, though, I got Swiss cheese on it. I'm not supposed to eat cheese with those Zyvox. Which is why I got the damn sandwich, because I knew I couldn't eat any of the pizza... no cheese, and also no pepperoni with Zyvox. Oy.

I don't know what it is lately with me and the word "Oy" but I've been using it a lot lately. I think it started with the, "Oy, enough with the poodles already," which is a saying that hard core Gilmore Girls fans will recognize. I've been using that one a lot... mostly since Christmastime, I think. Not sure why. Though lately, Sammy has caught me a few times saying, "Oy, enough with the penguins already"... penguins instead of poodles. Why penguins? Oy! I have no idea.