My Blood Pressure Spiked!


Wow! It is already the second day of 2014 and I have not done a thing. On New Year’s Day, Peg and I crashed. The party the day before wore us out. Ever since we married eight years ago we have traditionally celebrated New Year’s Eve. The first few years we attended the Prestwick Country Club party by hosting a table of friends. More recently, Peg decided she wanted a smaller more intimate group of friends to spend time with.

The party gives me a chance to practice my culinary skill, which is very limited, combined with Peg’s hosting skill which is considerable.  We invited three couples for dinner at five. The day began in a relaxed manner, but the stress level increased exponentially as the minutes marched forward. Peg began by monopolizing the kitchen with her hors d’oeuvres, patience Joe.  The weather saved me. It snowed that morning so I disappeared to shovel the drive and the walks. I returned to begin the main dish by  assembling the components for the veal paprikas I planned to make. We are lucky enough to have a fifteen foot countertop for cooking, but I had only one square foot of it. My blood pressured spiked, and my patience wore thin, I forgot two ingredients which I made a special trip to shop for days earlier. Another escape, this time to the Jewel Food Store for two items, a green pepper, and a 14.7 ounce can of diced tomatoes. There must have been more people like me because the parking lot was at capacity. Shoppers in cars jammed the lanes waiting for people  to come out and make a space. I backed out and found a space at the far corner. An inconsiderate jerk of a shopper had abandoned his cart in the space I parked in, so I pushed it back to the store while walking at record pace through the snow. I beat the cars still waiting in the lane for a space, patience Joe.

Inside the store was worse than the parking lot. Outside it was only parked cars and jerks waiting to find premium parking spaces. Inside it was different. Nervous ladies all rushing through the aisles filling baskets with party goodies. I encountered several aisle jams stalled by shoppers staring at the goods while trying to decide which kind of potato chip, wine, or olive to take off the shelf. Once more I back out, this time with the cart. Several times shoppers blind-sided me while rushing down an aisle and crossing lanes without looking. Smile, and say you’re sorry Joe, they are only stressed out like you are. On a normal day, close encounters of this sort would result in a lasting friendship, today friendship did not occur to me nor to those with whom I nearly collided.

Once at the checkout lanes, the crowd seemed even worse. People in line spilled into the aisles unseen. I passed through the waiting carts and aligned myself in what I thought was the end of the line. As luck would have it, the checkout lady was slower than cold molasses. Finally, the line moved one person, and I jockeyed into place but an old woman who came from nowhere and holding a fruit-tort blocked me. She smiled and politely inferred that I was cutting, and the line formed in the aisle behind her, patience Joe.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The Door Bell Rings


A good thing just happened to me. A very nice young man with a very heavy black beard, a bright red jacket and a black knit cap just rang the door-bell. I answered, and he very politely asked if I wanted my snow shoveled.  “How much,” I asked? He pondered a moment and looked around, “twenty-five,” he answered. “How about twenty?”  He nodded in agreement. “Do you have a shovel,” I asked. He nodded yes again.

Parked out on the street stood a sleek-looking Nissan. He ran to the car and knocked on the window. His partner came out and the two of them are shoveling furiously. In the short time it has taken me to write this, they have completed half of the job. Thank you Lord!


By the time I checked out and drove home from the Jewel, Peggy decided to clear some counter space for me. My tension eased, and the meal prep began.

By four-thirty I finished the paprikas and the double recipe of spaetzle. I transferred the veal dish to a hot-pot and kept the spaetzle dumplings warm in a covered pot.  I looked out the window and realized it had snowed again. Peggy asked for help with something she was doing, and I freaked again, patience Joe. I did what she asked without grumbling, patience Joe. I rushed to the garage for my snow shovels. The drive and walks were clean by 4:55.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++The Door Bell Rings Again


The snow-shovelers just rang the bell. They  finished. My God, what youthful energy they have. I would still be screwing around getting dressed and with starting the snow blower but they finished! I handed him twenty-six bucks. The two of them deserve it. Peg handed him a small bag of mini-Snickers bars left over from Halloween which I had secretly stashed.

Since it is still snowing, I’ll have another chance to show my aging-energy later this afternoon.


We had a perfectly delightful evening with our friends eating and drinking and making merry. Harriet brought a lasagna to supplement my Paprikas, Mary brought shrimp appetizers, and Donna brought a scrumptious plate of cherry slices and a quart of ice cream, and Al brought enough wine to keep us happy the whole night long. The crowd left by nine o’clock. Peggy and I cleaned up and we were in bed by 11:00 p.m. by mid-night we were fast asleep.

Happy New Year everyone.

It’s Baaack!

This morning I awoke and peeked out he window at the 2013 Monet Vision. It looked the best it did all year-long. Bathed in white it looked better than the white theme I tried to make this year. For the past twenty years I have commented on the pussy winters we have had, but this year promises to become the winter I know and hate, . . er I mean love. When you live in Illinois you have to love winter or you are not worthy of living here.

This week we experienced the joy of breathing below zero temps and decided that Arizona looks pretty good. Then it snowed three times counting today. The first was a shoveler. That’s a powdery snow fall that is less than two inches deep and it is not worthy of wasting gas in the snow blower, so shovel I did.  The next day, it snowed again. Another powdery one inch not worthy of a blow job. In fact, because I had a doctor appointment early, it didn’t even get a shovel job. This morning when I opened the garage door there was nine inches of powdery snow in front of me: Hear that all you guys who moved to Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida? This was definitely worth a blow job. Except, my blower was not ready. I had it serviced, I had fresh gas, but I removed the blower-chute when I stuffed the machine into the trunk to take it for service. The winters have been so pussy, that I kept gambling on not needing to get it completely functional. It took fifteen minutes to install the chute and three pulls to get it going strong

Lucky for me the Frankfort snowplow had not yet come by to fill the driveway with a block worth of snow moving at forty miles per hour. My trusty Honda, inherited from my son who moved to snow-less Houston, moved right through the powdery stuff. The temp measured 31.4 degrees F at my front porch.

I had about 90% of the driveway completed when I noticed the snow was no longer flying out the chute. Instead, it packed into the chute and didn’t clean very well at all. The temperature was now above 32 degrees and the snow was, as we used to say as kids, “good packing.” That meant it is perfect for making snowballs and snow men.

It took about an hour to finish the drive and the walk in front of my house and the walks in front of the neighbors on each side of me. A few years ago, this would have taken me less than forty minutes and I would have had a great workout. This time, it took much longer and it tired me out completely. That is Nature’s way of telling me that the old bod’ ain’t what it was a few years ago. I guess it is the result of too many glasses of Cabernet and endless hours in front of the computer doing absolutely nothing.

After clearing the front, I tackled the patio to gain access to the bird feeders. There wasn’t a single dove, cardinal, or sparrow in sight. Must be the snow, I thought, until I heard the screeching call of a hawk. He sat in a tree observing the action around the feeders. I reveled at the sound of his call as he obstinately stayed perched and screeching high above me. I was shoveling a path around the post feeder and the hanging feeder at the window when I spotted Grandma Peggy peering out keeping the hawk under surveillance. Now that’s neat, a predator observing his prey while being observed by a constable protecting the prey. The look on Peggy’s face was enough to scare any hawk from the area.

I took some pictures with my phone and declared the 2013 Monet Vision had finally achieved a state of  beauty worthy of talking about. Remember, Churchill said, “never, never, never, never give up.” I’m glad I didn’t because the garden finally looks good.


2013 Monet Vision in December looking at the waterlessfall


The Hawk keeps surveilance


Snow Angel


2013 Monet Vision in December looking at the bird tower


Grandma Peggy keeps her eye on the hawk


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