Snoooze-VVVVVVVVV

Today is one of those days when I am falling asleep on my feet. My body missed an hour of sleep last night and now it takes the initiative to make up for it any way it can. Usually, it in in the middle of a sentence as I am writing or reading. If you see a string of a single character running across the screen you will know that my body just went into rest mode. The single character comes from my thumb which has stopped while in the middle of a stroke and is resting on one key.

September days can be outstanding in, Illinois and today is one of them. It is sunny bright with sparsely spaced billowy white clouds streaming across the sky. The temperature hovers around eighty mid-day and then quickly descends into the sixtes after sunset and finally bottomming out in the fifties near sunrise.

I should be out riding my bike, but that is a sport I gave up fifteen years ago and now it would take me a better part of the afternoon just to prep the machine for riding. At one point cycling was my life, I belonged to a bike club that went of regular rides several times a week, and in between I commuted to work by bike. I scare myself when I think about the number of hours I spent riding and enjoying the physicality of it all. I also realize how lucky I was to have an understanding wife who tolerated my sport. We spent many hours apart because of my selfishness in choosing to pump the pedals instead of spending time with her. That is one regret that I have which I have compensated for by abandoning the sport.

Today, I spent the afternoon cooking my supper. As I write there is a pot of beef stroganoff simmering on the stove, and next to it is a pot of water in a very slow boil ready to accept the wide noodles to compliment the dish. This is certainly not a KETO meal, but it is so very delicious that I have to forget KETO once in a while. I use a recipe from Paula Dean who showed me how to do it on the Cooking Channel. It is way too simple but tastes like a very complicated affair. It is my favorite recipe. Next to the stroganoff my next favorite is chicken parmesan cooked in home made tomato sauce. It is another a recipe downloaded from the cooking channel years ago. I learned from these two recipes that cooking can be much like chemistry. Pay attention to the details and measure the ingredients to make it taste like Emiril made it.

My plan is to chill until it is time to eat, then afterwards go for a walk. The walk will take off the edge of a big meal and allow me to enjoy the evening watching a few episodes from two series that I have become attached to: Bosch, and Downton Abbey. I have to control how much I see of the detective program because it is very explicit in showing murder scenes. A month ago I overloaded and decided to take a few weeks off to unload the depressing story and the scenes that come with it. The stories are so enthralling that It is like being hooked on a drug.

If there is any energy left in me after the walk I may forget TV and choose to descend into my wood shop to work on my bird. My latest Intarsia project is an owl in full flight going after prey. I started this project in December of 2020 and feverishly worked on it to about 75% complete in March 2021. The devil is in the details however, and after taking a break from the wood shop to concentrate on a number of other projects one being my garden, and another my wedding it was not until September that I resumed. Now I am competing with beautiful days and the regret of not spending those hours with my partner. Thankfully, my body tells me how much time I can spend in the shop just as it tells me when I need to rest.

My goal to read a book a week for the year is finally becoming real. After a non-stop reading marathon to catch up to four books a month I am at thirty-three and on track to reach thirty six by the end of September. To give myself some variety I’ve decided to mix non-fiction with fiction, male and female authors, old and new. Mostly they are stories copyrighted in 2020 and 2021 because I zero in on the large print section and they are recently published. I love historical fiction because it blends facts with characters and story’s that become real. For instance, last week I finished Kitchen Front which takes place in England during WWII and deals with the population that didn’t fight. They are the ones who contributed to the war by dealing with rationing of food and other necessities like gasoline, and tires. At the same time I have been watching Downton Abbey, a story about how an aristocratic family living in a huge manor deals with World War One. The two stories mirror each other and the difference in life between 1918 and 1940 were not very large. One thing that did change was the attitude of the people who were serving the aristocrats. The servants began to realize that maybe they had the short end of the stick and were itching to change their lives to become something better than a maid, butler, or valet.

It is time to blend the sour cream into the stroganoff and to drain the wide noodles. It has been pure pleasure staying awake throughout this report.

Day 13-Self Imposed Quarantine-On the Seventh Day God Rested

Today is Sunday. I have to remind myself of that. Last week I lost a day and celebrated Friday on Thursday. That means I didn’t eat meat at any meal before I realized my mistake, and then had to abstain again the next day. Not that fish is bad for me it is because I don’t have a stock pile of it my freezer. I have peanut butter, but my KETO diet keeps me from eating bread, and I love peanut butter sandwiches. Does that make sense?

After posting my rant about the stupidity of car companies offering to make medical devices I finally got underway filling the day with more productive activities. By then I developed enough courage to go outside and attack another flower bed clean up. I must have slept through some heavy rain because the leaves were soaking and the soil muddy. I wound up cleaning mud off my heavy shoes several times. I completed another one hour baby step toward a burgeoning upcoming floral season. I photographed the first blooms of spring to make my heart leap with joy. The next project was to strip naked in front of the washing machine to wash my muddy clothes.

After a quick shower and clean clothes I proceeded to cook a batch of KETO stroganoff. Actually, it is the same as regular stroganoff but without any flour as gravy thickener. When it was finished I thought the gravy a mite too runny, so I added some Xanthan gum to thicken it, and it worked. I didn’t have a zucchini to make zucchini noodles, so I decided KETO go to hell for this meal, and cooked up some wide egg noodles. I am not sorry I did that because the stroganoff was great! Today, I’ll have left overs, except I’ll substitute leftover cauliflower mash for the noodles and be totally KETO compliant.

After supper, I went to the TV and found a stupid movie called “Thirteen Going On Thirty”.  It starred Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffallo, since they were in it I thought it would be good. I endured it to the end. I’d give it about a half star. The plot grants a thirteen year old girl’s wish to be thirty. The overnight transition from a thirteen year old to a thirty year old was too much to believe.

There was still an hour and a half before my usual bedtime so I turned to watch episodes of my latest series “Homeland.”  Three episodes later and long after my bedtime I shut the TV off and forced myself to sleep. There is so much action in this series that my mind continues processing throughout the night. The sleep is not restful and I find  myself dragging in the morning. My dreams are all wild with people from the series running and shooting and plotting.  The Homeland series is several years old and there are over ninety episodes, and I have watched only thirteen. Either I slow down, watch in the daytime, or ration my watching to one episode per week. As tired as I was from the yard work, which usually makes me sleep like a baby, I woke up with my blanket bunched up and twisted in a roll. I was rockin’ and rollin’ all night long.

Day 9-Of Self Imposed Quarantine

It occurred to me today that this quarantine has not changed my life pattern much at all. Living alone is basically a quarantine. The only things I have given up are meeting my friends on Tuesday evenings at a bar for drinks, and going to the library. Instead a couple of us just have a virtual happy hour. We text and drink together. In some ways it is more fun than sitting within arms reach of someone at the bar. Because we are not face to face, the double entendres can fly back and forth without any fear of being smacked. Other than that my life is the same.

On my daily walk I encountered several couples walking dogs or running. We gave each other plenty of space as we passed, and now I am back in the sterility of my home enjoying quiet. In about an hour, I will descend to my shop and make some noise with my grinders. I am ensconced with my three roses. Each one is a new project. I learned what not to do, or how not to do, on the first and changed my methodology for the second and learned some more. Now I am using a totally new process on number three. On each rose the amount of effort and time has decreased.  I am also answering a question I asked myself awhile ago , i.e. why don’t I try making miniature intarsia? The answer, small pieces take extreme effort to hold and shape with machines. These roses have the smallest pieces I have ever cut for intarsia art work. That doesn’t mean, however, that I will not give up on making miniatures, it just means I have to undertake a lot of training and and develop new skills to do so.

 

I am also taking these quiet moments to teach myself new cooking skills. Being on a KETO diet means giving up many of the comfort foods I love so much. Yesterday I learned to make a cauliflower mash as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Believe it or not, it was good. I have eaten pre-made cauliflower mash in frozen dinners and I rated it a minus ten on a zero to ten scale. I never had runny mashed potatoes, and the watery cauliflower mash I experienced in some frozen dinners is a total turnoff.

YouTube is my teacher for cooking. There are thousands of people making videos of their favorite recipes. Finding KETO versions of favorite dishes is easy. Today, I researched KETO Stroganoff and found five videos by five different cooks and five different ways to make stroganoff. All of them were composed of the same ingredients. Only the spices were different. Saturday, I will make KETO Stroganoff.

On the COVID-19 front, I am watching fewer news programs about the disease. I don’t need anymore panic news to upset me. It is what it is and we have to be serious about staying away from each other to keep from getting it passed down. I keep asking myself, what would I do if a beautiful mature woman hit on me? Would I risk the virus, or resist the temptation? At my age the only  option is to resist the temptation. Who can we trust? Even folks living together have risk. All it would take is for one of them to leave the confines of the quarantine to go some place and come back with the bug. If we could see the enemy maybe it would be more simple to move around, but none of us can see where it lurks and we can’t see it coming at us. At this time isolation is the best protection we have.

In the meantime, I have learned to download a book from the internet and am reading from my lap-top. So my excuse of not being able to got to he library has been eliminated.

 

120 Minutes of Prep and 15 Minutes of Joy

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At three o’clock this afternoon, I emerged from the man-cave to prepare supper. I had a taste for beef stroganoff. The desire had built within me this past week, so I shopped for the ingredients: mushrooms, beef cut in strips, cream of mushroom soup, etc. I had it all. By three-fifty, I had the Paula Deen recipe simmering, and a side pot of water heating for fresh pasta. I forgot to buy wide noodles to serve with the stroganoff, so I substituted the only heavy pasta I had on hand, rigatoni.  While the heat did it’s job, I washed dishes and all the utensils I used for the prep. There was time for a quick dash to the basement wine cellar for a bottle of Cabernet which I promptly opened and began to imbibe while I sat at the computer for ten minutes before Peg asked me to help her with something. She is reviewing 2005 bank statements. Why she spends so much time trying to understand something that she can’t remember for more than ten seconds I do not understand. All I know is that my life is crazy lately repeating the same explanation over, and over, and over again. I have to admit, today I lost it, and got angry, and my voice proclaimed a pronounced displeasure with the routine. I finished breakfast dishes and escaped to the man-cave. I cut and ground wood into shapes that will ultimately look like a flower. After several hours my back announced it was time for a break, thus we join the opening sentence.

The stroganoff turned out delicious, but it only took me fifteen minutes to satisfy my lust and to eat the stuff. No wonder dining out is so expensive. Someone has to be paid to make the things we order. Either way, I pay in money, or in time. Home made is superior to restaurant made any day. I will match my culinary skills with that of any chef in the world including Emeril or Giada. They have only one thing over me as cooks, they know how to make more than five recipes (and Giada is a hell of a lot better looking than me), but I will compete with them on the five I make.

Burp.

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