On The Blackwater

Musing on retirement, writing, puppies, and whatever else strikes my fancy

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Spending my life in 20-year increments: DC, Calif, Maine, & now in the BlueRidge Mountains of VA, where my YoChon, Sadie Mae, has started to blog...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Garrison Keillor piece

Garrison Keillor's novel, Wobegon Boy, contains a piece on bachelor Lutheran farmers that is SO true, so funny. Living in a rural farming area, I can relate to this. In fact, I'm afraid my husband, who grew up in a rural farming area, totally can identify with this bachelor farmer. Here's what Keillor has to say:

"A bachelor farmer is all body rhythms. He wakes up in the morning and gets dressed in his old clothes and does a few chores, lets out the cat, pitches the empties from last night onto the pile beside the garage, toasts him a couple frozen waffles and slathers them with butter and syrup and they're good, so he has two more, and all this time nobody has said to him, 'Why don't you ever talk to me anymore?' He has a right to remain silent. That's his body rhythm. He puts on his barn jacket and goes out and works for a couple hours on projects for which there is no logical explanation, he sorts out coffee cans full of stuff, he shores up things, he pours some concrete, and then maybe he crawls back in the sack for a couple hours or he reads a book, and suddently it's three in the afternoon. There is nothing special about three P.M., it is only a point on the clock, no law says you can't have lunch then. He opens a can of beans and eats a few off the top and shakes some ketchup on and horseradish and turns on the radio and the weather forecast is for more snow, which is fine with him. He puts mustard on a wiener and eats it. He feeds the cat and drives to town and parks the truck and goes into the Sidetrack Tap and gets a beer and a bump and now he may speak his first words of the day. Or he may not. It is up to him. This guy never had a social security number or a bank account. Never paid income taxes. The government never knew he existed. He keeps a big dog around the place, who goes after strangers like a werewolf. He hasn't bathed today and maybe not yesterday. Why? Because he knows who he is. He may or may not support the President on any particular thing, he may be an atheist, or not, but one thing is sure: this man is not driven by fear of his wife. You can see this in the way he walks into the bar. You can see that this guy is not operating on a strict schedule. Nobody is going to burn his butt if he doesn't get home by six o'clock. Nobody is going to rant and rave if he has a beer and brandy on his breath. Moral disapproval is not a big factor in his life."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Racing Car Grammie

Say, how fast will this go?

Whaddaya mean, you're holding the keys...

Remember, I'm yo mama!

This is some car...

Daughter Cathie reminded me that she'd taken some pictures of me behind the wheel of the sports car she won in an online contest. Well, I found them, so let me see if I can post them here.
Cathie enters contests if they do not require a purchase, so when Wrigley Gum partnered with NASCAR to give away a driver-designed, one of a kind, sports car, she entered. And WON! They flew her to Texas with my grown grandson Jessie, put them up in a very nice hotel, took them on a tour of the racetrack and then they watched the race.
Not too long after that, she got a call that her Dodge Charger race car would be delivered to the parking lot of her closest large grocery store. They had already sent her a very large check to cover her taxes, registration, etc.

I wanted her to put the car on eBay; after all, she lives in rural northern Maine and could drive the car only during their short summers. Well, eBay hasn't happened yet; she drove the car while we were in Maine, and put it in storage as soon as fall began to turn into winter. (She visits the storage place and starts it up periodically.)
OK, the pictures, if they download OK, should be up at the top of this post...

Monday, October 20, 2008


Me in the middle


Pit stops

I have no idea who these drivers are...they stopped &
posed for pictures from fans in the stands

Look at all the people!

We've lived here in Rocky Mount since 1999 and knew we were close to Martinsville Speedway (30 miles) but hadn't gone to a NASCAR event before yesterday. A grocery receipt from Kroger's said if we called within 72 hours, we would receive two free tickets to a NASCAR race. Yeah, sure, I said to myself. But I did call, and so help me Hannah, received two tickets worth $60 each for yesterday's race, Sunday, October 19th.

We stood in line for the South Annex Grandstand in front of a couple who had gone on Ebay and purchased their tickets for $138 + s&h. They were amazed we'd gotten free tickets, and said from now on, they would be reading their grocery receipts very carefully.
It was a perfect day...breezy enough to warrant wearing a light turtleneck but sunny enough to keep us comfortable. I took my camera, but taking pictures through two sets of wiremesh screens makes it look as if we were in a cage! Security guards would not let us near the screens, although some folks did ignore that prohibition.
Noisy? You betcha! A friend advised me to take earplugs, and I am so glad I did. The crowd was very friendly, very accommodating. When one young boy needed his Dad to take him to the restroom, fellows helped hand him down, chuckling all the way.

But how was the race, Marion? Well, we watched Dale Earnhardt Jr. go from 3rd to 5th to 6th to 14th, then back up until he finished second 500 laps later. I must admit we did leave a bit early...looking around at the thousands of cars and trucks parked on the grounds, we decided to leave at Lap 300. We headed to Applebee's in Rocky Mount, and watched the end of the race on their large-screen TV. Lo and behold, we were waited on by the best new waitress on the block, my friend Amy Hanek. (Applause, applause).

When we got home, little Sadie Mae was bursting to see us arrive...we'd left her inside with Winchester to 'babysit' and she did fine. Although she was a bit clingy last night, and won't leave my side today!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chicken recipes

As many of my friends know, my husband's Celiac creates challenges in cooking. Baking a gluten-free loaf of bread nearly every week is only one of those challenges. Recently, I ordered a second cookbook/diet book written by George Stella of Food Network fame. Stella and his wife and two teenage sons lost 560 pounds total in about two years by tweaking the Atkins program and designing wonderful recipes using soy flour or almond flour instead of wheat.

Now, I'm trying to lose weight on this plan, and am able to fix meals for Dick without using wheat in any form. One recent discovery from Stella's book was his "Southern Fried Chicken" which I changed a bit, coming up with a type of chicken nugget instead of using a whole chicken, frying it, then oven-baking it. (Too much work!).

Wheat-free Chicken Nuggets
One package boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and cut into nugget size
1.5 cups soy flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
Salt & Pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream (or water if desired)
Enough vegetable oil to reach about an inch in a large, heavy fry pan
While oil is heating up, whisk eggs and cream in a pie plate or similar dish. Pour soy flour into another pie plate, adding garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Dip chicken pieces first into soy flour, then into egg wash, then back into soy flour. (Yes,your fingers get gooey, but it is worth it!) Fry the chicken pieces, keeping a close eye on them as soy flour browns up very quickly. Oil should not be above 350 degrees F.
Thanks so much to George Stella for this recipe. When my husband was finally able to have fried chicken after four years without, he was SO happy. This recipe is modified from the first book, George Stella's Livin' Low Carb. His second cookbook relies more on almond flour. Both books contain wonderful recipes for muffins. His website is: http://www.stellastyle.com/
Another recipe, my own:
Easy Chicken Soup
2 tbs EVOO
Handful of tiny carrots
2-3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1/2 a sweet onion, sliced
1 package chicken breast strips, cut up
Salt and pepper
1.5 boxes low-sodium chicken broth
Egg noodles if desired, two handfuls
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, then saute' carrots, celery and onion until carrots become soft and sweet. Push the veggies to the sides and brown the chicken bits, adding salt and pepper to taste. Pour on the chicken broth, adding more broth or water if necessary. Bring to a boil, and add the egg noodles (I use gluten-free, which take about 9 minutes to cook). When noodles are done, soup is ready. Enjoy!
Serve with toasted cheese sandwiches for a nice winter's meal.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Taste of Tuscany

Hubby injured his hand, so my intent to take him up to Villa Appalaccia Winery on the BlueRidge Parkway for his birthday was nearly stalled until good friend Peggy drove me up into the mountains while Dick stayed home and got some rest on Sunday. (Of course, he also got to watch sports on TV.)

It was a gorgeous day; foliage is just coming into color...in another week or so, the spikes of orange and red will broaden into a calendar-like spread.
The winery held a wine and cheese event, but one that was more unusual in that the owners had been to their home in Tuscany, returning with many Italian cheeses. Entering the open courtyard after paying a minimal fee, we visited three stations, each person offering a grouping of wonderful cheeses and placing samples on our plates. Wonderful pungeant lovely cheeses accompanied by a brief description of each type. Well, we thought we knew a bit about cheese, but these offerings, from sheep's milk or cow's milk, aged to perfection, were an adventure.
At a final station, a young man gave us a choice between three wines, along with a tasty, chewy chunk of herbed peasant bread and a spoonful of the winery's own olives. We sat in the courtyard, talking up a storm and savoring our plate-full. Next, we took our (empty!) wine glasses up to the main house where we joined the wine-tasting.
I was hoping to find the Pinot Grigio from 2005, but apparently that one was gone, so I tried their youngest Pinot Grigio from 2007...I didn't find it truly 'ready' so I moved on to the Pinot Grigio Reserve, 2006. The description they provided was: "Fermented in new French and Hungarian oak barrels, aged in stainless stell tanks. This wine has intriguing flavors of melon, passion fruit and caramel. Enjoy with seafood and white meats."
Also wanting to take home a simple red, I went with their Rustico (roostico) 2005, "A 'Ripasso' style wine made from dried Corvina grapes and Cabernet Franc. A spicy fun red wine to enjoy with antipasti, polenta, an risottos."
I still have two bottles of their dessert wine, Raspberry 'Beret' which they describe as: "The ultimate wine with anything and everything chocolate, but also good with cheesecake and ice cream."
Folks were buying their wines by the case, many of them from a distance away. Me, three bottles, that'll do it until we head up there again. They have several events planned for this fall season; visit their web site to find out what is going on at http//www.villaappalaccia.com.
What a lovely way to spend a beautiful fall day. They also encourage visitors to bring their own picnic lunch if desired; you can sit for hours at an umbrella table in the open courtyard, or on the grass, or up on the covered patio.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Great Invention? (or silliest!)~

Well, I'm trying to get a picture or two loaded, but I'm not having any luck...must wait until the techie hubby gets home to see what I am doing here... I was at WallieWorld early this morning, and saw these crazy-looking fuzzy slippers, in day-glo colors, hanging in the aisle where the cleaning products are located. Seems they are called "Slipper Genies" and are supposed to dust and clean your hardwood or tile or linoleum floors as you walk around

Too funny! Of course, I bought a pair. They were just under $6 and have fuzzy chenille bottoms attached with velcro so they can be washed. Sadie Mae thinks they are her new toys; I don't think so. We do have carpeting in several rooms, but for the kitchen, the foyer, the dining room and the bathrooms...well, perhaps this could be a solution to those bits of dust around.

There was also a mitt that I can certainly use for my blinds. That had first drawn my attention; at only $3.50, if it works, it'll be cheaper than a housekeeper.

OK, the pictures are in and I now have written-down instructions for this. Dick bought me this plug-in gear for my computer but he hadn't told me how it works! I think I've got it now, although I believe he reduced the size of the pictures...we'll see what happens here.

Do I like the "Slipper Genie" for dusting the floors? YES...they are great fun. I think young kids would get a charge out of them (NOT going down stairs wearing them, of course). Get a pair for each kid and turn 'em loose on any wood or tile or linoleum floor. I have a round antique table in the foyer that somehow reaches its legs out and gathers in dust...well, wearing my fuzzy slippers, I just moved the table and Voila! What a kick.