Water Pump, Tile, Friends, Dead Chicken & Shrimp

Last night it was determined that the ‘3 Jerry’s Group’ would meet for lunch at the giant all you can eat buffet at 2 pm today. The group name originated a long time ago because there were 3 of us named Jerry, in one form or another, who belonged to the TVCC (Tualatin Valley Cruiser Club). As you may suspect, we all have PT Cruisers. When the club was established there were very few members so it was interesting that three of us were called Jerry. We had numbers, too, according to age. I’m #2 because I’m not the oldest, and I’m not the youngest. I’m just the middle man.

Anyway, as things progressed with the car club we formed alliances, leaning toward those with whom we related the most and it kinda stuck. Diane and I have not done anything with the TVCC for a long time, but the friendships we made because of that car are set in stone, creating an entire new family and support system for all of us. It’s just great.

Not all were able to make it today, notably Vie and Coleen. That’s understandable since it was a last-minute decision to meet up. I’ve told you Tom’s story, and it was mainly for him that we just had to do it because it was like we were given a second chance to do this. When he went on life support on Diane’s Mom’s birthday. That was the 8th. He had called me a number of times, always asking how Diane was, because of her shingles, and always ending with a suggestion that we needed to gather up the group and eat something. For one reason or another, that never happened, then Tom almost bit the dust. It was a wake up call, for sure. So, clearer heads prevailed and made the arrangements. I think we’re good for the next month or so.

With that plan in place, I had a 1 pm deadline to be home, and clean, for the trip to Beaverton for lunch at 2 pm. That gave me about 3 hours to work with Daniel on The Bathroom. First order of business was to tack on a few extra pieces of cement board. Then we taped and sealed the joints, and got busy putting tile on the back wall. It was a sticky mess, but we kept it as clean as we could, all things considered.

We managed to set the center line dead on. I was actually pretty amazed we hit it as close as we did. It  was a happy amazing as it was a team effort with me slapping on thinset and Daniel slapping on the tiles. Tiles was Daniel’s job so if any of the grout lines are noticeably off, it’s his fault. That’s the way I work.

When we got up to the fifth row, or so, it was time for me to leave and get cleaned up for the trip to Beaverton. We were almost done with the gallon of pre-mixed thinset so I left Daniel to use it up and call it a day. We only had a couple of rows to go before beginning a pattern with colored tiles, so it was good timing. I walked away with a clear mind that Daniel wouldn’t have any trouble finishing up.

Getting ahead of myself a little, we stopped by to see the progress on our way home from lunch and learned from Jennifer that we hadn’t kept track of the thinset that fell off the trowel, and the wall, missing the sheet laying in the bottom of the tub and landing on the new tub. I wiped up almost every bit of what I spilled so it must have been Daniel that caused the mess. Honest. Anyway, Jennifer said it took her 3 hours to clean it up. When we got there, it looked really nice so I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Usually, with tile, I wind up doing it and cleaning it all up afterwards. It was kind of refreshing to not have to do that. So, Thank You Jennifer. And, thanks, Daniel for sticking with me and learning another skill set.

After deserting Daniel, I headed right home, as directed, to take a shower and get ready. I even shaved, removing only a little bit of skin that I no longer needed. It hardly hurt at all. I was ready ahead of time, but we still didn’t leave until after 1 pm … and … we stopped to pick up Diane’s Mom, Jean, because she went with us. That meant I had to sit in the back seat, again. That’s actually OK, because it’s comfy back there and I only have to say “Uh huh” once in a while to make the women think I’m listening. Sometimes I’ll say “no” just for fun, and add some totally unrelated detail, but they never catch on. Until now, that is.

The trip was uneventful and I apparently successfully answered all questions aimed at the back seat as the car did not stop in order to administer punishment. Not that I recall, anyway.

When we arrived, about 10 minutes late, I was gratified to learn that we were not the last to arrive. Jerry1 was still looking for Old Town Buffet. Tom was giving him instructions, but it wasn’t working out well.

Already there were Tom, Linda, Rick, Jodi, Jerry3, and Nelda. Rick just happened to be on vacation this week so he and Jodi were able to join us, which was special. Jerry1 showed up shortly thereafter and we all limped, in our own special ways, into the facility. Jerry3 was fresh from his acupuncture treatment for sciatica pain, Tom was on two canes from his near death experience, Nelda had her trusty crutch. Nelda has always had a crutch and it’s odd that I mentioned that because I actually never notice it when I see her. It’s just … there … and invisible.

It was a good time to arrive because most of the lunch crowd had gone, but lunch prices were still in play, and drinks were included. A bonus.

Those at the front, the ones with the canes, chose the table closest to the food tables which worked well for me. Usually when we go there, Diane leads me to the back of the room, putting me in a position for failure, walking all that way with a plate full of food. I’ve been pretty successful the last few visits, but it’s just a matter of time. Today we were close enough to toss food on the table. I didn’t do that, of course, but it crossed my mind.

Sadly, there were no shrimp, something I was looking forward to, this being Friday and all. All they had was lots of fried chicken, and a lot of other stuff that I like, so I ate a complete chicken dinner, for lunch. It included two legs, potatoes, gravy, corn, and a buttered bun. It was so good I did it twice. Then I had a soup bowl full of frozen vanilla yogurt smothered in hot chocolate fudge. I always use soup bowls because they’re bigger than those tiny little bowls they put by the ice cream dispenser.

The sunday was so good, I did it again, too.

Then we talked, moving around the table, swapping ends, making sure we had a chance to talk with everyone there. I always catch grief for my behavior which I don’t understand because I really try to be good. Honest. My mouth just, sometimes, gets away from me and spins out of control, spewing things I wouldn’t normally say in a zillion years if I had time to think about it. But I don’t, so have to live with the results. I guess.

After moving to Tom’s end of the table, we had a heart to heart talk. It was totally awesome that we had this reprieve which allowed us to commune. As I said before, all these folks are family to us and I know our ‘real’ family members would think the same thing. Actually, Jack and Wynette have met them and I think they would agree. Especially about Jerry #1.

This Jerry used to be a Jockey and spends a considerable amount of time at the Portland Meadows race track where he ‘runs book’ on a current jockey. I think that means he gets them rides and shares in their winnings, but it may mean something entirely different. Jerry #1 knows Jack and Wynette from the track because J&W visit regularly to watch one of their friend’s horses run. Today, Jack, Jerry said Jim had a couple of winners the past week, and Jerry’s jockey is riding them.

While talking with Tom, I look up and see familiar faces coming into the facility. One familiar face from 8th grade and High School, with his wife and daughter. They live in St. Helens, as do we, so it was a surprise to see them amongst all these mostly strange people. Then they sat at the table directly behind me. He, Lonnie, didn’t recognize me until I went over and sat down next to him and started taking. His wife, Sandy, and daughter Shannon, I’ve met before at some point in the past, but I don’t remember when. I just see them around town once in a while. It was good to see them. Since they sat so close, talking with them wasn’t an option. It was meant to be.

While talking with Lonnie, I noticed he had steak on his plate, and Sandy had shrimp. That caused me to rethink my need to quit eating since shrimp is really what I was counting on. So, I got a plate, filled it with shrimp and returned it to the table. Then I got another plate, emptied the shrimp bin, and put it at the other end of the table, mission accomplished. Jerry1, Jerry3, and I ate one plate, Tom ate the other. No one else felt the need to delve into these culinary delights which suited me just fine.

Thankfully, everyone stood up at once, as if summoned by some unknown signal that indicated the end of our visit. It was a little weird, but I went along which is good because I was seriously considering another soup bowl of frozen yogurt.

Before entering our assigned vehicles we all practiced our hugs on each other in front of the windows to the buffet place. Assigned vehicles were varied and interesting. Jerry3 & Nelda were in their PT, as were Rick & Jodi. Tom & Linda were in their little Scion toaster car, Diane and I were in our Buick, and Jerry1 was in his Camaro. That was just to show you that our friendship isn’t about PT’s any more, but we still own them.

Then we all came home, returned Grams to her house to recover from all the gaiety, and I haven’t done much since.

Cedric asked to spend the night, which is always just fine with us, because he didn’t want to spend another night with giggling girls in the house. Lydia is always having house guests, it seems. They are all cute, so don’t know why he minds. He is, after all, a High School sophomore. I suppose it might get old after a period of time.

Once again, it’s time to quit. I have, as Terri might say, used up all my nouns. Actually, she says “I’ve lost my nouns,” when trying to remember some thing, some one, or some place. We all loved our lunch and conversation. I was told so many things I needed to remember, but I didn’t have anything on which to take notes. So, those things will rattle around in my head for a while and eventually pop up at some unexpected moment, making it necessary for me to expel it in the midst of something totally unrelated, causing it to lose significance because of it’s seeming lack of association with reality regarding the current conversation, whether I’m part of it or not.

Oh. Almost forgot. The Winnebago water pump showed up in yesterday’s mail. Now we can flush the toilet. Thank goodness for that.


Homemade Egg Noodles & a Dead Chicken

For those of you who know about my world-famous … well, maybe at least St. Helens famous … home-made noodles, and aren’t clamoring for the recipe, I thought I’d share it with you anyway. This is from an old blog entry I made in December 2010.

Step 1: boil up a dead chicken the day before you plan to eat it. You can try it with a live one, but I don’t recommend it. It’s really hard to pluck a live chicken. Let it cool then put it in the refrigerator in preparation for the day you want to eat it. When the day comes, remove the dead chicken from the refrigerator and demand that your wife, or husband, rip all the meat from the bones. When they refuse, do it yourself. Keep the meat, dispose of the bones. Put the meat in the refrigerator while preparing the noodles.

Step 2: decide how many folks you plan to feed. That’s really not important. I’m just trying to mess you up. My rule is six eggs, no matter how many are going to eat. If there are enough people to eat noodles made from six eggs, you have too many people there. Today we fed 7 people and had plenty left over for tomorrow. Again, I ate twice. Like normal. Tomorrow I’ll do it again. No doubt.

So, you take your six eggs and break them into a fairly medium bowl. After picking out the little tiny bits of shell, take a salt shaker and put a thin layer of salt on each yolk. Removing the shell pieces really isn’t necessary, but it’s the right thing to do. Take the bowl to the sink, turn the faucet on low and quickly pass the bowl under the stream. You want some water, but definitely not too much. I’ve always pretended that my method of getting water in the bowl works out to a couple of tablespoons. The speed used to pass the bowl under the running faucet is crucial.

Step 3: using whatever you want, beat the hell out of the eggs until they are foamy. Doing this makes it a religious experience, suitable for Sunday. Once you’ve achieved a foaminess that pleases you, start adding flour, and mixing it in with the eggs. Keep doing this until it’s an absolutely sticky mess. Then add some more flour and keep mixing. When you get it to the point where poking your finger into it leaves a dent, but your finger doesn’t come out sticky, roll the mixture out onto the rolling surface that you prepared before step one. I know, I didn’t tell you about that but, really, you should have anticipated it. I use a Tupperware rolling sheet and an old fashion rolling-pin.

Step 4: before dumping the mixture onto the rolling surface remove between 2-3 cups of flour and dump it onto the middle of your rolling surface. Then dump the mixture and pour some more flour on top of it. Knead it like bread until it’s to the point where you can roll it out with your rolling-pin and it will pull back a little.

Step 5: Keep rolling it and flouring it, making sure it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface or the rolling pin. Roll it out until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick. I guarantee that it will roll beyond the boundaries of the rolling surface. Sometimes I cut it in half to do the rolling but today I put a large piece of cardboard, that I found in the garage, under the rolling surface and it worked great! I didn’t get any flour on the floor like I usually do. Didn’t get any grease in the noodles, either.

Step 6: if your wife will let you, get a very sharp instrument that you will need to cut the rolled out dough into noodles. Sometimes I use the “everything cutter” that we’ve had for years. Most people call it a pizza cutter, but I cut all kinds of food with it for the kidlets, like pancakes, waffles, sausage, noodles, and pizza. It takes a little while to whittle out noodles with this tool, but there’s not a chance anyone would accuse you of buying the noodles because I guarantee they will not be uniform in size. That’s ok. If you have a multi-bladed noodle cutter, like I do, use that. It’s much quicker and doesn’t cut as deep when you get a finger in the way.

Step 7: separate the cut noodles, mixing in the flour. Add more flour, if you want, then leave them alone in a pile to rest. You can cover them with something if you want, but I never bother with that. I used to but no longer have the patience to wrap each noodle in it’s own little blanket. Takes too long, so now I just toss one of the kitchen towels, that we’ve been using to dry our hands, over them. If you chose this covering method, make sure it’s not real damp. There’s nothing worse than damp noodles.

Step 8: while the noodles are resting, heat up the broth you obtained while boiling the dead chicken. If you didn’t keep it, that’s OK because it never tastes very good anyway. If you did, add a bunch of chicken bullion, or something similar, to the water, or broth, and heat it up to a rolling boil. Add the bouillon until it tastes really good to you. No one else matters on this step. You’re the cook so please yourself.

Step 9: once you have it tasting, and boiling properly, add the noodles, flour and all. You’ll need to stir the noodles right away to separate them, making sure they don’t cook up in one huge lump. If that happens, just call it a dumpling and no one will know. Assuming you get them separated, and it’s boiling good, lower the heat and let it slowly boil, stirring once in a while to move them around. Check them once in a while, after about 15 minutes, to see if they’re done. For that part of this step, keep some Blistex handy because you will burn your lips and tongue. Every time. An alternative is to have one of the kids check doneness. You can only do this once because the second time you try, I’ve discovered, the police get involved.

Step 10: add the dead chicken to the noodles, stir it in and turn the heat off. Cover the pan with a lid, a plate, or another pan.

Step 11: make some mashed potatoes while the noodles are boiling. We always use instant because they are quick and we don’t want to wait.

Once the noodles are done, the broth will be thick like gravy which makes it perfect for putting on top of mashed potatoes. Before adding noodles, put at least 2 tablespoons of butter on the potatoes. This gives the plate a little color as the melted butter seeps out from under the noodles. It’s kind of like the noodles are squeezing the innards out of the potatoes which makes it fun for the kids.

It’s simple and, so far, everyone loves it. I suspect it’s fattening, too, but who cares?

My Thumb, Ozzie, Home Improvement, & Thanks

I’ve decided that my thumb must be sprained. One of those kinds of sprains that don’t swell up, or turn a nice blue color, and you have no proof that anything is bent. So, when not wearing my thumb brace, I’m considering adding a couple of band aids so people will know something’s wrong. I don’t think I’ve used up all the cool Spider Man band aids Diane bought me last year. They are quite festive and really highlight an injury.

Ozzie has decided that it’s OK to start playing again. It’s been a long time since he’s chased anything and we’ve been worried. He also doesn’t spend most of his time in his kennel which we thought was his new ‘normal’. I think it’s because he’s lost some weight. He got a little bit porky when I was feeding him an entire pouch of food every morning but I had to quit when his hair stylist told me he was getting fat. He really was. I think he was up to 10 pounds which is about 3-4 pounds too much for him. So, I dropped back to 1/2 a pouch each morning and over the last year he’s trimmed down very slowly and once again has a waist you can see. And he’s playing again.

It’s funny to watch him and I’d post a video, if I knew how. He stands and stares at his chosen toy for a bit, darts at it, nipping, then jumping back as he spins in a circle. He does this over and over until he actually nabs the toy and during the spin launches it like a discus thrower. Funny to watch because when he does this he has no idea where the toy goes so has to go hunting. Sometimes he flings it clear over the couch. It really annoys Panzee to see him having fun again.

This morning we made a trip to Longview, Washington to purchase more components needed to re-plumb ‘the bathroom’. I have a vision in my head about how it’s going to work, and I even drew it on paper. The paper version doesn’t look anything like the one in my head. So, we went to Lowes where I stood in the PEX connector isle visualizing, and checking all the hundreds of choices to see which ones I think will work. I wound up with 30 separate connectors that will be needed to split input and drain lines for one sink into two inputs and drains for two sinks. Amazing. I will, of course, keep all of you, who I know are sitting on the edge of your chairs, apprised of my progress.

Since today was Sunday, and we were in Longview, we ate a Sizzler where we all ate dead chicken. It was very good, like normal. Our plate remover person was Maranda. She was handsomely tipped for her efforts and winning smile. I went online and gave her a very good review.

Every day I’m amazed at the variety of people who visit this blog. I know that my titles have something to do with their curiosity, but having them visit provide an opportunity for me to visit their blogs. It’s all very enlightening for me. I enjoy it very much. To date, people from 34 different countries have looked at some of my entries.

Some more than once.

The majority, of course, are those of you who are bonded to me by blood or long-term friendship. I appreciate your time, too, even if you only check in to see what portion of my body I’ve damaged since my last entry – kinda like going to a car race hoping to see something exciting, but denying that you’re there to see the wrecks. Personally, I’m there for the wrecks, except when I’m working on a pit crew, which I’ve been known to do.

Perhaps you can tell, of you’ve read this far, that I really don’t have much to share, so I’m rambling. If Diane was reading over my shoulder, which she hates to have me do to her, she’d tell me, “Jerrie, just stop. You’re not making any sense.” I hear that a lot.

I will take that advice now, with a sincere thanks to you all.

You make my day.

Myanmar Checks In

I have evidence that there are at least 75 people, in the world from 22 different countries, who made the mistake of looking at my blog. Most of them show restraint and only looked once but there were 17 who looked from Myanmar. I suspect the 17 looks happened because one person found this by mistake and talked to her friend.  Their conversaion probably went something like this …

“Hey Mya, look at this please and tell me what it is this person is trying to say.”

“I’m sure I do not know, Nu,”  Mya responded. “Maybe Than can figure it out. He is such a whiz at this kind of thing.” For clarification, Than is Nu’s boyfriend. Of course I’m guessing … he may be Mya’s boyfriend. Surely he’s someone’s boyfriend.

As a result of that brief conversation, Than contacted 14 of his friends seeking wizdom about what the “crazy American” is bantering about, but none of them knew. Consequently, they never returned. That makes me sad. Again, I’m guessing that they don’t know because I don’t get a lot of feedback from folks who read this either by mistake, or on purpose. Probably no news is good news in that regard.

I’m honored that they visited once, much less 17 times. And I regret that they couldn’t figure out what I was talking about. Now I’ll probably go to bed tonight wondering how I could word things differently so everyone in the world can make sense of what I’m trying to share. I’ll add a request to anyone that comes up with a reasonable answer to please reply because I’ve been wondering myself. For a long time. Diane has been wondering a lot longer than a long time. As soon as she finds the answer I fear she will leave. Therefore, I must keep her guessing, so please play along …

Additionally, 13 from Great Britain, and 9 from Canada checked in, and I appreciate that. There was also one person from Chile who, I think, replied to one of my entries to explain how confused she was about my entry. I think it was about my comparison of Twighlight & Hunger Games. I can’t remember if that was one of my lucid moments, or not. I’ll never know because I rarely read anything I write. Once it leaves my fingers, I’m generally done with it.

Closer to home, Diane’s computer is still giving her fits. I believe I mentioned that yesterday. Tomorrow we’ll find out if it’s the internet, or not, because I’m getting rid of the DSL and going back to cable. I suspect all of you are just thrilled to know this.

The problem, you see, is that cable totally spoiled us because it got to the point where it was so blazing fast it actually burned my fingers. Shifting to DSL was a $$ consideration, but we’ve decided that it was a bad, bad move. Well, Diane decided it was a bad move beause her really old computer just doesn’t function well on DSL. That, and her Hotmail account was hacked, which she thinks is related to the DSL connection. Maybe she’s right. Anyway, it’s a valid reason to switch back to something a little more speedy that will allow us to view a video without having it pause at critical moments during the streaming process.

Today we enjoyed another quiet day visiting with Diane’s Mom, Jean. We did this after church, and a stop at KFC for some dead chicken. The ulterior motive was to view the last two episodes of NCIS which we missed because our DirecTV service was, for an unexplained reason, off the air for a long period of time. Just for selected channels, like the ones we enjoy watching. So, we sat around Mom’s table eating dead chicken, potatoes, gravy and coleslaw, then retired to the living room to see how good she was with her Comcast remote control. Turns out she’s pretty darn good at it.

Now we’re home, and I’m going to watch the last half of “John Carter of Mars” while Diane’s watching one of the 15 HGTV shows she records. Maybe it’s only 10. Either way, I’ll surely be in trouble when she reads this.


The Long Road Home and Television Deprivation

It rained last night and got everything wet so we decided it was a good time to pack up everything and go home. So did the other 852,643 people who spent their weekend in Long Beach, Washington for the Rod Run. It was a brutal trip that took almost 5 hours. Normally it only takes about 3 because it’s only, like, 80 miles away.

Initially, it was the crowd going across the Astoria-Megler Bridge which is 4.1 miles long. The link is to the webcam on that bridge. It took us about an hour to cross it, just idling along, using lots of gas. Once across the bridge we stopped to eat some dead chicken in a parking lot, then joined the throngs exiting that Scandinavian hot spot for more hospitable climes to the east. The trip through town was at walking speed, then once through we came to a complete and utter stop for no apparent reason. Traffic kept coming our toward us for the 2.5 hours we crept along, but we remained at a standstill for most of that time. Had it not been for Jennie, who was in Rainier at Lydia’s ball games, which we intended to  attend, we’d never known that it was a rollover accident just below Bradley State Park. By the time we arrived at the scene it had all been cleaned up. Then the traffic picked up and moved along at it’s normal 55-85 mph pace. Interesting how that works. The traffic was backed up at least 20 miles, with no respite, or alternate route once a driver had committed himmerherself. We all just toughed it out like good Oregonians do. Even when there was a passing lane, no one tried to pass because they knew it would incur the wrath of everyone else on the mostly two land highway. No one got mad and blew their horns, no one yelled … we just piddled along knowing it would eventually end. And it did.

The dogs were really happy to get home. They missed their yard and immediately glistened it with spots of urine as if to say, “I’m home!” I have no doubt those bits of lawn will respond greenly to the nitrogen-rich applications. They always do. It’s unfortunate that they can’t distribute it a little more evenly to bless the portions of lawn not blessed with a direct hit. There are lots, and lots of those.

Though Diane and I are also very happy to be home, we controlled ourselves and did not urinate in the yard. Instead, we emptied the RV of things that would spoil if we ignored it. We felt it was important to not ignore it which would result in a mess the next time we decided to load the refrigerator for a trip. It would be ugly.

Since we only had two fuzzy TV channels during our absence, we turned on all four of our TVs so we wouldn’t miss anything as we roamed from room to room, touching all the things that we missed the most over the past three.seventyfive days. Had we but known, we could have taken one of our many DirecTV receivers and connected it to the permanently mounted satellite antenna on Barnes’ modified single wide. That would have been sweet and Diane wouldn’t have missed a single event of anything on HGTV.

Did you know that most of the programs on HGTV are hosted by, produced by, and filmed by aliens? It’s true. They all Canadians and everyone knows that all aliens are from Canada. I know this because I went to High School with one of them and his ID card identified him as an Alien. It said it, right there on the US Government ID card, so it has to be true, right? Everyone else living in this country, who wasn’t born here, is called an immigrant, illegal or otherwise.

I feel that this’s a good point to stop, so I will.