Monthly Archives: January 2008

Back On Schedule

Just a quick note to get these “Sunday e-mails” back on schedule. I wrote a short note during this last week about my return from Florida and my blood pressure’s back to normal…well, normal for me which is a little on the high side and these extra pounds don’t help. I weighed myself after a week of Mom’s cooking and I only gained a pound. I told the Trilander group that same thing yesterday and they thought I said eight pounds and wondered how could I possibly gain that much. Three evening meals of deep fried grouper and one of fried shrimp with french fries may have done the damage. Mom was good about letting me fix my own breakfast and lunch, so that and the exercise kept me in check.

I took Jean down to Team Active, the bike shop in Battle Creek, on Thursday to have some repairs done to her Trek. We spent a while looking at new bikes so one may be in her future. I bought her some socks and biking gloves for her 60th birthday (oops, I shouldn’t tell her age…please disregard the 60 part) and when I paid for them the clerk tried to talk her into joining their bike mileage club. Each week you record your bike miles either on the road or on a trainer, and you can earn discounts of up to 15%. Jean decided to wait to join, but may have had second thoughts, ‘cuz on the way to the car she said, “You know…we should join that mile high club…it sounds like fun”. By that time I was doing handsprings in the parking lot and giggling like a 20 year old. Apparently she didn’t know that “The Mile High Club” is for people who have had “intimate relations” in an airplane above 5,280 feet of altitude. She’s not a spring chicken anymore and I’m sure that’s not what she had in mind. We laughed all the way to the Urbandale corner.

Just (Excited For A Short Time) Jack

Damage Control

I’m back from a short trip to Florida and I’ve spent the day fixing things that are broken. Ever since the e-mail I sent a few weeks back about things here at the Walker household being “out of control”, Jean has been making me pay the price for my comments in subtle ways. In our bathroom we have separate sinks and “work areas” but share a single drawer between our domains. Jean has her toothpaste, lipstick and various other beauty items in one plastic box and I have my razor, toothpaste and other he-man supplies in another plastic box. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve found Jean’s hair thing-a-ma-jig, lipstick, and other stuff in my box. I have almost no hair, so the thing-a-ma-jig has absolutely no use to me and I haven’t gotten to the lipstick stage yet. I took those as not so subtle hints to lay-off the comments, so I’ve tried to be a good boy.

So, while I was in Florida, she tried to do something else to get my attention. I’m sure Jean, Becky and Judy sat around, drinking wine, trying to think of something that would really make me snap to attention and then it came to them…screw up his checkbook. So Jean called me yesterday in Florida (she could have waited but wanted to make me squirm knowing I couldn’t do anything about it) and told me that she went to the bank to have them make some counter checks since she was out and she needed some to pay bills. They “inadvertently” (yeah…right) used my account number. So she was writing checks to pay her bills but they were clearing my account. No problem I told her…just transfer the total amount of the checks from her account to mine to cover. The checks totaled 263.21 so she transferred 264.00!! Can you believe it…how in the world can I get that extra .79 into my checkbook?!

As if that wasn’t enough, she finally got around to ordering checks for her account (if she had done it on time she wouldn’t have had to have counter checks made, but let’s not go there) which she received while I was gone. Sounds great…except when I got home I had a package of checks in the mail that I didn’t order and a 26.95 charge for printing them. She blamed it on the bank, of course. Oh, well. It gives me something to do sitting up here in the cold watching it snow.

I did have a good time in Florida with Mom and Bobby Butane. We took a few trips down memory lane and visited some spots I hadn’t been to in 45 years. The weather was crappy by native Floridian standards, but nice compared to what we had up here. I had a relapse of my sinus crud so I didn’t feel that good all week, but recovered just in time to scarf down a huge strawberry shortcake at Parksdale Farms in Plant City for Uncle Fred’s birthday. He’s quite elderly (not much older than I am) but seems to be holding up well and it was good to have family together. Back on the diet tomorrow.

Just (Fixing The Accounting Nightmare) Jack

Blow Off Tube

Blow Off Tube

I always have a theme in mind when I’m inspired to bore you all with my ramblings. Lately I’ve had to change the words in the subject line in order to get them all to send. Judy has said that she missed getting a particular one and was left off the list, but when I went back and looked she was there. I looked at the subject and it had a word in it that could have more than one meaning and the spam/porn blockers look for those words and block the message. I suppose blow is one of those words, so if you don’t get this, let me know and I’ll change the subject line.

I brewed beer on Saturday, as many of you already know. This is the first time I’ve brewed at the condo and, not going into the boring details, there are a few logistics that I’ll have to rethink. At any rate, it’s a “BIG BEER” (An Imperial Stout) that’s very dark, very heavy (Jean said it looked like molasses), and will probably be high in alcohol. This is my 14th brew session and I haven’t had this happen yet, but when some beers ferment, they create a huge amount of foam and literally blow-off the airlock and spew crud all over the place. The way you fix the problem is to sanitize and insert a 1 1/4 inch O.D. plastic tube into the fermenter with the other end in a pail of water. If it foams over, it goes into the tube and into the water. No problem. It’s like a new baby; I’ve been checking it constantly since Saturday evening. The foam was about an inch thick on the top of the wort (it will be beer once it ferments) until this morning. By 11AM the foam was within an inch of the airlock so I inserted the blow-off tube. (With all the “blow-offs” and “inserted” in the story so far, maybe none of you will get this and I’ll be on the Channel 8 news as an internet predator).

Bill helped me dump the mash grains in the little wooded area behind the condo Saturday. I expected to see the deer over there going crazy (no…not drunk…there’s no alcohol in the mash) but they haven’t seemed too interested. It’s covered with snow so maybe they can’t smell it, but I’d rather think it has so much black, toasted, malted barley that they don’t like it. Oh well…some of the critters will eat it.

My “watching what I eat” since December 10 (except for the week and a half that included Christmas and New Year) has been working. I had a doctor’s appointment last Friday (January 10th…one month later) and I was down 8 pounds. It’s a good start and I have to stay with it. I’ll be in Florida for a week and it will be difficult, but Mom said she has lots of oranges and grapefruit from Aunt Sharon and Uncle Fred, so as long as I don’t eat too many each day, I’ll be fine. Besides, I can’t go there without a trip to Inn On The Gulf for their deep fried Grouper Nuggets and Manhattan Clam Chowder.

With the holidays being over and not much going on here, Fred Jacobs will have trouble selling papers, so I expect him to stir people up with another editorial about how dumb the hospital board is for wanting to build a new hospital way out in the country (less than a mile from the city limits and less than three miles from downtown Hastings). That’s a good thing. Every time I start to get too cocky and smug about my decisions, I need a kick in the pants to bring me back to reality.

Just (Ready For Warm Weather For A Change) Jack

Tired Of Being Tired

I’m tired of being tired, sick of being sick and crappy about feeling crappy (that last one didn’t make any sense). Anyway, I’ve had this annual sinus thing going for a while and I’m ready to feel better. I’ve always had a sinus problem and winters in Michigan are no help. That coupled with the inside, DRY AIR, that screws up your nasal passages, and I just don’t feel up to speed. I’m not really sick but I don’t feel much like doing anything. It’s perfect ‘cuz since we’re in Michigan in winter and the cottage and Green Street houses are rented, there’s nothing to do anyway. I guess I could go through all the boxes in the basement, see what’s in them, and put labels on the outside but that would be a little OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder…what makes wanting to be neat a disorder anyway?) even for me. I wonder what Eskimos do sitting in an igloo all winter with their whole families. No TV. No electricity. No running water. No bathroom. Maybe I don’t have it so bad.

I promised Jean I would paint the boys’ bedroom in the Green Street house before the renters came. Naturally I left it to the last minute and waited until it got cold and Jean had the heat turned down to 50 degrees. On the plus side, I didn’t sweat a lot. On the minus side, since we’ve been moving and storing lots of stuff, it gets easier to throw things out so I threw out my paint clothes. All I had left was a pair of old shorts, already splotched with paint, and my Hawaii Underpants Run T-shirt that I had been using at the lake as “yard work garb”. The neighbor saw me painting through the window and started laughing. It didn’t take me long to figure out why.

I grew up painting houses. When we would move from one parsonage to another, we would paint. We would paint the one we were leaving so the new minister would have a clean, attractive house to move into, and would paint the one we moved into ‘cuz the minister leaving there wouldn’t always know the colors we wanted so they didn’t leave it freshly painted. Mom and Dad had rental properties through the years and we would help paint them. The churches would sometimes need painting so we were free labor for that project.

In all those years of painting I didn’t remember painting with oil paint. I’m sure we did but it seemed like we always used water based paints. They were much easier to clean up and much easier for kids to use. In the Green Street bedroom, the trim was oil based and the walls were water based, so that’s the way I painted them. One slight mistake…I always carry a paint rag or paper towel to wipe off spots that go onto the glass when painting windows. I did the same this time and also used the paper towel to make sure I didn’t go over where the trim meets the wall. Inadvertently I touched my leg with that paper towel about a dozen times with fresh oil paint. I now have blue green spots all over my left shin. I didn’t notice until I was taking a shower and the paint wouldn’t wash off. After 7 days and 7 showers, it’s still there. Hopefully it will wear off before spring when I go out running and riding bike in shorts.

I’m anxious to brew another batch of beer but will have to wait for the weather to co-operate. I want to do a batch of Imperial Stout and Matt tells me it should age in the secondary for several months. If I brewed it in January, it might be ready for the second annual wine and beer tasting in December. I haven’t brewed at the condo and it isn’t set up the best, but it’s all I have. I may enlist the help of a couple of Trilanders to make it easier to set up, take down and clean in between steps. I still have to figure out how to run water through the wort cooling coils when I have only one hose bib and that’s in the back. Oh well, I’ll get it figured out. Hey!! Engineering that project is something I can do to pass the time.

Just (Coughing So Much I Wake Myself Up) Jack