King Biscuit Festival Day 2

Up and at ‘em!  It’s Day 2 for King Biscuit Blues Fest in Helena, Arkansas!

To save some time, we decided to stop by Mickey D’s for breakfast.  We just need something to tide us over until we can get some lunch.  The place was busy with all kinds of folks.  There were the older gentlemen in their suits who looked as though they had just come from church.  They were very snazzy looking.  I swear one of them had on a zoot suit.  They even had their fedora with them.

There were kids and families in the play area.  I looked in to check out the nice big area they had to run around in.  I noticed a table with a display shining on it for a board game.  How cool was that.  The group of kids around the table were having a great time playing.

After finishing up, we headed down the road to Helena.  This time, we went in the front way and not along the side road on the river.  At the bridge going up, my stomach did a couple of little flips.  I really have a hard time with heights.

Traffic was light as we got into town and turned to head toward the center of the old side of town and the levee.  The young ladies were in place to rent out their parking lot.  We pulled in and paid our $5 to park in the best spot in town.

We immediately loaded up the wagon and remembered to bring out jackets this time.  The daytime temperature was supposed to be sunny and 79 with a light breeze off the river.  Tonight’s temperatures would promise to be even chiller than the previous night.  It was to be around 58 after the sun went down.  It was a little warm for long pants, but too cool tonight for anything but that.

We decided to go to the left side of the stage and set up today.  We found a spot on the tracks that was not too far off center and afforded a great view of the performers.  After getting set up, we went down to the town to see what was going on.  It was just after 11:00 in the morning and the symposium had started in the Malco Theater.  The first hour, Roger Stolle from Cat Head Music was leading a panel with some of the current Bluesmen out of Clarksdale.  Unfortunately, Red Paden would not be attending.  Red is the local philosopher in town.  He is not to be missed, if you ever get a chance to hang out.

Sean “Bad” Apple, Mark “Muleman” Massey, Hezekiah Early and Robert “Lil Poochie” Watson were the members on the panel.  Roger was having the panel describe how they each got into the blues and became musicians in the Delta.  Sean was the only member not born in the area.  Their stories were interesting and varied.  Roger had Lil Poochie describe his meeting Sir Paul McCartney.  Apparently, Paul was a fan and had someone go to Mississippi to get Lil Poochie and bring him to LA for a meeting and to record.  How great is that!

After the panel discussion, we wondered up the street and back down again.  Just as we went by the theater, Hezekiah and Lil Poochie were coming out.  I went over to tell them how much I loved hearing their stories and that was the great thing for me.  They appreciated that we even cared to hear them and thanked us.  No, thank you guys for being willing to share your time with us.  We promised to come by and hear them playing at one of the side stages this afternoon.

Back at the main stage, we settled in to listen to the Peterson Brothers on stage.  These brothers are 17 and 19.  We heard them at the Chicago Blues Fest about 5 years ago.  They were awesome then and have only grown in style.  For someone so young, they are quite the masters of sound and style.  They had a couple of percussionists on stage with them.  The four of them were putting on quite the show and we had a great time watching them.

After their set, we headed down to check out the food selections for lunch.  We decided on our picks and went by Bubba’s to purchase a new Peterson Brothers’ CD and get it signed.  While we waited in line, we got to watch the boys.  They are shy, but seem to like the attention.  Rich stepped up and got signatures from all of the guys.  He explained we had been watching them for a while now and hoped to continue to see them out and about.  One the way out the door, we stopped to talk to their folks.  They are really nice.

Now it was time for that food.  I got loaded frito pie and Rich got crawfish etouffee.  Back at our chairs with a couple of beers, we listened to Kathy Guillen and the Girls.  It never fails to impress me how this festival finds new talent to bring to this stage.  These girls had the licks and delivered the blues.  I was impressed.

Bob Margolin, Bob Stroger, and Kenny Smith were on stage next.  Bob Stroger was one of the best bassist in Blues back in the day.  Bob Margolin had played with Muddy Waters.  Kenny Smith grew up in the blues as his father, Willie Smith, was a bluesman and a pal of Muddy Waters.  They talked about blues and played songs from different eras in blues.  It was a fun show to listen and learn from.

Then a real treat came on stage.  The program said Kevin Naquin.  Who the heck was this?  Never heard this name before.  It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the crew to set up the stage and run the sound checks.  In this time, we got to check out the people milling around the stage.  There was a drummer, bassist, guitarist, and keyboard player.  Then there was some other guy messing with different accordions.  This could be interesting.  Sure enough, it was.  Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys was a Cajun band that can swing and party.  We had a great time.

After the set, Rich went down to buy a CD.  While he was there, he talked to Kevin about Cajun and Lafayette area, where the band was from.  Rich came back with a CD and some stories.  Kevin says to look them up if we are ever in the area again.  We will definitely do that.  I’d love to see them in their own environment and experience one of the Cajun clubs there.

While we were listening to the music, our neighbor came back to his chair.  This guy was from Memphis, TN and down here on his own to listen to the blues.  This was his 19 consecutive year in attendance.  He brought his camper down and stayed at the Helena campground.  They provided a shuttle service back and forth.  I had a feeling he was going to need that by the end of the night.

Our neighbor (never did get his name) recommended that we get tamales from Pasquale’s on the main street.  He said that Pasquale had a restaurant in Helena for a lot of years before retiring from that business.  Now he only did a food wagon at festivals in the area.  Turns out, Pasquale is like 85 years old, or something like that.  I did hear that this was the best place for tamales.

We headed down to hear Hezekiah and Lil Poochie play at the Lockwood Stage.  They were already on and playing when we arrived.  We found seats on the curb and in the shade.  You could tell they had been together for a long time.  They don’t really finish their sentences and yet they know what they are going to play.  Lil Poochie seemed to forget the words now and then, but he could still play guitar.  It was great to hear from some of the old guys with a lot of history.

On our back in to the mains stage, we stopped by and got a pack of 3 tamales.  Rich got some chicken wings as well.  The neighbor was not wrong.  These were some of the best tamales I’ve ever had.  Oh my gosh.  I did take a few minutes to talk to Pasquale since there was no one else in line.  He was a great talker and quite the salesman.  I told him his tamales come highly recommended.  He agreed and said he recommended them, too.

We ate our finds of the evening as we listened to Andy T and Nick Nixon, minus Nick.  Apparently, Nick had not been well and was out of commission for a while.  In his place, Andy T brought in Alabama Mike.  This guys was quite the crooner.  He had a way with song and we enjoyed the set.

Best Tamales so far!  I really enjoyed these.  Wow!  The neighbor said his daughter had gotten him a dozen for Christmas.  They came frozen.  He pops one into the microwave when he feels like having a real treat.  Hmmm.  There’s an idea for a Christmas gift.

Then on to the stage comes Toronzo Cannon.  We’ve heard Toronzo about 5 times now.  He is a Chicago bluesman with a great sound and I love his storytelling in his songs.  He had a new CD come out on Alligator Records, which is Rich’s favorite label.  Toronzo did not disappoint us.  He put on a great show.  The crowd loved him.

After the set, Rich went down to pick up the new CD and talk to Toronzo.  Like I said before, that’s the beauty of these things.  You get to actually talk to the performers and get them to sign the covers.  When Rich got his turn to talk to Toronzo, Mr. Cannon exclaimed that Rich’s hat was a Dobbs.  Apparently, Toronzo loves Dobbs hats.  They talked hats, blues, and a little bit of everything.  Rich even got his picture with Toronzo.

As Rich was waiting in line, the people around him were talking about Toronzo.  So Rich had to fill them on what they didn’t know and what they should know.  He was selling Toronzo to the novices.  That’s how it goes.  You talk to fans and wannabe fans all around you.  Everyone likes to share their stories.

By this time, the sun was down and it was getting chilly.  We had our jackets and I had my blanket.  Unfortunately, we had a group of 40 something women up the hill from us who had been drinking most of the day.  One of them had quite a cackle when she laughed, which was a lot.  They were trying to talk over the music and laughing.  If you want to talk, go to the VIP Tent.  I’m sure they would appreciate you.

We managed to get through Toronzo with them.  It was cigarettes and cigar that got me the most though.  Four people in front of me were smoking away at one point and I had to get up and get out of the cloud.  I don’t mean to be militant about the cigarettes, but my allergies just get worse and worse with age.  I’m surprised I haven’t developed asthma with it.  Lucky so far, I guess.  Rich was getting bothered by the cigar smoker a couple of seats down from him.  Now, he does have asthma and I was worried we were going to have to leave.  Sorry, but just because it is outside doesn’t make it alright to light up and smoke with so many people around you.

Charlie Musselwhite was the last headlining act.  He is quite the harmonica player.  He started out in 1966 and has only been getting better.  He told stories between the songs and played some great blues for us.  It was awesome.  I’ve heard Charlie for a while and he was one of the reasons for coming out this year.  For his encore, he played Rich’s favorite song.  That was a great way to top off the evening.

The cold kept us from lingering too long after the show.  We got back to the car and unloaded the wagon.  Time to head over the bridge and back to our warm hotel room.  First things first though.  A nice hot shower to wash away the smoke and warm up.  That just made me sleepy.  I still had a couple of blogs to write.  After the second entry, it was time to read a bit and then drift off to sleep with all that wonderful blues music playing through my dreams.

Our spot for Day 2
Our spot for Day 2
Rich kicking back for the day
Rich kicking back for the day
Roger Stolle and his panel
Roger Stolle and his panel
Peterson Brothers  starting us out
Peterson Brothers starting us out
Peterson Brothers having fun on stage
Peterson Brothers having fun on stage
Kathy Guillen and the Girls
Kathy Guillen and the Girls
Mark the Muleman Massey on the side stage
Mark the Muleman Massey on the side stage
Crowd enjoying Lil Poochie and Hezekiah
Crowd enjoying Lil Poochie and Hezekiah
Lil Poochie and Hezekiah on stage
Lil Poochie and Hezekiah on stage
BBQ Cook-off competition playing some games
BBQ Cook-off competition playing some games
Love the name on this competitor
Love the name on this competitor
Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys from Lafayette, LA
Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys from Lafayette, LA
Alabama Mike and Andy T
Alabama Mike and Andy T
Toronzo Cannon and his band
Toronzo Cannon and his band
Charlie Musselwhite
Charlie Musselwhite

Cajun Vacation: Day 1 and Day 2 Drive, Drive, Drive

Vacation came early this year.  Rick had his spring break start on March 4.  I decided that March might be a great time to go and check out Louisiana.  As long as I was paying, Rick was up for joining us.  Sure, why not.  Besides, his 22nd birthday would be during that week.  It’ll be like old times again.

Rich had his first distiller’s conference from March 1 through 3 for his new employer, Whiskey Resources.  Not exactly the best planning, but he could use the week to rest and recover.  Vacation planning went into full on mode in December and all reservations were made by January.

Rick arrived home on March 4.  He had finished up midterms the day before.  He managed to sneak in the door without my notice.  Sascha was right on it though.  Poor baby, she hobbled to the door so fast to greet him.  I ran to join her.  My babies were both at home.

As a side note, Sascha started to hobble on Tuesday pretty bad.  I was thinking she had bruised her paw somehow on the ice and snow.  By Wednesday, it wasn’t any better.  Being the worried mom I am, I took her off to the vet that afternoon.  After a big hit to my wallet with x-rays, visit, and meds, the diagnosis was a broken toe.  Yep, she had cracked it lengthwise down the second metacarpal.  No wonder it hurt so badly.  On the x-ray, it was pretty swollen.  The vet insisted on bed rest.  I told him that was next to impossible.  At least, she was going to the kennel for vacation and would be limited to what she could do.

Rich came in on Friday afternoon.  He was still pretty excited from the conference.  He had met so many people, tried so many distilled liquors, and had so much free stuff.  He also had the beginnings of a cold.  Darn!  This is no time to get sick.  He chattered away about his time with the distillers and I listened with lots of patience.  It was great to see him get so excited about this aspect of his new job.

We were all winding down that evening as we packed and got things ready for leaving on Saturday morning.  Rich still had to keg his Husky Paws beer before we could leave.  He got up and got moving without much prodding.  As he was moving the beer from fermenter to keg, Rick and I took Sascha to the kennel.  Everyone had to make over her paw.  As usual, she didn’t plan to stay, but could make a quick enough getaway.  We said good-bye and got in one last set of hugs.

Back at the house, Rich was finishing up.  Rick and I began to pack the car.  Wow, it was almost 11 o’clock by the time we were ready.  Breakfast was next.  I should say brunch, right?  We stopped into Island Café to get something good to hold us over until dinner that evening.  I had a plan.

It was almost noon by the time we got on the road.  Traffic was fair and we made good time out to the highway.  From there, speed was good and we were sailing along.  If you have driven in Chicago, you know it is mandatory 70 miles per hour out there.  I follow that run to keep from being run over.  Pretty soon, we were on 57 and heading south.

The trip was going well so far.  The temperature was hovering around 40, but I could blue skies up ahead of us.  Rich had checked his phone for weather and reported 65 in Cairo.  No way!  Warm weather was close at hand for us.  Just about Mount Vernon, we could see the line of clouds that outline the boundary between cold and warm.  Suddenly, sunshine was all around us.  The car was registering an amazing 55.  Vacation had truly begun.

I had been trying to visit a BBQ place in Southern Illinois for the longest time.  Today was the day we would stop and try it out.  The restaurant is called 17th Street BBQ.  The main restaurant is way off the highway, but they had a satellite open in Marion, which was right off the interstate.  We made it there about 5:00 and just ahead of a crowd.

We got seated and reviewed the menu.  Tracy, our waitress, made a suggestion to get Mike Championship Platter, which came with a little bit of everything they had.  We added several sides to that and were all set.  The food arrived.  Oh my gosh!  This was definitely some of the best BBQ I have tasted.  I do believe that Rich still makes the best, this ranked right up there.  We ate until we could eat no more.

It was back on the road.  We had a couple of more hours until we could stop for the night.  Blytheville, Arkansas was the destination.  This was the halfway point for our trip.  By 6:00 PM, it was getting pretty dark.  I saw deer hanging by the side of the road and worried that I was going to have to dodge one of these things in the dark.

Luck was with us.  We had no suicidal deer, traffic was quiet, and we managed to drive in the warm night to our resting place.  That evening, Rick and I hung out in the hot tub talking while Rich rested comfortably with his box of Kleenex.  Vacation is good.

The next morning, it was breakfast at Perkins and then out on the road.  We made a stop by Walgreen’s for more cold supplies.  Memphis was relatively quiet.  Sunday mornings must be a good time to circle the city.  We’ll be back on Thursday though.

We headed south and skirted the Delta for now.  The road took us down to Jackson, Mississippi.  We did manage to get Rick to pronounce it like the locals:  Missippi.  I was amazed to find that traffic was running pretty fast today.  I was pushing the upper limits of 75 to 77 while a lot of cars and trucks were blowing by us pretty quickly.  What is this the autobahn?

Rick took over and drove for a bit.  He was nervous, but probably with good cause.  He had to manage not to hit the group of black kids crossing the highway at one point.  Then there was the guy who was halfway up an exit ramp and slammed on the brakes so he could do a U turn and cross the grassy shoulder to get back on the highway just to try it again at the next exit.  Rick did manage to avoid all of this and get to the Louisiana Welcome Center in one piece.

From there, I drove to Lafayette.  That’s not without issues though.  We got to I-10 and the world went crazy around us.  Everyone started driving 90 miles an hour.  To keep from being injured, I felt obliged to join them.  I swear that the roadway automatically turned into the Daytona 500 and the vehicles all had decals of some sort on them.  I was actually keeping up in the race for a bit, but was getting left behind pretty quickly.  We raced on until just west of Baton Rouge when all of the participants seemed to melt away.  I didn’t realize that NASCAR was invented in Louisiana!

We got off the interstate and onto the main road leading into Lafayette.   Once again, it became a race track.  The speed limit was 40, but I swear everyone around was going 60 through town.  I was trying to keep up to prevent getting run over.  The turn for our hotel came and it led to a nice, calm street.  After several turns, we found the inviting lights of our hotel.

Inside, we talked to the clerk about the area.  He was quite humorous and had a lot of jokes to tell.  I asked for a recommendation on a restaurant.  Being Sunday, I figured most things would be closed and I was right.  He gave a coupon for Prejean’s, which I had looked at.  He assured us the Cajun food would be great.  We unpacked and headed out

This took us back out to the main road and the race was on again.  I even got passed by a sheriff’s car racing with someone else.  I guess it was just is the normal mode around here.  We made it up the road and off the expressway to Prejean’s.  Luckily, it wasn’t too busy.  The hostess tried to seat us directly in front of the Cajun band that was playing.  I asked to be seated at least one table back.  It was hard enough to hear and talk.

Scotty was our waiter.  He took our order without writing any of it down.  We had gator bites to start.  Rich got duck and andouille sausage gumbo while Rick had chicken and sausage gumbo.  It came with rice on the side and a nice yeast garlic roll.  I had the crab cakes with corn macque chow and rice pudding.  Rich got crawfish etouffee.  Rick ordered the seafood Alfred with crawfish, shrimp, crab, and some other seafood offerings.  I tasted it all just to be sure.  It was all so wonderful.  We had no room for dessert was the only regret.

Back out to the car and get gas in this out of the way location.  Then  it was back to the race track and a fast run down to Kaliste Saloom Rd.  Even the semis were trying to drive the route at 60.  It was impressive.  I wonder if it is better during the week.

Well, that’s the first couple of days of vacation.  Tomorrow, we are touring the Tabasco Factory at Avery Island.  From there, we plan to see a plantation, if I can find one that is open on Mondays.  The Acadian Village is closed so there went that plan.  Still, there is good food to be had out here and we plan to find some more.  Where is that crawfish boil?

Derby Party 2014

This year’s Derby celebration was going to be very scaled back.  There was no fresh Zurekbrau available due to the effects of the polar vortex.  It was just never warm enough out there to brew beer!  With freezing temps, it was hard to be exposed, standing on cold concrete, and trying to use water without risking frostbit.

On Friday night, I made margarita popsicles.  I gathered the ingredients and combined them into a pitcher so I could pour the mix into Dixie cups.  One of the last steps is to cut a lime into slices as garnish and to help hold the stick in place while it freezes.  As soon as I started cutting limes, Sascha’s nose went to work.  She was standing on top of me and nosing my leg.  She really, really wanted a slice of lime.  Or maybe it was nice aroma of tequila that she found attractive.

I finished up the leftovers in the pitcher after I filled as many cups as I could.  I wanted to make sure there were enough.  Why was I going to freeze this wonderful concoction?  I should just serve it like this!  I placed the limes on top with a stick in each cup.  Once adorned, I placed them into the carefully prepared shelf in the freezer to await the presentation during the celebration.

After the bowling banquet, Rich came home to start seasoning ribs, chicken and brisket.  Wow!  The slab of packer’s cut was more than 12 lbs.  It was a beautiful cut of meat.  As Rich was applying the rub, he was shaking it all over the floor.  Don’t worry, Sascha was right there to clean it up.  All I could think was that was going to hurt on the other end tomorrow.

So with ribs, chicken, and brisket seasoned and packaged, we were ready to get started in the morning.

Derby Day dawned pretty well.  There was a little sunshine and very little sign of rain.  Rich had gotten up at 5:00 to start the BBQ pit for the meats.  Sascha, of course, had to get up also.  She trotted around with Dad.  After the brisket had been added to the pit, Rich headed back to bed.  That meant Sascha had to come in also, which she fought.  She loves being outside when it is her kind of weather.

Rich had a bucket of wood chips by the pit.  These are part of his secret.  He has a mix of hickory, cherry, and oak chips to help give the meat a little extra flavor.  Sascha also found them very flavorful.  She was sneaking chips out of the bucket to chew on them.  When Rich tried to take them away, she actual growled at him!

At 7:00, Sascha had to get up and go back outside.  That meant that I had to get up.  Now Sascha didn’t want out because she had business to take care of.  She had to go out because the sun was up and shining.  That’s just how things work in Sascha’s world.

Since I was up, I started coffee and moving around to get things ready.  As always, we wait to do so many things at the last minute.  We cleaned up around the house and started getting out the items to help make a party.

Over the course of the day, Rich would go out and check the temperature of the pit and add more wood or chips.  As soon as he walked out there, Sascha would come running to help do the check.  Personally, I think she was hoping he would move the bucket of wood chips over so she could reach them.  Rich had made a mop, which is the sauce used to keep the meat moist and help give it that burnt skin.  It sounds funny to mop the BBQ, but it literally is a really small mop like you use on the floor to apply the liquid.  The smoker stay up to temp and the meats were getting down right on time.

Around 2:00, I looked out to see Rich sitting in his chair on the patio with a red solo cup of Zurekbrau.  I know I said there wasn’t any fresh beer, but there was a little bit of Husky Paws on tap.  Sascha was hanging on Rich’s lap trying to sneak beer out of his cup.  She can be very cute when she wants something.  I tried to take a picture, but I just wasn’t fast enough.

Tyler, one of Rick’s friends, was the first guest to arrive.  I love Tyler and I don’t see him as much these days.  Kim and Diane arrived not long after that followed by a few other people.  Rich started bringing up ribs for an appetizer, but the other meats were ready also.  Soon, we had a full on dinner set out.  With baked beans, potato salad, slaw, and the sides brought by the guests, we were filling plates.  The brisket melted in your mouth and the ribs fell right off the bone.  Oh my gosh!  It was wonderful.

I wasn’t sure about doing pots to draw for Derby horses, but Kim insisted that it would be more fun.  I had made up three pots, but we only got through two of them.  You really need to have a bunch of people there to make it easier.  There were 19 horses in the field and that takes a lot of dollars to make a pot.  We each had a horse or four in our hands by the start of the race.

We sat down in front of the TV and watched the race.  I explained how things worked and answered questions.  It’s really a lot of show and pageantry to the Derby.  One of the things I miss about being down there.  The three weeks leading up to the race are busy and always something going on.

In the end, Diane and Barb Doty cleaned up on the first and second places.  Rich and Mike got the third place horses.  It was a slow race this year without the excitement of past years, but it was cool to watch.  I guess in the end, it was no surprise that California Chrome won.  I was hoping for Hoppertunity, but he scratched early.

We continued to eat and talk after the race.  Barb, Mike, and Josh left to prepare for a night at the drive-in.  Before you know it, the clock said 7:00 and people started to leave.  We got down to just Spank for a while before he headed off.  He was leaving for a fishing trip the next morning bright and early.

We put in on picking up what absolutely needed to get down.  I started the dishwasher with one load and stacked the next load to be ready and waiting.  Sascha was sacked out from her exhausting day.  We settled into some TV before bed.

Sunday morning came way too early and Sascha wanted to go out when the sun was just coming up.  I got up, but not very willingly.  Coffee got started and I sat down with the morning paper.  The guys straggled out little by little.  Unfortunately, Rick woke up with a sinus thing going on.  Not too surprising with the weather.  Hopefully, it’s not a cold that the rest of us will catch.

We went out to Brunch to get breakfast.  I love this place, but it is a little crazy.  Everyone wants to eat there.  Luckily, we didn’t have to wait in line too long.  We came back and continued to clean up the house.  Rich worked on cleaning up the pit, with Sascha’s help.  She has to lick the grates and parts of the smoker.  Then there is the grease that drips down on the gravel.  I’m surprised she doesn’t eat any of the rocks.

So this year’s Derby party is in the bag and the cleanup is complete.  Have to think about whether to do this again next year.  Maybe we should not have a party and just go to New Orleans for Jazz and Heritage Festival.  Might be fun to do something different for once.

Rick and Sascha hanging out on Friday.
Rick and Sascha hanging out on Friday.
That's a sweet face.
That’s a sweet face.
Margarita popsicles.
Margarita popsicles.
Sascha was paying close attention as Rich was prepping the ribs.
Sascha was paying close attention as Rich was prepping the ribs.
Sascha enjoys her cuddle time with Rich.
Sascha enjoys her cuddle time with Rich.
Rich and Sascha enjoy their morning ritual on Saturday.
Rich and Sascha enjoy their morning ritual on Saturday.
Rich needed to move things around to get the most of the fire.  Rick helps by holding the brisket.
Rich needed to move things around to get the most of the fire. Rick helps by holding the brisket.
Rick holds the brisket while Rich tries to put it back on the pit.
Rick holds the brisket while Rich tries to put it back on the pit.
Diane always has a crazy hat for the Derby Party.
Diane always has a crazy hat for the Derby Party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday Celebrations

Joy and I noticed some others celebrate their birthday for days.  Justine did 28 days of Justine and Sara celebrates for two weeks before and after her birthday.  Since we are older we needed to scale that back a little.  Anyway I would like to thank Joy for making the days around my birthday wonderful.  Here are the details.

Wednesday April 9th, the Birthday eve was celebrated at a place called The Beer Market. Thy have a very extensive beer selection.  There where twenty beers on tap.  I sampled all the IPAs, a couple of Wiessens, and one bottle of Samichlaus. The Samichlaus was their most potent offering.  I remember reading about this beer ten years ago, but never thought I would get to try it.  Well, it is very strong.  The body was full and on the sweet side.  It is a good thing that is was sweet or the alcohol taste would have been overwhelming. Lizet, a coworker, really enjoyed the Lindemans Framboise they had on tap. She and I share a birthday.  I have worked with a few people that share my birthday.  Joy drove me home the Beer Market so I could really do a good sampling.

Joy Commentary:  Rich definitely enjoyed his night out at The Beer Market.  We had good company and food for the evening.  It was several beers and  five and half hours of fun.  Good thing I drove though.

Thursday was a little slower for some reason.  Joy and I went to the DMV so I could renew my license.  She was worried that it would take a long time, but the DMV in Woodstock is ranked number one in customer service. They are very busy, but extremely efficient.  I was out of there in 20 minuets. I then washed my truck.  Then I was allowed to open my gifts. They gave me a metal work bench, diamond plate peg board, a stress toy that says Boss on it, a collection of gourmet salts, and Vietnamese Cinnamon. For dinner, we went to the best BBQ place in McHenry County.  It is called BBQ King. They are located just off the square in Woodstock.  It’s a busy place.

Joy Commentary:  Who know that a DMV could be so exciting.  From the time you walk in the door until you leave, they keep you moving.  Of course, I discovered it was a great place to people watch.  In the 20 minutes there, I got 5 or 6 good stories on my observations.

Friday is my Bowling Day.  Joy joined me at bowling followed by a visit to Sports Page, our favorite sports bar.  They have the best Buffalo Chicken Wings.  She also got me Birthday Donuts for work.  In my old group, people would bring in donuts for their birthday.  I am trying that idea out on my new group.  I am not sure if it will stick.  They just don’t seem to eat that much.

Saturday, we finished the Birthday celebrations at the Schnitzel Platz.  Bob Beilfuss and Hank Mitchell were playing popular German fest music. This went well with the fine German food and Dunkle Wiessen we where drinking. Even Ricko was enjoying the food and music.  He was our designated driver for the evening.  He did a fine job of getting us back home after the festivities.

Another shout out to Joy for making the past week very special.

Joy Commentary:  Think he’ll remember all of this when it’s my birthday?  Happy birthday, darling.  Glad you enjoyed it.  Sorry, but I could resist the urge to edit the content a bit.

Day 3: Hello, San Antonio!

I’m writing this on Day 4 actually.  I never got around it to yesterday.  Needless to say, we arrived in San Antonio with only one incident on record.

We followed our usual on the road routine.  We got up, got ready, had breakfast, and made a quick exit out of town.  The weather was really nice.  The temperatures were mild enough to have the windows down as we drove down the road.  This meant I could take advantage of the sun for some tanning.

I get my tan for the year by working in the yard and the gardens and while driving on vacation.  Probably explains why my legs don’t get that tan.  It’s hard to tan your legs sitting in the car.  I tend to cast a shadow on my extremities as I work in the yard.

We headed into Dallas to catch 35 heading to San Antonio.  Wow, Dallas has grown since I was last here.  The roads were once again confusing.  We had to catch the next exit and come back to hit 35.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t just us.  I bet three or four of the cars behind did the same thing.

We stopped off just south of Dallas to eat.  Rich found a southern restaurant that he wanted to try, but it turned out to be closed.  Our second choice worked out better.  Dickie’s BBQ was just up the road a piece.  The food turned out to be pretty good with a wide choice of sides.  I like that in a restaurant.  I’m not in the fries thing too much.

Back on the highway, we dodged the slow cars and the semis.  We were only 3 hours out of San Antonio at this point.  We reached Austin good time.  This is another city that has grown.  I told Rich we should find out if the Peterson Brothers were playing anywhere.  This is their stomping ground.  Then I remembered they were Louisiana for a festival.  Too bad, it would have been fun to see them at their regular gig.

We got the outer limits of San Antonio and prepared to wind our way into Rose’s house.  I punched the gas to get by one particularly slow vehicle in preparation for our turn.  Just then the air conditioner stopped for a second and then the fan came back on.  However, there was no cold air blowing out.  Rich messed with it a while and finally declared it dead.  Now we had to find a shop to fix it while we were here since the 90 degree weather would bake us.

We navigated the frontage road system to Rose’s house.  Sorry, JP, your house, too.  Rose and JP live in a gated community.  I had gotten the gate code from Rose while she was at our house a week or so back.  Rich dug out my phone and opened the Evernote with the code.  The gate slid back and I felt like I was welcomed.

We arrived!  Rose came out to greet us.  The house is very nice and very chilly.  Just what you need after driving in 90 degree weather with the windows all down.  Stephanie, Rose’s friend from Seattle, was in for vacation.  We got reacquainted.  Stephanie was just in to work on her tan since Seattle see so little sun.  She was doing a nice job on her tan.

George and his wife, Michelle, were here to enjoy the day.  Some other friends had stopped by for a few moments to see the house.  I think the young couple was looking to buy in the area and it was a chance to see what one of the properties looked like.  George and JP know each other from one of the companies they had worked at together.  George and Michelle are expecting twins in October.  She looked so small for twins, but I’m sure the best is yet to come as time gets closer.

The previous owner of the house had installed a smoker in an alcove in the garden.  It was handcrafted and very cool.  Needless to say, JP is doing the time honored practice of experimenting with smoking dinner.  He was trying a version of brisket and pork roast.  This, of course, got Rich going on his experiences with learning to smoke.  I think this is just something guys like to do.  If they can’t kill it, they can at least smoke it.

The brisket was very nice.  The pork was taking a lot longer because the heat of the smoker was fluctuating.  When it came up about 12:00 midnight, it was very tasty.  Yep, midnight.  And I was still up for the festivities, which is very unusual for me.  We had a snack of pork before bedtime.

Stephanie needed some things and I volunteered to take her to the store.  I hadn’t been drinking and it seemed like the safe thing to do.  We borrowed JP’s truck and headed out.  Getting out of the neighborhood was easy.  We went to the local Walgreen’s.  We talked as we gathered up the goodies we came for.  We checked on fireworks, like sparklers, but apparently they never got any for the season.  Too bad.  At the checkout, Stephanie attempted to buy a carton of cigarettes.  She was informed that they didn’t have any cartons.  Turned out, they were robbed of all the cartons under the front counter the previous evening.  Then the clerk points to one of the front doors, which was covered with a board.  At about 3:00 AM, someone broke in and took what they could. Luckily, the store was closed.

On the way back to the house, we had a little trouble with the gate.  Stephanie said there was a button to open it.  I took a chance I could find it and pulled past the panel to enter the code.  I couldn’t find it!  There was truck behind me, who eventually opened the gate just to get me out of the way.  We waved a really big thanks.

As it had started to get dark, the women walked down to the block party taking place in one of the cul-de-sacs.  Everyone was very friendly.  We introduced ourselves and talking for a few minutes before the fireworks from the next neighborhood over started.  We decided to walk back to the house and see what fireworks appeared from the top deck.  This meant walking back up hill.  I thought it was easier going down.

From the top deck, we could see maybe 5 or 6 different sets of fireworks going off.  This included downtown San Antonio and Six Flags.  Interestingly enough, they looked pretty much the same.  I didn’t see too many differences in the patterns and colors.  Fireworks never last too long and after 20 or 30 minutes, most were over.  It was just the illegal fireworks that we saw on occasion after that.

We sat out on the deck talking for a long time.  The breeze was blowing and the temperature was pretty moderate.  Rich, Rose, and Stephanie were drinking.  I just couldn’t feel like I needed to have any alcohol at that time.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel the need for something.  We had our pork snacks and drifted off to bed.  Man, was I tired.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll find a place to fix the Honda.  Then we can enjoy our stay in San Antonio without further worth.

Sally moves into her new home

Things are finally getting somewhat completed in the new garage.  The guys have been working on some finishing touches. There is still work to be done, but it won’t prevent Sally from moving in.

Rich put in filler so that the cracks in the concrete are filled.  This means that dropped bolts, screws, and other bits won’t find there way in and be next to impossible to remove.  Strong magnets don’t always do the trick.  This way, you don’t have to deal with the problem.

Rich decided on the shelving system that he wanted.  He put up the shelves to provide storage for parts and car related items.  Right now, they are scattered between the workshop and the regular garage.  This will allow him to consolidate the mess into one place and keep tabs on what he has.  Now he just needs to get the remainder of the stuff from the South Haven house.

Oh yeah, that should clear up some room for us to rearrange things in the attached garage.  Of course, I can’t collect more stuff.  But now, I might be able to better organize what I have so I can get to things and maybe see what I have.

Rick painted the man door.  I was trying to get a color to match the green of the light that hangs over that door.  It started that dark, but I don’t think it ended up that way.  It is a nice green though.  Now I have to get Rick to paint the other entry doors on the house that color.  I’m hoping it adds some splash to the house with all the tan.

Rich took Rose on a tour of the garage while she was in.  She said it looked a lot bigger in person than it did in the pictures.  It might be easier to tell size once Sally rolls in over there and makes that her final home.  It’ll just be nice not to have the smell and smoke in the house.  Of course, I may never see Rich again once he starts working over there.

I had wanted to buy Rich a nice rolling toolbox for that garage.  Man, are they expensive!  I explained what I wanted.  He said he was good with a used one.  He had some specifics in mind for a toolbox.  We started looking and came on one in a Craigslist ad.  It was just over in Crystal Lake, which is down the road.  The price wasn’t too bad. Rich met up with the guy and decided it fit his need in the garage.  He and Rick brought it back with them.  It has way more drawers than the models I could afford.  It had some issues on its condition, but not too bad.  Rich put in and fixed them right away.  I think he is anxious to start building his tool set for out there.  Now, he can take the toolbox to the car and put things back as he works with them.

I discovered that I’m not able to move my landscaping tools over there.  Rich says the lawn mowers aren’t kept clean enough.  Clean?  What’s that?  I guess I’m stuck with them over in the other garage.  Sure was looking forward to a little bit room over there.  Maybe as winter storage.

Sascha has stopped thinking of it as her doghouse.  I think that’s because the doors are closed now.  She can’t just walk in and out as she pleases.  That and the echo bothers her.  Once it starts filling up, I’m sure the echo will start to die down.  Sounds cool when you are out there hooting and hollering though.

Rich finally has a garage that’s all his and Sally has a home.

Lots of storage for those car parts and car related items.  Oh yeah, and BBQ related items, too.
Lots of storage for those car parts and car related items. Oh yeah, and BBQ related items, too.
Empty now, but it will fill up fast.
Empty now, but it will fill up fast.
Rolled out the mat to protect the floor.  Sally is an old girl after all.
Rolled out the mat to protect the floor. Sally is an old girl after all.
Bottom part of the chest was getting some touch ups.
Bottom part of the chest was getting some touch ups.
Middle piece of the toolchest waiting for assembly.
Middle piece of the toolchest waiting for assembly.
Almost like new.  This is the toolchest Rich got from Craigslist.
Almost like new. This is the toolchest Rich got from Craigslist.
Rick finished painting the side entry door.  Now I need the other three on the house painted the same color.
Rick finished painting the side entry door. Now I need the other three on the house painted the same color.
No more room at the inn.  Rich is filling in the garage.  I guess no roonm for my stuff.
No more room at the inn. Rich is filling in the garage. I guess no roonm for my stuff.
Sally has officially moved in.  Now I can move back into the main garage. Yes!
Sally has officially moved in. Now I can move back into the main garage. Yes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KC: Not enough TuF

It was a slow and rainy Sunday.  We got up late and headed out to breakfast.  Rich was planning on eating chicken at Stroud’s so breakfast was supposed to be light.  We tried to find Daylight Donuts, but apparently they had closed up shop for good.  We settled for breakfast sandwiches at Hardee’s.

From there, we headed to downtown Independence to find some of the local museums.  This is Harry Truman country and the signs all around town show it.  At first, I thought they were Charlie Chaplin.  I didn’t know that Harry carried a cane.  We decided on the National Trails Museum.  All of the major trails leading out west had their beginning points in this area.  Where they started depended upon where the riverboats set the travelers off.

I knew the Santa Fe trail started here.  I was surprised to find out that all of the other did as well.  So in the 1800s and you were traveling west, you got your supplies in the Kansas City area and began your journey.  This includes the California trails, Oregon trail, and Mormon trail.  Even Lewis and Clark came this way on their way out west to explore.

But first, the museum didn’t open until 12:30.  It was 10:45 at the moment.  We decided to look up where Stroud’s Restaurant was located.  They actually opened at 11:00 for Sunday dinner.  Even though we had just had breakfast an hour ago, we decided to go there and see if we could get in and have an early lunch.

We headed out following the directions on the GPS.  We arrived at this place that sat on a small side road to the highway.  Pretty tight getting in with the truck.  People were already standing all over the yard.  How good was this place?  Rich dropped me off and went to park. I figured I could get our names on the list for a table.

I walked in behind someone with a crowd of 10.  I was pretty sure it was going to be a while to get a table.  The lady informed me that she just had a table for 2 open up and to let her know when Rich came in.  It took him a few minutes, but we were seated right away.

We got seated and drinks were served.  We chose our chicken meals from the menu.  Now to wait.  Steve Stuart at work had told Rich about this place.  He said it was not to be missed.  The chicken was awesome.  Pretty quickly, the chicken came out.  Everything is served family style so there were bowls and platters all over the place.  Now being the Southern I like to claim, I got chicken livers.  Rich went for dark meat chicken.  We ate until it came out our ears.  Then the waitress brought out the most awesome cinnamon rolls.  There were actually like cinnamon cakes rolled in brown sugar.  I couldn’t stop.

With dinner over, we wondered the grounds a little bit looking at the gardens, the lake, and some the cute buildings.  Now it was really time to get back to our day as tourists.

The National Trails Museum was open.  It was small, but contains a lot of information.  We watched a video on the trails and their orgins.  The first exhibit covered Lewis and Clark in the area.  Then it went on to the major trails.  There were diary comments, items from each trail, and stories.  I learned a few more things I didn’t know.  We walked around looking at exhibits, reading diary entries, and just learning more about the push west.

After the museum, we talked about our next move.  There was the Harry Truman home and library in town.  Rich decided he just wasn’t a Presidential type of guy.  I remembered that one of the neighboring towns had a Civil War battlefield.  We decided to check this out.  So we drove out to Lexington.  The town was tiny.  I just didn’t see what there was to fight over.  But it was the gateway to Kansas City and the way west.

We stopped at the Anderson House site first.  No much to see.  Then we drove up to the top of the hill to the battlefield itself.  This is called the Battlefield of the Hemp Bale.  The Confederate guard of the town had the task of keeping the Union forces out of Lexington and to keep them from moving further west.  Unfortunately, it was a small garrison.  They stacked hemp bales at the bottom of the hill overlooking the river.  Once they ran out of ammunition, they resorted to setting the hemp bales on fire.

Even this didn’t help them.  They ended up surrending to the Union.  Five soldiers were buried at the top of the hill.  There is a marker there commerorating the event and their loss.  We walked around the path that takes you through the field and around the top of the hill.  You can still see the outline of the fortications at the top of the hill.  The view to the Missouri River is pretty much obscured by trees.  At that time, they could see the river from this location.

By this time, it was warm and steamy.  The rains as held off and the temperature was getting up into the mid 80s.  We headed back into town.  As I drove the country road, a police officer fell in behind me from one of the roads.  I was nervous, even though I hadn’t done anything to make him think I needed to be pulled over.  It’s just that you never drive quite normal on an unfamiliar road.

As I went through a set of curves, we went by a car down in the ditch.  The driver’s door was open and the airbags were blown.  Yep, I bet someone didn’t make it through that curve last night.  The officer stopped to investigate.  That left me free to get back to town.

So being in the Kansas City area, Rich just had to try the BBQ.  There was a local place just down from the hotel.  I had seen pretty good reviews, but Rich saw one bad one.  He just wasn’t sure about trying it.  It was getting late, so he decided it was the place.  We walked in and it smelled wonderful.  He ordered pulled pork and a rib sampler.  It was good.  I like KC BBQ and they did a nice job.

Now it was time to go back and get ready for the evening.  We were headed to The Trouser Mouse Bar and Grill for the Trampled Under Foot listening party.  Doors opened at 6:00 and the listening was scheduled for 7:00 with the band taking the stage at 8:30.  We got their about quarter after 6:00.  A few cars were already there.  There was a car from Ohio and even another car from Illinois.  So we weren’t going to take the prize for furthest drive.

At the door, we gave them Rich’s name and luckily, we were on the list.  I told the guy at the door where we had come from.  He smiled and said there were people from all over coming in for the party today.  It looked like maybe 100 people on the list.

We found a table and ordered up drinks.  I saw Nick, Kris and Danielle circulating through the crowd.  We had eaten so much over the course of the day, there was no way I had room to eat here.  Pretty soon, a guy named Ryan introduced himself, the bar, and started the CD.  We all sat and listened.  It was very cool to be among the first to hear it.  And the music was awesome.  Rich felt vindicated.  He had written to tell them to put, “It’s a Man’s World” on their next CD and they did.  Danielle was in wonderful voice for that track.

After listening to the CD, Trampled Under Foot (TuF to their fans) took the stage.  Danielle explained that they would’t be playing from the CD, but wanted to cover other things they had done.  They played songs their long-time fans in the area knew.  At one point, Danielle came back to the stage with a lighter and announced that it was the owner’s birthday and they even had a cake for her.  We sang “Happy Birthday” to Angel.

At the end of the set, the crowd was calling for one last song. And the band came back to do a Led Zeppelin song.  TuF started out as a Led Zeppelin cover band as they were getting started on their way to blues.  It paid the bills.  However, they do such a great job with the covers, I can see why they were so popular.

Then the night was over.  We made our way back to the hotel to crash for the night.  It was definitely worth the drive to see my favorite blues band in their hometown atmosphere.  The venue was small as was the crowd.  What a great way to see a great band.  Long live TuF.  Get out there and buy a CD after July 9.  You’ll love it.

Pictures to follow.  Tired tonight.

People waiting patiently for dinner at Stroud's.
People waiting patiently for dinner at Stroud’s.
Sign out in front of the National Trails Museum.
Sign out in front of the National Trails Museum.
Rich at the Chicago to Alton Train Station from the 1890s.
Rich at the Chicago to Alton Train Station from the 1890s.
Beautiful flowers blooming at the museum.
Beautiful flowers blooming at the museum.
We saw a deer when we first pulled up to the battlefield.
We saw a deer when we first pulled up to the battlefield.
Gravesite of Unknown Union soliders at the battlefield.
Gravesite of Unknown Union soliders at the battlefield.
Top of the battlefield overlooking the Missouri River.
Top of the battlefield overlooking the Missouri River.
Me out in front of the Trouser Mouse.
Me out in front of the Trouser Mouse.

Flood waters are receding

This has been an interesting week.  After almost 6 inches of rain over the short course of three or so days, we were flooded here.  This turned out to be the highest rate that the Fox River has ever seen on record.  The river finally crested at 7.48 feet.  That meant that the channels around us were flooded as well.

On Saturday, the 20th, we went to Michigan to help Jon celebrate his upcoming 50th birthday.  With a cookout at the 40, we celebrated with BBQ and the fixins.  The best part was all of the family who gathered.  It is always good to see Busia.  Irene and her family came up from Fort Wayne and Ohio.  Donna and Norm came in from Chicago.  They all have such a good time.  They are fun to be around.

On Sunday, we returned to find the water a little deep over the roads.  There are barricades to warn people to stay out of the area.  River Road through the state park is closed, cutting us off from McHenry. It seems a little strange driving around it every day to get into the neighborhood.  The best signs are in the neighborhood though.  Basically, it said if you weren’t a resident, you would be arrested.

We were high and dry though.  The basement sprung a leak for a day or so which meant that we were vacuuming up water.  Rich got up early on Thursday to find the basement filling with water.  There was a considerable puddle in front of the bar.  He quickly moved furniture and got the area cleared.  With a little Yankee ingenuity, he built a jig to dam up water and suck it out through a hose to the sump pump.  Luckily, it went from sucking water out every 15 minutes down to an hour at a time.

We’ve talked about fixing the cracks in the basement a couple times, but the leaks were never that bad.  I got motivated and found a company.  I called them and set up an appointment for them to come out and give us an estimate.  They didn’t sound too busy on the phone.  On Friday, Glen came out and took a look.  Rich heard what he wanted to hear.  We set up an appointment to get the work done.  It was time.

The weather improved, so Rick started painting the garage.  We borrowed scaffolding from Dave.  This would make reaching the 10 foot ceilings easier.  The primer went up and he started the white paint on the ceiling and halfway down the wall.  The other half of the walls will be blue gray.  It should look like a real nice workspace and home for Sally when it is done.  We have our fingers crossed that he can complete it by next Saturday.

So plans continue for the annual Derby party here.  The flood waters should be gone.  Rich is still planning to BBQ up brisket, ribs, and chicken.  I have stocked up on food and people are planning to bring things to help out.  Oh yeah, the Zurekbrau is brewed and kegged.  All we need are a few good people to drink it.  We’ll see who shows up.

On Thursday evening, our department was treated to drinks and foods at a local establishment.  We went over to enjoy some time with our co-workers.  While we were talking to people, we came across a couple of new people.  Turns out, a couple of engineers from Krakow are in Schaumburg working in the bay and acting as liaison for products from Krakow.  I found out I actually know them.  We have worked together by phone for a few years.  I guess I’m well known in Krakow as well.  The question everyone there asks is if I speak Polish!  They see the Polish name and hope that I do.  Unfortunately, I only married Polish.  We’ve invited Marcin and Aneta to the Derby party.  Thought it might be fun for them and good me to reinforce my connections to Krakow.

Rich is organizing a reunion of people who served with the same group he was with in Germany.  Someone had started a Facebook page for the related groups.  They have been exchanging photos and memories.  Someone suggested that they meet up for dinner somewhere.  San Antonio came up in the conversation.  That’s as far as it got.  Rich decided to take on the task of really organizing dinner.  Since Rose lives in San Antonio, he went with the suggestion to do it there.  A web site went up on Zurekbrau with an email list.  One of the guy who is in San Antonio is checking out German restaurants in the area.  It looks like we are on for July 6.  Hang on, Rose, we are coming down for the 4th!

Vacations are planned and we are adding these as we go.  I might have brought this up before, but I am excited for it all to start.  I’m working on adding more.

We start out in June for Chicago Bluesfest.  We are staying downtown.  It’ll be the Bluesfest during the day and trying to hit some of the places we’ve wanted to go in the evening.  We are identifying all the brewpubs, bars, and joints that we’ve wondered about.  Should be a busy few days.

The following week, we head out to Kansas City.  My favorite blues band, Trampled Under Foot, is holding a release party for their next album.  Rich put in enough to their Kickstarter account to get invited to the party.  They sent out the date and place.  Now we just have to show up and listen to the music.  I love the name of the bar where we are headed.  It’s called The Trouser Mouse.  More to come on this one.

July will find us in San Antonio for the 4th of July.  We will be attending the first reunion for Rich’s group from the Air Force.  Should be fun as well.  It’ll be nice to Rose and hang out with her for a while.

In August, B. B. King and Peter Frampton are coming Aurora for a concert.  I’ve wanted to see B.B. for a while.  Peter is an extra.  I purchased my tickets and ready to go.  I’m hoping for good weather as this is an outdoor concert.  More to come on this, too.

In September, we head down to the Great Smoky Mountains for a little hiking and some mountain views.  It’s been a while since I’ve been down there.  Rich hasn’t been.  Once again, we are hoping for good weather since we plan to be outside a lot.  Big question is: bears or no bears.  There’s a good bet of seeing at least one.

Well, it’s time to start another week.  I have deliveries this week.  But I don’t think that will mean my workload will get easier.  Might be time to think about expanding the team again.  We’ve definitely got more than enough work to go around, and then some.

 

Cars made their way slowly through the water on Tower Rd.
Cars made their way slowly through the water on Tower Rd.
Looking down Holiday Rd back to the river.
Looking down Holiday Rd back to the river.
This was Tower Rd coming in to our part of the neighborhood.
This was Tower Rd coming in to our part of the neighborhood.
The sign says it all.
The sign says it all.
This is the playground at Hickory and Tower.
This is the playground at Hickory and Tower.
Water coming over the road at Moraine State Park.
Water coming over the road at Moraine State Park.
There is a road under there called Lakeview.
There is a road under there called Lakeview.
Looking down Holiday back up to Sunset.
Looking down Holiday back up to Sunset.
Standing at Tower and Hickory looking toward the lake.
Standing at Tower and Hickory looking toward the lake.
We had hail really bad during one of the storms.
We had hail really bad during one of the storms.
There is a Goose Island in McHenry now.
There is a Goose Island in McHenry now.
This garter snake was trying to stay safe and dry.
This garter snake was trying to stay safe and dry.
One of the houses on river has their deck elevated over the edge of the river.  That's about all you see.
One of the houses on river has their deck elevated over the edge of the river. That’s about all you see.
Standing at Tower and Hickory looking toward the lake.
Standing at Tower and Hickory looking toward the lake.
At Catalpa, you can see this house that sits on the river and around the bend from Squirrel Alley.
At Catalpa, you can see this house that sits on the river and around the bend from Squirrel Alley.
This is the view across the channel.
This is the view across the channel.

Work on the interior of the garage begins

Now that the garage is up, it’s time to work on finishing it off.  Rick is my undocumented slave.  That and the fact that he really needs to work on his skills for when he owns a home.  Rich has a lot of techniques and experience to share.  I figure they might as well as work on this together and do a little knowledge transfer.

The first task is to insulate the garage.  Rich wants to do the ceiling and seal off the ends as much as possible.  That’s Rick’s first task.  While he was off on break, they got started.  However, it is going a lot slower than I thought it might.  Last week, Rick went back to class and is working the insulation job around classes and homework.  Right now, Rick has almost completed the ceiling.  I’m hoping that is done by the end of this week.  Then they can start on the wall.

Once the insulation is completed, Rich is thinking ahead to the dry wall.  It might be easier to get that hired out and done.  Someone working full time can probably complete it in a week or so.  Rich decided to do the electrical work on the outside of the dry wall so that he could make changes as he needs.  We think the code is to do conduit (metal pipe) so it won’t matter what side of the wall its on.

The stove in the kitchen has been acting flaky for a while.  Rich made chicken a couple of weeks ago and it wouldn’t hold the temperature.  It took forever for that darn bird to cook.  If I calculate it correctly, the stove might be 10 years old.  I’m not exactly sure when Dave bought it, but I do know it was part of the remodel.  That took place a couple of years before we bought the house, at least.

Rich and I bought reviewed stoves online trying to pinpoint what we wanted in the way of features.  Funny, we looked at the same features.  We wanted a convection oven, 5 burners with the center being the elongated burner, and stainless steel. I had seen the Frigidaire online and the reviews were really good.

On Saturday, we went out on some errands and stopped by the appliance store to take a long and actually do some hands-on review.  Grand carries several of the top brands and then it is easier to compare.  There was the Frigidaire along with several others stoves.  It had the features I wanted and several more that were a surprise.  After walking around and comparing, it came down the Frigidaire.

Luckily, Rich was feeling generous and agreed to purchase the stove.  Delivery is coming on Tuesday.  That’s great, because I’m home!  They will deliver, hook it up, and haul away the old one.  Can’t argue with that.

I subscribe to Mishka the Talking Husky on YouTube.  This is the cutest Husky and she repeats a lot of words and phrase.  I have to watch another talk because mine is broken.  Sascha barely communicates verbally.  She has subtle actions, but no outright direction.  She only barks when she is frustrated or extremely excited about something.  She barks when she is getting ready to go scooter.

Anyway, Mishka’s owner was showing a new trick that they are attempting to teach their dog.  They took a piece of cheese and get Mishka to twist in the air.  They call it Twist.  Rich thought it looked cool.  He started trying to teach Sascha.  Turns out, she doesn’t really care for the bacon treats.  Most of the time, she flops onto her side rather than twist for the treat.  So Rich bought cheese ends from the deli.  Now Sascha will twist for a cheese treat and almost consistently.  Who knew that Sascha liked cheese that much!  As Rich works with Sascha, we’ll attempt to get video of the progress.

This past week was long.  My PM was in from Colorado.  When Beth makes it into the office, I go in every day.  That tends to take its toll on me.  Sad to say that, but it’s true.  We have meetings and try to do some strategic planning.  Of course, there is lunch every day.  That’s a hard one.  Luckily, I was able to work at home on Friday.  I finally got some work done, but I was so tired from the rest of the week.

I did knock off on time so I could go to bowling with Rich.  Once a month, I go with him and watch while the Motorola league bowls.  I know a lot of the guys, either from work or just from the bowling event.  I like going now.  I have people to catch up with every month.  I think the guys like talking to me.  They do come around my table.  Then we go out to eat afterwards.

This week, Rich wanted to check out a place called Blues Bar.  It’s just a few miles beyond the bowling alley.  Some of the guys from work go out there for lunch.  It’s a BBQ and Beer type of restaurant and club.  They have a lot of microbrews on draft, which is a plus.  The theme is Blues Brothers so there is a lot of memorabilia around.  There are really large screen TVs everywhere for the local team games.

We got in and got seated.  The beer menu was really good. Rich started off with Flying Dog Doggy Style APA.  The waitress served it in a 10 oz glass and it should have been a 16 oz glass.  She brought Rich a free 16 oz version after he completed the first one.  Then he went for the Very Mad Cow Milk Stout from Revolution.  It was so good.  I know because I get to at least taste them, even if I can’t drink a full one.  Someone has to be the DD.

We ordered the rib appetizer plate, brisket, and pulled pork.  The food was really good.  The mac and cheese had onions, bacon, and lots of cheese.  I was impressed with both the drink and the food.  I highly recommend this place to anyone in the Mount Prospect area.  Fun and delicious.

 

Completed the ceiling over the top of Sally's side of the garage.
Completed the ceiling over the top of Sally’s side of the
garage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick climbing the ladder to work on the ceiling.
Rick climbing the ladder to work on the ceiling.
Little bit up close of the ceiling.
Little bit up close of the ceiling.
Work area for cutting and leftovers.
Work area for cutting and leftovers.

 

Aww! End of summer already?

 I always hate to see Labor Day come.  It’s the end of summer and it starts the beginning of fall and cooler weather.  If you didn’t know it, I love, love, love the hot weather.  Growing up in Southern Indiana, it was usually warm and humid.  So I’m used to that type of weather.  I mean until it gets in the low 90s, then it is gets to be too much.  I love the sun and getting in my garden to work.  Now the 100s are an entirely different matter.  A dry heat maybe, but not with a little humidity. That’s been our summer this year.  You just sit inside staring out at the bright sunshine and wishing it didn’t feel like you were swimming to walk across the yard.  Worse yet is getting into a hot car with leather seats and be wearing shorts!  I keep a towel in the car for these occasions. 

 We have a couple of traditions that we have for Labor Day.  For one, we attend the Renaissance Faire one last time.  This is usually on the Sunday of the holiday weekend.  Fewer people attend the faire that day.  This year, Jim and Barb Doty met up with us and we wandered the forested town of Bristol together.  It was their first time so we tried to show them the things you should do.  Of course, you can’t do them all in one weekend, so you have to make multiple trips over the summer.  Hopefully, they will be back next year.

Another tradition is to BBQ.  Rich is legendary for his BBQ.  Just ask a lot of our friends.  So this means that you have to have picnic style meals.  Rich did a slab of ribs and a whole chicken.  They were wonderful.  I put together baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, and deviled eggs.  Don’t worry, there are leftovers.   

Rich bought a true smoker a couple of years back.  A guy who was a dealer for Yoder smokers was changing to another dealer and was looking to sell off his own Yoder.  It was a great price and just in the next town over.  It beat having to drive to Texas to pick one up.  It is heavy cast iron.  Not being satisfied with the performance, Rich engineered up a solution with a couple of fans to keep the heat up at the temp he wanted.  Now we have perfect BBQ every time!  Not mention that Rich’s rub is killer.  That doesn’t hurt.

The weekend was a hot one.  I ended up taking Sascha out for very early morning walks when it was definitely cooler.  Even at that, she would get very hot.  I had to give in on Monday and fill up her pool.  Now huskies are suppose to love the water, but Sascha is totally infatuated with the liquid stuff.  I put a few inches into her husky pool and she stretches out on her stomach to dig and splash.  She’s fun to watch.  However, it takes hours for her to dry out.  Just don’t stand to close when she splashes.  She doesn’t care who gets wet in the process.

So it is official.  We have a groundhog living under the deck.  Sascha has been very insistent that something is under the deck for the last few weeks.  I actually scared something off the deck a few days ago, but I didn’t catch sight of what the creature was.  Today, Rich was working in the basement.  He went to the back and noticed something furry lying up against the window under the deck.  Tapping on the window, a groundhog turned around to check out the noise.  He didn’t run away though.  Must know he’s in no danger.  So now we have confirmation what the creature is that Sascha wants to get to so badly.

We knew we had groundhogs in the area.  We’ve seen hanging out in the yard and around the compost pile.  While we were on vacation this year, the neighbor across the street reported a sighting of 9 total groundhogs in the covert.  Looks like one got kicked out and has to make his own way in the world.  He moved under our deck.  This could be interesting with Sascha.  Now she won’t know whether to go after a squirrel or the big furry guy under the deck.  Decisions!

Today wasn’t Labor Day, but some people were working hard.  That was Pete, our contractor guy.  We had called him last week to come out and discuss the possibility of putting a detached garage in the backyard.  Sally (the coupe) puts out a lot of fumes when they are working out there in the garage.  I’d really love to get the smells away from the house.  Not to mention that we have too many cars now.  Seems like good time to talk to Pete.

Sure enough, Pete is quite willing to put in a 1 1/2 car garage out there for us.  He even came with some cool ideas for what we could do.  Today, we met with the architect to go over the details and show him the space.  Luckily, he’s done plans for garages in our area before and dealt with the building inspector.  So now we wait for Dave to come up with a drawing and get back to us.  Then Pete can tell us how much this is going to hurt.  But in the end, it’ll be great for us and hopefully for resale on the house. 

Wouldn’t you know it, Rich wants to do the garage up right.  He’s planning for a heated floor, insulation, and a comfortable work environment.  It should make working on Sally much easier. 

Not only did Pete have ideas for the new garage, but he gave us some ideas for some our problems around the house also.  Now we have ways to resolve some issues that we’ve struggled with.  And we got them for free.  At least they are free until they put the garage in.

Well, that was our weekend and plus one day (today).  Time to relax with a slice of cheesecake and then call it quits for this day. 

Down time in the basement
The other night, I had some down time sitting in the basement with my favorite people, Rich and Sascha. I was enjoying some Zurekbrau Weizen straight from the tap. It’s good to have a bar at home.

 

 

Rich and Joy in costume at the Ren Faire.
The Merchant of Holiday Hills and his lovely wife. We love Ren Faire. Darn, should have gotten a pic of Rick in the kilt.

 

 

Shaespeare vs Marlowe
Loved this one. The Suitcase Shakespeare Company did Shakespeare vs Marlowe this year. For those who study the time period, this was great! A contest to see who was the best playwright of the time. Too bad Marlowe died so young.

 

Rich's smoker for Labor Day BBQ
The might smoker stands in the driveway. We had delicious ribs and chicken that day.

 

Sascha and her Husky Pool
For those really warm days, there’s nothing like a dip in the pool. This is the Husky pool. Sascha loves her pool, tool. Stand back and don’t get wet.