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My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Wednesday 2021.5.12

Landscaping

The work of removing the Dymondia and replacing it with cement (in opposition to the gophers) continues. Some days I clean the gaps between the sandstone; other days I fill the gaps with mortar. Yesterday I did some of both. It was an excellent day. I used up an entire 60-pound (27kg) bag of mortar mix and I still felt fine afterward.

The weather is cooperating. It has been overcast nearly all day every day, with bright sunshine later in the afternoon.

I can report one area as done. It is a wide strip from the end of my driveway and alongside my shed. That started as a practice area because it isn't very visible. I could hide my mistakes. I got the hang of working with mortar soon enough. So I finished all that area.

I also worked a lot of the area beneath the juniper tree in my yard. When the sun shines, there is shade to one side. In the afternoon the shade is on the opposite side. I prefer to work in the shade; although, lately there hasn't been much sunshine.

Maybe a simple graphic would help. This isn't exactly to scale. And keep in mind I live in a mobile home in a trailer park.

The shaded areas are done.

I have a long way to go. The next area to begin goes from the end of my driveway to the front of my shed. I think I said in an earlier blog I expect this project to keep my busy through the summer and into the fall, perhaps through to the end of the year.

This week I also cut more branches from the juniper tree that drops debris onto the awning over my deck, which fills the gutter and is horrendously difficult and dirty to clean out. The park rented a very large container we could dump stuff into to be hauled away. They never notified me it was there. Maybe my yard is so clean they thought I didn't need to know. But I saw it and got busy sawing off a few more tree limbs.

Normally, I'm limited by the size of my trash bin. Dymondia also goes into the bin; so I can't do a lot of tree trimming. I expect I will also be slowly and gradually trimming that tree during the next several months.

Comedy Stuff

A friend recently got me hooked on a British comedy show called Taskmaster. Each series features five comedians as competitors. The emcee gives them silly tasks to complete, such as eat the most watermelon or stack lemons as high as possible. The shows are funny, but it is also very amusing to see how some complete the task by working around the limitations. "You must remain standing on the red rug." So, standing, they shift the rug to get closer to the target.

Living in Southern California, I don't have access to British TV. However, the shows are on YouTube.

And Ants

I am dealing with ants again. Normally, I see them in the fall when the winter rains begin. It's odd to see them indoors during this time of year. They're not looking for water. There has been fog at night and the ground is moist in the morning.

So far, there hasn't been a major infestation, but I'm seeing them, a few at a time, in my kitchen. I suspect my mortar work has disrupted their habitat. Indeed, I uncovered several ant colonies, eggs and all. Maybe they're looking for a safer place to live. Thankfully, the gophers haven't tried moving into my home.

Sunday 2021.5.9

Happy Mother's Day

If you're a mother, I hope you're having a special day. If you have a mother, I hope you gave her a special day. Those of us who longer have a mother might do well to remember her today — maybe make one of there favorite recipes in honor of her.

Risky Business

Wednesday afternoon I took a chance I probably shouldn't have at my age — I climbed up onto the roof.

Here's the thing: There is a beautiful juniper tree alongside my home. It's beauty, however, stretches too far over my home. I have a deck on that side of the house and I enjoy sitting out there. The tree provides some shade; the awning does also. The two are not truly compatible. The tree drops leaves (needles, I guess) and berries onto the awning. When it rains, all the debris flows down into the gutter. There is no easy way to clean out that gutter. The last time I did, I made a horrible mess. That was last year and gutter is full again already (and we had very little rain this past winter).

I don't want to remove the tree, but I really need to cut it back until there are no branches overhanging the awning. A juniper tree on the opposite corner is just the right shape. It looks like a full shrub on top of a tree trunk. It's the perfect size and shape. My plan, eventually, is to shape my tree little by little until it looks like that other one. Meanwhile, I should probably get a younger friend to work with me.

Moody

I've been moody since Thursday. I blogged about it in the past. I am not a bigot. I am not prejudiced — except in one area. I either can't or won't do anything about it. I have issues with ignorance.

Someone I know (I won't call him a friend) sent me email about the earth's equator ("a razor thin line" he said — actually, it has no width at all) and how water goes down a drain in one direction above the equator and in the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere. Bull! I know that isn't true.

It probably comes from the fact (true) that hurricanes and cyclones rotate in a counter-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise south of the equator. I think it has something to do with Newtonian physics. The rotation of the earth affects the atmosphere. Big storms are affected because of their size. Drains, however, are too small to be affected.

I tried to explain his urban myth to him. No, he insisted. It was demonstrated on a cruise ship that crossed the equator. As the ship crossed from one hemisphere to the other the water going down the drain changed direction. (I hope he didn't pay money for that demonstration.) What is a guy like me supposed to think?

I like laws of physics. I'm particularly fond of the law of gravity (until something falls to the floor and rolls under the refrigerator). That guy (I'll call him "that guy") believes in a lot of what I call hoopie-doopie bullsh*t. Fine. When he can hover above the ground under his own power, without the aid of ropes, pulleys or a lever, in defiance of the law of gravity, I'll exercise faith.

I should probably add that most of his emails, maybe 90%, go into the trash folder without my ever reading them. My mood is my fault. I should never have read his equator email.

Videos Revisited?

A cooking friend gave me an idea. Several years ago I agreed to do 45 cooking shows for a local TV station. I wasn't paid, but there was hope something lucrative might develop. It didn't; so I didn't agree to a second season.

The shows had to be between 28 and 30 minutes in length. I put most of those programs on YouTube, but the length might have discouraged some people from watching them. A few people went so far as to complain about the length even though I explained the necessity of their being so long.

So, the suggestion was that I load those videos, a few at a time, onto this computer again. Record new intro and outro clips. Then edit the videos to a more acceptable length. I like the idea. It might be worth a few experiments.

Wednesday 2021.5.5

A New Record

Sunday I set of new record for my mortar usage. I used an entire 60-pound bag. I did 30 in the morning and 30 in the afternoon — and I felt fine afterward. That's how I'm coming out of my winter pandemic hibernation. Speaking of which…

Returning to Normal, or Not?

The university where I used to work closed most of the offices during the fall and told the staff to work from home. Now that so many people here are vaccinated, the school is trying to open the offices again, but the staff is resisting. They don't want to go back to work.

I saw an amusing political cartoon in which a man in his t-shirt, boxer shorts and socks is leaning against the water cooler in his living room. He says to his cat, "Heard the one about the guy who got so used to working from home he didn't go back?"

The guy across the street was attending religious meetings through Zoom. He liked it because he only needed to wear a shirt and tie. Below the waist he was in him pajama bottoms. He told me on Sunday that he stopped attending those Zoom meetings.

A former friend of mine, who works for the university, moved to Bakersfield during the pandemic winter. While he works from home he sits in front of the TV all day. I was told his department is trying to decide what to do with him. Force him to come back to work or fire him, or just leave him on the payroll as a useless liability? They'll probably increase his work load until he quits.

Going back to the old normal will be difficult for many people. I'm happy I am retired. Returning to my old normal means working out in the yard more and sitting on my porch when the weather is fine.

Basil

The basil continues to thrive under the grow light.

The first cuttings I rooted are now in potting soil. They're doing well. Two more clippings, cut from the plant as it was dying in its original container, are rooting very well. They'll go into soil this week. And five of the 12 seeds I planted have sprouted and are beginning to grow leaves. I have more seeds.

When I transplant the Buddha's hand citrus tree into the new pot I bought for it, I'll use the old pot for basil plants. They should do well in a large planter outside in the sun.

How About the Tomato Plant?

When I think back to the little plant I bought at the Home Depot Garden Center, it amazes me the plant has grown so much in so little time. It was only a month ago when I potted it outside.

It's almost up to the first rung of the tomato cage. And it's leaning in the best direction. Soon, if I work carefully, I hope to train it around the cage. Supposedly, if I break the main stalk, that stops any further growth. The plant wouldn't die, and it would still produce a few tomatoes, but it wouldn't grow any higher.

Little branches grow out of the base of each branch at the main stalk. Those get nipped off. I wonder what would happen if I were to break off the branch and favor that new little growth. Would it become a new stalk? Hopefully I won't need to find out. However, it might be worth experimenting with only one of them. Maybe when the plant is bigger and stronger.

Flowers are budding on the main stalk. I'm watching them closely. When they fully open up I'll take some photographs. And, of course, I'll photograph tomatoes as they develop.

Sunday 2021.5.2

A Taste of Summer

Thursday's weather was glorious and warm. At one point early in the afternoon the temperature topped at about 84°F (29°F). It was too hot to work outside, even in the shade; so I enjoyed a day of rest, sitting on my deck and appreciating the fine weather. Besides, I was out of mortar.

More Mortar

A younger friend helped me get mortar. He was planning a trip to Costco; so we teamed up and also went to Home Depot where I bought eight bags of mortar mix. They're 60 pounds each, almost too heavy for me to handle. He did most of the work of loading them onto a dolly and then into the back of my SUV. Without him I would have bought only two.

He likes lamb, as do I, and he was the one who introduced me to rack of lamb. Luckily, I had some prepped raw Lamb Chops Saltimbocca in the freezer. Unlike the recipe, I prepared these as single chops. There is a method to my madness.

Double chops make it easier to cook the meat without overcooking it. Single chops are easier to cook medium rare if they're frozen. Just toss a few, without thawing, into a skillet and cook over low heat while a side dish is also on the stove. The freeze will keep the inside pink while the outside lightly browns. Cook to about 145°F (63°C) and you have a deliciously tender piece of lamb. I buy a rack of lamb, cut it into chops, enclose each in prosciutto, seal them in plastic and freeze. They're convenient for feeding friends and guests on short notice.

As for the mortar, now that I feel comfortable working with 30 pounds of mortar mix at a time, those bags should last me four weeks. I could work faster, maybe doing 60 pounds in a day, but I need to take time to prep the gaps between the sandstone, pulling out the dymondia and clearing the gap of dirt.

It's also more pressing because the neighbor's squirrel problem is getting worse. I watched one leave her yard and run across mine. I went outside and looked for holes. There were none. It's because they have a bird feeder. The seeds that fall to the ground attract rodents. I can't help but wonder what their mice problem is. Thankfully, I don't have mice. I sealed my home against mice. I keep traps set, just in case, but so far they continue to remain empty.

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

One of my friends likes to cook. He and I often toss recipe ideas back and forth over the phone. Sometimes I wish I had taken notes because I can't remember everything we talked about. He was the one who gave me the idea of using my Breville juicer to make pesto. I featured that in my video for Pesto Chicken Saltimbocca.

He was the one who helped me get more bags of mortar mix and I fed him lamb, with which I also included some of that pesto. We have since been talking a lot about basil sauce. One of my ideas was Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta. There isn't a recipe yet, but I'm thinking of writing one and shooting a video.

It's a simple dish. I made the sauce in less time than it took to heat the water and boil the spaghetti. The cream sauce is flavored with pesto. It's also delicious. I enjoy pastas with cream sauces anyway, but this one was especially good.

Computers

I haven't written about my computers in a while. So far, everything has been working well since I changed a central processing unit cooler. Yesterday being the first of the month, I changed all the dust filters. I'm still keeping that up. How long has it been? Six years?

Five years is about the life expectancy of most computers, although they'll work much longer if properly maintained. With Windows 10 the lifespan of a computer is longer because the operating sytem doesn't change so drastically. As the OS changed from XP, 7, 8/8.1 and 10, often older computers wouldn't run the newer OS. Windows 10 has kept computers up to date fairly well.

Eventually I'll need to build new computers. I'm hoping to get at least four more years out of these, maybe longer. Only two conditions would force me to build new computers sooner — a complete failure or an entirely new OS. The prospect of a new OS doesn't seem probable soon, but a computer can fail without notice.

A Few Things New

I was surprised to see a fifth basil seed sprout beneath the grow lamp. If I could see just one more sprout, I could claim a 50% success rate. I have more seeds; so there are still plenty of opportunities.

The onion plant in the same pot with the tomato plant has pushed up another flower bud. I'm really hoping to get some onion seeds.

And the tomato plan is growing well, almost up to the first run of the cage, and more flowers are budding. It will soon be time to start securing the plant to the cage. I have some soft and stretchy grafting tape that I think would work well.

Something I look forward to enjoying this summer is Tomato Salad. It's simply cut up fresh tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. I always use tomatoes I buy in the store. What would that salad taste like with freshly pick vine ripened tomatoes? What would it taste like if I added a little of my homemade pesto? I hope to answer those questions in a few months.