Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving 2023

A welcome 4 day weekend and a happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  A quiet weekend around here, just rest and some chores.  The Packers were on early so sorry to get this posted a little later, but at least the Packers won.

There have been changes around here and I'm still not too sure exactly how I feel about it so I'm going to continue taking a break from blogging through the end of the year, I think.  Nothing for anyone to worry about, though.  I'll write more in due time.

Thank you.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Saturday Night Fire

 Was a good night for it, but got colder soon after dark.  Here you can also see some of the work on neighbor Dave's house, where the inside is gutted and now a new re-pitched roof.  Lots of happenings around here, not sure how much I want to talk about it yet, though.  Real life needs doing, not writing.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Halloween 2023 and First Snow

Happy post-Halloween, everyone.  It was mostly a quiet night around here, so thankfully I got only about a third of the candy we had last year.  We got just 9 trick-or-treaters this year, but were only one of 3 houses on the block that I noticed had their lights on.  The last two kids were growing mustaches and it was pretty cold so I shut it down about 7:00.  It barely got above freezing yesterday with occasional light snow flurries off and on all day for our first snow of the year, though it didn't stick.  

I carved a pumpkin again to display on the front steps last night, and today it is on the stump in back waiting to be ravaged by the squirrels and rabbits.  I have the trail camera aimed in that direction but I got a pretty good video of it getting eaten bit by bit last year.  The mummy in the windows was showing wear on the fold seams, and I was getting tired of it so this was the last year for that.  I also pulled out the mask with the moving mouth LED lights to wear again but that wasn't working right so is also in the trash now.

We had a good run, but I'm not sure I'll do so much next year.  It doesn't seem worth it for just a handful of kids so maybe just candy next year, and maybe the flickering flame light bulb again, too, since I have it just for this holiday.  Hope you had fun if you chose to celebrate.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

More Sidewalk Wisdom

 From today's walk, same place as last post.  It rained hard early today so this must be new.

And an interesting epitaph for this poor bloke, from a few blocks away.  Halloween's a-coming!

Friday, October 20, 2023

Good Timing

Saw this written on the sidewalk during a walk yesterday.  I needed the smile.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Cuts Like A...

I managed to bake two types of bread on Sunday morning, classic baguettes (left) and simple French bread (right).  Thankfully I was able to keep everything straight as, of course, the timing of the steps for each are different.  I think both turned out well but for the French bread getting maybe a bit overdone.  And while the demi baguette size is handy it is more of a pain to make.  I've tried making them from smaller cuts of dough and regular size cut in half, as here.  I think I may just stick to making the full size 15-inch baguettes going forward.

The last thing I really need to figure out is the cuts.

I started with various sharp knives that we have, settling on the serrated bread knife.  It does give some good cuts most of the time, though I don't really get an 'ear' on the cuts during baking.  It's also a pretty big knife for a small job and I wanted something better.

Eventually I bought a UFO lame - which is one of the most dangerous things I think I've ever had in my kitchen.  Two round pieces of wood that screw together with a razor blade between them.  One slip when tightening and your finger would go right into the blade, or if a corner of the blade is left peeking out, or if it loosens and the blade moves outside the wood - all of these can spell bloody disaster.  I tried it anyway but it seemed to grab the dough much more than the knife, resulting in ugly and ineffective cuts.

Recently I picked up a baker's lame, which has a curved razor blade that is supposed to help in creating that 'ear' on the cuts, those raised ridges on either side.  Similar to the UFO lame, I found it grabbed the dough more than the serrated knife and also resulted in ugly, ineffective cuts.

My wife says I'm too hard on myself, the cuts don't affect how the bread tastes, after all.  But I know it can be done so I will keep trying.  I do know that it should be sharp, quick cuts, so maybe I hesitate because I'm expecting it to grab.  I think next time when it's still early in the process I will practice my slices on raw dough.

In other news, we went from high temperatures in the 80's to highs in the 50's within a week, with a frost warning last night and tonight.  Autumn is definitely upon us.  Yard work beckons but this weekend will be cold and wet, and there still should be plenty of time yet.  I did mow again today, so now I think I've mowed the whole yard 5 times and only the back yard twice this year.  I'm losing track, not that it matters.  I just find it notable for how few times it's had to be done this year.

I'm planning on going down to my Mom's on Saturday in time for the Badger game that afternoon, then coming back Sunday to relax and fix the refrigerator.  I'll talk more about the refrigerator later as I'm planning on posting about it.

My work situation has not improved, but I just deleted the rant I wrote to spare you.  Suffice it to say I am not a happy camper, but you knew that.  So on that note, I guess that's enough writing for now.  I hope everyone is doing well!

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Sunflower Seeds And #1 Neighborly

It was apparent by the mess outside the back door this morning that the sunflower had indeed gone to seed and those seeds had been discovered.  Squirrels had been getting at it this morning, while the cats watched diligently and silently from inside the porch and bedroom window, just feet away.  If I was going to harvest any seeds to plant next year the time seemed to be now.

Thankfully only a small part of the seeds had been pilfered so far, so I was able to get a good amount rubbed off into a small box.  They do seem a bit moist yet so I'll have to let them dry out before storing them until spring.  My mind starts to wander thinking about different places to plant them in spring, but no sense thinking about that as it is still about 7 months away yet before they'll be planted.

And while I'm thinking of it, I mowed the whole lawn today.  Only notable for the few times I've had to mow this year.  I believe it's only been: May, once; June, 1/2; July, 0; August, 1 1/2; September, once - today.  So I've mowed the whole lawn only 4 times and the back yard an additional 2 times through September this year.  Incredible, really, just absolutely incredible.

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In other news, Madison was fashionably ranked number one on yet another list.  This time it is for the Most Neighborly City in the US, 2023, after being ranked second last year by neighbor dot com.  Madison has consistently made these kind of lists and has often topped these kinds of lists in the last several years.  No matter where you live it's easy to take what is local for granted, but there are actually a lot of good things about this area.  I often seem to find more and more to take for granted around here.  More lately, I've been trying to make an effort to take more advantage of many local amenities, but there's always more that get missed.  We have a really good zoo in town that I haven't been to in years, and I feel bad about it every time I think of it, for example.

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Finally, it's the new fiscal year this weekend.  Normally not very notable but we're headed for another government shutdown at midnight due to the intellectual toddlers in Washington, and for the second straight year I have to work on a weekend.  Tomorrow afternoon I have to sign on for a few hours to get some end-of-fiscal-year work done and do some testing due to system updates for the fiscal year changeover, and I'm really not happy about it.  And since I work on government contracts but for a private company we will have business as usual if the government shuts down, but without funding it will be hectic catching up on payments once the in-fighting in the Senate and House gets resolved.

We all have to work together if we are to survive.  The way things are going now, we're doomed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Gameday Baking

Kate made olive parmesan bread on Sunday morning.  It was a first try making it and it turned out very good.  She thawed the frozen white bread dough in the fridge overnight, then let it rise a bit more before cutting it into pieces, then mixing it with various sliced olives, shredded parmesan cheese and olive oil.  I suggested the square baking dish but next time I think she'll try it on a tray with parchment paper.

When I told my Mom some time ago that we were getting these loaves of frozen bread dough she reminded me of when I was young she'd make cinnamon rolls out of it.  I'm sure they were yummy so we may try that in the future.

Once Kate was done in the kitchen I began making baguette.  It was a couple hours before the Packer game at noon so I knew it would overlap but I can still hear the television from the kitchen.  And I often text with my Mom during the games so I texted her pics and kept her up with the process.  So, since I already have the pictures, I'll put that baguette process after the break with some narrative on the changes I made to my technique. 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

It's Been Awhile...

It's been awhile since I've written much of anything online since I last posted here.  It was nothing I planned but just turned into a bit of a break, anyway.  Since then, I've had a vacation and a birthday, and, well, life just continues to happen whether we write about it or not.  Nothing bad, mind you, but I did want to break the seal and catch up with writing this weekend.  But now the weekend is almost over and truthfully I don't feel like much like writing much at the moment.

The Packers just won with a fourth quarter comeback, and you can probably tell from the picture that I was much more attentive to the game than Hamish.

My wife and I both did some baking today, and often my Mom and I text during the games so I was sending her pictures as I made baguettes.  They turned out pretty good though I've been experimenting with my technique, so I may share that here soon.  Otherwise, back to the grind in the morning and fiscal year is just a week away so the headaches are coming.  

We did go out for a fancy dinner with friends Terry and Becky last night.  The parking lot was between the restaurant and the lake, so we parked right up to the lake and I got pictures of when we arrived and when we left that we found interesting, if not quite level.  I'll put those after the break.  Cheers, everyone.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Exhausted Sunflower*

The sunflower looks exhausted.  This holiday weekend is the second heatwave since it was at peak bloom, here, and still not much for rain chances in the extended forecast.

I haven't mowed the front in a month, since August 4, but I have mowed the back since then, on the 17th.  There is still green in the lawn, though starting to tend brown in areas.

Otherwise, I worked a 12 hour day on Thursday to get some mandated overtime hours in so I didn't have to work on Saturday, only to have overtime canceled on Friday.  I still hate my job - my employer, to be accurate.  But, it is what it is for now.

I made baguette yesterday but inadvertently preheated the wrong oven, top instead of bottom, so it didn't turn out quite the same due to the missing steam.  Instead of 3 baguettes I made 6 demi baguettes to give some away, but we'll keep these.  They're still real good and I'll give it another go tomorrow morning.  It's hard to keep them short, and short enough for two per row on the tray, so the practice will be good for me.

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone.

Friday, August 25, 2023

100º Sunflower Baking

I'm not sure what the official numbers were, but I saw 100ºF actual temperature and 117ºF as the 'feels like' temperature on Wednesday.  It was over 90% humidity in the morning but was down to mid-40's at the hottest part of the day, which is still more than enough to be very palpable at that temperature.  It was our first 100 degree day since July 2012, in a worse drought that year.  Thursday was much the same, just a few degrees less.  Kate dug up an old pan to put out with water for the critters so we did that and I threw some peanuts on the stump area to help bring them in so I could put out the trail camera to see what happened.

This new trail camera shows the temperature on the pictures but not the video, which is disappointing.  I've searched through the settings a few times, but the option just isn't there.  The video below is clips with pictures here and there, all in timeline order, of that time of the week so you can take a moment to consider the temperature and time of day.  The water pan wasn't used a whole lot yet, but it was a new thing, too.

Other than that, last post was the sunflower at its peak.  I now have a bungee cord helping stabilize it as it appeared to be leaning more, and with the heat and heaviness of the bloom the top is looking a bit more droopy.  And if you look close, the small one does have an odd, small attempt at a bloom.

You can't tell, but yes, I've been watering.

I also did some baking today, trying a new recipe for the second time.  It's a very versatile French bread recipe and a full batch makes a lot of dough.  This batch I made into 4 burger buns with 4 pepperoni and cheese rolls below those, and hot dog buns and a baguette on the right.

Oh, I was off work for an appointment today, so I had the time.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Full Bloom