Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mr. Gorbachez Tear Down This Wall!

Words by a famous Ron? No, they're words by a not-so-famous Ron to Walter "Wally" Gorbachev concerning the Blume kitchen wall. Actually it's not really "tear down this wall" it's more like tear down the wallpaper on this wall. And Wally is Ron's alter ego. In the renovation, (code named Kitchen Project -KP) removal of old wallpaper is possibly the most important step, second only to what is to be done with the barren walls. Armed with multitudes of suggestions from well-wishers, sponges, vinegar water, steamer and scrapper in hand, Wally attacked the paper covered plaster/plasterboard. Find a loose corner, grab it, peel it back. Nothing to it, comes right off. As does part of the wall. After a couple of sessions of sponging, steaming and scrapping the kitchen has taken on the appearance postwar Berlin. President Reagan would be proud of Wally's efforts. In an effort to determine how to refinish the stripped down walls Wally is renting all of the World War II films available at the Fennimore video renting place. Right now we're focusing on war torn Italy for that "Tuscany" look. A paint color has been chosen, a new counter top, sink and faucet is being ordered, the bright (Empire) red appliances (toaster, mixer, tea kettle, garbage can and even dish strainer) are ready to be joined by wonderful, bright, cheerful walls. Arguably, it's only a matter of time. AND, they say time heals all. Wally defiantly stands, steamer and putty knife in hand, determined to overpower these formerly paper clad barriers. I'm not sure which matinee idol was responsible for the naming of Ron, Ronald Coleman or Ronnie Reagan but, for now, there is a recording of "The Great Communicator" speaking his historic words playing over and over and over again in the Blume kitchen.

The model for remodeling

Nobody likes the present wallpaper

Either a aerial shot of the Southern Hemisphere
or Blume's kitchen wall


Starting to get that "Early Italian" look

Adding a personal touch

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This past week has proved to be eventful in spite of being quite uneventful. Since my last post, a bunch of little incidents popped up. A real big deal was that I went to downtown Fennimore (Lincoln Street) and got my haircut by Ed, the town barber. Ed's is a typical small town barber shop, complete with the rotating red and white stripped pole outside. The kind of place Norman Rockwell would paint. Folks drop in for quick trims or just to grab a cup of coffee from the eternal boiling pot in the rear of the shop and to shoot the breeze. You can learn about crops, cattle, hunting, fishing, golf and pretty much anything else that's going on in the area. The real significance of my haircut is, as usual, JoAnne seldom notices that I have been clipped so Sally (Summer) and I play a little game trying to guess how long it will take for Jo to notice. Normally we start dropping clues until she catches on. This time Sally tipped her off on Thursday. The fun part is that I can make up any date and she'll believe it. I can say November 22nd and she'll say, "really?".
Another nonevent was, that for the first week in months, I didn't have to fire up the old snowblower even once. But Thursday morning, moments after leaving for work, Jo summoned me to our deck. Seems that she wanted to show me some of the fancy frost work that the freezing fog had performed on our neighbor's pine tree. As soon as I had enough daylight I climbed out my upstairs "Computer Lab" window and got off a few shots of the pine ala mode. (see related story below about PInE ala mode)

Couldn't do better with a spray can

The weather rose to almost lukewarm (actually went above freezing on Thursday). But, to remind us that it's January and we're in Wisconsin it dove to below zero Friday night.
Eagle watching has been spotty this week mostly due to Eagle Days in Saulk City/Prairie du Sac last weekend and Eagle Days in Cassville this weekend. Our poor feathered friends are so busy packing and unpacking, making reservations for choice branches and sorting out invitations for personal appearances that they hardly have time to stop to gnaw on a dead carcass or scoop up a frozen carp. As much as I would like to take part in the festivities in Cassville this weekend, the subteen temperatures are going to keep me in warmer places.
One of those warmer places will probably be Menards where Jo and I will be seriously diving into our kitchen project (code named "Kitchen Project"). We've decided (agreed) on a counter top and paint color that will coexist with our red mixer, tea kettle, toaster and garbage can. Now it's just down to dollars and sense. I'm sure there will be an ongoing tale documenting the complete "KP". But, for now, we're still speaking to each other.
Here's the real highlight of the week. Friday (yesterday) was (drum roll) National Pie Day! I celebrated by cooking up a red raspberry delight. Actually Sara Lee prepared it, I just baked it. We lack things like Bakers Square and Marie Caulder so rather than messing up our soon to be really messed up kitchen with shortening, flour, sugar and berries I took the easy way out by taking to frozen route. I'm sure little Sally whipped up a double crusted creation for her and Uncas (and Sammy) to enjoy. But she's young, energetic and lives in a climate where any extra heat is as welcome as an extra scoop of ice cream on your pie. On the sad side, sort of concerning pie. Last week my beloved Chicago Cubs traded one of my favorite players, Felix Pie (pronounced P A). Hated to see him go but I guess he just wasn't destined to become part of the "Upper Crust" of the team and would end up "Filling In" for the next couple of years. Bye, Bye American Pie!

Pie, at Sally and Uncas' home

Pie, at my home

Pie, at home plate

One more "event" of the week. A 2009 project, other than "KP", is to reconnect with old friends. This week, due to Sally and Jo's last weekend photo sorting extravaganza, we reconnected with a family who were our neighbors and friends back in our Michigan lives. We have, electronically hooked up with the Cahills, Pat, Sue, Bill and Katie. Bill and Katie are the same ages as Derek and Summer respectively. Pat and Sue are just kids themselves (probably around Jo's age). It's great to be back in contact with them again. I look forward to finding as many old friends as possible this year so if you're hiding anyone out there, it's time too give them up. There may be a large reward for information leading to the opening of communications with long lost acquaintances.

Old pic of "the kids" the Cahills Billy and Kate in the rear,
Sally (Summer) and Derek in front

Pat Cahill memorialized as a staunch supporter
of a local athletic powerhouse
(he hasn't changed a bit over the years)

Well, it's off to "KP".
See ya next week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

If You Can't Take The Heat . . .

Wow! It's above zero and climbing. Put away the snow blower, get out the lawn mower. It won't be long now. Slush, mud, and flooding, all the wonders of late winter. The icy roads will become sand and gravel covered before turning into pock marked asphalt obstacle courses. But then, the most beautiful time of the year here in Southwest Wisconsin, Spring. Fields will start to green, trees will bud and blossom, pastures will be populated by future roasts and burgers. (and cheese for those burgers) Like giant puppies the Black Angus calves frolic in the fields unaware of fact that they're only a drive-thru window away from some one's "Happy Meal". An assorted variety of birds will show up at my feeders and huge flocks of migraters will head up the Mississippi to their summer homes "Up North". Meanwhile back at Blume House, preparations are being made for "Operation Kitchen". Although the project is not enormous, the psyching up process is epic. The whole job entails, wallpaper removal, painting and maybe a new counter top. (All of this to make our new mixer, toaster, tea kettle and garbage can feel at home) If I were to follow all of the helpful hints, advice and suggestions that we have received from friends and acquaintances, I should be finished by . . . ah, yesterday.
This past weekend, daughter Sally (Summer) drove down from Minneapolis to make good a birthday gift to JoAnne. She pledged a weekend of editing, sorting, archiving and throwing away our accumulation of millions of family snapshots. The dining room became photo central. Sammy and I hid out up in my computer lab and Uncas (Reid) stayed up in Minnesota claiming to be ice fishing with his dad. I guess the photo librarians made some headway (I put two garbage bags of throwaways out this morning) but, there are still a lot of crates of photos untouched. Finally on Sunday, I called a time out to give "the girls" a chance to get their eyes back into focus. I coaxed Sally away with the promise of going shopping and settled Jo down by having her talk over supper plans with Sammy while we were gone. Actually it was just an excuse for me to get out of the house for a little fresh air and maybe take a few more Bald Eagle pictures. (After all the temperature went above zero) We headed over to Prairie du Chein and found that frigid weather over the past weeks had pretty well frozen up almost all of The River. We did manage to spot three or four eagles and got a shot or two of one of them but I guess the large majority of their population had gone over the Prairie du Sac/Saulk City area for the Annual Eagle Days. They get a lot more respect over there as well as food and refreshments. Well I've managed to babble on much too long so I'll sign off with one new eagle pic. As I post this I realize that all my eagle pics pretty much look alike. Sorry!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

All White Already!!!

Living smack dab in the middle of a "Winter Wonderland" in mid January, one doesn't run into a lot of blogworthy material. Big excitement around here is waiting. Waiting to see how much snow the city plow will throw across the bottom of your driveway, waiting to hear how many schools will be closed or have delayed openings, waiting to see how the mail carrier and newsboy manage to make it up our front steps, waiting to see if Jo gets out of the driveway, waiting to see if she'll make it back home that evening and, my favorite, waiting for the snow to stop long enough to go out and snowblow. Actually today I'm waiting for the arrival of the "Bunco Ladies", that wild gang of dice tossing neighborhood beauties who gather once a month to rattle those bones (the dice not theirs) vying for huge cash jackpots. Tonight is Jo's turn to host the event and my turn to remain out of sight until the last tally is tallied. Hopefully I did a good enough job of cleaning the walk and stairs so that later on I don't have to venture outside to drag some poor frosty buncoer out of a snow bank. The plus side is that I get first dibs on any unconsumed desserts. Of course I did taste test most of them already. I guess the threat of snow is pretty well past and now all we have to look forward to is some fairly cold weather. (If you can call a high of 7 degrees below zero fairly cold) I dug back into my archives to take a look at past snow pics, I pray that January and February aren't a repeat of last year.
Well I got to gather up some supplies and set up camp before the "Buncos" arrive.

Just a reminder of "The Winter of "08"

What any serious "Snow Blowin' Guy " needs, a V-8 powered blower

Was it something I wrote?

The prettier side of the season

. . . and, the artier side

Saffron Needs a Pair of Booties

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How Close to Heaven can you get?

As I stared out the window at the endless expanse of white, a little bleep sounded from my trusty email box. The message, addressed directly to me, Ron, was from my old friend, The Big Island of Hawaii. I knew it must be important why else would they chose to contact me on a first name basis. Well, it certainly was important, really important. There was obviously an event taking place in April that needed my full attention. Many of you know that other than my wonderful family there are three things that top my list of absolute devotion. Hawaii being one, Chocolate being two and pie and a lot of other stuff being three. So! What could be more tempting to a guy like me than . . . a Chocolate Festival in Hawaii? Yep, it's the 8th Annual Kona Chocolate Festival on the Big Island of Hawaii and they want me to be there. (It says so right in the email) Even though Chocolate does grow on trees, money doesn't so I need each of you to send me as much money as possible before April first so that I may assist, mentor and convert some poor island savages in the appreciation of Chocolate (plus the only snow there is on top of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea) In return for your generous contribution you will receive a picture of the childish person that you are sponsoring and a swell gift from Hilo Hattie's (the number one provider of quality trinkets and Women's Plus Size Hawaiian Clothing)

Mahalo and Aloha!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Toasting in The New Year?

Cheery Couple toasting in The New Year in Style!

A couple of other New Year's toasts,
Toasty warm slippers and tasty warm French Toast

The weather in Wisconsin was warming up into the teens so it seemed only right to head off to a more favorable clime, Minnesota, to welcome in the New Year. We packed the car with a majority of the contents of Southwestern Wisconsin and headed north to celebrate both New Year's Eve and a belated Christmas with Sally and Uncas. The extremely frigid temperatures have frozen up most of the Mississippi so eagle sightings were few and far between. We were greeted in Minnesota by a smiling Sally and a tail wagging Sammy. (Uncas was either working all day or lying about work and off ice fishing somewhere but I'm sure his tail was wagging also) After dinner we took care of the belated Christmas part of our visit. Ribbons and wrapping paper flew much to Sammy's delight. He seemed more involved with the present opening than the actual openers were. A lot of ohs followed by an equal amount of ahs preceded an occasional wow! The surprise gift of the evening also proved to be the most for useful to toast in the New Year . . . a real live toast maker? This could be the spark needed to ignite more New Year's toasts. The bright red toaster becomes still another part of our future kitchen redo. It joins the red mixer, red tea kettle, red trash can and red dish drainer and awaits the actual face lift that's been in the planning stage for a couple of years. The remainder of the "Eve" was spent in a rousing Wiii bowling match (I guess I should mention that Uncas emerged as family champ) and, at the stroke of midnight, everyone ran outside to light up the neighborhood with a bunch of leftover fireworks (2 sparklers and a fountain). The below zero temperatures cut the outdoor celebration short and the revelers retreated into the warmth of Nimz Manor to lift glasses of a fruity, sparkling beverage hailing the arrival of the New Year. Then off to bed to rest up before our assault on 2009. What better way to start a new year than by joining 50 or 60 thousand close friends at . . . The Mall of America? While the rest of our little troupe handled returns, exchanges and sales extravaganzas I entertained myself watching the passersby. This is more fascinating than my eagle watching pastime. There are a lot of similarities between the two activities. The stalking, the sighting of the prey and the swoop in for the kill. All done with the utmost of grace and skill. While observing the constant flow of subjects I saw the fat, the slim, the tall and short, the good looking and the "Oklahoma two-baggers". Now Minneapolis has an overwhelming number of great looking blond haired, blue eyed natives but one really stood out. It seemed like everywhere I looked I encountered Paris Hilton. She was all over the place and somehow constantly changed into a different, although very similar, outfits. At one point I think I even saw her with another famous shopper. (It seems like we have an entire generation of little Paris' inhabiting the malls of America.) Finally the shopping portion of the family finished doing their part in boasting the economy so it was back to the security of the Nimz Estate with arms loaded with bargain priced treasures. I think next year's Christmas shopping should be almost complete. Uncas and Sally upgraded some of the gifts they had received for a "Guitar Hero" package. Once back home it didn't take long for the riffs to take flight. (These guys are really good) Even JoAnne took a few licks with some heavy metal bass strumming. Uncas and Sally performed duet after duet for hours and hours. Not being at all musical, I reverted to my basic talent, chocolate cake eating. Sally had made a beautiful chocolate layer cake which, although being very photogenic, didn't last long enough to photograph. I might add that, thanks to Sally's culinary expertise, the weekend full of a lot of good eating. There was the "cake", pecan rolls, pork tenderloin surprises and homemade Italian beef all made-from-scratch. We even managed a trip to Red Lobster for "The Seafood Lovers" in the family. As a matter of fact the eatin' was so good that I had to put the drivers seat back a notch in order to fit behind the wheel on the way home. We headed home on Saturday just in time to honker down before the icy weather arrived and cuddle up in front of the TV Sunday to watch for Sally and Uncas at the Viking's playoff game. I'm sure we did see them. (they were wearing purple outfits) Here are a few pics of some of the weekend's activity.

Sammy was either very bored with the whole holiday thing
or just tired out from being kept awake by dueling guitars

Guitar Uncas and Sally groovin' on their electrical axes

The Mama and Papa, "Sixties" style

I'm fairly sure that I saw Uncas and Sally at the game.
But then again, I thought that the Vikings were going to win.