The New House Husband

Rochester Farmers Market's Cherry Tomatoes

Rochester Farmers Market’s Cherry Tomatoes

Yesterday, our new refrigerator was delivered by a two-man team in the heat of the afternoon. The spokesman was a small guy, a little bit shorter than I, but wiry, very wiry. His partner was a mountain. The spokesman met with me, sized up the problem and then went back to consult with his much larger partner, who had already offloaded the unit from the truck. They followed my advice and brought it around back and up the back porch steps, directly into the kitchen. They both used a single strap that they each hung over one shoulder. Each man could cinch his end of the strap, but they were both connected through this umbilical, with the refrigerator slung between them. They still had to take the backdoor off its hinges to get it inside. It was all over in just fifteen minutes. They were very professional.

People have been asking me for months now, “What are you going to do in your retirement?” Now that I have a working refrigerator, I can start cooking more. I got fixings for and have already puréed the gazpacho for dinner tomorrow. It’s a New York Times recipe that is said to be authentically Seville Spanish. Its color is more that of the yellow cherry tomatoes pictured above, even though I used only red tomatoes to make it with. It looks like extra pulpy OJ, which matches the picture with the recipe. If it turns out well, I’ll make a second batch for a potluck this weekend. I also swung by Trader Joes and got a package of their frozen chocolate croissants that Jane introduced us to on our last morning in Ann Arbor. You fresh bake them and they are fantastic. Thank you, Jane!

Anne has started school again this week, with two half-days in the afternoon, both yesterday and today. I ran errands this morning, before it got too hot and I was mostly successful. Two of the errands involved changing theater dates, in order to accommodate our planned trip to California. I had to move tickets to two shows, which I did, but unfortunately one of the new nights conflicts with another engagement. So, I’ll have to revisit that errand again tomorrow. Too bad, because I got really great seats.

The Happy Hooker

Bear Hooked Rug - Bright Side

Bear Hooked Rug – Bright Side

These two pictured hooked rugs were according to Fin family lore purchased from Native American artists, from nearby Sugar Island, in the first half of the 20th century, probably in the 1930s, if my recollection of the story is correct. They had been hanging in the old family cabin for decades, but because of our recent campaign against powder post beetles there, they were temporarily removed for cleaning and safekeeping. Our neighbor, Paulette, took it upon herself to research these rug’s origin. She was successful when she discovered a research paper by Adriana Greci Green. In her paper “Many Gifted Workers” – Odawa Quill Artists Participating in the Works Progress Administration [WPA], Ms. Green offers one small, but tantalizing bit of corroboration. Her paper describes the organization of and products created from depression era WPA activities. These were government activities designed to foster artwork for commercial purposes and were part of the overall Roosevelt administration’s efforts to pull the country out of the Great Depression. Her paper is devoted to porcupine quill art and is mostly about the Petoskey area, but does offer the following brief reference, “Another [WPA] unit was formed at Sugar Island near Sault Ste. Marie. Winter activities consisted mainly of hunting porcupines, tanning deer hides and making snowshoes.” This evidence is not conclusive, but it does go a long way in supporting the family’s assertion about the origin of these two rugs. I have elected to show the photographs of the backside of the rugs, because the colors on these sides are so much more vibrant than on the fronts, due to fading. The rugs are made from wool, except for the backings, which are burlap and likely came from sacks. After the photos were taken, Anne sewed a cloth loop on the back of the bear rug. Harry got a dowel for it and now it can be more easily hung and taken down again for the next bug spraying.

Indian Hooked Rug - Bright Side

Indian Hooked Rug – Bright Side

Durable Goods

I made Jane’s Chicken Enchilada dish last night and it turned out great. I even had enough green enchilada sauce this time (15 oz.). There was just one wee little problem though. The refrigerator died. Unlike last time, when I called in Oscar to fix it, this time, the refrigerator was only partly dead, instead of mostly dead. The freezer is still cold enough to refrigerate non-frozen food. Still, it won’t make ice, so it was time to say adios to the old ice box. You know what they say, when the going gets tough the tough go shopping and that’s what we did. We started at Lowes, because they opened first this morning.

Upfront, they had these double-wide units that ran into the thousands of dollars. No thank you. Some even had TV screens on the doors. I joked that we could emulate this feature by taping our iPad onto the door of our new refrigerator. The complete back wall of one huge unit was one big flat screen TV. I think that it was just a display unit, but I could see myself explaining to Anne why all the ice cream had melted on the floor, “Honest honey, I only watched one movie.” No thank you very much. We checked out the cheap models and then moved on to our next destination, Best Buys.

Just this morning, Best Buys announced much better than expected earnings. We took this as an omen. We parked in their underground garage and just barely caught the elevator up to the store. Our friend and fellow bicycle rider, Paul of Recycled Cycles held the door for us. It turns out that he was shopping for a refrigerator too. He had already been to Lowes like us and Menards, where we were thinking of going next, but his description of the place dissuaded us from doing that. We ended up buying from Best Buys. We got one of their house brand units. It should be delivered tomorrow. Apparently, a lot of problems that at first seem rather insurmountable are really easily solved with just the simple application of a credit card. OBTW, we’ve been eating enchiladas three times a day today. They won’t spoil.

Beach 360

This little movie was made on Saturday morning. I was the only one on the beach. It was a warm, grey, sultry and rather calm morning, the calm before the storm. There were no boats at the time. It was just me and Lake Superior. Today, Anne and I unpacked. It doesn’t sound like much, but it took most of the day to accomplish what we did. I guess in this way you could call this day my first real retirement day, “I don’t know what I did, but it took all day to do it.” Anne and I walked to lunch at Saint Louis Bread Company (Panera) and then on to the grocery store, where we shopped for ingredients to make Jane’s Chicken Enchiladas tonight. We’ll let you know how it turns out.

In other Great Lakes news: About 1,500 Americans floating down the St. Clair River that separates the US from Canada had to be rescued from the water when strong rains and winds sent them illegally into Canadian territory, the Canadian coast guard said on Monday. The Americans were taking part in the annual Port Huron Float Down on Sunday, between Michigan and Ontario. The winds blew the flotilla of inflatable rafts and inner tubes off course and toward the Canadian shore. Some rafts deflated, spurring a rescue effort by the Canadian Coast Guard, which said, “They were terrified of entering another country without documentation. No one carries their passport or any ID, and a lot were drinking alcohol.” Some tried to swim back to the United States. “We had to pull a lot of people out of the water and say ‘no,'” the Canadian spokesman said. The Americans were gathered at Sarnia, Ontario, and bussed back to the United States by the city’s public transit. News reports say that the event has no official organizer and poses “significant and unusual hazards” due to the river’s fast-moving current and participants’ lack of life jackets. A Facebook page associated with the event later thanked the Canadians.

Over the years, we’ve helped a couple of small parties of Canadians in distress, who’s boat either ran out of gas or fouled its engine with rocks. We were glad to do it. We’re neighbors after all. I guess that this event significantly slides the debt into their favor now. 

Put An Arch On It!

Put An Arch On It!

Put An Arch On It!

Anne Queen of the Beach

Anne Queen of the Beach

A little explanation of this post’s title is in order here, “put an arch on it” is a riff off a skit from the sketch comedy TV series Portlandia entitled “put a bird on it”. I have a t-shirt from Tiny Monsters of Maplewood that I happened to be wearing today that features this riff. The photo with this post is an old header that I am recycling, because otherwise no one else can see it. All this exposition is way more preamble than I had planned on. I just wanted everyone to know that we are home again! After almost two-months gone for Anne and 40 days for me and over 5,000 miles of driving we are back in town, for a while…

Jane Giving Us A Send-Off

Jane Giving Us A Send-Off

Jane gave us a great sendoff breakfast this morning from Ann Arbor. The drive was actually pretty easy. I-70, normally a beast, was a piece of cake. We are both tired tonight, but we both really enjoyed our summer vacation. Seeing so much of the family, while in Michigan was great! Quebec was a blast! I highly recommend it. It was fantastic hanging with our enduring Rochester friends and it would be great to see them again at the cabin next summer.

Five Mergansers

Five Mergansers

Five Mergansers

We left the cabin this morning and are tonight in Ann Arbor. We had a nice and quite dinner tonight with Anne and Bill at the Red Hawk, an eatery on State Street. It was a pretty easy drive south, especially for me, since Anne did most of the driving. There was the usual traffic, with a backup north of Flint and although the weather was a little rainy, most of the rough stuff was in the western half of the state. We whiled away the miles listening to a podcast, “Stuff You Missed In History Class”. As the name implies, on this podcast two women tackle obscure, but interesting lessons from history. Today, we learned all about the long running conflict between margarine and butter, the Chinese admiral Zheng He and his 14th century treasure fleet, The Jacobite uprising of 1745, the late Victorian manure crisis and knitting. Let’s not forget about knitting. Did you know that Vermont once had only pink margarine? And before the advent of cars, large cities were literally drowning among piles of road apples? Anyway, it helped to pass the time and the final episode on the history of knitting helped to power Anne through the final leg of today’s drive.