Day 22: Great Horned Owls, new bikes, and getting some fresh air

High up in the tall Highland Park Oak tree are some owlets. I did not take this photo.

The sun is shining and it is around fifty degrees, although frankly, on our walk with Stewart and Lincoln AKA Rincon, it felt much colder. We walked about a mile and a half through Deerfield neighborhoods.

I am hoping to pull down the temporary fence we had put up to keep the dogs from digging and making a mess behind the garage. I intend to throw that out this garbage day (Tuesday). We realize that we no longer need it as the dogs are older and less likely to want to dig. I also really want to remove the greenhouse top from the herb garden. The rosemary, thyme, and chives survived and are doing quite well. As it turns out, as I post this on Wednesday, I purchased seeds of parsley, thyme, and oregano and will start them in the greenhouse, so the top stays on.

It is supposed to get really warm this week, I am curious to see that.

The younger Koerners decided to go on a bike outing as our youngest granddaughter currently living with us got a new 20’’ bike from Erik’s in Deerfield. Our son went in and they brought it to the curbside. She has been riding like crazy since she got it yesterday and the Coronavirus situation means that there are way fewer cars in the street. So we went to Highland Park, just about three and a half miles away. One of the benefits besides seeing our granddaughter’s friend and her parents was that they have a Great Horned Owl nest a block away. We went to see it and it is just as if a performance had been requested. The nest was extremely high up in the hollow of a huge oak tree. You could actually see one of the owlets, if not more. Apparently owls are one of the few actual predators of skunks, so as far as I am concerned, I hope that the owls prosper and multiply.

So, all in all, about seven miles of biking and one and a half miles of dog walking.

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Day 21 of confinement

…the infamous lazy susan

We got up around 8:00 AM and commenced our day. Unfortunately, the weather has chilled and despite the fact that the meteorolgists believe we shall soon have a day in the seventies, it was thirty-seven degrees.

The forsythia is just about to open and some of the daffodils have already done so. I am excited as each fall I have done plantings all over the yard. I have to remember to take photos so I know exactly where they are. I keep thinking I have done it only to never retrieve the photos. Every fall, I scramble to find the photos only to find that the ones I see are less than helpful.

I am pleased by the playhouse (which I illuminated with solar LED mini-lights yesterday) because its new door with special flashing is keeping dirt and bugs out.

This brings us to the breakfast feature of the 21st day of confinement. We had a lovely breakfast of specially made pumpkin muffins by our daughter-in-law, scrambled eggs and bacon, and the introduction of a family tradition that we have not used in years, a lazy susan, AKA un plateau tournant.

Once upon a time several of our sons were in the car on the way back from somewhere and stopped at an Amish furniture store in central to northern Indiana off of Interstate Route 65. There, they purchased a lazy susan of oak that matched the color of the dining room furniture. It is large and quite nice, a great addition to the dining setting, but also something to lovingly tease their mother with mercilessly. It was, of course, a birthday present for her, because I think they had totally forgotten, but it seemed like more of a constant test than a gift. There is some sort of routine they set up in which if Mary Kay were to take something off of the lazy susan, that she would have to religiously turn it three times. Maybe it was the opposite, she had to turn it three times to take something. Whatever, I never paid attention to it. Failure to do it properly would mean they would not allow her to take the food.

Needless to say, the item has caused great fun for the whole family for many years.

I guess you had to be there.

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Day 20 of the Confinement

Day 23 is shown in the photo as I post day 20.

It was hitting 60 degrees yesterday and although cold in the morning because of the lack of sun coming through the thick clouds, I went from my wearing a wool hat and jacket in the beginning to jeans and t-shirt later without a hat. I took advantage of the day to put the pond together, pulling out the pond warmers and putting in the pump and connecting the filter and setting the waterfall into action. I placed the extra mini-filter and aerator in position as well. Then, after planting more rhubarb, I set up the rain barrels for water collection. We were hoping that maybe we might spend some time outside later, but it got cold, but we did have lunch at the patio table.

As has been the routine, we have found very little time to watch television. We have been talking with our ‘roomies,’ our son and daughter-in-law, after the girls went sleep.

Before dinner, Mary Kay and I played a few hands of canasta. I was unable to shuffle the decks of Klimt inspired cards since my pinkie is still affected by my having it pulled when Lincoln (the dog) lunged while on a walk and the leash wrapped itself around my finger.

I am particularly annoyed about my inability to work out, which has something and yet nothing to do with the fact that the Sachs Recreation Center is closed. I always do morning stretches and pushups, but the tendonitis in my ankle is apparently exacerbated by that so before we were to go to Puerto Rico, I stopped doing them. It has helped but I am still not all healed.

Dinner was steak with salad and sweet and regular potato cubes.

As I write this on day 21 after having taken an almost one and a half mile walk with the two dogs and my youngest granddaughter of the two with us, it is cold (37 degrees) and wet. It rained last night.

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Days 19 and 20 of CV Confinement

One of my first bulbs to bloom.

Yesterday was a tough day despite the sunny weather and what seemed to be the beginning of spring. It all seemed so unreal as the beauty of spring was approaching and yet we are still all confined and restricted by the fear of what is out there and totally unseen. We are also concerned about not overdoing the fear factor in the grandkids.

I managed to get the patio materials unpacked and ready for family time in the garden. The dishes and glasses are out and all is set to go. The dogs were able to play outside without restriction as there was little mud since the weather had dried out the back yard.

We went about our usual routine of opening the windows, freezing a bit, and then closing them. There was the usual afternoon cleanup of the floors and especially the steps, victims of Stewart’s fur dropping. Stewart had had a grooming appointment on Monday, canceled due to the health situation. He seriously needs attention and I think that the girls are going to attend to him today.

In the morning, the girls helped me make two batches of crêpes: one savory, the other dessert. The savory one was made by using a half cup of beer and one and half cups of milk instead of the usual two cups of milk. It changed the texture a bit, but frankly they would have been delicious even if used as dessert crêpes. In the early afternoon, I gave the girls a crêpe as an afternoon snack, pulling out the Nutella. I did this after having made both crêpes and stacking them on plates.

I made the Ficelles Picardes and we think that they will become a new family staple. They mysteriously have a flavor that reminded us of tarte flambée, we don’t even know why.

We never got to even watching television in the evening, discussion and puzzle work (on my part).

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Day 19 of Confinement, are we crazy yet?

Top photo: Ficelle Picarde with salad, bottom left: in Le Creuset pan for baking, bottom right: assembly

It is a beautiful, sunny day, this 19th day of our confinement. The weather was such that I questioned the warmth of the day as I went outside with my two granddaughters to walk the dogs. I ended up removing my winter jacket and actually, nonetheless, breaking out in a sweat.

I started the day slowly, hitting the scissors with a vengeance as I attempted to put unruly beard hairs into a submissive mode. It took longer and made more mess than I wanted and MK was chomping at the bit to get her chance at a ‘toilette.’ I ended up having to take a shower, something that I felt I originally did not need, just to get the hairs off my body. Ironic that I shave my head bald because of male pattern baldness and yet I have issues with hair everyhere else.

The oldest grandchild greeted me with post-its on my door and doorknob as she had already fed the dogs and aired pretty much everything out. It is nice when you see that someone really wants to help.

Yesterday ended up with my connecting to Oakton via Zoom for two conversation sessions, one in ESL and the other in French. The ESL, which usually has a large number was only one, it takes many of us a long time to make changes in our routine and sometimes even more so when it involves the vehicle of Technology. The second session, in French, involved two staff members of Oakton, one an IT person, working from home, and the other a Philosophy professor. We had a great session. Then I had connected to one private tutoring student whose mom ended up getting back to me about taking a look at a video script. I took that into Google docs and did not correct. I supplied my sheet of correction suggestion terms and marked items with O for ‘Orthographe’ (spelling) and A for ‘Accord’ (Agreement), etc. I have at least twenty categories of terms. I then received a message from her mom that her twin brother was in need of some guidance, so I did the same for him. I also heard from my other tutee, who is currently sequestered at their family home in central Wisconsin. I believe that she and I shall be videoconferencing next week on Tuesday.

We had another delivery from Mercato, a place in the city where we were able to order things like mushrooms, shallots, garlic, olive oil, some sliced ham and salami, eggs, and other items. They delivered by early evening.

Tonight, I am making something I have never made, savory crêpes, from a recipe of a friend in Alsace who is originally from Picardy, where my favorite cathedral is located (Amiens). She had sent me a recipe for Ficelles Picardes, which are savory crêpes made with the substitution of part of the liquid (milk) with beer, and are filled with a slice of ham, gruyère cheese, a dollop of very heavy cream, and sautéed shallots and mushrooms. You roll them up and bake them in the oven.

Here is the recipe, thank you Marie-Dominique!

Ficelles Picardes

Pâte à crêpes (1 heure à l’avance) Crêpe batter to be made at least one hour in advance

1/2 cups beer
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon oil
3 eggs
a pinch of salt

Inside the crêpe:
sliced ham
shallots & sliced mushrooms sautéed in butter and/or olive oil
grated gruyère cheese
double cream or crème fraîche

Optional: switch out cooked salmon for the ham

Make crêpes as usual and put aside.

Cook chopped shallots in butter or olive oil (I did a mixture).

Sauté fresh mushrooms in butter or olive oil (I did a mixture).

Put a slice of ham on the crêpe. Add the shallots and mushrooms. Place a big spoon of double cream (I used whipping cream but next time will use crème fraîche) and some grated gruyère cheese.

Roll the pancake and place in a rectangular dish for the oven.
Add some more cream and gruyère on the top.
Bake 20 minutes at 350.

Cooked salmon can replace the ham on the crêpes.

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