T-shirts, rain, and getting up in the morning

Hard to see but Monday’s first sighting of robins in the area, they are out in full force.

I have a confession to make.

I don’t know why, but so often in my lifetime, when I go to put on a t-shirt, I end up having it on backwards. It is not as if I don’t know which side is which or that I am not trying to put it on correctly, but it happens. It happens more often than I would like to admit and I have to pull my arms out of it and turn it around. The other day, I didn’t really realize it had happened until I looked in a mirror and saw that the t-shirt was sitting way too high toward my neck. The dress shirt I was wearing betrayed it to me.

Am I alone in this? No one ever talks of this. Not that it should be a major subject of conversation.

Changing the subject, we are under a flood watch. The massive amounts of snow have melted and yet the ground is pretty frozen. It rained all night. It sounded great as you sleep to hear the pitter and patter of the raindrops on the roof. In the morning, you don’t want to get up.

Every morning I have the internal struggle of getting up or not. The biggest struggle is that at a certain point, I am no longer comfortable lying in bed. It might be my hip or just a need to get out of bed and stretch. The other issue is my metabolism, which, if I play with it too much and disregard its power, will give me a headache that I will keep all day long. Apparently that is a gift my father gave me. I think that is why if I go to bed later than normal, I still get up at the same time; my body craves its routine.

All of this because of thoughts of t-shirts…go figure!

Posted in Life in general, Sleep, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Nounours and ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’

Nounours has become a very important part of our household. Nounours is almost as old as I am, which is saying something and was and is my original teddy bear. How he survived all these years defies the imagination and how his music box still plays the ‘Lullaby’ song is nothing short of amazing.

He is truly ‘real’ when you consider the tenet put forth in ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Margery Williams. It was a stuffed animal that was so used and loved that even his exterior was rubbing off. That is very much the state of ‘Nounours,’ who is even missing an eye. This book was a favorite of mine growing up. I don’t ever remember anyone ever reading to me, but once I learned to read, I became a voracious reader. I was not a joiner of many things but every summer I went to the Parma Public Library and enrolled in the book club, reading the required number and more.

I remember reading ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ and seeing how a stuffed animal that was relegated to being an extra toy became that very special toy that filled in emotional gaps that perhaps were not filled elsewhere. In my case, my youth was not one where I was constantly surrounded by parents with warm fuzzies. My father’s many illnesses that culminated in his passing away at forty precluded my having those experiences. The only person who really provided me with any of that happened to be my maternal grandmother, who became a favorite, and whose loss a week before Mary Kay and I got married was almost worse than losing a parent.

In any case, ‘Nounours,’ as he is now called, teddy bear in French, is incessantly dragged around the house, put into a stroller, put down for a nap, and just plain loved by the grandkids. A few weeks ago, he even experienced his first sleepover, going with one of the grandgirls home for the night.

Some things just don’t ever give up and don’t lose their usefulness. This one is particularly special.

Posted in Childhood, Children, Grandkids, Life in general, Reading, Stuffed Animals, Toys | Leave a comment

Boeuf à la Bourguignonne

Years ago, before we were even married, I picked up a cookbook on a rack somewhere, a book on sale, and it has become a favorite: ‘Good Cooking With Wine’ by Mary Reynolds. When called upon to make MK’s birthday entrée, I pulled out the recipe that is a family favorite for Boeuf Bourguignon.

This time I made a triple batch, given that one serves four, it is extremely delicious, and that it freezes well. The unfortunate thing is that I doubt that there will be any left over for freezing.

Although we are celebrating the birthday on Sunday afternoon, I made the entrée on Saturday as some things just taste even better when not served right away.

We had picked up the ingredients the day before, going to Mariano’s and even having them take the some five pounds of beef and cutting it up into one inch cubes, something I found as a huge savings of time. Even without having to do the cut up, it took about two hours to get it into the pot so that it could slow cook for several hours. Into the mix went a full bottle of French Burgundy, onions, garlic, beef broth, and beef.

While at Mariano’s, we had them take a steak and grill it for us, we purchased some sides, and we enjoyed a $5 glass of wine at Mariano’s Happy Hour. It was an overall win/win situation. After we finished eating, we went to Heinen’s where I purchased the French Burgundy wine I could not find at Mariano’s along with small onions.

Here is the recipe I use, I play around a little with it, but this is the basic plan of action:

Bœuf à la Bourguignonne

Cooking time: 2 ½ – 3 hours…serves four

2 thick slices salt pork
2/3 cup robust red wine
2 tablespoons drippings or lard
1 ¼ cups beef stock or water with bouillon cube
12 peeled tiny onions
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ lb. chuck steak or other lean beef, in 1 inch cubes 1 garlic clove, crushed
bouquet of bay leaf, thyme, and parsley, tied
3 tablespoons flour
salt and ground black pepper
1 cup button mushrooms, sautéed in butter

This is a typical French beef and wine casserole, and worth making in double quantities as it reheats or freezes excellently. Cut pork into ¼ inch strips. Melt fat in a heatproof casserole and fry pork and button onions slowly, stirring frequently, until golden; remove onions and reserve. Add chopped onion and meat to casserole and fry briskly, stirring frequently, until browned. Sprinkle in the flour, stir and cook for a minute. Stir in the wine, allow to bubble for a minute, then add stock, tomato purée, garlic, herbs and seasoning. When boiling, cover tightly and simmer very gently on top of cooker (if more convenient cook in a slow oven at 300º or slow cooker for at least two hours. Check seasoning, add button onions and mushrooms. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes. Serve from the casserole, with boiled potatoes tossed in butter and sprinkled with parsley. Drink a full bodied red wine with it.

Good Cooking with Wine, Mary Reynolds

Posted in Birthdays, Cuisine and Food, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Sex With Strangers

We really were not sure what to expect. With a title like ‘Sex With Strangers,’ one has to wonder what one is about to encounter. What we did encounter was a two-hour play with a fifteen-minute intermission that was well written, well scripted, and well acted. The telling point to me is that you hear people after the play discussing various points because it was interesting and thought provoking.

Act I takes place at a Bed and Breakfast in rural Michigan and Act II takes place at an apartment in Chicago. There are two actors: Olivia and Ethan. They are both writers, writers who have taken different paths to where they currently are and who are also at different points of the success spectrum.

Ethan is the ‘Technology’ person, using everything social networking has to offer, moving ahead seemingly despite whatever the personal costs might be. Olivia has the ‘Old School’ take on movement toward success, She has Technology, but it is older and she sees the climb to literary success in a very traditional way, yet is seemingly less than happy with the fact that she has not yet gotten further.

In the end, I find that Mr. Technology represented more than just that; he represented youth of a certain generation with great confidence, a person to whom any question will get answered with, “Of course I can do that!” Olivia teaches English to survive and despite having written more than one novel, she is fearful of having others even read them, overburdened with constant self-doubts.

The two different parties connect and clash and I find the clash to be way more than just the issue of method and Technology but also of personality and that universality makes the play all the more real and effective in involving the theatre participant.

There was not one dull moment in this play by Laura Eason (from Evanston) that allows one to doze. The director, Scott Westerman, is also from Evanston.

The set was simple and perfect for the play and the actors were impeccable. Olivia was played by Nina O’Keefe and Ethan by Rich Holton. This is a must see. To think that it was put forth on a small stage in a space that has no bad seats, and right in our own back yard of Lake Forest, Illinois. It plays until March 4th, don’t miss it.

Posted in Citadel Theatre of Lake Forest, Life in general, Theatre, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Colder and Icier

The heavy snow from a few days ago is on the way out.

I don’t know why, but I thought that it would be less dangerous and warmer when I took Stewie out for a walk. The cold was biting and I slipped in a few places. I don’t know what I was thinking. I have decided that if the sidewalks are possibly icy, they are not for me.

It is gray and gloomy, kind of matching the feeling of the past few days as violence continues to rear its ugly head and the national government does absolutely nothing to make us feel better, or more importantly, move toward change. Instead of the progress we expect, regression is the current mode.

It is quiet this morning and the lack of grandkids is quite telling. It is nice to have a morning that one can take for oneself and do something or just not.

The flu remnants are still with me but it is so much better than it was so I am not complaining.

The mark of Christmas has finally been totally removed from our house, the Christmas dishes are put away and the French pottery back in place. It was enjoyable having coffee in the French mugs that are similar and yet not ‘perfectly’ the same. I noticed that with two of them out, one of them had a decidedly larger opening, kind of funny to see in this day and age of mass production.

Today on the agenda, waiting for a guy to come and hard wire the new doorbell we bought and put in the new spotlights on the patio. The house is to be cleaned today as well.

I am hoping to the get to the gym and also to the grocery store, as I need provisions for making Boeuf à la Bourguignonne for MK’s birthday celebration this weekend. I am making the main course and everyone else is bringing something. That is a real treat.

We have a play on Saturday and then MK’s birthday celebration on Sunday. Keeping busy is a Koerner way of life.

Posted in Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy, Violence, Virus | Leave a comment