Sunday, October 16, 2016

Obergefell Speaks on Landmark Case

 Yesterday (10/15) Tom and I attended an "author talk" by Jim Obergefell at the 2016 Books by the Banks event at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati.

 The talk was moderated by John Faherty, Executive Director of The Mercantile Library.

John Faherty (l) and Jim Obergefell

Obergefell was instrumental in making same sex marriage legal in the United states. The case - Obergefell v. Hodges - concluded that "the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples". See the Wikipedia entry by clicking here.

The case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 2015.

Tom bought Obergefell's book (Love Wins) and had it signed when it was first released. Obergefell also met with readers at a table at Books by the Banks.

 The hour long talk allowed for questions from the audience.

Jim Obergefell

 While at the event Tom met with illustrator/author Loren Long, too.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Another Tree Clean-Up Day

 We keep losing trees. First the ashes due to the Emerald Ash Borer (click here for the most recent professional tree removal) and now the pines. I'm not sure what's happening to the pines. Is it simply climate or have they outlived their usual life? Many approach thirty years old.

In any case, they are dying. On September 26 Mom and I came home from the library to find a pine laying down in the yard (our neighbor tells us it was down earlier that morning). It was a windy day and we had gusts from a cold front passing through.

September 26 

September 26 

 Tom helped on October 1. He removed the branches of the fallen pine while I hauled the debris to the garden for burning.

 We had quite a fire. Luckily it had rained earlier that day (and, in fact, the day before and the day after) so the fire stayed contained within the garden area. In fact, only the straw under the fire burnt.

 Then, on October 8, Bob stopped by and cut not only the trunk of the tree still laying in the yard, but another pine which stood nearby and was dead.

 Bob makes short order of the fallen pine. How efficient a chain saw is.

 He even takes the stump out nearly even with the ground.

 Then he takes down the standing pine, long dead.

 Part-way through he changes the blade.

 It's a fairly quick process ... if you know what you're doing. And Bob does.

 Later the same day, Tom and I carry all the logs to our woodpile and all the branches to a burn pile in the garden. It goes up in flames quickly and produces such a searing heat that the hairs on my arm are singed off, else curled and white. I know I was getting too close a time or two.
 As the weather has been dry and the day fairly windy, we had to watch the fire carefully and keep a hose and other tools handy. The straw that covered the garden burnt a little too well so I hosed it down and prevented further loss.

 I walked back outside at sunset (about 7 pm) and took this shot to the west. It's a new view for us, That open area in the middle was the home of both ashes and both pines. I now have four bur oaks planted in that area and in several decades I suppose it will again be obscured.

 When I went to bed I looked out at the garden and saw one bright orange spot where the fire still smoldered. This morning the stack of ashes is reduced to almost a level white spot.

 And so Pinehaven becomes less wooded with every year.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pineapple/Coconut/Pecan Cake

 They're calling it a "Do Nothing Cake" but that's hardly true. It seems to me there's about as many steps in making this cake as any other. Worse, "Do Nothing Cake" doesn't give any idea what the cake actually is. So I'm christening mine a Pineapple/Coconut/Pecan Cake since those are the primary ingredients.

 This cake appears on so many websites - some without coconut - that it hardly seems a copyrighted recipe at this point. So I'll list the ingredients and make a few notes.

Pineapple/Coconut/Pecan Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1  teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple (with juice)

1 stick margarine (1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
1-5 ounce can evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut

1. Mix cake ingredients; pour into 13 x 9" greased baking pan; bake at 350° for 40 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean
2. Heat butter, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan for frosting
3. Boil several minutes - Careful: it can foam and boil over!
4. Remove from heat and add coconut and pecans
5. Remove cake and poke holes for frosting to run into cake
6. Pour frosting over cake; spread out evenly with a spoon.

 ... and here's what it looks like in progress:

Dry cake ingredients mixed 

Cake batter poured into a pan, ready for baking 

Making the frosting, sans coconut and pecans 

The cake's just out of the oven 

Poking holes (I used a caramel apple stick) 

The finished cake, frosting in place

 Pretty easy and pretty delicious but hardly "do nothing".

Monday, October 3, 2016

Henhouse Gets New Window

 Back in July, I happened to see that a window on the henhouse had fallen out. The place is old and some of the wood is rotten. Though we still call it the henhouse, it's more accurately a potting shed at this point, I also contains the leftover bricks from when this house was given a veneer back in the 1960's.

 Here's what I saw on July 11 ...

 The window frame had collapsed and both panes of glass were lying on the ground.

 Later that same day I found a piece of Bakelite in the barn and covered the gaping hole. I also painted it white to match the henhouse. Mom said she didn't like the looks of it and could I find a replacement window?

 I wasn't in a hurry. Where was I going to find another old window? But on August 8 I went into the henhouse and measured the opening. This is the interior view I sent Tom. He gets into stores that I never frequent and felt sure he could find something,

 Also, for comparison, I walked to the north side of the henhouse and took this picture of the other existing window. Bob and I framed this one up in the early years when we actually kept chickens here.

 Tom found a window and delivered it several weeks ago. It was slightly too wide, though the height was close to perfect. Yesterday (October 2) I decided to tackle the job.

 First I removed the cover board and had access to this gaping hole. I measured the internal frame and cut a little off the window Tom supplied (that's it lying inside the frame on the stacks of house bricks). It turned out to be not quite as bad a project as I had figured.

 Here is the window first slipped into place. It required a little trimming to fit properly and a little shimming to level. But it fit into the opening and I think it looks good.
 There's lots of rotten boards on the henhouse (evidence the bottom left of the window) but I suppose I have bought time with this repair.

 From a distance here's how the henhouse looks after installing the window.

 And here's how it looks after trimming it with a redwood frame. I initially planned to paint the redwood white but everyone likes the contrast better. So, for now, project done.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hunan House Buffet (again)

 Yesterday was Tom's choice for lunch and he picked "that Chinese buffet in Miamisburg". I had first suggested the Golden Corral but he said he'd rather go somewhere else. Tom has had Mediterranean fare twice in the past week so he seems to be on a foreign-food roll.

 Of course I enjoyed the Hunan House Buffet when we were there before so I was happy to go again. Their $6.75 all-you-can-eat buffet really can't be beat. The selection is truly remarkable.

 I piled my plate with veggie favorites. They keep plain white rice hot in an electric cooker at the rear of the buffet area and I had a generous helping of that, I also scooped a selection of hot vegetables (broccoli, corn, carrots, mushrooms, water chestnuts and celery) and a few vegetable rolls. Their egg rolls - sadly -all contained meat.

 I went back and had a second helping of the same thing,

 The desserts are incredible: tiny cakes, bananas with a sweet red sauce, puddings, Jello, ice cream and a variety of tiny cakes. On my second trip I took a slice of tiramisu, a cake with a strong coating of coffee. Delicious!

 Tom came up for air long enough for me to shoot this picture. I wasn't sure he was breathing.

 And myself, taking a short break.
 Here's my fortune cookie.

 The Hunan House Buffet is located at the Miamisburg Plaza Shopping Center. Click here for more information. Highly  recommended.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Gatlinburg 2016 - Bob and Sam

 As usual every September/October, Bob and Sam are in Gatlinburg for their annual Smoky Mountain hike. They left on Wednesday (09/28) and they'll return on Sunday (10/02).

 Thursday's hike took them to LeConte via the Appalachian and the Boulevard Trails. Total mileage: 16.5 miles. "OMG. Pooped." were Bob's only two words to describe the day.

"Mt. LeConte Myrtle Point. Incredible!"

 "Sam proudly displaying his House of Heroes medal from the Patricia O'Neal Rehab Center in Knoxville where he was several years earlier getting rehab from a car crash on Jelicho mountain."

"A rock slide along the trail. Cables anchored into the rock to assist your crossing."

"Along the Boulevard trail"."

"A white painted blaze on a tree noting we're on the AT."

"From along the trail."

"Our hike starts at Newfound Gap along the AT. Only 1972 miles to Katahdin Maine ... Just kidding."

"Sam and his breakfast: Cinnamon n' spice pancakes and crispy bacon."

"My breakfast. French toast and crispy bacon."

 Friday started with breakfast at the Pancake Pantry, too. Bob's "hearty breakfast" (above) was a "Banana Pineapple Triumph" and a side order of crispy bacon. Sam had French toast.

"And so our journey begins."

 "Hurting from yesterday's 16.5 mile hike. Gonna do a much shorter road hike out in the Greenbrier area," Bob said.

"Six miles today in the Greenbrier area," Bob  later wrote. "The actual trailhead to Ramsey Cascade Falls is closed due to storm damage. Large tree down over vital bridge crossing the creek."

 "I didn't like that bridge anyway," Bob said. "Too long. Too high. Twenty-some feet over the water and large boulders."

Saturday: "Had breakfast and back at the condo prepping for today's hike. Mt. LeConte by way of Alum Cave ...

 "The Alum Cave trail to LeConte is 11.5 miles. Two blisters. Started out at 8:45 am. 44°. 30,000-some steps. Ugh. Beautiful on top."

"View from the top."

"The rock overhang is Cliff Tops on Mt. LeConte ... our destination."

"Other hikers up top. Really busy trail today."