Monthly Archives: February 2010

Maple Syrup and on-stage ham

   We had a fun day yesterday (Saturday Feb 27).  We took a drive up north to explore the wonders of the Maple Syrup Festival near Salem Indiana http://www.lmsugarbush.com/    We followed the GPS to get there and up to the very last turn we were really quite dubious that we were even in the right neck of the woods, but it all worked out.  As promised on their webpage, it was muddy (and cold) but it didn’t dampen our spirits. 

 We got a mini-hayride on a trailer behind an ATV to get us from the semi-remote parking area to the main grounds so we didn’t get so muddy on the way to the festivities.  We strolled around, looked at the various vendor booths and tables and took a number of pictures with Flat Stanley!  This is an elementary school project which helps teach the kids about people and places – they mail a small paperdoll-type figure to a friend or relative in a distant location and request photos that include Flat Stanley.  In this photo we see Stanley near a sap bucket that is set up to gather maple sap which is then boiled and reduced to yield maple syrup.  Pretty interesting, eh?  We got there about lunch time so we went inside the *warm* dining area and had waffles with fruit topping and maple syrup plus some welcome cups of hot coffee!  We purchased a few treasures, including………………….. wait for it………………………………. MAPLE SYRUP!!!  Surprised at our choice?  🙂  All in all, a neat outing.  As you might suppose, we had assumed before we moved here that you got maple syrup only from Canada, or the northeast U.S. – now we know differently.  You’re welcome to go with us next February if you’re here!  

   While we were out we scouted some of the back roads near Corydon and also in town just seeing if there were any houses for sale that looked promising.  We figure if we can get something reasonably priced and if we can find a lender gullible enough to loan us money, maybe we can get into our own place before long.  Cross your fingers!

   Yesterday evening we had dinner out at Magdalena’s on the town square – it’s really the nicest restaurant in town, and had a nice meal before going out to a live play at the Hayswood Theatre http://www.hayswoodtheatre.com/ just a block from the restaurant.  They were doing a production of “She Loves Me”, which is a musical version of “The Shop Around the Corner”, a fine old movie with Jimmy Stewart.  We got seats on the front row and were about 25 feet from the action, and it was really great!  We got free refreshments including popcorn, cookies and soft drinks.  In May they’ll be doing “Camelot”, and we’ll try to get some front row seats for that!

    All in all, we’re doing well and enjoying life.  Kate’s job seems to be going well – she says it’s going to take a lot of work, but I guess that’s what makes the work day (or night) go by more quickly.  We’ve met a lot of nice folks here – the pastor of our church is coming to visit us at home in a few days, so I guess we’ll have to hide the moonshine still.

    Life is good in Corydon Indiana!

Still whining about winter

    I thought for sure we’d have flowers blooming by now, but I guess I was thinking we were going to be in the Deep South, but really we’re in the Lower North.  It could always be worse, as we know – parts of Pennsylvania and upstate New York are getting pounded again with lots of snow.  We’re just having shivery temperatures (30’s) and some flurries.

   Yesterday was Kate’s birthday, so there was a festive air around here.  I’m still amazed that I was able to find a 39-year-old wife – wodda beauty!  I came across a talking greeting card with a Pirate theme – you pull the pirate’s beard and he launches into the ‘Arrrrrrr, Matey’ thing – it was great, and she got a chuckle out of it.  I decided it might also be a good idea to spring for a few gifts after she mentioned something about changing all the locks otherwise.   I got her some expensive jewelry…….. nah, just kidding, I went with her suggestions and picked up a few things she could actually use.  Now she has a whistiling teapot, an Ipod docking station with speakers and a set of wireless earphones for private tv sound in the bedroom.  She seemed to be pleased – my key still works at the front door. 

   We went to Vine Grove KY to visit with her mom yesterday – it was how she wanted to enjoy her birthday, so we packed up KD and headed south.  We made a few lunch arrangements and met Bruce and Joyce, Alan and Janice, plus Sunni (their grand daughter) at the Back Home restaurant in Elizabethtown KY.  Good food, lots of local favorite dishes.  I was hearing good reports on the cobbler, but I managed to resist.

    After we returned to her mom’s place I spent some time programming her ’emergency alert’ telephone.  It’s pretty nifty – it came with a pushbutton fob that the patient wears around their neck all the time, and when the button is pushed and held for 4 seconds, it springs into action!  The signal is sent to the phone and it starts down an internal list that you have programmed and issues a pre-recorded alert message when someone answers, with the option for the called party to communicate directly with the patient on the internal speakerphone.  If no answer, the phone steps down the list until someone *does* answer, with the ‘last resort’ call being placed to 911.  It’s a ‘Telemergency 210’ model, and I think it could truly be a lifesaver for her mother, who is pretty much living alone (relatives nearby).

    I got our tax records swept into one pile, so I guess we’ll be able to go down to get those figured – maybe with some extra cash under the table they can get us a BIG refund!  (just kidding, IRS!).  If we just get close to breaking even, that will be fine.

   Not much else going on in our neck of the woods – I apologize to those of you who dozed off while reading and are now slumped over the keyboard.

   Come on SPRING!!!

Let them eat bread

   I was feeling quite ‘domestic’ a day or two ago and decided to make some bread, from scratch!  Luckily I was able to find some scratch in the cupboard.  We don’t have a breadmaker, unless you count me, so I had to do it the hard way.  I discovered that if you want to make whole-wheat bread dough it helps if you have some weight lifting experience – that was *some* tough stuff!  I managed to get it put together, but it just didn’t want to rise.  There was that good yeasty aroma in the kitchen but no expansion in the bowl.  I put the dough in the oven with the little light on for warmth, but nothing much happened.  It was warm when I took it out but pretty much the same size.  Anyway, I decided to go ahead and bake it since I had so much time and so many ingredients invested.  Amazingly, it turned out great!  The crust was thick and crunchy and the center was firm and tasty.  You definitely have to use a serrated bread knife to get the slices loose, but it’s worth it.  I christened the loaves as “Sawbread”.    Sorry to blow my own horn, but I think I did good –  it makes wonderful toast, and Kate has declared that we don’t ever have to buy bread again since this is so good!  

    Yesterday (the first of 4 days off for Kate) I suggested that we go explore the wonders of Caesar’s Horseshoe Southern Indiana, near Elizabeth Indiana.  Turns out the casino was quite historic, constructed by Daniel Boone or one of his contemporaries.  Nah, just kidding, it was opened in 2008.  The casino itself actually floats, apparently to satisfy the ‘riverboat’ laws.   The main part of the structure is traditionally constructed, but the gambling part is on the water, securely attached.  I had seen this technique used years ago in Tunica, Mississippi, for their casinos.  Kate and I took advantage of their ‘gamble 30 minutes and get a free buffet’ deal, and it worked great.  We visited the slot machines and satisfied the big computer and it issued our vouchers.  Our system turned out to be ‘tag team’ – I managed to find a lucky machine while she found one of the ‘regular’ one-armed bandits.  So, while I was winning, she was losing.  Our buffets were not free, but I’m not at liberty to discuss the actual losses incurred – marital harmony, you know.  Anyway, we had a great time – we did some more sight-seeing on the backroads route back to Corydon.  As we drove along we would point out nice little houses and say to each other, “Hey, there’s one we might like to own!”  That’s a nice dream, anyway – we’ll see how it goes.

  Later this morning, it’s off to church at the Chapel in the Woods – we’ll save you a place in our pew  :).

Shhhh…. can it be?

  The 7-day forecast for our area has some high temperatures starting with a “4” or a “5” instead of a “2”!  Are we coming OUT OF THE DEEPFREEZE finally?  The sun is shining today, the snow is melting, the temperature has rocketed up beyond 40 degrees – so nice, so nice!  In the picture you can actually see some soil, not just snow cover.  Shhh, don’t jinx it…

I took another shot off the patio looking down toward the woods with Capitol Avenue (highway 337) just visible in the middle.  In the next few days all that snow down in the trees should be gone.

  I wonder if there might be some mushrooms down there late next month – we’ll see  🙂

   I was watching the news, and it seems that Tiger Woods has become eligible for one of the Olympic events – possibly “Downhill Racing” or something like that.  Maybe it was one of the new combined events – “Golfclub Dodging/Fireplug Crashing”.  I’m sure he’ll do well.

   Kate is still working days while she is being trained on the intricacies of the computer system at Jewish Hospital.  Probably by the first of March she’ll switch over to nights, which is the shift she wanted all along.  She rounded up some ‘room darkening’ drapes for the bedroom and I got those put up yesterday.  We *do* want the ‘boss’ to get her rest.  She also bought some nice looking bookcases from Wal-Mart, and I got those assembled and placed.  I used the lower shelves for my laser printers, and she loaded the other shelves up with books and CD’s, and the organization effort goes on.

   Kate will likely be off tomorrow through Tuesday, so maybe we can go do some exploring.  We are wanting to go, but the weather keeps getting in the way.  We’ll see  how it goes.

   Corydon has weekly events planned for the town square through the spring and summer months, and I noticed a recent update on that – they have contracted for a Swedish Bluegrass group to perform.  No, that wasn’t a typo – Swedish Bluegrass.  The name of the group is G2, and their website is http://www.g2bluegrassband.com/  There are some sample songs there you can listen to – I was really impressed, maybe you will be, also.  Come see us on June 26th and we’ll take lawn chairs and go watch them in beautiful downtown Corydon, for FREE  :).  See you then!

Winter is officially over!

  At least until Saturday, when the next snow is scheduled to arrive.  But, after that, clear sailing, warm winds, blossoms…… oh, wait, there’s another wintry blast on the horizon for late next week.  Dang!  Are you tired of winter, too, or is it just me?

   One very nice feature of our apartment is the location, of course.  The wintry view on the left is a shot taken from the patio which overlooks the forest and the creek (not too visible in this shot due to snowfall and ground fog).   Don’t you wish YOU lived in the woods?

   The Winter Olympics have been a nice diversion to take our minds off cabin fever.  Not much of a fan of ice dancing, figure skating, all that, but the ski competitions and the snow (ice?) boarding has been neat to watch.  We watched some of the biathlon yesterday – kinda neat when they plopped down in the snow to do the shooting, but I think it would add some drama to the event if they were allowed to shoot at the other skiers who were struggling up the slope.  In a similar way, maybe the snow board racing might be spiced up with the addition of spears, swords and shields.  “Poor Sven, he almost completed that last turn, but wound up with a spear in his back.  So close!” 

    We went ‘downtown’ yesterday to get some snow pictures, and it was quite pleasant except for the constant snow in our faces and the biting winds.  LD (little doggie) went along – Kate had to carry her since LD’s legs are only 4 inches long.    We thought it might be a good idea to stop in for some coffee or hot chocolate, but a) we had the dog with us, and b) the restaurant and cafe were closed because of the arctic weather conditions.  I think we were the only nuts who were out strolling the square. 

   The tendency for me at least is to try to look ahead to warmer conditions and try to block out the ice and snow we’re currently having.  The Maple Syrup Festival is coming up the last weekend of February, continuing into the first weekend of March,  hopefully things will be more tolerable by then.  We’ll be heading up to Salem, Indiana, about 30 miles north of here.  Want us to bring you some maple goodies?

   Some of the locals have been suspicious that maybe we brought all this frigid weather with us when we moved from Denver.  So far no torch-bearing crowds of villagers outside, but the nastygrams in the snow have been a little un-nerving.  Why are they heating tar?  Some Indiana custom, apparently.

  Stay warm!

Franchise food vs. local

  I don’t pretend to be a food critic, but we all have our preferences, so I’m going to take a turn and lay out some of mine for you.  Excited yet?  🙂

  One thing I have been ‘burned’ on, pardon the pun, is fried chicken.  All my life, child to adult, I’ve consumed my share of *great* home-made chicken.  And, nearly every time, I’ve been disappointed when I’ve gambled on restaurant or fast-food chicken.  A few examples:  KFC – who designed those chicken cuts, Picasso?  Who knew you could order a 15-piece bucket and still wind up with less than one chicken.  The taste is passable, but certainly not memorable.  If you’re into grease, it’s gotta be KFC.  White Fence Farm – only tried that once, and the chicken was NOT DONE – ouch!  Same results at the Castle Cafe in Castle Rock, CO – supposedly famous for their chicken, and they warn you on the menu that you’ll have to wait 30 minutes for your order, so don’t be impatient.  My order got to the table in 20 minutes, and guess what, it wasn’t DONE.  I usually got good results at Church’s Chicken, but they’re getting hard to find.  Popeye’s, very inconsistent food served there, they’re not in the running at all.

   So, I was pleasantly surprised when we stopped in at Corydon’s outlet for Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken – the chicken was great, the sides were very good.  Their website http://www.leesfamouschicken.net/   If you come visit us we’ll likely drag you over there so you can find out for yourself.  While we were there we struck up a conversation with some of the local patrons, including Melvin and Nora.  They proved to be genuine and warm.  They are an older couple, he’s retired, and they have a 100-acre farm just outside of town (he called it a ‘hobby farm’ – how many acres do you need for it to be a real farm??).   Melvin loved to talk and shared lots of stories with us about family and farm – we enjoyed our time chatting with him.  Nora pretty much just smiled and listened, but she was a nice lady.  They said they go to Lee’s several times a week, so maybe we’ll see them there again.  Another menu offering at Lee’s is a chicken fried steak dinner, and I’m looking forward to trying that.

   We stopped in at the local Culver’s burger place the other day.  It’s sort of like a Dairy Queen, but had a really great menu, lots of variety.  Check out the franchise website http://www.culvers.com/   I had a roast beef open face sandwich with mashed potatoes and beef gravy and green beans, all very good.  Kate ordered one of their signature burgers, the Butter Burger basket, and she was quite pleased with that. 

   I guess the point of all this is that while it’s nice to seek out local mom-and-pop eateries, it’s not always a disaster when you try one of the franchise places.  And, no, I’m not getting paid to plug these places.

  One more small point about the restaurants here – when you are to be seated, they ask you if you want smoking or non – that has been a little hard to get used to after living in the Denver area, which is entirely non-smoking.  Oh well, we knew things would be different here, and for the most part these differences have been quite tolerable.

  Anyway, we’re still exploring our new environment, more surprises to come, I’m sure.  I’m building a file of potentially interesting places to visit, so I’ll be reporting on those sites later.

  Toodle-oo, Caribou!

Chilly day, snow a-comin’

  Just me and KD (little doggie) here today, I’m doing chores and she’s doing dog things (whining, wandering around – maybe I sometimes do ‘dog things’, too!).  I got out the new vacuum cleaner, and was wondering how she’d react to it, but no fears – she considers it a new toy, something to chase.  I put some beef stew together earlier, got the crockpot going, lots of good smells in the place.  By the time Kate gets home this evening, it should all be tender and good – wanna come over??  🙂

  We were shopping around for a new church yesterday morning – not too happy with last Sunday’s choice.  I won’t name names, but that last place was just TOO LOUD!!  They had a church band on stage as some churches do, and a songleader at the mike, competing with the band for max volume.  Later, when the pastor started delivering the message, the master volume was still way up there and I was considering waiting in the lobby til he was done, but I stuck it out.

   Anyway, I started shopping the internet looking for a different church, something on a theme of Methodist while Kate was still getting ready, and I managed to find one that actually had a real person manning the phone, answering questions.  I verified the start time and the location with the nice lady, then went down the hall to Primp Central and asked Kate if she would be interested in going to a ‘country church’ – she promptly said YES!!  YES!!  Sounds like Corydon-itis (love of rural things).  So, we drove several miles out of town, east on highway 62, and found Pfrimmer’s Chapel, a quaint little Church in the Wildwood, as the song goes.

   As we got out of the car we were warmly greeted by a nice fellow wearing a red sweater (we wondered why he didn’t have on a coat – brrrr)  and we discovered that he was the pastor, just out in the parking lot after making a quick run to retrieve something.  We chatted for a minute or two, introduced ourselves, then went on inside, where more nice greetings were showered on us by some of the members of the congregation.

   Without recounting the whole church experience, I’ll just summarize by saying that we had a really nice visit there, met lots of nice folks, and Kate later said that she was extremely happy with my choice of places to visit, and that we had likely found our ‘church home’.  She was quite pleased with the pastor and his message, so it all worked out.  We bought a couple of fund-raiser tickets for a meal there next Sunday, so we’re definitely going back  🙂

   Hope you all had a good Sunday, as well.  The weatherman says we’re in line for a good dose of snow starting tonight and continuing into tomorrow, maybe totalling 4 to 6″.  Kate has to work tomorrow, so I hope the roads aren’t terrible – of course, I’m available for chauffeur duty, if required.

   The next-door neighbor lady (whom Kate visited yesterday) has a ‘gel fireplace’ that burns Sterno-like fuel, no vent required – maybe we’ll check into getting one of those for ourselves for a little warmth, a little ambience.  Stay warm, y’all!!