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Oct. 30th, 2012 05:36 pm
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Does anyone know how I can cross post to facebook?
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We only drove about 4 hours today, so that wasn't too bad.  The hotel in Knoxville is not the best, but it is ok.  Kinda small and their internet won't let John's apple products log oh.  HA!

Our big adventure in this town was supposed to be the World's Fair Park.  Guess again.  First of all on the way down there, we stopped at a stop light.  The light was right at a railroad track.  When it turned green, I proceeded to drive across the train tracks.  Seems OK, right?  I mean the light would not turn green if there was a train, right?  WRONG!  There was a train right there, so I punched the gas and made it across.  The guy behind me had to wait.  There was no crossing guard, no lights, no train whistle, nothing.  Just a green light and a train.  Scared us to death.

Then we went to find the parking lot that the woman at the hotel desk told us about.  We could see it from the street we were on, but there was no way in.  So we drove down the street and found some parking lots, garages, and spaces, but they were all for U of Tennessee staff and students.  After we drove through the park, we found the entrance to the parking for the park so we parked.

By this time,  we had been driving around for a hour and I needed a restroom.  The Knoxville Convention Center was right there, so we went in.  The women's restroom was locked, but the attendant was there, so I asked what was the deal.  She said, we lock the restrooms at 2:30 when there is no event in progress.  I check the time and it was, in fact, 2:30.  She had apparently locked the women's room first because John was able to get into the men's room.  So when he came out, I told him mine was locked and the attendant rushed over and locked the men's.  sheesh!  Outside we spotted a building with big letters spelling RESTROOMS, do we headed over there.  They were "Temporarily Closed."  Did I mention it was hot outside?  Well, it was.  So we walked on looking for the Sun Sphere.  But low and behold, there was another restroom building, but, you guessed it...it was locked.  We walked out of the park and up the street to the Chocolate Factory, but they did not have restrooms so we did NOT buy chocolate.  We then decided to just leave and go back to the hotel.  As we walked past one of the restroom buildings, there was a janitor unlocking the door to clean it.  I wondered why they needed to clean it since it had been locked, but John, in all his wisdom, asked the attendant if I could use it and he begrudgingly allowed me to.  Whew!

Feeling much better we decided to go up in the Sun Sphere to the observation deck where you could see up into the Smokey Mountains.  You are now thinking that this adventure was saved from total failure, but you would be wrong.  We finally found the entrance to said Sun Sphere and got on the elevator and pushed 4.  There were signs everywhere instructing you to push NO button except 4.  ===aside === When we were in NYC many years ago, we went up to the observation deck of the WTC and the elevator ride took about 30 seconds.=== It took a full 2 minutes to go up to 4 and there was no fan or AC in the elevator.  When it stopped at 4, the door did not open.  John pushed the open door button, still nothing.  We heard the other elevator arrive and laughing, cheerful, chatting tourists got off and began to ooh and all at the view.  Our door still did not open.  So John pushed 1.  Down we went....however slowly.  When we stopped at 1 the door opened and we high tailed it out of there.

Came back to the hotel and took a nap after a quick stop at the grocery for supplies.  You know it's a bad town when the best thing that happens during your stay is an excellent steak at Applebee's.

Can't recommend Knoxville.

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Went over to Glasgow, MO to the German pancake house.  Delicious.  Then ran some errands for Mom.  Then went down to courthouse square for a walk and found "Jim the Wonder Dog" and his memorial park.  That was the highlight of the trip.  Pictures to follow.  We ate Blue Bell ice cream, came home for a nap, then went to Luke's Cafe for dinner.  Tonight we loaded up a bunch of stuff mom gave us prior to her move into assisted living.  Now we're getting ready to pack for home and petting our cats! yay.
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Marshall, MO what a place!  John took his mom to look at the assisted living place where she is going to move.  They said it was "real nice."  I stayed in the hotel room all day and watched old episodes of "How I Met Your Mother."  Had a chicken sandwich from Arby's for lunch.  Then we went to Wal Mart and got some bananas then across the parking lot for cheap (bad) Chinese for dinner.  Back to the hotel after a thrilling day and watched "Oh Brother Where Art Thou on AMC.  Whew, need a break after all that!
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The first day was spent driving and driving and driving...all the way from Louisville to Marshall, MO.  No aliens this year, but lots of terrorists and illegal immigrants.  I did not get pictures, however.  Gotta love the heartland.

The big trauma when, about 30 miles west of Louisville we got a call from Dennis who said his key that John had made for him for our apartment would not work.  He and Kat are taking care of the cats while we are gone.  Much panic ensued.  John said, "We have to go back."  I said, "No, call the apartment office."  Amazingly, they agreed to make a key for Dennis and when he got off work and went, the new key did work.  I told both he and John that the moral to this story is:  "When you have a key made, try it to see if it works BEFORE you take all the existing keys out of town."

In other news, John's mom seems to be doing ok.

I miss my kitties!!!
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This is the best peanut butter pie ever!  I made this for dinner tomorrow night.

8 ounce(s) cream cheese softened
1 cup(s) peanut butter creamy
1 cup(s) sugar
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla
1 cup(s)whipping cream
1 graham cracker crust baked and cooled

Preparation
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended.

  • In another bowl, whip the cream on high until soft peaks form.

  • Gently fold the whip cream into the peanut butter mixture until well blended.

  • Pour into prepared graham cracker crust. (If you melted chocolate and cream together, pour it on now.)

  • Refrigerate uncovered for at least an hour or as long as overnight.

Lava Cakes

Jul. 4th, 2011 08:33 pm
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I made these for my daughter-in-law's birthday dinner.  They were a big hit.  You can really make them however big you want.  Jumbo muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups work as well as cupcake pans.  I make them small so that I don't eat too much.  Some guests will eat two of them this size.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes
Ingredients
  • 4 ounce(s) Semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup(s) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup(s) Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 Egg Yolks lightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour
  • Whipped Cream
Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray cupcake tins with cooking spray (or line with paper cups).Microwave chocolate and butter in microwaveable bowl on high for 1 minute or until butter is fully melted and a little foamy. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and egg yolks. Gently whisk in flour. Pour batter into prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until sides are done, but centers are still very soft. Let stand 1 or 2 minutes. Run a knife around each cake to loosen and invert of cooling rack. Transfer to dessert plates just before serving and top with whipped cream. these are best if served warm, but are very good at room temperature. You can microwave them for about 10 seconds to warm them before serving. Store left overs in refrigerator.
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Managing John's diet is a challenge because we both like variety in our diets.  Simply adding a salad or fruit to ordinary food is not good enough.  So I am developing recipes that he can eat and that are exciting to make and eat.  This one was awesome!

And since John grows lots of herbs, it is not expensive and can be made anytime.

Ravioli in Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Ingredients
  • 1 package(s) Frozen Cheese Ravioli cooked al-dente
  • 1/2 cup(s) Butter unsalted
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) onion powder
  • 16 Fresh Sage Leaves whole
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Fresh Parmesan grated
Preparation
  • While cooking ravioli according to package directions, melt butter in small skillet until foamy. Add sage leaves, garlic and onion powders, and salt and pepper. Cook until sage leaves begin to crisp (about 2 minutes). Pour Butter sauce over drained ravioli and toss gently. Serve immediately.
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This is our last night in a hotel for a very long time.  It is so nice to be back in the land of green trees and grass, soft water, clouds in  the sky, and twilight.

I understand why people have religious or spiritual experiences in the desert.  Every night we were there, I had the strangest dreams.  I dreamed some friends of mine had a baby and they were staying at my house for some reason (even though they only live a couple miles away).  One night I dreamed that my dance teachers were not dance teachers at all, but professional photographers.  I dreamed one night that I was dog sitting for two miniature pit bulls (I don't even know if there is such a thing) and took them to a Japanese restaurant and put them in the water feature.  My tai chi teacher came over and told me I could not put them there.  I don't know what it all means, but they were very real.  it was weird.

I thought my hair was dead while we were in New Mexico.  I kept saying I was going to cut it off as soon as I got home.  Now that I've washed it in soft water, I've changed my mind.  All of a sudden it is soft again.  Between the wind and heat -- not to mention the dryness of the air-- my hair and skin were like paper and straw. 

Tomorrow I will be home petting my cat about this time ...
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We bid a fond farewell to Roswell this morning.  What a lovely, friendly place.  I highly recommend it for a getaway vacation.  I feel like I got a sense of the southwest USA and I like it.  But it is too hot.  The temperatures were running 10-20 degrees above normal for this time of year which was a bummer.  At 10 degrees cooler, it would have been tolerable, but as it was, it was not.

The sunsets were strange.  There was no twilight...no dusk...no tapering into night.  It was bright sunshine, then dark.  It was very strange.  We would leave the hotel to go to dinner with our sunglasses on and by the time we got to the restaurant (about 10 minutes), it was completely dark.  Very weird.

Also, the stoplights are horizontal, not vertical like everywhere else.  The red is on the left, yellow in the middle, and green on the right.  Turn arrows, whether right or left, were on the extreme right.  I kept missing them if they were yellow ... don't know why, I just didn't see them.  Finally got used to it after about 2 days, but it was disconcerting.

Today we saw a huge dust devil bouncing across a field, then jumped the RR tracks, and finally crossed the road in front of us and skipped across the field on the other side.  Those things are scary.  I had no idea they could get that big.

Finally arrived in the pit called Amarillo.  Ate some dinner, went to wal mart, then got some frozen yogurt.  Thankfully we only have to stay here one night.  Three days to home.
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While walking and driving in Roswell, we noticed a few green lawns.  They were very sporadic.  Those people must water their lawns every day.  The green ones look very "alien" nestled amongst all the brown lawns.  Some of them even needed mowing.  People are so strange.

Another thing that strikes us as very strange is that there is no cafe, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, or any place to get food or cold drinks in the entire "alien zone" downtown.  In order to get sustenance, you must get in your car and drive several blocks.  Seems like a gold mine waiting to be found to me.

It is so cold in the restaurants, that I have to wear my linen jacket.  I had Mexican food for dinner last night.  I had a "smother burrito" which was a burrito made from shredded beef and covered with a green sauce.  It was soooooo good.  John had a salad.  Poor baby.

Everyone here drives white cars.  I think because they reflect the sun better than dark ones.  We have no trouble finding our car in parking lots...it's the only dark one.

Today we went to the zoo.  It was pitiful.  We knew it would be very small, which it was, but the birds were in tiny cages and there were no big animals except two deer, two long horns, and a llama.  They had bigger pens, but still nothing like the great habitats at the Louisville zoo.  However, everything we have done so far here has been free.  Some places have a donation jar, which we drop bills in, but there is no charge for anything.

We also went to the Historical Society and toured a house.  It was funny, because it was only 100 years old.  Shoot, in Louisville, that's not even very old.  People still live in houses that old.  And most of the "artifacts" were things I've seen in operation or in my Grandpa's attic.  But it was interesting.

The heat here is oppressive.  I expected my allergies to get better here, but they are, in fact, worse.  I guess because of the dust.  When it gets to be over 100 we come back to the hotel for a nap.  It's 109 outside now.  I get a headache about the time the thermometer reads 102. 

We are beginning to look forward to going home.  Humidity, a cat, a river, and drinkable tap water...
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Found frozen custard last night and had some.  It was good.  Then we walked all over down town and I'll post pictures on face book later.  There are aliens everywhere.  This town took one incident (albeit a major incident) and turned it into a town "theme" and tourist attraction.  It is a hoot.  I expect if you lived here, you'd be sick of hearing about it, but for tourists, it's great.  We are amazed how many tourists we are running into and the UFO festival is only a week away.  I guess they were doing like us and seeing this stuff before the crazies show up.

Today we went to the Art Museum.  it was named after Robert H Goddard and had a bunch of his early rocket experiments that his wife donated.  It was very cool.  John fixed my camera so that I could take pictures without a flash, so I took a ton.  There was other art too.  My favorite was a painting of a steer skull that looked like it was made out of dried leaves.  When we went over to read about it, found out that it was really an oil painting on linen.  But it sure looked like dried tobacco leaves.  I was surprised to see it was by Georgia O'Keefe.  I bought a small print to frame and hang.  It was very cool.  John's favorite part were the weapons displays and the Indian bead work.

Then we went for more frozen custard and it was still good.  However, when the car thermometer and the bank thermometer both say 108 degrees, there is nothing to do but go back to the hotel and take a nap.  I guess that is what siestas are for.

Tonight we are going to eat Mexican and walk in a housing area and tomorrow it's the zoo and the history museum.  Tomorrow is our last day in Roswell. :(
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So after we finally got settled in our new room and took a 2 hour nap while it was 102 degrees outside, we went to eat at a place recommended by the hotel desk clerk.  Oh boy...not a good idea.  The place was Farley's and professed to make the best burgers in NM.  If that is true, I pity NM.  The service sucked.  Took us almost 2 hours to have burgers.  It was so loud, we could not have a conversation.  TVs every 3 feet and everyone talking at the top of their lungs.  Not pleasant.  The decor was cute, they decorated with posters of old science fiction movies and that was fun to look at, but all we could do was nudge each other and point and not and smile.  So we ate and went for a brief stroll and back home to watch a movie on HBO, but I forget what it was.  Then we watched mythbusters which we had not seen before.

Today we got up early and went in search of NMU-Roswell.  Never did find it.  We decided it must be one of those houses by the side of the road, but it must be incredibly small.  We'll try again later.

UFO Museum!  Was truly awesome.  I thought it would be small and hokey, but it was bigger than I thought and the stuff they had was really cool.  They had tons of newspaper articles about the crash.  They had sworn affidavits from all sorts of people including some air force personnel.  They had biographical info about all the people who had signed the affidavits some of them were Air Force officers.  They had pictures of some of the debris and then pictures of the stuff that officials claimed was the same debris, but it wasn't.  It was cool.  There was a lot of art and one section was devoted to early alien humor.  There was a section of faked UFO pictures and explanations of how they were proven to be fake.  Along side those, there were pictures of stuff that no one has been able to prove is fake.  Very cool.

There is an enormous research library which is where John is right now.  I did not want to hang out for two hours while he read books.  There were thousands of books and magazines and first-hand accounts and pictures and god knows what all.

I bought my kids some alien gifts from the gift shop.  It was well worth the trip.  We got our money's worth out of our visit there.

Then we walked down main street which is the alien zone.  Found a wonderful deli where we had great tuna salad sandwiches and came back here because it was 103 degrees.  I'm working on this and uploading pictures while John is at the UFO library doing research.

Tonight we are going to the park for a walk.

I should mention that the weather here is absolutely wonderful except for about 3 hours in the afternoon when it gets too hot.  The rest of the time it is lovely.  Nice breeze, mild temperatures.  I can see why people want to live here.  Gorgeous.

ROSWELL!!!

Jun. 22nd, 2011 09:08 pm
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Ok, so we went to Bricktown and it was so lovely.  Then we got up the next morning and took off for Amarillo, TX.  Believe it or not, the scenery got even flatter!  It was about a 5 hour drive, but there was not much alien activity.  Saw one alien squashed on the road.  It must have been an alien because it didn't look like any earth creature we had ever seen.  A few crop circles and the one spacecraft which John took a picture of.  (See my facebook photos).

We arrived in Amarillo and my advice to you is, don't go there.  Since Bricktown had been such a lovely time, we tried to find something similar (think Wilmington's waterfront; Louisville's Bardstown Road, waterfront part, 4th street live; or Memphis Beale Street.)  We would even have settled for a Westport Village-type place with picturesque landscaping and shops.  NOT.  The area that the hotel and the internet directed us to was described as an old section of town that had been revamped to include quirky shops, restaurants, and lounges.  Wrong!  It was a dump.  I did not want to even get out of the car.  The only restaurants were in broken down buildings and served barbecue at best.  Mostly it was saloons.  they had quaint names like:  Old West Saloon, Big Q Balls, Cowboy Pub, and so forth.  However, they all looked like rough bars that would not welcome a couple of Louisvillians like ourselves.  So we went to a strip mall and had frozen yogurt.

While we were at the strip mall, we went into the shadow of a building and did some tai chi.  Ate dinner at a chain restaurant called Cheddars which was very good.

Did not sleep at all because the guy in the room next to us slept with his TV on pretty loud.  Also, the air conditioner was right beside the bed.

However, the next morning we got up and went to the Botanical Gardens which were lovely.  It is run totally by volunteers and they were out there working in the plots in 99 degree weather.  I'll post pictures later tonight on facebook.

Still, we were not sad to leave Amarillo.  We have to stop there on our way home, but it will just be a quick overnight with no interaction with the town....yay.

Today's drive was very pleasant.  We saw some crop circles and stuff like that, but mostly it was all dry and dead looking.  There were signs on the highway that the Fire Danger was Extreme.  We saw a couple more windmill farms, but there is not as much wind as there was yesterday.  John was surprised to see that the digital thermometer in his car had three digits ... bless his heart.

We saw a bazillion grain elevators and passed through towns with names like Hereford, Bovina, and Clovis.  There were as exciting as their names imply.  Saw and took a picture of a cattle farm.  At first I thought it was a semi parking lot or a junk yard, but as we got closer, I realized they were cows.  I pulled off on the shoulder so John could jump out and take a picture.  The stench almost knocked him down.  It was horrible.  Will post the picture later. 

It was really funny to be driving along with everything dead and brown as far as the eye could see, and then "poof" you were looking at a field of sorghum that was as green and plush as any Iowa or Nebraska corn field.  They have these huge irrigation thingys that they drag around with tractors to water those plants.  It looked perverse.

We saw a perfectly square alien space craft with one antenna sticking up out of the center, one alien communication  tower with "pods" all up and down the sides, and one alien trying to disguise itself as a cow, but the dimensions were all wrong .... the neck was too long and too thick and the body was too close to the ground and the head was too small.  It was really weird.  Our own communication devices were disabled for about 60 miles and we assumed that was an alien prank.

And then we arrived in Roswell.  Hurray!  We found our hotel which is quaint and pretty retro.  Moved into our room, but the AC did not work.  hmmm.  Aliens?  So they moved us to another room wherein we promptly took a 2 hour nap. 

The owners of this motel are aliens themselves.  They claim they are from Mesa, AZ, but we know they are really from Remulack.  There are little aliens in the pool now with strange projections coming out of their heads and feet.

Will keep you posted!
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We ate breakfast at the Best Western in Marshall and then beat it out of town!  We were not on the interstate all day.  Well, actually, it wasn't all day, but only about 4 hours.  I saw a genuine (gen you wine) Missouri Jumping mule!  Unfortunately, John did not have his camera at the ready, so we did not get a picture of it.

We arrived in Springfield, MO and went pretty directly to John's undergraduate alma mater.  I got to see the building that used to house the philosophy department, but now houses the education department.  I got to see the very hallway where John and his fellow philosophy majors used to hang out and harass the philosophy professors.  It was every bit as thrilling as you are imagining.  I saw the actual rooms where he had classes.  Eventually, I got hot and tired and sat down on a bench in the shade while he ran around and looked at more buildings.

Then we went for Frozen Yogurt which was awesome.  Then to the grocery for sandwich stuff and back to the room for a nap, picnic, and to watch Will Smith be truly cute in Hancock.

Today started out bad .... John, who forgets everything all the time, made me forget my e-reader at the hotel.  We were about 15 minutes down the interstate which the hotel called that they had found it.  Gotta love hotel housekeeping staff!  So we turned around and went back to Springfield and collected my nook.  Then we were off again.  Now John gets to forget something 479 times before I can give him any shit about forgetting stuff.

The wind was blowing 25 miles an hour which is a lot when you are driving 75 miles an hour (the speed limit in Oklahoma).  We listened to some Paul Simon and marveled at how flat it was.  We passed through several Indian nations.  Cherokee, Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo that I can recall.  We split a subway sandwich which we ate in the car in the parking lot and arrived in Oklahoma City safe and sound.

The only alien evidence we saw the last two days was one alien device being hauled on a flat bed truck.  John did get a picture of that.  Hopefully we will see more and more evidence as we get closer to Roswell.  Oh, and we did see a few crop circles.

Tonight we're off to  Bricktown for fun and games.  http://www.welcometobricktown.com/
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We spend days 2 in Marshall, MO--The center of excitement!  We ate breakfast at the hotel and dinner was left over chicken salad at John's Moms.  John took his mom over to Columbia for Red Lobster for lunch and I didn't eat any lunch.  I stayed in the room and watched TV.  I saw "The Object of my Affection" which was not the worst movie I ever saw, but in the running for top 10 worst movies.  That night before we went to bed we went to Wal Mart (the only grocery store in town) and got some bottled water.  It was truly thrilling!

Not much in the way of alien sightings.  I think this place is even too boring for aliens.  They don't even fly over.  However, from our hotel window we could see some sort of tower which might have been part of a grain elevator ... OR ... it could have been some sort of alien communication tower like a cell phone tower or something like that.  I just feel sorry for the aliens who had to come here to build it.  Hopefully they could just beam it here.

John's mother has decided that she wants to move to Louisville.  Bless her heart.  I think she is hoping that by moving around she can stay ahead of old age.  John thinks she has resigned herself to the fact that she is getting old and wants to be near him when she dies.  She wants to move into Brownsboro Place which is a very nice assisted living facility that she looked at when she lived here before.  So, we are going to check into it for her when we get home and she will probably move before school starts.  She is really not doing well living on her own.

That's it --- off to Springfield, MO.
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We left Louisville about 9 am just at the end of rush hour.  Stopped for breakfast about an hour out at a Cracker Barrel.  Then we listened to (and sang along with) the Hair soundtrack from the original broadway musical.  Somewhere in southern Indiana, we saw 2 Coyotes crossing the road.  The first one ran across just in front of our car, but the other one stopped, waited for a break in traffic. and I watched him cross in my review mirror.  Those things are too smart.  Then we listened to the Roy Rogers/Ray Manzariec CD again.

About St. Louis we hit a terrible storm with gusty winds, lightening, and very heavy rain.  Everyone had their emergency flashers on and we could move only about 35 or 40 miles an hour.  We thought about stopping, but John saw on his I-phone that the storm was long and narrow and if we kept going, we would be out of it in about 20 minutes, but if we stopped, it would take an hour or so.  So, we kept moving.  Finally it stopped and we had beautiful weather the rest of the way.  We had our picnic lunch in the car because of the rain.  It was very uncoordinated, but fun and we had plenty to eat.

We saw very little UFO activity.  There was this one truck.  It was the sort of truck they use to carry automobiles from the factory to the dealers.  But, the various layers were all lowered onto the bed of the truck and it appeared to be empty.  We decided that it was really carrying an alien spaceship that had activated its cloaking device rendering it invisible to our eyes.  It was pretty exciting.

We stopped at one rest area in MO that had a fenced off area with a sign that read something like:  Keep Out - Authorized Personnel Only - Sewage Pit.  I wondered who would WANT to go in there since it was a sewage pit....then I thought that even if I were Authorized Personnel, I would not go in there.  The really odd thing was that it looked just like a small pond and there was no bad odor ... Could this be a government cover up of some sort of Alien activity?????

We arrived in Marshall, MO at about 5 pm, collected John's mom and went directly to Glasgow, MO for dinner at the German pancake house.  It was totally awesome. 

Dennis called to say that Clio is NOT happy.  She would not eat her tuna and she would not have anything to do with them, but she kept meowing...very loudly.  I know she misses me and I miss her.  After dinner, I returned to the hotel while John visited his mother.  I was asleep by 10 pm because I was exhausted from driving all day.
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Nearly a year after my visit to Waverly Hills, I am still haunted by the experience.  Not haunted in the ghostly sense, but in the thoughtful, questioning sense.  Much like one might be haunted by an experience of any sort.  You keep coming back to it and asking yourself, “What happened, really?”

Let me just tell the story and you judge for yourself.

My sister, her daughter, and I planned this adventure months in advance.  We paid our money and waited with much anticipation and excitement for “our day” to arrive.  We took the long drive out there and finally ended up on a winding dirt road that took us past the back a decrepit-looking golf course of some sort and through a wooded, spooky area behind a sparsely populated housing development.  A forbidding gate with a “NO TRESPASSING” sign nailed to it greeted us.

We, and many of our fellow ghost hunters, got out of our cars and mingled around until a very pleasant young man came along with a clip board, opened the gate and began checking our names off on a list on his clip board.  He was 20-something and had a very friendly smile and directed us to the gravel parking lot next to the building.

The parking lot was decorated with some junk: a broken down school bus, an unseaworthy boat, some 50-gallon drums that were mostly rust, piles of lumber and other detritus.  Our cars kicked up much dust and we all lumbered out in awe of our surroundings.

The former TB hospital was about as eerie as a building can get.  It was huge beyond belief.  It is several stories tall with tons of windows (no glass, of course) and formed a huge “C” around the parking lot.  It’s Gothic look was enhanced by enormous gargoyles on the edge of the roof and standing on the ground near the entrance.  We were excited.  We took photos and giggled and talked about how scary this was going to be and how much we hoped to see “something.”

Our trusty guide still with his clip board, herded us toward a doorway in what appeared to be a basement.  We were very orderly and respectful as we entered the hallowed, albeit haunted, premises.  Once through the door, we discovered long library tables with chairs arranged to face a portable movie screen.  On the right side of the room, was a small gift shop where we all bought baseball hats, canvas bags, t-shirts, key chains, and all the other artifacts that you expect to find in a museum gift shop.  The rest of the room was decorated with antiques of unspecified age.  There was a player piano...don’t ask me why that was there.  I guess the ghosts used it to entertain themselves when no one was around.  There were lots of pictures on the walls of the hospital when it was operating.

After about 15 minutes, we were asked to sit in the chairs and watch a movie.  The movie was a documentary about the hospital.  It told of how important and innovative it was while in operation, how many people died there, and the sorts of treatments people would receive.  It then went on to tell us the life of the building since it closed its doors to patients.  It was very informative and fun.  We even got to see part of the episodes of the ghost TV programs that had been filmed there.

When the movie was over, we were divided into two groups and led away.  My group was lead by our previously described smiling young man.  He warned us not to wander off from the group because the floor in some places was not stable and there were construction items around that could be dangerous.  He also told us anecdotes about other visitors who had wandered off from the group and had scary experiences.  I think he was just setting the mood for the tour.

As the sun set, and we set off on our adventure, we were hyped.  We walked and we walked and we heard story after story about ghosts appearing, speaking, lurking, and just generally being around.  We even heard one story about our guide, personally, being thrown to the ground by one of the ghosts.  Believe me, it was spooky.   Our guide pointed out marks on the walls where ghosts has thrown things and other eerie markings.  It was completely dark by this point and we had to use our flashlights to see our way up narrow staircases and along wide and winding hallways.

When we reached the infamous room 203 (or whatever number it was), we did see some strange lights that seemed to be wavering much like lights reflecting on a swimming pool, but there was no water around.  We oohed and aahed over that.  We took pictures and lingered a while there.

When we finally reached the top floor, we went out onto the roof to admire the view and heard more stories about people who sneaked into the building at unauthorized times and how they encountered scary things.

Back down we went to the 4th floor where our guide expressed disappointment that we had not seen any ghostly activity.  So he was prepared to “help it along” with an experiment.  He needed a volunteer.  Well, hoping for an “experience,” I volunteered having no clue what was expected of me, I stepped forward and said, “I’ll do it.”

Our cute, young guide put his hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes.  “Are you sure?”  He asked me earnestly.  I smiled and said I was sure.  “If at any time you change your mind, just say so and we’ll stop.”  “OK,” I said.  At this point I wondered what was going to actually be done to me.  Was he going to hang me up by my ankles?  Was he going to blind fold me?  Was he going to leave me alone on that floor while everyone else went to lower floors and waited to hear me scream?  I was nervous, excited, and somewhat apprehensive.  But, I was also very brave.

Our guide, (Have I mentioned how muscular and good looking he was?) Instructed me to walk about 50 feet down the hall away from the group.  I did.  He then told me to turn and face the group, but I did not hear him because everyone was whispering and shuffling their feet, and just generally excited. So, I did not turn around.  It was completely dark except for the faint moonlight that we could barely see outside the windows.

He then asked me to place my feet about two or three feet apart so the group could see the faint light from the window behind me.  (Well, it was actually in front of me because I did not hear him tell me to turn around.)  So I bravely planted my feet apart.  Then he asked me to lift my arms to shoulder height.  I did that.  Then we waited.

After a few very tense moments, I began to gently sway toward the window in front of me.  I was not doing this on purpose, it was just happening.  It was as though someone, or something, was moving past me behind my back, but not touching me.  Our guide asked me if I was moving and I said that I was gently swaying. He asked me if I was doing it on purpose and I said that I was not, that it was just happening.  Everyone oohed and aahed some more.

After a few minutes, our guide thanked the ghosts for showing themselves to us and told me to rejoin the group.   He asked me if I was ok, which I was.  He asked me if they had hurt me in any way, which they had not.  By this time, we were totally excited and thrilled with our haunted hospital experience.  We certainly got our money’s worth out of that adventure.

Since that time, as I said, I’ve been puzzled, haunted if you will, by the experience.  And on several occasions I have stood with my feet about two feet or so apart and my arms held out at shoulder height.  Sure enough, if I stand that way for a few minutes, I begin to sway.  Almost as if someone or something were passing behind me without touching me.

So, I am haunted by the thoughts that these people have taken this old dilapidated building, gathered some stories, and opened up a cash cow.  I am also haunted by the fact that I did not think of it first.
ahrensm: (Default)
I had left overs, but John had this fresh basil Salmon.  He said it was good.
Ingredients
  • Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salmon:
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
  • To prepare sauce, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
  • To prepare fish, heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and pepper; add fish to pan. Cover and grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with sauce.
ahrensm: (Default)
We had an "End of the World" and "Alien Hunting Bon Voyage" party last weekend. The food was a big hit. I gave left overs to people to take home, my son came by and picked up some and I took some to my tai chi class. Everyone loved it all. Here are the recipes...

Mini Falafel with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
This was by far everyone's favorite. There were no left overs.

Ingredients
  • 1 can(s) garbanzo beans
  • 1 whole(s) onion
  • 1 tablespoon(s) dried parsley ( or 1/2 C Fresh)
  • 2 clove(s) Garlic
  • 1 whole(s) egg
  • 2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) pepper
  • 1 teaspoon(s) lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 cup(s) dry bread crumbs
  • 1 cup(s) plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup(s) cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon(s) dried dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon(s) mayonnaise
Preparation
  • Begin by hulling the chickpeas. If you remove the little skin off each and every bean, the falafel will have a much more smooth and pleasant texture.
  • In a large bowl, mash chickpeas until finely crumbled and pasty. Process together in a blender or food processor: onion, parsley, and garlic until smooth. Stir into the chickpeas.
  • In a smaller bowl, beat together: egg, cumin, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and baking powder. Stir into chickpea mixture along with the olive oil.
  • Stir in bread crumbs. You may need more or less breadcrumbs depending on the stickiness of the mixture. You want a consistency of cookie dough so that you can handle it.
  • Heat cooking oil in a large skillet. Make several 2 inch patties of the chickpea mixture. To do this take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture, roll it into a ball and flatten. Drop immediately into hot oil. Fill the skillet with these little patties. Brown on both sides. This only takes a few minutes.
  • Remove to paper towel. You can transfer them to a cookie sheet and keep them warm in the oven for a couple of hours.
  • Sauce: Stir together yogurt, cucumber, dill, mayonnaise and salt & pepper to taste. Chill for at least an hour. You can make this the day before.
Cream-filled Cup Cakes
I made both yellow and chocolate cupcakes.  Then I frosted them with vanilla frosting and added food coloring to make the 6 different colors of the rainbow.  They were very festive and yummy.  I made a big mess, but clean-up was pretty easy.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup(s) butter
  • 1/4 cup(s) shortening
  • 2 cup(s) powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 3 tablespoon(s) milk
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
Preparation
  • Bake 2 dozen cupcakes using your favorite box cake mix or homemade recipe. Cool completely.
  • In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and shortening together until smooth. Blend in powdered sugar and salt. Gradually beat in milk and vanilla. continue to beat until light and fluffy.
  • Fill pastry bag with smallest tip. Push just slightly into top of each cupcake and squeeze in small amount of filling.
  • Decorate with your favorite icing and decorations.
Spinach Dip
I had the most of this left over.  I don't know if people didn't like it or if I just had too much food.  Probably the latter because this was really good.
Ingredients
  • 1 package(s) onion soup mix
  • 1 cup(s) mayonnaise
  • 1 cup(s) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup(s) water chestnuts
  • 10 ounce(s) frozen spinach
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Worcestershire sauce
Preparation
  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until well blended. Cover and chill overnight. Serve with your favorite dippers (veggies, chips, bread cubes, etc.)
Flourless Chocolate Torte
I've made and posted this recipe before, but everyone loves it so much and keep asking for the recipe, I thought it warranted a repost.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup(s) Unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup(s) Unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup(s) Heavy Cream (whipping cream)
  • 8 ounce(s) Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate
  • 5 whole(s) Large Eggs
  • 1 cup(s) White Sugar
  • 1/4 cup(s) Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) Sour Cream
Preparation
  • Heat oven to 350 deg. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the butter with 1/4 cup of the heavy cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cocoa powder. Whisk in the chocolate mixture.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set. (Approximately 35-40 mins.) Let cool in pan for 1 hr. Run a knife around the edge of the cake before loosening the pan.
  • With the electric mixer, whip together the remaining cream, sour cream, and powdered sugar until mixture thickens. Dust the cake with powdered sugar. Drizzle the whipped topping over each slice when serving.
Pineapple Marshmallow Salad
No one seemed to like this, but me.  I love it.  This is not your grandmother's pine apple marshmallow salad, this is very rich and good.  You can use real whipped cream if you prefer.  It is very unhealthy!

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 tablespoon(s) white vinegar
  • 2 whole(s) eggs
  • 1 cup(s) pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup(s) pineapple juice
  • 3 cup(s) mini marshmallows
  • 4 cup(s) cool whip
  • mandarin orange sections
Preparation
  • Mix dry ingredients. Add eggs and vinegar and stir til well mixed. Stir in pineapple juice and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.
  • When completely cool, add pineapple chunks and marshmallows to pudding. Fold in cool whip and chill overnight.
  • Decorate with mandarin orange sections.

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ahrensm

October 2012

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