Monthly Archives: November 2009

Shrimp ‘n Grits

By popular demand, I finally extracted the shrimp ‘n grits recipe from Mrs. Poolman. I have posted it under the “Food” page above.

So, Terri, how about that recipe for the ham, wild rice and cheese soup you wrote about last winter???  Fair is fair.

Final home game of 09

Mrs. Poolman and I took off Friday afternoon for the last Gator home football game weekend of the season. We stayed Friday and Saturday night with Mrs. P’s younger sister. When we arrived, we picked her up and went to Outback Steakhouse where we met up with other sister in law, brother in law, a nephew and a friend of his. Nice dinner. We beat the dinner rush crowd. Monday is my b-day. I don’t usually like any kind of fuss, but the sisters in law brought a couple of thoughtful presents and a tiramisu dessert, so all was very good.

We were off early Saturday morning with nephew Billy for the final tailgating session of the year. We had no trouble finding a spot in our usual area, but others did. I witnessed one minor altercation that brought up an interesting question.

In the section of campus where we tailgate, there is no organization or supervision. People park wherever they want, on a “first come-first served” basis. There is a group who fairly frequently tailgates very near us. They send a couple of people to “set up camp” fairly early. These “scouts” take yellow caution tape and tape off an area to park an additional six to eight cars. This is in a section of campus where tailgating is very popular, and parking spaces are at a premium.  Later in the morning or afternoon, depending on the game time, the rest of their group wanders in and parks in their “reserved” spots. Saturday morning, another couple of tailgaters were looking for a parking space. One passenger got out of their car and lifted the caution tape to park in the “reserved space.” One of the guys who was already there started yelling at them and told them they couldn’t park there because he was saving it for his family. They exchanged some words, and eventually the “interlopers” drove off to find a spot elsewhere.

I just watched the whole thing. The guy who was saving the spaces, “Dave”, came over to talk to me, and made a “Imagine the nerve of that guy,” kind of comment. He was surprised when I politely said, “To be honest, I think the other guy was right and you are wrong.” Surprisingly, he didn’t get angry. We had a very nice conversation, but I explained that I thought he was being very greedy to rope off that many parking spaces when there are so many people who are trying to find places to park. I told him that I didn’t think anyone would object to saving one or two spaces for later arrivals, but they had cordoned off an extremely generous section. If I had not found another space nearby, I would also have just lifted the tape and backed into one of his spaces.

You see this kind of thing a lot, at theaters, graduations, Christmas religious services, etc. You see a row or block of empty seats, but when you try to sit down, one person sitting in the row says that they have “reserved” that whole section for their family. My opinion is that it is a matter of degree. Saving one or two extra seats or parking spaces isn’t a big deal, but having one “early arrival” staking out a claim to a large section of seating or parking at what is expected to be a crowded event, is unreasonable. It annoys the heck out of me, when I’m the one looking for a seat, parking space, etc. What do you think?

In any case, the game went well.

The Gator Band

On our walk to the stadium we were joined by a couple hundred musicians, which was pretty cool. The introduction of the senior players before the game was actually quite emotional. Florida State didn’t put up much of a fight.

Tim Tebow's second-to-last snap in The Swamp

We left with about 5 minutes left in the game, so we could beat the traffic and get back to Jacksonville. However, I understand from listening to the radio in the car, that the post-game celebration was extensive, with a full stadium staying around to applaud Tim Tebow and the rest of the team. Sorry we missed it, but by leaving five minutes early, it actually put us back in Jax more than an hour earlier than we would have been otherwise.

Back to work tomorrow. It’s been a nice five-day break.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’ve been off of work for two days and it’s been busy.

Wednesday was mostly filled with preps for having a house full of folks for Thanksgiving the next day.

It works!

One project on my list was to repair our front post lamp. As I have mentioned before, I am not the handiest of homeowners. (I could really have used “More Than an Electrician” for this.)  Anyway, I figured if I could take it apart, I could see what was broken, buy a part and put it back together the way I found it. Well, it wasn’t as easy as that, but I got it to work all the same. The connections to the ceramic “socket” were rusted out and came disconnected. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the “floor” of the lamp housing was full of the remnants of about a zillion dead gnats, mosquitoes and other bugs. There is no need for a blow by blow description of the project. Suffice it to say, that courtesy of the guy at Ace Hardware, I found a replacement part, although not the exact same thing, and with a little improvisation, I managed to put it back together. When I turned on the power, the bulb lit up and it didn’t smoke, spark or catch fire. I call that a success.

Late in the afternoon, we took our lab to the vet.

Casey the Lab

He is getting older, although since he was a rescue adoption, we don’t know exactly how old he is. He has been moving very stiffly, and in the past day has seriously favored his back right leg. The vet reported he probably has arthritis, but he also has a torn ligament in the knee of his back leg. We are faced with a tough decision. There is surgery available to repair the ligament, but it is very involved, would be very painful for the dog, not to mention quite expensive. Given his age, I think we are going to treat the arthritis with medication and see how he does with the leg. We had a similar experience with our previous lab, and were very unhappy about the outcome. We allowed her to be opened up to remove a tumor. It turned out she had extensive cancer. They just closed her back up and sent her home. She died a few weeks later, but it would have been much more comfortable for her, if she hadn’t also had to recover from a major surgical incision.

Thursday dawned bright and sunny. I got up and went to 9 am mass. We have so many blessings, I really felt the need to give thanks “in person.”

After mass, I cleaned up the back yard, since I knew our Thanksgiving gathering would overflow to the courtyard and patio.

The courtyard

The patio

Mrs. Poolman did most of the cooking for this event. It is unusual for me not to be more involved, but I was occupied with the back yard, vacuuming the house, and so on.

The official “kick off” was to be at 4 pm, but our son and girlfriend (Poolboy and GF), and daughter and husband (Writer Princess and SIL) came a little early. We were joined by our friends/neighbors the W’s, Fran who works with Mrs. P, and SIL’s brother and wife who were holiday orphaned this year. We had one “holiday widower” in the group. Mark’s wife is a nurse who works with Mrs. P. She had the holiday duty, so Mark came over with their adult daughter. All told, we had 15 people for dinner. We almost always have a joint holiday celebration with the W’s. They contributed a fried turkey and various side dishes to the menu, to go along with our roasted turkey, baked ham and about a ton of other stuff.

The "spread"

As expected, we had more food than you could say grace over, and everyone seemed to have a good time. At least, if they didn’t enjoy it, they faked it real well.

It was a good day and I suspect we’ll be eating leftovers for awhile. Love those turkey sandwiches!

Thanksgiving week

It hasn’t been the most exciting week, but here are a few updates.

Mrs. Poolman’s shrimp and grits turned out great! Being a “born and raised” Yankee, this is a dish that I should not be inclined to like. When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded disgusting.  At the time, I could tolerate grits, but wasn’t real excited about them. And shrimp in some sort of gravy on top of them just sounded gross.

Oh my, has my mind been changed. I had them a year or two ago at a restaurant and fell in love. Mrs. P’s dish is even better. She sauted the shrimp with some blackening spice and then made a spicy creamy sauce to go with it. The leftovers are dinner again tonight. As soon as I can get Mrs. P to write down the recipe, I’ll post it.

Our barrier island boony stomping expedition last week produced fruit today. Reporter Mary Landers wrote a nice article on the project and her editors put it on the front page of the Savannah Morning News. If you are interested, you can see it here.

Mrs. P and I are both off work through the weekend. No CCD class tomorrow night, so we’ll just be kicking back until heading down to Gainesville for the Gator season finale on Saturday.

We are staying home for Thanksgiving. We’ve managed to juggle schedules so that both our kids (Poolboy and Writer Princess), Son-in-Law and Poolboy’s GF will be able to join us for dinner. Some of our good friends, the W’s will also be here. Like us, they have no family in town, so we almost always do our holidays together.

We also keep an eye out for holiday “widows and orphans,” a practice Mrs. P and I have done since the early days of our marriage when we were moving around the country and never had family close. I know one nurse from Mrs P’s unit will be here. We might pick up another widow or orphan before it’s over.

Saturday’s Florida-FSU game should be a good one. FSU is a traditional rival. Also, it’s Senior Day, which means it’s the last home game for Tim Tebow and a pretty great group of seniors. When they introduce Tim T, the applause may register on the Richter Scale.

And finally, Gator fans can breath easy. Urban Meyer put the issue to rest; he is not going to leave UF to go to Notre Dame. I never thought he would, but the rumor persisted. He’s got a great thing going where he is. The grass isn’t always greener. As a matter of fact, in February in Indiana, it isn’t green at all. Ha!

We have much for which to give thanks. Life is great!

Good football weekend

I headed to Gainesville for the second-to-last home game of the season. It was a non-eventful win over Florida International. Nice chance to see some of the kids who will be playing next year and later.

The view from our seats.

By the end of the game, there were a couple of running backs handling the ball who I have never even heard of. They are probably walk-on seniors and this will be the only chance they will get to actually play some downs in a real game.

Mrs. Poolman stayed home, so I took a couple of my local Gator buddies for a same-day round trip.

Starting early.

It was a good time had by all. With the early kick-off, we were on the road by 5 am, but were home by 8 pm.

We have a new couple who have season tickets to the seats next to us. They are a couple of former Gator cheerleaders. Nice folks. This week, they brought their two girls, ages 7 and 3 with them. Both girls were very well behaved and quite cute.

ZZZZZZZZ!

The three year old arrived tired and grumpy, but slept through the entire first half in her mom’s lap. She slept like a rock througth all the noice and even the cheers. I joked with her mom, that she must be used to hearing them at home. She woke up for the second half and was quite the flirt. Very cute!

It has been a cool and rainy Sunday today. I ran a couple of errands and updated the checkbook. Such excitement. Mrs. P is making shrimp and grits for dinner. If  it turns out as good as I expect, I’ll share it tomorrow.

A well-spent Friday

We had an interesting day today. It started off with a meeting with our county legislative delegation. My boss was the main speaker, but I went along to carry his spear. We aren’t looking for anything special from the legislature in the session that will begin in January, but we need to hold on to the funding we have. Mostly we were there just to keep us on their radar screen.

After that, I spent the rest of the day out on the water and hiking around a couple of the local inner barrier islands.

It was a very nice day!

The project is a joint effort between our institute and the state DNR archaeology division.  We are trying to identify significant archaeological sites that may be threatened by erosion in the foreseeable future. A reporter from the Savannah newspaper went along to do a story. I joined the group to liaison with her and to take pictures for her. Not a bad way to spend a fall Friday.

It was a beautiful day, with temperatures ranging from the low 70s to the low 80s. Nice break from the office. As Mrs. Poolman said, “And you get paid for that?”

A salt marsh

We saw some nature and a couple of pretty cool archaeological sites, including a Civil War era earthen artillery battery and a 19th century bricked walled grave yard.

The graveyard

It’s weird seeing something like that on an otherwise deserted island.

I am not the most coordinated person in the world, which I demonstrated once again. As we were walking along, we came to a fallen tree across our path. Holding on to my camera, I straddled the log, sitting on it. The log was on a slant, with the downhill side to my back. Before I could swing my trailing leg over and hop off the other side, I felt myself falling backwards. Sure enough – down I went. It was like, well, falling off a log. I had dirt and leaves in my hair, but no damage except to my dignity. I fall a lot, and have gotten pretty good at it.

We did see a little wildlife. I was standing and talking with the reporter, when I saw feral hog. It was a mama with about ten little piglets. Mama was fairly large, about the size of my Labrador retriever. She heavily engaged snuffling around looking for food or whatever they do and didn’t notice us until she was about 40 feet away. I raised my arm to try to get a picture and that caught her attention. You could just see what went through her little porcine brain.

“Ohay, itshay!” (That’s pig latin for “Oh, sh_t!)

Off she went, running all the way home. We didn’t hear her, but she must have sent a message for the little pigs, because they also scurried after her.”

All together, it was a good day.

Mrs. Poolman and I are having an early dinner (Spare ribs. How appropriate?) and to bed early. The Gators have an “exhibition game” tomorrow against Florida International. Mrs. P is staying home, so I’m taking two of my Gator-fan friends to the game. We’ll be out the door at 5 am. That’s criminal for a Saturday morning, but you gotta do what you gotta do.”

A close “oops” call

I’ve spent a couple of days this week in Atlanta.

My meeting ended early on Tuesday, so I took the opportunity of the pre-rush hour traffic to make a run to the Crate and Barrel Store in Lenox Square Mall. About two years ago, I bought some cocktail glasses there that we really liked. Unfortunately, we sorta liked them to death. There are only two of the original six or eight remaining. Lucky me! They still had the same style of glass and they were on sale. Actually, I’m not 100% certain the ones I bought are exactly the same style as the remaining two. However, I bought eight replacements, so if they aren’t exactly the same, we’ll just have a whole new set.

When I went out to my car in the now-darkened parking lot, I noticed a car with its lights on parked to my side. There were two or three empty spaces in between us. I saw there was a guy in the driver’s seat with his head bent forward against the steering wheel, as if he was unconscious. He watched him for a minute or two and he was very still. The “good Samaritan” in me came to the surface. I had thoughts of a heart attack, stroke, etc. I walked over with the intent of knocking on the window to see if he was OK. As I got close to the window and was about to knock on the glass, I saw that he had his hands folded in his lap.

Oops!!! The guy was praying!

He was probably Muslim, but I didn’t wait around to ask.

As I was pulling out of the parking spot, I noticed the man finished his prayer and was sitting up in the car. I guess I dodged an awkward moment there.