Monday, January 30, 2012


Room Avalable Light (2 overhead fluorescent light fixtures); actually the stool holding the dish was not directly under lights but off to one side of  the main source of light. Might be a little brighterhad I chosen to be right under lights, but was afraid of shadows as I was standing above the dish with camera.
SOOC (Straight Out of Camera)
Most of  you have read my repeated grumbling of my dislike for cooking. Not just you, my husband hears it, too. With two people from different US cultures and with different health needs, not to mention often diametrically opposite likes and dislikes of food, cooking is a chore, not fun.

Then if I spend a day, on my feet--more on than off-- I have some swelling--not bad, but nevertheless not good for the heart. And with A-Fib I seem to tire from a day full of chores, even though weight loss has helped lessen A-Fib attacks. It is just the nature of the beast, I am told.

Yesterday (Saturday) I decided to do more than usual for a church event called "Together Sunday" monthly potluck dinner followed by a wedding shower for a couple who had overcome untold health and monetary struggles to finally say "I DO.," We witnessed their determined, never complaining, efforts and planning to reach this point. There were many smiles and tears for this couple when they announced their marriage as we all knew the history.

My church has Life Groups (some religious groups  call them cells or small group worship) as substitute for a second worship service the same day. 

Now with that little bit of history, I decided to put more effort into a dish than my usual buying desserts at Sam's (I always have some pies and cakes in freezer which is my usual fare), or some exotic rolls I find at WalMart, etc.

We had hosted the Life Group (usually 12-18 people) the week before, and I fortunately had a 12" pecan pie, drinks, coffee, with some flavor additives, unsweetened tea ready. The group brought enough variety for a good meal.

"Together Sunday" attendance averages 75-125 people because it is following Sunday a.m. worship.

I had a frozen HUGE chuck roast in the freezer, I defrosted Friday night. It is one cut of meat I don't mercilessly ruin. I do not roast it in the oven. It becomes a pot roast.  I know it is not the healthiest cut of meat. I cut off all visible fat before cooking. I have my own special formula dry rub (no salt, no tenderizer,no sodium, because of  bans in my or other potential partakers' diets).  I use on all meats, whether beef, chicken, pork or fish.

After rubbing in this dry rub on and in every crevice on both sides of roast, I brown in a large pot in a small amount (thin layer to cover bottom with Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil on the stove top). After turning to brown the second side, I brush on Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning Sauce solution and add enough Kitchen Basics Unsalted No-Fat, Beef Flavor Cooking Stock. I don't cover the roast, but enough to simmer for several hours, probably 8-10 oz. Additional stock can be added if needed. I bring stock to boil and reduce to simmer.

I really cannot say how long I let the roast simmer but it was more or less for ll a.m. to about 3 p.m. it does not lose flavor because of the stock and rub, it is so very tender; no one believes it is chuck roast. I strain off the stock and meat fluids and put in freezer to separate the fat, for a interesting sauce.

Then I had chosen some vegetables to accompany the roast, but I don't cook them with the roast. My experience is cooking with the roast makes the veggies less appealing to the eye. I steamed some broccoli cuts to tender. I prepared some boiler onions. I had two packages of potatoes in packages which cook 8 minutes each in the microwave and then peeled when cool. Then I had 2-3" cuts of peeled carrots and de-stringed (somewhat) celery which I boiled in Kitchen Basics Unsalted, No Fat Vegetable Flavor Cooking Stock. I drained and saved the stock.

I decided to make 2 cups  (1c meat, 1 c veggie) sauce, using part of each to make a paste (roux) with cornstarch and thickened in pasmall pot on stove. It made a perfectly smooth caramel colored sauce.

Then I separated the meat into serving pieces, placed in a Corning dish which has a cover and heating package to keep it hot. I arranged the veggies around the meat, making a colorful looking dish.  I drizzled the sauce over everything, and a alittle extra to take separately for those who like to drown their food in sauce or gravy.

This took most of the day, but there were some intervals I sat down to read the daily newspaper, finish my coffee,  eat a light lunch; we used a small amount of the meat and veggies for dinner.

When I got to church several oohed and aahed over the dish. I jokingly said  if it was leftover, I saw a good start for beef stew. The entire church kitchen counters were covered with casseroles, salads, crock pots, and and two extra tables had drinks and desserts. I was overwhelmed with the turnout of both food and people.

We had a great time. When I went to get my dish to take home, shockingly it was washed clean. One of the ladies who heard my joke, said, ""I don't see much there for a start of beef stew!"  So my cooking isn't poison I hope. Stay tuned for any fast-breaking news.

Also, there was very little leftovers for anyone to take home to my amazement. We are sure little piggies. I think gluttony is considered a tad on the lack of self-control side, but maybe there is an exemption for potlucks(?)!

Now I have written all this so I can show the photos I took of the dish, with and without flash. I have always been an advocate of "available" light photography, i.e., no flash basically. [Some of you have asked if I have used my new Nikon D5100--these two photos are  #2 & #3.  Just can't get everything done each day like I used to be able to do.]

I first became acquainted with available light concept in the days of film photography. Then the "speed" of a film was expressed as a number called ISO (won't go into what that stands for) but the high number ISO allowed camera settings which made decent pictures under less than ideal light conditions. Of course there were things called f-stops and shutter speeds involved, but I am talking about an average situation. In films very hi-speed produced grainy photos; in digital photography there are also drawbacks to extreme ISOs, too.

Average to me is in house with room lights like today, which was two overhead fluorescent fixtures. The dish was placed on a small stool so I could mainly have just the dish in the picture. Each picture tells how I took it.

Dish/stool not moved but flashed turned on. Truthfully I would have preferred something in between the two photos, but if I have to choose between the two I would choose the first. However each has its virtues. at least there is no "flash burn in this phot Both would easily be fixed with Photoshop Elements  or other photo editing program--not even a complicated program. I don't see as much detail in this photo myself.
SOOC (Straight Out of Camera)

P.S. Some of the higher end, but smaller digital cameras have the capability to turn flash off and on in their menus.

PHOTOS: by NitWit1 unless otherwise attributed.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Spearfish Canyon (Lodge), South Dakota

Spearfish Canyon South  Dakota
Hwy 14A, National Scenic Byway
Spearfish Canyon and Lead, (pronounced Leed), South Dakota are the last of our vacation spots that I will blog in detail.

Spearfish Canyon was so-named because Native Americans came down into the canyon along the creek (also named Spearfish)  to fish by spearing. The canyon is located near Spearfish, S.D. along the northern edge of the Black Hills National Forest. Within the forest is Harney Peak which is the highest natural point in South Dakota and east of the Rockies.

The 22-mile road trip through the canyon on US Hwy. 14A was a lovely September day with the leaves beginning to show their lovely yellow and orange tints of coming autumn. There are numerous waterfalls, and everywhere there was the bubbling sound of Spearfish Creek which runs through the canyon. Some beautiful homes built to fit into the environment were scattered along the route. US 14A is designated a National Scenic Byway.
Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Bridal Falls
There were towering rugged cliffs, sparkling waters, forest stands of pine spruce, aspen and birch. The Canyon is about 62 million years old, 12 times older than the Grand Canyon.

A family that enjoys outdoor activities would love Spearfish Canyon with over 700 campsites, 450 miles of trails including the Mickelson Trail named after the golfer, several smaller cities of tourism like Deadwood, Hill City, and Lead, and other famous sites with short driving distances.

Hiking, jogging, walking bicycling, horseback riding, bird-watching and fly fishing are popular activities. Some activities of note are National Trails Days, Spearfish Canyon Half-Marathon and 5K Walk, Ladies Marathon and Half Marathon, the Dakota Five-0.
Spearfish Canyon South Dakota
Hwy 14A, National Scenic Byway
SOOC (Straight Out of Camera)
Frank Lloyd Wright's parting words about Spearfish Canyon: "..a stately exposition of what decorated walls on enormous scale can do and it is that I've heard so little of this miracle..."

Lead, at the end of US 14A , is the home of Homestake Gold Mine, closed in 2002. Founded in 1876 it was sustained for 130 years as the richest gold vein ever unearthed. Today the many abandoned underground tunnels and caverns are contributing to the future. In 2007 the National Science Foundation selected Lead for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory.

Where else has a progressive little city found a way to promote abandoned tunnels and caverns? Sometimes communities whine and complain, instead of spending time in creative, positive discussion and exploration.

Our tour stopped at the Homestake Visitor Center located on the edge of the Open Cut where gold was first discovered and last mined.

Homestake Mining Co.
Open Pit Gold Mine
Bottom - 800 ft.
Although our stop was only for the Open Cut mine bought by mining magnate George Hearst near the end of the Black Hills gold rush, the mine is only a part of the beauty  of Lead. The town's architecture is a rich heritage. A walking tour of 20 buildings of extraordinary design is a feature of Lead. From photos I have seen, (1) the Finnish Lutheran Church Building  (now a gift shop), (2) Glover House-home of George W. Glover, son of Mary Baker Eddy-founder of Christian Science Church, and still a private resident, (3) Christian Science Church, (4) Revell House/Main Street Manor, and (5) Homestake Powder House (transfer house for explosives-now a private residence) would be my personal picks to tour of the 20 buildngs designated as a walking tour.
Homestake Mining Co Open Pit
Lead, South Dakota
George Hearst, a mining magnate in a several fields including silver, copper and gold was the father of newpaper magnate William Hearst. Both had investment holdings in various enterprises.George Hearst had a successful political career also.
Dirt/Gold Cart, Homestake Mining Co. Pit
Lead, South Dakota
However, the years Hearst owned Homestake Mining Co. marked the beginning of a story of nearly 126 years of accomplishments, both civic and technological for Lead, SD.

Much of the area of South Dakota from Deadwood, Lead and Spearfish Canyon, with its settlers, celebrities and activities were depicted in an HBO series entitled DEADWOOD.

Closeup Hauler Wheel
Homestake Mining Co. Pit
Lead, South Dakota
Attribution: Material for this post has been assimulated from the Internet, Lead South Dakota Walking Tour of Historic Buildings brochure by Lead Historic Preservation Commission, Exploring The Black Hills and Badlands (The Great American Road Trip) and our Road Scholar guide.

Photos: by NitWit1 unless otherwise attributed.
Homestake Mining Pit -  Lead, South Dakota
Photo by Husband
Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Imagin the height of the evergreen in the
foreground, as the photo does not show
the base of the tree.

Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Hwy 14A, National Scenic Byway
Photo by Husband

Monday, January 23, 2012


A whole day whisked by faster than a sweep on a broom by  an industrious well-organized housekeeper. I washed three loads of clothes, usually only have two. With a my Life Group meeting at my house yesterday, I had to pickup and decide where to move each pile of clutter off the dining and serving services. Hope I find it all again.

Luckie had to have a bath, scheduled for Saturday.Then there was the usual phone calls about what may be going on in a our small town, mainly 3 new eateries, even though there is a surplus already for a population that is declining in general with a large number wintering over in other states.

And 4 hours on Thursdays is devoted to church office duties  as a volunteer. Tuesday the housekeeper was here. My duties those days are to answer questions, clean the washroom and usually the kitchen/den  table where we do our daily dining.

When Friday arrived I began to panic. I made a trip to WalMart for last minutes items I don't usually keep, like International Delight flavors for coffee. I also had a dental hygiene cleaning and a date for an allergy shot.

Fortunately weight loss, albeit incremental, has helped my heart behaving acceptably for several weeks now--a few minor breakthroughs for about 45 minutes or less--not the 2 hours like I had in the beginning. But then I am now equipped with medicines to knock it back into rhythm; also some techniques call vagal maneuvers, and several relaxation techniques like hot showers which are surprisingly effective.  

My nurse practitioner recognizes I am wound tighter than an alarm clock almost 24/7 and includes a medicine to be taken 3x a day, but I rarely take a mid-day dose. However, on busy or stressful days like Sunday was,  I do take it and it does cut the hot salsa back a tad.

SO what did not get done? Well I missed getting by the upholstery shop to select fabric for my lift chair. That is on for this week. I have found pacing, myself instead of pushing myself are much better for my over all well being.

I fuss and worry over Luckie's somewhat dislike for men but she behaved very good, only begging for food, and finally settling down for a nap  after our dining. She was in an enclosed room until the actually dinner was over. She immediately check us all out upon release and the sniffed out all the crumbs on the kitchen and dining floors, saving  me considerable time for cleanup today.

A friend came over also last week and encryted my router/network as too many unknown persons were using my open (public) network. I know some neightbors are mad, but I tolerated it until they were telling all their friends of its existence. It is a form of stealing, if you gett really technical about it.

Internet Photo
THIS WEEK: Let's see: laundry,cook two different dishes (one for potluck Sunday and one for our frozen storage at church for emergencies (like sickness and death in families), the upholstery shop, bring my finances up to date in computer, and an invitation to eat at a newly discovered catfish house in Gainesville MO, a friend has discovered, church office, and bread outlet. Some of these will be combined into one trip.

When oh when, will I get to play with my new camera?

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Luckie's small foot prints compared to her somewhat
German Shepherd body. Taken with my new
Nikon 5100 with only cropping. Not much of a
photo as it has been a busy week for and old lady.

This week my part of north central Arkansas had a skiff of snow, a term I learned here; I call it flurries to a light snow which nearly covered everything but streets. Further south of me, but still called north central Arkansas, there was some treacherous ice. In fact an ambulance en route to a call slid into a ditch and was rescued by a fish and game officer who carried them to their destination. There were a few slide-offs and minor collisions but thankfully no major causalities.

I received my camera last weekend and discovered I had a 263 page manual to digest so I am plowing through major points. Since it is same make as my former camera, some features are similar or the same, others entirely new. One feature is I can set auto flash in the menu and turn it off with a knob on the exterior of the camera without plowing through dozens of menus. It also has a video feature. are many other features I have not yet begun to explore.

The worst of the week was today when I discovered my YAHOO mail account has been hijacked. I spent the day tracking down e-mails sent in my name which I knew nothing about. Very few of my blog readers are in my YAHOO address book. My blog is with GMail and it is not affected.

I have changed my password that may not solved the problem. The perpetrator seemingly is also a YAHOO subscriber and I have supplied what is called the complete header to YAHOO tech support. However I cannot use the account as the header that goes out on my e-mail has all the perpetrator's info on it.

I have had this account for 8-plus years without any problems-only a SPAM once in awhile.  But for about a month it seems on weekends, I received about 20 a day. Somehow I am sure this is related.

As soon as I can figure how to salvage addresses and some saved files I will create a new account. It is the only solution. I am sure the 106 addresses that woke this morning to SPAM in my name for CIALIS, VIAGRA, etc from a Canadian pharmacy with my name and e-mail were a tad shocked. Actually about 40 addresses were no longer valid which were returned to my account by that fellow DAEMON.

I cannot imagine people fall for these fake ads, because the products are largely tainted; some have absolutely no therapeutic effect even though they are made to mimic the original product remarkably well..

SOooo, my day has been brutally crushed by a malicious person.

I am thankful my blog and GMail are unaffected. Stay warm. Tomorrow is projected to be warm and Monday, too, with some rain.

PHOTOS: NitWit1 unless otherwise attributed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


It is like and infirmary here. Between my medicine routine and Luckie's medicine and water intake measure, we need a chart system.

Luckie has to take Pepcid an hour before antibiotics. Seems she also has a sensitive stomach which may have contributed to her early rejection of food. She is eating like a horse now.

Her water intake has returned to normal for her size/weight. She played pitch and retrieve her surgically modified soft porcupine.

But I see this is going to be a long recovery from reading and talking with persons who have had dogs with chronic Ehrlichiosis. Some have treated their dogs with antibiotics for over two years until they get two straight negative blood tests.

In between all this vet medical routine, I have my own. I surely keep the two sets of medicine entirely separate both in storage and dispensing. I don't need any mix ups. Further we both are on Doxycycline right now for different reasons--i have a sinus infection.

I hope Husband stays well for a season, but he manages his medications himself. It is called "don't take it if I don't want to theory." Sometimes I cannot argue with it.

My new Christmas present has hardly been touched--a new Nikon D5100 which can almost function without human hands. It has a GPS feature for geotaging, but at this time I am unwilling to forfeit my flash shoe for this feature with limited importance to me. I check all GPS accessories, both NIKON and other brands which work with same camera. None had very positive review, so I'm saving my money. This is relatively new in lower tiers of cameras for advanced amateurs like me. SO I PASS.

If I just had to have GPS, I could carry a handheld one and actually but the data on the picture---too much trouble. I bet nobody wants to know exact coordinates of where I took that closeup of a butterfly on a posy!!!

By the way, I finished reading a TALE OF TWO CITIES. There is a lot allegory in Dickens's writing but I really am scared our populace is descending into an abyss of desiring anarchy instead of rule of law. Excesses at either end of the spectrum is dangerous and incites unrest.

 When I was a city alderman, I had a phrase, of which I am not the author, when used when faced with decisions concerning enforcement issues: "justice tempered with mercy." Many judges use this phrase, but there is often circumstances and hardships which arise and were not considered when regulations and laws were written.

Last two paragraphs are my personal opinion only.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Luckie is ill and I have a number of obligations I need to take care of. Vet thinks Luckie has chronic erhlichiosis or maybe early kidney failure. I am having to keep track of her water intake and several other things. She vacillates between lethargic and her old feisty personality so it is hard to nail down the exact reason.

Will keep you posted.  NitwIT1