Saturday, 21 June 2014

Jon Bear Journal: Momma Bear comes to visit with Jon Bear

Late last week I had the pleasure of entertaining mom for a short three day visit as she was on her way back from visiting her sister and cousin in New Hampshire.  My mom had actually visited for one day on her way to New Hampshire via her Massachusetts stop where she connected with her cousin before heading North to her sister's house in New Hampshire.  During her visit we did the thing we always love to do when I visit mom or she visits me which is play Super Scrabble.  Mom and I have our own set of rules when we play Super Scrabble.  Essentially what that means is we have no rules.  Which pretty much allows us to sit with an open dictionary and our group of letters as we try to make words.  That is a bit of an exaggeration, but we allow each other to check on words when we are not sure of the spelling and we do not limit the number of look ups.  Obviously that's a big aid to our scoring.  I don't know if the game has a time limit on turns or not, but we allow as much time as needed, and sometimes that could be rather long.  Most of our games last somewhere between 2 and a half to 4 hours, which makes it a prime game to play during Mets baseball games.  The Mets have a penchant for going extra innings this year, so their games are rather long and as usual they have a penchant for losing this year, so by playing Scrabble during the games our time doesn't feel like a complete and utter waste once our beloved Mets meet their seemingly inevitable demise.

So the typical things we do on visits were featured, a la playing Scrabble, watching the Mets lose and drinking wine.  Mom brought along one of the Middle Sister Wines "Rebel Red" which is one of my favourites of theirs.  What I really like about the Middle Sister Wines is that they are tasty and not terribly expensive.  The night of mom's one day visit we had pizza from I LOVE PIAZZA of Troy, New York.  I LOVE is a great pizza place, and is the staple pizza in my house when I order out.  I like their Sicilian cut pizza the best.  It has a big crust, lots of cheese and ample toppings.  When my brother Robert visited me in February this past year I think he thoroughly enjoyed the Sicilian cut pizza.  I don't think mom was as big a fan of it though.  She has really enjoyed pizza from I LOVE before, but it was a regular 8 cut pizza with a thinner crust that we had on that occasion.   I think she did really like the sausage sub we split that we ordered along with the piazza though. I had half the pizza left over which I finished during the week prior to mom's return visit.  We watched both the first and second Hobbit movies on blue ray DVD.  I enjoy watching all the movies in a series together when possible.  Most people have seen the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson.  If you have not yet, they are very entertaining movies based off the famous fantasy books written by J.R.R. Tolkien. 

On mom's return visit she wanted to go to a curtain outlet, being she kind of lives in the boonies where they don't have anything like... ummm... stores.  >.<

She had looked up a few places on line and one was in my home town of Watervliet.  Of course, we drove to the curtain place and it turned out to be what looked like an abandoned warehouse on a very sketchy looking street.  The sign on the fence confirmed that it was the store she had read about on line.  Mom and I were kind of wondering if the business might be a front for some sort of illicit activity.  There were a bunch of businesses like auto shops and drug stores on the street that looked rather run down as well and they were all across from some beautiful looking homes.  Mom and I could not figure out how anyone would want to own what had to be a very beautiful and expensive home overlooking such an eye sore.

After the first failure mom called the second place on her list which was in Troy, NY.  It turns out that she needed to make an appointment to go to that place, which also seems rather odd for a curtains store.  Mom had one more place on her list but we gave up the ghost and decided we would just look for her new curtains the next day in the better known department stores like JC Pennies, Kohls and Boscovs.  On the second night of mom's visit we were able to find a few pink and green curtains (for different rooms) that she liked decided to buy from the department stores. 

On the first night of mom's return visit I attempted to cook Carlyn's Salt and Pepper Fried Chicken recipe, which she posted during our blog challenge.  I think the biggest challenge for me was the fact that I didn't have a real frier or the proper utensils to put the chicken into and take it out of the frier.  Retrospectively I would have used the alternative baking option that Carlyn listed.  At any rate, I used a big pot that I had for the oil and tried the deep frying technique.  The batter adhered nicely to the Chicken but did not brown quite as much as I had wanted it to.  Outside of it not looking too brown, except in some spots, I thought that it looked presentable.  The chicken had plenty of batter on it and it was moist and completely cooked from boiling it before putting it into the frier.  Mom said she really liked the chicken.  She said she thought it would have been easier on me if I had baked it and I told her that Carlyn had listed that as an alternative option.  Even so, I did not get injured or burned in any way during the cooking process.  So I consider it a success.  I thought the salt and pepper fried Chicken tasted great and I will definitely make it for myself (and others) again. I think the seasoning was just right. 

I was glad that mom did not help me cook the Chicken at all.  Sometimes in the past when she has visited me and I have cooked for her she tries to help out.  I really appreciate her help but I think I learn better by doing things for myself.  I also tried to do as many of the dishes as I could myself so she could relax.   On occasion she would help dry, but I was able to get away with cooking and cleaning most everything myself for the most part.  Mom always does so much for me and my other family members when we visit her so during her visit I wanted her to be able to sit down and not bother with preparing or cleaning.  There were a few little projects mom wanted to do with me, like hanging a towel rack she had given me and fixing a light fixture that my landlord has never fixed since the water main burst above my kitchen ceiling over a year ago.  We weren't too successful with those though, which is just as good, because it's stuff I should do or get done and not something she should have to bother with.

I also cooked burgers for us on the final night of mom's visit.  Of course, I forgot to have ketchup available. >.<  I'm not a big fan of ketchup and rarely ever have it so it skips my mind and I forget that a lot of people like it on their burgers.  I was a bit embarrassed about that.  Mom didn't want me to go out and pick any up though so we made due without it.  The burgers salad and corn were very yummy.  We also had a salad with the Chicken two nights before.  On the night in between mom took me out and treated me to dinner at the Outback Steakhouse.  I had a delicious steak and a margarita for dinner.  We had a lovely chocolate cake we had picked up earlier in the day from Price Chopper waiting for us at home, so we skipped dessert at Outback, which gave us some time to let our dinner settle prior to dessert.  The thing I like least about eating dessert at a restaurant is that you generally have it right after dinner, and there is no time for your meal to settle.  That often makes the dessert less enjoyable to me because I might be too stuffed.

 mi Sci Museum

To mix things up a little and get us out of the house we also visited The Schenectady mi Sci Museum and Planetarium.  I had been to the Planetarium about 7 or 8 years ago and thought it might be fun to check it out again.  I was a bit disappointed that the museum, which primarily features old electronics inventions made at G.E. (General Electrics) which has it's home base in Schenectady, NY, did not have many of their displays labelled.  There were some old devices that I neither I nor mom could figure out what they were.  The museum doesn't seem to have a lot of funding and there were no tour guides to my knowledge.  It's also a smallish museum.  Their feature display was aimed at attracting kids from the local schools.  It was called GROSSOLOGY and featured several displays, devices and games involving burps, farts, wounds, runny noses, body odours and bodily noises.   I think the two things I liked best were the pinball machines of the human body and the Giant faucet who when you pressed his buttons told you about the different kinds of mucus, how it helps to protect your internal organs from things in the air and how green mucus means you're sick while clear mucus is more often related to allergies than colds.

Mom and I left the museum to eat lunch before returning for the Planetarium show.  We ate lunch at Pinhead Susan's.  I liked the story behind Pinhead Susan's which is an Irish bar and Restaurant in Schenectady.  You can read the story of how the bar/restaurant got it's name at their website here... Susan is a Pinhead! =)

Mom and I shared the Irish nachos there which were excellent and I had a chicken sandwich that was so-so.  It was pouring rain or we would have gone back to the car and gotten the camera to take pictures.  I thought the atmosphere was quite nice and the interior design very quaint and enjoyable.   I would like to go back there again.

 waxing gibbous

After our lunch break we returned to the Planetarium for their show.  The last time I saw it their show was A LOT better than the one I saw at The Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C..  Unfortunately the guy who was running the show could not get the audio to start and we fully missed out on half of the Planetarium Show.  He only did the second half and said he would make it longer to make up for what we missed in the recorded part of the show.  I've been to the recorded part before though and I don't think he did anything extra to make up for the half of the program we did not get to see.  The part we did see was where he shows us the current night sky in the Capital Region and what stars and constellations we could expect to see this time of year and where we might find them in the night sky.  He asked if we had any questions and I had one question about a particular part of one constellation that he did not explain.  There was an Eagle constellation that was holding a little boy in it's talons.  The show coordinator explained a story about the Eagle but made no mention of the boy.  When I asked him about the boy he said he did not know what it had to do with the Greek myth behind the constellation. I also asked him why he did not put a moon in the night sky and if it meant we were at a period of a new moon right now.  He said that the moon was "a little less than one quarter" right now and he didn't put it in the sky because it would create more light which would obscure the constellations he was showing us.  Well, turns out the moon was actually a waxing gibbous that night and closer to being 3/4 of the way towards a full moon.   I think they should have had someone with better knowledge doing the show.  They also should have offered us a partial refund or a return ticket for their inability to present half of the program to us.  So ultimately I was very disappointed in the Planetarium this time.  I wish I could have given mom a better visit as far as that was concerned. 

All told though I had a great time with mom and was very happy to have her come and visit me.  I do not have the largest apartment to entertain guests so I do not get visitors very often.  As such I really relish the opportunities to have family and friends come over and spend some time.  I think mom had a nice visit with me and enjoyed her stay so that made me feel really good, especially considering all she does for me and how much I love visiting with her at her home. 

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