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September 26, 1999
a year ago

McGukins' Tent Sale!

Started the morning with a shower, really hot shower because it was grey and cold outside. John came in pretty soon after and told me that we were going to go to Dots and meet Ray at 11. Which I took to mean that we were going to Dots at 11; however, I heard that wrong. We were going to go to Dots early so that we could get to McGuckins by 11 and meet Ray there. So we got to Dots just before 10 and got seated in a table that had a pretty bad draft, so I was really glad of my wind breaker when I sat down. John lent his dad a huge Big Dogs fleece, which was good and warm enough to combat the draft.

The food was as good as ever, and the service as spotty, but eventually thorough enough to keep us happy. I filled up on the Arnold's Eggs. The biscuit was crisp and flaky, the ham was sweet and warm, and the eggs poached perfectly under the savory gravy. It was good.

We then searched for parking at McGuckin's as lots of people were there for the semi-annual tent sale. They seem to have two a year, and so we were there for the end of summer one. It was really crowded in the tent areas, but the interior of the store wasn't too bad. Still it was the first time the elder Rostyki had seen it and the very first time Ray, Joan and their kids had ever been in there. Lots of cool stuff was on sale, too, and the whole store was supposed to have a 10% markdown from their normal prices. There were some really, truly tempting things to get; but in one case John's mom said to just not get that, and in another case, with a new set of dried watercolors, I decided that it really wasn't worth it to get it as Mom gave me a huge set of variagated watercolors for Christmas. I kinda like the Winston and Newton watercolors best, in part because I can easily lift most of them off with a wet towel if I make a mistake. They'll still be there if I really want them.

The tent was just stuffed with gardening things and *every* odd thing from snowshoes to dental mirrors, from spraypaint to snow shovels, from light bulbs to tiki torches. It was an amazing collection of Stuff. We wandered through in a bit of a daze because the stuff was just lumped everywhere, not in any particular order or grouping. Lots and lots and lots of stuff at bargain prices. There were lots of things that I was tempted to get simply because the price was so ridiculously low, eventhough I knew that I'd likely not use them. There was a purse leather backpack that was made very nicely and about a third of its usual $90 price tag. There were Nerf bow and arrow sets for $10 a piece. There were snow shoes for $75 rather than the usual $200 price tag. The one thing that was like this that I just couldn't pass up was a pair of LeCross sport boots.

The boots looked like either brown or black leather. The mid-calf sized boots that were plain, looked as if they were stitched pretty plainly and had good arch support, a mild heel and looked like they had boot hook loops on the sides. Yes. I say a lot of 'looked's. Turns out the boots are solid rubber. They're not just solid rubber, but lined and carefully shaped to give the appearance of good, solid leather. They're solidly waterproof and nicely built and the box said, "4.99" on the price tag. I had John and Isabel look at the tag to be sure that I saw that right. The original price was '49.99' so I wondered if they'd accidentally moved the decimal point too far... but there were other tags that had had them down to '39.99', '19.99' and then the '4.99' on top of them all. So it seems that these had been marked down severly.

So I had to buy them. $5 for a smart-looking pair of cowboy-like boots. It really made me giggle. The shopping really tired me out, so that John and I checked out soon after that, and both of us sat at the coffee shop next to the tent while we waited for Isabel and George to finish. John ended up with anti-freeze, bug spraying equipment, and duct tape. I also got a few scrubbers for a quarter a piece, work gloves and lined work gloves for those early, cold mornings on the balloon field in Albuquerque. Really inexpensive, all of it, but fair quality as well. I just flopped and waited and as I waited the sun came out and shone on us and with the sunlight came instant warmth. It was pretty amazing how much of a difference it made.

We had to get dog food, so we zoomed over to Costco in Superior to get everything we needed or wanted. The empty Costco was cause for comment, as it still is totally different from what we're used to in the Seattle area. It actually wasn't empty, there were probably a few hundred people in there, but a few hundred get lost in the huge warehouse, rather than the teeming thousands that we're used to. A stop at the local grocery store as well, and George checked out an auto parts place for snow chains for their car as well. The forecast says that there will be snow early next week. So they wanted to be safe.

Got home around 4, and I felt like it should be nap time, but the sun was out and things were warm. So I decided to feed and water the trees and baby grass so that if there was a warm snow in a few days, they'd have nutrients to go with the water. So I trundled about with my plastic work barrow and my overalls and sneakers and watered and fed everything. John filled in the dug out holes with wood chips and George went and started digging out the trees that weren't dug out, yet. Isabel was the intelligent one and took a nap.

Eventually, I went inside and made bath bombs for a few folks that have said that they wanted some. Took a while as I wasn't practiced at it any more. Then I cleared everything away and made fresh pasta on the countertop. Just beat some eggs into a mixture of regular flour and semolina and then rolled the whole thing out on the counter top, using a dowl that John found in the garage. We cleaned it and I used it and it worked well enough. Took about 15 minutes of rolling to get it all nice and thin, then I let the pasta dry while I made the sauce. Garlic, onion, then all the leftover veggies from yesterday all went into the pan to brown a bit. On top of that went two cans of tomatoes, one whole, one chopped. Two bay leaves, lots of chopped basil, and some crushed dried oregano all went in and the whole thing simmered quietly as I set up the water to boil the pasta.

While the huge pot gradually came to a boil, I used my knife to cut the pasta into ribbons. John and his dad unravelled them while Isabel made the salad. It was all very cozy, especially when John got the garlic bread to go and the scent of that blended with all the roasted vegetables and it was all smelling really, really good by the time it was all done, around 7:30. The pasta was a perfect al dente, the sauce stayed on happily, and we topped it all off with good Parmesan. We ate very happily. They enjoyed it a lot, which was very, very satisfying. I really like it when folks enjoy my cooking. We sat and talked a while afterwards and then, I eventually came to the decision to make a 'quick' dessert.

I did what I thought I should have done with the 'flourless chocolate cake'... and just put a little butter, a lot of chocolate chopped into a bowl, added a quarter cup of really hot milk and then stirred it until it was smooth. Then I just started beating an egg, a lot. It puzzled me a little that it didn't fluff nearly as easily as last time; but I kept at it and eventually it fluffed up pretty well. I folded it into the melted chocolate, got it into the cups, put it in the water bath and baked. It was when I was sitting around waiting for it to bake that I realized that I hadn't added any sugar at all to the whole thing. No wonder the eggs hadn't fluffed as easily! They didn't have any sugar in them. But I like the taste of Bernard C.'s bittersweet chocolate, so I trusted this to work out okay. It did.

I pulled all the water out first, this time. Got the little crocks onto a nice grid, let them cool a bit until they could be handled. Then I put 'em on place mats with a spoon and we sat down and ate 'em.

Yum. They were nice and crisp on top, soft near-mousse underneath, all warm, melted chocolate taste. Not too sweet, but very nice and smooth and rich and since they were in they little ramekins they were small enough to be 'enough' without being 'too much'. I *think* it would work in the bottom of coffee mugs, too, if I were looking to do this in someone else's kitchen that didn't have all the crazy stuff mine does. Then again, coffee mugs might have been easier to take out of the hot water bath, too. So that might be a good option, indeed.

Anyway, that worked out well as well, and they all enjoyed it greatly. So I was very happy with that. Hoorah! We didn't get the desserts until about 10, and when folks were done, we all went to sleep. Tired. And a week to face in the morning.

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