Holiday Retreat – Day 2


On day two of my five-day retreat I feel the first day was a success.

Dinner was tacos using leftover filling with some added hot sauce. I made the sauce using older hot pepper sauces and salsas in the refrigerator and pantry. I also found a jar of “hot vinegar” to add. The pot simmered all day until it reduced in volume by a third. Next I strained out the larger solids and blended them into a paste to store and use separately. The main hot sauce has excellent flavor and displaces any need to buy commercial products well into gardening season. Thumbs way up!

I made a loaf of bread yesterday and it turned out dense. I added too many extras like bulgur wheat, oat bran, and mystery flour, and the yeast wouldn’t rise. I started over this morning with straight all purpose flour and the King Arthur Flour basic recipe. We’ll see how this goes, fingers crossed. If I’m successful, I’ll have a better starting point for using up all the flour-like things in our pantry.

A modest investment in an electric snow blower proved to be wise. I’m of an age where I shouldn’t be out shoveling snow in extreme cold. The electric snow blower is easy and fast. There hasn’t been a lot of snow during this blizzard so I blew the driveway only once. Limited snow is forecast today yet the wind will be continuous, creating drifts. I may go outdoors to shovel the front steps when ambient temperatures get to one degree around 3 p.m. We’ll see.

Organizing was important on day one. I checked the website for used book donations at the public library, and they are pickier than they have been. They recommend books published within the last ten years. Whoever wrote that standard doesn’t understand books. I divided the current culled books into two piles, one for the library used book sale and one to be donated to Goodwill which doesn’t have any criteria on their website. Another hundred books will go out the door once the blizzard relents.

The dining room table is cleared so I brought up my files on medical stuff. They accumulated over the years and I plan to go through them before my spouse returns. Getting that done during these days would be nice.

Overnight we dropped to minus ten degrees. I set the thermostat on 60 and got out the third wool blanket for the bed. My nose was a little cold yet every thing else stayed warm.

I called a friend and we talked about an hour. We have been working on politics together for a long time. I reflected on my favorite political events. Here is a short list of memories revisited:

  • Stuffing envelopes for the 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson campaign in Davenport.
  • George McGovern rally at Old Capitol in Iowa City before the 1972 general election.
  • Standing for Ted Kennedy during the 1980 presidential caucus in Davenport.
  • Crossing a street in Des Moines when a van load of apparent preachers, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whizzed by in 1984.
  • Taking our child into the polling booth with me to vote for Bill Clinton.
  • Our family attending the 2004 Iowa caucus and standing for John Kerry.
  • Meeting Barack Obama at the Tom Harkin 2006 Steak Fry near Indianola.
  • Dave Loebsack’s 2006 campaign.
  • Being precinct secretary at the 2008 Iowa caucuses.
  • Seemingly endless Hillary Clinton events in 2016, including getting a selfie with her.
  • Elizabeth Warren event in Tipton, Iowa in April 2020.
  • Leading the 2020 precinct caucus and the ensuing reporting snafu..

All these memories are important. I expect to work each of them and more into my autobiography. In addition to politics, there are multiple thematic subjects to include and I haven’t decided how to approach them. This retreat is providing some ideas.

Today is about holiday baking. Bread, an applesauce cake, and at least one batch of cookies are in the works. I donned a stocking cap from the merch store of the Twitch stream I follow and am styling multiple layers this morning. It appears the worst of this blizzard’s cold weather is behind us. The new process of working in the kitchen before arriving at my workspace continues to deliver results. By 10 a.m., I got a lot done.