A Lot of Chatter and A Lot Less Food…Shocking!

Well, because I have been so bad about doing my blog there are so many things that I haven’t been able to tell you. Some of these things happened before Mardi Gras and some after. Let me do the before stuff first….

 

Another reason in not telling ANYONE I went to Harvard. Years ago, I bought a $50 Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner. I know, super cheap and I thought the price tag was telling of the quality, because it has barely worked since I got it, UNLESS I use the attachments that come with it. And let me tell you, vacuuming a large space with a little hose attachment the size of the ones at the car washing places is a joke! Until I realized that for SIX YEARS, no not SIX months, SIX years…I have had the knob for the height of the carpet wrong. THAT is why it didn’t work. Yes, I was delusional that it was a high carpet when it was a low carpet and hence it didn’t pick up a darn thing! I am so bright sometimes it astonishes me. SIX years to figure out that one!

 

Went to meet a local school librarian about getting my books into her schools. She was a friend of a friend. We sat and chatted and she is about 12 ft. tall. Nice gal. Her hubby wasn’t! She met a nice guy through photography, but she did something that I thought was so cool. From the first day or close to of her divorce proceedings, she took a picture everyday for 365 days. I teased her that the first day was a pic of a toilet bowl and the last was a flower or a sunrise. But I found it fascinating the idea of going from 1 to 365 and how different you would feel and how much that would reflect in one’s photos. Just had to share. I still like the idea of feeling like you are on the crapper one day and on the moon by the end.

 

A dear friend of mine had a breast cancer scare. She had to go to the place where I went for my first mammogram, the call back, the ultrasounds, etc. I felt numb being there. But I had a flood of memories of that time. It was so bizarre. I went to the nurse who helped me that day. She has probably helped a gazillion gals before and since me. She didn’t remember me. How could she not remember me, I was paralyzed with fear, probably like so many before and after me. I was really hit by how horrible my boyfriend at the time was to me, and how I tried so hard to hide it from all of you, because I thought it was a “phase” or he was just “temporarily freaked out”, but he was just a shit. When he did it, I made excuses for his bad behavior. This time when the memories came flooding back, I got so unbelievably angry. I am sure it is all good and healthy, but it was odd that a visit to a mammogram place to help a friend could bring back such a flood of memories that I had thought I had buried so well in the backyard of my brain. Thankfully, and more importantly, my friend is fine and will be fine, but that was the other thing was remembering what I was feeling and going through and knowing how scared and frightened she must have been, and it made me ache for her. I had been there, and yet, I was terrible at knowing the right thing to say at those moments. I have no idea why. I am usually so good at those times, but I was terrified to say the wrong thing and scare her that I just sat beside her and didn’t say much. I decided less was better, I sure hope it was! I am just glad she is going to be okay. In the end, that is all that matters.

 

There is a woman in my building that I knew to say hello to and that was it. One day she invited me to her apartment for coffee and sweets. I didn’t know why she invited me, but so glad she did, because we became fast friends. She and her hubby met at Brown University and are a really nice couple. They complement each other so well. They are one of those couples that I look at and think this is the way it is supposed to be.

 

He taught at UC for years, she had a small publishing company. They retired and both found their passions in the arts. In different mediums, but in the arts, and they are both immensely talented. She does a variety of mediums, but I love her Calder-like mobiles. I actually had a mobile that hung awkwardly, and Karen did her magic on it and it hangs so well. I know it is all balance, but do you really think with three and a half degrees I would figure that out? (Sidebar: I played Mexican train dominoes, whatever you call that last night and I was the ONLY one counting the number of dots with her fingers. I kept hearing Phyllis saying, “Do you have your number yet, Erin DEAR!” Nope, just five more dominoes to count.”) Back to Karen, she does mobiles, she can draw something from looking at it, and then her husband does the most beautiful sculpture. REALLY talented guy.

I went over to my Aunt Barbara’s for dinner. I made dinner and took it to her. I cheated and bought the dessert. Then we sat at her dining room table and did a puzzle. She loves puzzles. She giggles like a kid (or my mom getting Mardi Gras beads) when she gets piece to fit, which was a serious accomplishment since the WHOLE puzzle was predominantly various shades of green. NOTHING like fifty shades of gray!

 

If you haven’t noticed, I go through phases of trying to be healthy, falling off the wagon, and frequenting Graeter’s like an alcoholic frequents a bar, till I have my fill and then follow the rules for a day or two, and fall off again. Well, when I was following the rules for a day and a half this includes sleeping hours, I need all the help I can get! I made my friend Missy’s recipe for black bean soup. I love it! I don’t follow the directions anymore, probably because it may taste way too good if I did! Apparently, it is like vacuuming, eventually, I will figure it out. So, here is how I make it! I take a little oil and sauteé the onions until they are lucid. I then pour 2 cans of black beans in the pot, followed by a can of tomatoes, followed by 2 cups of chicken broth, then salt, pepper, and thyme and bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Then I serve it with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Okay, it is not totally healthy! Maybe sour cream and cheese aren’t the healthiest, but if you weigh the healthy soup versus the bad stuff you put on top, the good outweighs the bad. Gosh, I can rationalize almost anything!

 

Getting older is a bitch! First, I am asking people at neighboring tables to hold menus for me so I can see the writing at a nice distance and then I had to go stand on a Dr. Scholl’s foot thing in Meijers to get insoles for my shoes. And I get excited for the oncologist to do a breast exam. If only he would spend a little more time feeling the girls instead of asking me how I feel! Geez! I didn’t come for the check-up, dude! I came for the feel up!

 

My friend Stephen had me up to his place to prepare me for Mardi Gras. Stephen is one of my dearest friends in the building. He is a character. He invited me up to help me get ready for the ball. He’s straight! His wife passed away a handful of years ago and when I told him I was going to Mardi Gras, he insisted I come upstairs and borrow his wife’s jewels.  I know it sounds odd and creepy but it was so sweet and thoughtful.   I flitted around the room in full-length gowns and tried on an assortment of things. I ended up taking a few baubles with me to Nawlins. But I don’t think I had as much fun at the ball as he did getting me ready to go!

 

So there are some shenanigans going on where I live and I am going to be very vague about it, not because I can’t talk about it, but because I don’t want to give them the time they do not deserve, but can you say BAT SHIT CRAZY! I am telling you, if you have nothing better to do than quibble about everything, you need to get a new hobby or a life! And I keep saying this! This nameless person who is the ringleader is about as nice and kind as a pit full of rattlesnakes and alligators.

Another thing I forgot to share after my trip to New York, which I found so cool and inspiring.

 

I sit on the board of this foundation up in New York and the lawyer/leader/big kahuna was telling a story in that horrible French restaurant I detest on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan. When he was out of law school, maybe undergrad., he decided to cook a meal for his new boss and he really wanted to impress him. He went and bought Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. He went and bought all the ingredients and he spent 3-4 hours following her directions explicitly and he said it was delicious and her recipes were really true to the product on the other end. I being a foodie was fascinated! I was so shocked and impressed he did it. I wondered if he got his wife to go on a second date with him for cooking her up something out of there, but he is a smart, little hottie, so he got the date on all of that and more! It inspired me. I have never cooked out of her cookbook and it made me go home and leave through it and find something to make. When I do, I will share it with you!

 

Because of my foundation work in New York, I was lucky enough to meet a really neat gal named Beth who works over at CCM (aka Cincinnati Conservatory of Music). We were going to try to do a project together that sadly became a huge overreach. Not for Beth! She is amazing and I am sure she could have pulled it off. I couldn’t come up with the funding to the extent I think it would have needed to be to replicate a NY project in Cincy. That being said, if we could find the money, I would do it in a heartbeat! Beth and I met through a friend of a friend, and we had so much in common we became friends and it has been so fun! She is a New York friend who lives in Cincy! We get the New York lingo, the Jewish lingo, the independent gal lingo, and we have lived or traveled to a lot of the same places. So, we met up for lunch at the Taste of Belgium on Short Vine. She had been. I had not tried that branch, but I loved the lofty feel with the exposed ductwork, and the garage door windows out front that will open in warmer weather. My dream is to have a house with garage doors all over the place and when I want to be outside I can hit the door opener.

 

So, here is where I fell off the wagon again. Three cheese grilled cheese sandwich and they took it off the menu so I can’t even tell you the cheeses! How embarrassing. I can tell you this! YUM! Okay, I just found the picture I took of the ingredients in my sandwich. Ready? Gruyere, Havarti, and goat cheese, ham, caramelized apples and shallots with bechamel sauce on top.  Beth was good or she ate healthy unlike moi!  She had the Nicoise salad, which looked yummy. I have pics. I will share them with you.

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Then of course, I had to bring her to the dark side and convince her that it was sacrilegious to eat in that joint as many times as she had and not have eaten a waffle. So, we shared a waffle with Nutella and bananas on top. Their waffles are so good that you can eat them plain and they are knock off your socks good! I remember eating WAY too many Belgian waffles in Belgium and thinking…our waffles in the States don’t taste like this! “Leggo my Eggo” isn’t this tasty! Well, these waffles taste like the ones in Belgium.

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I went to meet my old editor, the first editor to ever give me a job. That was my first job after graduating from UC. It was a freelance writing gig at The Cincinnati Post. He had me write stories about the United Way! I asked him for a permanent position. He said, “No, I was a flight risk!” I asked what he meant. He told me he didn’t think I would stay in town and my first chance to leave, I would. He was right. He was an off the charts smart man. I always used to say one of the smartest people I had ever met in my life! Until one day when he told me he thought I was brilliant. Then I knew he wasn’t the smartest, but shot to the top of my favorite people list. No, he is smart! We worked very briefly in Cincy together, and then we both ended up at papers in Baltimore and hung out there. We used to go to a joint that was frequented by the Fitzgeralds, as in, The Great Gatsby author and his wife in their heyday. It was the Fitzgeralds (aka F.Scott & Zelda) Baltimore watering hole. Cool joint! As time went by, I became less and less intimidated by Clark’s intelligence and we became friends. He made me feel brilliant and for that I can’t thank him enough. He also taught me a good editor does not change your style. A good editor embraces your style and just changes the grammatics of it, or at least that is what he did for me. I had another editor beat me up and tell me I couldn’t write and I was an idiot with no hope or talent. Clark said she was the idiot and the one who didn’t have the talent. I always appreciated it. So fast-forward almost 25 years later, we are still friends. We can talk as if we saw each other yesterday and it may have been years! We don’t see each other nearly as much, but we went to Coffee Emporium to catch up. Aztec Mexican Latte yum!

 

So, Clark said years ago, he wouldn’t give me a job because he knew I wouldn’t stay in Cincy and 25 years later, he was talking about someone not getting married and I said, “Well, I never got married!” He said my situation was different from hers. I said why? He said, “YOU never got married because you were too independent to get married!” Of course, I had to say, “BUT you didn’t know that when I was 21!” “OH YES I DID!” he responded. You were never ever going to get married.” Then of course, I said, “Well, if I met the right guy I would have!”

“TOO INDEPENDENT!” he said.

 

I suddenly had flashbacks of being in D.C. and I was really close to one of the V.P.’s in the lobbying firm where I worked and I never forgot this convo he and I had one really late night in a corner of a dark bar in D.C. “I am a little independent,” I said. “A LITTLE?” he said. “Okay, maybe a lot,” I said. “NO,” he giggled. “Fiercely independent. FIERCELY!” WOW, déjà vu. Biting me in the tush 25 years later! So, maybe I am a little, fiercely, independent, but I still stand by the fact that if the right man appeared all bets are off. He just has not shown up! He will be here when I am 80! Toothless, bald, in diapers and it will be love! Probably only because my eyes and ears will be so bad, I won’t be able to tell a difference!

 

Until we meet again…

 

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

 

P.S. I noticed that I forgot to add some pictures from Mardi Gras so I am attaching them below with a little note for all of you that I keep meaning to tell you.

This is a perfect opportunity to tell you a couple of things that you probably figured out, but I wanted to tell you just in case you were wondering.

1. Yes, I do start to eat the food and then after half of it is gone realize I was supposed to take a picture of it.

2. Yes, you are right! I have not figured out how to use the flash on my phone, so sometimes it looks like I take pics of the food in the dark. My mom is not much better. She is better at it, but I flat out have no idea how to do it. I really don’t take the food into the bathroom, turn out the lights and photo it. But it sure likes like that!

Enjoy the random pics…..

 

Below: Businessman at a fancy restaurant who appear to be in a SERIOUS meeting and they are all wearing Mardi Gras beads that blink!

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A wide variety of oyster plates hanging on a wall in one of Dickie Brennan’s restaurants.

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This is a hoot….notice topless oysters…..below on the sign….clever!!!

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A sign for every house with kids…

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Love this!!!!

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I love the ambiance of this…..

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Street artists were big in Cambridge, but never saw anything like this…I AM A CAR, I am A MAN, CAR again…MAN again….

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To me this is quintessential Nawlins….

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How many dogs and lets face facts people feel this way…..I think this is a hoot too!!!

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Look at the beads on this fence….

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