Archive for August, 2007

Ten years ago today….
August 31, 2007

What were you doing? I was visiting my family in Alabama ten years ago, when Princess Diana died.
My Dad was still alive, though in a nursing home with severe Parkinson’s Disease, my daughter in middle school, not college, my son entering his freshman year in college, not living and working in Manhattan.
I can see the moment clearly in my mind…sitting at my Mom’s breakfast room table in her cozy kitchen, chatting, when my sister rushed in. “Did you hear? Princess Diana died in a car crash.”
Like everyone else, we were shocked…couldn’t believe it. “Are you sure? What on earth happened?”
It was difficult to wrap your mind around the fact that someone who was so beautiful, so rich, so famous, so….different from the rest of us could actually be felled by something as mundane as an automobile accident. If those things…the beauty, the money, the bodyguards, the fame…the sheer glamour of her life…couldn’t protect her, what chance did the rest of us have?
It was one really clear reminder of the fragility of our lives…that no matter who we are, life begins and ends the same. We are born and we die. What differs, is what comes in between those two moments. How we live our lives, what we put into them, what we get out of them….that is what matters.

While Diana no doubt would regret getting into that car, that night, and even with the paparazzi pursuing her every move, would she have really changed her life? Doubtful. She had two lovely sons whom she adored, an undeniably glamorous lifestyle…from the outside at least, while perhaps she didn’t have it all, she had a heaping helping.
So ten years later, let us think about what has happened in our lives in that decade. We got the chance to play it out.

Same tastes as Cooper Anderson
August 30, 2007

No this is not Anderson Cooper’s dog, but it is a dog I photographed on my recent trip to New Orleans. SOmehow this little pooch manages to capture the quirky spirit of NOLA..he was out for a wallk with his owner one morning down by the River Walk. It’s a lovely place to head for a morning walk or jog, right alongside the famous Mississippi River, the source of so much fine writing.

But I was watching Wednesday’s Oprah, which was a live program about the anniversary of Hurrican Katrina blasting the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast…it was a terrific show, and I have tivoed but haven’t seen yet Cooper’s special on the storm’s aftermath which aired last night. But he was telling Oprah how he loves New Orleans(so do I), and what a great town it is for a vacation(it is), and how some of the best restaurants in the world are there(so true), and then he mentioned a restaurant I told you about a couple of weeks ago….Stella!.
He said he had one of the finest meals he’d ever had, and Oprah said, clearly interested, “And what’s the name again?” STELLA! I so beat him there first.
It was a great meal…Asparagus Purée with Jumbo Lump Crab, Asparagus Mousse and
Extra Virgin Olive Oil…. Heirloom Creole Tomatoes with Jumbo Lump Crab and Gulf Shrimp Remoulade, Local Cucumber Salad, Three Heirloom Tomato Gazpachos and
Wild Mexican Tomatoes(yes this was all on one plate)….Duck Five Ways ~ Szechuan Seared Breast, Lacquered Leg and Thigh, Moo Shoo Pancake Stir-Fry, Duck Miso Broth, Foie Gras Won Tons and Currant-Cassis Reduction( how fabulous is that?)…and for dessert, Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Delice de Bourgogne and Dark Chocolate Ganache. Unbelieveable meal.
But while my little blog might have gotten a few diners for Stella!, Anderson Cooper just put them ON THE MAP by mentioning them on Oprah….I’d advise calling in advance for reservations if you plan to dine there now!
And a footnote. NOLA also suffers from a lack of workers as thousands of people have never returned. When we went back to The Bistro at the Maison De Ville Hotel for a drink after dinner(we’d had a fabulous lunch there earlier), the same waiter was there…”Long day” I said to him. He replied, “Oh, we all work doubles every day, wait staff and kitchen staff…it’s just the way it is.”

Living with Ed Again…
August 28, 2007

I’m so happy…Living with Ed, a show about actor Ed Begley, Jr. and his commitment(some might say mania including his wife Rachelle), is back on HGTV!
Their first show I tivoed….was an energy audit at the estate of former supermodel Cheryl Tiegs…..she seemed pretty interested in solar power. And an audit at the home of a friend found they had about 130 in-ceiling pot lights…none of which had energy efficient swirl light bulbs. Can you even imagine their electric bill?
And this I didn’t know…you can get those kind of bulbs that save a bundle on energy costs, that LOOK like regular little flood lights to go in ceiling lights.
And did you know that if you leave the cap on a plastic water or soda bottle, even if you recycle the bottle, they just throw it away, because the cap is not recyclable? One woman on the show sighed and said “All those water bottles”….thinking you’re doing the right thing, but because you’re doing it wrong……so no caps! Throw those away.
I think Jay Leno is Living with Ed next… Sept. 2nd…something about hot water. Oooooh, another big energy waster…..

Perfect Sunday Afternoon….
August 27, 2007

It was just one of those terrific afternoons…the horrible heat of Saturday had broken, so while it’s still summer weather, it’s kinda nice summer weather. Started at b, a cute little bistro in Bolton Hill with terrific food and pretty outdoor seating if you so choose. I’ve have enjoyed b since they opened several years ago, but hadn’t been there in a while. Great b burger…juicy and perfectly pink inside….and a lamb ragout omelet. Sounds strange I know, but really eggs are a good neutral for lots of things, not just cheese and veges….the ragout was yummy.

Then onto a wonderful exhibit at the Walters Art Museum on Charles St….Gees Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt.Gee’s Bend is a tiny little town in southern Alabama, where the townswomen became artists, with their art form being the quilt. Colorful, bold, beautiful….six generations of women have passed on their skills, and there has been a recent resurgence of a new generation of quilt makers. the exhibit is there through Sept. 2nd…..and did you know, admission too the Walters is absolutely free? Now there’s a great affordable afternoon. Great exhibit!
And then onto The Charles Theatre to see “No End in Sight”, a sobering documentary about the decision making process before and after the invasion of Iraq, how a different set of decisions might have the U.S. and Iraq in a much different situation today. Definitely worth viewing.
What did you do?

My little city girl…..
August 26, 2007

Before my daughter left for school this past weekend, we were, on a pleasant morning, sitting on the back patio…I mean, outdoor living room….and my now 21 year old glanced up at the tree you see in the picture, and said, “What is fruit doing, hanging from that tree?” and then, “Is that a pear?”
There were so many great lines one could have followed with, but I think I said, “It’s a pear tree. Fruit grows in trees….did you think we taped it on as a joke?”
She said, “Well why is is some fruit tree growing randomly on our patio? Why would I expect that?”
Why indeed. But I told the story of the little pear tree earlier this spring…bought it last year for about 12 bucks, cheap and it filled a space I need filled by tall narrow greenery, AND it had pretty white blossoms. It surprisingly survived the winter in it’s little pot, and then sprouted three pears this spring. I’ve watched them grow all summer, and in a month or so, should be ripe. So, really I’m a fruit farmer, on a small scale of course.
Though just yesterday, the pears are down to two….the lowest pear you see in the picture is mysteriously missing. I thought maybe one fell off, looked all over for it, but nothing….a deer got it? A pear thief? Dunno, but it’s gone.

Outsmarting myself….
August 25, 2007

I recently ordered a down comforter for my daughter to take to college this fall…”I really need it!”….so, I went where I love to shop online… Ever check it out? They have everything….jewelry, bedding, furniture, all kinds of crap at pretty good and sometimes great prices. I’ve ordered several patio umbrellas from them, and you know how on big bulky items the shipping can be a heart stopper? For Overstock, it’s always $2.95 or less..sometimes free. Love it.
But this comforter wasn’t what I wanted..just not as fluffy as I hoped, so I decided to send it back…you have 30 days to do so. On the Overstock website, they have an easy way to do this….you print out a “Smart label”, stick it on the box, and here you go Mr. Postman. But the label for return is about 17 bucks(what happened to my $2.95?), so I thought “hah, I can do better than that…I’ll take it to the post office, probably much cheaper”.

So off I sail at lunch with my box to the Roland Park Post Office….soooo efficient with my time…get a cheaper price for sending the thing back, grab an iced tea at Starbucks on the corner, and lunch at Eddie’s Supermarket.
Here’s the catch….Overstock suggests you send thing back so you can track them…makes sense I guess…but that costs…yes…$17.95 for this box. So not only have I not saved a dime, I’m also out the time it took to get to the post office, stand in line, discuss my options with the post office lady(who was very helpful by the way),pay for the postage… I’m out an extra 30 minutes, easily. Waaaaah! Take it from me…for anything big…just use the smart label.

Pegues in the house!!
August 24, 2007

Guess who came into town yesterday?? Yeah, that’s right, fresh from the Big Apple, Jeff Pegues was in the house! It wasn’t that he missed us after these few years, though I’m sure he does…at least a little…”Peanut” as he was nicknamed by the guys on staff, was in town working on a story.
I’ve been lucky to share the anchor desk with some really great guys…Virg Jacques(who now lives in Chicago), Jeff Pegues, and now Stan Stovall of course. All terrific men, and lots of fun to sit by for an hour or so.
Jeff is(as are Virg and Stan), a really sharp dresser…I remember a funny conversation with Jeff when he was rather new to Baltie. I think I complimented a tie, and he said “My clothier in Miami keeps an eye out for things I would like.”
“Clothier? What century are you from? Come on, no one says ‘clothier’!”
Actually I guess they do, but I don’t know them. We got a good laugh out of it, but I never heard him talk about his clothier again, though we do joke about it.
Having heard some horror stories from other in the biz who worked with people who would sabotage them at every turn, steal their lines or would sit by each other silently, not exchanging a word for an hour(can you imagine?), I know I’m lucky, lucky, lucky.
Jeff and his wife love Manhattan…their daughter is 6 now, and starting school…time flies. It was good to see you, my friend, I wish you all the best.

Razor trouble….camera down!
August 22, 2007

I really, really really depend on the camera in my little red razor phone….use it every day for this blog. NOW, for whatever reason, it takes a picture, or seems to, but when I go to “my pictures”, there is nothing there. Little squares with a tiny little file folder logo, but no picture. Where is it?
I haven’t done anything differently…so what gives? I want an answer but I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE SPRINT STORE!

crAzY pARkINg HaTerS
August 21, 2007

I am not alone….told you so…

I live in Hampden and I agree with you. You would think it would be easier to pull in to a space going forward to park. And then backing out, when you leave. You look behind you to back out, so you would be looking back to see if traffic was coming toward you and you could see if it is safe to back out. Makes sense to me.
I have seen people trying to back into these spaces. Some do it fairly easily and some take forever, blocking both lanes of traffic of a now smaller and more congested Avenue. I have seen the ones who park by making a turn toward the curd a few spaces before the one they want to park in. They go towards the curb, swing back out in the space they want and back in a little. Then there are the ones who pull in forward from the opposite lane. I know it means a ticket, I wonder if they do? And finally the meters.. they are usually the fartest from where I park. So I have to park, walk down to the meter , go back to the car, and be on my way. Which isn’t bad unless you are going in a complete opposite direction or it’s pouring rain.
I don’t now who’s bright idea it was…I personally don’t like it but I have to deal with it. That kind of parking is from Roland Ave. out to Chestnut Ave. on 36th St. and down Chestnut Ave. to 33rd.St. And I hear they are thinking about going up Roland Ave towards 37th St.

In Hampden HON

Strangest Parking I’ve Ever Seen!
August 20, 2007

What’s going on the main drag in Hampden? Seriously, it is the craziest parking I’ve ever seen….all the cars along the street with with their back bumpers tucked in at the curb. The sign says it all….So instead of angled parking where you simply pull in, in one svelte move, you must drive slightly PAST your spot, pray someone isn’t following too closely, stop, and back in. Why? Why?
I will admit to having a slight prejudice against people I call backer-inners. For reasons I’ve never been able to fathom, rather than just pull into a parking space, a simple thing really, they feel the need to back into the space, which of course takes several back and forths, until they can get the car straight, and then then, mercifully, finally back into the spot, while you sit there and wait for them to complete this ridiculous maneuver. I usually mutter something under my breath which, cleaned up, goes like this…”All ready for your getaway?”
Now this not only tolerated, it is impossible to park any other way on 36th street in Hampden.Genius.

And then, one gets to face this machine to pay for parking. I watched several people stare blankly at them before I got the chance to do so myself. It’s called EZ Park….I’d question that. After studying the options for a while, I fed it a five, and got back a ton of quarters, so as a warning, it is still better to have change, though I suppose it’s a convenience for it to take charge cards.
Anyway, take a look at this new, improved parking system along Main Street, the next time you’re stopping in for a meal at Cafe Hon or Golden West Cafe…if you can figure out why this is better, I’d love to hear it. There must be a method to the madness!