Archive for March, 2009

An outhouse arsonist…seriously??
March 31, 2009

You dont see this every day...

You don't see this every day...

 We all get strange e-mails from time to time, but this one seems to be real, as far as I can tell, from a California public relations company selling a story…about Clorox, for some reason, being on the case of an “outhouse arsonist”. Here’s what it said: 



Hi there!
Have we got a story for you…
I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the “Outhouse Arsonist” that is burning their way through San Francisco, leaving a nasty charred trail in their wake.
Now with over 30 Porta-Potties scorched and an estimated $50K in damages, this is not a practical joke.
Tomorrow (Tuesday), the POTTY PATROL will be marching from outhouse to outhouse in support of
Operation Flush the Outhouse Arsonist” initiative, an effort to bring the potty pyromaniac to justice.

Clorox is offering a
$5,000 reward and a year’s supply of toilet products for tips leading to the arrest of the person/persons responsible.

If you are local to San Fran and are interested in sending a crew out with the Potty Patrol, contact us asap to arrange.  Help us get the word out so residents can pee in peace!”

A nasty charred wake indeed, and actually I had not heard about it. One can only imagine the smell of a torched porta-potty….I thought that this was maybe a joke of some kind! But no, it appears to really be happening out in San Francisco…of course. I wondered why Clorox was involved..and farther down past the feed coordinates(when the pictures will be sent to you via satellite), there was this explanation:

“Oakland-based Clorox is dedicated to clean toilets  and community safety. With its line-up of toilet cleaning products, Clorox  strongly supports the rights of every toilet. Last week the company kicked  off “Operation Flush the Outhouse Arsonist” with a full page ad in The San Francisco Examiner.  Residents with any information about the arsonist are encouraged to share  tips online at the Facebook group ‘FlushArsonist’ or by tweeting @FlushArsonist on Twitter. Tips are also  being collected on the city’s arson hotline.”

Well, I’m dedicated to clean toilets and their rights too, but I’m not putting up any money for it…which reminds me of my son bathroom in college. He lived in this big, ramshackle old off-campus house with about a dozen other guys(and they did not respect the rights of every toilet)….the place was a total firetrap, and I worried about his living there though nothing bad ever happened. But I learned it was best to locate another facility if I wanted to use the bathroom. It was that bad….and it had an odd bright blue ring around bowl, that matched the color he had painted his room. I asked what happened, and he told me that he had poured the rest of the paint down the toilet. Oh, the environmental travesty of it….I was horrified, and told him that was no way to get rid of leftover paint!…what on earth was he thinking???? He just looked at me, and shrugged. I’m happy to report he is much more responsible now…he recycles and uses public transit…cleans his apartment on a regular basis. But really he owes that to Mother Earth….and so does the “Outhouse Arsonist, who will be facing much more than a shocked mother, if he pr she ever gets caught.

A sore back and a splash of cold water….
March 30, 2009

I thought of my friend and co-worker Gerry Sandusky, somewhere between the 10th and 14th bag of mulch…..GS had told me last Monday, how he had for the first time ever, hired someone else to mulch his garden beds. He said, “It was fabulous. Saturday evening came…the gardens looked great, I was enjoying a glass of wine, and my back didn’t hurt!” And I seriously considered doing the same…but it’s hard for me, like for many of you, to pay someone else to do something I know I can do my self. So, there we were this past weekend, dragging increasingly heavy bags of mulch around, raking the stuff into place….it was a long Saturday, ok? And yes, my back does feel the effort today, no doubt about it. On the plus side… my gardens look great, and I still have the couple of hundred bucks it would have taken for someone else do the job, in my pocket. Gerry, when he reads this, will snort derisively, and say something like…”Sucker…” Maybe next year Ger, maybe next year.

And then this morning, I turn on the shower to get ready to come to work, and 30 seconds later, the water is still stone cold. This is not a good sign. I pop downstairs, push the little red button on the boiler(our hot water is oil heated though I desperately want an electric on demand hot water system-this one is on demand, but oil is the energy source)….the boiler comes on for about 10 seconds and switches off again. This means something is wrong, you ain’t getting no hot water this morning. So I had to kind of make do….and while I briefly considered washing my hair in the sink..the coldness of the water was just too much…so I’ve opted for a pulled back do for the news tonight…you’ll see at five. And I’m waiting for a repairman to call and say, NOW I’m ready to fix your oil burner.  I really want a hot shower!

The odd, odd world of the blogosphere….includes me.
March 27, 2009

So many factoids....

So many factoids....

From time to time, I actually look at the stats about my blog….really, it’s more interesting than you might think(and that’s probably not very interesting), but it’s amazing to me how they gather all these factoids.  You can see a graph of the number of people to hit your blog over the past days, weeks and even months. …what a rollercoaster…And they tell you which of your blogs have been viewed the most since you first embarked on your uncertain journey into the blogosphere.

How many hits have I had since I began blogging?  As of this morning, 127,832.

Which blog has had the most views? This one may surprise you . For a few months,  it was Captain Underpants and the Angry Angel….a post I wrote last Halloween about the little boy who went bonkers on the Today Show, when his Dad displayed him in some tightie-whities and a weird bald hat. Seriously, I didn’t blame the kid for being a little upset, and it was weird. But lots of people must have heard about the incident and been searching for the video of it…this I didn’t have but I did have a picture and through searches, 1,298  people have found their way to that blog since then., and I still get hits on it.

Do they pass the sniff test??

Do they pass the sniff test??

But Captain Underpants has been overtaken by another blog I wrote last fall….about the extremely serious cultural problem of…..Stinky Uggs. 1,410 people suffer from this embarrassing and pesky condition and wonder what to do about them. And yes, I have an answer.

Third place is about another malady that must be sweeping the nation….mango allergy….that I wrote about in a blog called A Matter of Mangoes, after my daughter came down it herself…..Who knew that if you’re allergic to poison ivy, you may also develop an allergy to delicious mangoes. Lots of people do not know!

In fourth place, is I’m Not Intimidated by my Son’s Genius Girlfriend….all about the lovely and very smart Jennifer. And fifth is still one of my favorites just because of the oddball quality of it all….A Four-legged Woman is My Cousin….she really is.

The most single viewed day ever, was Thursday October 16th, when I wrote about my son’s engagement to the lovely Jennifer. And how do people find their way to my blog if they don’t see it on the WBAL website?  This I find really fascinating…these are search terms people used that led them to Hamilton’s Habitat….grits habitat…sticky Uggs…torture shoe…mango allergy… how do you pronounce tarte tatins(alas, they found how to make one but no pronunciation guide…just for the record, it is tart tah-tahn’)…today show boy in costume scream….woman with 4 legs….blood spot on eyeball(yes I wrote about it)….you get the idea. Such a serendipitous world out there that links us all together. In that spirit, I wish you all a lovely weekend…even if you have to work. Enjoy the journey.

Twitter Central….
March 26, 2009

Remember how I told you that I joined Twitter? Yeah….I have yet to really do much with it, maybe I’ll send a Twit (or tweet?)that I just published a blog(when I actually finish it…)…but in the meantime, I have  Twitterphorea going at home.

Twitter inspiration sent someone at my house out into the Twitterverse…to Home Twepot, iso homes for the original twitterers.  Yes,  birds. And these particular Tweets you start receiving very early in the morning…these twitterati really believe in twitting first thing…before the first Tworm even. Their devotion is inspirational,  better than any alarm clock.

There have been those foraging  Twirls to feed though…bushy-tailed scavengers who remain mute during their larcenous activities, and have been seen to actually tip one feeder on it’s side(it seemed impossible with two paws holding onto a pole and two tipping paws, but proof was in the seed pudding) and watch happily as the seeds splashed onto the ground below. What follows can only be described as a tweeding twenzy and much tail twitching.

Yes, it has all been quite amusing to watch our new twit-mates in action…while we spend untold dollars on tweed. Don’t they know there’s a recession on? Or maybe, they just don’t care. There certainly seems to be a mentality among them, a kind of Tweed-greed that kinda got us all here in the first place….Don’t worry about twemorrow, just get all you can…tweday!! OK, I’m tired now. Tweet Dreams.

A Little Shameless Name Dropping….
March 19, 2009

I received this comment on my blog about my NYC trip from someone who called themselves Donna’s daughter….oh wait…it was my daughter. She wrote, “Mom, you forgot to say how we saw BEYONCE!!!! she was shooting some sort of video, and she looked so beautiful!!!”


Look right at the edge of the truck hood...thats Beyonce!

Look right at the edge of the truck hood...that's Beyonce!


And it’s true….And it’s true…..this picture was taken by the lovely Jennifer….and on her Blackberry, which could zoom in and you could actually see Beyonce, who was obviously working that Sunday. We were walking back from lunch in Tribeca…and my daughter noticed some activity(i.e. photographers) down a side street and people watching…something going on. We wandered down, and saw just beyond the fire truck…a group of about 30 young handsome guys dressed in dark suits and ties. But wait…right in the center in a tight gold lame’ gown…is that??… yes it is!….No one could be more gorgeous….it is Beyonce. They must have been filming for a music video or commercial…very brief scene in which they all raised their arms at the same time and punched the air a couple of times…then Miss “Single Ladies” was covered with a white robe and gently led away.  

Short ribs and deviled eggs at The Spotted Pig!

Short ribs and deviled eggs at The Spotted Pig!

But that’s not the end of celebrity connections…oh no, gentle readers. We had lunch one day at a restaurant called The Spotted Pig….it is a half block from our apartment…famous as one of Bill Clinton’s favs. And where did Rihanna go to meet Beyonce and Jay-Z for a bite to eat on her first public occasion after the domestic violence troubles? That’s right…The Spotted Pig. I hope they tried the deviled eggs…$3 for an order(2 halves)…delicious golden morsels with lots of dijon and drizzled in olive oil. I’m sure she could use some comfort food….can’t we all?

And my son took us to dinner…took us… as in, he chose the restaurant and paid for it…I am still amazed by this (I know, get over it)…at  The Market Table in the west village.

I may actually read this book by Miranda July....

I may actually read this book by Miranda July....

It’s a lovely, intimate place oozing with charm…a huge bouquet of yellow forsythia branches on the bar…and where they bring you the check in a paperback book…ours was No One Belongs Here More Than You. Charming…and a nice thought, especially after I read the next day that The Market Basket is one of Gwyneth’s new favorites in NYC…Gwyneth as in Paltrow…as in Apple’s Mom. Alright…enough name dropping for one day. Keep in mind we didn’t SEE any of these people…except Beyonce…it’s more like 6 degrees of NYC, you know? Oh, and seriously, click on the link to “No one belongs here more than you” above…it is fascinating, and makes me want to read the book!!!

Antique Cafe B & B in the Big Apple….
March 17, 2009

This was the view from two front windows in the living room...right onto 11th Street...

This was the view from two front windows in the living room...right onto 11th Street...

Many of you have wondered about the place I stayed last week in the Big Apple….I stumbled onto the Antique Cafe website, quite by accident while looking for (reasonable) places to stay around the Greenwich Village area….and up it popped. While it is an actual cafe, they also run a B & B operation….renting mostly one bedroom apartments in the downtown area…Clelsea, the Village, and Soho. An apartment for $150 a night? Done.

We agreed to meet the rental guy at the apartment..he biked up right on time, showed us how to use one key to get through the first two front doors, and the other key was to the apartment. Oh, and while we were waiting for him on the street, who should stroll by but actress Julianne Moore with her child. Pretty red hair in a chic chignon, dressed all in black, big black sunglasses…so pretty, so tiny! You’ll be relieved to know I said nothing to her, like, “Julianne I loved you in Shipping News!” No.

From the front door, into the living room....

From the front door, into the living room....

Our apartment was on the second floor, only one flight of stairs up(no elevator)….and when you walk in the front door….the picture to the right is the view into the living room…pretty, modern….the kitchen, which was modern…full size refrigerator(not that you’ll need it), granite countertops…what there was of them. It’s  an urban kitchen…small. My son and Jennifer fell in love with the kitchen(theirs is even smaller)…he said, “Jen, imagine all the things we could cook in here!”… sweet.

The thing I really loved about the apartment…I felt like I was a New Yorker for a couple of days. You know how you see other people keying themselves into their apartments, and you wish you could be them? Now you are, for a couple of days.

Inside the 11th Street Cafe...fab coffee, and they open at 7 am!

Inside the 11th Street Cafe...fab coffee, and they open at 7 am!

Things I liked best: Great light and views….more space than a hotel room, very clean, nice bathroom,  great location…easy walking to everything downtown…things it could improve on…need more wineglasses (it had one), and a reading light for the bedroom, even tho space is tight. How about a sconce?   Another plus…you have your own little hangout just a few doors down…the 11th Street Cafe….one of those sweet, funky little coffee houses that play great music and serve even better coffee, where no one glares at you for reading the NY Times while your nurse your caffe late….loved it. It’s coziness  added quite a bit to the neighborhood ambience. Maybe Julianne goes there for coffee sometimes, though for celebrity sightings in the area, no place beats Jack’s Stirbrew Coffee on West 10th….and Jack Bauer, I mean Kiefer Sutherland, has been seen there by my son, along with Sara Jessica Parker, Hillary Swank, Maya Rudolph. And speaking of Jack…. how great is 24 this season?????  Talk about your great escapist tv…..I love it.

The Urban Amish and other modern day oddities….
March 16, 2009

Last week, I like to think that some of you, at least, noticed that I posted no blogs. Ok, someone did….this is from Alison….” What’s up with no new blogs for over a week?  Those are one of the main reasons I check out the web site! ” And that’s all I needed really…was one plantive request from someone that indeed….it was missed. I shan’t go into the whys and wherefores of my silence. Because to do so, would cross the boundaries of wisdom and good taste, and I really try not to do that. But… last week, not blogging made me feel a little like one of the “urban Amish“. For those of you who are urban Amish enough not to know what that is….it is defined as someone who doesn’t have or use any of the technological devices or practices that consume the rest of our lives….like email, text messages, blogs, online shopping….you know, stuff we all do.

Oh, I did join Twitter last week….and while I don’t know exactly what that means to me just yet, I am now collecting followers, all the while following others. And perhaps if I really like some of the people I meet on Twitter, we can have a Tweetup…that means people on Twitter actually get together!! Is that crazy or what?? Talking to people face to face when you don’t have to? What’s next…actually talking on the phone….get out of here. I mean it…text me.

Oh, and here’s another one…”Whole Grazer”. Ever see someone in Whole Foods who hits every sample bowl..and hits it hard? So they think that even though some foods may cost a bit more there, they’re still getting their money’s worth, ’cause now they don’t have to eat dinner.  Ok, maybe I have Whole Grazed from time to time, what about it? Would you just step aside from the Chile Con Queso, pleeze?(love, love, love their Chili Con Queso)

Another favorite…”BlackBuried”.  This is not me because I urban-amishly don’t have a blackberry. But I know someone… very well, who sits with their blackberry on the arm of the chair, and every email…every Google alert…. all the things I simply delete in my email first thing every morning, this particular person picks up the Blackberry and looks at it. Feeling obliged to look at every email that comes to your Blackberry…you’ve been BlackBuried.

Ok, I’ve blogged…I’m back among the blogging living. Big sigh of relief….not for you, for me.

Tales out of school…from the kitchen….
March 5, 2009

My sweet daughter gets home Friday for spring break…..”my last spring break “, she says mournfully….she graduates this year, so it is indeed,  the “last” spring break. And there are no great trips this year…in the past couple of years we have traveled en famille to Charleston, which I’ve written about here before….. Let me just say….I love that week, that we are all together in that lovely city. Love it. Great food, lots of fun…but let’s be honest, it is also a lot of money. Even if you’re cooking a lot, and we do, we eat out a couple of dinners, and with the house rental, food, blah, blah, travel…’s just a lot, you know?

So this year Cada and I are gonna Megabus it up to New York for two nights….we found a pretty inexpensive place to stay on a website I’ve never seen before…Antique Cafe B & B….rents apartments in the Chelsea/Greenwich Village/Sohoarea. And they’re renting them for quite a bit  less than the prices on the website. But for the same money as a hotel room, you get a one bedroom apartment…cute…wifi, flat screen tv, tiny kitchenette(NY style) with a separate living room. Looks nice, so I’ll let you know how it goes. It might be a real find, to have a little more room than a small hotel room. Especially with a daughter who likes to stay up LATE.

 Another time, and this one much more memorable, I asked her to put a roast in the frig, in the oven, for dinner that night. “Put it in about 4:00, and at 350 degrees, ok? Just salt and pepper it a little…. thanks sweetie “, says me.  She calls me about 4:30…”Mom, the roast is really smoking in the oven..” I assured her that sometimes meat did that when it is roasting, but she said “No I mean REALLY a lot of smoke is coming from the oven!” I asked her could she tell what the source of the smoke was…and she replied…”It’s coming from the stuff dripping onto the bottom of the oven!!”  That’s correct….she had not put the roast ON A PAN!  My girl. But as she pointed out, “You didn’t say to put it on a pan…you just said put it in the oven!”……..and that’s exactly what she did.

The perfect roasted chicken....a thing of glory...

The perfect roasted chicken....a thing of glory...

Otherwise, I’ll probably have my girl do some shopping and cooking for me next week…but I’ve learned to be quite specific with my instructions, after a few culinary mishaps. Once, I sent her to the store to get a small, whole chicken(a perfectly roasted chicken is one of the best things in the world). “Not one of the huge oven-stuffer chicken…the smallest chicken you can find.” She returned with….a turkey breast. She had mistaken it for…. a small chicken. My baby girl.

Red Beans and Rice Weekend….
March 2, 2009

Red Beans and Rice....

Red Beans and Rice....

There is something about an impending snow storm that makes one want to cook something that is soulful, hearty, hot, and stick to the ribs….know what I mean? Almost some primal survival sense that kicks in and drives you to the kitchen to cook something dense and filling. Chicken and dumplings would certainly fill the bill, as would the other famous bean dish I did recently….cassoulet.  But yesterday…yesterday just seemed like a red beans and rice day. So we called some friends and neighbors, and said come on over for some NOLA  cooking….

The ultimate red bean-Camellia...

The ultimate red bean-Camellia...

Most recipes call for soaking the red beans(preferably Camellia red beans which come from Louisiana-I know some people who won’t make red beans unless they are Camellia-I am less picky)overnight, but you really don’t have to. Just plop your beans in the pot(two packages if you’re cooking for a crowd), put in enough water(some people use chicken broth but you don’t have to) to cover, bring to the boil, cover the pot and take off the heat and let them sit for 2 hours. There’s your overnight soak.

Then pick you recipe and begin….the basics you really need are onions, green peppers, ham hock, sausage(andouille or kielbasa), green onions for serving…and rice of course. The only thing you can’t do without is time. It takes a several hours for the beans to begin to thicken and release their starches and become what they are supposed to become. And the end dish is definitely worth the effort. All you need to go with it is a simple green salad, and some French Bread. Done. Friends brought some homemade peanut butter cookies, homemade pralines(how appropriate is that?), and a lovely fruit salad…..and we feasted.

I’m not gonna write out a recipe…..we just kinda make it up as we go along, but at, you can take a look at several different recipes and then pick one, or do a combo. It’s what’s so great about RB & R…a forgiving dish if there ever was one. Love it! And best of all? We have a big dish of leftovers to heat up this week….and it was easy on the budget.