Archive for April, 2009

Swine flu fever….
April 30, 2009

No, I don’t have a fever, and the chances are you don’t either. But you will be hearing about fevers for a while, at least until this swine flu thing…whatever it is…has run its course and things settle down a little. But I’ve gotten some interesting emails about it….like this one.

I just returned from Amsterdam through Dulles International airport, we were in line with many people,several wearing masks. As I reached the customs officer I was required to place both my hands on the scanner…..note everyone is placing their hand on this scanner……..no provision was made to clean the scanner inbetween use or provide soapless soap to clean your hands when done…….talking about passing on the virus right there at the airport……..I was disgusted and run to the bathroom as soon as possible to wash my hands……very careless and possibly dangerous practice at the airport. I have no idea where to go with this so I hope you can bring this to the attention of the appropriate people.”

Now that’s an excellent point. And not even necessarily to do with swine flu…but what about colds, MRSA, everyday germs….we passed the email along to a tv station in Washington D.C…..maybe they’ll have time to do something with it. That is Federal TSA territory….but they should have anti-germ wipes or gels handy. Why not?

This one is from a concerned parent at one of the schools in Maryland with “probable cases”….she basically wanted lots more information from school officials and said:

Using all the disinfectants in the world within a suspect building will not prevent the shed of virus from those already infected. Pandemics are a serious public health threat and parents deserve to be armed with information to allow them to make an informed decision regarding their children’s health. “
I can’t disagree, and think more information is better than less. I know parents at those two schools are understandably concerned…thus there was a much higher absentee rate at both today, as parents keep their kids home, to avoid possible illness.
But as one doctor pointed out to me, so far, the illness has been no worse than a regular flu. Most people have recovered without even a doctor’s care.  N-1-H-1, as the World Health Organization now wants the virus to be referred to, ( and that I understand-Egypt is slaughtering all the pigs in the country!) still may have some surprises for us. The story is still unfolding around all of us. But so far….nothing we can’t handle. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.  

Oh, and if you’re looking for an interesting read…..pop for a copy of  John M. Barry’s “The Great Influenza,” which came out five years ago…It has now climbed to # 99 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. I’ve read Barry’s book, which  tells of the deadly 1918 pandemic that killed millions worldwide. It’s really quite a thriller.

Watch who you’re emailing…..
April 28, 2009

The suite life....

The suite life....

OK, weekend before last I was in NYC, trying to get the lay of the land, so to speak, of a certain wedding that is to take place there, soon, and getting sooner every day. Ended up finding a great hotel in the financial district, for a great price  on Expedia, at Gild Hall in lower Manhattan. My son warned  me that “the financial district is desolate on the weekend“….but I didn’t find that to be true at all. And I had a reason to stay there. For the wedding, I found a loft apartment where we can 1. Stay for the 5 days we’ll be in town, and 2. Have a party Friday night for family and out of town guests(like me). Much more relaxed than a restaurant…more like a party at home…and think of all the money you save of liquor when you buy your own!! I wanted to see what was around there.

So anyway, we arrive at the Gild Hall early, because Megabus…now my favorite thrifty way to get there…got in by 11 am. We went on to the hotel, to at least store our stuff and check in later, and sure enough, the king room wasn’t ready. But the clerk said, “But if you like, I can give you a suite for $50 more...”. I hesitated, wanting to keep the 50 in my pocket…but he added, “It’s a gorgeous room, you won’t be sorry.” So I went for it. And was soooo glad. Really just  unbelieveable looking…check out their website, it’s quite a place if you can get a good deal.

My co-worker WBAL-TV anchorman Rod Daniels, who sits right by me in the newsroom, often goes to New York, and he was asking about where I stayed, so I emailed him a link to the hotel. Or…I thought I did. A few minutes later, he said , “I didn’t get anything.” So I checked again…ooooohhhh…I didn’t send to link to a romantic NY hotel to Rod Daniels…I sent it to Dan Rodericks, from the Baltimore Sun and WYPR!! I quickly sent along another email, explaining what happened, why it was an accident, not an attempt to lure him to a hotel room. I haven’t heard anything back. Sooooo embarassing. Check your mail addresses, people….

Money….the last taboo subject?
April 23, 2009

Remember when you would never, ever talk about sex? ( I know, I’m dating myself…) Today people openly joke about the subject and sometimes talk about their “dysfunction”. Or discussing menstruation…a ohmigod soooooo hush-hush subject 20 years ago….I remember sneaking into the bathroom as a kid to look at my Mother’s box of pads in the bathroom…there was something so forbidden about them….now you see ads on tv! 
 I think money remains the last real taboo in our society. Come on, do your friends talk about the fact that you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or falling behind on their bills, or  about how you’re gonna make your kid’s tuition payment, much less your next sack of groceries? Most of us, and I include myself, keep our finances to ourselves. That’s private right?  We like to maintain the facade for the world that, hey, it’s all good. We’re fine. No problemo. Sure, we can meet you for dinner at that expensive restaurant….what time?

And one must wonder… if either of  the men involved in murdering their entire families in the last week or two had been able to talk about what was really going on their lives, instead of maintaining the facade…would their families be alive? But that conversation is hard to have…with anyone.  “Honey, I’m really sorry….but things are changing, we don’t have to money to send you to this school…we may lose our house…I’m not the person you think I am.” Are those words hard to say? Yes.  For any of us.

Most of us here, who are covering and reporting on these horrific stories keep pondering it in our heads, just like all of you. Why on earth….I mean, why take your family with you….what on earth was going through their minds. It is so unfathomable, and their secret thought process go with them to the grave. Along with the innocents.

But if money is the precipitator of these terrible acts, maybe we all need to step back and wonder just how much our lifestyle, our things, our stuff, our money…means to us too. What would we do if we lost it? Start again…give up…drink too much…take it out on the kids? Some honest conversations need to be had in this country…parents and kids….”here’s where we are…we don’t have the money we used to. I’m sorry about it but here’s where we are going….there are uncharted waters ahead, but we are still a family. Yeah I’m scared by it, and I know you are too. But we will make it through this too, as a family. “

If that conversation could have been held, might those families be alive today? No one knows the answer. But we need to stop judging others and more importantly, ourselves, by our stuff and our bank accounts. We are more than that….. aren’t we?

Earth Day Flotsam and Jetsam….
April 22, 2009

Let’s be honest I’ve been a bad blogger this week…very bad, but it has been a busy busy busy week. Last weekend I was in New York to check out wedding stuff…the park , the restaurant, the loft where we are staying AND having a party. And I’m kind of rethinking the “Oh I can do that” mentality. Yeah.  I think I could use some help, so there is another search.

Wet Earth Day....

Wet Earth Day....

But still…it’s earth day, and while it was a soggy drive into work, I ws thinking how appropriate it is that the thing that keeps us all going on this little planet….the rain….is involved in this day. One day I was kind of whining (sorry) about the rain that had been going on for a few days, and Chief Meteorologist Tom Tasselmayer….wouldn’t you know it would be him…said, “Have you ever stopped to think about what  a miracle the rain is?”  So…think about that the next time a rainy day depresses you!

Let’s see…what else….Sandy wrote in about  composting(also appropriate for Earth Day…” For 4 years I’ve composted all the veggie and fruit waste at the Inn and restaurant. To keep fruit flies at bay, I use a large cookie container with a screw top, then every few days we empty it… works wonders!” Thanks Sandy…that’s a good idea….

Erin wrote in about my Puttanesca post saying ” I just wanted to thank you for the recommendation! Immediately after reading your blog on Friday, I clicked on the La Scala website and made reservations. My husband and I aren’t foodies like you, but we thoroughly enjoyed our dining experience and LOVED our meals. ”  Sandy, you are welcome. We do what we can for foodies in training.

And this from Nicole….” Do enjoy reading your blog… One subject I’m curious to hear from you on in your blog… the Susan Boyle thing (British talent lady?). Curious what your feelings and your opinions are on the subject!” Nicole, my thoughts really have been…why is everybody so shocked and amazed that an older woman who is not a beauty can actually sing. Ohmigod!! It’s incredible! Unbelievable!! How can someone so…so…ummm…eyebrow challenged can have a lovely voice????? What a premium we put on beauty in this world….sad really. But for Susan, I am thrilled. And as others have noted, she does indeed have the voice of an angel. Perhaps now others will see for what she has always been, a lovely talented woman, deserving of note.

The perfect Pomodoro? Or is it the Puttanesca?
April 17, 2009

The assistant news director called me in his office earlier this week, and asked would I like to do a cooking segment with Chazz Palminteri of A Bronx Tale Fame, at La Scala Restaurant in Little Italy. Ummmm….in a word…yes. (Airs on WBAL Sunday 9 AM)

Pasta with vodka sauce...come to mama...

Pasta with vodka sauce...come to mama...

We met at noon….Chef Nino Germano, the chef at  LaScala said, “So why have I never seen you at my restaurant?” I lamely said that you know how you get stuck in a rut with the restaurants you always go to…and…you know….yeah. But now that I’ve tasted his cooking…I will be drawn to his siren song. He makes maybe the perfect Pomodoro Sauce….simple, absolutely fresh, finished with fresh basil and a splash of Sicilian olive oil. Delish.

And Chazz Palminteri  is no slouch when it comes to Italian food….come on, he’s from the  Bronx!  He grew up with him Momma’s fresh tomato sauce, and he says he always orders a Pomodoro sauce when he first tries an Italian restaurant….”The simplest things are always the hardest to make….if someone makes that good…you know the rest of the food will be too.”  And Chazz was particularly fond of Chef Nino’s Puttanesca sauce….a sauce that comes from Naples,  and according to some it was a quick cheap meal that prostitutes could prepare between customers.  Truth or fiction? Who knows….but man….fresh tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovy paste(gives it just the right zing, even if you’re not an anchovy fan)….plate that sucker. It’s done. Chazz loved it…said it was seriously the best puttanesca he’d ever had…”Yeah, really…most people just overdo it…it’s just too much you know? But this is …ummmm…just right.”

 I saw A Bronx Tale at the Hippodrome, a couple of nights ago. I will only say this….it blew me away. I’ve never seen the play, never saw the movie, so I came to it kind of a fresh slate…But Chazz gets on stage, and grips you for 90 minutes or so straight through….no breaks…all by himself.  Amazing stuff. Like a perfect pomodoro.

And we all sat down for an oh so brief respite during a busy Friday. and shared some plates of pasta, family style….and Chef Nino’s Mom brought out her homemade cannoli…chocolate and hazelnut. Does life get any better than this on a perfect spring day? I don’t think so.( And for those of you who love bocce ball…they have an indoor court at La Scala…how fun is that?)

L.A.D.I.E.S.-Life after Divorce Is Eventually Sane
April 15, 2009

Another one bites the dust....

Another one bites the dust....

I’ve been reading a little and hearing a lot this week about actor Mel Gibson’s wife Robyn, with whom he has nine(count ’em) kids, filing divorce papers. It is said that it will possibly be one of the most expensive divorces in Hollywood history. I guess so …they’ve been married 28 years….and there was evidently no pre-nup, so she gets half. And, of course, there are the pictures on the beach of the middle-aged Gibson, staring out pensively at the waves, while a young beauty in a bikini waits for him. Aaaahhhhh, it must be fabulous to be Mel.

It made me think of a group of women I met back in the 80s….we were doing a story about the ex-wives of famous men who had been dumped by their hubbies. They had formed a group called L.A.D.I.E.S…..which stood for “life after divorce is eventually sane.” We met Lynn Landon, ex-wife Michael Landon, then a big star from Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven….and a number of others. Even with a nice fat divorce settlement, which not all of them got, life changes in big ways and little ones. You are no longer Mrs. Landon, as in…”oh, we have a wonderful table for you Mrs. Landon”, “I’ll bring the car right around for you Mrs. Landon”. You are now the ex….with all perks revoked. And some of them had to scrape for money.  It was interesting to hear their stories, of a life lost, but going on to find new ones, and sometimes, better ones.

Oh, and while I was in this apartment overlooking the Pacific(someone wasn’t doing too badly), I had this horrendous coughing fit. They all thought I was choking, and started holding my arms over my head, but I couldn’t stop coughing long enoughto get out that I really was ok, just give me a minute.  I don’t know if the group is still around…it was in 1994 when this article in People Magazine appeared….maybe today made up of new ex-wives who need a support group. Ladies, ladies, ladies…I guess Robyn Gibson could start it afresh, as she finds that indeed, life after divorce is eventually sane.

Another man’s garbage….
April 14, 2009

The lazy girls compost heap...

The lazy girl's compost heap...

I have become a recent convert to composting….don’t know why I didn’t do it years ago! When I think of all the items  I have sent down the disposal, that could have had another life as soil enriching compost, it makes one want to weep. Still, better late to the party than never, as my Momma says.

And not being blessed with a large yard, I’ve had to be a little crafy about where to put the compost heap. You wouldn’t notice it, over on the side of the yard where are lots of leaves and stuff…and so daily I carry out whatever I would have thrown away. Leftover vegetables that have gone a touch moldy, anything organic that would have gone to waste like coffe grinds(worms love them), tea bags, fruit peels, vege peels, peanut shells, even wood ash….it all goes in. The things to avoid..inorganic material, meat and dairy stuff(they make the pile smell bad and attract varmits), pet droppings(bad)…..common sense really. If you go to composting 101, they have all the answers if you’re not sure what to put in, and what not to. They will tell you that what I’m doing(a pile of compost), is the lazy woman’s entree to the world of composting. Whatever. Maybe I’ll get a bin soon.

Little green compost bowl....

Little green compost bowl....

So I keep a little green bowl by the sink, and in go all the things that would have been down the disposal..oh, and all the yard clippings( in the pile, not in the bowl). Did you know that yard trimmings and food residuals together make up almost a quarter of this country’s municipal solid waste stream?  That’s a lot of stuff that could be put back to work  in the soil…in landfills. So…go forth and compost. Your garden will thank you for it!

Sunshine in a Bowl….
April 10, 2009

Utterly delish sunshine in a bowl...

Utterly delish sunshine in a bowl...

I admit to being a lemon curd freakazoid, and for those of you who have never had it, or only had it from the store….let me just say, after you learn how fabulous it is, and how easy it is to make, you’ll never go back. In fact, the hardest part is figuring out which of the millions of recipes available online you want to use….and they vary widely from lots of butter, just a little. I try to pick one the the middle, and this time(though I have used others with equally good results), this time I picked one from the Joy of Baking.  Only  I tripled the recipe. No, I don’t really need that much, but you can give it away in little jars, and I’m putting it tiny little tart shells for an Easter dessert. And I’ll spread it on English Muffins for breakfast. And take an occasional swipe straight from the bowl with a spoon. It’s that good.

Only 4 ingredients...

Only 4 ingredients...

All you need is  a few lemons(3 for a measly single recipe -for juice and the zest of the rind), butter, and eggs …oh, and sugar, of course. And please, what ever you do, do NOT use bottled lemon juice or juice from one those little plastic lemons. It won’t taste the same and I won’t like you anymore.  If you’re gonna do that, just buy a jar.

Labor involved…zesting the lemons with a grater, juicing the lemons(easiest if you have a little juicer), and stirring , stirring with a whisk so the eggs don’t curdle. But honestly, I have never had that happen. No matter which recipe you use, it’s pretty foolproof.  Here’s one that guarantees to be foolproof and goes about preparation in a different way, from Fine Cooking. Enjoy…and have a great weekend!

Westbound for Southland…..
April 9, 2009

No Ryan no...put down the gun!!

No Ryan no...put down the gun!!

Ok, I really liked Ryan….you know…Ryan? The poor kid from Chino on The O.C. who lucked out and lived with a rich family in a fabulous house and had a fabulous girlfriend(several) in Newport Beach CA? Remember? All I’m saying is that I’m kinda predisposed to like NBC’s new copudrama Southland, because of Ryan…who is now rookie officer Ben Sherman, who from the looks of it, is having a bad first day at work.  And if you have some spare time today, you can see the premiere episode online before it airs tonight…my, how times have changed.

 

But there’s this one line in a promo that made me laugh, although it wasn’t supposed to be funny. I don’t think. Another older officer says to little Ben with grea intensity…”You’re a police officer because you don’t know how NOT to be one.” Hmmmmm.  Say again? Let’s see how that plays out…”I’m a news anchor because I don’t know how NOT to be one.”  Actually I do know how not to be one…I’ve done it before. I just prefer being one.

Or this…”You’re a real estate agent because you don’t know how  NOT to be one.” Right now some are feeling they know exactly how it feels not to be one….as a friend in the biz told me the other day they now call it the “Show-tell…no-sale” business, cuz people ain’t buying….at least not very much.

You see what I’m saying….it’s just a silly line that doesn’t make any sense, and I’m hoping they have better in the show. Clearly NBC has high hopes for  Southland…..it will be in E.R.’s time slot….after one of the funniest and best written shows on tv….Tina Fey’s 30 Rock . If you’ve never seen it, shame on you.  It’s a tough act to follow. Oh and another promo that was a little cheesey(no fault of the show)….. when they used the music “Orange Sky” as the background music…it was used on the O.C. and is on one of their cds….so I’m guessing they thought it would subliminally evoke fond memories of The O.C. and Ryan and maybe transfer our feelings of love for him to Southland. Actually…it may have worked. I’m watching tonight….if you’ve never heard Alexi Murdoch’s song…have a listen. It’s pretty.

A Dash of Paint…..
April 8, 2009

the fabulous Mr. Lawson...

the fabulous Mr. Lawson...

You know, there is nothing that a fresh coat of  paint won’t make better….and today, when I get home, lots of things that I’ve been noticing around my house…things that needed something, little nicks and chips and smudged woodwork….will be much, much better. That is because of the man you see in the picture. Mr. Lawson has been painting for me for, wow….at least 15 years, probably 20. 

I’ll admit to being extremely particular when it comes to who comes in my house….paranoid some might say.  Finding someone you like, and even more importantly, trust inside your home, is worth it’s weight in gold. That’s Mr. Lawson….and he’s funny. I was telling him this  morning about trying to help plan my son’s wedding in New York, and he said, ” I hate New York more than the Lord hates sin!” When I asked why, he said there were just too many people running around. Pretty accurate. And my partner Stan Stovall will get a chuckle out of this….Mr. Lawson said, “How’s old snowball doing?” I looked at him a little confused…”Snowball? I don’t know who you’re talking about“……Mr. Lawson said, “You know, the man who does the news cast with you? Stan…I can’t remember names, I just call him snowball.”  Now that gentle readers, is the making of a good nickname.

Shell White is Muffy approved....

Shell White is Muffy approved....

And he’s the man who introduced me to Shell White…I was dithering over a color for woodwork several years ago, and Mr. Lawson told me emphatically…” You should just get Shell White. Now that’s a pretty white.” I did, and all the woodwork in my house is now done in it….I always keep some on hand….you never wonder, now which white is that door? Baby, it is always Shell White..high gloss too.

And this you will find hard to believe….Mr. Lawson is 84 years old!! You would never know it to look at him….I was telling him how continuing what he was doing, was probably one reason why he still could….He said, “And it helps when you enjoy what you do…” and he clearly does.