Tuesday, April 30, 2013

More Garden -- it's getting there

Ana did more work yesterday, and here's how it's looking:

More permanent flowers were added to augment the tulips and daffodils. Ana said she wants to plant bulbs here in the fall.

I bought this little stone rabbit like 20 years ago. I saw it in a garden center and thought it was statuary on scale with the rest of my garden. Over the years the weather has worn off much of the detail, but I still like this little guy.

This just looked cheery to me.

As did this. Yellow flowers seem particularly cheerful to me for some reason.

This is officially my 1000th post

Yes, I've actually posted 1000 urgent messages about pies, flowers, cats and things that annoy me. We all hear too many stats from work so I'll limit myself to three:

I started this blog on December 31, 2010.
Last month, I had 3,153 page views.
Since the beginning of the blog, I've had 46,231 page views.

I started this blog because I wanted an outlet for my own personal creativity, and I have to say I enjoy doing it and enjoy providing a comfortable place for people to come every so often. I always say I have a small, but very loyal following.

Strawberry Pie

This is from Schreiner's Newsletter that I received today and I love the warning about "whole pies are for carryout only" --did they see us coming? Ordering a whole pie and one fork? Then sit there, casualy reading a book, and working your way through an entire pie??

I saw this happen once at a client who shall remain nameless. Someone had baked him his favorite pie and he had it at lunch and a few of us had a small piece which left more than half a pie and he took a second piece, ate that and then proceded to eat the rest of the pie, the whole thing, all the while saying, "I really love this pie."

Enjoy a rare treat...Fresh Strawberry Pie!
Schreiner's Bakery will feature our famous FRESH STRAWBERRY PIE for Mother's Day!  Top off your Schreiner's meal with a delicious slice, or purchase a whole pie to enjoy at home with your family.  Don't miss out, call 920-922-0590 to order a Fresh Strawberry Pie for Mother's Day (whole pies available for carryout only).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Garden as Work in Progress

My cleaning woman told me that she and her mother would like to do my garden this year so I said yes. Ray the handyman has become too busy with his full-time job. So on Thursday, they arrived with plants. Fortunately, one of the last things Ray had done was winter cleanup so Ana cleaned my apartment while her elderly mother (and by "elderly" I mean 15 years older than me) planted.

They are not finished yet, but here's what it looks like, and I was happy to just sit outside today. It wasn't quite warm enough, but it was still pleasant.

This is the bleeding heart on top, and I believe the bottom is called New Guinea impatiens.

I wouldn't have taken the time to plant fully-bloomed daffodils and tulips -- I want things that LAST but this looked really pretty for a day or two. And I guess they'll come back up next year.

Marigolds and geraniums on the steps.

I don't know what these are on the steps on the other side. It is a flower as both have buds.

This is a little corner built-in brick planter. The bush and the ivy are old, and Mama cleaned up the ivy and made a space for these little plants -- not coleus, but pink and green leaves.

These are those giant (New Guinea?) impatiens.

How the steps look now.

This is one view from my garden. That wall is about 12 feet high. I was once at a party, on the terrace of that apartment building and it was very weird to look down into my garden. No nude sunbathing for me.

And finally, the ugliest part of my garden -- the prison camp look of concertina wire. But even this has a role... when I was first getting my home owner's insurance over the phone, I could hear the ca-ching of my premium going up when I mentioned the outdoor space. Then I mentioned the prison camp look and the concertina wire and he took back his ca-ching. What's funny is that an apartment building put that up to protect itself against me and other people who have gardens. Those shreds are plastic grocery bags which have taken years, literally, to be this shredded.

Chelsea and her dad

I don't follow Chelsea Clinton on Twitter, but the big news this week on Twitter is that President Clinton has started to tweet. Anyway, someone re-tweeted this and Chelsea says it's one of her favorite photos of her and her "now on Twitter dad." Very sweet picture.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Are you ready to order?

A friend mentioned to me this week that she had been to Oshkosh, ate at Schreiner's and had the walnut pie which she said was to die for. We haven't picked our virtural pies in a while so here goes:

But first today's entrees:

SALMON PATTIES Topped with Creamed Peas
(Will Mary pick the salmon? My mother used to make creamed peas all the time -- haven't eaten them in years.)
(I think I'd pick this)
(I've never had the real thing -- just the Stouffer's entree)
Lightly Hand-Breaded HADDOCK FILLETS

I've only seen "Poorman's Lobster" in Wisconsin. It's actually halibut which supposedly tastes just like lobster, but I think I'll stick with the real thing.

And now for the pies:

  -->sounds summery and refreshing -- vanilla ice cream and a great cup of coffee are a must with this one.
   -->I'd like more info on this one. My all-time {ok, ONE of my all-time favorites} is coconut custard pie, but I haven't had that in years. I remember Stancie made me one once when I was visiting. DUTCH APPLE PIE
  -->Only if I can have vanilla ice cream with this one.
HOT MINCE PIE with Rum Sauce
  -->This is the only one I'd say no too. I don't like mince and I don't like rum sauce.
PUMPKIN PIE with Whipped Cream
  -->can't go wrong with this one

Tough decision, but I think I'd go with the stuffed pork chops and the blueberry/cranberry pie. Iced tea with the meal. Black coffee with dessert.

And you?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Best Spelling of the Day Award

I frequently am called upon, on behalf of my clients, to edit something for publication written by a non-professional writer.  I actually enjoy doing this -- keeping their voice in their words, while keeping it readable.

I just came across this:

fastenating stories

I pronounced it "fass-ten-ating stories" in my head as I read and I'm like what?? Then I realized he meant "fasten-ating" and of course fascin and fasten are pronounced the same so I guess his spelling makes sense.

Relentlessly Spring in DC

Mary tried to get back in my good graces this morning by saying she was cold on her way to work and needed a jacket. Uh-huh.

And now Fran writes:

These images taken on Ellicott Street on this beautiful DC
morning...if it is of any comfort, most evenings and
mornings for the past week have been chilly enough
to wear a jacket outdoors and snuggle under an extra blanket.
The bench, like you, has been waiting for spring.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Now They Are Just Showing Off

These endless photos of ooooooh it's spring in DC are getting a bit annoying. We are effing cold here. I have my window open in defiance and I'm clearly uncomfortable, but I'm stubborn.

But here goes. This first one Fran has called "Mature Tulip Sunbathing on Connecticut Avenue" followed by Mary's front yard.

Full Force Spring in DC

We're still waiting for spring in NYC, but Mary says:

My back yard is full of green.  Actually, it's too full - I need to now the lawn.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Congratulations to Dave

We heard via Meredith today that her husband Dave has gotten "a Fullbright." I don't know if that's the same as being named a Fullbright Scholar, but I am impressed. I have such fascinating friends.

Of course I've been a huge fan of Dave's even before I met him, even before they were married when I heard from Mary that Dave did this chore, that chore, fixed this, fixed that, carried this, carried that in her house. Being a future Fullbright Scholar, he no doubt figured out that the way to Meredith's heart was by being good to her Aunt Mary. And he was.

Anyway, congratulations to Dave, and I can't help but think of the genuinely intellectual bent he tries to bring to the silly board games we play at Christmas.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mary Heads Home

Mary's team during the race. Whoops -- I realize that the headline doesn't go with this photo. I've made it sound as if Mary is paddling her way home which could take a long time. Actually she's on the car train headed North.
Wrong order, but dessert first. This is Mary's chocolate peanut butter pie on the train heading home.
And this is her vegetarian lasagna. She's on the car train headed North and will be home by noon on Monday.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fran's Spring

Fran says:

After a long walk I sat in the sun on a bench outside of apt bldg next door. Pretty day.

Mary adds:

The building on the right is where she used to live on Connecticut Avenue.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Has Come to New York City

Fifth Avenue and 84th Street -- am not sure what these flowering trees are, but they are pretty.

Driving through Central Park. These are beautiful "hanging" forsythia bushes.

Right in front of the restaurant where Barbara and I ate. Daffodils and leaves on the tree.

Apartment buildings sprucing up for spring.

Park Avenue -- note the red tulips.

All these years later, I miss the Woolworth's on 86th and Third -- now a Banana Republic.

This is Second Avenue in front of the closing Food Emporium. It's a mess.

This building is in the street, literally, on Second Avenue.

Back home again, and the leaves are coming out.

Fran's Editorial Assistant

This is Valentino.

Moving the Boats

Mary's week of training is over, and now it's on to Cocoa Beach for the Dragon Boat Festival. Here's how they take the boats out of the water to transport them.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Milo Misses Mary

Fran has been checking in on Milo while Mary is in Florida, and she sent this photo she calls "Milo Waits for Mary." Milo is out on the screened-in porch.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Calming by Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers was after my time, by a lot, as a child, but every so often when he was on and I was flipping around the channels, I'd stop to watch because he was such a gentle soul. I saw this today via Twitter, and Snopes has even certified it as true.

Mary's GoPink Team

Mary is second from the left, with the blue and pink t-shirt and white hat.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What I'm Reading

In short, this is about two women, separate who don't know each other and are very different, who each are involved with a murder and they hook up to try to survive/escape.

Or, in more detail, according to Amazon.com:

No Way Back is a thrilling page-turner from Andrew Gross, the New York Times bestselling author of 15 Seconds and The Blue Zone. One woman is framed for a horrific crime, and desperate to prove her innocence.

A chance meeting with a stranger in a hotel ends in a shocking murder. Wendy Gould is an average mom—and the only witness. Nanny Lauritzia Velez knows a shocking secret that could prove to be deadly. Both of their lives in danger, this unlikely pair must work together against a network of dangerous men who want nothing more than to see them dead.

A fast-paced, riveting tale with strong, compelling characters, No Way Back is an edge-of-your-seat read with nonstop action and a complex mystery.

Neighborhood News

With urban living, we have an area that is "ours" -- our dry cleaner, our Chinese restaurant, our newspaper stand... so I've recently heard and seen two changes in my immediate area.

At my corner, there was a restaurant called Samalita's -- sounds Mexican, but it was an odd combination of things. My favorite item there was a guacamole appetizer, prepared tableside and they called it California Guacamole because they'd add crabmeat. It was so good, and they had better-than-average chips. Whenever I'd go with people, we'd order it and it's the kind of thing that was so good that people would run their finger in the bowl, without embarrassment, to get that last bit.

It makes sense that crabmeat and avacado go together, but I've never seen this anywhere else. Anyway, the place closed and has been empty for ... I think two years, maybe more. And Monday, when I was leaving, construction has begun. When I came home on Friday, I see the storefront is closed up, meaning they're doing work inside but something's happening.

There is a 7-11 that went in next door which is odd for this neighborhood, and I am hoping it's not an extension of the 7-11 but rather a wonderful new neighborhood restaurant.

The other change is that my longtime grocery store -- The Food Emporium -- is closing on May 31. I think between this fancy popular, latest thing grocery store that went in a block away and the Second Avenue subway construction that has blocked the front of the store for months, it couldn't survive. Makes me sad in a way because when Food Emporium moved it, it was the latest, greatest grocery store.

Mary Arrives in Orlando

Her event is at one of those spa/hotel/conference center type places. Here we go:

Mary is sharing a suite with either three other or four other women. She says, "There's another room up the spiral staircase on the left."

The view from our suite - unfortunately for the picture, it's s screened in balcony. This place is huge - after I checked in I was sent to VIP services to get a map and directions to our building...

Pat adds: EEK. Shades of Opryland where everyone walks around with a map. The thing I don't want to hear when I check into a hotel is, "You're in the Milennium Towers... just walk through that arch, past the atrium. past the first set of elevators...."

 She says about this photo:
This is in the other bedroom

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Travels with Mary - continued

Mary crosses the James River at Richmond, Virginia.

Travels with Mary

Mary is headed to Orlando today for a week-long training camp for her GoPink (breast cancer survivors) dragon boat racing team. Because she works for Amtrak (and gets a good deal), she is taking the auto train, which means the train takes you and your car to Orlando.

Early today, I got a long email about everything she's worried about that could go wrong -- I know that feeling, but the next report is 1:30 and she's in the place where she and her car board the train -- that's Lorton, Virginia.

Mary captions all these photos:  This is so efficient. The auto train station is right off 95 and very well marked. You enter here, as if you're dropping your car off for service. People are very helpful, reminding you to take what you'll want on the train. They put a magnetic plate with your car number on it on the side of your car and direct you into the open, airy station. I checked in and the guy marked my ticket to be upgraded to a nicer sleeper if available, and reserved a space for me for dinner. I picked 7:00 rather than 5 or 9.  Took a walk around - there's a play area outside  - and now I'll just wait to board. I'm early nut it lowers my stress. They stop boarding at 3.
The play area. Don't know if you can see thus very well. It's very sunny outside.
Very efficient. They load the bottom cars then move the ramp up and load the top.  I'm going to find out how many cars and how many passengers they carry. They have a new offering - for $50 you can ensure your car is one of the first 20 offloaded.

Inside the station.  It's a beautiful day.

My compartment is the same size as the one I had in October, but it's on the upper level of a two level car. There's no toilet or sink in this room but there is a bathroom right across the hall. This is a Superliner. They don't have these in the Northeast Corridor because they are too tall for the tunnels. I'm looking out at the cars carrying vehicles and they are now all connected so I guess we'll hook up to them soon. The just made an announcement of complementary wine and cheese in the lounge car. Maybe I'll wander down and check it out.


Since you love food pix {Pat adds: "guilty as charged"}, here is my wine and cheese sampler. Lots of people in the dining car but I'm not much for mingling. We're off!  The train is moving.  I probably won't send many more pictures because the auto train doesn't have WiFi yet. We just stopped by a school bus parking lot. We aren't actually supposed to leave until 4 so I'm not sure what we're doing.

The movie tonight is Skylark, a Hallmark Hall of Fame sequel to Sarah Plain and Tall. I liked that one and Christopher Walken is in it with Glenn Close but it doesn't interest me. It does seem like a nice movie for families.
Facts: The auto train is 3/4 mile long. There are 396 passengers, 103 cars, 45 vans and one motorcycle today. The maximum speed is 70 mph.
There is one area of the auto train that allows smoking but that is going away on June 1. {Pat adds: Neither Mary nor I smoke, but we both used to many years ago. Mary quit about 3 or 4 years (maybe more) before I did. Barbara would say that Mary noting this is a sign (like me) that we are ex-smokers, not non-smokers even though neither of us have smoked a cigarette in about 30 years.}


Friday, April 12, 2013

Yippee! I'm Home!

Oh man, it's good to be home. One funny thing that happened that I didn't mention is that Amy and I both made our hotel reservations late, both made them from different travel websites and we ended up at the same hotel which we thought was interesting until we later found out that we were across the hall from each other -- I was in 142 and she was in 141. Of course, if we tried to do that, it never would have worked. I can just hear the front desk saying that they can't guarantee rooms in a certain location.

I must have used up all my luck with my luck of the Irish return trip from Nashville. This was not a smooth trip. It began with the rental car woman finding a small dent, and I do mean small. She was tsk-tsking me asking me what happened and I said I had no idea. She gave me this form to fill out and I am glad it occurred to me to take a photo.
Here's the dent and the brown streak is just dirt. I have no idea how this happened. Of course I have insurance. In the "report" I simply stated that it's small, it may have been there the whole time and that no incident occurred. So we'll see what happens.

I called a client from the gate area and he was taking off from Orlando. I left him a voice mail and said that my flight was on time, good bye, etc. Two seconds after I hung up, they announced the flight was late and the women sitting next to me blamed me for jinxing it as they heard me say the flight was on time. I said I would take full responsibility for jinxing it.

And so I sat in Gate E69 at Tampa. Here's the view from my seat.
While the flight was delayed a second time. We finally boarded about 90 minutes late, but then it took another 30 minutes to take off. The weather in NY screwed up the whole system I think.

All was not bad, however, since I did automatically get a Crown Victoria cab home from LGA and here he is leaving me...

...after having carried my suitcase to the top step. Home again!

By now it was about 7:30, I was starving so I called Gracie's -- here are the sides -- mashed potatoes and carrots (and some soup that came with it) which is the perfect accompaniment for....

Meat Loaf! with mushrooms and gravy. Yum.

...And some really fresh challah breead. So this dinner was a great way to celebrate being home.