Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There's no such thing as too much soup.

I’ve got a huge pot of soup on the stove. I’m making my famous Beef Barley Soup (see earlier post) ... except this time I substituted chicken for the round steak and used white cannellini beans. The smell is INTOXICATING, and I seriously don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to hold out. My soup won’t be ready for another 90 minutes. Help me, please.

Today is my mother’s 88th birthday. I’ve been trying to call her since early afternoon but there’s no answer, so I’m assuming she either has her cell phone turned off or she’s in the hospital. The latter explanation is the likely one, since she always seems to wind up in the hospital on her birthday for one reason or another. Happy birthday, mom ... wherever you are! (If anything serious is going on I’m sure I’ll hear from my sister tonight.)
For your possible interest and amusement, here’s a nostalgic family photo taken at kiddieland sometime around 1958. That’s mom on top, I’m in the middle and my sister Robin is at the bottom. Posing for pictures is NOT as much fun as going on rides so I imagine this activity didn’t last very long. And I actually think Robin was ready to throw up.

Before I forget ...
Please accept our heartfelt Hanukkah wishes for a pile of homemade latkes and a lot of terrific presents. Shalom, y’all.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The shopping spree, part three.

When it comes to shopping, I’m the family amateur. This morning while I was still asleep Sam went to the grocery store to buy a box of matzos and came home with an Oklahoma Redbud tree for our back yard. His side trip to Covington’s Nursery also included professional landscaping services, edging and ornamental grasses for a total expenditure of $500 plus $3.89 for the matzo. A photo of a mature Oklahoma Redbud tree in somebody else’s yard appears below.
And here’s a portrait of the matzos:
We’re going to have a matzo omelette for dinner tonight (read my recipe here), which sounds like a truly swell idea to me. Thank you for reading this.

The shopping frenzy continues.

Seriously, this doesn’t happen around here very often. Sam and I are NOT indiscriminate spenders, and we don’t have a houseful of useless crap like most people. (Although I do have a surprisingly large number of scented candles in my dresser drawers and strongly believe that a person can never own too many sheets, this is probably a topic for a future post. Or maybe a therapist.)

The point is, for the last few days I’ve been actively involved in an online shopping spree in order to take advantage of everybody’s insanely low holiday prices. So far my purchases have included: 1) the Breville panini press I mentioned a couple of days ago; 2) an Oster breadmaker (pictured below) from Overstock.com; 3) one dozen  breadmaker mixes from The Prepared Pantry; 4) an electric knife so I can cut my homemade bread into neat slices that fit into the panini press; 5) the first three seasons of “Seinfeld” on DVD from Amazon.com so Sam and I can eat paninis and watch reruns; and 6) two books of stamps from USPS.com because you’d have to be NUTS to go near a post office at this time of year.
Incidentally, anybody who wants to come over for homemade bread should just send me an email and we’ll work it out somehow, even if we don’t know who you are.

And now it’s time for bed ... at last. I’ve been awake all night because I took an unfortunately-timed nap on the couch after dinner. I wish I had more self-control where this kind of thing is concerned, but our family room furniture is stuffed with ether and I’m finished the minute I put my feet up. Sam too. Shalom to everybody and please floss.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An easy, sugar-free holiday dessert.

My recipe for sugar-free pumpkin pie passed the “Sam test” on Thanksgiving. He says it’s as good as any pumpkin pie he’s ever had, which is quite a compliment when you consider it’s made with a large pile of Splenda.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup Splenda granular
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated millk
Preheat oven to 425°. Combine all ingredients for a couple of minutes with an electric hand mixer on low, then pour into a 9-inch deep-dish pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°, then reduce heat to 350° and bake another 45 minutes. Bring pie to room temperature and serve with a fork, a napkin and a moderate-sized wad of sugar-free Cool Whip. You might want to make two pies because everybody will ask for seconds.
Thank you for eating this.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Two decades of joy remembered.

I don’t know if too many women celebrate a hysterectomy anniversary, but mine occurred 20 years ago today at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids Michigan ... a happy and long-anticipated occasion that’s definitely worthy of a milestone acknowledgement. The smiling tampon posing at right says it all. It’s like blowing two decades of raspberries at Kimberly-Clark.

I know you’ll forgive me if this falls into the category of too much information, but I was only 39 when I had my surgery ... a procedure that was strongly recommended after 25 years of misery, two D&Cs and four years of chemotherapy for an early stage of endometrial cancer, which was treated by three different oncologists in three different states during my first husband’s upwardly mobile years. When my Michigan oncologist finally suggested surgery I wanted to do a couple of back flips, but I wasn’t feeling so hot at the time because I’d caught pneumonia raking leaves in the rain on a 35° day. The hysterectomy had to be rescheduled twice over the course of five weeks while we waited for my lungs to clear up.

For the record, I think the best part of all this (for me and for Sam) is the fact that I never had to deal with menopause! Thank you for reading this ... and don’t forget to send me some panini recipes, okay?

Electronic sandwiches, coming soon.

Still recovering from our Thanksgiving food fest, about an hour ago I was browsing around online looking at Black Friday specials when I discovered something on Overstock.com that I’ve been wanting for a long time: AN ELECTRIC PANINI GRILL. For the last couple of years most of the panini grills I’ve seen were either way overpriced (I’m not spending a hundred bucks to toast a stupid sandwich) or got crappy user reviews, but this one’s a real peach. According to its birth certificate the product’s full name is the Breville BSG520XL Duo Heavy-Duty Nonstick Panini Press Grill and Overstock has it on sale for only $31.99 ... with NO SALES TAX and FREE SHIPPING. Williams-Sonoma sells the same panini press for $89.95; Amazon’s best price is $59.95.
Within the next seven days I’ll be able to turn everything in the fridge into a gourmet grilled sandwich, such as leftover egg foo young with cheese and optional pickles. (Okay, maybe not.) Incidentally, I want to surprise Sam with this, so please don’t mention anything.

Please feel free to share any interesting panini sandwich recipes either by posting a comment or sending me an email. A speedy response would be appreciated so I can shop for ingredients. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and other nice gestures.

Yo, y’all. Here’s a great big Howdygram wish for a Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours! Although we assume you’re not running around in the woods somewhere murdering your own wildlife, we hope tomorrow will be a swell holiday that includes a preponderance of perfect poultry, a green bean casserole with greasy little French-fried onions on top and plenty of really nice people to help you clean up afterwards. The cleaning-up part is extremely important.

Once again this year Sam and I ordered a take-home feast from Boston Market, which we’ll pick up tomorrow at 1:00. PLEASE DO NOT MAKE FUN OF US. Boston Market’s food is fine, there’s always enough for three days of leftovers, and we can wear bathrobes and eat in front of the TV. This sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving, if you ask me. For dessert I’ll bake a couple of sugar-free pumpkin pies. We can also eat raisins if we want to, or maybe yogurt. Sam likes raisins and yogurt.

Are you planning a Black Friday shopping spree? I’M NOT ... but that’s because I don’t have to buy Christmas presents for anybody. Even if I did, though, I’d probably shop online because there’s no way I want to be anywhere near a retail store between now and the end of the year. Crowds make me nuts, there’s never any good parking and I’m really getting sick of Santa Claus. (Holy crap. I’ve turned into my mother.)

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My annual Hanukkah wish list.

With seven shopping days left until Hanukkah I thought I’d post this year’s wish list so you can buy my presents TOMORROW and ship them out on Friday with time to spare. I want any or all of the following: 1) one dozen new 100% guaranteed stain-proof white or natural kitchen towels; 2) a lifetime supply of Equal packets; 3) L’Oreal Voluminous brown mascara because the drug store was out of it last week; 4) six extra cereal bowls; 5) really good cuticle scissors; 6) at least 150 new hangers; 7) four 50-100-150 three-way light bulbs; 8) a full-time personal attendant to tweeze my eyebrows; 9) half a gallon of bird crap repellant for our black car; and 10) small narrow feet.

I realize that #10 might be hard to find so you should probably just concentrate on items 1 through 9. Please send an email if you need my shipping address.

And now, a quick news item about San Antonio’s annual Hanukkah festivities on the Riverwalk, sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch of South Texas.
This year’s Jewish Pride Hanukkah Parade will be held December 5 on the San Antonio River, beginning with a convoy of 10 barges, each holding 40 people, one rabbi, a Jewish mariachi band, a giant menorah and several platters of latkes. (Latkes are pan-fried potato pancakes. Two bites and your arteries slam shut.) There’s no indication if any of this costs money or not, but since I’ve never seen a Jewish mariachi band it might be worth the three-hour drive to San Antonio. Shalom, gracias, and thank you for reading this.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adventures in retailing.

For those of you still waiting for an update, our new Wal-Mart bedding set arrived on Saturday (four days ahead of schedule) and it’s BEAUTIFUL. There’s only one snag: it looks like someone stuffed the comforter into a duffle bag and drove it around in the trunk of a hot car for six months. It’s absolutely CRUSHED, and I just spent two solid days trying to figure out how to get rid of the wrinkles. My first brainstorm was to shove it in our clothes dryer with a couple of damp kitchen towels, but it didn’t take long to convince me this was stupid because the comforter is just way too big. (We tried.) Then I suggested why don’t we drive it over to the laundromat on Town East Boulevard and try the same thing in a commercial dryer. The look on Sam’s face said it all: NOT ON YOUR LIFE, KIDDO. Plus, there’d be no way to get it home without wrinkling the damn thing all over again.

So today I solved the problem! I just ordered a Conair professional-quality fabric steamer from HSN.com. Visualize a canister vacuum with a base unit on wheels and a long hose with a flat steamer head. It can be used in any position (i.e., a comforter that’s on a bed) and it was on sale today for $49.95 with free shipping and no sales tax. Steaming things is always entertaining and won’t annoy Sam, so I figured this is the perfect solution and worth a shot. Plus the Conair steamer has a whole long list of five-star customer reviews. Here it is posing for a photo earlier today on HSN’s website.
In other retail news, there was a cute article on MSNBC.com yesterday listing this year’s top 10 worst children’s Christmas toys. My three favorites include: 1) My Cleaning Trolley (cleverly labeled “for girls only” on the package), that will encourage your daughters and granddaughters to choose housekeeping or maid service as a valuable career option; 2) the Harry Potter Vibrating Broomstick, because it’s never too early to introduce your kids to buzzing sex toys; and 3) the TSA Security Set, designed to teach your children how to fondle, grope and humiliate unsuspecting airport travelers.
Here’s wishing y’all a happy Thanksgiving and a Black Friday filled with excellent bargains. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

If at first you don't succeed ...

... you just order something else! The bedding set I bought last week from Wal-Mart.com (read my post) didn’t turn out exactly as expected, particularly since the dimensions of the king-size comforter couldn’t accommodate a mattress more than three inches deep. The colors were terrific; the fit was idiotic. So we returned it to our local Wal-Mart and I went back to their website and ordered the magnificent merchandise pictured below.
This is a NINE PIECE SET that includes a king comforter, two king-size shams, two Euro shams, three throw pillows and a tailored bedskirt for $69.95 ... with FREE SHIPPING. But (for me) the best part was reading all the online user reviews that raved about the oversized comforter dimensions even for a king-size bed. Stay tuned for an update; everything’s supposed to arrive November 23.

And now, Sam and I are going for a half-hour drive to Sugarless Delite, which is a diabetic’s nirvana in Richardson. I’ve had a serious craving lately for chocolate, and Sugarless Delite carries the best stuff ANYWHERE. Their bakery products (cheesecakes, pies and brownies) are amazing, too, but unfortunately they all contain large wads of an artificial sweetener called “maltitol” that works like a nuclear explosive on my digestive system. (My one and only experience two years ago was more than enough for me.)

Smooches to everybody and thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There's so much news my head might explode.

I almost don’t know where to start, so grab a cup of coffee, hang on and enjoy the ride through today’s Howdygram news briefs!

Sam assembles The Chair in record time. It arrived from Office Depot half a day ahead of schedule and about an hour before Sam usually leaves for work at 2 p.m. Diligent and talented Mister Speedy Fixit shlepped the carton into the study, dumped the contents in the middle of the room and had the entire chair assembled, bolted together and butt-ready in less than 40 minutes. To prove I’m not lying please see the photo below.
Prince William gets ready to tie the royal knot. The Brits are pleased to announce that their 28-year-old heir to the throne and his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton are officially engaged and planning a London wedding sometime in 2011. A definite date will be established shortly to allow adequate time for 3,756 royals and royal wannabes to place their orders for stupid hats. It is believed that millinery sales account for 57% of Britain’s gross national product.
Marcy enjoys an outing to “foodie heaven.” I drove over to Central Market in Dallas yesterday and splurged on a trunkload of goodies for Sam and me. Specifically, these included: 1) a chef-made casserole of gigantic poblano peppers stuffed with chicken, rice and cheese; 2) two pounds of Central Market’s gourmet Provence turkey breast that’s so good it actually reminds you of Thanksgiving; 3) my favorite marble rye bread; 4) potato latkes; 5) two slabs of lasagna; 6) house-made vegetable egg rolls with duck sauce; 7) an eggplant napoleon; and 8) their world-famous Cowboy Casserole, which contains chopped cowboys and spurs. (Only kidding. I think the main ingredient is chicken.) Central Market is the most amazing grocery store on earth. A photo of their mile-long meat counter appears below for your possible interest.
And now it’s time to work on items 2 and 3 from the list above. I’m saving item 7 for dinner. Thank you for reading this and pass the mayo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Cowboys win; Sam gets The Chair.

Well shut my mouth. THEY DID IT. The previously-depressing Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants yesterday 33 to 20 in a surprise win at Meadowlands Stadium that included some mighty amazing plays ... including a 101-yard touchdown run by Bryan McCann in the second quarter. Sam and I actually enjoyed watching the game this week, and we’re pleased to send a big Howdygram MAZEL TOV to the Cowboys’ new interim head coach Jason Garrett (pictured at right).

In other breaking news, we did a little fun Internet shopping yesterday. Sam went to Office Depot in the morning to test-drive new desk chairs, and when he got home we ordered his favorite online using a $30 discount coupon with free next-business-day delivery. His new black leather acquisition, pictured at left, features lumbar support, nice arm rests, a 350-V6 engine and ergonomic cup-holders. Delivery is expected sometime on Tuesday.

Sam’s former chair, now approximately 18 years old and basically shot to hell, will take up residence in the garage to serve as additional seating whenever we open the overhead door to watch summer thunderstorms. We’re sure it will live a long and fruitful life in retirement. In the meantime it’s accepting congratulatory emails. Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guess who wants my money.

It’s swell to have friends in high places. For the last few months I’ve been receiving regular mailings from George and Laura Bush, inviting me to become “a founding member and one of the first Americans to support the George W. Bush Presidential Center” scheduled to open right here in Dallas sometime in 2013. Each mailing also reinforces that I should be honored to help tell the story of the Bush Presidency and thrilled that the Bush Center’s Institute will continue to advance President Bush’s innovative ideas ... although nobody mentions what these thrilling innovations were or why we can’t remember any of them. Maybe they had something to do with weapons of mass destruction or deregulating Wall Street. But I’m just guessing.
All this flag-waving crap-ola aside, George and Laura are basically trolling around for DOUGH. A gift of $50 or more guarantees they’ll engrave my name in the Bush Center’s Freedom Registry, which is probably located on a paper towel dispenser in the men’s restroom closest to the snack bar. Their most recent mailing included a full-color photograph suitable for framing (see above). I’ll be glad to email a scanned version to Howdygram readers on request.

In other news, the Cowboys play the New York Giants this afternoon ... their first game without former head coach Wade Phillips, who got canned after last week’s miserable loss to Green Bay. I’m absolutely positive today’s game won’t be any better than last week’s, since Dallas’ sloppy team of over-hyped millionaires frequently does as little as possible unless it involves penalties. Plus our quarterback (Tony Romo) is still on the injured list with his arm in a sling. Be sure to tune in, and thank you for reading this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A frugal Howdygram shopping spree.

I wasn’t really planning to shop today but just spent an hour online blowing some money on a number of terrific bargains. My first stop was Kohls.com for the following reasons: 1) they’re having a big one-week pre-Christmas sale; 2) I got a 30% off coupon in the mail to use for my entire purchase; and 3) the coupon also includes FREE SHIPPING. So I bought a bunch of nice things for Sam, such as two fleecy pullovers, two turtlenecks and a pile of white socks.
As always, Kohl’s prices were amazing. Taking into consideration their pre-Christmas 50% off sale and my 30% coupon, the fleece pullovers were only $11.25 each, the turtlenecks were $7 and the socks were $9.80 for 12 pair. Oy.

Then I browsed around for a while on Wal-Mart.com. I know there are lots of Wal-Mart skeptics out there in Howdygramland, but their website is a fantastic place to shop and I’m always impressed with the selection, prices, quality and free (or exceptionally cheap) shipping. Today for some reason I wound up buying a new comforter set, mostly because I was really happy with the wrinkle-free sheets and summer quilt ensemble I bought from Wal-Mart this year and figured it might be fun to have a new look in the master bedroom. Here’s what I got:
This is a black and cocoa oversized king comforter set with two king pillow shams, a tailored dust ruffle and two coordinating throw pillows ... for $54.98. (I’m not joking about this.) I’ll probably order coordinating black and cocoa bath towels for the master bath after I get the comforter and decide for sure if I’m keeping it or not. I know you can’t wait for an update on this, so stay tuned.

And now we’ve got a little surprise thunderstorm moving through here, so I think I’ll go enjoy the show from the windows in the family room and wash a few dishes while I’m at it. Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Three hot stories in the news compel me to write another post today even though I’d rather be in the den watching “Top Chef Just Desserts” on Bravo. Here they are for your possible interest and amusement.

A Gurnee, Illinois, woman attacks police officer with a sex toy. Carol Bildsten, 56, allegedly assaulted a police officer on Tuesday evening with what Gurnee Police Commander Jay Patrick called “a rigid feminine pleasure device.” Police had been called to the scene when Bildsten ran out on her dinner check at Joe’s Crab Shack. The restaurant manager reported that Bildsten has allegedly left the restaurant without paying in the past. She is currently in police custody. There is no word concerning the whereabouts of her dildo.

World’s oldest pig dies in Dallas at age 21. Oscar, a Vietnamese potbellied pig from north Dallas, claimed the Guinness World Record in 2009 when he celebrated his 20th birthday. However, the Howdygram is grieved to report that Oscar bit the dust on Tuesday, just one week after he turned 21. Rumor has it that owner Stacy Kimbell (pictured below with Oscar) has planned a memorial barbecue for the coming weekend. Bring your own sauce.
The Carnival cruise from hell is still inching towards San Diego. The 952-foot Carnival Splendor left Long Beach, California, on Sunday for a seven-day cruise to the Mexican riviera. About 200 miles south of San Diego an engine room fire killed the ship’s power, plunging 4,500 passengers and crew into total darkness with no air conditioning, no lights, no refrigeration, no hot water, no laundry, no elevators, and no telephone or Internet service. As two small tugboats shlep the mega-cruiser to San Diego, everyone on board is existing on canned Spam, Pop Tarts and tins of crabmeat airlifted by helicopter from the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan (see below). The Carnival Splendor is expected to arrive in San Diego Thursday night barring bad weather or any additional hoo-hah. So much for your vacation of a lifetime, folks. Next year consider a double room at Best Western and three days at Legoland.
Thank you for reading this. Seriously.

Soup is almost better than sex.

Here’s your chance to throw together the ultimate comfort food: Marcy’s Beef Barley Soup. This is my own recipe after decades of happy culinary experimentation, and lucky for you it’s as easy as it is fabulous ... even if I say so myself. You can probably feed a small army or half the neighborhood with one pot. Trust me.
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1½ lbs. round steak, cubed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 to 6 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 bag washed baby spinach
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 lb. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 giant yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup raw barley
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Life doesn’t get much easier than this! Just heat the olive oil in a gigantic kettle and brown the beef cubes over medium-high heat, then toss in all the remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, for three hours. Four hours would be even better. That’s it. Obviously you can adjust the salt and pepper if you like more or less, and you can also skip the spinach if you want to. I happen to love the flavor of spinach in my soup and it also adds lots of vitamins.
Serve this with a nice crusty baguette and a few extra napkins for any slobs in your crowd. A nice dessert afterwards would be a handful of raisins or cheesecake. (Actually, I vote for cheesecake.) Bon appetit and thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cowboys, characters and the barley incident.

There’s a lot of really big news to report tonight so I’d better get right to the point. First, Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips (pictured below with a pre-menstrual headache) was fired yesterday after leading his team to another humiliating loss.
Here in Dallas a Cowboys coaching change gets as much attention and television air time as a nuclear accident or approaching hurricane, because apparently nothing matters to north Texans except: 1) football; 2) beer; and 3) where is George W. autographing his memoir tomorrow. (The answer to item three is Borders in Plano.)

In other news, today was Edna Mae Oliver day on Turner Classic Movies, commemorating 68 years since her death in 1942. I should have reported this yesterday so you’d have a chance to watch or record her films, and I apologize profusely for this oversight. Edna Mae was a very popular character actress in the 1920s and 30s with a face like Trigger. Although she was mostly a comedienne, she also appeared in a few dramas but always wound up being funny, anyway. Her movies today on TCM included The Penguin Pool Murder, Meet the Baron (one of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen co-starring Jimmy Durante and the Three Stooges), Murder on the Blackboard, We’re Rich Again, Murder on a Honeymoon and No More Ladies.

And finally, a devastating retail announcement: OUR LOCAL WAL-MART DOESN’T SELL BARLEY. I discovered this perplexing fact earlier today when I was loading up on ingredients for homemade beef barley soup and managed to find everything I needed EXCEPT for the requisite bag of barley. Wal-Mart wasn’t out of it ... they just don’t carry it. After I composed myself I realized my soup would be delayed until Sam makes a quick trip to Kroger in the morning. I’ll publish the recipe tomorrow so you can make some for yourself. Seriously, it’s the best beef barley soup EVER. Thank you for reading this.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A weekend retrospective.

I’ll begin by stating that Sam and I had a terrific weekend but the Dallas Cowboys had absolutely nothing to do with it. What we’ve got here is an incohesive, poorly coached team of lazy millionaires with the the worst record in the NFL. Last night they lost to Green Bay 45 to 7, but Sam and I stopped watching halfway into the second quarter because it was such a painful embarrassment. But even more bizarre than this season’s record is the fact that THE COWBOYS’ WEBSITE IS OFFLINE TODAY BECAUSE SOME BIMBO IN THE FRONT OFFICE LET THEIR DOMAIN NAME EXPIRE. (Maybe they can blame THIS on Wade Phillips, too.)

As for the better parts of our weekend, we had a swell Sunday brunch at Blue Mesa, during which Sam consumed more food in an hour than he usually eats over the course of two days. This included two gigantic tumblers of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, an omelet, fajitas, guacamole and chips, roasted corn relish, two adobe pies, chicken enchiladas, black beans and a two-inch thick Belgian waffle with syrup and whipped cream. Afterwards we drove to the Tanger outlet mall in Terrell, Texas, and bought him a pile of new underwear and socks at the Jockey store. We LOVE the Jockey store.

Last night while my stuffed and sated Sam was unconscious on the couch I watched an amazing movie I recorded last week: “Thirteen Days” with Kevin Costner. It tells the story of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and how close the United States actually came to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. This was a totally riveting film with a great script, outstanding decade-appropriate props, vehicles and wardrobe, and the producers even managed to find actors who looked exactly like the characters they were portraying from President Kennedy’s cabinet, like Bobby Kennedy, Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, Adlai Stevenson, Lyndon Johnson, Pierre Salinger and so on. Whether or not you have any personal recollection of the Cuban missile crisis I strongly recommend this movie. It’s an accurate depiction of history and more compelling than the best Cold War suspense novel. For the record, I’ve always loved Adlai Stevenson. If you don’t know who he is you can learn more here. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's all relative.

Thought I’d share a few family photos with tonight’s post, courtesy of my niece Melissa. She uploads them to Snapfish.com and I just sneak the ones I like best. The first is a shot of my sister Robin, my mom, Robin’s daughter Melissa and little Tyler visiting mom at her nursing home. The second shot is Melissa and Tyler playing in the park. (Please don’t tell anybody, but this little guy is so adorable I could eat him on a bagel.)
Sam and I are planning a swell weekend. Tomorrow we’re doing practically nothing (seriously) and on Sunday we’re having brunch at Blue Mesa, our favorite spot for southwestern cuisine. And the price is right because Blue Mesa sent me a certificate for a free birthday brunch. Incidentally, reliable sources tell me that free food has no calories, so this will be a win-win situation for EVERYBODY.

What are y’all doing for Thanksgiving this year? We’ve got ours all figured out already ... a heat-and-serve feast from Boston Market and a homemade sugar-free pumpkin pie. Every year since we moved to Texas Sam and I basically just wear bathrobes and spend Thanksgiving in the family room with a bunch of great movies and eat until we can’t move. Even better, we don’t have to mop up after a bunch of guests and we don’t have to share our leftovers with anybody. If it sounds like we’re turning into a pair of curmudgeons, you probably have a point. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Catching up.

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been for the last few days, it’s really no big secret: I’ve been right here at my desk working on projects and NOT ANSWERING THE TELEPHONE. For at least four straight days up to and including Election Day on November 2 we were receiving nonstop “please remember to vote” robo-calls from every Democratic club, caucus, incumbent and candidate throughout the state of Texas and nationwide ... including no less than four recorded reminders from Bill Clinton himself.

Ironically, when Sam and I show up to vote Tuesday morning at the Dunsford Community Center we find out our district has been subdivided and our new polling place from now on is at Porter Elementary School. Although Porter Elementary is actually closer to our house than the Dunsford Community Center, this is the kind of information that might be nice to know in advance. All those hard-working Democratic organizations wasting all that time reminding everybody to vote ... too bad nobody thought it was important to tell us WE HAVE A NEW POLLING PLACE.

For your possible interest the map below indicates the following Mesquite locations: A) our house; B) Porter Elementary; and C) the Dunsford Community Center.
By the way, a million smooches to everybody who sent me birthday cards this year. All of them were adorable and I hope I remembered to thank each of you individually. Sam had the day off on my birthday so we drove to Hong Kong Royal Restaurant in Carrollton for a dim sum lunch. I meant to take pictures of my dumplings but we were too busy eating them. Maybe next time. Thank you for reading this.