29 December 2007

It's Good to Be Home

It's 7:26 A.M. I just treated Cameron to "princess valet". That's how he and his fellow flight attendants refer to having their spouses drop them off at the airport. He's flying a 2-day DTW, LAX, MEM turn. I know he's tired. He's fighting the early signs of bronchitis. Poor baby.

When I last posted, it was Christmas Eve morning and I was at my long-time friend Thom's house. I left fairly early that morning for St. Matthews, a suburb of Louisville, to finish Christmas shopping I was unable to do while in SoCal.

Christmas Day was a lovely experience. I wrapped gifts early in the morning. Thom and Reese had planned a Christmas Day brunch. It was a small affair with the usual suspects and it was quite nice. The weather was fantastic that day for Southern Indiana in December. The sun was out, the temps were in the low 50s. We were able to mill about both inside and out. The food was delightful. And it was nice seeing old friends and meeting one new, Jerry. At one point I called my mother to finalize plans for the day.

Apparently all of my family had been under the same spell of "too much to do." When I spoke to my mother before going to her house, she told me that my brother, Christopher, and I would be decorating her tree. Up to this point, there were only two things on the tree: one string of lights and the antique metal and glass star that she'd received as a little girl. Christopher was already there when I arrived. I was greeted at the door by him, his Boxers, Maggie and Scout, and my mother's Boxer, Lily. My girls stayed with Thom since Doris has been under the weather, so to speak.

We spent the afternoon catching up, decorating the tree, looking at the commercials I'd wrapped up on December 21. My bonus Dad, Dave, videotaped us sharing gifts, at times putting the camera on a tripod so he could unwrap gifts, too. My little sister, Tina, my niece, Kayla, and nephew, Andrew, arrived a bit later. I wouldn't see my other nephew, Matthew, this year. He was working at the I.C.U. unit at Floyd County Hospital and would later be leaving for a flight to Portland, Seattle and finally Redmond, CO. Lisa, my other sister, was unable to be there this year due to her lack of vacation at her new job and recent house purchase. Her closing was yesterday.

Around 9:45 P.M., I got a call from Cameron, who'd just arrived at SDF (Louisville International Airport) after landing in Memphis from Amsterdam. His flight was early. So, that means I was late. Luckily, it took me less than 15 minutes to get from Sellersburg to the terminal in Louisville to pick him up. (Thank you little traffic and trusty radar detector.) So, we got to spend some of Christmas together after all. That night back at Thom's house, we visited with friends, staying up too late, and generally doing what we do.

Tuesday morning, I gathered Doris and drove to Tina's house. She and I took Doris to Shively Animal Hospital. Because all of my family have seen "Dr. Joe" over the years there was enough love and trust among them to convince me to get a second opinion on her condition from him. It seems, though, that many people in Kentuckiana feel the same way. Tina and my mother both warned me, "there would be a long wait." We arrived at the hospital around 11:00 A.M. Sometime between 2 and 2:30 we were called in. Dr. Joe was great. He spent a little over an hour with us. He'd gone over records faxed in from our vet. He thinks Dr. McCutcheon and Dr. Cochran are dead-on with their diagnoses -- with one exception -- which I'm not sure would make a hill of beans in her treatment thus far. But, among all of Doris' other troubles, he says she has a cervical disk problem in her neck. She's now on Valium, Robaxin and "strictly limited activity" for ten days. That evening, Cameron and I decided to stay in at Thom's and monitor Doris. We ordered carry-out from Kingfish. I made calls throughout the evening planning for the next day's visits to those I hadn't seen so far.

Cameron and I met my Dad at his house at 9:30, Wednesday morning. The gal he's been dating for a bit more than two years, Michelle, was there. It was good to see them both. We shared some coffee and caught up. I brought my dad a jar full of state quarters that I had collected for him thinking we were going to exchange ones we hadn't been able to find. He is always getting quarters from the Philadelphia mint and has a hard time finding ones minted in Denver. For me, the reverse is true. But, he'd been to the bank the previous week to purchase brand new ones to complete his collection through the 2007 issues. We drove to Caesar's casino in Harrison County for brunch. I ate all I could at the buffet.

From there, we went back to Daddy's house to say our goodbyes, then to Thom's to check on Doris and give her her midday dose of Robaxin. After, we met my sister and neice at my mother and Dave's. We had a nice visit there for a few hours. Then, we headed into Louisville to meet Danna and another grade school friend, Annette, for a drink and some appetizers at Chili's.

The next morning we got up at 6:30 A.M. and within 2.5 hours were on the road home. Considering that it was a rainy, nerve-wrecking drive I was surprised that we made it home in under six hours.

It's good to be home, whether it's dusty or not.

24 December 2007

Christmas Eve

Just a quick update in case you wanted to know.

Virtually a tornado since I got home from L.A. at 7:00 PM, Friday, I went Christmas shopping on Saturday, which included buying a new set of Michelins for the Passat. $550. Ugh. But necessary for the trip home to Louisville. While I was out I picked up a Hormel Cure 81 spiral sliced ham, a box of Target's Market Pantry 3-cheese potatoes au gratin, baby romaine and mixed gourmet tomatoes and some asparagus for dinner. Cameron, Cleo and I celebrated Christmas that evening. But, as her bedtime comes early, she left before dinner.

Yesterday, I spent the morning going through some paperwork, decided to bring the luggage that I still hadn't unpacked from L.A. (yes, I brought laundry with me to Thom's house), rounding up gifts purchased so far, collecting dog stuff (food, bed, laser thing for Doris’ eye, medications, water bucket, food, leashes, harnesses and pillows), packed it all into the Passat, drove to Petco for some cookies and headed toward Kentucky.

We made one stop just east of Jackson for gas and a #2 at McDonalds (sacrilege) for me. Setting a new record, we made it to Louisville in 5 hours and 26 minutes.

Thom’s house looked great with some of the renovations he'd been doing completed. And, he'd decorated a bit for the holidays. Friends were here to welcome us: Thom’s roommate Reese, Danna (my friend from 3rd grade), Michael and Anthony.

Later in the evening, Danna and I drove to Kroger so he could pick up some gift cards. I impluse bought a 2-liter bottle of Big Red and some anchovy stuffed olives. Next, it was a trip to White Castle, then back to Thom’s.

This morning, it's finishing up Christmas shopping and making my way back here to wrap and prepare for tomorrow. If I don't post again, I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

20 December 2007

Two Stars. Three and a half. Five. Five.

We've been staying at Hotel Carmel in Santa Monica. My travel partners have been here longer than I, so I understand their lack of enthusiasm about this 2-star hotel. There is no restaurant, so no room service. The rooms are very small and remind me of the room at the Breakwater on South Beach in which Cameron and I stayed over New Year's Eve a few years ago. All of the furniture is Mission, which I like.

Santa Monica is great though. I can see the beach from my smoking room on the fourth floor. It's been raining since I arrived Monday evening. It looks like we're going to have a sunny day today.

Dinners here have been nothing less that what I expected. Monday night we ate at Sushi Roku. After a little research online, I learned that it's part of a chain of restaurants. The reviews I read were mixed, but I enjoyed it. We walked back to the hotel and opted to have a nightcap or three in the bar/restaurant next door, Chloe.

Tuesday evening, we went to Chloe for a drink then to Wolfgang Puck's Chinois on Main. The food was great, the service was good. Too many martinis. My head really was pounding Wednesday morning.

Last night, we went to Craft, Tom Colicchio's restaurant in Century City. What an experience. The food is served family style. We had an assortment of oysters, two salads, one arugula with pine nuts and another with Romaine and crispy anchovies, and a curried pork belly appetizer. For dinner, we ordered a 45-day dry aged Porterhouse, roasted chicken, spare ribs, potato gratin, sweet corn, roasted brussels sprouts with bacon. For dessert one of us ordered pear sorbet, another ordered banana pudding, another butter pecan ice cream. A couple of the guys ordered White Russians. I ordered Gingerbread with egg nog ice cream and ginger sorbet and an espresso.

Today is the last day of pulling these commercials together. We're supposed to be at Jigsaw at 9. So, I need to jump in the shower and make my way down to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for some java.

17 December 2007

I Need More Coffee

The alarm sounded at 5:30 A.M. Ugh. Too early. Doris and Billie stayed in their bed. Cameron was half asleep and in bed. I jumped in the shower, knowing that if I didn't I would dawdle. And there was no time for that. I had an 8:30 flight to catch.

Its 9:15 A.M. and I am en route to Los Angeles.

Since Cameron was flying out today as well, departing in about 12 minutes, Cleo arrived at the house around 6:45 to go over the extraordinary things she may have to do to care for Doris. When she's not traveling with us, Cleo house and dog sits for us, but with Doris' trials of late, she needs extra care.

There are the two types of eye drops, the laser eye treatments and an antibiotic twice a day. There are vitamins, glucosamine and chondroitin and Hyaflex twice a day. And, since Edith has been on a diet, there were instructions on that, too. Plus, the refresher course on the alarm system and the remotes for the entertainment system.

And, I really appreciate her coming at that early hour, because she may not have to stay after all. Cameron is working reserves this month, and was called out for a one-day trip. He should be home around 5:30 this evening. But, if Northwest pulls some of the shenanigans they've been, he may get tagged to continue flying after he lands back at MEM. So, Cleo is sort of on-call, too.

With the myriad things happening at home, and trying to prepare for Christmas I just wasn't ready for this trip. But it's going to be a good one. I'm actually flying out west to finish editing some television commercials we've been working on. And, so far the spots are turning out great. I'll try to ignore the reports I'm getting on the hotel. Phrases like, tiny, stinky, erratic WiFi come to mind. Apparently there are great shopping opportunities within walking distance and the beach at Santa Monica is a block away.

I'll arrive at LAX around 10:30 A.M. PDT. Go to Hertz, find my name on the Gold Canopy, hop into my Ford Focus and head up the 405. If I keep up with posting this week, which I suspect I will to some degree, I'll be "dminlax."

In the meantime, I just finished reading an article in Northwest’s in-flight magazine ”NWA World Traveler” where author Tom Sietsema’s article "Seattle Gems" recounts his latest visit to Seattle and some of the great dining opportunities afforded him. The last of the three restaurants featured is headed by Kevin Davis, called Steelhead Diner. There is a quote in the article, "to miss 'a slice of Caviar pie' is to bypass a house signature. Glistening with five shades of fish roe, the rich wedge of sour cream, cream cheese, egg and onion is a cocktail party in every bite."

The part about glistening with five shades of fish roe caught my attention. The recipe below is one my friend Thom's ex shared with me at least as many years ago as Cameron and I have been together. Originally written on a slip of paper, I believed it was something his family created and shared over the years. Later, I found the recipe on a box of Romanoff Black Lumpfish caviar. I now make it every year. It's a tradition that could use some updating, though, I think.

Each year I try something new when decorating the pie with the caviar. The one Cameron and I took to John and David's this past Saturday looked like doo doo to me.

I wasn't happy with the results of the caviar arrangement, especially when you consider the one I took to Cleo's a few years back that looked like a big red ornament with the letters J-O-Y spelled out in chopped scallions.

If I can locate the print (since this was before I bought my digital camera) I'll post it when I get back to MEM.

I'm going to explore other kinds of caviar with this. I can see all manner of possibilities.

This is the image from the box.

Caviar Pie

Recipe By: Romanoff
Serving Size: 0


2 jars Romanoff Caviar, rinsed, drained
6 eggs, hard-cooked, chopped
1/3 cup onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons Hellmann's mayonnaise
8 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
2/3 cup sour cream


Spread onion on paper towel and drain about 30 minutes. Lightly butter bottom and sides of an 8-ince springform pan. (I use Pam nonstick cooking spray). Chop eggs, mix with mayonnaise. Spread in bottom of pan. Sprinkle with drained onion. Beat cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth or use food processor. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto onion layer, gently spread and smooth with back of spoon. Cover and chill for 3 hours or overnight. Just before serving, gently rinse each jar of caviar separately with cold water, drain in strainer, then on paper towel. Spoon ontocheese layer in decorative pattern. Accentuate with minced scallions if desired. Makes 10 servings.

02 December 2007

Beginning to Feel a Bit Like Christmas

I got this quiz in e-mail from my friend, Eric. So here are my answers:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Egg Nog
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? Wrap
3. Colored or white lights? White lights
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Yes
5. When do you put your decorations up? The weekend after Thanksgiving
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Cured Virginia Ham and Scalloped Potatoes
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child. Asking "is it time yet?" when we were kids
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? What truth?
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Not as children, but Cameron and I do now.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? lights, ornaments (lots of Shiny Brites), tinsel
11. Snow: Love it or hate it? Love it only on Christmas
12. Can you ice skate? Not really. I can skate in a straight line. Can't make the turns.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Lincoln Logs
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Christmas Cookies and Egg Nog
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Buying our Christmas Tree the day after Thanksgiving, and marking the stump with the appropriate anniversary
17. What is on top of your tree? a lighted antique metal star
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving? Giving
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Mele Kalikimaka (Bing Crosby)
20. Do you like candy canes? Not Really
21. What's your favorite Christmas movie? Mixed Nuts (particularly the scene with Madeline Kahn stuck in the elevator).