Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Barhopping in Cabo - Day 2

"Didn't take'em long" you say?  You'd be right!  After lunch at The Office, we brought the car back to the hotel and  our parking spot was still there, waiting for us.

Learning that the landmark Giggling Marlin was just down the street and around a corner, we decided to pay a respectful farewell to the rooster.  It seemed only right.

As we got to the sidewalk in front of the hotel, we saw a pair of couples running like hell down the opposite sidewalk.  The gentlemen led by some distance; their ladies squealing and trying to catch up.  A hotel employee pointed at them and said, "They're trying to get back to the cruise ship before it leaves.  If it leaves without them, they're left in Cabo with the clothes they're wearing and whatever cash and credit cards they're carrying.  But:  (he paused dramatically) without their passports -- which means they can't get back to the US."  He thought and added, "Bad situation to be in."

The Giggling Marlin was empty except for us and five or six waiters and two bartenders.  We sat down and looked around, sipping our Pacificos.  I pointed out the kitchen counter the rooster used to strut across and we all lifted our glasses in silent toast.

For want of anything else to see, I perused the drink menu and found the "Skip and Go Naked" which is composed of:
banana lliquor and creme de coconut.  If you are able to drink four of them in 30 minutes, they will add your name to their Wall of Shame.  It was an offer that all of us found easy to turn down.  But I really liked the happy-go-lucky name of the thing.  

Suddenly through the door burst a group of maybe 10 young people, who headed straight for the back of the room to the photo opp.  One at a time participants lie down on a rug on the floor and hold their legs up.  Padded ankle binders are clapped on, the attached rope is pulled by a strong man who lifts the person up like a prize marlin.  

The poser is given a shot of tequila, slams it down - photos! - and then is returned gently to the floor.  Cell phones flashed as the others took copious photos and then, as one, they whirled, bounded through the bar and were gone only to be replaced 10 minutes later with another group who did the same thing.

It turns out they were on a scavenger hunt.  It was also clear that they'd been drinking.  So I asked,"Raffish" if a person could still vomit despite being upside down.  The good doctor grinned and said, "You can pretty much vomit from any position" ending my curiosity -- and any appetite. 

The show was over so we returned to the street, but had to stop at The Jungle which advertised "$1 Beers!"  Naturally, as we are all rather frugal, we couldn't pass up this God-given chance to save a little money.  We sat at the open-air bar and looked around.  Souvenir shops galore and another bar/restaurant across the space.  The Tecates were in cans and icy cold.  We decided we should save even more money and called the bartender over.

Later, much later, we went back to the Crazy Lobster for $11 lobster dinners and then teetered back down the street to the hotel and bed. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Postcards from Cabo - Day 2

Excited about the adventure we were on, we were on deck and ready for breakfast.  We walked out of the hotel, turned right and a block and a half later, there sat The Crazy Lobster where we breakfasted.  Their Happy Hour is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for two-for-one drinks or shots of Cuervo for 70 cents each.  Talk about kick-starting your day! 

Instead we opted for tall glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice. Mexican oranges are much sweeter than American ones. 
This set-up arrives with your eggs.

We returned to the hotel, brushed our teeth and drove to the Marina.  I wanted to take the glass-bottomed boat out to Los Arcos which we did.  "Be careful what you wish for" should be inserted here.  The trip through all of the huge fishing boats and private yachts was uneventful, but when we got out of the marina and onto open waters, hang on to your hat!

Picture not just us out there, but at least five other glass-bottomed boats, several private boats, a couple of Ski-Doos plus roped off areas for scuba divers and another for swimmers. 

Back on dry land, we repaired for much-needed sustenance because the Pacific side rattled us a bit.  Happily the first thing we saw on dry land was The Baja Brewing Company.  The three of us shared a tasting flight of seven beers which is a very good way to have a drink, but not run any risk of getting drunk. 

By now, it was time for lunch so back into the car and over to The Office.  We've always loved the place for the food, service and people watching.
Shrimp tacos, guacamole, rice and black beans in the tortilla cup. 

The restaurant building is behind all of the parasols.  You can just see the peak of the roof. 

Three tourists.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Postcard From Cabo - Day 1 continued

After lunch at The Trailer Park, we headed into town and our hotel.  It took us an hour of driving in circles, despite repeatedly stopping to ask passers-by about the location of Siesta Suites.  We even stopped at the fire station, thinking surely the firemen know every spot in the city, but we were told, "Isn't around here."  The hotel owner later explained to us that the firemen tend to stick to their own neighborhoods.  Unfortunately there is only one fire station in all of Cabo and the hotel was beyond their roaming range. 

And all of these inquiries were done in flawless Spanish due to the fact that our friend "Raffish" who had never been to Cabo, was with us.  He is fluent as well as a medical doctor with a black belt in karate.  He is also available for touring timid old ladies (with money) anywhere Spanish is spoken. 

We finally found it.  After arrival the hotel gave us a map that would have lead straight to it.  For future reference:  take the airport road into town.  It will be Lazaro Cardenas and continue on that to Vicente Guerrero and turn left.  When you get to Emiliano Zapata, turn right and the hotel is in mid-block. 

Despite being in the center of town, due to the layout, the place is serenly quiet.  There is a restaurant -Salvatore's - right next door which has beautifully cooked Italian food. 
Here's a shot of "Raffish"s lasagna.  Despite having a good appetite, he couldn't finish it off until breakfast a day later. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Postcards From Cabo - Day 1

After we landed, we took the shuttle to the rental car's centralized complex.  The usual paperwork ensued.  Logically you would think that one would get in it and drive away.  

Not so in Cabo.  They do it differently in Mexico.  All smart drivers inspect the car thoroughly, pointing out things to a guy with a clipboard.  Others photograph it from all four sides.  The car people expect this and just laugh.

Of our car, the manager said, "It's been Cabo-ized!" roaring in delight at his own witticism.  I must say it was easy to find in a parking lot. 

 Car inspected, we set off down the old road to Cabo.  At a traffic light, we were about four cars back.  Noticing movement in front of the first car, we saw a grown man doing back flips in front of the stopped traffic for tips.  Can you imagine the rest of his resume?

We were hungry so we stopped at an old favorite, The Trailer Park.  It's an upscale RV park with a good-sized pool and restaurant. 

Instead of the standard chips and salsa nearly always offered in a Mexican restaurant, our server (a very pretty young girl) brought out a plate of cucumber, carrot and jicama strips doused with fresh lime juice and lashings of chili powder.  It was a very refreshing change of pace.  Here's their Caesar salad --

Here's the restaurant

Not shown (because I can't find the shot) is a well-cushioned wheelbarrow that's used by parents with sleepy toddlers.  They can nap in comfort while the parents eat a meal.  Our server also admitted that it's been used to transport the odd passed-out customer back to their RV.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hola, Amigos!

We're back.  We got the flight to Cabo; we got the one home.  The landings were:  Cabo - a slight turbulence caused a "heavy landing" report to be filed.  A double first for us was coming home via the coast - we looked down and saw Newport, never seen by us from the air and then upon landing - or not - at LAX the pilot did a quick pull up and we went around again and landed quite safely.  The pilot told us he'd seen "something on the runway" that caused this, but when I was looking down all I saw was grass so I briefly wondered about that.  

Richie and I both marveled at this  and I said, "Or there's something wrong and he's burning gas" and neither of us were particularly upset.  The pilot himself said that this sometimes happens at LAX, but not often and that all was well in the cockpit.

When I got off I grinned and said, "Love is better the second time around, eh?" but he didn't hear me.  Just as well...


Monday, April 22, 2013

Embarking For Cabo

We are attempting to fly to Cabo San Lucas tomorrow, home on Friday. It should be remembered that we plan; the airline laughs. 

If you are an evil-doer and plan to make "an unscheduled, late night visit" to our home, it would  only be fair if I tell you that I have loaned the house to a sort of combo dojo studio and K9 training school.   I know they'd love to meet you!

We've been to Cabo maybe 8 or 10 times, but not in the last six years.  I need to check on the rooster that roams free in the bar - can't remember if it's the Giggling Marlin or the Squid Roe.  Worth doing the research, grueling though it may be --  it will include a thorough inspection, lubricated by a Pacifico or two, of course.  However, do not eat there.  This is a drinking establishment only and if the rooster's become a drunk, don't even do that. 

I also love the glass-bottom boat "tours" out to Los Arcos, just for the relatively cheap boat ride and the often amusing pilots.  We had a favorite in Chui who was enormously fat and pointed at the pelicans and informed us that they are "Mexican turkeys" as well as pointing out some distinctive rock formations.   

I'm hoping that the entertainer (guitar/singing) will still be at the shrimp place.  He has a beautiful, operatic voice and when I asked him if he did, in fact, sing opera? he burst into an aria!   The whole place applauded him!

Fresh shrimp used for French fried shrimp is heavenly if you came out of the Midwest and the Land of Frozen French-Fried Shrimp.   Of course there is nothing wrong at all with grilled or broiled shrimp with a garlic-y sauce or a bbq sauce finish.   Or boiled and served with cocktail sauce and guacamole...  where was I?

Consider this ... we came home from running errands and our lovely 30-something neighbor was out in the driveway with her adorable 9 mos. old son.  When I told her we were going to Cabo, she burst out, "Take me with you!"  and I grinned and said, "We're going to celebrate my 73rd birthday!  Still want to trade with me?" and she was politely amazed that I am so ancient, but clearly, all thoughts of a trade vanished. 

There is a time for all things...and I'm going to enjoy mine!  Incidentally, how many of you would be willing to pay some serious cash money NOT to see me in a bathing suit on the beach in Cabo?  Get back to me on this... travel is not cheap... and vaya con Dios.


I am very partial to mine and I finally figured out why I love them so much.  I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my birthday!

Think of the things we do every day that could earn us blame, justified or not.  Cooking - "Too much salt!"  Writing - "That's two paragraphs too long; tighten it."  Cleaning - "You missed a spot!"   Driving - "OMG!  Stop this car!"  Paying a bill - did you remember to do that?

You see our daily lives are filled with potential tongue lashings.  But not your birthday!  There is no possible way you can be blamed for your own birth.  So roister and frolic for a least a week -- you're home free 'cause it's your birthday!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

O Tempus O Mores

Back in the day tomorrow started what was just called "National Secretaries Week."  I loved it because my birthday occurs in this particular week and if I had been adroit enough I could get two lunches out of any boss -- birthday treat AND Secretaries' Week.

I noticed yesterday in an ad for a restaurant, that the boss is invited to bring a luncheon guest to celebrate  "Administrative Professionals Week" - April 22nd to 26th. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Legal Scandal

I'm a new subscriber to the magazine Town & Country.  At the back of the book, I found several interesting things.  There are 14 ads for second-hand clothes, bags, shoes, jewelry.  I liked the slogan for FormallyHers.com  It's "If it's not becoming to you...It should be coming to us."   I clicked on assecondchanceresale.com to find myself staring at an olive green Hermes purse.  The prices, by the way, are thoughtfully listed beneath the item being offered. 

The Hermes bag?  $13,000.  Thirteen thousand dollars for a USED purse?!  Dear God, what must it have cost new?  I think prices like that are a scandal! Legal, to be sure, as there's no law I know of that prevents a person from selling their belongings, but the scandal comes in when we read that Jacqueline Kennedy routinely sent her finery off to be sold in a New York consignment shop!  From the White House, no less.  A habit she continued, incidentally, during her marriage to Onasiss. 

On the opposite page, this ad intrigued me and I went to atasecuretravel.com.  This is a man offering his services as a travel guide/bodyguard for the "novice, timid traveler or dream of traveling to exotic locations overseas, but are a little hesitant or unsure of safety, then SECURE TRAVEL is the service that is custom-designed for you -- atasecuretravel.com

The deal is:  you pay him a fee, via PayPal plus his travel expenses and he's all yours for however long you want him, generally, he stated, for 10 days.  He assures timid travelers that he is available to them on any basis they would like.  If you like your afternoons to yourself, fine!  Want a morning excursion to a perceived-as-dangerous site?  He's there.  He states that he's the one who fends off eager vendors and other pests so that you may move serenely on through the crowds. 

I hope the guy is also a writer -- can you imagine the stories he could tell? 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cold Spring Harbor Mix-Up

Before we ever left home, I googled the towns surrounding Huntington, our base, for "What To Do In (town name)?"  Cold Spring Harbor offered the Stone Crop Gardens with a description of the gardens and they sounded lovely.  And it was Spring... so I noted the address which wasn't very helpful -- 81 Stone Crop Lane.

View from the new library
My bro-in-law, Charlie, is a regular customer at the new and very posh Cold Spring Harbor Library, which has a sensational view over the trees and the water below it.  That's Connecticutt in the background.

Naturally, viewing panoramas made us hungry so we repaired to the Gourmet Whaler on the town's main drag.  The Gourmet Whaler has touristy souvenirs, local foodstuffs and a little restaurant, all very cozy indeed.

I had a marvelous mushroom and onion quiche and 'way too much salad.  The quiche was good because the sweetness of the onions blended very nicely with the faint, earthy taste of the mushrooms.  The rest of them had various sandwiches.

The Gourmet Whaler, 111 Main Street, Cold Spring Harbor, NY  631-659-2977.

Though we'd driven around the town looking, we hadn't found Stone Crop Lane with its 400 acres of gardens.  So we asked the woman who owns the Whaler.  She thought and then said, "I've never heard of the place!  Let's ask my husband, Sean.  He'll know where it is." 

Except that Sean, after much head scratching, admitted that he, too, had never heard of it.

Just then a friend of my Bro-in-law walked in so he asked him about it.  Again, "Never heard of it."  When we left, Charlie and Richie said together, "Ah-hah!  The Post Office (pointing) right across the street!  They'll damned sure know!" and off they sprinted.

Shortly they returned.  "We found it!" they crowed.  "It's in upstate New York in Cold SpringsS Harbor!"

We slunk away.  We now had half of the village wondering where the hell Stone Crop Gardens was.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Old Bethpage

Old Bethpage is a 209-acre restoration of a village in the 1850s which opened in 1979.  I mention the date because Richie, his brother, his wife and our friend John are all long-time Long Islanders -- who have never visited the place!

It's the site of the annual Long Island Fair as well as Civil War re-enactments, baseball games in vintage outfits and regular demonstrations of hat making, blacksmithing, and running a general store and more.   In fact, the blacksmith made the flag stands for the flags that indicate which one of the 51 preserved buildings and seven reconstructed ones are open that day.

The Layton Store sells candy and the Noon Inn, a tavern, sells "birch beer" and pretzels.  Back in the day, the tavern was used like a clubhouse for the local males.  By law, the tavern had to offer a place to sleep to travelers passing through.  But you didn't rent a room with a bed and bathroom; you bought a piece of space on a single mattress! 

In the Layton Store, the guide explained a strange-looking assortment of gears with a large tub underneath them.

"This is a Two-Child Washer," the guide said with aplomb,  "One child pushes the dirty clothing through this opening and the other child works the handle that makes the tub agitate.  It was the most expensive item in the entire store at $13."  He added that during the winter when the store is closed, someone has to come in regularly to put water in the tub.  Since it's made of wooden staves, it would leak if the wood wasn't kept wet.

It was all interesting and dressing the guides in period costumes - including hair cuts - was a stroke of genius.   We all enjoyed it very much. 

"I've always wanted to wear a dress!"

This is the bath tub

The blacksmith at work

The hat maker - men's hats only

The site of the annual Long Island Fair.  This was made by the Amish who were called in due to their magnificent abilities to build structures.  There is not a nail in the entire building.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Huntington Harbor

A house I've admired for years

All photos by Richard Murphy

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Two Very Different Local Bars...

The Shamrock, 138 New York Avenue, Huntington  631-427-4221 has been in business for 34 years since their opening in 1979.  It's located in a small strip mall right across from the waters of Huntington Harbor, which may explain the large numbers of men in rubber boots.  They're clam diggers, lobster fisherman and scungilli hunters and they just came in from work.

I don't really remember "the Rock" as it's called affectionately offering food back in the day, but they sure do now.  I had a trio of pulled pork slidrs and they were good.  Richie had the crab cakes.

Crab Cakes

Coconut Shrimp

One dish looked particularly good to me - a bowl of chili, topped with macaroni and cheese with a crunchy Panko crust. 

What I ordered the second time was their coconut shrimp appetizer.  Served with orange marmalade as a dip, they were obviously handmade in their kitchen.  I think it was $14 for nearly a dozen shrimp.  This is an appetizer

The Valencia, 236 Wall Street, Huntington  631-683-4166 is rumored to have opened in 1929 during Prohibition and I find that easy to believe, based on the sepia-colored photos on the walls of various Huntington landmarks. 

This is the essential dive bar. The stand-up bar is dead ahead as you walk in; there is another, larger room to the right at the end of the bar.  Stools in this room are topped with Western saddles, there is a fireplace, a pool table and an oldtime shuffleboard court. 

The bar mirror is covered with slogans -- "Time flies when you're having RUM!"  "Wanted: woman who can cook, clean and owns a boat.  Please enclose photo of the boat in your response."  My favorite is a mouse trap mounted vertically on a wall.  The sign next to it says, "Complaint Dept.  Just push bell and wait." 

The water workers hit the place at about 3:30 or 4 p.m. so when we popped in for a beer it was nearly 5 p.m. and the place was packed.  The only women in the place where the bartender and me.  But, Female Readers, I can' really recommend the Valencia as a watering hole.  This is not the best gene pool in town.

Still, we've been going in for a brewski or two for 30 years and unless it blows up or burns down, we will again. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Long Island Places and Prices

Our flight landed about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.  We got into the rental car and called Charlie (Richie's brother) and his wife, Rosalind to meet us for dinner.  Much discussion back and forth about where we were that minute; where our hotel was located and where to eat that would be convenient for all.

We settled on The Clubhouse - "Your place for steak since 1962."  Charlie recalled taking Rosalind there before they were married and they've been married 46 years.  That's a hell of a tenure for a restaurant.

Naturally, we all started with a celebratory drink.  Margarita for Rosalind, Manhattan for Charlie, gin and tonic for Richie and a martini for me.  $44.

Next we shared a shrimp cocktail.  $15 for six big, meaty shrimp.

All four of us decided we wanted the petit filet mignon - $160 for four or $40 each.  They are apparently so thick that the waiter asked if we like to have the butterflied so as to cook them Medium.  Baked potato and various trimmings came with it, but I declined any potato.  I actually like just the meat and bread and butter. 

Three of us opted for a glass of wine with dinner  $34.

The grand total for this meal -- admittedly perfect steaks - $274.82 which, with the tip ($54.80) came to $329.62 or $82.25 per person.

The Clubhouse   320 W. Jericho Turnpike, Huntington, NY  631-423-1155

In great contrast, we had dinner Monday night with them, their son and his wife and their daughter, age 8, at Spuntino, 687 Old Country Road, Dix Hills, NY 631-547-9300

Their food is very good and so are the economics of eating there.  Six of us opted for a glass of wine which was $43.50.  Four of us ordered the side salad and then an array of pastas - Carbonara, Campagnola, Madiera, Marinara, Vodka sauce and a Chicken Parm for the kid. 

The grand total for this gluttony $150.07 with a $30 tip.  Omitting the kid, who doesn't have any money anyhow, our tab came to $30 per person.

Moral of the story:  Steak is great, but pasta is cheaper. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Soldier

We landed at LAX and I bolted out the door to get down to baggage claim and outdoors, where I could smoke after five long hours on the flight. 

When I got to my destination, I found a young solder, seated on the Smoker's Bench, feet on a duffle; another duffle stashed behind him.  I sat down on the far end from him and lit up.  Just then a man, probably 40 or so, passed, escorting what could have been his mother or an elderly aunt.  He sprinted ahead to get the car trunk open for her bags and the woman followed more slowly.  Because she wasn't focussed on her luggage, she noticed the young soldier, stopped and asked courteously if they could give him a ride anywhere?  "No," he smiled, "But thank you."

Now the man has his head out of the trunk, sees the soldier and calls across the sidewalk to him - "Can we give you a ride?  We'll take you anywhere you want to go..."

The young soldier smiled again, shook his head and said, "No, but thank you."  The man closed the trunk and the two of them drove off, waving their hands "Bye bye" as they went.

One of the few blessingss about being old is the God-given gift of being blunt with people younger than you are.  So I cocked my head and asked, "Doesn't that ever get kind of -- I dunno - tiring?  Everyone seeing the uniform and wanting to help?"

Dodging my question, he smiled nicely and said "I'm waiting for a family member, but you know what?  My friends would have been here on time; family's different."

I grimaced sympathetically, grinned and said, "Well don't get in a car with strangers! (kidding him; a soldier afraid to get in a stranger's car?  I don't think so)  That's how I've survived to 72!" 

He eyed me appraisingly and said with a straight face, "You look good  for 72."

"Son, have you been drinking?" I asked incredulously.

"Just the two on the plane - first I've had in 11 months."

"My God, they should have given you a case!" I say.  Then, noticing his smooth face; he barely had to shave, I said, "Wait a minute!  Are you even old enough to drink legally?"

He grinned and said, "Thank you!"  Then he mubled "I'm nearly 30..."

Richie came out of baggage claim and I moved to meet him, intending to introduce them.  But after I'd gotten up, another woman had grabbed my seat and he was chatting amiably with her.  I grinned to myself and walked to Richie.  Maybe I should have wared him about "loose women" instead of strangers in cars.  God bless our armed forces. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Of Airports and Airplanes II

Yesterday we ate and drank.  Today we're going to study two airports - LAX and JFK.

Since LAX was our debarkation point, we'll start there.  We arrived and after checking our roll-ons at the curb - which took forever as "the system's down."  The baggage guy had to take the suitcase, run it inside the terminal to be x-rayed, print out the baggage tag(s) and/or run the credit card used to pay and then bring out the receipt for a signature and then on to the next person in line. 

Eventually, we got to Security and dutifully peeled off shoes, jackets, hats, belts and stood patiently like cows waiting to go through the body scanner which is now used exclusively at LAX.  Thoughtfully, someone painted a pair of shoe soles to show dullards where to put our feet.  After that, one raises the hands above the head and, like a giant windshild wiper, a visible line crosses the screen in front of you.

For some reason, Security had the wind up about carrying a piece of paper through this scan.  They were yelling, "Remember! No paper!"  My turn and I stepped confidently into the shoe soles and raised my arms.  

When I stepped away, I was apprehended by a female officer who frisked me with her gloved hands and then said, "I'm going to have to run the backs of my hands across your buttocks" and proceeded to do so.  And then that's when it hit me -  what had set them off.  Due to a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (caused by nerves; apparently my innards are more sensitive to emotion than all of the rest of me put together) I'd pulled on an Adult Depends.  And I said so.  Undeterred she wiped my palms with a liquid, used a treated square to wipe them off and then pushed the square in front of a sniffer machine.  

So, at JFK to come home, I quietly advised the Security lady about it and she really wasn't interested; didn't pat me down or even seemed to hear what I'd said.  A real difference in airports, no?  Maybe JFK's attitude is:  We survived 911; you can't hurt us.

Anyhow, we're at JFK and ready to go home on the noon flight.  Which was sold out.  The people milling around the gate agent reminded me (unpleasantly) of The Last Helicopter Out of Saigon.

We then ambled down to the gate for the 1:45 p.m. flight.  Time passed and people began boarding.  The gate agent was a peppy little blonde who may have been a Drill Instructor in a previous life.  "C'mon, People - let's get a move on!"  

As most of the others boarded, she yelled "Murphy! I've got one seat left!" and we shook our heads, "No."  We stick together.  

At the very last moment before the jet bridge is pulled away from the plane, she screams "Murphy!  I've got one seat left in First and the other's in Coach - here!" and thrust the tickets into Richie's hands.  Then she's running ahead of us down the jet bridge to the open door.  Richie fumbles the tickets, pulls out the one for First and jams it into my hand.

"I'll split it with you!" I called to him, meaning that 2 1/2 hours into the 5 hour flight, I'd switch seats with him.  He flapped his hand backward at me and said, "Never mind!  Just sit down!"  So I did.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Of Airplanes and Airports...

On the rare occasion that we do get to go Business or 1st, when friends and family hear this, they want to know what was served.  In order of service...

An assortment of warm breads in a basket, packet of real butter  The blueberry scone was excellent because they'd added chopped rock sugar while the bread was still hot.

Fruit - a slab of cantaloupe with three big strawberry halves and three slices of kiwi. 

Choice of:
French Toast with candied pecans and maple syrup

The Breakfast Skillet - Cream cheese and chive-scrambled eggs with a goat cheese sauce over potatoes O'Brien and grilled asparagus.  We both ordered this and while the flavors were good, the goat cheese sauce was overkill and the potatoes were limp because covered in all of that other stuff.

In 1st, the flight attendants are very obliging and in theory, if not fact, one could have ordered all three of the above choices.

Cereal and yogurt, served with a banana and fresh seasonable berries.

Before we landed we were each given a plate of two cheeses and two kinds of crackers.

About 20 minutes before landing, chocolate chip cookies, warm from the ovens.

LUNCH coming home -
Marinated mozzarella cheese balls and roasted tomatoes - this dish covered a twin dish with warm, mixed nuts. 

Salad - seasonal greens with fresh vegetables and a Cajun-style roast chicken breast with classic Caesar dressing or premium  extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Assorted gourmet breads

Choice of Beef Pot Pie or chilled Chicken Achiote accompanied by tomato and feta quinoa salad, grilled squash and zucchini.

The traditional ice cream sundae - balls of vanilla ice cream with the topping of your choice.  Mine was a shot of Amarillo. 

Followed by a gourmet cheese assortment with white grapes and crackers.

Followed by fresh seasonal fruit and the traditional baked-on-board cookies.
Having recently devoured an egg and bacon sandwich, I wasn't hungry and told the flight attendant not to serve me the salad or either of the entrees.  I confined myself to the cheese platters and the sundae. 

Wines were the same on both flights, but add Graham's Six Grapes Port after Lunch:

Sparkling Wine - Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Carneros Brut (I drank this exclusively to and from)
Turi Sauvignon Blanc
Corylus Pinot Grigio
Pacific Heights Cabernet Sauvignon
Viansa Vino Rosso (Barbara grapes)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

We're Home!

And glad to be here.  "No place like home" ?  Stories tomorrow.  The Indian-owned hotel and Richie the nag -"The toilet wiggles!"  And more on that.  Old Bethpage, a historical recreation site that proved to be very interesting.  Richie's photos of Huntington and Northport Harbors; restaurants new to us and what we thought of them. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Postcard From New York

Saturday, we left for JFK, New York.  I had put us into First on the non-rev passenger list, my reasoning being that anyone can upgrade from Coach to Business, but that I don't think you can upgrade from Coach or Business to 1st.

At the desk at the gate, we presented our IDs and the lady typed for quite awhile, then regretfully smiled and said, "I'm afraid I have to put you in Coach."  I smiled, shrugged and said, "It doesn't matter; both ends usually get there at the same time."

We boarded and went to seats 19 J and H, stowed our stuff, sat down and buckled in.  They were quite pleasant seats, off to one side of a galley wall and quite cozy.  Richie saw the gate close and settled back in his seat. 

Then a Flight Attendant approached and said, "Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, your upgrade has been complete; please move to seats 2 A and B."  These are the seats at the very front of 1st on the door side.   Ah, the bliss!

We shall see what happens going home.  Last time we came to NY we got 1st here and the last two seats in row 44 on the way home.  The back of our seats touched a bathroom wall;
there was no porthole and the engine noise was deafening.  I grinned because I knew that "they" up front were swigging champagne with wild abandon while we were sharing a bottle of water.    

Friday, April 5, 2013

My Father's Gift 4/5/13

The gift is:  you are somewhere, minding your own business and a stranger approaches you and begins confiding in you as if you were a friend. 

Today Richie was in the pet food store and I was sitting in the car, leafing through a book on hummingbirds he'd gotten from the library.

A soft knock on the window made me look up to see a stranger desiring conversation.  He had sandy, reddish hair, tousled by the wind, enormously thatched eyebrows and was wearing a white shirt under a dark blue crewneck sweater.  He didn't look homeless although the jury was out on that for a nanosecond.  Since he was considerably smaller than I am, I opened my door a crack.

Him:  "I see that you're reading a book on hummingbirds - I once held one in my hand!"

Me (looking surprised.)

He continued, "It had flown up into a skylight in my friend's house instead of trying to go out of a door.  So I got a ladder, climbed up and caught him as began to fall -- right in my hand!  Poor guy was exhausted!  I had a loupe in my pocket so I looked him over -- hummingbirds have eyelashes!  His were gorgeous!"

Cut to Richie opening his door and getting in, looking suspiciously at this stranger at his wife's window.  I said, "Richie, he held a live hummingbird in his hand!"

Richie (interested now) "Did you?" so my new friend told him all about it, tugged at his invisible  cap and went on into the bank. 

And I still wonder if hummingbirds do have eyelashes, but the book had to go back to the library.  I'll ask cousin Wayne - he has a backyard full of them.

Some Notes From a Lecture on Memory Loss

5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's.

500,000 people in their '30s, '40s and '50s have it or a related dementia.

Every 69 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer's. 

Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 70 per cent of cases. 

70 per cent of people with Alzheimer's live at home where family and friends provide most of their care and pay for it out of their own pockets.

I would add that the above information comes from the Alzheimer's Association which has something of an interest in obtaining money for their programs and  funding.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why I Drank A Martini Cocktail Yesterday

I don't believe in a drink at a time of stress and have only ever said, "I need a drink!" jokingly.  Given yesterday, I may have been wrong about this...

As so many frustrations for me do, this started online when both Hertz and the credit union wouldn't let me in. 

Hertz summarily dismissed me and after three tries at access, I said, "Tomorrow."  The credit union sniffed that "We don't recognise this computer" when I have been using it for three months, possibly more.   However, repeatedly yelling "Liar!" at the computer garnered no results.  I was directed to click on my e-mail name and they would send a new access code, but "do not exit the credit union to open it."  They instructed me to wait a moment and then press Control + N which I did -- four times because nothing happened.  In disgust, I signed off, vowing "Tomorrow." And there in my inbox were four identical messages from them. 

While running errands, I  popped into the local Hertz substation and asked why my Gold #1 Club membership was being blocked.  The guy behind the counter didn't know and rather than trying to sort it out, he handed me a brochure, pointed and said, "Call this number" and went back to the telephone and his personal conversation. 

After discussing the matter at length with three different Hertz operators, I was told, "Oh, you didn't rent a car for a year, so the computer dropped you."  I felt so strange -- there I was, sitting in my own dining room, holding a sheet of Hertz letterhead welcoming me to the Gold #1 Club and ... I didn't exist!  I logged on as a "guest" and got the car.

I had a 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. seminar on "Memory Loss" and thank God I'd remembered to calendar it.  I cut out of it at 1:30 p.m. because I had to be at a client's house for a 2 p.m. appointment.  The seminar sponsor was the volunteer program within which I work and the 2 p.m. was their client.  I used the 15 minute window left after driving from A to B to blow through MacDonald's for a Quarter Pounder and small fries.  I ate most of the fries while waiting for the light to change at Inglewood and 190th. 

When I got home, Richie was talking to his brother Charlie in New York, telling him our flights and the hotel.  They finished their conversation and hung up.  less than 15 minutes later, Charlie called back.  He and his wife had discussed the hotel and they wanted us to know it was a "welfare hotel -- you know, where they let all of the homeless in."

While a stay there could have meant an interesting column, it also meant we'd actually have to stay there and Richie was against that.  I booked us into another hotel and called the so-called welfare hotel to cancel.  The very New York-accented receptionist told me that I couldn't cancel with her at the hotel because I'd booked the room through an agency and they had my money.  I said they didn't because they'd never asked for a credit card and I'd never volunteered it.  She said to contact them and hung up.

That's when we went out to dinner and I started it with a dirty gin martini.  I must say it hit the spot. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Running Around

I am being forced into unaccustomed action  in trip planning and my mind certainly isn't used to it.  We are planning to fly to New York and I dread the flights to and from.  Air travel is not by any means what it used to be.  Which, 30 years ago, was rather nice.  Everyone dressed up, the flight attendants were not only polite, but they were very accommodating.  They walked up the aisle offering pillows, a blanket with solicitation.

Today they push food carts with wrap sandwiches ($5) snacks (a tall can of once upon a time mashed potatoes that have been magically transformed into "potato chips") or an enormous cookie - $3 for any one of these.  You pay with a credit card ONLY.  No cash accepted which doesn't bother me as I never have any on me anyhow.  You want a blanket?  Bring your own! 

Adding to the stress is "Will we even get the flight that I put us on?"  Very often we don't which can be the domino effect - a previous flight with fly-through passengers was late; they missed their connection onward and there they all are -- ahead of us for getting a seat. 

Most recently, we flew 1st to New York.  On our flight home we were seated in the last two seats in Coach.  Just in front of the starboard toilet.  No window except what we could see out of those ahead of us.  The tail seats are bumpier than over-the-wings (my favorite) and poor Richie couldn't sleep.   But it was an interesting contrast ... free-flowing champagne at the front end; a shared water bottle in the back end. 

Ah, well ...win some, lose some.   At least we weren't  plodding glumly from one terminal to another to try yet again for a seat. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Continuing the April Fool's Day Fun

Jack Barry remarked "Middle age is when your wife tells you to pull in your stomache and you already have..."

A woman told her granddaughter that AARP stands for "American Alliance of Rollerblading Professionals." 

Jack Paar said, "Long after we're wearing bifocals and hearing aids we'll be making love.  But we won't know with whom."

George Burns counters, "I'm at the age now where just putting my cigar in its holder is a thrill." 

Francis Joseph, Cardinal Spellman said, "You've heard of the three stages of man -- youth, age, and 'You're looking wonderful!'"

Milton Berle - "You have to grow old before somebody will tell you that you look young for your age."

The older you are the smarter you were as a kid...

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1, 2013

Today is not a good day to believe everything you see or hear. 

I wondered if April Fool's Day is celebrated in Russia and the reason I wondered is that I consider it to be rather a dour nation.  Russians do take the fun in -- but they do it almost from a sense of duty.  "This is the day we have fun and make jokes, so let's get on it" seems to be the general attitude. 

In France, typically mean-spirited, pranksters cut out little fish shapes and stick them on unsuspecting friends and strangers.  Wearing a "fish" n your back means you are a fool. 

As you will see as the day wears on in America, even the media gets in on the "fun" with faux headlines guaranteed to give some of us a terrible shock before we remember what day it is.

So take today with the proverbial grain of salt.  It could be said that this is National Paranoia Day -- with good reason.  I can assure you that Obama has not stepped down.  Iceland is not threatening us with a nuclear holocaust.  All of Scotland has not turned vegan.  Just so you know. 

As a favor to Richie's cousin, I must mention that he has lost his pet "Snuggles" and despite the fact that this cousin lives on the East Coast, he seems to believe that it's possible for "Snuggles" to have made his way out to the West Coast.  As "Suggles" is a giraffe it hardly seems possible, but it you see him, please make note of where it was so that the proper people can be notified.   Thank you.   


May be frightened and hungry.  He was last seen on Saturday.  I am worried that he may wander a long way from home, looking for food.

Snuggles is a male giraffe.  He is about 18 ft. tall with large brown spots.  He is friendly and not at all aggressive although he does not like pigs.

He was wearing a blue collar with his name and address when he went missing.  I had let him off of his lead and still have it. 

I miss him so much.  There is a reward for information leading to me getting him back.  Please help.