Thursday, May 30, 2013

Overheard Conversations

Recently I had a nice little tantrum about exchanging a "z" for an "s."  Driving west on Pier Avenue yesterday, I spotted a sign on a store that nearly made me rip my hair out.  The store's name is:  Nu Shuz.

Richie sunburned his forearms down in Cabo - bright red, swollen and seeping.  In the doctor's office I was amused to hear the good doctor's chat at chairside. 

Richie:  I just can't understand why this happened.
Doctor:  Buddy, you need to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Richie:  And another thing...
Doctor:  Talk to me!

I'm pretty sure that when he isn't  doctoring, he's leading a gang.

This morning we marched up to the desk, extended.  The clerk smiled at us and said, "I've got you" and then when a pair of women (clearly identifiable as women) walked up to his his desk, he said, "Hi, guys - how're you doing?"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holiday Eats

The older I get, the more willing I am to set out holiday-appropriate dishes.  I've always had the winter favorites - turkey for Thanksgiving, ham for Christmas, but now I'm getting interested in summer.  I lump Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day into the box marked  PICNIC/BBQ FOOD and go forth accordingly. 

Last night we ate jalapena potato salad, baked beans and Tyler's sliders.  "Tyler's?" you ask?  We became aware of Tyler's when the late Huell Howser did a show on Palm Springs and mentioned the place.

Tyler's is in what used to be the Palm Springs bus station and to get there is easy:  Come in on I-10, exit on Hwy 111 and keep going; 111 will turn into North Palm Canyon Drive in the city itself.  Turn left at the bronze statue of Sonny Bono and there you are.

Tyler's classic sliders are:  hamburger (round - as if you smashed a meatball before you cooked it) with Swiss cheese and grilled sweet onion on a toasted slider bun (Van Kamp makes them) with mayo on it.   That's it. 

Jalapeno potato salad simply means that the first ingredient to hit the steaming hot potato cubes is the juice from a jar of Mt. Olive Jalapena Slices.  Otherwise, make potato salad the way you usually do.  The Mt. Olive jalapenos are very mild and anyhow, potato salad was designed to be "barely-flavored."  Usually what you taste in potato salad is the mayonnaise. 

I opened a can of Bush's Original Baked Beans, added Liquid Smoke, maple syrup, a lashing of garlic powder and a dusting of habanero chili powder.  Sweet and hot is umami enough for me...

Now I'm getting hungry for the 4th of July...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why I Won't Go To A Movie

I'm talking about getting in a car, driving to the cinemaplex (as I believe they are called these days) pay a lot of money for a ticket and go sit down in the theatre showing the film of your choice.

From that point on, you are a prisoner of the projectionist.  Who cheerily bombards your vision and hearing with promos for new films that quite often contain car chases (and subsequent crashes) big guns booming away or not-so-riveting sex scenes.  All of this is presented at peak volume.  

Back in the day when Richie and I were dating, he used to get off work around 2:30 p.m. and we would occasionally go to a Tuesday afternoon movie because Tuesday was Cheap Ticket Day.  As soon as we were married, I called a halt to the movies for all of the above reasons.  I wanted to go into old age with some hearing left intact.  

Plus, the cinemaplex often had a film I'd rather see than what Richie wanted us to see.  I could never convince him that I was big enough to go into a darkened theatre and see a movie all by myself.

As time passed, television's capacity for showing you extremely dull movies in the privacy of your own living room got better and better.  And then came getting a DVD of almost every movie ever made from your local public library to watch at home.

This is heaven to me.  You can't drink alcohol or smoke in a cinemaplex, but I sure as hell can in my own living room.  And if I don't like the movie, all I have to do is pick up my book and resume reading.

I mention all of this because last night a film about Liberace and a companion debuted and I wanted to see it having (as usual) read the book.  I was curious to see if the script would follow the book which is my experience hasn't happened since "Gone With The Wind" which certainly followed the book, but was four hours long.

Happily "Behind the Candelabra" ran for only two hours.  Michael Douglas didn't look much like Liberace and he didn't sound like him at all.  Liberace purred; he didn't "talk."  Matt Damon did look - vaguely - like Scott Thorsen.  The fat suits they wore during a segment of the plot looked exactly like - fat suits.

But the movie followed the book as faithfully as could be.  And it didn't cost us a dime to see it!  Thank you, HBO!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

This One's For You, "D"

Saturday at the Hermosa Beach Fiesta --
The Official Bird of Redondo Beach

Food court

New This Year - the Ferris Wheel


The Poopdeck Patio

That is not a bead curtain.  That is his own hair.

"Hey, I'm obese - Might as well wear funny socks!"

She's a helluva pool player even if she can barely see over the table.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Made Exclusively For Local Farmers' Markets

Yesterday I decided to graze the food court of the Hermosa Beach Farmers' Market.  I suddenly wanted Spicy Daikon to nibble on.  Spicy Daikon is:  square-cut daikon (Japanese radish version), raw carrot "squares" and slices of jalapeno pickles in rice wine vinegar.  Daikon tends to stay crisp so there's a satisfying crunch as you chew.  Dave's Gourmet Korean Food, 1277 N. Wilton Place, Los Angeles 90038   $5

Next a friendly woman working the Mayan Delicacy booth explained that the chocolate fudge on offer had walnuts, ghost peppers and a pinch of sea salt.  She said it was usually eaten with wine accompanying it.  I'm always on the lookout for something different so when she cut off a small chunk and offered it, I ate it.  It was good so I bought a small brick of it.  Mayan Delicacy, 25604 Narbonne, Lomita, CA   $5   

It wasn't until we were home and I tried Googling the above places to see what else they had to tempt me that I realized these products were made exclusively for peddling at farmers' markets.   What a good idea!  It's a great way to test a product - for both customer and purveyor.  

And, online, I picked up this tip:  to ripen a banana in 24 hours, put a banana in with it in the brown paper bag. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Writers And Death

Without any prompting at all, I can assure you that writers, as a group, have much the same reactions as the general public.  Recently we of the South Bay Writers Workshop received some bad news.  Here follows the correspondence as we reacted.

To explain, one of our members had been conspicuously absent and previous correspondence only elicited the news that he was having some health problems so I took keyboard in hand and asked if we could do anything productive to help?

Hi -
I've been diagnosed with acute leukemia.

The MD gives me six months.  I get blood transfusions tomorrow and start chemo on the 28th.

At least I made 92!  Not much else anyone can do.

CHEERS (name)

Naturally I circulated this grim news to all of the other writers.  The replies:

From a 38 year old MD, "Please let him know that if he needs some help, I can be available as well."

From an 88 year old fellow writer, "Sad to hear your news.  I wish you the best treatment and an easy passage.  Let me know if there's anything I can do to help."  

I read this and started howling with laughter.  The two juxtaposed together - "easy passage" and "if there's anything I can do to help" struck me as incredibly funny.  When it was pointed out to my fellow writers, they all roared, too.  "Do not let this man near your bedside!"

At yesterday's meeting we discussed this matter and I was delegated to ask if he is writing about this experience.  I wrote:

"A consensus (consisting of female, male, male and me) decided among ourselves (without consulting you, of course) that since you have given us such wonderful stories about your younger years, contributing to the history of America, that you would be doing further service to write about your experiences now.

(Female) wondered aloud  what it would be like to know that (supposedly) one's days were numbered and that the doctors knew those numbers.

I volunteered that one could have a wonderful time re-writing one's Last Will and Testament on a more or less daily basis.  "You were rude to me yesterday; Grandma's silver is now going to cousin Louis."  That kid of playful jab to get better service.

(Male) told us that when he was a Sea Bee in Viet Nam, that when the call for blood came on the leoudspeakers, he took his time getting there as he is terrified of needles.  We all laughed at him, as is our wont.

I would onlyu recommend this if you are actually dying although if you wrote a great, long piece and didn't die, you wouldn't have wasted the material.  It could be turned into a musical comedy!  No good writing is ever wasted. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ahead of the Curve

I am quite looking forward to the debut of "Behind The Candlelabra" which is a made-for-TV HBO presentation.  It is the story of Liberace and his last lover, Scott Thorson and should be full of pretend realism.  Movies always are.  Michael Douglas stars as Liberace and Matt Damon as Scott.  The film couple were together for five years. 

I have always loved Liberace's in-your-face sly humor, all of it directed at himself.  We have toured the former museum (gone now) a couple of times, acting as guides to friends and family visiting there who wanted to see the sights.  Liberace was definitly "a sight."

I remembered that Thorson had written a book and sure enough it was in the library.

Some examples of Liberace's generosity - on their first Christmas together he gave Thorson:  
Two diamond rings
A black mink coat
A white mink jacket
A coyote-and-leather coat
A sapphire cross
A gold watch, wreathed in diamonds
Lots of clothes
A Maltese puppy named "Georgie
A Schnauzer named "Precious" 
A Bassett named "Lulu."

Liberace didn't limit his gifts to Christmas.  Thorson relates the time they were out walking*, I admired a passing car.  A few days later, Liberace gave him a custom Camaro.  Thorson was startled and asked him why?  "Because you admired it" was the reply.  Thorson laughed and said, "No, the one I was admiring was a Rolls-Royce!"   Within a few days a ribbon-wrapped Rolls was waiting for him on the floor of the Hilton Casino. 

Liberace was also extremely shrewd.  He paid $3 million for the property he built for his museum on Tropicana.  Since he was donating the land and building to his own non-profit orgnization, he got a great tax write-off!

* Which is why I doubt this story.  Liberace off-stage was nearly paranoid about his privacy.  No one dared to "just show up" at any of his houses.  So the picture of the two of them, arm-in-arm parading down a public street is ...unikely in my opinion. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Deceased Would Have Been Pleased

We attended a memorial service at noon today for a man who died in Santa Fe, and was cremated there, but some of his ashes had been saved for dispersal here in the Pacific Ocean.  He grew up here and loved to sail and to be on the water.  He came to be a quirky, fun-loving artist and sculpture in Santa Fe.  He had the true oddball's sense of humor and absolutely exuded "fun" from his pores. 

Family members (his father, step-mother, two of his sons, their girlfriends and his sister) gathered at Captain Kidd's, Redondo Beach, for lunch.  Captain Kidd's is a longtime family favorite seafood restaurant, well-loved by them all. 

Post this informal meal, the family would board a friend's sailboat for The Final Ocean Ride.  An intimate, but presumably short service would take place on the boat. 

After lunch, the group went to the parking lot and various preparations were made and decisions as well on who would go in which car.

Suddenly, it was discovered that as often happens in committee efforts, something had been forgotten.

It was the flowers to toss in the water after the ashes.  "I thought you were going to stop at that place on 2nd!"  "No, you said you were going to do it!"  I said, "Pity the Hermosa Beach Farmers Market isn't until Friday..."which was, of course, about par for my unlimited powers to be off-subject. 

One of the sons got a gleam in his eyes and pointed at the flowers growing at the driveway entrance to the restaurant.

"You know," he said speculatively,  "Dad would love it if we picked some of those."  The other son said, "He'd laugh - you're right; he'd love it." 

One son emptied the ice into the cooler with the beer and ducking behind a row of cars proceeded to pick four or five of the yellow day lilies and put them in the opaque bag.  thrusting the bag in the air, he said, "We got flowers! Let's go!" and off they went.  I'd like to think that the ashes were laughing as the flowers rained down.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quirky Sunday

If we have been well-behaved as well as somewhat industrious all week, then we "deserve" some fun on Sunday afternoons.

We quite possibly have nothing in paticular to do on a Sunday and all day to get it done, so here are some sites and tastes that I have discovered that amuse me.

Google "The Restroom Cultural Park" and see for yourselves the establishment (?) that sits in Suwon, South Korea.  The building is shaped like a toilet seat and the grounds are dotted with bronze statues of people mounted on toilet-shaped bases.  I am not smoking crack and I did not make this up. 
You will discover exactly why it is a very bad idea to give a waiter/waitress a hard time.  Servers are a mighty particular bunch and it pays to be kind.  In spades.
Exactly what it sounds like - passengers exchanging tales of horrifying and/or funny flights they've had the misfortune to have been passengers.
This site bills itself as "A study of Suri and the people who disappoint her."  Suri, daughter of Katie and Tom Cruise is a precocious child who basically hates both of her parents.  Her critiques of other children's wardrobes are scathing.  Since it's a snide site, I like it. 

We must never overlook an opportunity to use our taste buds.  I recently discovered Trader Joe's Italian Truffle Cheese.   It is a faintly sweet, quietly earthy taste (often attributed to truffles) and a mouse-sized nip of it with a ripe, sweet cherry is very good.  If you miss the cherry season - and I've been told it's going to be a shorter season than usual - try the cheese with bites of a Trader Joe Triple Ginger Snap.  I realize these sound odd, but I found them to be very good. 

As one of her Christmas presents, my sister sent us a bottle of gourmet balsamic vinegar.  It is thicker and sweeter than peasant (?) balsamic.  We're running low now and as I studied it (on a mozzarella-no-marinara-sauce)  bite, I realized that if you bought a big bottle of regular balsamic and reduced it by half -- you'd have "gourmet" balsamic vinegar.  Sounds like an easy-enough Sunday afternoon project...maybe next week. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

TGIF - Tail Goes In First

Periodically, the Hermosa Animal Hospital (our vets for 30 years) sends out a newsletter with pet tips, service discount coupons and seasonal warnings (Keep your cats away from the poinsettas - they're poisonous.)

This month's edition stresses Mastering The Cat Carrier.  Cats hate being put in the cat carrier.  It means only one thing:  a visit to the vet.  The routine cat exam includes a thermometer (but not in the ear) among other intrusive things.  

Dogs are easy -- "Wanna go out?" and the dog goes nuts!  "Oh, wow!  An adventure!  Maybe the dog park, huh? huh?"  But cats, delicate, sheltered, dozing in the sunlight, have set routines and if these routines are disturbed in any what whatsoever, you then have a angry, stressed-out cat.  So any cat carrier adice is a good thing.

1.  Put the carrier on end so the door is facing the ceiling.  Put paper towels or an old towel in the bottom so if the cat in its terror wets the cage, it will be absorbed.   

2.  Take the cat from your henchman, who has captured it, by supporting it uder the front legs and the rear end.  You may want to have covered the lower hand in the towel.

3.  Insert the cat so that when you let go, the carrier is the only place the cat can go.  TGIF - Tail Goes In First.

4.  Slam the door and lock it.

5.  Slowly, slowly lower the carrier to its proper position on the floor.  Coo at the cat which will do no good whatsoever at soothing the hissing, spitting ball of fur that is now Fifi, but it will make you feel better.  

The writer of this article also wrote that a pillowcase is a safe alternative to a cat carrier.  Insert the cat as if the pillowcase was a carrier, knot the top and carry the cat in your arms.  The cat can breathe just fine and it may calm it (a little) to be in your arms.  A pillowcase is also usually easier to find than the cat carrier so in an emergency go for it first. 

Hermosa Animal Hospital, 560 Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach 90254  310-376-8819     

Friday, May 17, 2013

Just Waiting For The Obituary

Whom (or what) am I mourning prematurely?  A dear old friend of mine; one who has proven to be consistently amusing and one with whom I have spent many happy hours at my own dining room table.  We've been friends since I was a little girl, exchanging confidences with my girl friends.  We've met a lot of people together and mostly enjoyed them.

But my poor friend!  This is not going to be one of those obituaries that reads, "after a long battle with (disease)."  No, it hasn't taken Social Media long at all to kill off poor old Conversation.

This is the best example I can think of to illustrate today's ways; it's certainly a preliminary strike at Conversation.  A male friend of ours invited a young lady out for a reviving cocktail after work and she happily accepted.  They met as pre-arranged and she promptly began texting and answering phone calls and not briefly either.  He tried to make conversation, only to be repeatedly told, "Hold on a second - I've got to take this call/answer this text" thumbs flying. 

After some 20 or 30 minutes of sitting patiently, watching her operate her mini- media center, he stood up.  Amazed, she glanced up from her phone and said, "You aren't going, are you?" in surprise.  He said, "Yes, I'll leave you to Communications Central here," nodding at her brightly-lit phone and walked out the door. 

This situation puzzled me.  She had a live person (presumably buying drinks to boot) with whom to converse, but "the others" - far away - were of more interest.  I truly couldn't understand it.

And then yesterday, I read a line in a book which said, "Oh, she's one of those people that isn't alive unless she's talking on the phone.  It's how she establishes her existence to herself."

So, all of the people you see feverishly texting and talking?  This is their only means of assuring themselves that they are real.  There is so much emphasis on Being Out There, Being Seen that human interfacing with live  people doesn't exist any more.  The only way to show that you yourself aren't dead is to be in constant communication with someone - anyone! - out there.  And the more that people rely on social media networking, the fewer there are of live people with which to have a genuine conversation, like with words 'n all and those facial expression things? 

Don't they get it?  In effect, these people are working diligently to isolate themselves further.

And thus, they are convinced that they are real and they matter, but they have to keep sending and reciving message to stay alive.  And they have to post comments or better still, photos, minute by minute.

Grown-ups have it made.  We know who and what we are and we don't have to prove it.  But pretty soon we'll be reduced to talking to ourselves.  Conversation, I'm really going to miss you ... 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cockatiels Like Mashed Potatoes

We were  in Centinela Food and Grain and while Richie got cat food, I was in the bird section thoughtfully eyeing the various kinds and brands of cockatiel food.  A clerk came up behind me and he asked, "Are you finding what you need?"

I said that I was and that I was mulling over which seed to give Lady Bird.  I remarked that she is a picky eater.  She loves millet, but refuses to eat the colored, pre-formed nuggets and so forth and he snorted and succinctly said, "Junk food!"  I added, "She won't touch bits of apple or banana ..." 

He said, "Try her on mashed potatoes.  My cockatiels love mashed potatoes -- let them cool a bit before you give them any.  They seem to like the texture as well as the taste..."

I told him that my mashed potatoes are:  peeled potatoes, cut in chunks, boiled, drained and mashed.  No butter, no cream, no salt and he beamed.  'Perfect!  What time is dinner?" and we both laughed. 

As an afterthought, as he handed me the change, he added, "Never give a cockatiel any citrus fruit - it can kill them." 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Zut, Alors!

Loosely translted, this French expression means "Drat it, then!"  But I am using it in the full "hellfire and damnation!" mode. 

What has set me off today?  The use of the letter "Z" instead of an "S."  I have to wonder about the intellectually-challenged who use or who read "Shooz!" or "Girlz" and think it's perfectly fine.  Or worse, "cute." 

After being annoyed by such as "Boyz" (generally followed by "in the hood") for some time, what finally upended my apple cart mentally was an invitation to go bowling at an alley named "Pinz."  If the owners had just named it "Pins" it would have made their point and would have been just as jaunty (if bowling could be considered jaunty at all) as the overworked use of a "Z" when an "S" would suffice.

I may have to cool off with a nice pint of Dolce de Leche which is a sweet, vanilla-flavored ice cream with a thread of butterscotch running through it.  It's the finest kind of anger management treatment.   I recommend it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013 - LA Travel



A Serene Siesta
     Siesta Suites Hotel is a charming place in the heart of downtown Cabo San Lucas, but serenely peaceful.  It's small (20 suites with kitchens) but comfortable.  There is a long patio for relaxing and enjoying the gardens and the odd bird tweet yet the Giggling Marlin and The Jungle are only a block or so away.  It's professionally managed with friendly help.
     Siesta Suites Hotel
Calle Emiliano Zapata, Cabo San Lucas; (866-271-0952.  Standard room or suite, $69 a night; penthouse, $80 a night.

Nina Murphy
Redondo Beach

Sunday, May 12, 2013

For Mothers of A Certain Age

"Liberace Extravaganza" by Connie Furr Soloman and Jan Jewett   Harper Design   223 pages   (lavishly illustated)   $29.99

I write about Liberace today on Mother's Day because he was a great favorite with older women.   And one of the things these women liked was that he was devoted to his mother.

Liberace's only misstep in a 46 year long career was when a manager convinced him to throw away the excess and to be "more manly."  His career tanked.  He thought about it, fired the manager and bought even more outrageous costumes and flourished as never before.

He referred to a spectacular red outfit - jacket, pants and matching boots - as his "lasagna suit.  I wear it when I make lasagna," he purred, "The stains don't show!"

He came onstage one evening and told the audience, "This isn't my most spectacular outfit, but it is the most expensive -- these three buttons on my shirt are real diamonds...but I couldn't come out here wearing just three diamonds..."

His famed (pretend) avarice was tempered by humor.  He told a critic, "Your review hurt me.  I cried all the way to the bank."  Later in his career, he would say, "You know that bank I used to go crying to? (smug smile) I bought it." 

On other occasions, he might say toward the close of the show, "You've been such a wonderful audience tonight -- I hate to take your money (beat) but I will."

All of his costumes were custom made and all of his clothing relationships remained warm and close until they or he died.  He was a loyal man. 

His stage costumes (excluding capes which were considerably more) ran as high as $24,000 each.  He took 40 of them ($960,000) on tour with him at casinos and Radio City Music Hall.  They were not made of lightweight gauze either.  A couple of the capes weighed as much as 150 to 200 pounds.  Try bounding onto a stage and twirling toting a load like that and not falling on your face!  Liberace was stronger than rent!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Better Yet; Make It A Double

Which is what we had to do with our hummingbird feeder.  We've had one for years; it hangs from a nail driven into the balcony ceiling.  Richie fills it and he finally said, "This thing is shot; I'm going to get a new one."

When he replaced it, the hummingbirds came on the run.  He was having to refill it every other day.   So he went to Target and bought a second feeder.  He put it up yesterday in late afternoon (one of their favorite feeding times) and sure enough, even though the two feeders are about five feet apart, the little birds discovered it.

I was curious so I did some exploring online.  No less authority than the Audubon Society says that the reason hummingbirds love the color red is that other insects shy away from red so there is more nectar for the hummingbirds in red flowers or feeders with red coloring.  You do not have to color the sugar water red.  The little devils are programmed to seek out red.  Just the red trim on the feeder is sufficient.

The Audubon Society recommends these ratios:
1 cup sugar, four cups water
3/4 cup sugar, 3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups of water

Boil the sugar and water together before filling the feeder.  Use white sugar only - never use honey (it will kill the poor bird) or artificial sweetener (they aren't diabetic) or molasses or, in fact, anything but white sugar.  

With two feeders going simultaneously I am halfway expecting a re-make of Alfred Hitchcock's classic "The Birds."  Thank God, hummingbirds are so small!

Friday, May 10, 2013

George Told Laura, 'Don't Make This A Monument To Me."

I'm referring to the just-completed and opened George W. Bush Presidential Library which sits on 23 acres of the larger grounds of the Southern Methodist University. 

It's certainly Texas-sized at 226,000 sq. ft.  The first thing you will see is a U-shaped, low building, the open arms of the U stretching out to greet you.  Inside the building are a museum, a gift shop, Cafe 43 and the offices of the George W. Bush Institute.

Inside the Institute space, one finds reception rooms, seminar spaces, a 360-seat auditorium and offices for Bush and his wife as well as a spacious living room and a formal dining room that seats 36 people.

Richie and I have always been interested in Presidential Libraries and in nearly 30 years of marriage, we've seen the libraries for:

General Dwight Eisenhower
Harry S. Truman
Richard Nixon
Ronald Reagan
Lyndon Johnson
Theodore Roosevelt
Andrew Jackson

The Bush Library is something to look forward to the next time we're in Dallas.  Of particular interest to me have been the re-created Oval Offices and the china patterns!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Taking A Vote

Bob and Dolores Hope's Palm Springs  home - one of three - is for sale.  It's the house that looks like either a UFO or a gigantic mushroom, depending on who is doing the looking.  We've seen it often during visits to Palm Springs and I say "mushroom."  The architect said it was supposed to look like a volcano.  (Shrug)  All I can tell you is that it is one of the more unusual houses out there. 

It is huge -- 23,300 sq. ft. and unseen from below  is a 6,000 sq. ft. skylight.  A copper roof covers the house and its vast overhangs for shade in the burning desert.  I don't think the skylight provides much shade inside the house, but maybe it's over the indoor pool.  There's an outdoor pool, too, along with a pond, a tennis court and a putting green.

The story I got was the Hopes never really lived in it; it was their "entertaining" house.  They preferred life down in the flats of Palm Springs, in a small simple, house next door to the house they bought for one of their children. 

The "musroom" sits on 4.65 acres with a 360 degree view of the Coachella Valley.  There are six bedrooms with 10 baths and three half-baths.

I wonder if it will go the way of the Annenburg estate and become a tourist attraction.  The Annenburgs "Sunnylands", by the way, gets $35 per person for a guided tour of their house.  And to keep out the riffraff, tickets are sold on the 1st and 15th of the month exclusively.  Don't just show up and expect to get in.

Ah, but you were interested in the Hope house.  Dig out the loose change from the couch and be prepared to pay $50 million  -- for a mushroom!     

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Head's Up For Fashionistas

Today let us address the thinking of a man named James Laver (1899 - 1975) who was a curator at the Victoria oand Albert Museum.  His thoughts were publicized by the phrase "Laver's Law."  They are a kind of a periodic table -- but for fashion.

Laver's Law
Indecent - 10 years before its time
Shameless - 5 years before its time
Daring - 1 year before its time
Smart - current fashion
Dowdy - a year after it's time
Hideous - 10 years after its time
Ridiculous - 20 years after its time
Amusing - 30 years after it's time
Quaint - 50 years after its time
Charming - 70 years after its time
Romantic - 100 years after its time
Beautiful - 150 years after its time

I don't think his "law" is going to cover such as:  The Sack Dress (mid-50s) which really did hang like up upside down, closed sack on women.  Hot Pants could never be considered Romantic OR Beautiful.  This proves that no one rule is good for all to me... 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Searching For The Newest New Thing

I'm talking about food here.  Food & Wine for June is in and, not surprisingly, the magazine is featuring How To Grill as well as how to make yourself into a beer snob.  I scanned their extensive list and found not one of any beer I've ever heard of.  They were all tiny breweries.

Because we were just in Mexico where chili powder (and salt) are used on jicama, cucumbers, carrots, mangos and pineapples, doing this to an ear of corn seemed appealing.

Honey-Buttered Grilled Corn on the Cob
4 ears of corn
1 stick sweet butter (I'd use half a stick, if that)
2 T plus 2 teas. honey
Kosher salt (I'd use sea salt)
Cayenne pepper pwder

Sort-of-shuck the corn by pulling the leaves down to the stem, and use the fronds as a handle.  Blend the honey and butter together and then spread some of it all over the corn.  Season the corn with a tiny pinch of salt and as much cayenne as you like.  Pull the leaves back up, tie a wet string (to avoid setting it on fire) around them to keep them up and toss on to the grill and roast them for 15 minutes, turning them occasionally.  I think you could do this in a 400 degree oven, too.

What follows strikes me as rather over-the-top -- Grill some leeks until they're black.  Let them cool and then grind them up, put the ashes in a bottle of olive oil and let it sit overnight.  Next day, filter the leek ashes out of the oil and use the oil to add a complex note to any meat that you are grilling.  "It can give the food a fantastic fire-roasted flavor."

Gazpacho is a summertime soup and tasty it is.  However if you're tired of serving the same thing all summer long, you might consider this.

1 T canola oil
1/4 cup minced onion (I'd use a Vidalia)
1 cup coarsely shredded raw beets
1 cup coarsely shredded raw carrots
Pepper to taste
2 T sherry vivnegar
1 1/ cups store-bought fresh beet juice -- go to a health food smoothy place?
Garnish: prepared horseradixh, sour cream and dill sprigs

Heat the oil, saute the onions, add the beets and cook until crisp tender - about 3 minutes.  Add the carrots and pepper and cook till crisp tender then add the vinegar and stir until it's evaporated. 

Add the beet juice (I'm laughing - the idea of 'beet juice' is amusing) and then put it all in a bowl and set the bowl in a bigger bowl with ice to chill.  Serve it with the garnishes.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Married To The Job

"A Spoonful of Sugar, A Nanny's Story by Brenda Ashford.  Doubleday   304 pages   $25.95

Ashford is now 92 and living in an assisted living facility.  She has her own small kitchen and likes to bake for visitors and children she worked with who are now adults.  She retired in her '80s!  She was a professional nanny for more than 60 years.  (Those of you who have had children, may well wonder at her state-of-mind all of those years.)

Her book is interesting because it's a living history.  Ashford was a proud scholarship graduate of the Norland College which was famous for producing exemplary nannies.  When she started work, the nanny was totally responsible for the child - from doing their laundry to dressing them; from cooking their meals to feeding them and everything in between.  The parents often saw their child for a half an hour in the evening, before guests came for dinner.  That was the way things were done then.

Ashford is adamant about children being taught good manners.  She is equally adamant that the child learn to eat everything offered on his/her plate.  Ashford believes that to continue giving a child choices merely creates a picky eater.  Even if it's a small portion, more of a taste than anything else, the child must eat it.  To reinforce this discipline, the nanny had to clean up her plate, too! 

She strongly urges readers to interact directly with the child.  Squat so that you're both at eye level.  Think about what a child has said or asked and respond truthfully.  She does admit that the only direct lie you can tell a child is regarding Santa and his existence.  On other matters, she said that babies aren't found under blueberry bushes; they come from mummy's tummy and you must tell them that. 

She urges that children be allowed to be children - to create a train from an empty cardboard box or to build a fort with dining room chairs and a blanket.  Daily fresh air was an absolute must for Ashford.  Rain, snow, hail - an hour a day.

Of all the various ages of a child, Ashford loves the newborns the most.  She is awed by the wonder of it all and at the life stretching before the baby.

She never married or had kids of her own.  Her first boyfriend was a cheat who had another girlfriend on the sly; her second prospect turned away from marriage completely and became a priest!  Admitting that she had bad luck with men, she never sought a courtship after.  She felt that she had been put on earth to tend to babies.

Admirable, of course.  Stalwart even.  But I can't help wondering if she hadn't had this position, she would have been the woman who snatches a baby out of its pram in front of the supermarket. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ay Te Watcho, Cabo

The padded wheelbarrow for sleepy tots or to transport the odd passed-out drunk

The Pacific

The mandatory mariachis, La Golondrina

Medano Beach

Poster of The Office back in the day.  Double - or triple - the number of people for what it looks like today

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ma Moochie, the Hotel Cat

We got to the hotel later rater than earlier and I don't think we saw her that night.  However that was probably the last time we didn't see her!

This is the friendliest cat I've ever been around.  If we were sitting out on the patio, here she came, jumping up into the empty seat and putting out the "Petting Now Accepted" sign.  She especially liked it that we left our room door ajar - that gave her access to the couch in the room for napping.

I went up on the roof deck for some sun one afternoon.  I was deep into my book when, trit trot, here came Ma Moochie!  She'd followed me up there!  She went under my chaise and stretched out in the shade.  
On our couch

In her natural habitat

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Postcards from Cabo - Day 3 - Dinner

We'd chosen La Golindrino for dinner.  It's a sprawling place with an enormous patio out front, another bi,g enclosed room behind that and yet another enormous patio beyond the room.  It overlooks their herb garden - they grow their own. 

After we'd been seated and given our drink orders, we wandered over to an enormous menu, posted along a wall -- and taking up more than half of it, too, I noticed the prices and my eyes bulged from my head in disbelief.  "But... I'll only ever have one 73rd birthday ... in for a penny, in for a pound!" And ordered the 1 1/2 lb. lobster  Richie ordered grilled shrimp scampi and "Raffish" the bacon-wrapped shrimp with a honey bbq sauce.

Orders decided, we settled back in our chairs with our drinks.  Several waiters then appeared, each carrying a stack of grey wool blankets.  What?  The waiters sell souvenir blankets, too?  God knows we were a captive audience. ...

It turned out that these were put on the back of your wrought-iron chair to provide padding to the patrons.  As the evening deepened and the desert air turned chilly, I was glad for the wind protection. 

We soon discovered that the expensive entrees were accompanied by a salad and a bowl of restaurant-made soup.  The "salad" was a mini-bean tostado, covered in chopped, crisp lettuce and tomato.  The salad dressing?  Salsa, of course!  

The soup was cream of tomato with a squiggle of tomatillo sauce, a clever play on tomato/tomatillo.  Both items were very good as well as innovative without being in-your-face-cool.  

Richie's flan; my poaching.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Postcards from Cabo - Day 3

After coffee in the patio and breakfast at Crazy Lobster, we drove over to San Jose Del Cabo to see the church and to have lunch at Damianos, a lovely old place with a beautiful patio/garden for dining.  We duly did the church and then headed for Damianos.  But it was gone!  We were directed instead to Jasmine's directly behind the church.  Stifling bitter sobs, I trailed along behind the guys.

The church which dates back to 1720.

Tortilla Soup

Gucamole fish!  How clever is that?

The food was very good.  The "patio" restaurant is located on the roof with the world's biggest bed sheet stretched over it to deflect the heat and soften the light.  It's a big, sunny room with blown-up photos of Olden Days on the walls.

Back to the hotel where the gentlemen excused themselves in favor of siestas.  I sat out at the patio table, writing postcards. 

When we'd all regrouped we drove over to the Hotel Finnisterre because from the guest parking lot, you can look over the wall hiding the dolphin pool from public gaze and see them.  For free!  To get inside the wall, you have to pay serious money.  We planned to go up to the Whaler's Bar which overlooks the Pacific to toast my birthday.

Alas!  they are rebuilding half of the hotel; guest parking was the construction site and the Whaler Bar had been closed in favor of a spa of all things!  They had a real moneymaker in that bar on the 8th floor.  As Richie said, "They could have put the spa anywhere!  In the parking lot!"  We had to settle for the bar/restaurant on the 7th floor. 

Finnesterre and the Pacific

To Be Continued with dinner at La Golondrina