this picture is composed of fotos of all those who have given their lives in iraq.  Posted by Hello

please get out there and brush...er, i mean VOTE! Posted by Hello

holding our collective breath

it seems that as a nation we are all on the edge of our seats as we wait to see the outcome of next tuesday's vote. my prediction is that this will be thrown to the courts in much the same way as 2000. i just don't see how it might all end. it's clear that neither of the candidates can back down. bush will never step aside, having learned the last time around that if he whines long and loud enough, he gets the white house. kerry won't let it go, because if he does, the democrats will be seen as wimps. when gore conceded, it was considered gentlemanly. kerry conceding any sort of legal challenge will only be seen as weakness and could spell bad news in the long term for the dems. in any case, i see many many protests in the streets and much unrest and national pre-occupation as this drags on. as the chinese curse goes, "may you live in interesting times."

of course, there is still the threat of some sort of october surprise. the 380 missing tons of explosives....when will they show up? and what about osama?



no mention of the election here

another week gone by…it’s hard to believe. the trees are now past their peak of color, the nights are consistently chilly and i can see the holidays coming at me like a runaway freight train. next thing you know it will be the first of the year and we can start this whole thing all over again!

this past week was fun, in part because my parents were in town. they came to check on the progress of their house renovations. they seem thrilled with the way things are going along. the contractor is really on top of things. he keeps the work moving right along. my mother said she feels like all the design decisions have been made at this point and that it’s up to the electricians, plumbers, tilers, painters, carpenters, floor finishers, etc., to do their stuff and “make the magic happen.” they have another three weeks before the movers are scheduled to put the furniture in the house. i have some small trepidation about the degree of completion the house will be in when it comes down to that, but they could not face endless postponement of the moving day. they’ve chosen a date and now the clock is ticking. we are supposed to have thanksgiving in their house…we’ll see how that goes.

while they were here, we ate out a couple of times, as well as doing some cooking. my sister had been in boston the weekend before and she brought back some yummy clam chowder from legal seafoods there. we had that with sandwiches and a big salad and it made me look forward to my upcoming trip. we had lunch at sokolowski’s university inn, which is located directly underneath interstate 90 downtown. it’s basically a cafeteria with cheap polish food. this is the kind of cooking i remember from the east village in new york. i had a salisbury steak the size of a grapefruit. it came with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and a pint of onion mushroom gravy over the whole thing. YUM! i will definitely be going back there in the near future…good winter food.

i cooked for my honey this week, too. we had sausage lasagna and hot fudge pudding cake and boy was it good. he loves that dessert from the buffet, so i had promised him to make it at home. i also made an apple crisp for my sister’s house with the last of the apples from our trip out to lorain county.

my friends from chicago will not be coming this weekend. our schedules just were NOT meshing, so we decided to postpone their visit until i have a bit more flexibility/control over my hours. i still have a bowling party for work that is our staff one-year anniversary celebration. i look forward to it, even though i can’t bowl at all. it should be fun to hang out with these people for a few hours. tony and i will be going out on wednesday night to celebrate OUR anniversary. we’ve agreed on a newish spot across from his house, which is the re-incarnation of the place we had our valentine’s dinner. and then there is my trip to boston the week after that. i will be staying an extra 24 hours so that my friend from nyc can come up for the day. we are planning on going to the museum and having lunch at the fed. i’m sure there will be some sight-seeing in there, as well as some shopping. and maybe even a cocktail!


busy busy busy

I know, I know, I haven’t posted in awhile. What can I say? I’ve been busy and there’s lots to tell. (Sarah—is that better?) I’ll do like Maria von Trapp and start at the very beginning. One afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I picked tony up after work and we drove out to Lorain County to Spiegelberg Orchards. Now this is not a fancy, new-fangled orchard like Patterson’s, where I had gone in September. There are no tours, there’s no giftshop or bakery and there's no fancy signage. Just a hard-working German family selling their produce out of a converted barn. The backyard of their house was full of pumpkins in three piles: small, medium and large. Up at the barn, there were big bins of apples sitting out: red delicious, golden delicious, jonagolds, macs, empires and granny smiths. There was also a table with ENORMOUS cauliflowers, as well as squashes: buttercup, butternut and acorn, plus some pie pumpkins. Inside, there were a few tables set up with bags of apples, plus concord grapes, grape juice and cider, honey and apple butter, jam and pickles, some Indian corn and a few bags of bosc pears. It was for these last that we had made the trek. They were beautiful pears, with green and gold russeting. I picked one sack out, along with a half-peck of apples and some squash. It was a quintessentially autumnal experience—one that I had missed for most of the years I lived in the city. Our drive back gave us a chance to view the fall foliage in some gorgeous, golden, sunset light. Plus, we got to stop at the Hometown Buffet, which always makes tony happy. What a wonderful afternoon!

The following weekend a co-worker had a birthday party at her home, which is just 5 minutes drive from here. Normally, when I have an 8 or 9 hour turnaround between shifts at work, I don’t agree to such events. Given the proximity, though, I decided to make an exception. It was a great party. It was just on the edge of chilly, so we were able to sit in her backyard, next to her outdoor fireplace thingy (I know there’s a name for this…?). The food was yummy (chicken satay, veggie samosas, black bean salad, mojitos) and I have to say that I really like the people I work with, who comprised the bulk of the guests. They are people I would choose to be friends with even if we didn’t work together. I stayed less than an hour, but it was a lot of fun and I’m really glad I made the effort.

The next night was dinner with the Canadians and the Floridas. It was the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving. Every year this group of guys descends on the home of our friends M & D, who live over near tony. Six of them drive down from Toronto and two of them fly up from Tampa. On alternate years, the weekend is held in Toronto. They do the whole turkey dinner production on Saturday night, which I missed because I was at my other party. Then on Sunday they go out to dinner. This year we ate at Castaldi’s in Tower City. There were 14 of us all told and we had a great time. Our waiter was a big queen and he had loads of fun with us. The food was only okay, but that was not the focus of the evening so it was not a big deal. It was just good to be out with such a nice group. Afterwards, we went back to the house for chocolate cake, as it was the birthday of one of the Canadians. We got to sing and have dessert and then everyone settled in for an evening of cards and cocktails. These two activities are the thread that holds these weekends together (aside from the eating, of course). Tony and I slipped out quietly, as I had to work early the next morning. Most of these folks were off because of the Columbus Day holiday.

My niece was in visiting from college at the same time all this was going on. I got to see her on Monday evening, when my sister made dinner for us all. She seems very mature and grown up now, even though she’d only been gone about 6 weeks. I think you undergo a major transformation in those first few weeks and months of being away from home that is unparalleled at any point in your life. You see what it is possible to do and think and feel and accomplish; things you might never have seen otherwise. Plus, you can stay out as late as you want! She’s a beautiful young woman and she is going to succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.

My kitchen has been a busy place, too. I made some incredible beef goulash from a Tyler Florence recipe I saw on the tv (thank god for the food network); some baked beans from the aunt of scott at sardonic bomb; vegetable soup with my homemade chicken stock and some tiny little acini de pepe; a roast chicken, marinated with soy and hoisin and ginger; blueberry scones and individual ginger walnut coffeecakes; an apple lattice pie and an unusual chocolate cake from julia’s second volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is technically not a cake, but rather a dessert. It involves egg whites and egg yolks, each beaten separately with sugar; then folded together with a combination of chocolate melted with milk and grated stale cake crumbs. It’s a great way to use up old cake (I had a bunch of trimmings from a cake I made weeks ago) and no one is ever the wiser. I have made it many times over the years and it is always a hit.

The other thing I have produced is canned pears. I put up seven pints of the boscs I bought last week. I made a syrup with some honey I had gotten down in amish country this past spring, as well as a few cloves in each jar. They are a beautiful color in the jar and they should taste great in the dead of winter. As a bonus, I have a favorite pear cake recipe that starts with canned pears. It has always seemed a shame to me to use del monte canned fruit for such a great cake, so now I can make it with my own product. I think the honey and cloves will lend just the right aroma to it.

Whew! Is that enough activity for two weeks? The next few weeks also promise to be chock-a-block. In addition to my anniversary with tony, I have to go to boston for a couple of days at the beginning of next month for some work training. I have never been there, so I look forward to seeing the city, as well as getting the training. They fly us in and put us up in a hotel and pay for our meals…the whole nine yards. I have never worked for any sort of operation that was this organized before, so it’s actually exciting to me, rather than something to dread. There are also two other work-related events that I have to attend in the coming weeks. That and the arrival of my friends L & P from Chicago next weekend are going to make for a very busy time from here forward. I am trying to get all my laundry caught up and house cleaned, etc., during these mornings off here, so I can be prepared. BUSY, BUSY, BUSY!



skidding in sideways

As far as my feelings for growing old gracefully, this seems to be spot-on…

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO—what a ride!"

It comes to me via Gatsby’s Ghost, and it came to him as a quote posted over someone’s desk at work. While it is a well-known fact that I am highly allergic to ANY type of exercise, this seems to relate more to plastic surgery, botox and the like. I understand that while one day I will NEED to do some sort of aerobic work, I have no intention of succumbing to the lure of false self-preservation.

Last Sunday, I was taken to dinner (the last of my birthday celebrations) by some friends of Tony’s and mine to a nearby Japanese restaurant, Matsu. I had some delicious little skewers of beef, pork and chicken, followed by a lovely, perfectly cooked piece of salmon. The service was excellent and the room, beautiful. We had a great time blabbing and then came back here for ice cream and tea afterwards. My friends were quite sweet, giving me a gift certificate for the movies as a gift…hooray! Tony and I don’t seem to go to the cinema enough, so this is a good excuse.

Dinner at my sister’s last week was a fall meal that I put together here and carried out to Chagrin. (the caterer in me lives on!) I boned and pounded out some chicken breasts, which I then stuffed with sautéed spinach and white stilton with apricots. I deglazed the pan with a little white wine and also served my peach cherry chutney alongside. There was roasted/pureed hubbard and buttercup squash to go with, as well as a salad of baby greens with candied pecans, dried cranberries and blue cheese. For dessert, I made an apple crumble pie with the end of the apples from our trip to the orchard last month. It was a busy day in the kitchen…and well worth it! I even put on a batch of chicken stock with the leftover bones, so now I can make soup next week.

Back to last week, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was pretty lame. There were a couple of good moments, but I left the theater scratching my head, wondering about the lack of plot. It was gorgeous to look at, with all the computer generated backgrounds. I liked the feel and texture of the images. But the character development was not really there, etc. unfortunately, it’s definitely a big screen experience. So rather than recommend that you wait for the dvd, I would say to look for the bargain matinee.

I had my first reiki treatment this past week, as well. It was relaxing and gave me a sense of peace and well-being that continues, days afterwards. It is something I want to pursue. Ostensibly, I went to this first one as a way to begin healing my knee, which has been bothering me a bit at work. The jury is still out on the longterm effects on that problem. The aura of calm that the session brought to me is the part that was most appealing…the part that I want to experience again.

Now that both of our birthdays are finished, Tony and I are starting to think about how to celebrate our anniversary. It’s hard to believe that we will have known each other a year on the 30th of this month. In some ways, it feels like I have known him for YEARS…and in others, the feeling is new every day…like we are falling in love all over again. Whatever we do to mark the day, I can be certain of one thing: this is the man I was meant to spend the rest of my life next to. If nothing else, we will probably have coffee at Truffles, since that was the point of our first meeting. Hopefully, the same table will be free and I can find him sitting in the same spot. It is a wonderful memory that I would like to relive.

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