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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Restaurans

The other day a friend and I were trying to decide on a restaurant for lunch for another friend. As we went through the list I was surprised and disappointed to learn that my favorite restaurant has closed.

They served very good German food which is something that is very hard to find. All the other restaurants that had closed were Italian. That's not too surprising because there are way too many Italian restaurants in the area. At one intersection, there are three Italian restaurants.

Most of my friends don't understand why I'd rather cook than go out to eat at some of the places here. I know I've been spoiled because when I was working we would go to the top NYC restaurants during Restaurant Week when we could get a great bargain even though I don't mind paying for a really good meal. We don't have many good restaurants down here so some of them will be missed.

I guess the next time I want good German food and don't want to make it myself, I'll have to drive back to Queens, Ridgewood to be exact. There's one place left, at least I think it's still there. Hmm, good excuse for a road trip.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Friends

Through the course of our lives, we have many different types of friendships. There are the friends from kindergarten or the early grades of school, then there are the friends from high school or college. Then there are the friends from our various jobs. Some of them are lifetime friends, and others are there for a short time.

I've been very fortunate. On most of my jobs I had good friends, most of them are still my friends. On one job I had a good friend. We seemed to have a lot in common. She was there for me in the good times and also, and the most important, for the bad times. I like to think that I was there for her too.

About five years ago, she stopped returning my e-mails and phone calls. Thinking that I may have inadvertently offended her, I apologized. Still no replies. I guess you could say I'm very possessive. When I have a good friend, I hate to let go even when it seems evident that my friendship was one sided. I finally decided to write this friend off as a friend from work that you keep in touch with for a little while, but then you go your separate ways. That was the case with this friend.

Imagine my surprise and joy when I opened my email last week and saw an email from her. She has made the decision to retire. We caught up on family matters. Hopefully, we can continue renewing our friendship.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Men Have it so Easy

Today when I was getting into the shower I realized that I envy men. Maybe not all men, but men of my generation.

Whenever we were going out, my husband would shower about 15 minutes before we were supposed to leave. Then, he would just reach into his closet and pick a shirt and pair of slacks.

When I plan on going out now, I need at least three hours to get ready. First, I have to shower, wash my hair, condition my hair, wash my face with special cleanser. Then comes the moisturizer, first for my body, then for my face. Then it's time to style my hair and do my make-up and make sure my manicure is still good.

Then, I have to pick an outfit. Jewelry is next - do I wear silver or gold. Which necklace, bracelet, or should I just wear earrings. Then there's the decision about shoes - heels, flats, black or matching my outfit?

By the time I'm thoroughly put together I'm tired and thinking about cancelling. Having fun is so much work.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Free Speech?

Today I wished that I were a contributor to NPR.

Don't get me wrong, I don't support the organization, but if I had been a contributor, I would have cancelled future contributions or asked for my money back.

Their firing of Juan Williams for expressing his personal opinion on Bill O'Reilly's show on the Fox Network was wrong, wrong, wrong. Had he expressed a similar opinion about the Tea Party, I'm sure he would still have a job.

I've seen Juan Williams many times on the Fox Network, some of those times I've strongly disagreed with him, but I never would expect Fox to stop having him on any show.

Last year, there was a discussion about something on O'Reilly's show and the other guest said something to Juan Williams that is a racial slur. Mr. Williams said nothing, he didn't yell or scream. Bill O'Reilly commented and said how wrong it was.

Then, to add insult to injury, the head of NPR inferred that Mr. Williams had a psychiatrist. I've heard that she has apologized, however, that remark was totally uncalled for and cannot be taken back.

The powers that be at NPR should look at some of their other commentators. I just heard one seemingly wish or, or suggest, that Jesse Helms or one of his grandchildren get AIDS from a transfusion. Why is that OK?

As far as Mr. Williams' opinion that he gets a little nervous if he sees Muslims in full Muslim attire at an airport, don't we all? I also seem to remember someone commenting that his grandmother gets nervous and even crosses the street when she sees a black man coming in the opposite direction. That person wasn't fired, in fact he was elected president.

Juan Williams is my hero for speaking out about his feelings and for being so vocal about his firing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fussy Eaters

I think I'll give you a respite from my vacation pictures and stories.

Today I realized that I was running low on my supply of dry cat food. Feeling that a rebellion was imminent, I decided that I'd better buy more. So I drove to the local PETCO, grabbed a shopping cart and started wandering through the aisles.

Everywhere I looked my thoughts went to, "They don't like this, they don't like that, etc." They are such picky eaters. I wonder how they got that way. Could I have possibly spoiled them?

Then, I was reminded of one of my mother-in-law's favorite sayings (probably because she was not a good cook), "Hunger is a good sauce". Maybe, if I cut back on Crash and Burn's treats, they won't be so fussy and will then appreciate whatever I give them.

Let's see who gives in first - them or me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

HEIDELBERG

At last, we arrived at the destination I most wanted to visit - Heidelberg. It was everything I expected, except there was no Student Prince and we didn't "Drink, Drink, Drink"

I did finally see a castle up close, even though it was in ruins, the result of the various wars over the centuries. During the 30 years war, many battles were fought in the area, but in 1689 and 1693, the French attacked the town and left the castle in ruins.

The view from the castle was fantastic.
Although the castle is in ruins, it is still very impressive.


There is a huge vat which was designed to hold over 58,000 gallons of wine. Unfortunately, the wood slats didn't always fit together and it leaked. It was very impressive though.

The original university was founded in 1386 although the current buildings date back to the early 19th century when it was re-founded and rebuilt. While students come from all over the world, all classes are conducted in German.

After our tour, we decided that, while the food on the boat was wonderful, we really wanted some authentic German food, so our guide suggested the Hotel Ritter.

This hotel was built in 1592 and is listed as a landmark building. The restaurant was very comfortable and very German. The food lived up to our guide's recommendation. We were not disappointed.

I really enjoyed Heidelberg castle and looked forward to seeing more on the rest of the trip. I don't understand my fascination with castles. I must have been a princess in a past life and there are people who believe that I think I am now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Black Forest

Before we left Strasbourg, we took a side trip to the Black Forest in Germany. It's a beautiful area, the forest is very dense. Of course, we made a stop at a shop for the obligatory Black Forest souvenir - a cuckoo clock. There were some very intricate and beautiful ones. Of course, I succumbed and bought one. It's not as elaborate as I would have liked, but I couldn't see paying a lot of money on something that I may soon tire of.



While at the cuckoo clock shop, I had a piece of Black Forest Cherry Cake. It was soooo good. They gave us a copy of the recipe, I can't wait for a reason to bake it.

After our shopping and cake, we made a visit to a farm museum. There were several houses. We had a presentation at the oldest house. Honestly, I don't know how those people survived. They probably only lived to their mid 30's. There was no chimney so the smoke from the fire went throughout the house. This helped preserve the wood and retained the heat, but it didn't do much for the health of the residents. They also probably believed that the lack of a chimney would prevent fires. We could still smell the smoke in the house. The barn was also part of the home which didn't do much for the health of the occupants.

There were several disagreements between the Catholics and Protestants at the time. This is not a church. It is a Catholic house. I guess the people really wanted to show everyone what their faith was. The second house belonged to a Protestant family.


It was a wonderful day that was capped off with another wonderful meal. I had French Onion Soup (what else), Roasted Duck a la Orange followed by Mint Creme with Raspberries. Of course, there was unlimited wine, every time I took two sips, the waiter refilled my glass.

That night we set sail for Heidelberg, which for some reason, I was very excited to see.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Basle to Strasbourg

Our cruise got better each day. The first night in Basle we met the crew and then had our Welcome Dinner.

It started with "Amuse Bouche" which I thought meant appetizer. Little did I know it meant more than appetizer. We started with a green leaf salad with walnuts and cheese followed by beef consomme or smoked salmon. Then came pan fried scampis with champagne risotto and orange sorbet with campari.

That would have been enough, but the entree was next - roasted veal loin with mushroom sauce or fillet of halibut on mustard sauce. Of course there was room for dessert of yogurt berries, rhubarb ragout with ice cream or cheese plate or fresh sliced fruits.

I must have been very tired that night because even though I know the food was terrific, I don't remember what I ate, probably the roasted veal loin and the rhubarb ragout with ice cream.

The next day we were in Strasbourg and I awoke to the news of terror threats in Europe. Strasbourg is the home of the World Peace Oranization and many UNESCO sites. I couldn't wait to get out of the city.

Before we left, we took a boat ride around the city. Even though I'd been there two years ago, I saw different parts of the city. After the boat, we walked around and, of course, visited the Cathedral and the astronomical clock. I am still in awe of the architecture of this church and the clock which were built centuries ago.



This was a memorial I hadn't seen before. It's not a good shot, but there is a face on each side. One is facing east and the other west symbolizing the fact that Strasbourg and Alsace Lorraine have been both French and German.
Later on I saw a small market and this dog. He looked so worried that I simply had to take his picture. He just calmly stood there and ignored the passing people.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Intermission

I'm taking time away from tales of my vacation to celebrate the rescue of the Chilean miners. I've spent the whole day watching and crying with the family members. What a wonderful story of survival and engineering.

Each man had his own story. One of the miners watched the birth of his child while trapped in the mine. Another proposed to his common law wife while another revealed to his wife and the world that he had a mistress.

The last man to leave was the one who organized his fellow miners. He rationed the food, the lights and seemed to be responsible for the wellbeing of the group.

Congratulations to all who worked so hard to make this possible. It just shows how much can be accomplished when the leader of a country is not too proud to ask for and accept help from other countries.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm Back

I'm back from my geographical exploration. Hope Crash and Burn kept you amused.

Now, for my trip. It started out terribly. Our flight was actually on time and went smoothly. The problem started in Zurich. We were going to be met by a representative of the tour company. After waiting around for a little while, we checked with the information desk where we learned that the rep from the tour company left word that we should take the hotel's bus.

When we got to the hotel and the room set up for us to wait for the bus to Basle there were more disappointments. We arrived at the hotel around 10:00 AM and would leave for Basle around 3:30 PM. We could wait in a room that had been reserved and set up for us. There was coffee, tea and water and no snacks, not even a cookie. There was a tour of Zurich, but unfortunately, it was filled. There weren't even any comfortable chairs, just the usual folding chairs.

After flying all night and being up since 5:30 AM the previous day, we weren't in a good mood. This did not auger well for a pleasant trip.

Eventually, the time came for us to leave for Basle and our ship/boat. Things got much better once we were on our ship.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Has Burnie been entertaining you? I hope he hasn't been complaining too much.

Dali's mom came today with good news. Mom will be home tomorrow. I can hardly wait. I missed her so much, I think I'll punish her though. When she comes in the door, I'll just ignore her and pretend to be asleep. That'll teach her to go away and abandon us.

I do have to admit thought that she did pick a very good cat sitter, although we really don't need anyone to sit with us. Except for opening the cat food cans, we can take care of ourselves.

Don't tell mom, but I'll be really glad to see her. Maybe she's bringing us presents from her trip. That's the least she can do.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I think mom has been away too long and I hope she comes home very soon. Crash is not being very nice to me. She doesn't want to play with me any more. It's just not fair.

The other day she was sitting on the coffee table and I wanted to play. Instead of just saying she didn't want to play, she just started swinging at me with her claws out.

Crash doesn't know it, but I've been keeping notes and I'm certainly going to tell mom that Crash hasn't been very nice. Then she'll be in trouble.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Burnie

Burnie here again. Mom is still away. I hope she comes home soon. I miss her, I have no one to wake up very early in the morning.

Dali's mom is still coming over to feed us, I'm so glad.

I just heard on the radio that there is a new coloring book for kids that covers the symbols of our country and explains some things about the Tea Party. There are some very dumb people in this country who have been sending death threats to the head of the publishing company that made this book. I'm sure this company would put out a coloring book that gives the other side especially since I've heard that the head of this company is a liberal.

What's wrong with letting little children color our flag, the Liberty Bell, or maybe even the Statue of Liberty.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Burnie

Burnie here. Crash finally let me use the computer. This is a new one. I like it better than the old one. That one was just black, not this fancy new color.

Anyway, since mom went off on her vacation, Dali's mom has been coming to make sure Crash and I have enough food. But, she came alone. She left Dali home. I was hoping she'd bring her so I could play with her. Maybe someday she'll take me home with her, then I can play with Dali.

I'm late for my 5:20 nap, so I'll probably see you tomorrow if Crash lets me type.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mom's Mutterings by Crash

Crash here. Dali's mom came over today and fed Burnie and me. She's very good to us and Burnie really likes her. I like her too, but I can't let her know.

Before mom left for vacation, she was muttering some things about the inmates running the institution.

It seems that some Mexican mayors are blaming us, the U.S., for the crime in Mexico. Their logic(?) is that we are deporting the illegals who have been arrested for violent crimes and sending them back to whence they came. These mayors admit that these people are violent criminals, but since they are in our country, we should keep them and not return them to their home country. Maybe these mayors are encouraging and helping these criminals to sneak into our country. Someone should look into that.

Then she was babbling about John Kerry's recent statement that the voting public are uninformed and jump onto a clever catch phrase. Although she disagrees with Sen. Kerry on most things, she does agree with him on this. After all, in 2008 didn't the voters jump onto the catch phrases, "Yes, we can" and "Hope and Change"?

Well, that's enough for now. Maybe, if he's good I'll let Burnie chat with you tomorrow.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Alone Again

Crash here. I've been abandoned, again. This morning, mom went off on another of her geographical explorations which is what she calls a vacation. She said that a retired person is always on vacation, so how can you take a vacation from a vacation?

Anyway, I've done everything I can to keep her home. As you can see, I even took a nap in her suitcase, but it didn't help, she went anyway.

She's gone to Germany to ride a boat. She could have stayed home and done that, I don't know why she had to go so far away.

I hope to entertain you while she's away and I promise not to give away too many family secrets. I'm sure Burnie will want a turn talking to you too.

See you tomorrow.