Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 You Say?

At the moment I'm in the country. At a spot that I've had the privilege to enjoy for a little over three or four years. My mother died in a bit of a lull in what is usually the most busy time of my professional year. I think I took perhaps a total of five full days off before I got back to work, but I took many more days off in terms of location. It was almost impossible to fathom returning to an office environment with that grief, and so at least the first week of my returning to work in spirit, if not physicality, also took place in this location.  It is special to me. And who I get to be here is pretty much an unfettered version of myself at my best and worst. If you are a long-time blog reader, you'll know of this spot. I allude to it often enough, taking photographs of the mini-woods walks, field reading sessions, and culinary adventures I take. In any case it has become a very important place to me. Place.  Somehow it needed to be in bold. Earlier today I was internet-chatting with L. and at some point I typed (I would like to say uttered, but it's not technically true) the following:
"on top of ollllld smokey
alll covered with wine
I shot my dear turkey
with a wink and a shine
he squawked like a bansheeee
too surprised to fight
that's when i knew forrr sure
that it was a good night"

Actually, that's not the real quote I wanted to use. But I did also type this set of lyrics, which I was making up as I went along. And I was quite amused by them so thought I'd add them into the mix.

No, the relevant quote (of myself) was:
"god. i sometimes wish i wasn't so satisfied with my own company"

L. and I both reacted to this thought with laughter. Because what the hell does this even mean?...Except we both knew exactly what it meant.

The paradox or weird dichotomy of my life is that I actually love hanging out with other people...but I hate meeting other people and while I can be charming to strangers, I take a fair amount of time to actually decide whether I find them charming. And so I often feel like I don't have enough friends. Or not the right ones in the right place. And so I often feel, not alone, but lonely. Or maybe switch that around? Yes. Switch it around. I don't feel lonely because I have connections to people near and far, and I know others think of me in the same way that I think of them. And yet in my daily life, I have a pretty small pool of folks (grateful for the pool I have, don't misunderstand) whose company I get to rely on or enjoy. So  having a great idea for an evening out, but knowing barely anyone to ask to participate, let alone would be interested, in that great idea makes one feel a little iffy in the social life department.

This, on New Years Eve, is not a missive of what is wrong with my life or that I am some sad depressed person. But it is a recognition of the struggle I've had since leaving my mid-20s to find a true group. Or maybe that's actually a struggle I've always had, and I'm just not really the "group" kind. It means missing out on interesting things because I'm not brave enough to go to them alone. Or I am brave enough, but I hate being the girl alone, listening to other people's conversations, knowing that I could add something to them...but then I would be the weird girl by herself trying to push herself into some other group or conversation. And so I stay silent. Or, more accurately, so I often just don't go at all. It should be said that those I do know and love often tell me I think too much/overthink such things entirely. I see their points...and yet.....

Tonight, however, I'm having a fine evening. I am drinking champagne. I am by a roaring fire of my own creation and tending. Going outside is a bit cold, but the stars are peeking out from the clouds and the overall view and sound is right up my alley. The occasional nocturnal bird. The whoosh of a car driving half a mile away. The rustling of undetermined animals...I assume skunks, raccoons and possums. If a new year in the traditional sense is a time for reflection and resolution, I am at the very least reflecting. I actually made a number of resolutions about a month ago.

I am reflecting not only on this evening. But of New Years Eve pasts. Honestly it was never that big a holiday for me. Ha, most aren't. I do not believe that my NYE dictates the tone of my year. Nor do I think that the calendar year switch from December to January is the best gauge for progression in my life. Frankly I think June first is a better New Year, but that may just be my love of summer.

I don't really remember my early years of ushering in the New Year. Perhaps a glimpse of a family or neighborhood memory could be unearthed if I tried hard enough, but the fact that they don't readily come to the surface suggests they did not create any kind of precedent. I do, however, very much remember the change from 1999 to 2000, and the lovely time I had with a diverse bunch of high school friends in the mountains of North Carolina deserves its own recollection. The point here is just that I remember it, and I remember it clearly - or at least numerous events from that time clearly. I'm sure there are things I don't remember at all, but on the whole my memory is usually pretty solid. I will say this: that was officially the year that I ended any last bastions of vegetarianism I was flirting with, as Mr. Ass was also there and he was cooking what looked like very special steaks. First bite of steak I had had in probably four+ years.

Next up in terms of New Years remembrances would probably come from my years with my ex. Then I would meet up with him at his family's spread in Georgia. Maybe it was only two years. Perhaps three? In any case, there wasn't a lot of spectacle, but I feel like (and maybe I'm wrong) the tradition I thought we were creating was one of drinking a bit of champagne and then lighting firecrackers/works off with the younger of his cousins (ugh, in thinking about this I just realized they're probably teenagers now). And that, a night of country, fireworks and champagne, was pretty much all I wanted then. Honestly, that's kind of still what I want. I don't get the urban NYE thing. Packed into a bar with overworked bartenders. Hoping to meet strangers? It's just not really my thing. I sometimes wish it was, but no. I would prefer a holiday in a rural environment with folks I already know over a bubbling and bustling metropolis full of strangers I will never know any day. The potential of meeting people under those circumstances is, for me, not enough of a draw to make up for what usually comes to be. And so here I am, slowly marking the hours til 2014 alone. And I don't regret it!

Now this may be in part because big changes are, in fact, in the works for me. I will be leaving Philadelphia in about a month and embarking on what can only be considered a very risky new venture. I haven't written about this on the blog in detail, and I'm not sure I'm going to do so now. But the point is that I don't need this night to be a big deal. The big deal is imminent.

Well I don't know what my point was, other than rationalizing my decision to spend my NYE in the country by myself. And to put it on record that big things that are a'foot in my life. 2013 has generally been a solid year. The dart team did well...until it didn't. I've gone on some fun adventures. I've certainly eaten some good meals. But right now most of my brain space is looking onward, not with any true sense of knowing how it's all going to go...but knowing that I'm finally shaking things up and trying a new path.

I honestly can't wish anything more on anyone else than might come across this rambling thought missive. The last day of December and the first day of January as a revelatory moment in my life, or the life of any one else, is too arbitrary. Those deciding and lifechanging moments come when they come, and often are predicated on reasoning and thoughts and wants that surpass a 12-month calendar.

That said. I do hope that 2014 will be a very different year for me. And I hope that it is the same for those looking for such change. But for those who are quite content? I hope you have 2013 all over again!

Scenes From a Country Weekend

I worked from the country for the Thursday and Friday, which went off without a hitch. At some point Yma decided that this remote contral was the perfect pillow. I questioned her on this, but she was really committed.
This was a breakfast I had one of the days - two fried eggs and turkey bacon on a toasted English Muffin with a smear of cream cheese. Because if it's one thing I know how to do, it's clog my arteries.
I think I've watched these dogs/spent time in this house going on three or four years, and each time I sueually end up making some kind of 'welcome back' dish for the family. In years past it was some variation of a chicken noodle soup - though I think perhaps one year it was a lentil/artichoke soup of some kind. This time around I had my own hankering and figured I could combine my own gourmet want with the need to also leave them something to enjoy. The result was two batches of curry, one with chicken and shrimp and decidedly not vegetarian, and the other very much the opposite. Pictured is the meat version, which I think turned out quite well. Had a little spice to it through quite a number of chopped peppers and a little extra help from a curry paste. Other ingredients included fish sauce, okra, snap peas, portobello mushrooms, basic, lemongrass, ginger, garlic. Quite satisfying on what turned out to be some relatively cold and snowy days.
I had grand plans of taking a really good photo of my tattoo with my tripod in a pretty lighting set up. And I sure did take a lot of photos, but pretty much failed on the 'good photo' part of my quest. I'll need eventually to just have someone else do it for me. Help stop the guesswork.
It did eventually snow (this was the day that Gronkowski and Reggie Bush messed up my FF plans). Not only were my FF plans torn asunder, so too were the traveling plans of Mr. Ass and his parents. Their flight was eventually canceled and so I ended up spending an extra day and evening with the dogs, which was quite a bit more relaxing, I would imagine, than being stuck in Florida when all you want to do is get home. In any case I was on the look out for interesting birds by the bird feeder, but didn't see anything so totally interesting.
These six deer were only one small part of a much larger herd that ran by at one point. I think I counted close to, if not more than, 20.

Bucks County Roasted Chicken Dinner

As in years past, I had the opportunity to watch over Mr. Ass's parents' dogs a few weeks back while the collective family traveled south to celebrate the 90+ birthday of their matriarch. I drove up the evening before so I would be properly ensconced to start taking care of the two Jack Russells' breakfast and morning medications, and that meant I got to enjoy the company of the Mr. Ass clan, as well as his lady friend P. Mr. Ass' mother made a lovely roasted chicken dish with prunes and olives, which went quite well with a helping of cous cous and salad.

A lovely dinner with good company. Glad always to catch up, especially in such a wonderful kitchen. I really covet that kitchen.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baltimore Brunch c/o Mt. Vernon Stable and Saloon

On my way back to Philly I dropped my dad off at the Baltimore airport and then went into the city to meet up with NC C., as she has recently relocated, which potentially should make her MD C...but we'll C about that. In any case, we walked to the nearby Mt Vernon Stable and Saloon for a lunch/brunch kind of meal. I asked for a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary and found it to be quite delicious - overlong celery stalk and all.
They also had a crab soup of the day, which I was determined to try. I generally enjoyed it but perhaps wished it had been a little lumpier in the crab department.
The crab theme continued with my main meal, which was basically eggs Benedict but with crabcakes instead of ham. Pretty good stuff.
And then it was back on the road. Traffic got kind of stupid on 95 north of Baltimore and what shouldn't have taken much longer than 1.5 hours ended up being more like 3, but that's just what happens when traveling on a Sunday after a major holiday in the U.S. I feel quite sorry for anyone who really needed to go into any of the rest stop facilities, because just stopping for gas was a madhouse feat with lines that literally took 20 minutes to inch forward to actual pumps. Madness I tell you, madness!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Game Times on Capitol Hill

After our dinner we made our way to Capitol Hill for a visit with J. and her family. Throughout my childhood my parents and I would most often be found spending our Thanksgiving at J.'s house. When my parents moved away from the area that tradition went away as well, but I have many a fond memory of those evenings. When we arrived S., J.'s daughter showed me this chalkboard that she had recently unearthed in a spare bedroom. These are both cats that I drew on such Thanksgiving evenings. The one on the left was done when I was six and the one to the right was done at seven, which the numbers attest to. I drew another cat below them but totally forgot to document it. Let it be known that it was marginally better than the drawings I did as a child. But only marginally. 
J.'s son J. and his son M. One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving was playing dictionary after dinner. I told this to M. and his brother S. and they were interested in learning how to play, so we all gathered around a table and got down to the doing of dictionary, which is a very fun game if you like making up definitions for words and trying to trick others into thinking that yours is the true meaning.

It was quite fun to catch up with these folks and certainly entertaining!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Birthday Dinner c/o Le Diplomate

When we established that we were going to spend the holidays in the Maryland/D.C. area there was the matter of a birthday dinner. Dad and I talked a bit about it at K. and A.'s wedding and then I began my research stage to consider the options. At first I was limiting myself only to the Silver Spring/Wheaton/Rockville area, but the conversation with Dad made me broaden it somewhat. I considered this Top Chef guy's place, but honestly the reviews were a bit mixed on Yelp. And I don't take Yelp very seriously, but if the overall message is 'some of the food was really good, but it was kind of weird and service wasn't awesome,' you still need to ask yourself if it's worth the hassle. I did think that a French meal of some kind would please me and also be in Dad's comfort zone, so I began honing in on French restaurants in the D.C/MD/VA vicinity. In the end, and not without at least a little Facebook input, I suggested we try a reservation at Le Diplomate. This is a relatively new restaurant in D.C. and is actually part of the Stephen Starr umbrella. Stephen Starr has a definite stake and reputation in the Philly area as one of the 'big-time' restauranteurs. I have not been to all his establishments, but I have been to a hand full. And whatever the formula is, they generally seem to work. Le Diplomate certainly did. Due to not planning many more weeks in advance, the only available times were either around 5 or 10 PM. Dad went with the earlier of the options, which I think was a very good idea. I started off the meal with a pamplemousse cocktail, which I can't find on the website to more fully tell you about. From my own recollection it did the balance between sweet and tart quite excellently. Refreshing but not cloying, with just a little effervescence in the mix.
I will admit that the lighting in the restaurant was better for the actual moode and place than for the photographs I tried to take. They also had very neat/old school tiled bathrooms with sinks that one child I encountered called "really cool." So please forgive the photographs, is really what I'm saying. So the Starr restaurants, I think the thing that really is down to a science is how to put together a relatively effective and professional team. Our server never got flustered by our delays in actually making a decision about the meal, laughed at our jokes, asked the right questions and knew most of the answers to ours. Basically I have zero complaints about the service. Though I will say that we pretty much stumped one newer employee when we asked for more detail about some of the accompaniments to our first round of dishes. But when he didn't know the answer he made the effort to go find out and come back, so that was nice.

I debated on what exactly I would order quite a lot in the days and hours leading up to this meal. I had a few concrete ideas but didn't know what combination would make the most sense. In the end I showed very little restraint. Here is the foie gras parfait...this was the fluffiest, spreadiest, heaven-on-earthiest of foies that I've had in quite some time. The thick toast and fennel aigre doux were the perfect texture and flavor to accompany this rich piece of manna. Seriously good stuff.
I also couldn't resist the frissee salad with duck confit, poached egg and potatoes. Variations of this salad have been my favorite for quite a number of years. The way the yolk mixes in with the existing dressing just makes a magic meal, especially if you add duck into the equation.
Then there was the deliberation of what to actually eat. Ultimately I chose to go with the roasted scallops with red wine salsify, truffle sabayon and black trumpet mushrooms...as well as what I recall as being some kind of legume or potato? I kind of forget that detail. I thought the scallops were well prepared and executed though I thought they were perhaps just a tad salty...that might actually be a reaction to my father's dissatisfaction with the grilled loup de mer he ordered, which he found too salty. His dish did come with tapenade, so perhaps it should have been expected. Meanwhile when I tried his dish I thought it wasn't that salty and, in fact, though my own dish was moreso. Dad didn't agree on his own comparison testing. In the end I wasn't too bummed about the salt level and was pleased with the tenderness of the scallop and the savory elements of its rich butter sauce magic topping.
We had this wine with our entrees.

Above, the photoshopped version. Below, the original. It's bascially like I did nothing, except I spent 15 minutes trying to do something. Alas. The main change is that Dad's country terrine and lettuce accompaniment turned a very different set of colors. Blue lettuce is de rigeur, don't ya know?
We opted for coffee and Armagnanac instead of dessert, in large part because we did have a secondary appointment for the evening and I felt that we were going to be too late if we had any additional courses. When we exited the restaurant we both took a moment before looking around for cabs, and during those moments I noticed a guy standing a few feet away that looked vaguely familiar. After a few surreptitious glances, we met eyes and I finally just asked him if his name was H., which it was, and he asked me if I was me, which I am. H. and I went to high school together! I was quite amused by this random run-in and asked whether we could have a photograph taken in order to prove that it ever happened. Dad and I were both a little punchy, so this is actually the photograph that he took for us. H. is pretty tall and clearly Dad's main goal was getting the sign in the photo. Still, a funny ending to a great meal. 
Big thanks goes out to Dad for the birthday dinner!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Fantasy Football Team

It's no secret that I love television, or at least it's not a secret to anyone who has met me and spoken to me for more than thirty seconds. Over the last couple of years I have binge watched The League whenever its seasons come out on some kind of streaming platform, and while I have never cared much about football, I was drawn in by the ridiculous humor and passion of this strange group of 40-somethings and their Fantasy Football (FF) 'league.' I was particularly taken in by the character of Taco, a man whose marijuana consumption and loose grasp on reality and the principles of football entertained me to no end. I began thinking that I could certainly be the "Taco" of someone's league...the person who never is really paying full attention or totally understanding what is going on, but is still part of the group and can, from time to time, impact the outcome of a game. Unfortunately I can't find any especially good clips that really illustrate Taco in relation to his lack of FF prowess, but this will have to do.
So I started thinking that joining a league could be a good idea about two years ago. Then last spring I went to my 10th year college reunion and ran into J. (who was an acquaintance at best during the college years and now a Facebook Friend) and briefly mentioned that I had seen his call for FF participants the previous year, but I was afraid my lack of actual understanding of the game might not be as amusing to him and the other participants as it was to me. A few months later J. reached out and suggested I actually sign up and get in on the FF action. I once again communicated my Taco-like approach to the entire thing and he seemed to have no problem with it. And that is how I found myself, a few months back, getting ready for my first-ever FF draft. I had initially planned on picking my team solely based on who had the saddest life story, or who I found most attractive. But here's the thing: there are a lot of men playing in the NFL and I simply didn't have the time nor true interest in researching ALL of their back stories. So during the draft (which I took part in while eating chicken wings because that is what people who watch football do) I made picks based on players I found attractive, or that some random blogger somewhere had suggested might be good picks. All long-time FF dudes I've spoken to about the league I joined say that it is crazy. But since it's all I know, I can't really imagine any other way. The main craziness is that we basically play two to three of every position each week - three QBs, three WRs, two kickers, a defensive team and individual defensive players. It's crazy y'all. At least to anyone who is not me. So. My initial lineup was a mish mash of good ideas and less good ideas.

For example, RGIII. I really only knew that RGIII was beloved in D.C. I did not grasp at the time of the draft that he had been rather seriously injured at the end of the previous season and wasn't considered quite the miracle in this season. But, hey, he's not unattractive so I didn't feel too bad about having him be my first pick overall, third spot. In retrospect this was unimaginably dumb of me...but I simply didn't have any real idea of who was actually 'good'. RGIII was a bad idea on the whole. He has had a very messy season and was benched this week (and will continue to be benched for the rest of the season if I understand correctly). Oh RGIII, I had such higher hopes for you.
My other two QBs were picked on the basis of either their history of being good football players, or being rather attractive. I'll leave it up to you to decide just how that shook out.
   Kaepernick (left) has also not had the same kind of season as he did last year (and was my third draft pick). He's not terrible, but I probably could have gotten a better second QB had I even tried my hand at research. And Eli Manning (above)? Eli Manning is the worst fucking QB ever. I mean, not literally...but I think he is actually on the verge of hitting some kind of terrible record for the number of interceptions he's thrown this year. Twice other league members offered me a trade for Manning. And twice I refused thinking they were trying to trick me like the Taco I was trying to be. Twice! Let me just tell you something: I should have taken either of those trades. I would be in a much, much better place if I had given up my faith that Manning's former Super Bowl wins and abilities would resurface.

Another questionable decision I made was drafting New England's Rob Gronkowski. This was another situation where I saw he had been quite loved and impressive in the previous season, and totally overlooked that he was injured and not scheduled to start the first few weeks (which turned into months). Now this choice - and keeping him on the bench for so many weeks - could have all been worth it...if this hadn't happened two weeks ago.  He did have a a few good weeks, but really I don't think it worked out for either of us. Alas, poor Gronk. Bro is down for the season.
Another player who I had placed some faith in - even after some early fumbles - was the Giants' David Wilson. After making some bad plays in the opening weeks, he began to find his groove. Only to become a complete and utter idiot when he chose to celebrate a touchdown by doing a backflip...landing wrong...and injuring himself for THE REST OF THE SEASON. That's the narrative as I understand it, though perhaps the flip and the later neck injury aren't actually related. In either case, David Wilson, you make me sad.
So, yeah, I had some duds for dudes. I mean, compared to Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, or some other guys whose names I still don't know, all three of my QBs were not so wonderful. Though I do realize that their overall yardage was, compared to some, actually pretty decent. But on the whole, you should be able to rely on your QBs to give you 12+ points in any given FF match...last week Eli Manning gave me -10.88. Is all I'm saying.

But it wasn't all totally doom and gloom. I got some guys who were generally pretty good to me. For example, this sweetie pie. Steven Haushka was one of my two kickers from week 1 and could generally be relied on for a minimum of 10 points a game. Look at his cute little face. He also tried to tackle someone at some point, which was nice and brave of him. Squirt.
Luke Kuechly was another guy I picked up in the initial draft who generally did right by me as a defensive player. He looks like somebody who should play lacrosse (which may very well be why I drafted him in the first place). But here he is, playing football.
Another guy who did right by me on the whole was Knowshon Moreno. He and Peyton Manning had some good times together.
A guy I added to my roster in the second half of the season, who ended up being quite useful was Josh Gordon. He's got a nice smile too.
I had Reggie Bush too, but he wasn't quite as reliable or consistent as I would have liked...especially that week of the Eagles game where he got hurt before they even started playing. And from what I've read he's a big baby about snow and mud. I never dropped him, but I wouldn't bother with him next year I don't think. Another latecomer to the team (the Heizulbergs was the name of my team) was Jordan Cameron. In addition to playing some pretty good ball, he also likes to read apparently.
Yup. I made it to the playoffs but the double loss of Bush and Gronkowski was not good for me and my season is now done. I had a 7-6 record and came in fourth overall (out of eight) before the playoffs. Including the playoffs it was a 7-9 season. Rough stuff there at the end.

The one major thing that happened was that I almost immediately started to care about trying to have a winning team. The whole 'create a team based on completely useless metrics' just didn't work and I couldn't live up to Taco's level of absurdity at all. I began to tinker and adjust as I learned more about how match ups worked and what to keep in mind. I am not in any way now a football expert, but I certainly know and care about the sport a bit more than before. I recently had a back and forth email conversation with a friend from college, and he said that not in a million years would he ever have expected me to get into FF. I am entirely in agreement with him on that score. But, as we all know, things change, interests wane or fire up, and if you can't roll with it what can be done? I am already kind of excited about applying the better knowledge and understanding I have to next year's draft. I'm going to go all the way! Maybe.

Here is my overall roster for those who would like to know:
Colin Kaepernick
Eli Manning
RGIII (replaced by Fitzpatrick for the last match of the season due to benching)
Keenan Allen
Demaryius Thomas
Golden Tate (picked him for his name)
Knowshon Moreno
Danny Woodhead
Reggie Bush
Jordan Cameron
Josh Gordon
Jerricho Cotchery
Ryan Succop
Steve Hauschka
Carolina Defense
Eric Berry (chose him because of this of course)
Ryan Clark
Alterraun Verner
Major Wright
Luke Kuechly
David Harris
Duke Ihenacho (nacho!)
Adam Jones

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Breakfast and Childhood Home Walkabout

On Saturday morning D. made his delicious scrambled eggs, which were accompanied by the choice of scrapple or bacon, as well as toast. Good stuff.
After that I went and did a little walkabout the house and yard of the house in which I grew up. There was an area between our main backyard and what had been a garden, which I had always liked hanging out in because of the twisted vines that created a lovely canopy in the winter. There were always some strange relics of a time past, a mailbox, some random metal stakes in the ground, a fallen tree slowly turning to mulch. I was glad to see all relics remained, though even more worn than 20+ years ago.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Just A Few Extra Wedding Photos

I was able to track down a few of the photobooth photos from Cuz K. and A.'s wedding.

So, also, in early November I finally got the tattoo I had been thinking about for quite a few years. It took almost four hours and by the end it was painful (the first hour lulls you into a false sense of low pain security), but the tattoo artist I chose after much due diligence, did an excellent job. It's got two main meanings to me. First, I am trying to push myself to be more optimistic in life, and so now I have a blue bird on my shoulder, which I associate with such optimism (zippadeedooda etc). Also, along the branch I asked the artist to include a sort of 'etched' set of my mother's initials. When my parents moved to Tennessee she got really into having a few blue bird houses around the house, and while I can't say that they were her favorite bird, hearing her talk about the progress of the birds is something I remember about many of our phone calls during the Tennessee years. The craziest part was that the artist, who travels between a number of different studios in very different parts of the company, could only schedule the actual work during a very small window. While I asked for a weekend, he only had a Monday...and that was actually the same day that my mother actually died. Coincidence probably, but still and interesting turn. I would never assume that Mom would actually be on board for this, and I imagine she probably wouldn't have wanted me to do it, but I do think she would probably have understood the sentiment and I really did think about it for years before committing. Now I just wish it was easier to see one's own back.

I'm still in need of getting a better photo of the tattoo in order, there really is some nice detail and coloring worth seeing, but I did take the photobooth opportunity to at least get a basic shot. Also, look at that braid (and ignore the jowls)!

Burger c/o Duke's Grocery With Old Friends

Back in the day, when my parents still lived in Maryland and I was in high school or during the early years of college, returning to the area generally included hanging out with T. at one point or another. But then the parents moved, and those funny holiday or summer interludes came to an end. I've certainly still seen T. in Brooklyn from time to time over the years, but the Washington D.C/Maryland meetups are generally a thing of the past. So when I realized that I was going to be in the D.C. area for Thanksgiving, I reached out to T. to see if he might be returning to the area. And in fact he was! So we made a plan for dinner in the Dupont Circle area. I arrived at Duke's Grocery not long before T. and his gf A. showed up, and only a little bit later C. also joined us. Conversation ranged in a few unpredictable but interesting ways, and I ordered a burger that turned out to be two burgers in one. It was a lot of burger.
After that we went to a funny basement bar not too far away and had a few drinks. I always enjoy catching up with T. and that A. is a keeper. A good night and, as far as I can recall, the first time T. and I ever had a proper grown-up-with-drinks kind of night in our old collective hometown area.

Hot and Sour Ramen c/o Ren's Ramen

The day after Thanksgiving Dad and I went and had lunch at Ren's Ramen in Wheaton. This was dad's first ramen experience, and he seemed a bit perplexed by the options. I decided to try one of their non-traditional specials: hot and sour ramen. This was very much like a hot and sour soup of the Chinese variety, but with ramen and a seasoned soft boil egg. It was pretty good. I might have preferred a slightly thinner broth, but the basic taste elements going one were pretty good.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner in Maryland

Dad and I returned to Maryland for another Thanksgiving dinner with the T.s. I began driving on Thanksgiving day and picked Dad up from the airport in Baltimore. Traffic was generally not bad and we made it to our old neighborhood during the daylight hours. The T.s were our across-the-way neighbors for pretty much my entire life. They and my parents went to Royal Ascot together for quite a number of years, and I really appreciate their ongoing family friendship and their willingness to include us in their holidays. Here is a very cute cream cheese Dorito pumpkin that B. made.
Here is the dinner table.
There were two kinds of turkey this year...I think one was a bourbon glazed variety, grilled...and the other perhaps a more traditional roasted turkey? I feel like this was the first year I really tried stuffing with oysters...I've never been a big stuffing person, but I have to say that particular stuffing (there were about 6 different varieties) really spoke to me.
As in past years, the birthdays of R. and me fall quite near the Thanksgiving holiday...so we each had the opportunity to blow out some candles and sing the 'happy birthday song to one another.
Mmmmmmm. Sweet heavenly dessert.
B. and T.'s nephew and his wife recently had a baby, who did quite well during the entire evening, I would say. Here is a picture of him meeting his cousin-uncle for the first time.
I really am thankful for being able to spend this holiday with a great group of folks whom I have known in one way or another for quite a number of years. I'll have to post some of the photos that B. and D. gave me for my birthday...major throwbacks from childhood, and images I feel like I've never seen or only saw at the time. Very neat.