Being a sick shut-in is the opposite of adventure...
Tomorrow, ADVENTURE!! :)
Day 49: Nothing much to report, gentle reader, though I am eating solid foods again! I spent the day convalescing. I'm hopeful that I'll get back to work tomorrow, and once again venture out among my people.
Being a sick shut-in is the opposite of adventure...
Tomorrow, ADVENTURE!! :)
Day 48: I spent today being sick, which is not fun or interesting. A sore throat is not a good thing. I sincerely hope you had a great Monday, though!
Day 47: I can't buy buttermilk worth a damn in this town (it is ALL low-fat, which defeats the point of buttermilk, as I've ranted about before), but I CAN buy tzatziki.
I was feeling a bit off today, so I snuggled down to watch re-runs of "The Wire", but eventually had to head out to get food, and discovered that tzatziki was just right there on the shelf. A few quick greek potatoes later, I was cheerfully dining while Stringer Bell had to deal with the two baddest mofos in all of Baltimore.
Not the most exciting day in history, gentle reader, but I feel good and comfy, and sleepy, and so I will bid you a fair evening.
GREEK POTATOES, THE SIMPLE VERSION
A handful of red potatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1 tbsp oregano (be generous, oregano is delicious!)
2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
salt and pepper to taste (about a tsp of each is good for me, but I prefer heavy seasoning during prep rather than at the table)
1/2 tsp good smoked paprika
Cut the potatoes into wedges, wash, and spread evenly on a baking sheet.
Mix all of the other ingredients together, and drizzle heavily over potatoes.
Bake at 420 for 40 minutes, or until the water evaporates; then turn, add another cup of water, and bake for another 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven.
Slather with tzatziki.
Shove in face.
Enjoy being fat but happy. :)
Day 46: California Wine Country is pretty amazing, I must say. Yesterday we took a limo (thanks, R!) out to Amador County, which is to the east of Sacramento, which is to say, up in the hills. Having grown up in the forests and swamps and suburbs of South Carolina, the Amador County foothills were just incredible, and, more than anything, reminded me of Vermont, if Vermont were covered with grapevines instead of trees.
Each stop allowed us six to eight tastings of everything from fruity whites to painfully tannic reds (which I detest) to raspberry champagnes to weirdly sweet ports. R arranged for the local market to have lunch delivered at our second vintner, and we dined peacefully and happily in the shade of the trees, with magnificent views all around.
The last stop on our journey involved a woman who seemed to be hurrying us along, and I think that's the only place we didn't spend any of our hard-won cash, but as a group we did buy quite a bit of wine, and, for the most part, it was an extremely enjoyable experience.
California is weird, and beautiful, and unique, and spending a day with good friends and good wine is a pretty amazing thing. When you come to visit, we'll do this, I PROMISE!! :)
Day 44: It's complicated doing my job. Humorously describing it to you, gentle reader, is even more complicated. But I love you, all of you, and so I shall do my level best.
My job, metaphorically, is to herd pandas into brightly colored forest glens, where they can be safe and happy and make little pandas. I don't go out in the wild and just, you know, shove them into the nearest glen. That would be silly.
Instead, I load them into The Device. The Device teleports them to the appropriate forest clearing, clean and simple. MY job, then, is to make sure that they got there safely.
So. I have to examine the pandas before they go into The Device, and then examine them again after they are teleported to their new home. Are we all with me, then?
What, gentle reader, would you imagine would be the hardest part of that particular task?
If you said, say, "finding a suitable habitat in which pandas might properly breed successfully", then you're sort of missing the point, and I think we can both agree you're above that sort of thing, no?
If you said, instead, determining which freakin' panda is which, then right you are! Pandas, you see, are remarkably uniform. REMARKABLY.
The difficulty, however, is The Device itself. It wants all of the pandas to look exactly like all of the other pandas, so it engages in a quick bit of trimming of the fur, here and there, as the panda passes through it. A spot of dye to even out a black spot, bit o' bleach where the white's not quite right.
In order to identify the panda I'm looking for, then, I have to work backwards, and undo the bleaching, and wash out the dye, and sort of paste on the fur where I think it's looking a bit thin...
Then I have to compare my reconstructed panda with the photo I had of him from before The Device had its filthy way with him, and try to decide if it's the same panda, or if I just want it to be the same panda, and am once again confused because of all the freakin' pandas...
And, of course, there's the third, horrifying option:
There might just be something wrong with The Device.
If THAT'S the case, then no matter what I do, my reconstructed panda won't match what he looked like before The Device rubbed it's slimy little hands all over him.
But, fair enough; it's good work, and I'm happy to have it, right?
Today we introduced a new little wrinkle. After teleporting the panda, The Device turns it into a tortoise, and then sends it through ANOTHER DEVICE, again polishing up a bit, fixing a shell pattern, shining the shell a bit.
And then it sends it through ANOTHER DEVICE, and turns it into a small blue rock, and again goes to some effort to make them all look alike, slightly altering it yet again.
And again, into a tennis racket, and again, with the slight polishing.
And again, into a piece of toast, and again, the crusts are trimmed just so.
And AGAIN, into a bobble-head.
And AGAIN, into a star in the heavens.
So I reconstruct the star into the bobble-head into the piece of toast into the tennis racket into the small blue rock into the tortoise into the panda, and after all of that, I have to be able to say, authoritatively, and with a straight face:
"THAT STAR, RIGHT THERE, IS DEFINITELY THIS PANDA!"
...I have a very weird job.
Tomorrow, ADVENTURE! :)
ps I know you're thinking what I'm thinking, which is "Why don't you just mark the pandas in some way, so that you can always know which one it is at any point in the process?" Have you ever tried suggesting tacking on identifying data to a database architect who favors a highly normalized hierarchical design? Because if you ever do, I promise you, he'll look at you like you just offered to slather his wife with mayonnaise.
pps Some of you may be wondering why I switched it up from the snail herding that was happening earlier, and whatever happened with all that salt, anyway? It turns out that, while I was right about the salt, I subsequently determined that they weren't snails at all, but, instead, slugs with pennies nailed to them. No one had noticed until I started asking why the shells were so coppery. So the salt was killing them, but they were going to die anyway. We're... ahem...trying to get some new snails.
...I have a very weird job.
Day 43: There was a time in my life, gentle reader, when a three-figure dinner was anathema to me, but, my, how times have changed.
Shmistie and I once (and only once) had dinner at Chili's, and we were both astonished at how bad the food was. Cheap, certainly, but just BAD we were not expecting.
Thereafter, we frequented Ristorante Divino, Rosso, and Solstice instead.
And I blame R.
This is how it happened:
One autumn evening in The Southernmost of the Carolinas, R invited me and quite a few friends to dine at Gervais & Vine, a Mediterranean tapas place in the Vista.
Aside: I worked in the Vista, as a dishwasher, loooooong before it was called the Vista, in Columbia, SC. The only thing in that part of town at the time was burned out warehouses, and I washed dishes at Longhorn Steakhouse (and at the time, this was, to me, fine dining). It's weird thinking back to that time (before the Navy, before college2, before basically everything that mattered), and seeing how different the Vista has become. I had dropped out of Art School at Winthrop (college1), and was, literally, just washing dishes, when I thought, "Hang on, this is dumb. Go DO SOMETHING." And, years later, here I sit in a wonderful apartment in Sacramento, remembering an awful time in my life, and wondering, honestly, how I got here.
I once went to visit Miss Jessica Nash in her dorm room at USC (that's the University of South Carolina, for my west coast friends) after getting off of work (she had a little crush on me, and I on her, so she invited me over), and, knowing that I was covered in awful dishwashing stuff, I deposited myself on her kitchen floor, rather than on her furniture. She had a few friends over. After a few minutes of joking around, she rose and came over to the kitchen sink, apologizing. "Something must have gotten stuck in the garbage disposal..." I stood, stiffly, and said, "No, I'm sorry, that smell is me." And I left. I still miss Miss Jessica Nash. I am pretty sure I signed up for the Navy the next day.
I smell pretty nice these days.
So there we are at G&V, and I'm informed that it's going to be about 40 minutes for a table. R is getting everyone drinks, and asks me what I want, and I gestured to the crowd and begged off (as I am NOT a fan of being crowded).
And R had one of those moments.
He wasn't mad at me, and he immediately understood that a submarine guy maybe shouldn't be forced to stand in a dense space, ever. He just got it.
He said, "Hey, why don't we come here on Sunday afternoon, and you can enjoy the food, and it won't be crowded at all."
I took off, and, come Sunday, we did exactly that.
And the food was AMAZING. The cheeses were excellent, the meats were properly seasoned, and it didn't hurt that the Beaujolais Nouveau had just made it's appearance that week (for the uninitiated, it's an annual red wine which is best served slightly chilled, and is really only VERY GOOD the weeks after it's released; it's not an aging wine).
I've frequently said that this was the moment that I realized that food didn't have to suck.
This leads us to tonight, whereupon a friend of mine and I had dinner at The Press, which is a very good restaurant in Sacramento. Honestly, the best thing we had all night was the appetizer, a grilled calamari. If you're anything like me, you completely missed the "grilled" part (my brain went, "they mean fried"), but it was AMAZING. But so was everything else. It was a great experience.
There are not a lot of real truths in life, gentle reader. I'm a mathematician, and I know truth when I see it. And so I think I'll close tonight by pointing to one truth that is true, and magnificent, and inviolate:
I'm never eating at Chili's again.
Tomorrow: ADVENTURE!! :)
Day 42: Today was a good day. R needed to get his haircut, and so J and I were invited to invade his kitchen, and prepare a wonderful dinner, which we did. Wonderful caprese salad, wonderful dinner salad, wonderful music, wonderful friends.
When R arrived, he and I observed that coming home to a houseful of friends who have made you wonderful food must be one of life's treasures.
And, yes, I know, this is starting to be one of those blog posts where I talk about how awesome my friends are.
While they are awesome in every possible way, and while I love them, and while that's a completely appropriate way to sum up the day, instead I'm going to tell you an entirely non-Sacramento-related story, and I beg your indulgence, gentle reader, for a few minutes, while I tell you about a Man.
Every senior generation permits themselves the right to dictate what they are called by their grandchildren. At the least, this is true in my family.
My paternal grandparents are Grandfather (deceased, and beloved), and Grandmother (alive, and also beloved!). My maternal grandparents are Grandma (alive and beloved), and Papa (pronounced "paw-paw", and also alive, and also beloved).
And so when my niece and nephew came to be, their grandparents sought their own identities as well.
Their maternal grandparents (my sister's mother and father, and therefor my own as well) were to be "Grandfather" and "Gamma" (this latter, is, seriously, an artifact of Noah Wylie's character on "ER", as well as her wish that I was a surgeon). Their paternal grandparents are "Grandmother" and "Papa John".
And it is now, gentle reader, that we turn our focus, laser-like, to Papa John.
He's not a pizza magnate, for one thing.
No, Papa John is, and there is no escaping this, the salt of the earth. He is the everyman, and he is weathered, and he is strong, and he is wonderful. In the years that I have known him, he has been unfailingly kind to me, my sister, our family, his own son, and, of course, to his grandchildren, upon which he dotes in the best way.
Papa John is fluent in the language of football, baseball, and Andy Griffith.
Papa John is southern, and baptist, and, frankly, holy.
Papa John is the kind of man who can cast a fishing pole into a lake, and mean it. And the fish would respect that.
He's Southern, with a capital S, and over the years I've known him, I've always appreciated that he lives life, even when it's very hard. Chuck Norris has nothing on this man.
My Brother-In-Law, henceforth referred to as BIL, decided to take his children and Papa John on a tour of the East Coast, and to a slew of professional baseball games, at some of the most iconic stadiums ever built.
Their first stop was in NYC.
Now, I could tell you that they took the kids to see "Wicked" on Broadway (which they did).
I could tell you that they took the kids to a Yankees game (which they did).
I could tell you that they took the kids to see the Statue of Liberty, to see the 9/11 memorial, to see the Empire State Building (all of which they did).
But, mostly, I could tell you that this man, this traditional, southern, wonderful man, spent at least a fraction of his time in New York City having a conversation with a dude with a cat on his head:
And that's the best thing I saw today. :)
Day 41: Met up with R and J after work, and we had just wonderful sushi from Nashiki's, which is delicious, and conveniently just around the corner.
Of course, we drove. Of course we did. It was nearly an entire BLOCK away.
And WHY, you may ask? Oh, gentle reader, how I envy your cloud-filled skies.
Here, in the heart of California, where the wind goes whipping down the... wait, that's Oklahoma.
Anyway, we have no clouds, so from the instant that the sun rises from it's comfortable slumber, she burns the ground in a LITERAL scorched-earth initiative, apparently in some desperate need to see if she can actually cause buildings to melt into the ground, or possibly cause small children to just, you know, explode in flames.
Seriously. It's stupidly hot:
Now, what's interesting is that just a few short months ago, and an entire continent away, I had a completely different reason to take a picture of the temperature gauge:
I gotta be honest.
It's been a hell of a year.
Tomorrow, ADVENTURE!! :)
Day 40: I went to see "The Bourne Legacy" today, and here, in no particular order, are my thoughts:
0 - Rachel Weisz. *sigh* I've missed you, dear.
1 - Jeremy Renner was competent, and the series that Damon starred in is not compromised by this film, which was an interesting and happy decision
2 - There are some really good moments, and some of them don't even involve explosions
3 - There are midi-chlorians in the Bourne universe, and this movie introduces us to them via some wacky pseudo-science. The explanations went on too long, and didn't make any sense in the first place.
4 - Awesome stunts, as you'd expect
5 - I just discovered that Rachel Weisz is married to Daniel Craig. Well... poop.
6 - I just discovered that Rachel Weisz probably shouldn't dream of a lifetime of adventure with me, and she should, instead, settle for... oh, I don't know, someone like Daniel Craig. Don't be sad, dear, he's a fine chap, I'm sure.
Five inches shorter than me.
And he's only been James Bond, like, what, TWO more times than me??!? (Okay, three if you count Skyfall, which hasn't even been released, and if he gets to count that, then I get to count "The Magma Affair", a James Bond movie starring ME as James Bond, which, curiously, has ALSO not been released.... or, you know, written. Yet.)
A small-town southern boy heads out west for the first time. Adventure ensues!!