wwcitizen: (Stone Angel)
We lost an angel last night. Joe DiMuro, a friend born in NYC roughly 60 years ago, died peacefully at home. He was at home with his husband of 25 years, in his favorite recliner, under his father's blanket. How wonderful to pass in peace without pain!! As his husband, Carlos, put it, "We should all be so lucky." I hope I am that lucky!

My post here is not a solicitation of sympathy, but a gentle, firm reminder to each of us that life is short. We must cherish our moments with each other for as long as we have each other, as friends, family, spouses, or even colleagues. Part of the human experience is to experience each other, everyone's personalities, our likes and dislikes, our discourse, our joys and pains, and our silence - in the presence of one another.

Joe, Carlos, my friend, Joseph, and I met on a dance floor in Philadelphia in the fall of 2002. Joe & Carlos at that point had been together for about 12 years, at about the same time where Matthew and I are in our relationship now. Since then, Joe and Carlos helped to open up my world of friends in the Bear Community. Through those two, I, and Matthew and I, have met, I would say, 100s of people in the NY, CT, and PA area.

Joe and Carlos have always been warm, welcoming, and generous. They opened their home to everyone with open arms and GREAT food!!

Granted, because Joe knew that I didn't really like the Beatles and he was a MASSIVE fan of them, he and I would banter for days online about their music, their lyrics, and... well, meh (<-- I know he's scowling at that right now! That makes me smile...). Truth be told, for the last 13 years, and now forever more, I will always think of Joe when I hear a Beatles song - guaranteed! Joe always glared at me with incredulity when I sang along with a Beatles song, him knowing that I don't like them. Surprisingly, I know almost all the words to the biggies. It always made me laugh when he flashed me that incredulous look with the subtext of, "How DARE you!!". I will always think of him flashing me that look from now on and I love that.

I love knowing that I made Joe smile and made him dance - even ever so slightly after his stroke a few years ago. He'd always shake his booty a little around me - even after his 2007 surgery - and that made us smile and giggle. He loved telling people how and where we met.

Joe, I will miss you. We didn't spend as much time with each other in person as we should have. Life got in the way and I hate that. I'm so happy that we got to know each other, get under each other's skin as we did for the time you allowed us to, and I will always cherish the memories we have. You were the Italian mother I never had, and the Italian grandmother I needed at times. Best of all, you were my friend.

I will miss you, my friend. Can't wait to see you at the concert.

wwcitizen: (Pumpkins)
Friends of ours and we went to the NY Renaissance Faire on Sunday in Tuxedo, NY. We'd all been there before, but it was a few years ago and never all together in a big group. This was really fun because there were six of us all with different interests - except for the food. We all enjoyed the meats and the mead as well as some beer.

One of my goals was to get some new Renaissance garb for my mediocre "collection". Clarification: I do not intend or want to become a Ren Faire aficionado... ever. I enjoy using the pieces for dress up at Halloween. In fact, the last bits I bought were for my costume in 2008 when Matthew and I went to Disney for Halloween.  So, that was my goal.

Problem with this year was that yesterday (Sunday) was the very last day of the festival. All the shopkeepers were tired and ready to be done with it all. They were clearly and verbally exhausted (a few of them actually told me directly how exhausted they were and to "help myself" in looking around and trying things on).  One of the shops I just left outright because, even though I'd spent a good 20 minutes looking through stuff and trying things on - clearly trying to buy something - the shopkeepers just couldn't be bothered. There were three of them and when I asked them a question, not only did they kind of look through me after I asked them something, but then one of them - finally - answered with this very quiet, timid voice that I had to lean in to hear because of some noise from outside.  VERY irritating.

In the end, I got some horns, a new doublet (being altered), some loungey pants, a mask, and LOTS and LOTS of great food - even a turkey leg!  I proceeded to wear my new horns to dinner at a diner on the way home. That afforded me lots of fun attention from the wait staff, adults, and kids alike. Some of the adults had kid-like expressions on their faces, even, after their double and triple takes.  Fun!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Aside from the tummy issues, we did have a great time in Ptown for Bear Week. I mentioned the events I hosted in a previous post (that took me a while to write up for some reason...).

We met TONS of new people and got to see people we hadn't seen in a long while, such as [livejournal.com profile] texwriterbear, [livejournal.com profile] slothel, and [livejournal.com profile] delmarmar Also in attendance were [livejournal.com profile] profundis (apparently - didn't get a chance to meet up), [livejournal.com profile] thetarnishedowl, [livejournal.com profile] mat_t (I think), [livejournal.com profile] faghatesgods & [livejournal.com profile] mondragon (Matthew saw them  both on separate days from afar),
We got to meet [livejournal.com profile] dewittar and [livejournal.com profile] fishfin for the first time in person!!  Very happy we were able to meet up and connect.  When I first encountered Rodney and Allen, they both looked so different in 3D than in 2D. Plus, I hadn't expected such pleasanly homey southern accents to come out of them like they have!  Very enchanting couple.

The day we were together at Vorelli's for bloody Marys, the power kept failing throughout the Cape from allowed brownouts. One of the cooling towers at the nearest nuclear plant wasn't cooling as quickly, so they diverted all the power for cooling to one cooling tower and shut the second off, which took some time and created brownouts.

Even still, we got to see some shows, including Miss Richfield 1981, one of our favorites! Those tickets were for Matthew's birthday gift. And we were both well enough to have a nice dinner at the Crown & Anchor and then head to the show! She never disappoints and always brings in some fresh, unexpected stuff. Very fun!
So, yes, we got to experience a lot of what makes Bear Week great: friends, shows, dinners, Tea Dance, and evening dances. But, we just took it all a lot slower than in years past. PLUS, the ultimate greatest thing was that I had no back pain like in 2012.

On the second and last Saturday of Bear Week, we decided to stay till around dinner time. The previous times we had been to Ptown in the off season, we discovered that leaving later in the day allowed everyone else to get off the highway. Our drive went from 7-9 hours (with everyone else leaving the Cape) down to a normal 4.5-5 hour drive home.  We spent the day shopping around, which we didn't do during the week, and spending time with a couple of friends of ours from NYC.
Fun times were had by all! Yay for vacation, Bear Week, and GREAT FRIENDS!!  We're already looking forward toward next year's Bear Week in 2014!!
wwcitizen: (At Puter)
This is interesting. This is a list of the top 28 responders to my blog in 2012 - only 2012. How narcissistic is it that I'm #1 on my own!!  I got the idea from [livejournal.com profile] london1967 on one of his posts a couple of weeks ago. I'd been meaning to look into this, so I did!  Here's the link he posted in a comment on his post: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/topcommentators.bml. He did a lot more than I did... having written a SQL script after creating a database to make a more dramatic display and included many more years. I might do that sometime, but I just didn't wanna forget that I wanted to look into this.  :-)

27Matthew Vecera4
wwcitizen: (S&M - Hawaii)

For the last 8-9 months we had been planning a trip with some friends ... somewhere.  First, France, then NC, then, DE, and then we finally decided on Puerto Rico. I'd been wanting to bring Matthew here for the last 8 years and this was a perfect opportunity.
The flight down couldn't have been better. Smooth the whole way and we were essentially in Business Class on JetBlue. Perfect. Check.
Getting to the hotel and checking in were a breeze. Check... check.
It had started to rain a bit, but we figured we'd take a nap first.  We got into the room, turned on the A/C... only pseudo-cooler air. Uh oh.  The front desk suggested we wait a bit because the room had been empty for a couple of days. Fair enough.
Under the ceiling fans,  we took a 3-hr, sweaty nap. Then we started the process of switching to another room with a broken A/C unit, checking other rooms, calling Hotels.com to see what other options we had.
Within an hour, we had a new unit, a MUCH better room, a 35% discount at the restaurant, and a free round of drinks at the bar. It turned out good.
We had a good dinner, walked around a bit, and got caught in a couple of showers. We ended the night meeting the hotel drunk from FL, who calls herself, "Monkey!" because she likes to mount her boyfriend (of 28 years) and jump around on it.  As she so graciously demonstrated for us, "Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh!!" while gyrating around on her stool.  Classy.
Looking forward to more Caribbean adventures today!  First off, I'm jumping in the jacuzzi!

wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)
Here's hoping we can get to this house (1619 Pine St):
Hasn't changed much since 1982, has it?  Just need to pick up the right suspenders.

Neither of us has ever been to Denver, although I've flown through. I have a friend from college out there, who's getting married there, a friend from grade school, and my pseudo sister-in-law (my b-i-l's sister) - what do you call those folks - the in-laws?

Anyway, looking forward to going out there. Also, hoping that we can run into [livejournal.com profile] zedsled whilst in town for at least a beer or martini!

Should be an interesting weekend.  I haven't seen the friend who's getting married except in FB photos since he moved out to Denver from DC.  His mother was my manager back in college at a store and I really liked her. Can't wait to see his sister and dad, either - they're a very nice family.  His mother really challenged me to think about things - even whilst at work - about where I was going, what my future would look like, and where I'd end up.  She totally knew that neither my friend nor I would have gotten married before we were 40.  Who knew my reason would be that marriage for me wouldn't be legal??! 

I'm really looking forward to a little Rocky Mountain High... in Colorado...

wwcitizen: (Photo Avatar)
Here are pictures of Matt and my experience in Burbank, CA, in July for a quick trip to appear on the Red Carpet for Bear City 2. It was such a fantastic experience that generated a LOT of memories (and photos) very quickly.  Check them out and enjoy!  I only ask that if you re-use or re-post any of the photos, please give me credit for the photos.  Thank so much!  
wwcitizen: (Open Wide-r)
Just about every year, one of Matt's college friends hostesses a BBQ at her house.  And by "BBQ," I mean grilling meat outside (I have to specify this for my southern friends - BBQ there could mean pit-cooked, pulled pork (NC), or grilled/roasted beef (TX/OK).  Everyone who comes brings a dessert.

Matthew loves to do something unique, of course.  He got inspired by a semi-homemade Bomba-style cake dessert he found in a Pillsbury recipe book. That recipe called for whipped cream and liqueur (maybe Triple Sec?). He decided, instead, to make use the cake for the outside of an ice cream cake. We couldn't find any Swiss cake logs for the outside, so we chose Little Debbie cake rolls instead - chocolate ones (Swiss Cake Rolls - my favorite) and strawberry ones (my 2nd favorite). He filled it with Edy's chocolate ice cream, but the core was a pint of Hagen Daas Dulce de Leche.  YUM!!  We separated the layers of chocolate ice cream with crushed thin, dark chocolate cookies (like Oreos without the stuffing). Here are the pictures and it was DELICIOUS!! 
He also made little toffee brownies that are SOOO rich.  I was sick of them by the time we got to the BBQ because when Matt was cutting them up, he straightened the sides by trimming off the edges... which, you honestly couldn't just throw out. Right?  Those were dark chocolate brownies with a cream cheese/peanut butter center (like a nougat) with semi-sweet chocolate spread over top and sprinkled with crushed Heath Bars. Amazing. Simply divine. Enjoy and HAPPY MONDAY!!
wwcitizen: (Broadway)
A good friend of ours from Toronto, Pascal, sent me a note last week that he was going to be in town for a couple of days. We hadn't seen Pascal or his partner in a couple of years. It was a nice surprise. Thing is, the only day he was going to be available for us to meet up was Sunday - yesterday - Mother's Day. The planets aligned and we were able to meet up with him and have a very spontaneous, very exciting day in NYC. 

Pascal suggested we go see The Best Man.  We quick looked up tickets for the matinee performance of The Best Man on Broadway and bought three. We bought extremely well-placed seats at 1:45PM for a 3:00PM performance (HURRY!); Pascal had just checked into his room (GO NOW!) and raced out as we raced out of our place in NJ (DON'T BE LATE!). Due to really bad traffic getting into Manhattan, we decided last minute to take the ferry across - good decision! YAY!

We made it to the show in record time and missed only the first 3 minutes, which was just fine, given the distances we all had to go.  The Best Man stars two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones, Tony winner John Larroquette, Eric McCormack and five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury, as well as Candice Bergen, Tony nominee Kerry Butler, Michael McKean and Tony winner Jefferson Mays.  We were 5 rows from all of them and they were right there! It was so great to see all of them - right there! 

We left the theater and took the subway to TriBeCa for dinner at Pepolino's, a Florentine Italian restaurant. Matthew and I had seen a show on NYC restaurants a while back and had wanted to go there for dinner sometime.  Pascal is a foodie, as are we, so we were excited to share the experience with him.  Pascal is also a professionally published photographer and has worked with friends on cookbooks, so he knows good food:
Our dinner started with warm and spicy tomato flan for the thick-crusted, Italian bread. We ordered a bottle of Vermentino (white) wine, which has a flowery bouquet and citrus overtones with a bright finish.
Fried artichokes and zucchinis
Fennel salad with orange sections, olives, and Parmesan
Deep fried soft shell crab with arugula/tomato salad
Goat cheese and pear home made raviolis
Spinach & ricotta gnocchi
King fish wrapped in pancetta (mine)
Braised Mediterranean sea bass
Coffee, panna cotta AND the BEST.RICOTTA.CHEESECAKE.EVER!!!
The waitress also treated us to a glass of Grappa at the very end.

We left there to take Pascal to the Stonewall Inn; he'd been by the place a few times, but never inside. It was completely dead inside, so we took off to Ty's - of course.  It was PACKED! We had a fun time and a couple of drinks.  At about 12:30AM, I told Matt we needed to catch a cab before the last ferry, which I had thought was at about 1AM; however, the last ferry was leaving - at 12:30AM - right as we checked the departure times.  Alas, we hopped in a cab, took Pascal back to his hotel, and left for NJ.

$75 and 45 minutes later, we were in our car to go home, only to stay up till 4AM because we were so wired from the awesome day! Here are some pictures from the day:

wwcitizen: (Gimme a hug)
Tonight, Matthew and I ventured into the city to meet up with Phil ([livejournal.com profile] dendren) and Bob - IN PERSON!!!  WOW! What great men. Had a very fun time with them and some friends I introduced them to. They had coordinated with a couple of other LJ friends to meet them at Ty's and we all got along splendidly.  We didn't have too much to drink, either, cuz I had to drive home - in fact, I ended the evening with a diet Coke followed by a seltzer.  :-)

It's always great to put a personal, physical hug to a person's persona online. Phil and Bob give good hugs!  They are in town for their 20th anniversary. Matt and I are totally jealous that they have tickets to Book of Mormon - a show we've (lack-lusterly) have been trying to get tickets for. We will one day. I really hope that Phil and Bob enjoy the show, which I'm SURE they will.

Here are a couple of pictures from the evening:

At one point in the evening, I returned to the front of the bar to get a drink and a guy with a plaid shirt (Calvin) behind me tapped me on the shoulder. He said, "Excuse me, my friend really needs a hug. Would you mind giving him a hug?"

I said, "Oh, of course! I love to give hugs."

This sweet, gentle-hearted guy, pretty thin and pretty much no fur peered out from behind his glasses sheepishly. I said in my big burly voice, "Oh, you want a big, burly, furry hug, huh? You haven't had a hug today?! Everybody needs a hug!"

The guy just looked at me surprised and in disbelief that I just asked him the question.  He said, "Yes, I'd like a hug!"

I gave him a big bear hug. He was the sweetest guy and gasped satisfied.  I introduced myself around. A little later, the same guy, Calvin, came up and tapped me on the shoulder again to explain that his friend, Muhammed, was from Abu-Dabi. "You can't be out in Abu-Dabi and he's never had a bear hug. You gave him his first bear hug." 

Wasn't that sweet?!  I was very happy.  
wwcitizen: (Dancing Steve 2)
Last night Matthew and I headed into the city after getting my car fixed (by 7:00 PM).  A friend of ours is leaving for London in a couple of weeks to be there on business for about a month - or more.  I'm all kinds of jealous, but I've had my time with business travel (I do miss it sometimes, though!).

His partner held a going-away party last night at a new-ish place called Industry. Truly, they didn't spend all too much on decor in that place; the floor, for instance, kinda actually looks like the sidewalk outside or at least a factory floor that's been there for 100 years. Perhaps that's part of the decor or "interior design".  We don't find ourselves there often for a lot of reasons, but primarily because it's not our crowd of people.

But last night was really fun. There were about 50-60 of us all in the back area of the bar. We ran into people we haven't seen in a while, and I ran into one guy I hadn't seen for about 10 years when I lived in south Jersey close to Philly.  Turns out that guy's ex-partner, who I also knew, died about 2 years ago. His friends or family found the guy, Kevin, dead in his bed where he'd been for a couple of days. No one knows how he died, but it seemed to be from natural causes. Thing is, he had had a gastric bypass years before (back when they really went to town and chopped you up inside) - in fact those two broke up because Kevin had had the bypass without talking to his partner, Joe, about it. What's odd is, Kevin's favorite "holiday" was Halloween and his birthday happened to be Halloween, as well.  After Kevin was buried, they discovered pumpkins were growing from his grave site.  When Joe told me about that, I got all sorts of tingly and creepy and strange feelings.

Matthew and I had only had a salad for a late lunch around 2:30 in the afternoon. By the time we got to the party - around 8:30 - we were pretty hungry. I had two martinis and a diet coke at the bar and was pretty happy and warm for the rest of the evening - without another drink!  We went to Uncle Nick's for Greek, which is always good, but last night's dinner was probably the best we've had there: grilled sardines (the 6 on the plate were each about as big as a large Cuban cigar), whole grilled Branzino, sauteed dandelion, fried smelts (YUM!!), and a mixed appetizer platter that contained grilled octopus, keftedes (Greek meatballs), multiple spreads, olives, pita, and dolmadakia.  Uncle Nick's really knows how to do seafood - their octopus is some of the best you can get.  Awesome!!
I wanted to post some pictures, but it seems like the photo upload isn't working for some reason.  :-(  I'll try to reload and see if that works.
wwcitizen: (Easter Bunny with Hat)
We've been having a wonderful weekend!!  The weekend started out on Friday with us getting our hair cuts.  We were about 2 weeks overdue for those.  Friday night, we visited our friends Tommy & Brian for Easter Egg coloring.  It was so much fun, and best to do with friends.
This is Brian with his most fabulous egg ever!  It's fun how some dying elements just happen and then if you take advantage of them - juuuuust right - you can make something amazing out of it! Brian cooks a mean Cornish hen and Tommy makes delicious guacamole! YUMMY!
That was the culmination!  Beautiful eggs, tons of colors, lots of creativity, and fun with friends. (Plus, I love Matt's face here: "That's enough pictures, Stephen!")

Yesterday, Matthew and I slept a long, long time. We didn't eat ANYTHING all day till dinner at Tony's di Napoli. There we met up with [info]squirreltot*, [info]texwriterbear, [info]super_sean for the first time ever along with another Texan friend, Shane. Unfortunately,[info]allsmilesbear didn't make it out, but [livejournal.com profile] mat_t did! [info]jimwnyc and [info]tinman11201* came out, too, and we met THEM for the first time in person, too!  It was a lot of fun, great food, and great company.

Dinner was arugula/pear salad, grilled shrimp, (libations - goes without saying), broccoli rabe, escarole and beans, veal salimbucca (thinly pounded veal cutlet with provolone and prosciutto) over spinach, chicken scarpiello with potatoes, peppers, and Italian sausage, and lobster raviolis with vodka penne. Don't forget the amazing Italian bread, and dessert: NY cheesecake, tiramisu, an ice cream cake (on the house), and cannolis.  Oh, and libations. Most everyone got appletinis.

Here are a few pictures from the evening (including some of the damage). More pictures from the dinner, you can find here.

Afterwards, as everyone else retired for the evening, Matthew and I dashed off to Ty's for a nightcap. We hadn't been out in the city since about February, so were pretty overdue.  There we were glad to run into our buddy, Chris. Such a sweetheart.

Today, we're heading up to the Ramsay, NJ, for Easter Dinner at about 3:00 with Matt's family; we're not hosting this year (don't get me started!).  I'm kind sleepy from all this weekend activity so far; might have to go take a nap before breakfast and lunch!

Someone brought Easter Bunny Ears to the bar. Of course, I had to take advantage of them!!

wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)
If there were ever a time that Matt and I find each other in the Far East (e.g. Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, etc.), we have discussed our possible memoir title: "Under the Big Bamboo". I've been to Singapore, Seychelles, Malaysia, Indonesia, Maldives, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, and Israel (all prior to any social unrest). I would LOVE to go to China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Korea, as well as all over sub-Saharan Africa (except Uganda).

But, my Asian trip would have to be a month trip or longer. And my Asian trip would have to be with anyone other than Matthew, unfortunately. He has no interest in going to those places.

Matthew DOES have interest in going to Australia sometime. But, again, that would have to be a month-long trip in Australia with stop-overs along the way. So, we're talking about 5-6 weeks on the road. THAT would be AWESOME!

FYI: We're planning a trip to France with friends in late spring, so all this chatter about travel plans and destinations does have an actual origin of discussion today.
wwcitizen: (Photo Avatar)
So, yesterday, we went into the city to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] martini_tim, [livejournal.com profile] bigsabu, [livejournal.com profile] octothorpe, and [livejournal.com profile] mat_t for dinner. Tim & Robert are heading through NYC on their way to Boston and then Ptown for Bear Week, where we'll also be for the week. Dinner was at Tony's di Napoli. We got there a little early for drinks at the bar. After we sat down (in the less noisy basement), we ordered fried calimari and heirloom tomato salad for apps. Then we had veal saltimbucca & spinach and chicken Scarpiello with sausage, potatoes, peppers, and onions. It was all really good! For dessert, we got the chocolate decadence (for Tim, I made sure they exchanged the vanilla ice cream with chocolate - YUMMIER!), cannolis, and tiramisu. So tasty, but we were REALLY stuffed!

Today, we went to a BBQ at a friend's place and had a great time. We got up late, though. Matt had made these AWESOME brownie cookies with dark chocolate brownie, peanut butter mixed with cream cheese, topped with a firm chocolate ganache. Here are a couple of pictures (he got the recipe from Anne Thornton of "Dessert First" on the Food Network - she's fierce and fabulous):

He also made chicken lollipops from frozen raw chicken wings, a construct from Jacques Pépin de-boning his chicken. With the wings, he made his signature dipping sauce with apricot jam, salt/pepper, and the juices from the cooked chicken. They were AWESOME!

We raced back home from the BBQ after a couple of rounds of Bocce Ball. We had decided earlier this month that we wouldn't go into the city or down to Weehawken for the fireworks this year. Instead, we went up onto the roof of our building (something we're not really allowed to do) and watched them from there. Here are a couple of highlights.

Looking across into Jersey:

Looking down the river to the Macy's fireworks:

Enjoyed the day thoroughly!


Mar. 23rd, 2011 10:31 am
wwcitizen: (S&M In Ptown)
There are a few LJ projects that I really love and fewer in which I actually participate. I like the month-long projects like 30 secrets in 30 days and I was really intrigued with the March picture meme (might actually transpose that into April just to be different). I'm sorely tempted to do the "Year In Pictures" project, but that might have to wait till next year.

A couple of years ago, I participated in the Pay It Forward project as a recipient. This year, I posted the Pay It Forward project a the maker. I still haven't decided what I'm going to make for the people who've responded to my post.

On Monday, my building's front desk called to let me know that I received a package. I asked Matt, "What did we order?" Neither of us had ordered anything that would have already arrived by Monday. To my surprise, I got a BEAUTIFUL, well-made, personalized, and handmade quilted table runner from [livejournal.com profile] dorisduke!! I was surprised because I'm supposed to make something for him!

BIG THANKS to [livejournal.com profile] dorisduke (Mike) and Gus for their generosity and craft! Impressive work. Unbeknownst to most folks (till now!), we try to use Chinese reds and designs in the bedroom, so even as a festive adornment for the futon or bed, it's perfect!

Here are some pictures:

The back:

wwcitizen: (Shaking Finger - BIG beard)

Fallout New Vegas (the original lore extracted from the creative mind of one Tim Cain) has been sucking my time (60+ hours) for the last 8-10 days. I hear the music in my dreams and, now, judge everything I see by its damage points and damage-per-second points, as well as value and weight. All food to me now, carries some level of radiation. IT.IS.A.FUN.GAME!! However, as Matt has astutely and frequently pointed out this last week, the game play REALLY feeds into my OCD and my acceptable forms of hoarding.

As of today, I can safely say that I have seen or experienced probably 4/5ths of things you see in this trailer:

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some Nightkins to manipulate into taking out some Followers of the Apocalypse. CYA!
wwcitizen: (New Year Ball)
I promise to send something handmade to the FIRST SIX (6) PEOPLE who leave a comment under this post (3 people for LJ and 3 people for FB) sometime in 2011. Small caveat: there are folks I made stuff for in 2010, and unfortunately, they're not eligible; I am not responsible for items lost in transit.

The people who respond must in turn post this on their journal or wall (respectively) and send something they make to the first 6 people who comment on their status. The rules are that it must be 1) handmade by you and 2) sent to your 6 people sometime in 2011. If you do not re-post, your comment on my offer is rendered invalid; i.e. you must also be willing to "pay it forward" for 2011.
wwcitizen: (New Year Ball)
Here's wishing you all a wonderful 2011!! We're off to a party tonight with friends from NJ, NY, DC, and elsewhere. Looking forward to it!

Bonne Année!
Guten Rutsch!
Voorspoedige Nuwe Jaar!
Честита Нова Година!
Hyvää Uutta Vuotta!
שנה טובה!
Laimīgu Jauno gadu!
¡Feliz año nuevo!
Srečno novo leto!
Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!
Furaha ya Mwaka Mpya!
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
wwcitizen: (Martini Steve)
Matt hates that I love Scotch. Not just any particular Scotch, but it must preferably be Single Malt Scotch. I have liked some blended Scotches in my day, though. Matt does not like Scotch or any type of whisky at all. I like to enjoy the odd glass now and then. And, yes, I'm a one-ice-cube Scotch drinker (die-hards, go ahead and poo-poo that, but a man likes what a man likes!). Although, I have to say, if I've never tasted a certain Single Malt, I will refrain from the ice cube for the first taste - a small shot of it for the flavor and experience of its face value. Then for a full serving, I'd slide in one cube.

On Wednesday, I was offered many rare treats! Along side some wonderful pâtés, goat cheeses, truffled honey, and heavenly olives, were three bottles of (potentially very expensive) Scotch!! One of the bottles was Johnny Walker Blue. At a local retail store JWB goes for almost $200). The second I spied was a 27-yr Tomintoul, which was oaked in 1983. I would have been about 15 then. Its price point ranges possibly between $100-180 a bottle. Lastly, there stood a bottle of 16-yr Lagavulin, which is about $75.

Here are two of the bottles:

The Tomintoul was by far my favorite. A description of the 16-yr Tomintoul reads, "One of the gentler whiskies in Speyside. It's a fragrant whisky too with a firm malty foundation, fruit gum drops and caramel. Subtle notes of almond and anise helped keep my interest, as did its soft, subtle wood spice finish. Very easy to drink too!"

The extra 11 years added to the bottle definitely added more spice and starker caramel. I don't think I got the almond in the 27-yr bottle, but certainly the fruity overtones and malt were very present. There was a nice bite to it as it finished.

For the 27-yr Tomintoul, a different description reads, "Deep amber color. Sweet dried peach and apricot, brown spice, and orange blossom aromas. A very smooth rich entry leads to a dry-yet fruity full-bodied palate of sweet dried fruits, Sherry and spice with a very long fade. Excellently balanced and soft with a gently Sherried and very fruity character that makes this an easygoing pleasure to drink. This is a remarkable value as well." There was a lot of repetition in this description, which tells me the author was probably drinking glass after glass to pull in as many adjectives into his description as possible before having to leave the bottle behind. I could picture myself doing that.

I was happy to taste the JWB; people get those bottles as gifts in business. It would be nice to build up a business that would warrant that type of gift! I think I liked the Lagavulin better than the JWB, though.

So, in order of preference, taste, and complexities:
#1 - Tomintoul, 27-yr
#2 - Lagavulin, 16-yr
#3 - Johnny Walker Blue

Then we went out to an Italian restaurant for dinner. I got a fantastic Osso Bucco accompanied by roasted fennel mashed potatoes following a goat cheese arugula salad. Dinner was finished off with coffee and fig & honey gelato. YUM!!

Yeah, we had to ring in the new year with some amazing food after Matt and my family put out so much other good stuff for the better part of a week! Starting Monday, it's starvation mode (within reason) and exercise. Gotta look good in my summer bikini (as opposed to my winter bikini!).
wwcitizen: (Santa Steve)
Here's hoping that this post backfires in a positive way! Given positive outcomes in other holiday goings-on, this issue might be resolved today! Here's hoping!

On Dec. 13, I sent out a package priority mail with the USPS (with a 2-3 day turnaround), who we always use for any of our packages - domestically or internationally. Usually, their delivery windows are the best for the price point. In contrast, FexEx, DHL, and UPS are terrible. The package was destined for Brooklyn. Another package I sent out on the same day got to NC within 3 business days. I fully expected the same with the package to Brooklyn because, after all, it's basically just over a couple of bridges.

Using Track & Confirm, the last update status after "Sorting Complete, December 17, 2010, 10:29 am, BROOKLYN, NY 11217" was, "Delivery status not updated as of December 18, 2010, 12:39 am".

I was shocked! I'd never seen any update like that on the USPS tracking site. I contacted customer service on Monday, Dec. 20, after 9AM. Even they said they'd never seen anything like this either! Let me reiterate: The USPS Customer Service said they'd never seen an update like that either!

A little later our local NJ PO contacted me about the package. I'd been trying to call the Brooklyn PO all day and got a constant busy signal. Our local PO had no further information and was also having trouble getting through to Brooklyn. Although I fully expected to hear on the news, "The Brooklyn Post Office at zip code 11217 was blown up today in a terrorist plot initiated by postal workers who were denied their pensions...", I kept trying to get through to the Brooklyn PO.

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, I got through to the Brooklyn PO after lunch! The guy I spoke with was fully 1) trying to get me off the phone, 2) did not want to help me, 3) couldn't have cared less about my problem, 4) came up with all sorts of excuses about why the package hadn't been delivered, and 5) took about a full 10 minutes to locate a pencil to take down my information. He still hasn't called me back and now my friend, for whom the package was intended has gone over - on Christmas Eve - to hopefully retrieve the package. He just called and the post office in Brooklyn couldn't locate the package.

This whole thing is soooo frustrating!! Most likely, the package was lost and no one wants to claim responsibility. Other stuff has made it to Queens and Brooklyn (other POs), but not this one little package.

Here's what's in the package along with a card:

We had missed their tree-trimming party, the first one we would have ever been to, because Matt was pretty sick with a cold. We were both so very sad to miss it. I had made these ornaments especially to give them for their tree. They are inscribed on the back of each ornament for 2010. UGH!

Well, here's hoping that at some point during the year, someone finds the package and actually delivers it to them. I've heard about packages that are lost around the holidays might not turn up for years. Years. So, here's hoping that someone finds it soon! This is really the only sad thing that's happened for us around the holidays this year, and I hope it stays that way!


wwcitizen: (Default)
Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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