wwcitizen: (GET OUT - WOW)
Matthew dropped me off before parking his car to pick up the packages and the mail. After I got that all sorted, i got on the elevator, followed by a Korean couple, a Jewish retiree with a fabulous beach-themed necklace, and an Italian lady with an 8-pack of Stella Artois beers.

I said loudly, "Stella! Stella!"

The Italian lady smiled and said, "These are for my muthah. She loves them!"

I said, "Make sure every time she or you opens a bottle, you yell, 'Stella!'"

She said, "Why?"

To which I said, of course, "It's an homage to Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire!"

And she looked at me and replied, "Stella! I'm gonna look that up..."

"Exactly!" I replied exiting the box, noting that the rest of the occupants were giggling at this point.

And then, as I exited the elevator, I heard, "Stella!" from all corners of the box.

My day was complete.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Last weekend was a lot of fun with the Fire Sand Jaguar F-Type convertible. My post about it just went live a few minutes ago, in which I purposefully left a thread hanging from the story. It was left from the story because, frankly, it well deserved its own focus.
  1. It seems that my 2004 Passat is cantankerous. 
  2. It wasn’t good writing to distract from the previous post’s theme.
  3. The previous post’s theme was AWESOME!
  4. This current theme is about a jealous Passat.
When I plopped my little butt into the Fire Sand Jaguar F-Type convertible on Friday and drove away from my office for the weekend, of course, my 2004 Samoa Red Passat had to be left behind. After all, no one can drive two cars – safely – at once. It’s either one or the other. I took the other, hotter, faster car out for the weekend.

I’m frankly not sure what, if anything, transpired with my car whilst I was away traipsing around the countryside in the hottest thing on the NJ and NY highways and byways. My old guy was parked all alone in a Mahwah corporate parking lot for 2.5 days. 

Granted, there’s 24/7 parking lot security at my office, so my Passat was fine. He was safe. I’m certain he felt lonely and neglected without so much as a “See ya!” from me.

After turning in my Jaguar from the weekend, my Fire Sand was watching me throughout the day as I walked from building to building.  After work, I got into my old 2004 Passat, happily content with his practicality.  Happy that he’s paid for and that, in large part, I don’t really have to worry about him at all.

Work ended and Matthew was waiting patiently for me at his office 5 miles up the road on the NJ/NY border.  I got on the highway and was carefully navigating traffic, across lanes to the left and back to the right - the normal ebbs and flows of evening rush hour traffic. I kept noticing that my right side passenger rear-view mirror was wobbling.

I used the little turn knob on my side to push the mirror upwards, downwards, sideways and back to get the mirror to snap back into place. I didn’t realize that the actual glass was the wobbly bit. I didn’t realize that the wind was getting behind the mirror and loosening it from the flat plastic base. In an instant, as I was pushing the position knob back upwards, the mirror popped off and flew into the air behind me! I feel like I heard a “clink-clink-splatter” on the pavement to my back right as I sped away unable to stop and make sense of it all.


I exclaimed, “There it GOES!” to no one in particular with my windows open. “THERE IT WENT!” I screamed again to the gas station sign I was passing. Just really to myself – albeit loudly.  It was sort of a helpless feeling, witnessing my 2004 Passat turning into a zombie before me – with me inside!

I smacked my right hand onto the top of my steering wheel and rested my forehead against my left hand with my elbow on the window sill.

“Hope they have a mirror!” I said out loud to the air whipping around through my car, speaking, of course, about the VW dealership on the way home. What an inconvenient and odd thing to happen after such a nice weekend with my Fire Sand Jaguar!

And there it was. My old 2004 Samoa Red Passat was JEALOUS!  Jealous that I took another car home. Fuming that another, younger, hotter vehicle got to see the hilly countryside in upstate NY. Stewing all weekend by himself in a lonely parking lot, scheming of ways to say, “See?! How’s THIS for leaving me behind?! Huh?! You need to pay attention to me!  Spend time with ME for a change, why doncha?! IN FACT, I want something new for ME because I deserve it.”

And so he made me spend money on him.  To the tune of $100!  Honestly, I’ve done the same thing before with a previous boyfriend in a similar situation. I get it.

Needless to say, the parts department at both convenient VW dealerships were either closed or closing before we could get to either. I had to wait to check with the dealership closest to my office till today, but we met “RD” along the way.

“RD” is a short, beefy (clearly) Italian bulldog who works at the Mahwah-local dealership.  Good arms, great tats, and excellent eye contact. Buzzed hair and furry belly. Yes. Furry belly. More on that later… “RD” explained to me yesterday, “Make sure that you push in the new one like this (demonstrating and checking in with me that I was watching him): In the middle… not on the sides. OK?”

“Yes, sir! Not on the sides, but push it good in the middle there.” I quipped without cracking a smile.

“Right! Grab onto the sides here (checking in again with me) and once you have it seated and plugged in just right, push it in the middle till you hear it snap. Hear that?” I nodded studiously. “That means it’s in place. Then you can get in and move it around.”

Yeah. I’m not totally sure if those were all the words or phrases he used in that order, but they seem plausible. In that order. In my head. Right? RD did show me and instruct how to insert the new mirror once I got it and his demo yesterday was totally cute.

On the way home last night without knowing whether I’d be able to get a real replacement today, we scooted by Pep Boys to see if they had a mirror I could glue onto the old plastic base.  “MacEnroy”, a handsome 50-yr-old, Latin fireplug, told us about a glass place “around the corner” that could cut out a perfect fit. Sounded good, but no dice; the place was closed – in fact, it closed at 4:30PM and at we got there at 6:15PM.  Ugh. So, we went back to Pep Boys and got a set up for about $10 that would get me through about 2-3 days of traffic, in case I had to wait a couple of days for the replacement mirror to be ordered - better to be safe than sorry!

Turns out the local VW place had one in stock and I picked it up today.  And RD installed it!  Oh, yes. And about his furry belly. I saw his furry belly today when I picked up my mirror from the dealership during lunch. I asked if “RD” was around cuz, after all, he’s the one who explained yesterday; I needed him to make sure it was pushed in just right - from in the middle, not the side.

He installed the mirror and made sure I heard it snap into place.  He wiped his fingerprints slowly off the mirror with this t-shirt and, in doing so, exposed his furry little belly.  When he was done with my mirror, he stood there holding his belly button (for no apparent reason) under his t-shirt as we finished talking. Of course, I couldn't leave until he turned to go back to work. It's only polite. ;-)  Plus, meeting RD and MacEnroy were fun silver linings,

It’s also good to know that my Passat’s got a jealous streak. For the next time I leave him behind for a different car…
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
About a year ago, Matthew bought us an 8-cup ZeroWater filtering system. We had tried multiple filters over the years, but never really stuck to them. The absolute worst experience we had with the filtering systems was the PUR faucet filter. We threw it out within 6 months, I think.  We had been drinking the water straight out of our faucet for years and even did from time to time after trying out different filters. I had a Brita filtering system for years, but it was just a PITA, so we got away from it.

Test Scenario
This last month, I set up a test scenario because I wanted to know how much water we drank daily using the filter. I was also wondering why we were all of a sudden going through filters hand over fist - like two filters a month! The "test" was that each time we filled up the basin to filter water into the 8-cup pitcher, we ticked off a mark on a little pad.  We discovered that we drink at least 40 cups of water a day! This is, of course, including coffee, water itself, tea, and drink mixes (e.g. 4C drink mixes with Splenda). We also use the filtered water for steaming veggies and fish as well as for boiling things - even eggs! Who needs extra metals sneaking into our food?

Filtration & Measurements
The filtration system removes all sorts of metals and are certified specifically to remove lead and chromium, but also can remove chloramine, flouride, uranium, and other inorganic compounds.  The pitcher and filters we ordered and received came with a
TDS meter that determines how many "Total Dissolved Solids" are in the water before and after filtration. Prior to the hurricane last fall, our tap water was measuring in at around 230 parts per million. Our tap water now measures 350 parts per million TDS, which is substantially worse for some unknown reason. It is possible that the NJ water contains more chloramine than our neighboring states, which will substantially reduce the efficacy of our filters more quickly.

As a point of reference, Manhattan's awesome tap water is approximately 5-10 parts per million! So, as long as the tap isn't coming through lead pipes, the Manhattan water is really good. Our water? Not so much. The reported average TDS in our area of NJ is 100 (which I think is very wrong). Matt's sister's water about 20 minutes north of us reads at around 249 ppm. Once filtered through a brand-new filter, though, the water TDS measures in at 0-1 ppm.


When the ZeroWater filters are full of filtered metals, water still comes through them. After about a week or so of regular filtration, we start testing the water. We throw the filters out once the TDS reading is around 20 ppm because the water starts smelling and tasting funky. If the water filter actually breaks (internally), the filters dump all the metals they filtered out into the pitcher that we're going to drink!!  Seems like bad design or a design flaw, but we're now aware of it. Our tap water smells like chlorine and bleach to begin with and when the filters break, we usually know it before we taste it. Yes. We've tasted the water after a filter has broken. IT.CANNOT.BE.SWALLOWED. It's so disgusting.

Cost Analysis
The ZeroWater filters are not cheap. In the store (e.g. Bed, Bath & Beyond or online), they can be about $15 apiece! We get them via Amazon's subscription service, which replenishes our stores every three months at about $8.50 per filter.  But, frankly, part of our test was determining whether filtering our water using ZeroWater was less expensive than just buying bottled water. A couple of weeks ago, we had to buy bottled water (in gallons) because we ran out of filters before the subscription kicked us out a new supply.

We even tested the water straight out of the gallon jugs for the fun of it. Spring water from Maine measured in at about 25 ppm and spring water from Pennsylvania measured in at 50-65 ppm. And the amount of TDS differed from jug to jug on all accounts.  Poland Spring (from ME) tasted the best.

Bottled water here (natural spring water is what we chose) costs anywhere from $1.50-$1.75 per gallon.  For the equivalent consumption of 40+ cups a day, we're paying slightly more than half the cost of an equivalent supply of bottled water. We're actually saving money using the ZeroWater filters!!

Environmental Savings
We're also saving the environment from all those bottles.The problem I have always had with bottled water was the bottles or gallon jugs. They get thrown away. Even if there's a promise of recycling them,  the plastic is still around. The ZeroWater company provides a recycling program themselves. All you have to do is ship back the filters to the company's Texas facility. Then they send you coupons for your next purchase, which can be used at Bed, Bath and Beyond or on the ZeroWater online store.

Better Health
Matthew and I have determined that by drinking more filtered water, we are thinking more clearly and sleeping more soundly than ever before. Our skin is also reaping the benefits of drinking better water.  We have paired up drinking more ZeroWater at close to 0 ppm with drinking less Splenda-sweetened drinks and removing all Aspartame (you make your judgement) from our diet; i.e. no drinks or food sweetened with NutraSweet or sweeteners containing Aspartame. We find ourselves drinking water straight more often than not now and can tell that our health is improving, which is an added bonus!

The end of the story is, use filters for your water, especially if you drink bottled water. It will save the environment from plastics.  If you have to choose a filter, Matthew and I recommend ZeroWater due to the better taste of the resulting, cleaner water, and its probable good health effects.

HAPPY EARTH DAY 2013!!
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wwcitizen: (Happy Moose)
Our condo is on the 3rd floor of a high-rise on a cliff across from NYC.  We can actually see the George Washington Bridge from our balcony and we have a decent view of the treetops and other nearby high-rises.  Our balcony also overlooks the top two levels of the building's parking garage. There's about 10 feet between the edge of our balcony and the edge of the parking deck, but the deck is easily 10 feet lower than our balcony.

I'm explaining all this because we should NEVER see PAW PRINTS in the snow on our balcony other than from birds. We rarely see birds, either. So, for Matthew to notice little paw prints was kinda weird.  Apparently, our next door neighbor now owns a cat and lets the animal out on her balcony from time to time. I thought I heard a "meow" from time to time and this just confirms it - and it wasn't through the walls, it was from our balcony!  The floor of our balcony continues from our side to our neighbor's side and the railing continues beyond a separator between our segments of the entire balcony slab. So, it's not unusual that a cat would find a way to jump onto the railing - carefully - and walk over to our side. Or even looping around the railing on the floor, which would be the safer route. Cats are known to be ultra curious, but ultra safe. 

I love cats, so finding these little paw prints in the snow, to me, was a cute little find this morning!
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wwcitizen: (S&M In Ptown)
Today is the 9th anniversary of the first day Matthew and I met in person. I cannot believe we've been together for 9 years. At times, it feels like 6 months, but then I see my pictures folder and Picasa to find how we've chronicled our time together - so efficiently - except for the first year. Neither of us had a digital camera till about a year later, I think.

I will never forget parking my car in New Brunswick in front of my bank and seeing him standing outside Old Man Rafferty's on that Saturday. He was wearing a leather sports coat and jeans. His foot was propped up against the wall and he was looking toward my car with his hands in his pockets. My heart fluttered and butterflies were flapping around in my tummy. I remember thinking, "That's got to be him. OH MY GOODNESS, he's so much more handsome in person!"  (We had exchanged pictures, of course, and web cammed a couple of times during the week leading up to that Saturday.)

I went to the bank to get some cash for lunch and almost tripped onto the sidewalk because I couldn't stop looking at him from afar.  I walked down the street and couldn't stop smiling; I felt like a dork. His face lit up as I got closer and we shook hands. Frankly, I wanted to jump him right then and there. But, I waited... patiently. 

When we sat down to have lunch, I could not stop looking at his hands and face and shoulders. I don't remember the shirt he was wearing because I was so fixated on how beautifully handsome he was.  And he still is.  His laugh and smile are infectious.

Here's looking forward to the rest of our lives together. Needles in hay stacks, we were, but I've found my soul mate, who's become my best friend and partner over the course of 9 amazing years. Never thought it would be possible that I would find this man who wants to be around me and knows me so absolutely well - better than I know myself. And, I often ask myself and him, "Why the hell do you and can you put up with me?!" It's because he's a saint and I love him to death.

Happy anniversary, my love. You bring me so much joy, laughter, and love.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Our cleaning lady is here today and she always does a fantastic job.  She's so sweet and always very careful. 

Today, sitting at my desk, I hear, "I'm the Hamster of Happiness, baby! And I know stuff!" then CRASH!  She had hit our big Hamster of Happiness button we got at a party a few years back and gotten startled. Apparently, she'd never hit it before.

I pictured a margarita glass splintered all over the floor and our cleaning lady standing in the middle of glass shards not knowing where to go or what to do.  Thankfully, it was only votive candle holders that had fallen on top of our bar cabinets and hit each other. Nothing broken (everything's replaceable; I was truly more concerned about our cleaning lady than anything broken). But, she and I had a good laugh.  Crisis averted.

wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)

Matthew did a fantastic job again this year with the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes.  It's an Italian, Catholic, Christmas Eve tradition. I'm not Catholic. I'm not Italian. But I LOVE this tradition!!  Matthew is holding to most of his mother's recipes and has added a couple of things (or tried out a couple of new things) for a bit of a flare to keep the interest in the affair going. There's nothing difficult about picking out fish - truly. We all love seafood.  But, to prepare them in such a way that there are different dishes with at least 7 different fishes, that's the ultimate challenge.

For example, we made an octopus salad with roasted potatoes and onions. Matthew slow-cooked the octopus overnight in red wine vinegar and white wine with spices, pulled off the suckers, and marinated the octopus meat for 2-3 days. Then I roasted the potatoes and pearl onions and mixed in the octopus, which warmed up the octopus and olive oil marinade. YUM!!

Then we made the standard (and VERY scrumptious) seafood salad with squid (calamari), shrimp, cuttlefish, scallops, and baby octopus. Matthew made a lemon/olive oil marinade for the mixture and they sat in the fridge for about 2 days. I chopped up red, yellow, and orange peppers, celery, two garlic cloves, and parsley and mixed it all together on Christmas Eve. DELICIOUS!! And so fresh.

Matthew worked extra hard on battering and sauteeing soft shell crabs. I never liked soft shell crabs that much until I met Matthew. Also, his prep is by far the tastiest I've ever had. I could not stop eating these this year - and we were able to glean about 10 for leftovers.  He also made stuffed calamari, which might fall off the list next year.  Also, he did the shrimp with lemon and basil and I learned how to chiffonade basil for the preparation!

That's 6 fishes so far (yes, arthropods (crustacea), mollusks, and cephalopods are included as fish since squid, octopus, mussels, and shrimp are all from the sea). Then, we got lobsters steamed and removed the meat from the shell for a "raw bar", which included mussels, lump crab meat, and snow crab claws. He also added a beurre blanc sauce and a minuet, of course, for dipping.  On Christmas day, Matthew's brother-in-law steamed clams (littlenecks). YUM!! 

As for actual fish, Matthew prepped smelts, which I always love. Smelts are similar to sardines. Matthew rolls them in a flour/salt & pepper covering mixture, I sprayed them with olive oil, and then we baked them.  Once they're out, they get tossed in a lemon/olive oil sauce to bring out the flavor of the fish. On Christmas Eve, Matthew grilled Chilean sea bass steaks, which he had carefully tied into round filet "mignons" of fish. Typically, there's a Baccala salad (salt cod), which is a smelly, disgusting, but ultimately tasty (albeit kinda dry) dish, but this year, the Baccala didn't happen - no one likes it that much and the prep is such a PITA, that it's just not worth making.

Matthew really wanted to make quenelles escoffier (Jacques Pépin) - a French fish preparation of one or two fishes blended into a mouse, poached, and baked with a white cream sauce. We made a haddock-based "test run" for ourselves about 6 days early, which turned out wonderful. THAT dish would have been an amazing addition to the array of fishes dishes, but the blend we made with turbot and cod for the Christmas Eve feast bombed for some reason - maybe because the fishes weren't as fresh as the haddock we had used earlier.  :-( 

Of course, he made broccoli rabe and green beans for veg, and with leftover stuffing from the stuffed calamari, he stuffed some PEI green shell mussels.  For dessert, everyone whipped out chocolates, store-bought cream puffs and sfogliatelles, but the biggest hit were Matthew's cookies, which he finished baking about 2 weeks before Christmas.  He made two kinds of biscottis, rainbow cookies, and pignoli nut cookies. Those are the basic standards and about all he could muster with all the other stuff going on throughout the holiday season.

Everyone truly enjoyed all the preparations and were fully amazed - again - at Matthew's cooking and gourmet cheffing of the Feast.  Enjoy the pictures!!

Oy! Gewalt!

Nov. 2nd, 2012 06:30 pm
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)


I just inadvertently kinda freaked out a Jewish man in my building.  I'm sitting in the lobby charging a jumper battery for our phones. To keep myself amused, I was taking some pictures of the carp fish in the lobby.

 

An older Jewish man over my shoulder said "What are you doing?" in Yiddish (which has its roots in German, of course).

 

My knee jerk reaction? I answered him in English... "Just taking some pictures... oh, sorry you were speaking to your friend..."

 

He kinda got this big hopeful smile on his face, "You speak Yiddish?"

 

"No, I just understand it."

 

Then he turned to his friend to explain that I had understood what he'd said and that I speak Yiddish.

 

But I don't... :-)

wwcitizen: (Open Wide-r)
Matt came home excitedly with some Vietnamese fresh water shrimp last week from one of our local Korean markets. They're kinda blue before you cook them. The first picture on the left is of them defrosting.  Then, Matt started cutting up the fixings for Pho (a delicious, hearty Vietnamese soup with noodles and/or rice, chicken, and greens like cilantro, mint, and basil, along with bean sprouts, picant red pepper, and lime - as you see on the platter).  While Matt was cooking, I ordered some white rice from the Chinese place down the road along with some sauteed green beans and sauteed bok choi.  YUM!  Oh, and see the half egg? That's a hard boiled Korean soy egg - scrumptuous!

When the Chinese delivery guy showed up, I opened the door and took the bags to sign the bill. He looked into the kitchen from the hallway, noticed the steamer in one of our woks, and asked, "What are you cooking?"

Me: "Pho" (pronounced "fah").
Delivery guy: "Wha?"
Me: "Pho"
Delivery guy: "Wha? You use Chinese bamboo steamer..." pointing into the kitchen at the stove.
Me: "Pho. Uh... shrimp. We're steaming shrimp."

I had to leave it at that.  He wasn't Vietnamese; he was Chinese. Not sure if they have something similar in authentic Chinese cuisine, but it's evidently, surely, not pronounced "fah". 

The Pho was fantastic, tasty, and absolutely filling; the shrimp do have a wonderfully sweet, delicious tamale that's better than the one found in a lobster. But, eating the shrimp was a PITA (pain in the ass).  The shells were papery and it's awful to have to dig through a sauced shell to the fat free meat and find the prized tamale. There's also just something a little unappetizing about sucking out a spread out head just behind the shrimp eyes. I know that crawdad head suckers are gonna get on me about that, but even those little critters are different than these shrimp.

Though they're very tasty and we're glad to have had the experience, large, unshelled saltwater shrimp are flavorful enough, easier to eat, and more forgiving,


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!! 
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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!!
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wwcitizen: (Kiss)
My husband is the sweetest man. Last night, because I've been taking care of him while he's got a nasty cold, he made the sign over his heart like this and said, "My love, I heart you!"
I said, "Awww!!  Me, too"  Then, I reached over to my heart's area and, with a horrified look on my face, made like I was prying my heart out - alive and pumping - giving it to him saying, "KALI MA SHAKTI DE!!" - like that creepy priest in Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom.

Matt and I got into a laughing fit, which in turn just made him cough a bit more and blow his nose. See? I'm taking care of him to make sure it all comes out - love, phlegm, snot, AND laughter!

Took A Nap

Apr. 27th, 2012 05:30 pm
wwcitizen: (S&M - Sleep)
Just got up from a wonderful power nap. Matt came into the bedroom when the mechanics called about my car, which has been in the shop today.  I haven't driven my car since last June, actually, as posted earlier this year, about a month ago.

When he came in the room talking to the mechanics on my cell phone, I woke up out of an intense dream thinking, "What's that? Who am I? Where am I? Is Matt up already? Have we had our coffee?"

That kind of reaction typically means that I had a pretty decent nap. I could probably sleep a little while longer, but paired with last night's awesome sleep (almost 8 hours!), I think I'm good for the evening.

We might go looking at cars tomorrow, but most likely, I'll keep my car now for a while - after spending $400 on two new tires, a new battery, a slight tune up, and an oil change. I think I'm pretty justified in keeping it at least another year or two. Right?  It still doesn't make good fiscal sense to buy a new car when I'm still a consultant with no guarantee of 5 years commitment.

Have a GREAT Friday evening out there and a wonderful weekend!
wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)
This was me today cuz THE SHUTTLE PASSED OVER NYC!!  YAY!! 


I took about 300+ photos within 15 minutes and had gotten up to the roof JUST in the nick of time to see the shuttle passing over. It flew REALLY close to our building.  I whittled the collection down to about 70 shots, which turned out pretty good!  Enjoy!  (...and comment at will...)

I also sent a link to this album to the Rachel Maddow Show; hopefully, she'll use a couple or more on the show tonight!
wwcitizen: (NC - Lighthouse)
My birth state is NC.  My heritage and roots very deep there. Over 250 years of my family have been born there, have moved away from there into other parts of the country and world, and have died there. My family's burial plot is surrounded by magnolias and dogwoods. I was reminded of my strong and proud NC heritage today when the copy of my birth certificate arrived noting both my parents as "born in NC". 

I'm actually from "Down East", which is part of the area called the Coastal Plains. Growing up in North Carolina, we learned about the state's three distinct geographical areas: the Coastal Plains (first, cuz that's where we were), the Piedmont (named for the rock under the section and where my grandparents hailed), and the Mountains (the Appalachians).  We also learned about the state bird (the cardinal), the state flower (the dogwood), and the state tree (the Loblolly pine).  It's amazing how little tidbits of useless information get put into our little heads as children and stick with us throughout our lives. Even the term Tar Heel, a siblinghood into which NC descendants are born and to which I undoubtedly and unapologetically belong.  The Tar Heel is NOT (necessarily) a student of or graduate from UNC Chapel Hill, but, alas, modern times have given way to that bastardization of the term. Happily, UNC-CH uses the term "Tarheels", not "Tar Heels" - notice the separation. 

This is a poem about the Tar Heels:
"Here's to the land of the Long Leaf Pine.
The Summer land where the Sun doth Shine.
Where the Weak grow Strong and the Strong grow Great.
Here's to North Carolina, the good Old Tar Heel State."

Isn't that majestic?  Written back during times when people wrote more eloquently and when penning one's pride in his/her heritage or a state-based patriotism wasn't considered nationalism or fascist. 

I love North Carolina and I love being from there. I also love New Jersey and now calling NJ my home.  I really enjoy returning to NC and visiting places I've known all my life. There are few areas of NC I can say that I have yet to discover or visit. I love to have been born in Greenville; growing up there was pretty awesome (till I was bullied in high school and church for being gay to the point that I felt the need to move).

I would venture to say that of the Southern States, NC is probably the most progressive and (dare I say) the most liberal.  It, therefore, really shocks me - and saddens me - that there is a great effort right now to add an amendment to the state's constitution that would ban same-sex marriages.  I do really hope that North Carolinians (not all Tar Heels, I'm afraid) do the right thing and vote against the amendment. Please vote against Amendment One, if you're registered to vote in NC.

It's sad to think that NC won't recognize legally married same-sex couples - even now.  When Matt and I are able get married legally in NJ and we have our marriage certificate in hand, and then cross the border into NC, my home state won't recognize us and many other same-sex couples as legally married couples.  It's disappointing that within the 2nd decade of the 21st century (!!) same-sex marriage is such a big issue. Antiquated, misinformed, misguided Christian theologies are swaying the legal decisions of not only my home state but other states trying to maintain my minority as second-class citizens. What happened to the Separation of Church and State?!

I hope that North Carolina does the right thing. Please vote against Amendment One.
wwcitizen: (Best Zoolander)
We typically go through our clothes about once a year and thin things out in preparation for the following year's clothing debauchery. However, we didn't really do that this past year, even though we had the time. Granted, about a month ago, I took about 6 sweaters I hadn't worn in over two years to GoodWill (for the tax write-off), but that's so clearly not enough!!

This past weekend, Matt and I put all this new furniture together that we had been ordering for the last couple of months. Finally, all the pieces arrived ON FRIDAY - all together over the course of the day! We got:
  • New bar furniture in the kitchen
  • New shelving for Matt's bathroom
  • A 2-door armoire for the dressing area for a linen closet
  • A 3-door armoire for the bedroom as both a shoe solution and new shelves for me
Everything worked out wonderfully and it all looks great.  The only problem was the amount of stuff I have: We were under the impression and driven by the hope that many of my clothing/shoes storage issues would be solved by my 3-door armoire. As I was moving my clothes out of the previous armoire onto the bed, I noticed that I was in trouble; there wasn't going to be enough room for it all in the new armoire! I have too many pairs of jeans and WAY too many t-shirts and shorts.

[livejournal.com profile] spikejrt's post this morning reminded me that I need to go through and thin things out a bit, but his post mentioned something else: Not buying any new clothes for a year.  I like that thought; I don't need new clothes. If we were able not to buy any new clothes for a year (not a New Year's resolution by any stretch), we would certainly be able to extract things that we don't wear in a given year more readily. PLUS, it would force us to use the clothes we have.

I made a promise to myself, with Matt's prodding, that for every visit to DSW with the intention of buying a new pair of shoes, I would have to get rid of three pairs at home.  I was good about that and actually did it about four times.  Then, this past summer, I stumbled across an amazing sale at the Kenneth Cole outlet in Upstate NY. I walked out of there with 7 new pairs of designer shoes for about $120. In retrospect, it would have been smart of me simply to buy a whole bunch of the shoes and donate them directly to charity without thinking about it, but that didn't happen. Instead, the other 2/3s of the new 3-door armoire that was supposed to be my end-all-be-all shoe storage solution isn't what it was supposed to be - fully.  Ho hum.  I'll have to dive in there and get rid of more... and then NOT BUY ANY.

Anyone need a new wardrobe with size 12 shoes?  Photo uploads aren't working properly today or else I would have posted some pictures. So, those will have to wait till later. 
wwcitizen: (At Puter)
Yesterday and on Thursday, I was looking for some holiday pictures, specifically Saturday Evening Post covers, because they depict warm American scenes - for the most part.  Especially Norman Rockwell.

In the process, I discovered this really great site for magazine covers, including Saturday Evening Post covers.  I had forgotten about all the other, non-Norman Rockwell covers.  I ended up spending hours looking through (and saving) tons of covers.  Check them out!  Some of them are quite inspiring in their own way.

HAPPY WEEKEND!!
wwcitizen: (AnimatedFace)
How many people use duvets on their bed? We have one (LOVE IT!), but if we don't shake the feathers around inside it, we end up with a thin duvet at the top around our heads and a very thick section tucked into the foot of the bed.

I just had to shake and shake and shake the feathers from the bottom to the top and into sides for about 2 minutes - VIOLENTLY - to get the feathers moved around. If my juices weren't flowing yet today after 3 cups of strong coffee, they certainly are now!
wwcitizen: (At Puter)
We found a new Italian pizzeria down the road has an online order form! YAY! I went through the the process of ordering a pizza, some apps, soup (for my voice), and other things for lunch/dinner tomorrow. The ordering process wasn't as easy or fail-proof as it should be, but it worked... OK.

At the end, we put in our credit card, hit submit, and got the confirmation number... OK. There was no order listed as to what we'd actually order to check to make sure that we'd get what we ordered when it arrived (which I know you don't get when you're ordering Chinese, but at least we tick off the stuff we want before we call the place). So, I used my browser to "go back" to the previous page. Uh-oh.

Someone else's order from a totally different restaurant for Thai food, which was not the order (or total) I placed. That concerned me enough to try to contact the order company, but there's no phone number in order to follow up. There's only an online form. Luckily, before I confirmed and placed the order, I noticed a "get a confirmation phone call for your order" check box, which I checked. They just called after I sent the order company a note about the snafu.

Hope they get their kinks worked out - I'm sure they will. The company "OrderItOn" seems to have a nationwide presence. If you're interested to see whether they're in your neighborhood, look them up!

Oh. And we thought about starting our detox tomorrow, but that would be too cliche. We're starting the "Bear Week vodka debauchery" detox tomorrow. BUT, I'm happy to report that I found my new favorite vodka up there and promptly bought a gallon of it, which Matt and I proudly finished within 7 days, along with a small bottle of cupcake-flavored vodka by Desiree - not advisable.

Back to watching TV and awaiting Italian food. YUM!!
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!

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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