Friday, April 28, 2017


Southern exposure
Since January I've been spending about half
of my time south of the Mason Dixon line.
If nothing else said experience reinforced
that my everyday existence is out of touch
with the rest of America. Obviously living
in Manhattan distorts one's perception. But
after diving down into middle America's
milieu I've confirmed that our life in rural
Montana is equally out of sync. Whats more
than obvious is that most of my fellow U.S.
citizens are fairly happy with things the way
they are. And post yet another immersion
into their above ground pool, I must agree.
Off the menu
I'm if nothing else a food snob. For most of my
adult existence I've dined on the finest cuisine
available. Wherever I choose to sup - be it at
home or about town I inevitably get a fairly
decent meal. However I must admit that once
one ventures out into the heartland, fine fare
is few and far between. Back in Montana if I
couldn't get a decent meal out, I enjoyed a fine
repast at home. Sadly when on the road said
option is not on the menu. Thus when out or
about I do my best to find the best within the
limited sphere of influence of the provincial
cities that I now frequent. Often to no avail.
Highs and lows
Obviously there are charming spots all across
America. In addition I've found that talented
mixologists tend bar in even the most isolated
of locations. However enjoying a decent meal
in the hither lands could possibly be one of the
biggest challenges I've faced. On the surface
the menus seem fairly appetizing. However
overly ambitious concoctions, limited fresh
resources, and inconsistent kitchen output is
a guarantee that local fare is fair at best. Once
in awhile I'm surprised by a fabulous meal but
inevitably upon a return engagement whatever
prior high is usurped by new unsurpassed lows.
Down & out
That's why I dined en masse last night. Rather
than consume over priced mediocrity, I opted
to venture out onto the edge of town. There
lies a chain gang of nationally known brands
who consistently deliver exactly what they
promise. Soon I was ensconced at the bar of
"Cheddars" a chain similar to Chili's, TGIF, or
Applebees. From the start it was a refreshing
experience. Post ordering a glass of Cabernet
(of which I've no idea from when or whence
it came) the barkeep asked me to see my I.D.
Immediately I burst out laughing given I'm
obviously old enough to truly need a drink!
Surprise party
Remarkably my eight dollar glass of vino was
quite good. As proven by no residual effects
the morning after. Immediately post ordering
my meal - a substantial house salad arrived.
A bed of chopped iceberg and cherry tomatoes
was covered in ranch dressing, shredded yellow
cheese, croutons, and chopped egg. God was
that good! After devouring all of my plebeian
roughage the main event was served with up a
smile. My eleven ounce sirloin was cooked to
perfection as was the "loaded" baked potato
that accompanied it. No wonder "Cheddars"
is as packed as the nearby "Cracker Barrel"!
Blue plate special
To be utterly candid, there was absolutely
nothing wrong with my repast. While prior
to serving it may have been vacuum packed
and shipped straight from a factory, all was
beyond my expectations. Especially the bill.
Post two glasses of vino, a steak and all the
fixin's - my tally was less than the price of
one cocktail at the King Cole Room back
home. Hence I exited my journey to the far
side with a dramatically altered perspective.
Mass branding may be mundane but it's a
guarantee of satisfaction. "Under promise,
over deliver" may be the recipe for success!
Repeat customer
My only disappointment was my fellow diners.
Slovenly is the only way to describe their attire.
Yet the fact that I was surprised is questionable.
While navigating through big box retail prior
to dinner, at least five folks commented about
"how dressed up" I was. Obviously few must
encounter a gentleman in jeans and sport coat.
Yet adrift in a tsunami of "casual" I certainly
stood out. Thus while enjoying my time on the
other side, this stranger in plebeian paradise is
eady to return to civilization. And fortunately,
I've booked a seat up front in MY comfort zone.
Only to return to "Cheddars" in a week or so...

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Process this...
In my mid-century youth, everyday fare
was boring at best. Back in our house
adventurous dining meant a plate of
canned Spaghetti or Chop Suey. As
I matured so did my palate. Today I'll
eat almost anything that anyone places
before me. That's because looks and
smells can be deceiving. I've learned
that some of the most delicious things
can initially seem quite unappetizing.
Hence in order for your palate to be
blown away one must be willing to
devour the world BITE BY BITE!
The first time I dined on Petai
beans I struggled. You see they
smell like vomit. Therefore this
Malaysian and Sri Lankan dish
is an acquired taste. Once one
adjusts to the odor, most come
to love said addictive legumes.
Nothing is as yummy as a bowl
of Chicken Foot Soup. While
others toss them aside, they are
the base for a broth that's beyond
compare. Their tiny bones can
initially be challenging but their
sweet flesh is worth the effort!
Back in Chicago our Korean
diner dished out "Hangover
Soup". It's heady scent was
reminiscent of the inevitable
results of a drunken night.
Scent aside, it does the trick!
It's been said that I've never met
an organ I didn't like. My most
favorite are Sweetbreads which
in reality are the calf's thymus.
Down in the West Village "Po"
serves a piquant pasta laced with
perfectly prepared sweetbreads.
So as in my youth, every once in
awhile I must go downtown to
nibble what some deem "gross."
Many know of our affection for
Fu Gua. Known as Bitter Melon
(squash) it's an acquired taste.
Post years of devouring them
we're used to their impact. Yet
we still enjoy watching virgins
take their first bite. Almost all
join our bitter boys brigade!
Americans assume Shrimp are
curly white morsels nestled on
top of crushed ice. But they're
missing the joy of dining upon
deep fried Shrimp heads. Just
close your eyes, dig in,  and
blow your minds (and theirs)!
I'll try anything. But even I can't
stomach some. Sunday we had
Dim Sum. I selected these dainty
green pastries off the cart. Only
to discover they were filled with
Durian. Trust me, they STANK!
Now I know what I don't like.

Sad but true...
I just found out (courtesy of "J") that Po has closed after 24 years
of dishing out fabulous meals. As with most things in Manhattan, the landlord
upped the rent beyond feasibility. HOW SAD! Click here for further scoop...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


From the outside looking in
Both Mr. Trump and I started new jobs within
a week of each other. Therefore I understand
the challenges confronting any newbie as they
transition into a new role. Starting afresh can
be a mix of anticipation and angst. However
while one's first day at school may have shaken
them to their very core, often the most seismic
of entrees occur much later in life. No wonder
our President is doing whatever he can to make
his mark. Whether it's indicative of a question
or exclamation is yet to be decided. And given
his approval ratings, many doubt his ability to
deliver on his promises. No wonder he's upset!
New kid on the block
Feeling out of place is never a comfort zone.
No matter how old you are, being the new
kid on the block is stressful at best. Hence
maintaining a smooth glide path as one tries
to adjust to new circumstances can be a rather
bumpy journey. At some point in said process
we question whether we've made the correct
decision. Inevitably such thoughts are driven
by self doubt. "Do I belong here?" "Am I up
to the challenge?" "Can I possibly survive?"
Such circumspection only isolates us from the
challenges at hand. Therefore to prove that
we belong we must overcome our own fears.
Limited circumstances
Alienation is often fueled by isolation - which
subsequently breeds contempt. That explains
why many terrorists are the disenfranchised
rejects of our society at large. Angry about
their seemingly unfair treatment, they search
for answers that validate their very existence.
The tenets of radicalism provide a context
that focuses a follower's unspent hostility,
anger, and resentment. Once empowered by
their newfound validation, the victimization
of their enemies is fully justified. Suddenly
"vengeance is mine saith the Lord" isn't just
a verse but a noble excuse for bad behavior.
Odd man out
You don't have to be a terrorist to destroy lives.
As proven by the pain and suffering we humans
reap on each other on a daily basis. Retribution
can rear it's ugly head in all sorts of situations.
Whether thats a subtle snub of a neighbor or the
purposeful spreading of false rumors about a
friend or colleague. Often what we deem to be
a little "dig" can destroy another's equilibrium.
So why can't we all be kinder AND gentler?
What can we lose except a slight but unfair
advantage? What if we helped rather than hurt?
We might discover that in doing so everyone
gain while few if any lose? Imagine that...
Better the enemy you know
One of the advantages to being civilized is
acting like it. Whether you're an ingenue or
an old pro, it's best to treat all we meet in
exactly the same manner as we want to be
treated. Everyone benefits from common
courtesy. So please, give yourself (and me)
the benefit of the doubt and expect the best
from others. Simply by not lowering your
expectations you raise our collective bar.
Which not only makes our world a better
place but also insures we each feel better
about ourselves. Thus in any new situation
manners and generosity matter all the more!.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Three strikes and we're out...

Downhill climb
America has gone downscale. That's the only
excuse one can make for the goings on within
what I term the "oval trailer." While reality
television has never been one of our greatest
cultural pursuits one can't doubt it's popularity.
Degradation has become the mode du jour.
Therefore our not so united states are going
in the wrong direction - a downward slide to
a Bubba Ray version of democracy. One where
the man in the big house gets what he wants off
the sweat of our brows. So tote that barge, lift
that bale, and pay for his weekend flights down
south to Maralago. Talk about a hole in one...

Vive la France?
Sadly, we're not alone. As proven by Sunday's
initial runoff election results in France. How
many nations do you consider the epitome of
chic? France has always done everything in
style. Be it Queens romping about faux farms
to publicly slicing off heads to Laduree or Cire
Trudon indulgences. However it's obvious that
our friends across the sea are struggling with
the same subterranean pull. Thus leaning left
is now deemed gauche. Whereas aligning with
a candidate who has a heritage of bigotry and
anti-semitism is considered by many to be...

Crazy to go
They say two is company - three's a crowd.
It was bad enough when Brexit forced the
UK to join us in a backlash driven political
mess. However the very idea that France -
always the rebel with a cause is following
in both of our footsteps terrifies me. Have
we lost our minds? That's seems to be the
only explanation for three of the world's
greatest powers joining in a fight against
all they've ever stood for. All driven by a
gaggle of disenfranchised plouc rouge who
hold the highest disdain for any politico
who won't kiss their derrières. Scared yet?
Right back where we started from
In theory there is safety in numbers. Thus an
affirmation that we share a common malady
should be somewhat reassuring. Yet while
beyond miserable, I'd rather not share our
pain with fellow compatriots. The very idea
that a cultural and political rift is now tearing
France in two is equally depressing. However
did we get into such a state of affairs? What
is wrong with this world? And how did the
inmates gain power over the asylum? Haven't
we been down this road prior? As I recall stuff
like this is what led us into war twice before.
Is this third time to be the charm? Deja vu?!
Triple threat
Will history repeat itself? Such an obvious
shift in global power will benefit someone.
Our President may be the most unpopular
populist in modern history yet he has no
problem tweeting away as he tries to make
America great again. In June British voters
weigh in on whose stuck holding the Brexit
bag. Thus the question du jour is what may
happen if France votes a blonde rebel to the
fore. Will the world lose if she wins? For
whatever reason we three need to take a
refresher course on how radical political
forces destroy progress. La merde arrive!

Monday, April 24, 2017


Home sick
Now that I'm back to work, one of the things
I miss most is being at home. A confirmed
homebody, theres little I adore more than
watching the afternoon sunlight dance across
life's bric a brac. Which may be why I now
treasure my Sundays. That's because it's the
one day of the week that I get to enjoy our
apartment. Yet what I truly long for is home
sweet home. It's been four months since I left
Montana. Hence I miss our house - the one
place in the world that is ours alone. Which
is what home is all about. A cocoon, haven,
oasis, and refuge from the world at large.
Borrowed spaces
Given my passion for home decor, one might
assume that I'm a complete and total control
freak. However we purposefully decided to
rent a fully furnished Manhattan apartment.
Primarily because we already had too much
stuff and didn't want more. Obviously Frank
and I are rather picky. Yet knowing exactly
what we like made it quite easy to eliminate
many of the available options. We ended up
with ten abodes that suited our taste. One
which was perfect for us. Soon thereafter
we moved into somebody else's space filled
with a treasure trove of a stranger's goodies.
Private property
Assuming responsibility for another's abode
isn't as hard as it may seem. Rather much
like many a nomad we quickly adapted to
our new circumstances. While in theory
there is little here that's ours we quickly
made it our own. That is after rearranging
the furniture and adding some of our own
bits and pieces. Post a period of adjustment
we've settled in to enjoy the comfort of a
second home without the hassles of home
ownership. Thus within in our rented oasis
we've got a place we can call home sans
any responsibilities or... BAGGAGE.
Safety in numbers?
All of which causes me to pause and reflect.
Why do we all feel the need to have so much
stuff? Touring a variety of lovely pre-war
buildings here in Manhattan, one thing was
greatly lacking - closets. Thus it's obvious
that prior generations lived with much less
than we feel is necessary for survival. Could
it be that less is more? More important, why
are we holding on to a bunch of crap that
we have no need for?! What is so lacking
within our lives that requires multiple walk
in closets to fill said void?  When is enough,
enough? Or too much, more than enough?
Recently due to a faulty plumbing installation,
our basement back in Montana was flooded.
Due to the intervention of a dear friend, it was
discovered after only 80,000 gallons of water
had risen to eight inches. Apparently we were
more than lucky as the norm for that kind of
onslaught is six to eight feet. The result of said
deluge was the loss of a variety of household
and personal effects. All of which while quite
lovely were no longer of any use to us. So...
why were they there? Mostly due to a variety
of excuses that neither of us can remember
now. Meaning that our loss was our gain.
Limited assets
One of the key reasons to call anyplace home
is the feeling you get within it's four walls. The
most important of which is an innate sense of
peace and harmony. Therefore explaining why
most of us fill said spaces with excess burdens
and added responsibilities can be challenging
at best. The next time you happen to be home
alone, stop and look around you. Ask yourself
what you can do to make your space an even
better refuge from the world at large. Whether
that means cleaning up your act or adding some
missing elements - do whatever it takes to make
your home exactly that. Home sweet HOME!

All of today's photographs are of places we have lived.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

7th Day Surprise: Out & About

Plant a seed...

Spring is here and so it's time to tend one's garden.
Starting anew means a fresh start.
Who knows what the outcome will be?
However whatever happens
something is sure to blossom.