With Relish

That humble little glass container might look ordinary to you, Dear Readers.

But to me, it’s heaven in a jar.

That’s because it contains ambrosia- nectar of the gods.

AKA the chow chow relish at the Surfside Diner in Palm Beach.

OMG.

I love this stuff.  When I’m lucky enough to find it, I eat it on hamburgers, hot dogs, eggs…anything I can lay my hands on.

In fact, I’ll eat it straight from the little glass jar if need be.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “relish” as: “Characteristic flavor; especially pleasing or zestful flavor.” Enjoyment of or delight in something that satisfies one’s tastes, inclinations, or desires.  A condiment (as of pickles or green tomatoes) eaten with other food to add flavor.”

That sums it up for me.  Whether it’s a noun or a verb, I am just nuts about relish.

Palm Beach might serve up its own brand of Southern Creole magic, but my hometown, Chicago, is no slouch when it comes to the relish department.

In fact, the city’s trademark one comes in neon green.

It practically glows in the dark.

You can’t have an authentic Chicago dog without this. Yum.  (And it does wonders for tuna salad.)

The Midwest chain of Steak ‘n Shake has seen better days.  I used to be a BIG fan but I think they have gone downhill.  But I am still crazy about their mustard/relish spread.  And oh, their pickle!

And speaking of pickles, Bubbie’s does wild and wonderful things with them.

Although talented Bubbie preserves everything from horseradish to sauerkraut, I am never without a jar of her bread and butter pickles in my fridge.

Ever.

Mazel Tov, Bubbie!

But let’s not forget our gifted fratelli italiani.

They have their own version of relish.  It’s called giardiniera.  Chicago’s favorite go-to with Italian Beef sandwiches.

Mr. Beef on Orleans has fabulous, fresh giardiniera.  It’s to die for.

I couldn’t eat this sandwich without it.

And Hungarian Tony Packo also knows his way around a canning jar.

But my taste for relish does not end with the pickle and pepper kind.

I also love olives.

Most anything can be perked up with the addition of a fine layer of this.

It does wonders for a run-of-the-mill turkey sandwich.

 

So many relishes.  So little time.

And SOS to all my friends in Palm Beach this winter….

You know what would be a real thoughtful early birthday present?

Think about visiting the Surfside before you head north.

You’ll know what to do.

See you next on Sunday, February 26, Dear Readers.

Now here’s a clip from a wonderful movie to hold me until my chow chow arrives.

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Posted in food, pop culture, Restaurants | 10 Comments

Law School

This post is dedicated to Mitch Klein.  Attorney and film buff.  One of the good guys.

Let me state for the record that I hate lawyers.  No, let me re-phrase.

I DETEST lawyers.

Anyone who has been through a long, drawn-out, ugly divorce trial knows exactly how I feel.

But the death of the beauteous Barbara Hale last week got me reminiscing.  And since I’ve sworn to tell the truth here, when I was a kid, I loved television shows and movies about lawyers.

Let’s take a look at the evidence, shall we?

Exhibit A.

The Defenders.  

Three fine actors and a darn good script.  I never missed this show when I was a pre-teen.

When I grew up, I still liked lawyer shows.

Exhibit B.

L.A. Law.

L.A. Law Sidebar: I spent a few days on the set back in the eighties.  Bill and I had lunch with Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker and Corbin Bernsen.  Before the lunch date, I coached Bill a little about proper “famous people” etiquette.

“I know you don’t know who these people are because you never watch the show.  But you might recognize Corbin Bernsen from Major League.  Just don’t say, ‘You look familiar. Where do I know you from?’  Okay?”

He agreed and we went to the studio commissary to have our lunch meeting.

The three stars walked in and sat down at our table.

Corbin took one look at Bill and said, “You look familiar.  Where do I know you from?”

WTF?!

Bill grinned in triumph.  (It turned out we had all been at the Regency Hotel in New York City the week before and Corbin and Bill had worked out at the same time in their fitness room.)

Exhibit C.

I watched some of David E. Kelley’s The Practice, too.  Never got obsessed with it but I thought it was pretty darn good.

I didn’t just confine my viewing to American lawyers.  I spent plenty of time with barristers in London, too. Here’s the greatest.

Exhibit D.

That’s the dazzling Leo McKern bringing to life the brilliant John Mortimer’s character- Rumpole of the Bailey. If you don’t know him, commit some petty crime and get thrown in the jug. Horace Rumpole- after has had a few too many glasses of his beloved cheap claret, “Chateau Fleet Street” at Pomeroy’s Wine Bar- will be happy to get you off.

(After he has eaten another unhealthy fry up dinner, smoked one too many cheroots and escaped the clutches of Hilda- “She who Must Be Obeyed”- his very disillusioned wife.)

And now, if it please the court, let us turn our attentions to the silver screen.

I loved movies about lawyers, too.

Let’s start with a rip-snorter.  And we shall stick with the wigs.

Exhibit E.

Charles Laughton chews up the scenery- and the witnesses- as Sir Wilfrid in Witness for the Prosecution. But surprise after surprise occurs in this proper English courtroom.  If you’ve never seen this Billy Wilder gem, you are hereby confined to house arrest until you watch it.

Exhibit F.

Here’s Charles Laughton again.  But this time, he’s a malevolent- and lecherous- judge.

The Paradine Case.  Not one of Hitchcock’s greatest but some damn fine courtroom scenes.

Coming back to the good old U.S.A. brings us to one of the best lawyer movies ever.

Exhibit G.

This movie has everything.  Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott all acting their brains out. Eve Arden and Arthur O’Connell slyly pilfering their scenes. And perhaps, the greatest piece of stunt casting of all time.

Take another look at the judge.  If you don’t know who he is, he’s Joseph Welch.  The chief counsel for the United States Army while it was under investigation for communist activities in the Fifties.

“Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Attorney Welch famously asked Joe McCarthy.

Here’s the dramatic courtroom scene from REAL life.

And now let’s give the Portias their day in court.

Exhibit H.

That’s Glenn Close in her power suit advising her handsome client, Jeff Bridges.  Doesn’t she look like she’s got it together?
Hmmm… It’s dangerous to assume facts not in evidence.

Exhibit I.

Cher in her power suit. Maybe she should have deposed Glenn Close before she agreed to prosecute this case?

Which brings us to Exhibit J.

Wow! Debra Winger- in her power suit- wins her case.

And gets her man!

That’s progress.

I could cite evidence of great lawyer movies all day long.  The Verdict, Inherit the Wind, A Few Good Men, To Kill a Mockingbird all have moving courtroom scenes.

But as a battle-scarred veteran of Divorce Wars, I have to find in favor of this client.

Exhibit K.

Look at this sleazeball divorce lawyer (redundant, I know) in action.

I LOVE this movie. The Coen brothers get time off for good behavior for this one.

Clever writing, adorable acting, a fun-filled revenge plot, a commentary on California’s 50-50 divorce settlements, Intolerable Cruelty has it all.

(And you don’t have to be divorced to like it.)

In summing up, Your Honors, I’d like to end my closing argument with this piece of evidence.

See you in court.

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Posted in Movies, pop culture, Television | 6 Comments

Groundhog Day

Yes, Dear Readers.  It’s Groundhog Day.  And today, that can only mean one thing.

We are going to re-visit an old post.

A tribute to my idol.

Comedy genius Harold Ramis.

I’ve never done this before.  A rerun I mean.  But when I saw this date on my blog calendar, I knew I had to pay my respects once again to a man who made all our lives a funnier place to be.

As terrific as his comedy chops were, he was also a compassionate and generous human being.  My nephew Andrew had once told him that I had named my dog “Egon” after his character in Ghostbusters.

Look what he sent me.

It’s one of my most treasured possessions.  Along with the millions of laughs he provided by writing or acting in everything from Caddyshack to Knocked Up.

In As Good as It Gets, Helen Hunt’s character referred to his character, Dr. Bettes, as “The Gift.”

He most assuredly was that for me- and probably you, too.

God bless you, Harold.  And sure could use your wit and humanity now more than ever.

Here’s the rerun, Dear Readers.

Monday February 24, 2014 was a sad day for me.  It was the day that an idol of mine died. Along with a dream.

Harold Ramis passed away at the age of sixty-nine.

Too soon.

And with him went my dream that I would write a post outlining in brilliant detail exactly how much he meant to me- and every member of my generation.

And then someone would pass it along to him.

(This last was not a fantasy.  It was highly likely, in fact.  My sister-in-law, Mary Lu, knew him well, and my nephew Andrew had worked for him.  Someone would have sent it to him.)

But that’s all over now.  I waited too long to post it.

True, I knew he had been ill for the last couple of years.  But I foolishly thought I had all the time in the world to run it.  I mean, who could imagine a world without Harold Ramis in it?

So now, with a broken heart, comes the post I had outlined in my very first month of writing Letter From Elba.

Dear Mr. Ramis,

How can I ever thank you for all the joy and laughter you have brought into my life? Where would I be if I had never met the legendary Bluto, Judge Smales, and Mafia don Paul Vitti?

Not to mention Egon Spengler.  (Let me take a moment to tell you that long ago, I named my black standard Poodle “Egon” because he was brilliant- and you both had the same hairstyle.)

I also want to thank you for the copy of the script of Ghostbusters II that you signed for me. You inscribed it “Ellen- Love and Luck.  Harold Ramis “Egon.”  I’ll cherish it until the day I die.

You had me at Animal House.  From that movie on, you changed my comedy world.  You showed me that hilarious movie anarchy did not end with the Marx Brothers and immortal comic characters did not die with W. C. Fields.

IMHO, as a writer/director you followed in the footsteps of the greatest of the great- Billy Wilder.  (If Billy Wilder had been born in Chicago and hung out with Doug Kenney.)

And you gave me so many fabulous lines and performances to remember, relish and quote, that if I were stranded on a desert island, your body of work would be the canon I would take to help me pass the years. (Assuming I got stranded with a VCR.)  I would swim to shore with:

1.   Caddyshack  I have to be honest.  This movie was owned by Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray.  (Who winged and ad libbed his entire madcap performance as the gopher-hating greenskeeper, Carl.)  But both of these guys were brought in- and turned loose- by you.  And a Kenny Loggins soundtrack.  Who could ask for anything more?

2.  Ghostbusters  Again, Bill Murray – the Babyboomers’ Groucho- had all the great laugh lines here.  But Egon was my favorite Buster.  “I collect spores, mold and fungus,” he told Janine, the trio’s lovelorn secretary. And my heart.

3.  Analyze This  EVERY  line in this movie made me laugh.  Just remember Robert DeNiro’s face when he said, “F****ing Greeks!”  OMG.  Thank you.

And last, but certainly not least

4.  Groundhog Day.

I saw you discussing GD on Youtube.  How you laughed when you said devout Christians, Buddhists, Jews and psychiatrists all saw something of their own philosophy in the subtext of this film.  (Only you said it much funnier.)

You said everything much funnier.  And set a benchmark of cinematic laughs per minute that will never be equalled by any other movie-making triple threat.

I loved your cameo as “The Gift” in As Good As It Gets, btw.  And you made a wonderful ex hippie father for Seth Rogen in Knocked Up.    And where would Judd Apatow be today without you to show him the way?

By all accounts you are a mensch- as we lantzmen say.  Generous with your time and talent.  Ready to give a hand up the Hollywood ladder.

And you never forgot your roots.  No one can ever claim that you “went Hollywood” on us. Chicago was your home sweet home.

I am your willing slave.  And if you ever need a willing slave, feel free to call me.

Best regards, Ellen Ross

Well, that’s done.  And now I’m feeling crummy.  There will never be another Harold Ramis.  And almost worse, there will never be another Harold Ramis movie.

There’s only one way to combat these blues.  I think I’ll pop in Stripes or Multiplicity or Club Paradise or hang out with the sorority sisters of the late Fawn Leibowitz.

Nope.

Too soon.

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Posted in Harold Ramis, Movies, pop culture, Tributes | 2 Comments

Homeless

Hi, Dear Readers.  Glad to be back with you. See this?  In case you don’t recognize it, it’s the women’s public bathroom in Pompano Beach, Florida.

I hope that you’re ooohing and aahing and suitably impressed with the the amenities.

You’d better be.

It was my bathroom/spa for a week.

Let me explain.

The Boyfriend and I just got back from a week in Florida.

The Fort Lauderdale area- with a side trip to Palm Beach.

Now I know that in the past I have blasted Florida.  “It’s too humid.  The people are so old. The weather can be iffy.  It smells damp all the time.  I’d rather be skiing.”

I whined about it a lot.

But I’m here today to deliver an official mea culpa.

I take back every unkind thought I have ever had about that glorious, sunshiny state.

(Okay. Maybe not every unkind thought.  I still wouldn’t be too choked up if Naples disappeared into a great big sink hole.)

Sorry.  I digressed. That pleasant daydream threw me off track…

From the moment we landed, the weather was dreamy.

Mother Nature came through like aces.

78-80 degrees EVERY day.

Blue, cloudless skies EVERY day.

In a word…

Perfect.

Sigh.  Just remembering the balm breezes and the warmth of the sun makes me go all melty inside.

But I still haven’t explained my new bathroom situation.

If you’re from Chicago, you know how the weather has been lately.

Awful.

Cold, gray and gloomy.  Typical January.

I have been feeling lousy, too. Cold, gray and gloomy, as well.

Honestly, I started feeling punk on December 26 and it hung on for three weeks.

(TB wasn’t doing so hot himself.  Cold, cough, temperature.  That sort of icky flu thing.)

Time for some R and R.

So we hopped a flight and ended up in Florida.

Where we found Paradise with Palm Trees.

And from the moment we got off the plane, I made a sacred vow.

NO going inside when the sun was up.

Ever.

Every meal outside.

TB was on board.

He’s cool.

The first night we ate shrimp watching the boats go by on the Intracoastal.

That was a piece of cake.  Outside tables and waiters and everything.

The next morning’s breakfast proved more challenging.

I wanted a bagel.  A good bagel.

And I found one.  OMG did I find one.

It was at this place.

The Bagel Snack.

Their pumpernickel and marble rye bagels looked scrumptious.  TB had his eye on a raisin one.

We placed our orders- to go, natch- and when they were done, we took them outside to devour.

One problem though.

No outside seating.

Hmmm.

We looked around the entire little strip mall.

Nada place to park our carcasses and eat our bagels.  I was crestfallen.

But TB is resourceful.  (And he hates to see my crest fall.)

“I know what to do.  You hold the bagels and I’ll get the beach chairs.”

And faster than you could say “Jackie Mason,” he had set up our beach chairs in the Bagel Snack parking lot.

It was awesome.

I was happy.  TB was happy.  But the next morning, when we went back to do a rerun breakfast, we were in for a tiny shock.

The counterman was waiting for us.

“You know you caused a big thing around here.  But I took up for youse guys.  They were all surprised that you were sitting in the parking lot.  But I said it’s probably cause they come from way up north somewhere where they don’t see the sun.  Am I right?”

“You don’t know how right you are,” I said.  “Thanks for defending us.”

“How long are youse guys staying?” he asked.

“Not long enough,” I replied sadly.

“Good answer.”

And this time, when we took our bagels and our chairs into the parking lot, all the countermen came out to look and gave us their approval.

Well, I bet you get the idea now.

Every waking moment that we were lucky enough to be in good with Ma Nature, we lived outside.  If you couldn’t do it outside, we didn’t do it.

(Okay.  This morning at the track was overcast.  But it cleared up right away.)

Eating and drinking outside at the Funky Buddha Brewery. (TB had the beer flight.  I had the oyster crackers.)

Relaxing in Palm Beach.  (I know.  Linen wrinkles.)

Aaahhh.  Just fabulous.

Already thinking about going back to Florida for my birthday.

There’s a beach and a bagel with my name on it.

Wishing all of you sunny skies.

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Posted in Bagels, Florida, pop culture, Travel | 14 Comments

Old School

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One look at this picture and it’s 1959 and I’m instantly transported back to the playground of the Avoca School on Chicago’s North Shore.

The dresses on the girls and that awful-looking ring thing bring back vivid memories of recess.

Good times.

But the more I think about it, it’s a miracle that any of us survived the lethal environment of our grammar school playground.  It was simply loaded with pitfalls and danger where ever you looked.

A modern tot could never survive the jungle (gym) of us brave Baby Boomers.

Wusses!

Let’s start with this.

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This medieval-looking catapult type gizmo might go by the cute name of “teeter totter” but it was a daily menace to skinny kids like me.

My friends had hours of amusement bouncing down hard on one end actively trying disengage me – well “launch me” would be the more accurate term here- into the stratosphere.

Sometimes they would even beg for assistance from one or two of the bigger boys and they would all pile on one end while I desperately clung for my life on the other.

Fun, right?

Then there was this piece of playground equipment.

From Hell.

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To those of you lucky enough not to be familiar with this instrument of torture, that’s called a Tether Ball. The main object was to swing it around the pole with a mighty toss- hopefully taking your opponent’s head off before it snaked its way around.

Then there was this little honey.

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The slide.

Now ordinarily, a fairly harmless contraption.  If used properly.

But only wimps and scaredy cats used it properly.

In order to be in the In Crowd, you had to go down it head first, or backwards, or standing up- if the teachers didn’t catch you.

And then there were these.

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The swings!

Harmless, innocent fun at recess, right?

Except ours were not as innocent as they looked.

See the line of swings in the photo?

As we got older, the object of swinging changed.  Instead of going higher- “reaching for the moon”-  we now pumped our legs wildly and went crazily sideways and tried to ram the person swinging next to us.

What could be more fun that that?

Let’s discuss these now.

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That’s right.  The Monkey Bars.  I remember blithely hanging upside down, holding my knees close together so no one would start chanting, “I see London, I see France…” and casually swinging from these lethal irons bars many a recess.

This unforgiving iron monster was an accident just waiting to happen.

In fact, take a look at the shiner Natasha gave herself in first grade when she had an unfortunate encounter with a wayward Monkey Bar.

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DCFS Sidebar: Upon being called by the school nurse, I ran to school and rushed her to the eye doctor.  Our regular guy was out of town and his sub took one look at her and said to me, “How did this happen?”

“She hit her face on the Monkey Bars,” I reported.

As he took Natasha into his examining room, I heard him again ask her sotto voce, “So how did this happen?”

And maybe now is the time to discuss the actual playground itself.

Was it made out of tanbark or cushiony sod or forgiving Astroturf or something?

Heck, no.

It was merciless asphalt.

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Sure, it was great for jacks and jump rope and hop scotch.

But if you fell from the swings, the jungle gym, the slide, hit the ground in any way…

OUCH.

The equipment wasn’t the only thing that could hurt you on the playground of my childhood.

There were the games.

Red Rover and Dodge Ball being the two biggest offenders.

Red Rover was sadistic.

The girls would line up along one end of the playground.  The boys would do the same.

Then the chanting started.

“Red Rover, Red Rover, let Bob come over,” intoned the girls.  And then they would link and clench hands, hoping to repel the invader and keep him from breaking through the line of chained hands.

Bob- one of the biggest kids in the class- would carefully look the line up and down and appraise his chances.

And then he would spot yours truly and his eyes would gleam.

And barreling across the playground at the speed of a locomotive, he would charge directly at me and my spindly wrists.

I never remember letting go.

I just remember laying on the asphalt, staring up at the sky, with the wind knocked out of me by his momentum.

Well, recess is over.  Time to go back to the blackboard.

PA Announcement:  The next Letter From Elba will be posted on Sunday, January 29. Ellen hopes you’ll be patient with her and not take off any points for tardiness.

‘Til then, hope you enjoy this one, Class.

(Now that I’m absent from the playground, I love this game.)

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Posted in Avoca School, Childhood, Nostalgia, Playgrounds, pop culture | 7 Comments

Mean Girls

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One week ago, people here in Chicagoland were shocked and horrified as an ugly news story unfolded.

ICYMI: Four black teenagers- two boys and two girls- kidnapped and tormented- “tortured” was the word the news outlets used- a mentally handicapped white eighteen year old from the western suburbs. After the abduction, the captors kicked and hit him, cut his clothes, slashed his scalp and forced him to drink water from a toilet.

If that was sickening enough, they put the whole horrific incident up on Facebook.

The group could be seen taunting and physically assaulting the victim.

And they laughed and cursed throughout the entire clip.

Officers finally found this poor young man wandering around in frigid temperatures.  He was disoriented and bleeding and the policeman who discovered him called an ambulance.

The victim was treated at a hospital and then released.

Of course I was appalled.

And so were you if you heard about it.

I thought,

“There were girls involved…?”

But…

This has been much on my mind lately.

Girls bullying.

Sure, I know.  This is an extreme example of teenage mob mentality run amok.

No well-brought up, right-thinking child of yours or mine would EVER have participated in anything as shameful as this.

But I can’t get on my high horse.

I have to be honest.

When we were young girls, we participated in another kind of bullying.

Shunning.

Sure, we never deliberately physically attacked someone or made direct fun of their disabilities.

But what we did was just as powerful.

I remember this so clearly.

If a girl was unattractive, or slow mentally, or overweight, or different somehow, we didn’t call her names or make fun of her.

(To her face.)

We just froze her out.

We never spoke to her or included her in any of our fun and games.

There were girls in my junior high who NEVER got invited to the birthday parties or sleepovers.

They just didn’t exist on our social radar screen.

And I don’t think any amount of pleading or consciousness-raising on the part of concerned parents about these poor kids would have made any difference.

Kids are mean.

Especially girls.

Politically Incorrect Sidebar:  I know. I know.  But in my experience, it was often the boys who were more tolerant of the kids who were unusual.  The girls were the ones who were judgmental and cruel.

I truly think it’s a fear of “the other” that is hard-wired into human DNA.

When I became a parent, I tried to instill decent “Love thy neighbor” and Golden Rule values into my kids.  But if they “didn’t like” someone, they still wouldn’t invite them over to play.

I could not legislate acceptance.

I think about this a lot. If you have any better ideas, let me know.

All lives matter, sure.

But it seems, that some matter just a little bit less than others.

BTW, I wrote this post before the Golden Globes but the timing is perfect.

And so I’ll let my cousin Joanie’s friend, the divine Meryl, have the last word on the subject here.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The High Road

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Happy 2017, Dear Readers.  I hope this year will be wonderful for all.

This post was supposed to be about my New Year’s resolution.  I had resolved, that in 2017, I was going to be a kinder, gentler version of the old Ellen.

You know.  More patient, less judgmental, more tolerant of people who’s views I consider ill-informed or downright asinine.

A beta version of the 2016 ER.

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I had pictured how the new me would be- all sweetness and light, bringing joy, forbearance, peace and good will towards my fellow man.

But before I had a chance to unleash the new Ellen…

…I flew home from Boston.

I had gone there to spend the holidays with my daughter Natasha, her husband Zach and my grandkids- Sam and Carly.

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The visit was swell and the time flew by.

Here I am playing one on one with Sam.

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(Photo by Zach Tofias)

And here I am gift-wrapping Carly to bring her home with me.

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(Photo by Zach Tofias)

And then it was time for Gran (that’s me) to fly bye bye.

On the flight back I was seated in my fave window seat.  There was no one in the middle.  A fifty-something man sat in the aisle seat.  His wife was seated across from him in the other aisle seat.

Got it?

As soon as the seat belt light was turned off after takeoff, I got up, excused myself, inched past the guy and headed for the bathroom.

Easy, right?

Except the guy was pissed.

I didn’t get it.   I hadn’t disturbed him.  We had just taken off.  He wasn’t sleeping or anything.

But there it was.  He was annoyed.

And I had to annoy him all over again when I brushed past him and resumed my seat.

He gave me a dirty look and that was it.  He read on his phone or talked to his wife the whole flight.

At NO time did he make eye contact with me.

When the flight landed, he got up to wait for his turn to de-plane.

He stood in the aisle, chatting with his wife with his back to the exiting passengers. Occasionally he would turn around to see if anyone was getting off.

I had stood up, as well.

But I was trapped underneath the overhead baggage compartment and it was getting kind of cramped under there.

I kept trying to catch his eye so he would move up- or back- in the aisle so I could come out from underneath.

He wouldn’t make eye contact.

He deliberately stood exactly where he was, smiling a little smile, and kept me trapped in place.

And I swear, he was enjoying it.

I crouched below the overhead bin for what seemed like hours.

The flight had been full and it was really taking a long time for everyone to de-plane.

And the whole time I was stuck, this guy was amused.

I could not catch his eye and I didn’t want to interrupt his conversation with his wife to ask him to move.

Finally, the line started to move and they moved with it.

At long last, I could get out from under.

And, breathing a big sigh of relief, I finally got off the plane.

Oh, did I happen to mention that when I was hunched under the bin I happened to notice that he had left a small leather portfolio on the seat between us?  It looked as if it held accessories for his electronics or an iPad or something.

No?

Gee, that’s a shame.

I didn’t mention it to him, either.

Dear Lord, hear my prayer.

Please help make me good and kind.

But not yet.

Have a cool 2017, everyone.

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Now here’s a New Year’s Eve clip to ring in the new year.

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Posted in Boston, Grandchildren, Travel | 12 Comments

Da ‘Burgh

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Author’s Note:  This is my last blog post of 2016, friends.  I’ll be heading off to Boston soon for Christmas.  So here’s wishing you and your families a very joyous holiday season.

See you on Sunday, January 8, 2017.  And Happy New Year!

Here’s my Christmas card to you all.

…So last weekend, Dear Readers, I traveled to Pittsburgh.

I accompanied The Boyfriend.  He’s a former Steel City guy and still has lots of friends and family back there.

We went for his niece’s baby shower and there were tons of things to do- and people to meet- on Friday and Saturday.

But on Sunday- before the Steelers’ game- there was a chance for a mini inspection of the city and a nostalgia tour of some of his favorite boyhood haunts.  I had a lot to learn.

For instance, I had NO idea that the city was so hilly.

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And I wasn’t aware that Pittsburgh has the most bridges of any US city- thanks to the convergence of the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio rivers.

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Alas, there was never a spare moment to do the Andy Warhol Museum.

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Andy Warhol 15 Minutes of Fame Sidebar: I find Andy Warhol’s art more relevant and meaningful than ever. Can you imagine what he would do with the concept of Trump as President?  The idea that a totally unqualified celebrity, famous for his outrageous pronouncements and shameless use of the media, is now our C-I-C?  It’s perfectly Warholian.

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Back to The City of Champions…

I enjoyed the tour.  It was fun seeing where he had grown up, and now I could put a face to all the people of whom I had heard tell.

And I never realized that Pittsburgh has its own special patois.  Truly fascinating.  For instance, did you know that the very descriptive term “jag off” was coined there?

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And so many great Doo-Wop groups got their start there.  Here’s one golden oldie.

And here’s another fabulous musical moment.

It was a blast watching the Steelers win in a deafening Steeler’s bar, too.  When in Rome…

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But for me, Pittsburgh was a childhood dream come true.

I got the chance to go to Mecca.

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(That’s the Pittsburgh History Center.  I did get to see the old factory from the highway. No catsup bottle on top though.)

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Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I thought long and hard about the company that I wished I owned.

(Don’t ask me why I did this.  I was a weird kid.)

At first I thought I’d like to own Kimberly-Clark.  Good company.

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Then I changed my mind.

Coca Cola.  Of course.

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GREAT company.

But then, I had a brainstorm.  The product I loved and relied on EVERY night of my dinner table life- my mother was an indifferent cook- was Heinz catsup.

I worshipped H.J. Heinz and all his 57 varieties.

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Now I absolutely HAD to go to the Mother Ship and pay homage to the man who forged my eating habits.

And then, I wanted to pay tribute to another Pittsburgh icon of my youth.

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I was crazy about Clark Bars.

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And they made Black Jack Gum, too!

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And I’ve just recently been introduced to the awesome Zagnut Bar.

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But all my Pittsburgh eating was not consigned to long gone childhood dreams.

I have discovered a new place.

And more importantly, I have added a new favorite hamburger to a very short Hall of Fame Burger list.

Are you ready, fellow burger lovers?

Take a look at this.

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That is one half of the world famous Primanti’s Pitts-burger.  Smothered in tasty fries and tangy cole slaw piled high atop the burger itself.

OMG.

It wasn’t just the idea of putting of all that stuff on the sandwich.  The burger itself was yummy.

And so was the chili.

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(Yes, I did eat a half of a burger and split the chili.  Want to make something out of it?)

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Well, time to take a Tums.  I get heartburn just looking at this.

But the warm memories of my visit to Da ‘Burgh also linger on.

My thanks go out to all the nice people in Pittsburgh, Pa. who made my time there so terrific.

Can’t wait for the next trip.

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Posted in food, Nostalgia, Travel | 10 Comments

I, Robot

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You know what are the most dreaded words in the English language today?

No, they’re not “President-elect Trump” or “the rabbit died” or “the IRS is going to audit you.”

They are…

“Invalid pasword.”

OMG!

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Whenever I see that message, my world implodes.

There I’ll be- cruising down the Internet Highway.  Not a care in the world, singing a song.

And then, I’m asked for my password.

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I have a Google password and an an Apple iTunes password.  I have one for the bank app and one for Amazon.  I have a password for my computer, BlueHost, MailChimp, WordPress, Netflix, Infinty Go, United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Marriott, Starwood, Uber, Lyft, Via, Lettuce Entertain You, GoDaddy, Word Press, Yahoo Mail, Grub Hub, Spotify, Waze, Open Table…

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

And I can never remember which one- or which version- it is.

Or if it is uppercase, lower case- or a combination of both.

And I just flip out.

The day has finally come.

We are OWNED by machines.

Sure, everything on-line is quick easy and hyper-efficient.  I can do things today that I never could have dreamt up as a kid.

Just the other day, my Spotify app sent me an email showing me where Aretha Franklin, Maxwell and The O’Jays will be appearing in concert near me. (if you count Merrillville, Indiana as near me.)

The app then linked me to a ticket-seller site.

Come on!

This is Sci-fi stuff.

Anything and everything is a click away.

If you can just remember the password.

So I have a book.

And in this book, I have recorded every password – and every change- I have ever used. Whenever I get that dreaded message, I run to it.

(I’m sure you have one, too.)

Very old school.

Heaven help me if I ever lose that book.

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That’s it for today Dear Readers.  And I’m going to be busy with my day job for the next couple of weeks so I’ll see you back here bright and early on Sunday, December 18.

And remember. As always the password is “FUN.”

(This video is for you. Joan Himmel Freeman.)

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Posted in computers, iPads, Smart phones, Smart tvs | 6 Comments

Selfie

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Hi, everyone.  In case you don’t recognize us, that’s Carly and her Gran last month.  She was born the day after Mother’s Day this year and what a nice gift, don’t you think?  I’m grateful, that’s for sure.

As a matter of fact, I’m grateful for many things this year.

Click on the arrow and see for yourselves.

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Posted in Uncategorized, Video blog | 16 Comments