13 February 2014

Ann's daughter, part 2

I am still my mother's daughter.  If looking pretty much like photocopy of her doesn't make that case, then there's always how I spent today.

We got about 12 inches of snow last night, so ...

I got up this morning on time,
had breakfast,
checked on-line to see if Ride-On* was running (no),
shoveled out my car,
tried to sell the kid near me who was helping his Dad on the moral imperative of cleaning off the top of the car (with illustrative anecdote), and
went back upstairs and changed into dry pants.

Then I made real hot chocolate with milk, **
enjoyed it while listening to public radio,
put on coat, scarf, hat, and gloves, and
walked to work.***

Pretty much every single item on that list comes right out of the Ann Snow Day Handbook.  One time, when Sara and I were kids, there was a snow day on the day we had a dentist's appointment.  So instead of rescheduling, letting us sleep late, making French Toast, and playing board games, Mom rousted us out of bed before our normal get up time because Mom made 8:00 dentist appointments and, because our dead-end street didn't get plowed very often made us walk the mile and a half through the snow to our appointment. ****

I'm pretty sure that it was uphill both ways, too.  Mom had lots of hardy pioneer spirit.

She would have been so proud of me today. *****

* The county run bus system.

** Mom wasn't a fan of processed foods.  Among the things that Sara and I loved that Mom hated were Pop-Tarts, tubes of raw cookie dough, and Swiss Miss.  Once, in an effort to lure us away from the grey powder, she made us "instant cocoa" from powered milk, powdered sugar, and cocoa.  The fact that we thought that it was "good but not Swiss Miss" and "kinda weird" probably gave her a real nice warm glow inside.

*** So that I didn't lose my good parking space.  It's easier to walk a mile in this weather than it is to get over losing the space one has shoveled out.

**** It can safely be assumed that I am still outraged by this.  

***** Of course, she would also be very confused because as I remember any shoveling that she asked me or Sara to do -- or anything else that even hinted of hardy pioneer spirit -- made us complain loudly and piercingly or quietly and sullenly.  Probably me more than Sara.  She had at least some hardy pioneer spirit.  

12 February 2014


I was given a bottle of Lagavulin 16-year-old for Christmas.  I hadn't opened it yet because I've been finishing the bland-but-pleasant Concannon (Irish Whisky) that I had bought for myself, largely because I liked the name.

And often trying something new because you like the name is fine.  You might end up with something you love.  I found a wine that I love that way.*

Lagavulin not only has a cool name, but the back of the box has marketing educational text which I reproduce here, for the pronunciation help if nothing else.

And tonight I'll give it a try while I continue to read Last Call, Daniel Okrent's fascinating look at Prohibition.

*I can't actually remember the name, but I remember the label, so I'm sure there will be more of it in the house soon.  

Many believe that this is one of the oldest distillery sites in Scotland.  In 1816 local farmer and distiller John Johnston founded the first legal distillery here at Lagavulin (pronounced Laga - voolin, after the Gaelic Laggan Mhouillin, "the hollow where the mill is"). 
Today, the four onion-shaped stills at Lagavulin are neatly tucked into a whitewashed jumble of buildings by the sea on Islay's (pronounced Eye - la) rocky southern shore, guarded by the imposing ruin of Dunyvaig Castle. 
There's  nothing hurried about life on Islay or about dark, intense Lagavulin, which receives the slowest distillation of any Islay malt, then spends sixteen years in old oak casks before being bottled. 
Pungent and potent, this is the great Islay malt.  With richly peaty, deep, smoky flavours, it has an intense, long, ambrosial finish. 
Lagavulin is the majestic Islay destination on a journey around Scotland's six malt whisky making regions.  The other Classic Malts are:
Glenkinchie - Lowland
Dalwhinnie - Highland
Cragganmore - Speyside
Talisker - Island
Oban - Western Highland

See?  Now I feel like I've learned something.

11 February 2014


Whenever Mary Ann would ask me to direct for the children's theater, I'd always ask for the June slot because that's when my theater year is usually least active.  Looks like I'm not the only person who thinks that way.  From a New York Times ArtsBeat piece on Linda Lavin agreeing to be in Nicky Silver's new play Too Much Sun:

Whether Ms. Lavin would like the play was only one potential hitch. There was also the question of whether she would be busy filming episodes of the sitcom “Sean Saves the World.” Mr. Silver took a gamble on that. 
“When I was talking with Vineyard about doing the play,” Mr. Silver said, “I asked for the last slot in the season, because that would be hiatus time. It’s hard to cast plays in New York with TV going on, but that last slot is always your friend.”

10 February 2014

My people*

9 Chickweed Lane

I am German and English on my Mom's side and English and Irish on my Dad's side.  So I am one quarter German, half English, and one quarter Irish.  Nonetheless, I ascribe 90% of what I am and what I do to either my German background or my Irish background.

As I never wear socks with sandals and never would, I don't tend to attribute any of my character or behavior to being of English descent.

"9 Chickweed Lane" by Brooke McEldowney

*The Germans, not the Nazis.  Just ... thought I'd clarify that.

09 February 2014

The bisque is recommended

Fenner also spent a few years in Washington, working for the Justice Department, and he shared quite a few meals there with John E. Smith, a lawyer from Atchison, Kansas, not far down the Missouri River from St. Jo, who was then working for Senator Dole and later became the house attorney of an Omaha trucking company.  Fenner still likes to talk to Smith about eating in Washington - the Cuban food at the Omega and the Middle Eastern food at the Calvert Cafe and the chili at Hazel's Texas Chili Parlor.  Fenner believes that Hazels' recipe was so secret that she carried it with her to the grave, although some other Washington eaters believe that it was handed down intact to a man with a tattoo, and still others believe that it was not the sort of recipe anyone would have to guard very closely.*  Fenner's favorite restaurant in the Washington area was the renowned Silver Spring fish house called Crisfield Seafood Restaurant.  He misses practically everything about Crisfield's. 
"They know how to treat children," I heard him say once. 
"They know how to treat oysters," said Morisseau, who did some eating in Washington himself.**

My Dad used to have lunch at Crisfield's pretty often because it was just a few blocks up Georgia Avenue from Hopkins APL where he worked, but I have an even better connection to Trillin's paragraph:  Two of the people who "knew how to treat children" at Crisfield's were Ned and Nancy, my friend Mollie's parents.  Ned ran the raw bar and Nancy ran the cash register and you'll never meet two nicer people.

I got to know them during the years that Mollie and I were housemates and during part of that time Mollie was the day care provider / favorite aunt / playmate for then babies and later toddlers, Charles and Samantha. Mollie's folks are the kids adopted grandparents and even though Ned and Nancy have retired to North Carolina, the families are still close with lots of visiting.  They do know how to treat children.

*Crisfield's is still open in the same location.  Omega closed after a fire.  The Calvert Cafe was renamed Mama Ayesha's in 1994 after its founder Mama Ayesha Abraham, who died in 1993.  It's still be run by her family.  And Hazel's Texas Chili Parlor is also closed but is the gastronomic mother, if not legal entity parent, of chili parlor chain Hard Times.  This article from DC's City Paper tells the fascinating story.

**Alice, Let's Eat by Calvin Trillin.  Page 122 in the 1978 copy of the Vintage Books paperbook I have.

07 February 2014

Typical work email

From our receptionist who has had to put up with me for nearly 15 years:

From: [the front desk]
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 3:31 PM
To: Leta
Subject: Boxes in mailroom

My reply:

From: Leta
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 3:43 PM
To: [the front desk]
Subject: RE: Boxes in mailroom

Thank goodness.  I was afraid the kittens wouldn't get here before the weekend.

Can’t believe the vendor forgot the air holes *again.*

Hey, do we have a litter box anywhere around here?