Monday, December 31, 2012

Eating Our Way Through The Holidays

This is one of the years where the various barbarian tribes that owe allegiance to the de-I Imperium passed on the ritual plundering of de-IHolm and remained on their respective Hemispheres.  (An interesting note, with one offspring in the Philippines, one in Amsterdam and, one in the East side of the San Francisco Bay the sun truly never does set on the de-I Imperium  - ha, take that British Monarchy!).  Hence it was just Wife and I here for the holidays.

A few years ago, this happened and Wife made some comment like, "well since no one will be here, we might as well not do anything (like decorate, celebrate, etc.)."  As I did not grow up with Christmas and don't have the 'Christmas go bonkers behavior' hard wired into my persona, I said, "That sounds great."  This led to about 2 weeks of trauma (a vast understatement) mostly centered on my not being the person she thought I was and worse.  I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but you don't have to impale me with pike more than once for me to learn that wasn't the best response to make.

So this year when similar noises were made, I said in no uncertain terms that we were doing the holidays this year.  So we decorated and scheduled a number of get togethers with our various friends that were in town.  And, odd as it may seem, they all revolved around food and drink.

A couple of days before Christmas we had Wild Bill and Jill over for an Italian meal where we tried four different recipes from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking (you may remember that I am on a a quest to work my way through that cook book).  This was accompanied by the requisite 3 or so different wines with the courses.

Then on Christmas Eve I made a Wife a private meal of crab cocktail with a nice steak, and a cheese course accompanied by a very lovely 2000 Bordeaux.

Christmas Day we were at an open house of one of my business friends and ended up being the last ones there with another couple downing port and raki (a Balkan white lightning type of spirit that my friend's wife had brought back from Albania.  Evidently only de-I and one other friend of this guy will drink this stuff.  It was made by the Albanian guides mother and was in an unlabeled bottle.  Thus far I still have my eyesight).

On the 29th we went out with other friends for drinks and dinner because it was our anniversary!  We almost never do anything for our anniversary as you usually are done from the holiday season.  That's number 39 anniversary by the way for those who are counting.

Last night we had Gaius Derf and Agent W over and made pizza.  This was absolutely the best pizza we have ever made bar none!  (I'm planning a couple of foodie only posts with details following this.)

Tonight Wife and I are going to be making fried chicken from scratch using a recipe and technique developed by my father years ago.

And starting January 2 I will be posting on the joys of the lettuce and water diet.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


This is a catchup post from the week before Christmas.  I had to run out to Boston for a quick business trip.  I was fortunate that one of my companions grew up in Boston and has lots of contacts and relatives there still.  We were on our own for dinner without our client and he took me to the Union Lobster House, supposedly the oldest restaurant in the US still operating and a mecca for traditional New England seafood.  I love seafood especially all kinds of shellfish. 

As we were in business regalia, I decided I would forgo the traditional steamed lobster which is quite a mess to eat as you whack away on shells getting at the goodness inside.  I decided to go with some clams on the half shell and a sedate lobster scampi.  Figured I'd get my lobster meat without the work.

Here is what came out.

Fully a half a lobster on some linguine.  I was surprised but not upset.  And my friend had ordered a New England Seafood Soup.  Like this:

Hence we both put our bibs on and waded gleefully in.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Miracle

I went to a movie today.  With Wife.

Believe me this is a miracle.

Neither of us can remember the last time we were at a move together.  I don't like movies.  They mess with my emotions.  I don't like that.  They are too loud.  Have too much visual stimuli.  I don't like that.  They are either violent, inane, depressive, emotional, or some combination of the four.  I don't like that.  I don't even watch movies that are free on airplanes.  I don't like movies.

But Wife asked if I would go with her since we are by ourselves this Christmas.  And I kind of liked what I had been reading about Lincoln.  I loved it...even though it was a bit loud.  It was very interesting, the characters totally believable, and quite uplifting.  I would go to more movies if there were more like this.

We're actually doing this again on New Years Day as I'm a huge Tolkien fan and want to see the Hobbit.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Partial List of Things to do When World Does Not End

  • Tell all those people you dislike and and sent scathing emails figuring that the world was ending and there would be no reprecussions that someone hacked your computer
  • Bring the empty bottles of super expensive brandy back to the store and tell them that they were bad and you should have your money refunded
  • Put on the schedule all the deferred maintenance that was going to be unnecessary as the world went out in flames
  • Put stop payments on all the charge card charges for all the unnecessary toys, do-dads, and gizmos that you would never have bought if you knew you'd still be here.
  • Return all the survivalist gear that you really didn't have a clue on how to use anyway
  • Retrieve all the passwords that were going to be unnecessary. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Fight the Gods

Yes.  I have just completed my last airplane trip of 2012.  And no I did not go on this trip quivering in fear of the power of the Magical Unicorn Pony God of Travel.  No, I have decided that I am not going to live in fear of this demi-immortal any longer.  Yes, de-I will now have it out with the Pointed Foil to travel well-being.  The Unicorn God and de-I...Mano a Little Equino and may the best one prevail.

I started with my full on assault in the sacrifice of mile of virgin snow this weekend.  Want to make unrealistic expectations of sacrifices Magical one?  I'll show you through the use of legalistic interpretations.  Even the Gods shake when the Bar shows up.

So how did my trip turn out?

I got to Albuquerque International Sunport on Monday morning with it all looking like a laughter in favor of the Magical Unicorn Pony God.  My flight was an hour late because of a late arriving crew the night before.  Then I was called and told I had a complementary DOWNGRADE from First Class back to Coach.  Seems that the plane that was sent was smaller than the one scheduled and they had fewer First Class seats.  But no.  I exerted my powers and ended up with A WHOLE ROW to myself in Economy Plus.  That's as good as First Class anytime when you're in the morning and not going to be drinking.  On my next flight to Boston, I had an empty seat next to me in the Exit isle on an otherwise packed flight. 

Going home today, my flight from Boston was full but on time.  The flight to Albuquerque I managed to get a seat when I checked in right behind the First Class cabin which on this particular aircraft HAS MORE LEG ROOM THAN THE FIRST CLASS SEATS!  And because of the bad head winds they needed six people to not take this flight.  I ended up with THE WHOLE ROW again!

Pretty much a total victory for de-I.  I'm having my lawyers research all kinds of virgin definitions to use in my battle.  Don't think I won't be using a lot of EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL before my next trip?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

First Snow Hike of the Season

I've waxed enthusiastically about hiking in the snow in prior years.  But we've had nothing but dryness since early fall.  Fortunately the storm tracks seem to finally be going a bit south so we had some precipitation during this week.

Now before certain fellow bloggers who live in the North and who listen to me say nothing good about snow comment, I want to point out as I have in the past that we have very respectful snow here that stays in the mountains where it belongs not cluttering up city streets causing people to have to shovel walks or schools to have to close.

Actually I didn't expect there to be any snow when I hiked because it didn't seem to be that much that came down.  But to my surprise there was snow from the very beginning all the way through.  Not too deep, just enough to make it soft and quiet. 

There were just one set of foot prints as I set out

Then I turned to go on this loop part of the trail and the foot prints went on.
I was left in virgin snow.  
Always the opportunist, I decided this was a gift to be offered in sacrifice to the Magical Unicorn Pony God of Travel (as I have to go to Boston on Monday) and I don't recall there being a strict definition of 'virgin'.

Then I took the opportunity for various 'artistic' shots

On nice thing about hiking at this time of year and in this weather is the lack of annoying other humans.

Scene at the parking lot both when I left and when I returned.  
Saw no one the whole time I was gone.

Bread Up

Wife has always baked bread, a fact that has added a lot of pleasure to our lives over the years.  But until recently I wouldn't say that she was into it as a hobby as say I am about cooking.  About a year ago I put on my list of things that I might want to get into if I ever get a chance to retire is baking.  Somehow this has tweaked a competitive gene in Wife and slowly but surely she has upped her baking game.

She has been on a quest to make a Kaiser Roll that she will find acceptable.  The ones in our local stores are just of very poor quality and the Kaiser Roll is Wife's preferred bread for a sandwich.  So she's been trying various techniques.  The latest attempt didn't make a very good Kaiser Roll but made a helluva good European Dinner Roll.

Recognize these?

If you've ever been to Europe and gone to the ubiquitous breakfast buffet at a hotel, these small hard rolls are de riguer.  The recipe calls for making a starter that sits over night, adding more flour and water, three rising/punch downs, forming rolls and letting them rest in the refrigerator.  Then my favorite instruction you, "make one decisive cut through the center of the roll."

They came out great.  We may not have our Kaiser Rolls yet but the breakfast buffet just to a step up. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Definition of One Foot in the Grave

That's what it feels like to me anyway.  What I'm referring to is that I am now officially on Medicare.  Just had my 65th birthday.  You are required by law to apply and put yourself in the Medicare pool 90 days before that event.  Then you get bombarded by a billion Medicare supplemental policy providers.  Right before your birthday you get your actual card - a crappy piece of cardboard that is to big to fit in your wallet - way to go government.

Then you go to the doctor and you have the wonderful experience of letting folks know you are now part of the aging falling of the cliff population - not happy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dare I Say 'No Problems?"

I had a quick trip to Phoenix.  Went out on Sunday and came back on Monday.  Going to Phoenix requires no plane changes.  Everything was on time and without problem.  I have one more trip to Boston this week and hopefully will get out of the year unscathed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Only a Glancing Blow

Seems that the travel gods must have gotten distracted and were only able to send me part of the normal load of bad luck.  Maybe Agent W traveling the same day caused them to take their eye off the prize.

My flight out wasn't bad luck, just bad airline management.  We arrived in this tiny commuter plane as far out as is possible at the United terminal in Denver, have to wait for our bags and then hoof it for what they call a 50 minute connection.  But that's 50 minutes from our arrival time to the next flight departure time.  You will remember that flights board 30 minutes before departure and most often they close the doors 10 minutes before departure.  Fortunately my outbound flight was 15 minutes late.

On the way back, I was changing through Houston.  This is always a pain.  The main terminal is gigantic and the flight to Albuquerque is always in another commuter terminal which requires taking a train.  Our flight in Chicago loaded up on time and they we sat.  The captain finally told us that a cargo loader in the belly of the plane had issues, the crew working on it was at the end of their shift, so they just left it half fixed.  Then the next crew came on and they figured out it needed fixing.  This caused us to take off 30 minutes late.  Not really that terrible unless you have a 50 minute connection requiring long, long walks and trains.  They made up a lot of the time and I just barely made my flight.  Where upon I found that the light over my seat was broken.

Compared to the last few flights I guess I should be thankful.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happiness is...

...Getting sweet, love notes hidden in your luggage for you to find even after 39 years of marriage :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Old and New

I wouldn't exactly call Wife and I resistant to change but we aren't exactly early adopters either as I think I've written about before.  But every once in a while we just decided that we have to change some things.  Thus it was with some degree of shock when Wife came home this week with some new water glasses.

While we have 'nice glasses' for when we have guests, we don't really like them for day-to-day use because they are too heavy.  Our beloved day-to-day glasses are nice and light and have a lovely hand feel.  Unfortunately they are showing the signs of age and through gradual breakage we are getting rather low in number.

The old glass

It may look like this is a dirty glass but in fact is just the long slow effect of etching from being in the dishwasher a few times.  Actually more than a few as we bought these some time in the mid-1980's.  So I'm thinking these are at least 25 year old glasses.  They've done their duty well.

Wife broke one on Tuesday night and that was it.  She was in Target and found these for just a dollar a piece.

The new glass

Changing of the regime

The Glass is Dead...Long Live the Glass

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Public Service Announcement

Mr. de-I will be departing for Chicago on United Airlines on Tue Dec 4 and returning on same airline back to Albuquerque on Thu Dec 6.

In view of recent events involving de-I and airline industry, you are advised to check if you are traveling on the:
  • Same flights
  • Same days
  • Same airline
As Mr. de-I.

If you are affirmative to any of the above, Mr. de-I takes no responsibility for any abominable delays you may incur in route.