April 27, 2006


Easter Sunday was strange. I usually go to my office-mate's home for Easter dinner. This year her invitation was late and came after I had already accepted one from Virgil's family. I was happy to not drive 40 miles to Eileen's house in Easter Sunday and highway construction traffic but was sorry to break a tradition of at least ten years.

While I never arrive empty-handed, I knew that there would be a request to prepare something. I was surprised when asked to make mashed potatoes. I'm not particularly noted for my mashed potatoes but off to the market I went to buy sufficent russets for a party of 15. Everything went well - until I assembled my little, hand-held mixer and turned it on. The housing for the beaters disintegrated. After picking plastic pieces out of the spuds, I hauled out a masher - the old-fashioned hand tool and got a good start but knew that the end product would be lumpy. So, I employed a small, electric chopper/blender unit that required at least 12 fill-ups before my casserole dish was full. The flavor was great; the appearence was distinctive. Those potatoes were dense and flat and smooth like velvet. An accusation of "fluffy" would never stand.

Dinnertime was supposed to be at 5:30 - a little late for an Easter Sunday dinner but it worked for me. Then, Noel called to say that the serving time was moved to 4:30. Not a problem; I adjusted my schedule. The third call came at 3:10. Everyone would be eating at 3:30. Because I had glanced at a clock that had not been forwarded by an hour to accommodate Daylight Savings Time, I thought that that would be fine, too. When I realized my mistake, I phoned to ask if Virgil's son could pick up the potatoes that were ready because I was not. His mother told me that he was eating. I hurried up and arrived, with potatoes in hand, to a group of 14 who were either enjoying dinner or had already finished. The potatoes were a course in themselves - post entrees' and side dishes. The whole business was strange. I had a good time, enjoyed a feast and lively conversation.

Posted by leah at 03:27 PM | Comments (3)

April 18, 2006


When Theresa and I were making plans to travel to Kalamazoo, we also made another plan. We decided that we would smoke.

After driving 40 miles, we make a pit stop and purchased our supplies. Theresa immediately lit up and wondered why I didn’t. I really wanted to “enjoy” my first puff in over six months with a martini in hand but decided to join her, in the naughty activity, with only a Diet Dr Pepper. After a few puffs, Theresa said, “This doesn’t taste very good, does it?” “It tastes awful!” said I. We persevered but the activity didn’t get any better.

In a cut-to-the-chase, this is what happened………after not enjoying four cigarettes and returning to our $50.00 Fairfield Inn room and feeling the effects of three extra dry martinis, I looked at the pack of Virginia Slim Menthol Luxury Lights (120 mm) and realized that I had zero desire to indulge. I said, “I’m not doing this anymore!” I took the remaining 14-15 cigarettes, broke them in two and flushed everything down the toilet.

When I quit smoking in October, there was a sense of losing and missing a friend. I had frequent dreams in which I smoked……….and always felt guilty upon awaking. I started my trip to Kalamazoo with happy anticipation of our smoking pleasure. And, that’s why I’m not sorry. I now realize that those awful cigarettes were not friends that offered comfort and pleasure; they stink and taste terrible. I have no regrets and no longings. I am truly a non-smoker…..now.

Posted by leah at 02:48 PM | Comments (3)


Theresa Jacobi and I had a great 8/9 April weekend. The occasion was Dorothy's (Bobby's sister) self-produced 70th birthday party. When she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma five or so years ago, Dorothy determined that if she lived to be 70, she would celebrate. And celebrate she did. Interestingly enough, though specific levels remain elevated, her earlier diagnosis has not progressed.

The party was great. I was stunned at the crowded ballroom at the Holiday Inn. I don't think that I even know that many people - at least 150 in attendance. There was a lovely hors d'voures display followed by a buffet dinner that included baked salmon and the ubiquitous chicken breast - but this dish was done in some sort of apple sauce. I had too many martinis but that probably contributed to the fun that I had on the dance floor.

We decided not to stay at the Holiday Inn @ $99.00. We negotiated a room rate of $50.00 on priceline.com at a Fairfield Inn. It had recently undergone renovation and the rate included an extensive breakfast - I think they are part of the Marriott family. The breakfast was identical to the one that I enjoyed so many times at the Residence Inn in Bethesda............Dorothy said that their breakfasts were $12.50. Of course, these wonderful savings evaporated when, on the way home, Theresa and I stopped at the casino in Michigan City, IN. I practiced restraint............Theresa did not!

The foregoing was redacted from an earlier email to Cynthia. I hope that she enjoys the retelling. A full account was lost to the spell check function that I promise never to use again. Now, I’m creating my entries in Word, doing spellcheck, and then cutting and pasting to the Journal.

Posted by leah at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2006


Last Thursday, Theresa Jacobi and I went to The Cheesecake Factory on Michigan Avenue. She is so good for my endorphin release. We laughed and laughed. There were minor problems with the dining experience that pretty much began and ended with waiter issues. In my Secret Shopper survey, I recounted them all in a reasonable and judicious manner. The food was excellent. After crunchy calamari that was served with various and unusual sauces, we split the Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp. It was so tasty with overtones of ginger and something else that was pleasantly hot.

Posted by leah at 01:19 PM | Comments (2)

April 06, 2006


Two books that I recently thought were particularly enjoyable are In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant who also authored The Birth of Venus and Jeffrey Archer's latest novel, False Impression. Both were enjoyable reads for different reasons. I also finished the lastest in the Voyager series by Diane Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. It was 900 plus pages of non-stop action about my favorite protagonists, Claire and Jaime.

I have been a member of Netflix for a couple of months and have really enjoyed receiving the CDs in the mail. So far, I've seen the following:

The Squid and the Whale
A History of Violence
The Chorus
The Harmonists
North Country
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Dear Frankie
I'm Not Scared

They were all excellent choices - especially Harakiri, a film from Japan that is from the 1950's. I need to add Downfall to the list - this movie is in German and is about Hitler's final days in his Berlin bunker.

You can see how I have been spending my free time! Tonight, Theresa and I are going to The Cheesecake Factory on Michigan Avenue. I am a secret shopper and Theresa usually accompanies me when I have an assignment - usually every three months. Unfortunately, thunderstorms are threatening.

Posted by leah at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)