Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rest of November

The rest of November proved to be as busy as the first part. We saw the Eakins exhibit and attended a lecture at the PMA and then went over to the Cleopatra exhibit at the Franklin. The former was good and the latter was pretty grim. Too many people, and the audio and written portions did not say the same things. Plus, the bimbos at the entrance were not paying attention at all to the times of the tickets. That probably accounted for the overcrowding. Then there were the toddlers and young kids. Why would you take your youngsters to an obviously NOT "Elizabeth Taylor" type exhibit that truly has some fidelity to the history of the time??? To annoy people who actually care about history?
At any rate, Philadelphia, unlike other major cities really seems far too often to take the low road and do things in a less than professional way. So sad when you compare to what Chicago and NYC do with their exhibits.
We went to the Met Museum of Art to see the Genghis Kahn exhibit, which was truly excellent, and then saw Bernadette Peters in "A Little Night Music" which was OK. I am not a great Sondheim fan anyway, and this story was silly. Although Peters was quite good.
The Polish Cultural Arts Society had their annual formal dinner and we attended. My friend Regina got to present a talk on the two books she has written, and we had a great time. The very next day we joined the same group at the Mazowsze performance at the Kimmel.
We learned to make gnocchi and other pastas at Carlow Cookery -- and then immediately ran out to buy pasta attachments for our Kitchenaid mixer. We made gnocchi for Tara and Mike that weekend. Although they thought that they were good, I thought our Carlow ones turned out better.
Book and Wine club discussion was on The Elegance of the Hedgehog -- very, very stimulating discussion. Seems as though people either hated or loved it. Brian and I both loved it, but we seemed to be in the minority. Really, it was work to read, but if one stuck with it, it was SO worth it.
We went to Shannon's for Thanksgiving. The twins are getting so big and are maturing and developing nicely. It is so much fun to watch them grow and learn! We are truly blessed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

can't believe it's November!

Having a spectacular fall! Carlow Cookery had a great soup “hands on” class. Yummy and it was so much fun to actually DO this time instead of watch – although we love to do both. We took the recipes to Shannon and Jon’s and made one of them for the family for dinner. It made a big hit.
Sandi and Hank were over for dinner. I made an interesting molasses based brisket. So yummy. Alina was over that day, and she indulged with a carvel ice cream cake shaped like a pumpkin. We took her to the zoo the next day, but although she loved the zoo itself, the class Tara had signed her up for was uninteresting and she was bored. Plus she was NOT happy that she had to go to daycare after the class since we had to go to the orchestra.
The performance was another winner. The conductor was a new one and he did a super job with the Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin piece and a magnificent job with the Musorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition/arrangement by Ravel. Fine, fine, fine!
We attended the Polish Arts Society of Trenton’s analysis of “Behind Closed Doors.” Brian and I had already seen most of the documentary, so none of it was particularly enlightening, but the discussion was interesting. Also interesting was how much more the two of us knew about what happened at this time in WW II history than many of the Poles who were there – not the immigrants – they knew. But the Polonia. Guess they were poisoned by their American education.
Went to Charlottesville and stopped to see Monroe’s house along the way. We stayed in the cutest B&B that had super food. Alice and Marshall joined us for dinner and the next day we drove up to their place near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just splendid. What a gorgeous part of the country.
On our way back from their house we stopped in a microbrewery and bought Jon some boutique beers. Some guy was pretty intrigued with us and he treated us to a taster’s selection of their beers. It kinda reminded me of the time the guys paid for our dinner in Nashville!
We went to Shannon and Jon’s and took the little girls trick or treating. The whole weekend was full of Halloween activities – they actually tired us out and we had to beg off on one party.
We attended two art museum Member’s Only tours. One was great, the other, I swear the poor woman must have had dementia. She rambled and simply made no sense. It was painful to listen to, and we left early to meet Tara, Mike and Alina at lunch.
Just got back from Chicago where we visited with Linda and Ken. What fun it was to see them again! We went to a beastly expensive restaurant for a 20 course meal with wine pairing. The meal took 3 hours and it was unbelievable. The NY Times actually rates Alinea as their #1 pick for Chicago restaurants – they are correct. It was a gustatory, auditory, olfactory feast for the senses – with a great deal of whimsy. We almost fainted when we got the bill, but it was worth it as one of those once in a lifetime treats.
We took in the Art Institute for 4 hours and went window shopping on the Miracle Mile. On the way back we met a lovely couple with similar interests and we will be getting together with them soon. He’s a journalist and she’s a banker, so she enjoyed talking with Brian and he and I really hit it off. It’s so exhilarating to talk with people who are up to date and well informed.
I once had an acquaintance say that the news was too depressing and never read it. How can you live without being aware of your surroundings -- or even have an opinion to vote if you don't read the paper??? Oh well, this guy Tom, reads 6 a day. Better informed than me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October update

Oh what a few weeks!
So, Ok, Brian liked Canada and I did not. Boring. He liked the history – and I, who like European history, and think North American history is dreadfully uninteresting, did not agree. Quebec was lovely – Ottowa had nice architecture – other than that, I am not sure that glass high rises are really my thing. Toronto sucked from an aesthetic point of view. Niagara Falls was not nearly as big as I remembered from when I was a kid. Big, but not AS big.
Luckily we met some wonderful folks – a couple from N.C, and a couple from Australia who were worth the trip. Great people and, since we plan to go to Australia in the next two years, they are a great contact. And friendly and intelligent.
Other than that it has been the usual whirlwind of activities. Our library book club started up at full speed again when David came back from his shore haunts. Discussion back on track and sparkling.
Alina spent two nights and we took her to the Philly Zoo. OK – nothing compares to the San Diego Zoo. Since I saw that zoo, all the rest have paled in comparison. But she loved it.
Went to the symphony and the orchestra played selections from Dutilleux, Liszt, and Prokofiev. OMIGOD was it a wonderful performance. We were mesmerized. Also went to the first opera performance which was Othello. Just OK – fairly weak voices. The soprano playing Desdemona saved it.
Did a presentation for the MA Dept of Mental Health in Worcester on my restraint issue material and then we did a B&B day plus a trip to the Museum of Russian Icons. Wow is all I can say. The museum is a little gem in the middle of MA nowheresville. We had the docent to ourselves and I was so entranced for the two hours that I nearly drooled. He just made it completely come alive for us. Otherwise it would have just been plain old pretty icons – with gold and silver.
Had dinner with Ted and Mary – Golly can she bake. She made an apple pastry that was so divine it could have ascended to heaven.
We had a Kosciuszko Foundation fundraiser at our home. Oh my! What fun and what a great group of folks. We had a Kosciuszko actor who was fabulous for the show (and his page) and wonderful Chopin music plus Polonaise dance lessons. Raised lots of $ and had one hell of a good time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Activities galore

So, the kids and grandkids are gone and it's just us! Boy are they growing up fast. Alina is definitely Dziadzio's little girl and Sophie is mine. Jacqueline is an equal opportunity grandchild.
We took the twins to the Polish festival at Czestochowa twice before they left. OMIGOSH did they have fun watching the dancers and dancing. It was hard to get them to leave. Thought we would see Ken and Bill and Rose/Jay there but didn't. Saw lots of folks from our Polish organizations though. Brian and I volunteered for two shifts at the Styka art exhibit and had some interesting conversations with the members of the Polonia.
The Romiszewskis and Pettis were over for Labor Day before Shannon and the twins left. We had great weather and a super picnic. I made Lori's lemon chicken which Brian grilled. It was definitely as good as hers and it made a big hit. The twins were on their very best behavior and all thought that they were little angels HA!
Went to our library book club where I presented Dog Boy and Brian presented more than one history book -- as usual. The book and wine meeting was loads of fun as usual and A Happy Marriage by Iglesias provoked MUCH conversation. One of the newer members -- probably will not last long with this group -- proved to be a very needy and self-referential angry guy. He was angry at his kid, his ex-wife. I can see why she is an EX! It was all me, me, me. I suspect he's a short timer. The group won't tolerate the narcissim and it was obvious that he was annoying folks. Too bad, because we could use more men in our club. I'll have to try to recruit some.
Went to see Sandy and Hank at the beach for two days. The weather was so gorgeous. I do think that fall is the best time to go to the shore. Not only are there no crowds but the weather is not so beastly hot.
The Motameds had their end of summer party -- smaller this year. We really do enjoy meeting his former buddies from Chubb. It gives us something completely different to talk about from our usual. It's so interesting to hear how high execs in corporate America view the world.
I started my creative writing class. The instructor is a complete jerk and I am wondering if I am going to get anything out of this. He spent the first hour pontificating about -- me, me, me, my, my, my and rambling. I finally got completely bored stiff and tried twice to re-direct him to what the heck he was going to teach us. It really amazed me that no one else tried to do that. What a bunch of wimps. Hey you guys are paying for this and you are NOT paying for someone to ramble about nothing of importance or interest. Want to pontificate, write a blog! Later several people thanked me for my intervention, but it all left a strange taste in my mouth. On the one hand I am turned off by him, on the other, I am disgusted by people's passivity.
We're off to Canada for 10 days -- a trip I've been looking forward to for a long time. Lots of great French food and culture.

Friday, August 27, 2010

a very frazzled August

A more than frantic August! Wow, we have been busy, busy. We attended the museum tour and lecture about armor, which surprisingly was very good. Went to Carlow for a streets food cooking class, which was GREAT!!! Carlow Cookery is my new favorite place to go for a casual evening!
Had a small do with incompatible acquaintances that turned into a big and less than pleasant do. We have not had many events where we invite folks together for dinner parties like we did in the past – probably will have less now. I think we will continue to meet and arrange larger groups at restaurants or public venues the way that we’ve been doing. Safer. Perhaps people tend to behave themselves – drink less because they have to pay for meal/booze themselves. Perhaps home is a safer place than public to act out. High maintenance, needy friends. Arggh! I have enough trouble managing myself for goodness sakes.
Alina ran us ragged before Shannon came with the kids but it was a good ragged.
We went to the Kosciuszko Fnd. Fundraiser concert. It sounds as though they are happy to have volunteers to help out with their events. The musicians were pleasant, but not perfect. But it was about the evening itself, not perfection.
Shannon came with the twin crew and we have been trying to keep them busy and give her a break. Both Brian and I are feeling our age, as well as our propensity to be set in our ways! But they are so damn cute and turning into little people.
The few days that Alina was here with them were TRULY hectic. We had a photographer out with them to try and get family photos of all three. Thank goodness for children’s photographers because I would be pulling out my hair. Alina did not like him and the twins were less than pleased as well. I am hoping that he managed to pull off some cute shots though.
Brian and Shannon did Carlow’s tomato and corn class and we now have Shannon as a tomato convert. She had always hated them in the past – vestiges of being raised in W. Texas for so many years where the produce sucked.
Joined Sandi, Hank, and Ashley with the crew at the shore for 3 days – or as the girls called it – the “bitch.” They loved playing in the waves and sand, although J. was much more adventurous than Sophie. Ashley was a god send. They loved her.
We took a hiatus from the Thornburgs last weekend and took ourselves to Avalon with the Tulmans and the Simpsons. As always we had a wonderful time. Avalon is my all time favorite beach. Bitch??
So, September is upon us and I don’t feel a bit rested and the calendar is packed, packed, packed already. Looking so forward to our Canadian vacation – where it will be cool and less hectic!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Can things make you happy? Finally, studies that confirm what I have suspected for a while and all point to one conclusion: spending money for an experience – concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco – produces longer lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff. Whereas most physical goods tend to lose their appeal as the purchaser becomes accustomed to them, experiences strengthen social bonds and pay dividends over time. We reminisce about them, talk about them and even the most hellish of vacations or road trips turn out to be money well spent.

Friday, August 20, 2010

guest aggravation

Good grief! This is the second time in recent memory that I have had a guest who had too much to drink get belligerent and obnoxious to another guest. The first time was in a discussion with my son in law, Mike, who was opining on a perfectly legitimate topic regarding end of life decisions and got clobbered verbally by a friend who took offense and took Mike’s opinion personally. Poor Mike – not only was he taken aback by the vitriol, but as far as I was concerned he was correct in his views. The other day’s fiasco concerned health care reform and a friend, who is pretty opinionated, not backing off on his views when it was clear that the other guest had one that was opposite to his. Arghh! I thought fisticuffs would result!
When I select guests I always want to choose an interesting mix of characters, but how to make sure they will all get along? It doesn’t do to invite people who are known to clash with other dinner guests or cause heated debates. No one wants tension at a dinner party. But how to predict this? I want my dinner parties to be lively, stress-free events, and invite guests who are good conversationalists, especially those who are known to bring along their sense of humor. But how to predict? We often have folks who disagree with our politics, and we simply do not get into debates with them, knowing that they hold opinions that we won’t change – nor do we want to. That seems to work well. When we get close to a topic that seems touchy, we simply change it. Although I don’t know why we can’t have a reasoned discussion about controversial topics, it just does not work most of the time.
So, I now know that I won’t invite those two folks with others, as once is one time too much as far as I am concerned. They now go on the short left side of my guest list that is reserved for people to have by themselves to dinner. Oh well, live and learn.