Bonne Anniversaire, Mon Amour

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Today is the birthday of my ex-husband.  Maybe it was coincidence that I ran into one of his French friends this morning that I rarely see.  Since I bear no ill will towards him in the least, let me amuse you with a few memories of him.

I miss him waiting for me after work on the days that he didn’t work; he’d either be in my office lobby or waiting downstairs in my building, so that we could take the cable car home together.  On the days he wasn’t waiting for me, but not working, I’d come home and open the apartment door to the smells of something delicious cooking.  He’d bundle me up in bed watching a movie until dinner was ready, then we’d eat.  On the days that he did work, I’d usually be playing video games when he got home.  My favorite video game is a snowboarding one called “Tricky.”  When he’d get home, we’d play “Tricky” for a couple of hours.

Being French, he was an excellent cook.  We routinely had people over for lunch and/or dinner.  When one of us decided to make something, the other would try to one up them.  It was like a cooking competition!  He was, by far, the better cook, though.  He was the type that never had to measure anything.  Plus, he could whip something up at the drop of a hat and it would turn out excellent.  When my friends would ask what it was, I’d tell them that there was no name for it ’cause he’d just made it up!  I was using my bad American influence on him, though; got him hooked on baked potatoes with tons of butter, sour cream, bacon bits and chives, in addition to Kraft macaroni and cheese with vegetable broth (instead of milk) and Cajun spices!

He was funny and sweet.  He didn’t know the English word for “toes,” so called them “foot fingers”!  He also referred to “jet lag” as “jet flag” and always said “virgin” when he meant “version.”  His nickname for me was Bunny Butt.  Don’t ask me why!  Actually, we both ended up calling each other “Bunny.”  One time when I returned on a flight from Europe, he met me at the airport holding a sign that said “Bunny.”

We went to Hawaii twice together.  At the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet when he was hungry, I told him to go to one of the food trucks and get something to eat.  He ended up buying malasadas, which he loved.  While we did our shopping separately at the Swap Meet, we met up to discover that he’d bought gifts for me and vice versa.  He was further amazed that the McDonalds in Hawaii have steamed rice, fresh pineapple and linguica.  When he met my great-Aunty Rose in Kauai, she asked me where he was from.  I told her “France.  Why?”  “He seems Portagee!” she proclaimed.  “Well, he likes malasadas and linguica, so he may as well be Portuguese!” I laughed.

So, Mon Lapin, I hope you’re enjoying your day, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.  I still think of you and miss you.  I will always wish you the strength to deal with your issues when and how you choose to, wish you harmony in your life, wish you happiness with friends and family, and wish you great love with someone who truly appreciates you and gives you much love in return.

Bunny Busting a Move on the Dance Floor

Bunny Busting a Move on the Dance Floor

Us at Christmas

The Changeling

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Alright, boys and men, I’ll have to ask that you cover your eyes and ears for this post.  I do NOT think you’re going to enjoy it.  Ladies, on the other hand, I know you know exactly what I mean by referring to “the change.”  It’s here, though I vigorously try to tell myself that it’s a dream (more like a nightmare) with every passing day.  Yes, it’s menopause and it’s decidedly NOT pretty!

I really had no clue about menopause as it always seemed like something that was light years away.  I remember asking a couple of people when they’d had “the change,” both of whom had said it was in their late 40′s.  Some article may have alluded to the fact that women who’ve had children have it earlier than women who have NOT had children.  Who really knows?!

Yours Truly is now in her mid 50′s.  On my last visit to the gynecologist, she highly suggested that I have a blood test to determine whether I was having or had had menopause.  She also refused to give me any more birth control pills, which was my REAL impetus to have the blood test!  I doubted that menopause could have already happened to me, as there didn’t seem to be any of the typical symptoms associated with it – night sweats, hot flashes, depression, weight gain, etc.  Lo and behold, the blood test revealed that I am POST menopause.  It seems that once my body heard the facts, it decided to put on a show.  NOW I have hot flashes and (some minor) night sweats.  One of my friends assured me that I’d wake up in the middle of the night with the sheets soaked when having night sweats.  However, my night sweats consist of me waking up with a sweaty forehead.  My hot flashes, on the other hand, are relatively frequent.  Depression?  Well, that comes from living in San Francisco; no more or less than usual.  Weight gain?  I’d taken a break from the gym during the months of November and December, so chalked it up to that.  I work out much harder and more frequently than before, but my weight barely changes now.  I’d even hoped that my “Lenten diet” would dissolve a few of those pounds.  (Which reminds me, in about 8 days, I can eat POTATO CHIPS and DRINK SODAS again!  Oh happy day!)  Ok, I DID lose a few pounds, but it’s ’cause I’ve been eating a bunny rabbit diet – salad, salad and more salad.  Plus, those pears and strawberries.  When I want to get crazy, I go for an acai bowl.  Those acai bowls might have tons of calories and sugar, though; I really should check.

On the other hand, my gynecologist didn’t say anything about me having to take hormones.  Most of the women I know who have had menopause take hormones, so not having to take them is a plus for me.  As my cousin said, “I hate you!”

If there are any more thrilling aspects to menopause that have not already happened, please warn me!

P.S. With my luck, now that I no longer have to worry about taking the pill, I’ll probably get pregnant, anyway.  (I can just imagine informing my boss that I’ll be taking maternity leave shortly before retirement!)

 

What All The Cool Kids Eat

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A friend of mine from another state introduced me to a new craze – cookie butter. He was in Cali for a conference, shall we say, when he got a request to bring some cookie butter back home. I’d never heard of cookie butter before. He told me that friends of his had brought some from Trader Joe’s. I live 6 blocks from a Trader Joe’s, yet had never seen cookie butter. Of course, I barely eat peanut butter, so it’s no surprise that I had no idea what cookie butter is. Earlier this week I looked up cookie butter on the internet to see exactly what it is. According to the internet, the one at Trader Joe’s is peanut butter mixed with crushed ginger cookies and coconut. Another company makes cookie butter, too, but the one from Trader Joe’s seems to be the favorite. Also, when it first came out, it was apparently so popular that customers were limited to 2 jars maximum. A co-worker informed me that the cookie butter craze has been going on for awhile (she has 2 young boys) and that the Trader Joe’s near her is often sold out of it. This afternoon I specifically made a trip to Trader Joe’s to (a) see if they had any, (b) see what flavors/selections they had, (c) see what the price was and (d) see if there was still a 2 jar limit. The Trader Joe’s on California Street seemed to be well stocked with 3 different types – regular, crunchy and cocoa swirl. The regular and crunchy were priced at $3.69/jar while the cocoa swirl was a little higher at $3.99/jar. Luckily, there was no mention of a quantity limit. Apparently, this part of San Francisco didn’t get the memo that it’s the new phenomenon. Then again, most of San Francisco isn’t quite as cool as they think. Also, I’m obviously behind on this trend myself. Although my friend wanted 4 jars of regular and 4 jars of cocoa swirl, I was reluctant to carry that much home. I was also there to pick up liquids in the form of San Pellegrino, coconut water and Italian blood orange soda. Thus, he’ll have to make do with 2 jars of regular and 2 jars of cocoa swirl for the time being. Now I’ve been known to go to the gym and do a few light weights, but 4 jars of cookie butter, 4 cartons of coconut water, 2 bottles of San Pellegrino, 1 bottle of Italian blood orange soda and a few other sundry items nearly killed me on the way home! My friend can have the additional 4 jars of cookie butter when my arms have recovered enough to make a return to Trader Joe’s! Besides, I need to pick up a jar for myself to see what all the hype is about. Exactly how does one eat cookie butter? On toast? Celery sticks? With chips? With churros? Can one make actual cookie butter cookies, much like peanut butter cookies, with it? What about a cookie butter bundt cake? Feeling experimentation coming on.

Cookie Butter

Designer Dogs or Merely Mutts?

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Last weekend I was down in the OC to hang out with friends.  One of those friends, B., had taken my Chow Chow when I moved from L.A. to San Francisco.  She passed away several years later and B. has remained dogless ever since.  I assured her that, when I got down there, we’d be checking out some puppies!  B. lives in Costa Mesa.  She told me that Irvine and Santa Ana (I believe) had passed some type of law in which puppies could no longer be sold at pet shops, or something to that effect.  It may possibly be to put puppy mills out of business.  On Saturday afternoon, she took me to Russo’s Pets at Fashion Island, an outdoor mall that’s technically located in Newport Beach.  They had puppies, kittens, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and lizards.  Only a few of the puppies were purebred – a few English bulldogs, four French bulldogs, an Australian shepherd and a Yellow Lab.  All of the other puppies were mixed breed dogs.  They had Crested Yorkies (Chinese Crested and Yorkshire Terries), a Schnooker Poo (Schnauzer and Poodle) and a Pappy-Tese (Papillon and Maltese), among others.  What’s interesting is that all of those mixed breed puppies came from the same breeder.  B. and I think that all of the dogs must have escaped their kennels on the same day and intermingled, resulting in all of the mixed breed puppies.  Just for fun, I asked one of the salesgirls what the Pappy-Tese was going for.  A cool $995, believe it or not!  In the “old” days, when different breeds of dogs interbred, they were referred to as mutts.  Generally, there wasn’t a huge demand for mutts.  Everyone was after purebred, AKC-registered dogs.  So I don’t get what’s going on now.  If I wanted a mixed breed dog, I could just go to the SPCA, rescue one (or more) and save myself hundreds of dollars!  I personally think it’s terrible to interbreed dogs to create your own new “designer” breed.  Previously being the owner of two purebred Chow Chows makes it even harder for me to understand.  A cute puppy is a cute puppy, but seriously?

Love Is…

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something that should be shown/celebrated every day and not just on Valentine’s Day. At least, that seems to be the consensus from everyone complaining about Valentine’s Day. They say that Valentine’s Day is a holiday created by the media to make more money. Then again, aren’t all of the holidays that way? For those of you who insist that love should be shown/celebrated every day and not just on Valentine’s Day, when was the last time you showed your love to your significant other, child, relative, friend, etc.? Most of us take our significant other and everyone else for granted after awhile. Even when you say “I love you,” it’s more like saying “Hello” or “Goodbye” if it’s not truly heartfelt. So if you don’t actually show or celebrate love every day (which most of us are guilty of) AND you didn’t do anything on Valentine’s Day, all I can say is, what a cop-out!

At this time, I don’t have a boyfriend. In fact, I didn’t have one last year on Valentine’s Day, either. Even so, some floral shop handed out miniature roses last year and I witnessed/took pictures and videos of the Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight that takes place yearly at Justin Hermann Plaza, which just happens to be behind my office building. Both years I had a nice dinner with friends, who didn’t happen to have a significant other, either. This year, I also bought strawberry shortcake cupcakes for the two people in my office that I like the most. I even wrote “Will you be my VALENTINE?” on a pink post-it note for one of them.

Guys are forever bemoaning the fact that Valentine’s Day is for women. Is it? Whenever I have a significant other on Valentine’s Day, I always buy them a card and presents. The presents didn’t have to be extravagant, but something that I knew they’d enjoy. For instance, one year I bought my ex-husband some buckwheat flour and a crepe pan so that he could make crepes. He was thrilled to no end! As a matter of fact, I remember that my sister-in-law used to buy Valentine’s Day gifts for everyone in her family!

As far as showing love on a daily basis, when a certain boyfriend and I lived together, I used to kiss him goodbye every morning, even though he was usually still asleep when I left for work. It didn’t matter if we’d been fighting and sleeping separately or not; I still kissed him goodbye every morning. The reason was because I always feared that something might happen to him that day and I would always regret not kissing him goodbye. I also kissed my male Chow Chow on the nose every morning and begged him to “Behave and be a good boy today.”

So chill out and lighten up, all of you Valentine’s Day nay-sayers. If you show more love, you’ll get more love!

The Lent Weight Loss Program

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Getting older basically sucks!  The gray hair, the weight gain, being tired, becoming a homebody, etc., etc., and so on.  After making a mess in the bathroom/kitchen area when trying to dye my hair, I’ve decided that it really is worth the extra expense to have it done professionally.  Every six weeks my hair is colored/dyed at the Cinta Aveda Institute by students who are training to become hair stylists.  There are three levels of students; Alpha, Beta and Gamma.  I always ask for a Beta or Gamma student, although it would be relatively difficult to mess up dying someone’s hair black!  The weight gain could have come from me not going to the gym for 3 months!  However, I’ve been back at the gym for 3 weeks now, working out harder than ever before and my weight goes up and down by about two lbs., no matter what I do.  Usually I lose 3 or 4 lbs. after 2 weeks at the gym and it stays off. My metabolism seems to have stopped altogether!  The being tired part is kind of solved by my taking a nap BEFORE I go to the gym (around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.)!  Yes, I’m that decrepit!  The homebody stuff doesn’t bother me all that much.  I’m home behaving myself and NOT spending money.

Getting back to this weight business, Lent is approaching within the next month.  My sacrifices will be much the same as last year – no potato chips, no cupcakes, no sodas.  For a person who loves junk food, those are major sacrifices.  Last year I also gave up shoe shopping.  I couldn’t possibly get any more shoes in my room at this point, so I’m thinking of giving up ALL shopping, other than for food and basic necessities, during Lent.  Since my weight is stubbornly sticking to me, I might even go out on a limb and give up candy, sweets or sugars of any kind.  Although I’ve always preferred salt to sugar, I have to indulge in gummi bears, a Mounds bar or some hot tamales (the candy) every so often.  In fact, one of the guys in the office and I routinely buy each other gummi candy for no reason whatsoever.  I’ll arrive in the morning to a bag of gummi frogs or what-have-you on my desk.  Whenever I make that snack dash to Walgreens out of sheer boredom, I pick up some gummi clown fish or gummi cherries or whatever for him as well.

Speaking of which, I got the two attorneys hooked on cupcakes from the CupKates truck, as well as macarons from Chantal Guillon.  As my main boss was departing last Thursday, he mentioned to me that, if he drove to work the next day (as opposed to taking BART), we might have to go get some “French cookies,” which he affectionately calls macarons.  Of course, when I got to work last Friday morning, he’d sent an E-mail saying that he’d taken the day off because he didn’t want me to have to eat macarons.  My reply was “That was very thoughtful of you.  It’s not as if I needed them these days, anyway.”  His next E-mail said “Yeah, I’m feeling like a really good person.”  I ended our E-mail conversation by saying that I’d still partake of macarons before Lent, but wouldn’t have him to blame on Friday.

That’s my plan for weight loss; Lent.  If this killing myself at the gym isn’t going to pay off in my old age, then Lent has GOT to give me a boost.  I’ll be sticking to an austere diet of fruit, salads, tea and the occasional red meat.  Somehow it’s easier for me to abstain from those things during Lent than it is at any other time of the year.  I guess when the chances of Him paying particular attention are raised, I’m more likely to behave!  Wish me luck!

MUNI Took My Money!!!

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Back at the start of October, as I rushed down to the Tenderloin to pick up some authentic banh mi for my bosses & a few other people in the office, MUNI had their transportation officers all over the place.  As I descended the bus in the Tenderloin, they asked to check my Fast Pass.  While other passengers were obviously avoiding the transportation officers by arguing with them about letting them see their Fast Pass or simply running madly across the street, I handed over my Fast Pass, assured that everything would be fine.  The officer told me that I had NO money on my Fast Pass, so she issued me a citation for $105!!!  I told her there must be some type of mistake, as my Company pays half of my transportation costs and always sends the money to MUNI 7 to 10 days before the end of the month to cover the cost of the following month.  She informed me that I could protest the citation if I wanted.  I went back to the office, printed out the E-mail from my company stating that my “commuter benefits order” had been fulfilled, along with the E-mail from MUNI telling me that it had been loaded (on the FIFTH of the following month), wrote a letter to MUNI stating that it was their fault for not adding the money before the grace period was up (I believe the grace period is the first 3 days of the month), then went down to their offices and dropped it off with a copy of the citation.  A few weeks later, I received a letter from MUNI saying that the citation was just in their eyes, but I could further protest it if I wanted.  However, if I wanted to further protest, I’d have to send all of the information, ALONG WITH A CHECK FOR $105.00, to a certain address.  The letter said that, if MUNI was found to be wrong, my money would be returned to me.  Wouldn’t you know it?  MUNI cashed that check within a week, but I heard nothing further from them.  Now that it’s January, the Bozos send me another letter, once again saying that they found the citation just.  They said that I had said the money was loaded on the card, but it had NOT been loaded on the card.  Idiots!  I did NOT say that the money was loaded on the card.  I said that MY COMPANY SENT them the money well in advance of the start of the following month.  THEY (MUNI) are the ones that didn’t load in a timely manner!  Of course, no one addressed that issue at all. When I looked back at all of my E-mails, I realized that MUNI ALWAYS loads it anywhere from the 4th to as late as the 10th of the month that the Fast Pass is for!!!  At this point, I could care less that they cashed my check.  What pisses me off is that they had the balls to write me yet another letter stating that they found the citation just, stating that I had said the money had been loaded (which I did NOT!) and that I could still protest it, but I’d have to set up a hearing date and pay a $25 filing fee.  Really?!  Do they think I have any more time to waste?!  I’m going to write them another letter letting them know that I could care less if they took my money, but…  they still did NOT answer my question as to why MUNI loads the money onto the card so late.  I’ll also attach a copy of the letter(s) I originally sent them, so that they can see that (if they could read English properly), I did NOT say that the money was already loaded onto the card. Lastly, I’ll attach copies of every E-mail from my company last year letting me know when they’d send the money to MUNI, as well as the E-mails from MUNI telling me when they’d actually loaded it. I hate stupid people!!!

Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now.

Oinkeroo Rides Again

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So there’s this Italian waiter at an Italian restaurant that’s my friend on Facebook.  He sent me a message telling me about this 4-course prix fixe Italian dinner with wine pairing at Ristorante Milano for $85, including the wine!  Casatellani Winery out of Pisa, Italy would be introducing their wines with each of the courses.  That’s not a bad price, considering that this is San Francisco, so I roped one of my foodie friends into joining me and we went there on Monday night.

The first course was Bruschetta di Zucca e Mozzarella (roasted squash, fresh mozzarella, cannellini beans, garlic and sage), accompanied by Rosato, Ceppiano, 2012.  The bruschetta itself was fine, but I preferred those cannellini beans.  The wine was described as an intense pink color, with purple notes, with a bouquet of peach, plum and apricot on the nose, and freshness and sapidity on the palate.  I’m not a fan of roses; this was no different.  It was fine, but nothing that I’d buy or choose.  My friend, on the other hand, really liked it.

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The second course was Pappardelle con il Sugo d’Agnello (house made egg noodles with braised lamb, tomatoes and white wine).  This was my favorite course, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m a pasta fiend!  The portion was huge, too!  The wine was “Burchino,” Super Tuscan,” Toscana IGT 2009, described as an intense ruby red with purple reflection, characteristic bouquet with plenty of cherry, berry and balsamic flavors; soft and round with notes of vanilla and licorice; nice acidity and balanced fruit.  This was also my favorite wine as well.  It was smooth, and (to me) had hints of spice and something woody.  My friend didn’t pick up on any of that, however.  (He probably thought I was crazy.)

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Course number three was Braciole di Maiale (pork rib chop, wild porcini, roasted pumpkin and grilled polenta), accompanied with Travalda, “Super Tuscan,” Toscana IGT 2009.  Again, another huge course, which neither of us were able to finish.  The chop was a little dry, but I loved the porcini.  I’ve never been a fan of polenta; it was alright.  The wine purportedly had aromas of ripe red fruit with hints of vanilla and coffee, great palate structure with balanced acidity, intense notes of geranium and jasmine.  This was, by far, the most intense of the wines.  My friend didn’t care for it at all; I had to finish his.  I assured him, though, that it tasted different and lighter after it had breathed a bit.  He agreed, but still wasn’t going to finish his.  I liked the wine, but still preferred the second one!

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We finished with Crostata di Ricotta con Amaretto (house made ricotta tart with amaretto crust).  The wine was Fattoria del Cerro, Vin Santo, Toscana 2010 (toasted hazelnut, hay, dried figs and dried apples on the nose, full bodied, honey, dried fruit, roasted chestnuts on the finish).  There was something bitter in the tart, which I didn’t care for.  It must have been the amaretto crust.  What else could it have been?  As for the Vin Santo, I don’t care for sweet wines, either; this was overly sweet (as Vin Santos always are).

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All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening.  I got to gossip with my friend, saw my Italian waiter friend AND checked out our cute Italian waiter!  $85 plus tax was a fair price for the amount of food.  Nothing was bad; average to good.  I would try the restaurant again, on a regular night with the regular menu.

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