Potato attention and southern comfort

Even though I was born a Northerner, I've lived in the South since 1982(ish), and the South is my home (for now), my roots (for always).  In the South, we still hold open the door for ladies, we say "Thank you," "Yes Sir," and "Yes, Ma'am," and I've come to realize, that these acts are appreciated far North of where I call home.  I haven't gone as far as to throw my coat over a puddle (yet), but generally speaking, a little bit of kindness goes a long way, even if all you get is an odd stare. I get strange looks and odd replies when I hold the elevator door, I get hesitation when I allow someone else to go first through the turnstile at the train station.  I get evil glares when I offer my seat on the subway to someone who clearly needs it more than I.  These gestures of human (Southern) kindness are accepted, with oddities, even in the millions of people city they call New York. Do I get irritated at the people who look up as they walk forward, yes!  Do I curse the people that merge into pedestrian traffic only to stop short as you rear end them, yes!  Do I mumble under my breath when someone in front of me is texting or Facebooking or emailing and blocks the clear path to where I need to go, yes.  But I do smile as I side step to avoid their meandering ways. These last 2 days have been an overload of just10things, mostly centered around 2 events that should honestly be their own entry.  Me, getting close to the milestones of 100 posts and 1 year of just10things, I've somehow come down with a case of writers block, so I am curled up on the most uncomfortable couch in my lovely hotel room with the determination that I will post this tonight (and since you are reading it, I must have been successful). 1st run in with 10 this week: My favorite Irish pub in lower Manhattan on a Monday at 6PM is typically slow.  On any day, though, it is still full of investors and bankers and your general "Wall St." crowd that like to talk about money in the 10's or 100's of thousands and 20 dollar bills flow like water.  This Monday, after having been up since 3AM, I wasn't really in the mood to listen, but did need a calm me down drink before jumping back on the train and settling into the hotel room for the night.  Two businessmen sat next to me at the bar, about 5 minutes after I arrived.  One "gentleman" (using Gentleman lightly), probably mid 40's, proceeded to order drinks.  I will admit, the bartender is cute, and Irish, and has a great accent, but I know my place.  He ordered, within an hour, 10 vodka tonics.  Why, you ask?  Because she needed to bend down for each drink to reach a new glass and he had a clear shot at looking down her shirt!  He was totally shit faced by round 4, and honestly, I think she was watering down the drinks by round 5, but I cannot be sure.  So NOT Southern!!!  So disrespectful!!! 2nd run in with 10 this week: Standing outside NJ Penn Station waiting ever so patiently Monday night for the hotel shuttle to arrive, nothing abnormal going on.  A gal who could not have been more than 20 dressed in purple jeans and a Pink brand sweat shirt, walks up to me and says (as if rehearsed), "Pardon, I mean no disrespect, but could you lend me money for the train to NY?"  I replied that I had no change, but how much did she need (knowing the cost of the train to the city), which she promptly answered, "Five, er, uh, four dollars."  WOW!  I've become used to the "Can you spare a quarter" and "Can you spare a dollar," but the guts to go immediately for a five spot completely floored me.  I had 3 dollars, which I gave her and she did say "Thank you."  Due to miss communication, my hotel shuttle was delayed 45 minutes.  In those 45  minutes, she worked the crowd at the train station, passing by me, and thanking me again, 10 times exactly. Thank goodness the shuttle showed up or I would have to venture into just12things or something.  Young and presumably out of work, I suppose... I guess we all pay. 3rd run in with 10 this week: And it's only Tuesday!  10 people in front of me in line for coffee this morning.  I was having coffee withdraw shakes and no one could seem to make up their mind. And with that there, my friends, I end this night.  My week has been overloaded and technically, this post is 30things, which reminds me of thirty something, which I'm sitting at the higher end of, yet, I pretend to be twenty something.  As of now, it's working , and the energy keeps coming, so I'll leave it at that! Good night, my friends, good night.    

Bite the hand that feeds

I finally painted my daughters room this weekend, it's only been on the radar for 22 months. This marks one more step closer to releiving the house of the "other" person that used to share this space with me. 1. It felt good to put a new purple on the walls and let her pick out a new comforter with a wild mix of mauve and purple 2. I like the purple curtains, I don't care for the pink trimmed mirror on the door, but I will survive 3. I will find her "new" dolls to sit on her shelf 4. And a new desk and chair, where she can do her homework or surf the net 5. This is a stepping stone for her, coming out of her shell, allowing her space to be transformed, things are different now 6. And I let her be the player in the decisions 7. So that it is her space 8. In our house, our home, our place 9. And then there's her brother, yeah, she thinks he's pretty cool, but he's still a brother, and we all know how that goes 10. But there's love in this house - and respect - and friendship - and trust - and love!

Ducksgiving in (hopefully) 10 easy steps

It has been some time since I've entertained in the multi course dinner arena, so what better time to test my skills than with a themed Thanksgiving dinner using an ingredient I've never cooked with. (Quack) Three days before: 1. Salt, pepper, 8 sprigs of thyme, diced shallots and minced garlic 1/2 under and 1/2 over 4 duck legs and thighs skin up covered and in the fridge for 2 days.  In the mean time, assemble grocery list and don't forget anything.  Have a glass of wine. One day before: 2. Preheat oven to 240°, melt 4-5 cups of duck fat in a sauce pan.  Brush seasonings off of duck pieces and pat dry with a paper towel.  Arrange them snug in a casserole dish and pour the duck fat in, be sure to cover the pieces entirely.  Take a sip of wine.  Place the dish in the oven for 2-3 hours, making sure that you have only a slow bubble (reduce or raise temperature if needed).  Have a glass of wine.  When the timer goes off, remove from oven and allow to cool.  Have a glass of wine.  Cover and store in the fridge.  Have a glass of wine and curl up on the couch with a book 3. Make some pumpkin pies and a pecan pie (actually, make some pumpkin pies and since you bought a frozen pecan pie, read the directions to determine when it needs to come out of the freezer).  Have a glass of wine. Turkey Day: 4. Have a glass of wine.  Wash arugula and pat dry.  Julienne carrots, wash off mushrooms and remove stems, slice into happy size chunks. Shred red cabbage into hearty size pieces.  Remove duck prosciutto from fridge and wonder how to slice it.  Cut baguettes diagonally and put them in the oven for toasting purposes, toast another glass of wine. 5. Boil some potatoes until they are squishy, smash 'em up and mix in some heavy cream, duck fat, minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 package of cream cheese softened then stir, or get a kid to stir for you.  Don't forget about removing the pecan pie from the freezer.  Take a sip of wine, it's getting a little warm in here.  Take the duck confit out of the fridge, need to get it at room temperature before final rendering. Have a glass of wine. 6. Arrange the baguettes on a serving platter and do something creative with the prosciutto, pipe some black truffle butter is a dish and provide a sip of wine, I mean, butter knife to the arrangement.  Hiccup.  Saucepan time, mix in a bit of walnut oil, white wine vinegar, pinch of salt, spoon of sugar, handful of dried cherries and a bit of dijon mustard.  You'll know when it's done.  Have a sip of wine.  Sliced smoked duck breast into 1/4 inch think pieces and arrange 2-3 slices per plate.  Arrange arugula on the plates, sprinkle with finely ground walnuts, drizzle with the stuff you just, hiccup, made and then some good quality Parmesan cheese.  Have a sip of wine and serve. 7. Boil gnocchi, in a skillet, throw in some duck fat, sage and 1/2 cup of pumpkin pie filling.  Once the gnocchi are done, add them to the mix and stir until the gnocchi have a slight brownish color to them.  Serve in a shallow bowl, pipe some pumpkin pie filling and a sprig of parsley.  Time for a sip of wine and serve. 8. Take the smashed taters and, using an ice cream scoop, arrange mounds on parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Have a sip of wine. In a saute pan, more duck fat and the carrots.  Cook until soft, but still crunchy and then add cabbage and mushrooms.  Plate and drizzle with a reduced balsamic sauce.  Remove pieces of duck from confit, place the mashed potato mounds in the over for 10 minutes.  Brown the duck pieces in a saute pan and then place in an over proof dish, these guys go in for about 15 minutes.  Have a sip, hiccup, of wine. 9. If the kids haven't touched anything yet, make some Mac 'n' Cheese.  Have a glass of wine as you plate the mashed potato mounds and the duck, garnish with something green and serve with wine.  Put the pecan pie in the oven if needed. 10. Celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with family and a glass of wine.  Hopefully, everything turned out OK.  Eat pie, then have another glass of hiccup, wine, hiccup.  Hire someone to clean up the mess tomorrow. Hiccup!  

Happy Thanksgiving: a toast, 10AM isn’t too early, is it?

Every day we give thanks For friends, for family, for life For those that are with us every day, for those we see occasionally, and for those that are no longer with us For that stretch every morning you wake up and realize that, hey, I made it through another day For the sorrow and pains that we can get through because we have the strength to move on For the laughter, especially in children, that brightens our day and lifts us up For blue skies and green grass, and gravity to keep us grounded For hugs and high fives and hand shakes For being able to dream, for setting goals and for sometimes being able to reach our dreams and achieve our goals For today! As you are just about to plunge your fork into tender turkey, stop, look up and look around, at all that is around you, and find your just10things to be thankful for.  Cheers my friends, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Our happy place

It's a cinder block efficiency with 2 double beds and a kitchenette.  It's a downstairs unit with a front porch and a courtyard area with picnic tables.  It's two blocks to sand and surf.  It comes with welcome hugs from the owner and hurry backs when we leave.  It's our happy place filled with memories and good times. 1. Included with every stay are complimentary plastic wine glasses with a single Hershey kiss in each one.  My son cannot wait to get his Yoo-hoo from the store around the corner which he promptly pours in his glass upon arrival 2. Also included is a little rubber ducky, this time a turkey duck, sometimes a sunglasses duck, you just never know, this is Ducktur Ducktur 3. It's a familiar escape for the last 2 years which promises to bring relaxation and reflection time 4. It's where I spend quality away from home time with my kids 5. It's where we play Go Fish with plastic tigers and dolphins and stuffed penguins and we laugh and smile and enjoy disguising our voice when it's one of the animals turns 6. It's a 5 minute walk to the beach where we soak in the sun, splash in the water and take long strolls down the beach at dusk 7. It's across from the pier, which each time we meet with less hesitation and my little ones are no longer trying to avoid stepping on the cracks and clinging to me for dear life so high above the water 8. It's salt air that cures all 9. It's where spinning around a pole until we are way too dizzy is so much fun 10. It's where we make friends with the neighbors and share sea shells and stories of the beach, our getaway, our happy place, at any time of the year It's almost time to go again!

Empire down

My reflection, dance the ghost with me.  Meet me in Chi Town and ring in the new year, you love it just as much as I do.  In the mean time, I'll be in Brooklyn. It's coincidental what leaving at a specific time does to your experience.  It's crazy to think that a one second delay can lead to silly encounters.  It's wicked how decisions can lead to beautiful moments.  It's other worldly how much people you don't know can talk, thereby causing the delay that leads you to a place where you end up having a dashing night of fun.  Yeah, I said dashing. Franklin park reading night, dressed in flowery hippie fashion, jazz blasting, reggae blaring, garage door style entrance, chic crowd, cash only, I'm exhausted but I'm staying, call me crazy, dark hair horn rimmed glasses, I won't take you home, but we can talk, it's a different vibe than Manhattan, swing to the left, sashay to the right, bleed emotion in the prose, and a southern, albeit distant, twang in your voice that burns a memory in a brain part that I can't pronounce or spell, buy a book, make a friend, talents shared, whiskey shot, lemon drop, it all tastes the same. 1. Cabs: 87% carry a stench of stale sweat that never shares the fare, the remaining 13% I try not to place the smell 2. Slightly interested: When I asked if I could buy you a drink... you answered.  No fru-fru fancy cocktail, no $20 glass of wine, no exotic craft brew, but a "yes" to a PBR? 3. Truffle fries: fireworks in my mouth 4. Stranded:  There is no sunken helpless and lost feeling as bad as trying to catch a cab when none are rolling by at 430AM with a dead cell phone in the middle of Brooklyn 5. NYPD: Coming out of the subway to be greeted by a hundred officers in full riot gear is not a pleasant way to start a Thursday morning 6. Floral arrangements: The most beautiful I've seen wrapped in plain white paper carried by some random stranger on the train 7. Accordions: Pleasant tunes as a hat passed round for tips, again on the train 8. Fine lines: Details and the devil within 9. Intrigue: Leave it to distance to spark 10. Words: Expressions and combinations to make you pause and reflect

Crowded bars

Conversations drown out the music You catch a beat every now and again In a busy bar sitting silently alone Conversing with friends A thousands miles away Am I alone? In a crowd, with a drink To toast the day, a train to catch It will be there when I'm done Hanging out with friends, alone, not lonely. Cheers!

Reckless abandon

The human body is not made to be attractive while seated, or to be nude on Wednesdays. Writing to write, dancing to dance and speaking to talk. Ravens at midnight, vampires invade, venom surging. The system is broken, code like hell to patch, duct tape will do, buy time for attack of the moving target. I like my... 1. Coffee black 2. Music loud 3. Friends close 4. Mind open 5. Family close 6. Starry skies 7. Warm fires 8. Sweet touch 9. Open questions 10. Smoke rolling Fight #7 <3