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Updated: 03/29/04

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What's on the nightstand

by H. Rider Haggard



Monday, 29 March, 2004

The weekend was good and bad. Good in the sense that it was really beautiful weather - well, for Philadelphia in March at least. Friday afternoon, we went down to South Street and sat outside and people watched for a while. Saturday was mostly devoted to errands since it was rather gross outside in the morning. It did clear up in the afternoon though.

But here's where it all started going wrong. Saturday evening I went into the kitchen to get dinner started. I caramelized some apple slices to go with some truffled mousse pate for an appetizer. So far so good.

I was drying a wine glass with a dishtowel when the stem snapped off and I cut my right ring finger. Ouch. A bit of blood, some neosporin and a Band-Aid later and I was back at work. We had gotten some flounder fillets at the store that morning and I had a recipe for fish fillets with a toasted pine nut-lemon-butter sauce that sounded good.

Now, I need to stop here and mention an episode of "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy" that we had seen. A young man was trying to impress his girlfriend by making a special dinner for her, including homemade lemon-custard tarts for dessert. He had obviously gone to a lot of trouble - plus they were on TELEVISION - and her response to the dessert was:

"Oh, it's kind of bitter."

Gary and I both thought that she should have been more complimentary - or at least not critical - of his cooking skills, since he was obviously doing it to impress her.

So back to Saturday's dinner - the appetizer of mousse pate, caramelized apples and field green salad was quite tasty. But the fish had become "fish hash" since the fillets fell apart in the pan. OK, so it didn't look good - at least it will taste good.


Poor Gary was torn between a realistic reaction to the fish and our conversation about the guy on "Queer Eye." Luckily, I tasted it and said, "Oh, this is horrible!" We think the fish may have been bad, but both fish and recipe were chucked and we walked across the bridge to Di Palma's for some excellent veal dishes. One of the bennies of living in the city.

Later, I tried to redeem myself by making some homemade ice cream to go with the remaining apples, but the mixture curdled and wouldn't cool right, so I gave up for the evening.


On Sunday we went to one of our favorite Chinese places and had a pretty poor showing of dim sum. The afternoon was spectacular, so we got the bikes out and headed out for a ride to Fairmount Park. I made it about a mile when my back tire blew out. After a half an hour to change that, we decided I was a danger to myself and others so we stopped at a coffee place near Independence Hall and sat outside and enjoyed the sun.

[Some days, it doesn't pay to get out of bed.]

Mom and Dad are getting ready to leave for Africa on Wednesday morning. Mom is feeling a bit overwhelmed and hasn't had time to try out the cameras, but Cousin Jim is a great photographer, so I'm sure he can help her figure it out. Mom, Dad, Jim and Ron all meet up in Atlanta on Wednesday evening and head off to South Africa on Thursday. I'm sure they'll have a wonderful time - it was one of the best vacations I ever took.

A few plumbing problems at The House this past week - one of the prior contractors kinked a plumbing line, so they've had to do some retrofitting. I think it's all in, but there are still some "issues." The carpeting guys should be able to get things finished up by mid-week. Some new pictures are here.

Quote du jour:

"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor."

-- Truman Capote (1924-1984) U.S. Author*

* My quote source apparently has it in for Mr. Capote. Last time it had the dates of his birth and death wrong; this time it claimed he was a U.S. Basketball Coach. Go figure.

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