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Updated: 08/13/02



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What's on the nightstand

"A Beautiful Mind"
by Sylvia Nasar

clean up

another party


Tuesday, 13 August, 2002

They came, we saw, we conquered!

Oh my. Where to begin? Steph picked up Laurie at the airport on Friday afternoon, and they drove to the city. Laurie had a HUGE [HEAVY!] box which turned out to contain several bottles of wine, Trader Joe's goodies, videos and DVDs. Plus presents! Steph and I each received books - mine is "L.A. Bizzaro! : The Insider's Guide to the Obscure, the Absurd, and the Perverse in Los Angeles."

[And it is.]

Steph's luggage was much more compact, but she also brought several bottles of wine from the Finger Lakes region in New York, plus she gave each of us a lovely hand blown wine glass.

We ended up just hanging out at the condo Friday night, snacking on chips, mango salsa, and guacamole and drinking margaritas. Steph raided the fridge and whipped up a shrimp pasta dish for us that was very yummy.

On Saturday morning, Steph, Suki and I sat around having tea and talking until Laurie woke up. We packed up some of the Trader Joe's goodies and went over to the Reading Terminal Market. We bought Amish-made Sticky Buns and fresh fruit juice for breakfast, and then picked up some cheese and grilled chicken with vegetables for our picnic.

We drove out to Smithbridge Winery in Chester County. It was. . . ehhhh - the wines weren't that great and the tasting room staff didn't know what they were talking about - "Sauvignon Blanc wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that have been peeled."

[And Champagne is made from pork...]

Next we went to Chaddsford Winery, a fairly large operation off of Highway 1 - they produce around 30,000 cases a year now. Deb, our tour guide, led us around the property, a former dairy farm. We bought a bottle of Pinot Grigio, brought out of cheese, tapenade and crackers, smoked salmon, chicken and veggies, and sat in their garden for our picnic lunch. Afterwards we went back inside and did the wine tasting. Most of it was just OK, but rather expensive for just OK. We did like the Cabernet Sauvignon and Deb kept giving us pours of that. We taught her the cork trick that I learned many years ago and headed back to town.

We came home and watched the South Park "Timmy" episodes on DVD and Laurie called her friend Maggie to arrange to meet her for dinner. We went to Panorama and sat at the bar and laughed and talked and ate and tried several different wines. We liked the Argentinian Malbec until Bill (the manager) gave us each a glass of a Merlot that wasn't on the list - excellent. We went back to the condo and watched Monty Python DVDs - well, I fell asleep on the counch, but everyone else watched them.

Suki has figured out that the vertical blinds in the bedroom make a lot of noise if she rubs up against them, so she did that until I got up around 5:30 on Sunday morning. *sheesh* We all got up around 8:30 and went to Snow White Diner for breakfast. Afterwards we drove around the city for a while - we found the store on South Street that had the giant ants on it that Laurie remembered from a visit many years ago. We drove past the Art Museum and the Boat Houses in Fairmount Park, then went up to the Franklin Mills Outlet Mall. We shopped for a bit and then came back into the city.

Laurie wanted to go to the Mutter Museum, and so we did. Whoa. She loved it, especially the giant colon. Steph and I went through - quickly - and sat in the medicinal herb garden until she finished. We planned what we would fix for dinner and when Laurie came out we went to Whole Foods Market before going home.

We opened a bottle of Chardonnay that Steph brought, fixed cheese, crackers, tapenade, artichoke spread, fruit and veggies with dip to start. Steph put on her "whites" - her chef's clothing - and began preparations for the main course - "brined" chicken breasts rolled with fresh pesto and goat cheese, with an Insalata Caprese. I should mention that Stephani is a professor at Cornell University's Hotel School, and a tremendous cook, despite her tendency to say, "Eh?"

We watched more videos - Monty Python and Saturday Night Live - and snacked on the cheese and fruit. We opened a bottle of red wine that Steph brought, lit the candles and ate the main course. It was fabulous!! We watched "Scary Movie" which neither Laurie nor Steph had seen before - we howled! Dessert was champagne-marinated strawberries with fresh whipped cream and Vahlrona chocolate. Yum!

On Monday Steph had to drive back up to New York - in her un-airconditioned car, poor thing. Laurie was flying back to LAX, so we did some quick running around, packing, Suki-snuggling and Trollop-fest 2002 was over. We're thinking Washington State next year - the Yakima valley hasn't been subjected to us yet!

We did have a theme of sorts - well, actually we had several themes. "Amongst our weaponry . . ." - ah, but I digress. Goats. We had several odd goat-related conversations, the most bizarre of which were:

1. Canadian scientists have combined the DNA from a goat and spider to create the spider goat. The genetically engineered animal produces silk that is five times stronger than steel. The fibre, derived from the goats' milk, harnesses the huge strength of silk spun by spiders.

"The breakthrough could be worth millions because the silkmilk fibre can be used to make body armour which is far tougher than normal bullet-proof vests while weighing little more than a cotton shirt," reports the Sunday Telegraph.

The goats were created by inserting a single gene from a spider into a fertilised goat egg. The goats look normal, but carry the gene responsible for production of a spider silk protein. Each goat is only 1/70,000th spider, but when fully grown the females produce a milk which can be treated to produce a fibre with spider-silk strength.

Those Canadians, eh? Not to be outdone, the Americans have come up with their own Super-goats:

2. "Out with Akitas. Potbellied pigs? Passe. The up-and-coming pet is the Tennessee Fainting Goat, so dubbed because it stiffens up and keels over when startled."

Baaa - CLUNK!

"Fainting goats are a growing exotic pet trend, not a hot new fad," says Maureen Neidhardt, publisher of Exotic Breeds Journal. "You'll see more people wanting them as domestics instead of other rare animals."

In truth, fainting goats don't really faint. When startled, their muscles stiffen and they tip over for 20 seconds to a minute. Then they get up. No problem! Fainters don't have to be terrified to pass out. Just a little surprise will do it.

"When I first got mine, just walking into the pen would make them faint," says Gail De Gough of Gilroy, California. "But they got used to me."

As strange as this may sound, these little critters have actually served an historical purpose. Shepherds often kept the goats in with their flocks as insurance in case of predator attacks. The theory went something like this- as wolves would come down from the hills to attack a flock of sheep, the goats would become startled and, as per the name of their breed, they would faint. The sheep would make a clean getaway, as the wolves would focus on the stunned goats rather than pursue the fleeing sheep. Not that wonderful if you were one of the goats, sure, but downright dandy if you happened to be a sheep.

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"You Liberals think that goats are just sheep from broken homes."

-- Malcolm Bradbury (1932 - ____) English novelist

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