All Together Now

All I wanted was a little lunch. Maybe a nice french-dipped lamb sandwich. There’s only one place in LA to go. Got in line at Phillippe. The guy in the line next to me leaned over and offered me a pamphlet about Jesus. I smiled politely and declined. Thought nothing of it–no doubt he hands those things out to everyone.

Except that the rest of the time we all stood in line, he chatted up everyone around him, showed off pictures of his kids, swapped menu tips. Nobody else got offered the Jesus tract. I THOUGHT I was in a good mood. I THOUGHT I was standing there quietly with a pleasant look on my face. Apparently I was the only one in the crowd in visible need of salvation, and didn’t even know it. And little did I know what crisis was looming at home. Continue reading

Insecurities and Flying Locks

I am not surprised that my front door lock exploded when Mike, the handyman, touched it. On the very day we found out the burglar alarms doesn’t work. I am not surprised that Paula had to cancel the dog’s acupuncture so she could stay home and guard the door. While Mike drove around Santa Monica trying to find the only person in town who could repair the lock (who was out to lunch). I am only surprised this didn’t happen at 4:30PM, on Friday, before a long weekend. Perhaps my luck is changing.

Paula got on the phone to our friends at Edison Security. This time she was not put on hold. Technically, this was an emergency. Because the alarm was going off when she got here and nobody from Edison called or showed up. The crack team at Edison determined that the signal wasn’t getting to them. Even though we test it every month. They said that they’ve had this problem with other people, too. Continue reading

A Girl and Her Grill

I read an interview with Chris Schlesinger, the owner of East Coast Grill in Boston. He has an infectious enthusiasm for cooking with fire, so I bought his two books (co-written with John Willoughby) called, “License to Grill,” and “The Thrill of the Grill.” I liked what I read. He writes about the long tradition of fire-based cooking, the chemical reasons grilled food tastes so good, and the health benefits. But he forgot the most important thing about grilling–I really like to play with fire. I was convinced.

Let me say, in retrospect, Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend may not be the best time to go shopping for a grill. Barbecues Galore on Pico was packed, you couldn’t even get in the parking lot, but the staff there was friendly and very helpful. They asked me what I wanted and suggested a nice gas grill–just hit the switch and it’s ready to go, plus the grill level is adjustable. But I agreed with Mr. Schlesinger, that the relative convenience just didn’t outweigh the joy of cooking with real fire from real wood. Plus his theory that you could create different heat levels around the grill area by moving the charcoal around made a lot of sense to me. I’m a California gal, grilling is practically my destiny. I turned up my nose at those oh-so-easy, any-fool-can-use-’em appliances.. Not for me. I picked out the biggest, fire-engine-red Weber they had. And all the accessories. And a bunch of charcoal. Continue reading

In a Pig’s Ear (or Two)

Let me first make it clear that I do not, contrary to what you may have heard, spoil my dogs. Or, as you will see, my employees.

The people to blame for this one are Lili and Mary. They came over for dinner one night, years ago. As they walked in the front door, Mary pulled something from a paper bag. “Do your dogs like…” she started, as my wolf levitated across the room, grabbed it from her hand and ran out back with it. Thus were we introduced to pig ears.

Yup, real dried pig ears from real pigs. You may have seen them in the pet store, along with lamb lungs, cows’ ears, and other things I’d rather not inspect too closely. They are truly disgusting. You can see the little veins, and sometimes there are hairs. They might be notched. They smell pretty much like you would expect. One of my friends asked me if they kill the pigs first, leaving me with a lasting image of fields full of frolicking piggies with little Van Gogh bandages on their heads… No one in their right mind (sorry, Mary!) would ever purchase these. Except for one thing–dogs adore them. When two big hungry dogs are on a pig-ear jones, baby you’d better go shopping. Continue reading

Breaking Things is Hard to Do

You’re probably wondering how it is I came to spend part of my birthday at the Department of Motor Vehicles. In the desert. Several hours from home. (If you, too, spent your birthday at the DMV, I don’t want to hear about it. I’m cranky enough.)

As in most of my life, it wasn’t what I had planned. I thought a nice quiet week at Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs was exactly what I needed. Peace, quiet, a little hot mud bath (if it wasn’t too windy). I could have taken the Explorer, but the car phone needed adjusting. And since I would only be on the road for a few hours, why bother to bring the phone? So I decided to take the Jaguar, and off I went. Continue reading