Fruit Salad

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I am coming back around to the fruit salad, especially since eating healthier is one of today’s goals. It’s always been a favorite of mine, particularly in the summer months when so many things are ripe and fresh, but I rarely make one because I can’t face all that cutting and chopping. There is just so much cutting and chopping, so much sticky juice going all over cutting boards and counters, and blah, chop, blah, chop, blah… I’m over it before I even began.

If someone else wants to do it, however, and hollow out a watermelon with a melon-baller, I’m all in.

I just love a fruit salad.

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Reflections of The Way Life Used To Be

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… and the way my body once was.

[Sigh]

When you hit the age of 35, the metabolism begins to slow.

When you hit the age of 40, the metabolism comes to a standstill.

And when I turned 41, it seemed my metabolism started to go backward, or whatever causes a person to gain weight and inches, and all I did to battle it was eat more stuff. Hey, I head in the opposite direction of conventional wisdom. Now I have to try to undo the laziness and the poor eating habits and try to get back into swimsuit-wearing form. (I have too many pants to lose…) Summer inspiration, here we come!

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Hunk of the Day: Colt Prattes

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In another glaring hole in my child-of-the-80’s resume, I never got around to seeing ‘Dirty Dancing’ until a year or two ago, when Suzie gave me the DVD. I didn’t expect to hate it so much, but I did. What’s the big freaking deal about a watermelon anyway?! And I’d rather sit in the corner than in the middle of the damn room – some babies you just need to let be! Anyway, I see that the musical stage version (already much-maligned) is getting the live television treatment, and it stars Hunk of the Day Colt Prattes. It’s going to take a lot to get me to watch it, but Mr. Prattes may have enough.

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A Very Sad Thing Indeed

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Is this the saddest sign ever? Whatever happened to something a little more hopeful? How about “Looking for a good home” or “Is this the next member of your family?” Instead this poor pooch gets a ‘For sale’. I didn’t even bother turning the sign over for further information – I didn’t want to know.

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Beautiful Seal of Solomon

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Behold, this is one of my favorite plants in the garden, and it’s at its peak right now. The Solomon’s Seal, scientifically-monikered Polygonatum, is currently blooming – its bell-like-blossoms dangle two-by-two on the underside of its arching stems. Seen here after a spring rain, the effect is doubly dazzling. From a single plant I brought from my parents’ house, a few large colonies have established themselves in our backyard. One stand in particular has expanded so much that several friends now have groupings at their own homes. This is the sort of plant that lends itself to sharing, and everyone loves the results.

I find that to keep them happiest, the best thing to do is provide a healthy top-dressing of manure at the very start of the growing season, before or just as the buds are breaking the soil. Of course you can do it at any time of the growing year, I just find it easier to do so when you can get around them – once they start reaching for the sky they won’t stop until forming the gorgeously impenetrable forest you see here.

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Hunk of the Day: Lucas Steele

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Stealing hearts and forming the catalyst for the romantic pyrotechnics on display at ‘Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812’, this is Lucas Steele, who plays the swashbuckling and slightly devilish Anatole (described quite succinctly in the prologue as simply ‘hot’). Mr. Steele preens and swaggers his way around the Imperial Theatre in one of the season’s flashiest and most entertaining performances. It easily earns him his first Hunk of the Day status. He joins fellow castmates Nicholas Belton and Josh Groban as the third member of the Great Comet to be named a Hunk of the Day. (By the way, I must find a way to get a copy of that green coat that Anatole wears in Act II, so if anyone knows someone with some Comet pull – Groban, I’m looking at you – hook a guy up!)

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The Passionflower

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Truth be told, I’ve never been a passionflower fan. There seems to be an awful lot of vining and trailing and training involved in order to produce one or two of these admittedly fascinating blooms. As a kid, this would have appealed to my over-the-top tendencies, but now I find myself looking at the whole rather than one specific attribute (such as the bloom) so I enjoy them in others’ pots and gardens, or at the bursary, which is where this shot originated.

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Perfume in the Air

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Do not be fooled by the small stature of its individual flowers, or the soft effect their airy countenance has – the Korean lilac bears a potent perfume. It is heavenly, and one of my favorite parts of the garden right now. I see them being used commercially more and more, and I understand the appeal. Their foliage doesn’t go all mildewy, no matter how hot and humid our summers get. Their blooming period is also later than the traditional American lilac, which makes for a perfect combination. (As such, their blooms tend to fade quicker in the heat, but we’ve not had much in the last few days, so they’re hanging on for a bit longer this year. A happy trade-off for cooler temps.

They are also a more manageable size – I cut mine back every few years to keep them in bounds – do so right after they flower so as not to reduce next year’s crop of blooms which actually set in the summer.

Another thing that sets them apart from their common counterpart is their well-behaved tendency to stay put wherever they are placed. No trailing suckers or unwanted shoots appear in their vicinity, and such manners are always appreciated in the garden.

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Hunk of the Day: Parry Glasspool

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This Hunk of the Day comes to us from across the pond, where he stars in the stalwart British sudser ‘Hollyoaks’. His name is Parry Glasspool, and he was recently nominated as Best Newcomer at the National Television Awards.

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Breaking the May Hump Recap

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Flying through the month of May entirely too quickly for my liking – make it last, make it last, make it last – we find ourselves at the end of one week and the start of another. Hence this recap, a little later than usual due to the New York posts, but if the reason is always so good, let’s have it be late again.

Art, magic, and nature.

Memories of valley flowers.

Ostrich green.

Cuteness.

The Hemingway Daiquiri.

More cuteness.

A Broadway weekend with Mom begins.

A room with a view.

Awakened by a Great Comet.

A fabulous lunch and a double-diva evening.

A Manhattan in Manhattan.

Mother’s Day in New York.

hunks of the Day included Jay Byars, Douglas SillsGleb Savchenko, Ross Williams Wild, & Nicholas Belton.

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On Broadway With Mother: NYC Part 6

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Over twenty years ago, my Mom and I caught one of Glenn Close’s last performances in the original Broadway run of ‘Sunset Boulevard‘. We were in the very last row at the Minskoff Theatre – one of the largest theaters on Broadway – but her performance was so big that it felt like we were right in the middle of the mansion at 10086. On this night, as a gift for my Mom, we sat in the front row at the Palace Theatre. It was a full-circle moment, and just before the lights went down, the disembodied voice of Norma Desmond sounded in the theater:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Glenn Close,” she began, in what I assumed was a recorded message to silence our cel phones. She continued, ‘Thank you for coming out on this rainy night…” Oh shit, this was happening right now. My one fear had been that Ms. Close wouldn’t be performing on this evening, and I held my breath for the remainder of the announcement. She said she was battling a cold, but was going on to do her best at navigating the wonderful score, and asked our indulgence. Before she had even appeared, she was greeted with thunderous applause. We were already on her side.

Had there not been an announcement, I’m not sure I would have noticed, so great and grand was her performance. There was one pause for a cough, and she made it through ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye‘ without holding the big notes forever, but that only added a poignance and vulnerability to the proceedings. It was another bravura performance, and the perfect culmination for our Broadway weekend 2017.

We had a nightcap until the Uber situation cooled down, then returned to our hotel for a final night in luxury. The next morning marked Mother’s Day, and we were scheduled to have brunch at Villard, conveniently located right at the Lotte New York Palace. It was the perfect way to celebrate the day and finish up our long Broadway weekend.

My Mom is the one who taught me how to travel, and we do so quite well together. This was a special Mother’s Day weekend on Broadway, something that has become one of my favorite traditions over the years. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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On Broadway With Mother: NYC Part 5

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On our final full day in New York, the rains came, and they arrived with full-force. The wind accompanied all the water, making walking and outside travel difficult to impossible. That didn’t bode well for our dinner and theater plans, so I bit the bullet and finally downloaded Uber on my phone. It was the best thing I’ve done in a long time.

After an early lunch at a typical New York diner (turkey club sandwich and fries) I returned to the hotel while Mom did a little more shopping. When the Towers at Lotte New York Palace offer champagne in the middle of the day, it makes the rain bearable. And sets up a dinner at 21 Club in fine fashion.

Before that, however, we made a quick stop at the hotel lounge, where I had a Last Word and Mom had a Manhattan. Two classic cocktails for our last night in NYC.

I’ve been wanting to have dinner at 21 Club for some time, even if it seemed to be a favorite of our Fake President. (I recall he made promises to lower the taxes of rich Republicans in a meeting there.) Being that it was the weekend, and he was out golfing, I felt safe that we wouldn’t run into such an undesirable.

We had been seated for a few minutes when my Mom looked over my shoulder in horror. I jumped a little, expecting a spider or bug to be on the wall when I turned around. It was much worse.

We were at the Fred Trump table, and both of us were mortified. Had we noticed just a few minutes beforehand, we would have asked to move, but our order was already in. When the table beside us was seated, they made similar groans. I tried to understand why the Fake President had to ruin our dinner. On a visit to the bathroom, I understood the appeal of the place to someone like Don the Con.

I got it. #TrumpLeaks indeed.

Despite the affiliation with such an awful person, dinner was marvelous, and we shared a slice of chocolate cake that made up for the stain of that pisser.

The night was young, and the rain persisted. We hopped in another Uber and made the slow, traffic-heavy trek to the Palace Theater, where Norma Desmond awaited our arrival…

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On Broadway With Mother: NYC Part 4

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Shopping is second only to the shows in New York as far as my interest level is concerned, and I learned that mostly from my Mom. We made a few excursions on a fine, sunny morning, then refueled at the beautiful Café Sabarsky, where German and Austrian fare was served right out of another century. A glass of Gruner Veltliner and a platter of bratwurst made for a charming lunch, and a slice of Klimttorte (named for the gorgeous collection of paintings in the upstairs Neue Galerie) was perfect for sharing. That Galerie surrounded us, beckoning with its decadent ‘Woman in Gold’ and other towering Klimt works, and after lunch we toured the upstairs rooms, re-fortified by beauty and reinvigorated by art.

The day was so beautiful that we stayed on foot, walking back over twenty blocks until we reached the St. Regis. That evening we were scheduled to see ‘War Paint’ and a few key scenes take place in that legendary hotel, so we stopped for a cocktail in the King Cole Bar. Suzie and I had enjoyed a birthday lunch here a number of years ago, and I remembered the classy old-school vibe

With its famed mural and tried and true ambience, it made for an elegant pause in the day. We made it back to the hotel, where a platter of cookies awaited our arrival. The Towers at the Lotte New York Palace sure know how to welcome a guy home.

After an all-too-brief siesta, we headed back out for dinner at the Lamb’s Club. Previously, we’d enjoyed cocktails there before a show, and it’s one of the hidden gems in the midst of the insanity of Times Square that I’ve been reluctant to share for fear of droves of people discovering and spreading the good word. Those fears are unfounded (all twelve of you can spread it far and wide) and we headed into the dining room area for a special meal. Soft-shell crabs were in season, so I ordered them up and enjoyed their crunchy yet soft exterior.

We finished dinner and headed into the Chatwal Lobby while awaiting curtain time for ‘War Paint’. Its shiny art-deco style gave sparkle to an already-enchanted evening, and the anticipatory enthusiasm over seeing two Broadway legends – Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole – lended additional excitement.

They did not disappoint, and we walked home on a cloud of euphoria that only a Broadway musical and its original cast can produce. The library glowed, and though there was a breeze, it was not cold. New York was magical at such moments.

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On Broadway With Mother: NYC Part 3

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An auspicious beginning to our Broadway adventures occurred when we ran into Michael Xavier, star of ‘Sunset Boulevard’ on our way to dinner that first night. He was about to cross the street and I stopped him like a crazed teenage girl, blubbering that I had seen the show and we were going to see it again and this is my Mom and a few other nonsensical things that left him looking sheepishly flattered. I wish I had been brave enough to ask for a quick phone pic with him and Mom, but I didn’t. Next time.

Our dinner at Becco was superb – everyone knows I adore Lidia Bastianich, and this Restaurant Row staple did not disappoint. The Sinfonia de pasta was insane, and they will happily keep filling your plate until you are full. (I’m happy to report I was filled with one round.)

Our first show was the one I agonized over choosing more than any. There was a heated debate (in my mind) between ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and ‘Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812’ – and it really was a crap shoot because I basically used an eenie-meenie-minie-mo selection method. It turned out rather well, as this is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. It’s a completely immersive experience, and not in a hokey, forced way. Just go see it.

I must say, I was never a Josh Groban fan. It’s not that I didn’t like him or anything, he just didn’t register on my admittedly-pop level of (lacking) sophistication. That changed when I saw him in this show, and I’m now an official Grobanite.

PS – For those coming to find Andrey, you’re in for a wonderful awakening.

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On Broadway With Mother: NYC Part 2

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For this NYC trip, my Mom indulged me in a booking at The Towers at Lotte New York Palace. If you scroll down to the end of this post, you will see our view from the 52nd floor, which is probably one of the best views I will likely get from a hotel room in Manhattan for the rest of my life. One does pay a pretty penny for such a view, and such amenities as the beautiful surroundings, but once a year we all deserve a treat like this.

The grounds of the building originate from a mansion, and our last brunch of the trip would take place here, but that’s not for a while. Right now, I’m remembering the respite of being so high above the city, the remoteness and connectedness that seemed to occur at once.

I’m also recalling the plate of macarons and the bottle of wine left so kindly by the hotel on our first night. Client considerations like that elevate a typical hotel stay into something extraordinary. It’s the sort of luxury that could make someone start to love New York.

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