It's been a crazy few weeks for us here in da hood, with another awesome visit just wrapping up with Glen's sister Brenda, and her beau, Jeff, who are now on their way back into the tundra of Canada, as I type.
Brenda and Jeff arrived New Year's Eve, with a small freezer's worth of Canadian appetizers, which we ate until we nearly exploded. The appetizers are not specific to Canada, and are, in fact, pretty prolific here in the US as well, but these were produced by a Canadian company, President's Choice, which may or may not be related to the store brand at Acme; I'll have to look into that. Anyway, I love anything with puff pastry and/or phyllo dough no matter where it's manufactured. Brenda brought little meatballs too, which we both thought would come with some sort of Swedish meatball-style gravy, but we were both sadly mistaken. We ate them with steak sauce though, since it was as near as we could come, on such short notice, to Swedish gravy, and they were well received anyway. In fact, I had to cook a second tray of them just before midnight because they were that good. But I liked the puff pastry things better, especially the ones jammed with goat cheese and fig mash. Glen even ate his fair share of those, and he did so without questioning his sexuality, so there's a good chance he wasn't aware of the specific ingredients.
Earlier in the day, I had read the Bald Fat & Angry post about Dick Clark, and we just had to see the post-stroke Dick, since BF&A made it sound that an end of an era was approaching (or may have come to pass). Now, we've all known that Dick has outlived his usefulness by about two decades, and I personally lost any nostalgic goodwill for him after watching him in Bowling for Columbine, but seeing him on New Year's Eve was rough. How mean we all were for joking these last bunch of years that he was just a corpse propped up for New Year's Eve; this past NYE he was very nearly a corpse. No offense, but I kinda wished we watched some other network celebration, because seeing Dick in such rough shape (though he did hungrily kiss his wife, which was both gross and inspirational) simply made me feel bad. Dick's been a shell of a human for many many years, but I guess I would prefer to remember him as a more healthy shell.
The next day, we watched Glen's Buffalo Sabres lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the outdoor hockey game in Buffalo. Lots of snow in Buffalo. Glen almost went to that game with his brother, and while I'm sure he would have enjoyed himself, he was glad to be warm and dry in our TV room. We all hung out in our jammies all day, and ate buffalo wings and buffalo chicken strips, and Canadian au Caramels, and a lot of Tums. By the way, does anyone know why God Bless America is being sung at sporting events these days, rather than the American anthem? The Canadian anthem is always sung at hockey games, too, and it is unwaveringly, always the Canadian anthem that is sung. Maybe they don't have other patriotic songs? Is the God Bless America thing just a hockey thing, or is it happening in other sports, too? I'm not sure what this says about me, but I almost always well up with tears when I hear the anthem. Politically, I lean solidly to the left, and most non-democrats would likely think (erroneously) that fact alone makes me a traitor, but how can I be a traitor if I cry when I hear the anthem? I've done this every time I hear the anthem, as far back as I can remember. I don't know if this happens to other people, but I bet it does, or at least other people have similar reactions: I think I cry because I'm picking up on all of that love for country and community that's filling every single other person hearing the anthem at that moment. We may all have different political beliefs, but for that fleeting moment, we are united, we are the same, we are one big, loving, mass of America, together, full-up, and that is just so freakin' tingly and special, that frankly, it bugs me to hear God Bless America, because that song, while okay (I guess) simply does not evoke the emotion that the Star Spangled Banner does. It cheapens the experience for me, and I want a complete, genuine experience. Anyway, if this is happening with other sports, let me know, and let me know what you think of it. I'm curious. Other than the occasional Sabres game, I am blissfully disconnected from the sports world, except, on occasion, I cannot help myself: I like to watch the Strong Man competitions. Sometimes. What's not to love about men who can lift cars and refrigerators and run with huge logs through the forest? I always got picked last in gym class and still fall down and walk into walls a lot, so I've never been able to develop a proper appreciation for team sports. But once, out of deep anger, sheer frustration, and plain old determination, I lifted a heavy club chair up a spiral staircase, by myself, without damaging the chair, the wall, or the staircase. My back ached for weeks, and I had bruises all over my body, but it was exhilarating nonetheless. So I do appreciate brute, individual strength (and luck) since it seems, well, so useful. Had I had more of it, I would move furniture all the time. I may have brought up the other club chair, but I quit while the house was unbroken, and my body not too battered. I suspect most women, if they possessed the strength of a Strong Man, would also move furniture all the time as well. In a perfect world, girls, we'd have the furniture rearranging vision AND the brawn. Alas, it's just not the way this world is. So when a new, young strong guy unseats the champ on the Strong Men shows, it's just so damn cool, because the young usurper is usually Icelandic or Danish or some other crazy Viking-type and usually bellows in heavily accented English something like, "THE. KING. HAS. LOST. HIS. CROWN!!!!!!!" after winning the Plane Pull. I wish I could pull a plane.
The marathon thrift store shopping began the next day, January 2, and my greatest, unpurchased discovery was a Michael Vick bobblehead. He was in his football costume, and his face was grinning, innocent, and so sportsmanlike, and in his hand, there was a football. I considered buying it, but couldn't justify it: it was five bucks and his hand was broken and re-glued, and his face was scratched up pretty badly. It is my sincere hope that any damage caused to the Michael Vick bobblehead was inflicted by a dog, and I hope, too, the bobblehead served as a functioning voodoo doll, and the actual Vick felt everything done unto the bobble.
Glen has had great luck in the last month finding Mayor Palmer Golf Classic shirts, including on the January 2 Thrift Tour. They're high quality polo shirts, in various colors. We have quite a few now, even though we were never invited to any of the Mayor's golfing parties. We have been dreaming of fun things to do with these shirts: maybe show up meetings in them, or turn them into pillows or pot holders. Who knows, we may do all of those things, especially if we continue to find more each time we visit the thrift stores. But what's funnier is the mere fact that we, the uninvited, now have a small collection of those shirts in our basement, hanging near our washer and dryer, and so many of those fortunate enough to be invited to the Mayor's shindig dropped their party favors off at the thrift stores. Sad, isn't it, Doug? You never really knew who your friends were, did you?
The thrift store shopping part of the trip also involved a lot of food at several of Trenton's eateries, including Pete's Steak House on Hudson (we love you!), and DeLo's on Hamilton Avenue (we love you too!). We also made a trip to the White Castle in Howell, on the way to my sister's place the other night, which caused the Canadians to apologize to our plumbing, which, if you recall from my earlier post, has been in sorry shape. In fact, even after I photographed and blogged about the mess, our plumbing problems continued to escalate. Apparently, after the cracked pipe was removed, bits of brick and pieces of old pipe must have fallen into the plumbing joints below. The new pipe was installed, and things were fantastic for several days. Hell did not manifest until several days later, when the double soapstone basins next to our washer and dryer in the basement backed up, and spilled over with what I can only assume (but will not dwell on for your sake and mine) toilet flushings and dirty sink water. The resulting fury to move things to safety in the basement seriously made me rethink some of the packrat tendencies happening here; and, made me relive the glory days of renting that garden apartment with a little balcony on the sunny side of the complex, with a management company who fixed all of those problems without cost or much headache to me. But Glen and my awesome brother-in-law, Rich, were able to get to the bottom of the muck (literally and figuratively) in short order, and I commend them. Their awesomeness is one of only two positives to come out of this whole debacle. The other positive (if you could call it that) is that at least the mess in the basement was more-or-less our own filth.
Speaking of DeLorenzo's, we walked up, as we're only a few blocks, and met Mr. Clean for lunch, and on the way, in front of the rental unit at 308 of my street, it would appear as if knuckleheads had some fun writing in the wet cement in front of the property. Because that particular section of my street has a history of knucklehead infestations, the writing was enthusiastic and unapologetic, reflecting the personalities of the authors. Brenda had her camera and took lots of pictures, along with plenty of photos of the stellar wiring job done by our local Comcast techs. I would love to elaborate more on this, but will leave it for Brenda to blog about, on her site, doveofhate.blogspot.com, because I suspect there's a better chance the city's officials will listen (or feel embarrassed) by an out-of-towners comments on the state-of-affairs here. It doesn't seem to mean as much to this administration when it's coming from a resident. I'm not sure why: at least I never dropped off a nice Palmer Golf Classic shirt at the thrift store. I'll leave you with this: Jeff looked up at the cabling job, and then down, to read some of the stuff on the sidewalk, and said, "Wow, this kind of thing NEVER happens in Canada." It doesn't really happen anywhere else except New Jersey's cities, to be fair to the rest of our country, though. I'll put up some links when Brenda has her pictures ready.
Somehow, between all the running around and eating, we managed to watch the entire first season of NBC's 30Rock. I enjoy change in my personal life, but am always hesitant to watch new shows, mostly, I think, because I'm afraid I'm getting dumber and more disconnected from humanity as each year goes by, and TV exacerbates that feeling for me, but 30 Rock makes me feel smart and hip! Hooray for Tina Fey! And hooray for Brenda for bringing down the whole season on DVD!
Hope the Canadians are enjoying their trip home — I suspect they're not even out of Pennsylvania yet — and don't hit any weather. The cats miss them already; they liked the option of other human bodies on which to plop themselves.
Oh yeah, one last thing: Downtowner Editor Joe Emanski wrote a column critical of Trenton residents who feel strongly about police director Joseph Santiago's violation of the city's residency ordinance. I think Mr. Emanski is missing the point, and that's too bad, but it's also his prerogative to miss the point (or have a different opinion, if that's what it is). The Downtowner has been a great supporter of the Trenton blogs, and I appreciate that, personally. It's always a thrill to see if we get any ink in Diccon Hyatt's regular BlogWatch, so, many people were perplexed when the column didn't run in the December issue. After seeing Mr. Emanski's column, I assumed — incorrectly — that the Downtowner had decided to stop the BlogWatch because of politics: most of the Trenton bloggers understand the significance of Santiago's (and Palmer's) disregard for the law, and lack of residency. I even posted a comment to the Downtowner website, criticizing Mr. Emanski's article, and I wondered (aloud) if the BlogWatch was pulled because the bloggers have an opinion different from Mr. Emanski's. Anyway, I was happy to see the column return again in January, and I apologize to the Downtowner for intimating they'd kill the BlogWatch for political reasons, which is just kind of icky. The Downtowner doesn't even have to run the BlogWatch; they'd publish either way, right? But they do run that column because they know how cool we bloggers are (if I do say so myself), and I appreciate that. I don't apologize for not understanding from where Mr. Emanski is coming on the residency issue, though.