They started arriving around 4:30 and we got right into the plates of turkey kielbasa and halipaneo cheese that I put out.
I was running a Harry Potter movie at the time, and all but Rick abandoned me as I began preparing dinner. I was fixing my special Rock Cornish Game Hens with a great sauce consisting of yogurt, sherry, wine, shallots, fresh tarragon, and a few other ingrediants. I also fixed up mashed Maine potatoes in herbs, and a great bunch of green beans sauted up in white wine, shallots, and herbs.
01/19/07: The Great 2007 Welcome In The New Year Backgammon Tournament And Friday Night Fights!
Just a small get together for my latest backgammon party as it was a busy week for most and the weather was threatening bad things. But for us die-hards, it was another success! Great pizza and Steve introduced us to a really smooth Jamaican larger, Red Stripe.
01/28/07: Full Blast Weekend!
So after karate class Thursday night, we get up to Applebee's with Rick talking backgammon trash and he forgot to bring the board! Nice move... Maybe it was on purpose because he knew we'd be getting together Saturday...
Friday - after a relaxing dinner at The Galley Hatch in Hampton, NH - off to see the play To Gillian on her 37th Birthday at the Garrison Players Community Theater in Rollinsford, NH (just east of Dover). It was so cold that poor Cher who was trying to sing out through my portable CD player was frozen to almost silence until the car warmed up. The wind chill had brought the temps down to ten to fifteen below. That's cold...
At church Saturday, I happened to mention the event to a friend and turns out his family grew up all around there. He was very familiar with the old converted Grange Hall that the theater is in. He said the wind just whips across the open fields there with no mercy. No kiddin', Tom. No kiddin'...
Saturday, one of my senior karate students from Laconia, Russ Jones, was waiting for me when I got home from mass for some advanced training. Rick arrived around 6:30, and after discovering that we were planning on going out to dinner, Marissa acquiesced to be seen with the F.O.P. and came with us. We drove up to Applebee's at Dover Crossing, but the line was so long I just did not have the patience for it. So we drove over to Durham and got Chinese take-out and brought it back here.
Rick and I battled it out for three games: he won a double game the first one, I squeaked a double the second game, and then we did the tie breaker that I won a double on. Great game, backgammon. Those who don't play are just missing out on a true game of combat and strategy; more so than poker or chess.
Anyway, after that we did the movie of the night: Serpico. Hadn't seen that in over 20 years. Still a compelling story and well acted by Al Pachino.
Sunday, I fixed up a great dinner: fennel, rosemary, paprika, and oregano pork chops sauted with mushrooms accompanied by steamed broccoli in a tamari, worcestershire, and dash of A1 steak sauce. We started the party (for one) slowly with Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik and Pachelbel's Cannon. But then as the cooking rose to a frenzy, Phil Collins' No Jacket Required CD took over. At one point, Marissa came downstairs with the rather bland comment, "Loud enough for you, old man!" Loud enough? Phil Collins? You have to be shittin' me... I ignored the infidel and continued on with the process, washing it all down with a fairly nice 2005 Redwood Creek Sauvignon Blanc. All is well and noone need interfer with my process. Please...
I did create quite a mess, though. Unusual as I usually stay on top of that, but for some reason there was quite a cleanup detail needed. Marissa had long ago left for her Lacrosse game, and so after I finished up, I then headed down to the Seacoast United indoor soccer arena to watch her play. Great game and lots of fun, but Monday came too quickly for my liking.
02/06/07: Midweek Dinner Out!
The cold weather that has blasted around us for the last couple of weeks continues. As I wandered across the parking lot toward The Orchard Street Chop Shop to meet my friend for dinner, I considered the possibility that maybe this was never going to lift and I should be going out for this dinner in Miami or Tucson or somewhere they don't know what snow and ice is...
Great dinner, though, once I got warmed up. Had an amazing escargot appetizer prepared differently than I had ever had them. Spectacular, but of no interest to anyone other than me. And the cut of meat I had was super.
Not that I'm a restaurant critic or anything, but high praise to them for excellent food. But someone should tell the waiter that when you go to a very nice restaurant to "dine" that it is not necessary to keep asking every five minutes if we were ready to order our dinner. Give us a chance to enjoy the nice bottle of wine, will you please, and to just relax and chat. If I want to eat fast and run, I'll go to McDonald's or something, ok? Gee...
In my younger years (last year?), I would have snapped at such treatment. But as I age I sometimes allow myself to become more tolerant of the ignorance of others. Some... times... Is this a sign of dementia or simply graceful aging?
02/09/07: A Warmer Weekend!
Heat wave! It actually got up around thirty degrees at times, and the winds have died down. Friday night was a casual spaghetti and beer night at home with a friend who seemed to enjoy the "chick flick" movie of the night. Hey, it actually wasn't bad... Or was that because the beer was flowing freely? Or maybe another sign of dmeentia? Hummmm... Not real sure about that now that I think of it. I'll have to ask about that sometime, I guess...
Then Saturday, I offered up Italian, Indian, or bar burgers as choices for dinner. We had a nice dinner at The Taste of India in Dover, and then came back here to watch The Guardian. Now, that is a good movie; great role for Kevin Costner.
Sunday I got up at a reasonable time, and spent a relaxing morning writing. Then off early to shop for the week because I went to Marissa's 4:00pm Lacrosse game down in Hampton at Seacoast United. Fixed up a nice dinner of... well, who really cares, anyway. But it was pretty damn good for a city boy. Closed out with a pleasant movie and ready to hit the road early Monday morning.
02/14/07: The Valentines Day Blizzard Week!
They predicted a monster storm and we got one. Didn't start until late Tuesday night, but by Wednesday
morning, there was already about three inches down and it was snowing pretty good.
I hadn't been feeling too good for the last couple of days and coupled with weather report threats of a foot or more and white-out driving conditions by late afternoon, I decided to go back to bed.
Good thing because I never came to until 10:30 and was really not feeling good. Got up and took a shower, but was just really beat. So, I just flopped onto the sofa and lay there like a dead whale watching mindless tv until Marissa got up around noon - schools all over the region had closed, so she had slept in.
After we swapped Valentines cards and candy, I staggered back to the sofa. And that was my "snow day adventure". Early to bed.
Just barely made it through work Thursday. Amazing how clear the roads were even on the drive in; the work crews were out all night plowing and salting. It was pretty slippery going into work; had to take it really slow. Slow home as well, but not a major issue. Not like the 100 inches places in upper New York State got! I was in bed by 9:00pm as wanted to get as much sleep as possible to try to throw this thing off.
Friday morning came too early, but I felt pretty good. Got into work and even felt like a cup of coffee. I had planned to head out around 3:00pm as I didn't want to push it too hard, but had so much going that I didn't get out until 4:30. Just layed around Friday night and watched Apollo 13. I had seen the start of it several times, but had never been able to finish it for one reason or another.
Saturday came bright and sunny and a little warmer. Feeling much better so up at 8:00am and fixed up a pot of coffee - actually two pots since the first one was so miserable that I tossed it. You can't drink crummy coffee... Later that afternoon, I drove down to the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Newington and grabbed up a few more books on writing structure and theory, Jane Eyre, and a book on some new findings in physics that looked interesting.
That evening, was a dinner out to celebrate the long weekend at Unos Chicago Bar and Grill up at the Dover Crossing and then back to watch a Nora Robert's chick flick, which was fine.
Sunday spat snow flurries through an otherwise sunny bright blue sky. Did some editing on a manuscript I am working on through the morning and then off for food and stuff shopping in the late afternoon for a dinner get together with one of my karate disciples, Rick Downs. Though I winged it the whole way, I came out with a grand presentation of pan seared scallops with green beans and my own version of a tomato and mini bella mushroom basil risotto. Marvelous.
We had some great technical and philosophical discussions over dinner, played some killer backgammon, and then headed down to Hampton to watch Marissa play Lacrosse. After that, back for more backgammon, and finished off the night with a true movie about the New York City detective Bo Dietel, One Tough Cop which was pretty good and a nice top-off to the day.
Monday was a really lazy day, though I did do a lot of manuscript editing and spent a couple of hours studying one of the books on writing I had picked up Saturday at Barnes and Noble. Didn't roll out of bed until almost 10:00am - it had been a late night and besides, why not take advantage of the day off... That was my rationalization, anyway.
02/25/07: Sunday Dinner By Marissa!
Sundays, I usually go on an afternoon shopping adventure, and then stage a grand cooking party for myself. It's all great fun, and I have been known to create some pretty decent meals - for a city boy, anyway. So, as I was sipping my coffee figuring out the evening's menu, Marissa - who thinks my cooking too "fancy" for her - suggested that she'd like to cook.
She didn't have a Lacrosse game that evening, and was eager to fix a special chicken, broccoli, and rice dish that she likes. So, she came shopping with
me - though became mildly exasperated with some of the "other" stops that I had to make. We fared just fine, and finished up around 3:30pm and headed home.
Marissa called her friend Courtney to let her know we were back and to come over and join her to cook and then for dinner and a movie. She got there around 4:30 and the two of them fooled around doing something for awhile.
I did some writing, poured myself a glass of Merlot from a bottle I had bought at the store, and then continued reading a book on some new concepts in physics I had started Saturday afternoon.
Somewhere around 6:00, they came downstairs ready to get into it so I turned her loose in the kitchen. There was almost too much clatter going on for me to concentrate - they were trying to drown their conversation out with a lot of racket so I couldn't hear what they were saying, I guess.
As can be seen from the picture, we are both being very silly wearing matching tee-shirts. Annie is a friend of Marissa's, and she had gone to New York City a few weeks before. She had brought them back for us, and Marissa insisted that we don them for this cooking event.
Annie is a rabid Sox and Patriots fan and usually brings some form of New York stuff back for Marissa because Marissa just teases her to no end by taking the other side of every sports team Annie likes. So, to really get at Marissa she, bought both of us matching shirts. Why not...
Anyway, the meal turned out great and we stuffed ourselves. Marissa wanted to watch "An American Haunting", and so that was the movie of the night - a nice mindless, but otherwise pretty well done, way to wind up the weekend with.
02/30/07: Huge Friday Winter Storm Sets The Tone For The Weekend!
Wow! We got smacked with another really tough storm. They had been predicting a bad one for a couple of days so when I got up and peeked outside and heard what the weather channel was predicting, I just crawled back into bed for another couple of hours.
Got up and showered and then hit the computer with RemoteDesktop connection to work and worked for several hours until - boom! - out goes the power.
So, Marissa and I headed out into the mess to grab a sandwich, but the local BurgerKing had lost power as well so we went to McDonald's up by Exit 9.
Off to dinner to Smokey Bones in Newington to celebrate a special event for Marissa. On the spur of the moment, she decided to ask her friend Courtney to come along, and thought it would be nice if I asked Rick Downs as well.
The temperature was up around 33 degres and all the snow had become huge puddles of slush to troop through the parking lot in. It was my first time to Smokey Bones, so I was looking forward to checking it out as I had heard good things about it. Food was great, and the two fireplaces that they had going was a nice touch to the stormy day it had been.
After dinner, the girls headed out on their own, and Rick and I ended up back at the house battling over the backgammon board. We had had a terrific tussel at Applebee's Thursday breaking even and he was looking to get ahead.
I took a commanding lead for the first series, and really thought I had it all locked up. But then I ended up dancing on the bar in a couple of games for way too long, and finished off the series breaking even again. Rick went out the door threatening doom to me Saturday night - a get together that we had planned earlier in the week.
Spent the day Saturday working on my Forex currency price analysis programming project - what a mess. I did a big refactor to the code and nothing worked and I spent literally hours trying to get the project to rebuild correctly in Eclipse. Never did get it until Sunday morning after sleeping on it and having the solution come to me overnight.
Rick got here around 5:30 just as Marissa was getting ready to head out with her friends to go to a hockey game up in Rochester. We drove over to Durham and just grabbed Chinese take out because we were eager to start mashing each other over the backgammon board as the score was still even. We decided that the only reasonable way to continue with these games was to play a set number of matches rather than just playing til we dropped. Three games was the lucky number because that would put a series at a comfortable forty-five minutes playing time.
The games were brutal with the point score all over the place with all the doubling we were doing. We went into the second three game series with me two up and I just had him all the way through to wind up five points up, though it was a battle all the way. We were ready for the movie of the night at that point for sure. Rick had been tasked with picking it, and he brought the new version of "The Poseidon Adventure" with him. I hadn't seen that and was really well done.
Sunday I continued working on my programing project until Marissa dragged herself out of bed, and then we went food shoping for the week. She has taken to coming with me so that she's sure she gets the right stuff - the FOP can't be trusted on his own... I did some late afternoon reading and then signed off for the night with "The Devil Wears Prada".
03/17/07: The Great 2007 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Irish Feast!
We got hit with another huge snow storm. It started Friday afternoon, and raged through until mid day Saturday dropping around a foot of really heavy wet snow.
It took me two hours to get home from work on Friday; cars off the road all over the place along 95, 9 and 4.
I took this picture of the parking area Friday night about an hour after I had gone out and shoved off the steps and walk. There was a lot of snow. And it continued to pile up through Saturday morning.
Though it was really pretty to watch come down, I don't think many dared go out on the roads Friday night. Most side streets were totally impassable. Even if you had wanted to go out, just getting your car dug out and then slidding through the ice to a road from your driveway or parking area would have been an ordeal.
Everyone just hunkered down and stayed in.
I heard that many in surrounding communities lost their power. I was lucky that I didn't, so enjoyed a glass of wine and watched a movie.
Fortunately, by mid day Saturday the storm had pretty much blown itself out. That gave the plow crews a chance to catch up and get all of the major roads and most of the side streets as well cleared off.
By late Saturday afternoon, travel was pretty much back to normal, though I'm sure it impacted some folks who might have wanted to come to my St. Patrick's Day backgammon party. Even though the roads were back to normal, we all knew that everything had to be dug out.
The temperature was expected to drop Saturday night, and the risk in leaving the snow piled up was then facing several inches of ice being left behind. Though I started the
optional - but wonderous - "Great Chopping of the Vegetables Passion" on time at 4:00pm and got into the Killian's Irish Red, the games didn't get going until around 5:30pm.
By then, I had finished up with all of the food preparation and the corned beef was on the fire. So, I was able to get onto the boards and mix it up.
But, I am sad to report that despite a lot of trash talk and great play to back it up - even sealing up my board several times - I was unable to overcome the cosmic forces of Nature herself that must have been conspiring against me because I went 8 down against Rick Downs.
Despondant, of course, over this loss, I can only threaten great doom and despair against all next time...
03/24/07: Saturday Night Movie Road Trip!
Well, we just had to see the movie 300 on the big screen. Grabbed a bite to eat at Applebee's in Portsmouth and played a bunch of backgammon while priming up with Killian's Irish Red. Unfortunately, I should have had more than the two that I did; the movie, in my opinion, was a little much. Just gratuitous is all I can say, though the special effects were everything they were hyped up to be - which made it a great movie to see on the big screen. But, I won't be watching it again on DVD. Sorry, but to my mind, the old movie The 300 Spartans is superior in every way. In fact, I think that'd be a good one to rent some night.
Just as we came out of the theater in Newington around 10:00pm, it had started to sleet. By the time I got North on the Spaulding across the General Sullivan bridge into the southern part of Dover, it had turned to a heavy wet snow. It snowed again! In March! Gad... Didn't amount to much, but when I got up Sunday morning, there was about half an inch on the deck.
Spent Sunday just relaxing and doing some writing and sipping coffee. After watching Friday night's movie of the night Big Night again, I had determined that I would cook Italian today and have myself a party! And that's just what I did! I fixed up my own take on a version of a Milanese Pork With Tomatoes in White Wine Sauce recipe, and it came out absolutely terrific, if I do say so! Along with the dinner as well as the whole cooking process, I enjoyed the remainder of a bottle of white bordeaux that we had started Friday night; no wine goes to waste! Wound down the night with the movie Infamous about Capote's rise to fame writing In Cold Blood. Though the cast was impressive, I think the movie Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman is far better. And there you have it from P. Rose, chef, competitor, resturant and wine critic, and part time participant.
03/27/07: Movie Mindlessness!
When I got home from a dinner out with a friend, Marissa asked if I wanted to watch a movie with her - Elektra. Now who wouldn't want to watch a hottie like Jennifer Garner slay all the evil bad guy ninja types! And even better, she was just fixing up hot dogs for her dinner so I had her do one for me, popped a beer, and there you have it... how much better can it get?
Well, then on Wednesday: samesame with the lure of the second of the Pirates of The Caribbean series which I hadn't got around to seeing yet. So, another night of escape from reality!
04/04/07: Late Winter Storm Hits!
It didn't start snowing up in Portland until mid afternoon on Wednesday, but it was clear that things were going to go downhill really really quickly. I didn't realize how heavy it was snowing until one of my co-workers mentioned that I should probably get outta Dodge as soon as possible before I got snowed in. I wasn't keeping track of the weather or the time and it was 5:00pm when I peeked over the top of my cube to see the snow coming down outside. I dropped everything and sprinted out the door.
It was a mess and the snow was a thick wet heavy mess that made the roads really slippery. It took me almost twenty-five minutes to get from the office to the exit where I get onto Rt. 95 South; a drive that usually takes me about five minutes. I just knew I was in for a miserable commute.
Cars were going off the road all over the place; it was that bad. The snow was pounding down and the plows were having a hard time keeping up. The radio was predicting 8" to 14" along the coast and I was driving right into the teeth of it.
As I approached the Wells exit where I normally get off and go through the Berwicks to get to Dover, I considered staying on 95 to Portsmouth and then taking the Spaulding Turnpike up to Dover as if there is an accident on one of those smaller roads it just shuts everything down. But 95 was so bad - and getting worse the further south I drove - that I peeled off at the exit at the last second. Fortunately, the further west I drove on Rt. 9 and then Rt. 4, the less severe the storm was; it hadn't got that far inland as yet so I made it home ok, and probably far better than if I would have had I stayed on 95.
04/05/07: Late Winter Storm Leaves A Real Mess!
Marissa woke me up around 2:30am Thursday morning to let me know the power had gone out, but what can you do? I had turned the heat up before going to bed figuring that would happen. I knew that the temps
wouldn't be falling too badly, and so the heat should be retained pretty good until things got fixed, so, I just went back to sleep.
I got up at 5:30 in pitch darkness. Couldn't shave or shower so just washed up and headed out into a really miserable blizzard. As you can see from the pictures that I took just before I left, the snow had really made a mess of things. I figured that the plow crews had the major roads under control and because the storm was supposed to end by late morning, so headed out.
It was a really dangerous ride through the Berwicks, but I just took it really slowly. Everything was so beautiful; picture perfect. But the weight of the wet snow was drooping the tree branches horribly and many were snapping off and falling everywhere - had to navigate around several in the middle of Rt. 9 getting over to Wells. And 95 was horrible - ice rutted and slippery as it could possibly be, though the plows had got the snow off for the most part.
By late morning, it stopped snowing and the ride home was fairly straight forward. But what a mess. A hundred-forty-thousand lost power in southern Maine, and about eighty-five-thousand in southern New Hampshire. It was still a slow go, and when I got home around 6:30 Marissa told me the power had just come back on around 5:30. And even by Saturday night, many were still without power. Some Easter weekend...
04/06/07: Friday Night DVD Scramble!
By Friday evening when I got home from work, not only was the storm over, but we had already lost most of the snow! It wasn't hot or anything, but the sun was out all day,
and with the temps in the upper 30s to low 40s, there was a lot of it just lost to radiation. As you can see from the comparisson picture, what a difference there can be in really what amounts to just hours between what was going on Thursday morning to that of today! Even so, many were still without power and it wasn't that warm out.
Hundreds of line crews were out trying to get power restored, but the weight of the snow had been so great that some poles had even come down. There were areas that were almost disaster relief qualifying. It was a bad one, and I was just lucky nothing severe happened. Losing power at this time of year is nothing compared to what could happen in the dead of winter. It really makes you stop and think here in the Northeast...
But, I was in a state of despair Friday - my vhs/dvd machine got fried somehow when the power went out Wed. I've got a really good surge protector on the tv and all that gear, and everything but that was fine. What to do?!! Well, I had told Marissa that I'd buy her a small portable dvd unit because her tv/dvd combo dvd died a couple weeks ago. So, I stopped off on the way home from work at Wal-Mart and picked up a unit.
But do you think I could get the damn thing hooked up? Nope. I fiddled with it for about a half hour and was getting nowhere but the State of Agitated.
One of my karate disciples, Rick Downs, came over to play some backgammon and got swept up into the frenzy. But the two of us couldn't figure it out - too many wires and plugs and directions probably written by an Arabic cleric for all I could determine. Then Marissa came home, and she worked on it for about twenty minutes. She tore the whole system apart, got pissed off as well, and demanded a dinner break.
So, we went out and got Chinese food and returned to the task. Then my son Colin (who will be 20 on Thursday and thinks his shit just couldn't possible stink anymore...) came over and was disgusted with all of us. He had the thing working in about 15 minutes. The whole thing drove me to drink, probably causing my untimely demise at backgammon, dropping 5 points to Rick by the end of the evening...
Rick was going into Portsmouth in the morning, so he took my unit into a friend's shop to look at. Hopefully the problem will only be a blown fuse or diode or something - otherwise: back shopping for a new one. It's gonna cost me too, as that was a good Panasonic, surround sound, dolby digital, whammerjammer thing. It's never easy...
04/08/07: Easter Sunday In The Snow
Well, despite the bright sun over the last couple of days, the temperature has been hovering in the low 30s, and so the ground is still pretty much covered with snow. Strange for Easter weekend.
Rick Downs came over last night and, after running out a 3 game backgammon series, he, I and Marissa went out to dinner at Applebee's in Dover.
I was feeling like a steak, and they had a new menu item featuring a 10oz New York cut, so that was what I dove into.
We came back to the condo and Rick and I played another 3 game series. We had tied the first set, but I managed to get a 10 point lead this set. Marissa came back downstairs and we watched Eragon - a pretty good special effects dragon rider movie.
It was still early after the movie, and Rick demanded another crack at me. So, we played out another 3 game series and I just hammered him for another 5 points, ending our weekly score with me up by 10.
He's probably still muttering to himself. I couldn't miss that last series, and the doubles were flying all over the place. But then he was holding hot Thursday night; I couldn't keep him on the bar but when I got hit, I was up there dancing for 4, 5 and one time 8 throws. You can't win that way. I should have just folded up the board, given him 5 points for attendance, and drank my beer in peace...
Sunday morning, Marissa was up early to be with her mom and grandparents for the day. I caught her in this impatient pose heading out the door - couldn't understand why I was holding progress up for a crummy picture...
I was going to fix a ham - what else do you have on Easter... But Marissa expressed no desire for leftover ham, and she wasn't even going to be here, anyway.
When we went shopping together Saturday afternoon, I just picked up some broccoli, mushrooms, and snow peas for a vegetable stir fry - I've had my fill of meat for the week.
Colin and Adrian stopped by late morning on their way up to York and visited for awhile. We're making arrangements for me to take my car down for service next Saturday - oil change, engine check; that sort of thing.
He said to take a good look because this would probably be the last time anyone would see him in a tie for a long long time. He's just too used to his mechanic's gear; just not a dress up type of guy...
04/15/07: Yet Another Weekend With The Snow
Is this ever going to stop?! The weather has been a mess since Thursday night. After karate workout, a few of us went up to Applebee's in Dover and the roads at that point were snow and sleet covered and very slippery. The ride home was thrilling...
Friday's commute in was fine, but the roads were still slippery and snow was everywhere, though the temperature was above freezing at least. By Friday night, things were mild though the sky was really threatening. Rick came over and we grabbed subs at Kendall Pond Pizza after I lost 3 points in the first set. The next two sets weren't much better and I fell over 7 points down for the week.
Though Marissa had assured me that she would have the dvd player and surround sound all hooked back up, she was out late and never go to it so Rick and I endured regular sound as we watched Casino Royal - and if you haven't seen that, it's a great action adventure with super photography. Just what I needed to cap off the week.
Saturday came sunny with a mild breeze. That was refreshing because I really didn't think hiking around in Portsmouth that evening would be a whole lot of fun in another blizzard. I parked in the parking garage and we walked over to the Sheraton for a really nice dinner by the windows overlooking the river. Then we had a nice casual walk up to the Seacoast Repertory Theater to see Ernest Thompson's On Golden Pond, which I really really enjoyed.
But this was "hook up the dvd" night, and Marissa had again assured me that she would have it hooked up by the time I got back from the play. She admitted that she had to call on Colin to come over and work through things, and even he didn't get it set up fully. Jesus! What do you need - an engineering degree to set up a friggin' surround sound system?! Stupid. Just stupid...
Sunday, I dragged myself out of bed at 8:15 only to find Marissa up very uncharacteristically early and hammering away at the computer. She said she couldn't sleep with all the sunlight and had just got up. She was looking for coffee, so we headed out to Store 24 for some brew and the Sunday paper.
She headed out on whatever mission it was she had for the day, and just before she left it started to pelt hugh wet snow mixed with cold sleet/rain. Great view from inside, though! I took full advantage of that by parking myself on the couch and continuing my reading of "Guns, Germs, and Steel" until around 1:00pm when I drove down to Portsmouth and met up with Marissa to go food shopping. After that, it was off to Best Buy to get me a new cell phone. I hadn't got a new model in something like 5 years and am thrilled at the much thinner and more compact Sanyo unit that I now have, though it did take me about an hour to reprogram it and enter in all of my contacts. Oh well...
My Sunday dinner party for one was terrific, as usual. I popped open a nice inexpensive bottle of Chardonay and started chopping up broccoli and chicken about 5:30. By 6:30, I had a marvelous pasta mix and enjoyed the final run of the Bach CD I had been playing. A mindless movie, and to bed - and that's the way this weekend went.
04/18/07: Road Trip For Overnight Stay In Boston
I had no desire to get up at 4:00am to make it down to Boston for my 7:00am Thursday morning flight out to Illinois for the the C&S Self Defense Association's All Disciple Retreat. Agreeing with me, two of the other five of my local disciples who were going with me thought getting a hotel room Wednesday would be a better idea. And, if you're going to be down there anyway... I just figured we'd all just have to go into town for dinner.
Russ Jones drove down from Laconia and met Rick Downs and me at my condo in Dover at 3:00pm Wednesday afternoon. We piled into Rick's big truck, and were all checked in at the Logan Holiday Inn just outside the airport by 4:30pm.
Rick had never had middle eastern food, so I had picked out the Cafe Barada from a bunch of reviews I had read as an interesting spot to try. When Russ heard that it was way out in Cambridge on Mass Ave., he suggested that we take the T as he knew the area pretty well. And when Rick said, "Gee, I've never been on a subway before... ROAD TRIP!!!" I just knew we were in for a great time!
Well, Rick got an eyefull - from the winos and bums to subway musicians, well dressed business people heading home from work, the ratty college crowd... the whole spectrum of the big city. And we couldn't have been treated better than Sam did at Cafe Barada. He welcomed us warmly, and patiently explained the different Lebanese dishes they offered. I tried both a Lebanese wine and had to have a couple of Lebanese beers. And then there was the family's amazing special reciepe for falafel. None of us had ever had falafel, but had heard of it. So it was a real treat to have such a great introduction to this really tasty food.
Stuffed and in no mood to navigate the T back to the hotel, we had Sam call us a taxi. Jean Claude entertained us with his stories on the ride back - considerably more expensive than the less than five dollars it had cost us to get there on the T at over forty-four dollars. But, hey! It's a road trip, so who cares...
We met up with Jim Nancarrow, Scott Williams, and Tim House at the Northwest Airlines gate, grabbed coffee, and were off into the morning sky on time, although Rick almost didn't make it through the security checkpoint coming in because his name was spelled differently on his ticket than on his id.
04/19/07: C&S Self Defense Association April 2007 All Disciple Retreat In Illinois
At the invitation of Grandmaster David Landers of the Effingham Illinois Storm Dragon Dojos, all association disciples gathered together for 4 days of seminars, clinics, training, and fellowship at
The Timbers Lodge outside of Stewardson, Illinois April 19 through April 22 2007 for the association's All Disciple Retreat In Illinois.
The weather was unexpectedly warm for the six of us who traveled out from the East Coast. We had just gone through a major snow storm the week before, and knew that Illinois had also experienced a freezing sleet and snow storm that same weekend. Though not packed for winter, we weren't prepared for the 70 degree temps and hot sun for our outside training either.
It was a great treat! A couple of the nights were pretty chilly, though, and so we were able to gather in the lodge's great room with a warming fire roaring in the huge stone fireplace.
04/21/07: Peter Awarded 9th Degree Black Belt Certificate
The C&S Self Defense Association Governing Council awarded me a promotion to 9th Degree Black Belt at the association's All Disciple Retreat In Illinois.
I thank the Governing Council for their faith and trust in me for this honor. It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.
What is particularly satisfying for me as I approach the start of my 40th year in the martial arts is that I see so many wonderful people who have benefited from the experiences that I have shared with them over the years.
Few in their lives get the opportunity to touch others so deeply, and for that I am most grateful.
05/08/07: Marissa Scores 19th Goal In Two Weeks Play
In the short time that Marissa was in the 05/08 Tues. game against Spaulding HS, she scored 3 of the teams goals, winning 12 to 5.
It was her 16th goal in two weeks, bringing her total for the season to 28 - just an amazing performance.
As one of the captains of the team this year, she has racked up the most goals of anyone through her aggressive play and keen sense for the goalie's weakness as she storms the goal. She's a sight to behold on the move! Just feed her, and then get out of the way! Great job, Marissa!
Unfortunately because of work, this was the first game I have been able to make this year. And the season is just about over! Life's too short to miss this important stuff. I'm thrilled that I could be there to watch her play. Realizing this, I made sure I came to Weds. 05/09 game against Bow as well. I posted some pictures of that game as well. She scored 3 of the teams 4 goals, though they lost 14 to 4. Tough team and a tough game.
05/09/07: Peter's Work Cube
The kids kept asking me to take a shot of my cube at work so they could have a better idea of where I spend my day. How thrilling...
Ya, it's usually pretty much this neat most of the time. Clutter makes me crazy...
If you squeeze the pink piggy, it farts at you, and if you press the button on the little blue picture of me on the shelf my voice says: "Hi, this is Peter. Thanks for stopping by, but you can go now." The Quote Of The Day written in blue in the upper right hand corner of the whiteboard is from poet and author Charles Bukowski: "Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead." You just have to love it...
05/11/07: So Glad For The Weekend
I worked later than I had intended to on Friday, but had some things that I wanted to be sure were taken care of so I wouldn't have to deal with them on Monday. I stopped off at the video store and picked up a dvd for the evening as I planed to just relax and do nothing productive. And that's just what I did.
Saturday, I thought I'd catch a play up at the Rochester Opera House, but I pulled myself out of bed pretty early and got so involved with posting the details of the past karate retreat onto the association's website that by early afternoon I was beat.
I knew I had to break from the work - I had been at it since 7:30am, and my brain hurt with all the html web code I had written. so a friend and I went out together and had a nice dinner at Castaways down on the riverfront in Dover. After a couple of beers overlooking the river along with a terrific meal of Mediterranean Pasta and Scallops, I was all set. Topped off the evening with the movie The Good Shepard, a really interesting plot.
Sunday I was up early again to polish up a few of the website details. After food shopping, I swung by the infamous Wal-Mart and picked up a nice pot of wonderful yellow somethingorother flowers for the deck and a couple more deck chairs and table. They look grand.
And then after some general clean up work, I just relaxed in the living room with my coffee and read a couple more chapters in my current book, the Pulitzer Prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel.
My Sunday Dinner Party For One was a hit with all in attendance - just me! - as the chef - me again! - hit it out of the park with a terrific dinner of Italian spiced turkey sausages, broccoli, onions, and spinach with lentils in a thyme garlic chicken broth washed down with a pretty decent inexpensive Michael Joseph Merlot. And can I have an Aaaaa-MEN!
05/18/07: Marissa Racks The Goals Up
It was another spectacular week for Marissa at Lacrosse. On Thursday the 17th, though they lost 8 to 11, she scored 6 of the team's 8 goals against Merrimack. And on Friday the 18th, they won against Spaulding 14 to 6 with Marissa scoring 8 of their 14 goals. The local Foster's Daily Democrat had a great write-up about the game on the 18th - here's a few quotes regarding Marissa:
05/19/07: Colin Graduates
Despite the cold wind driven drizzle and constant dampening mist, it was a warm day for us all as we watched Colin come across the stage to receive his Associates Degree diploma in Automotive Technology from New Hampshire Community Technical College in Nashua. I am so proud of him, you can not imagine. From a starting class of twenty five two years ago, only seven walked across that stage today. An accomplishment that he can be proud of for his whole life.
Two years of perserverance in driving an hour and a half each way five days a week for two years, carrying 18 credits a semester while at the same time managing 400 hours of specialized training and spending most nights at home on the computer working through Honda specific online training modules so that he now is years ahead of most mechanics by having two thirds of the work towards his Master Honda Mechanics license is truly a testament to his courage and character.
Marissa and I were so blessed to be able to share this day with him along with Pat and his grandfather Tom - limited tickets were available and so his grandmother and many friends would have to wait and congratulate him later. But the joy I had in my heart as he shook hands with the President of the college, Lucille Jordan, who had taken him under her wing and was so instrumental in making this day a reality for him, was boundless.
Congruatulations, Colin! Oh, and now that you have a full time job, there's this little issue of money...
05/23/07: Marissa Scores 4 Goals In Her Last Game of High School Lacrosse
Marissa scored her 4th goal for Dover in the last 10 seconds of their final game of the season. She made a powerful run down field and fired a jet fast shot that just smoked past the goalie.
This was the last game of her High School career, and that 4th goal was her 55th goal for the season - an absolutly remarkable senior year accomplishment. There are a few pictures from this game as well as a group of shots of Marissa's team's Lacrosse Awards Picnic.
05/26/07: The Great 2007 Memorial Day Backgammon Tournament And Vegan Experiment
Well, itís Memorial Day and time for another backgammon tournament and dinner party!
When I had asked him several weeks ago if he would like to cook for this party, Brian Serven graciously agreed to introduce us to a variety of Vegan style dishes.
I had no experience with anything Vegan, nor did anyone else who wanted to come to the party, so I figured this was a great opportunity to check it out. And what a success it was!
We ended the night with the really entertaining movie Stomp The Yard. Despite not getting to bed until around 1:00am, I wasn't tired at all. It was a really enjoyable party, and I thank all of those who came for sharing it together.
05/31/07: Marissa Voted MVP For 2007 Season
The Green Wave Dover High School girls Lacrosse team had their awards presented to them jointly with the boys team at the Guppy Park here in Dover Thursday evening.
Along with Marissa being recognized as one of the highest ever scorers on the tean and achieving an amazing 55 goals for the 2007 season, she was voted MVP - Most Valuable Player.
Though the rain stopped for the afternoon, a chilly wind blew across the park. No one seemed to mind, though, as we all feasted on hamburgers, munchies, and treats and milled around the picnic area listening to all the chatter. It was a great turnout with everyone's parents and grandparents and friends celebrating a fun year of competition.
Before the awards ceremony got started, a bunch of the players - both guys and gals - paired up into several teams and spread out across the field. They did get a little carried away and played longer than I think they were supposed to as the ceremony itself didn't get started until almost 6:30pm - and it had started at 5:00pm! But it was great to see everyone having such a good time.
06/09/07: Marissa's Spectacular Birtday, Graduation, and Graduation Party
June was a busy busy time for Marissa: 18th birthday, high school graduation, and then a graduation party! After all of this, life may seem pretty drab...
For her birthday, she and a bunch of her friends first got together at Applebee's in Dover for dinner.
Then they went down to her mom's for marshmellows over the firepit in the backyard, and ended up the night with a couple of movies and a sleepover for a few.
Saturday night, I took her out to eat at her choice of the night: Uno's where we had the best time. We came back and watched the movie The Messengers that I had bought for her. A very well done and pretty scary movie! Of course we had to turn the lights off! We got into it!
Sunday she was off to dinner with her grandparents
to Warren's in Portsmouth.
Then she graduated from Dover High School on Tuesday night. I was so proud of her as she marched up and received her diploma. Amazing trivia: this was the 155th graduating class!
After graduation, she and almost the entire graduating class of 400 went off on an all night school sponsored graduation adventure to a huge entertainment facility with indoor tennis courts, swimming pool, hot tub, games, food, you name it! They all had a ball, but she didn't get home until almost 6:30am Wednesday. She managed to pull herself out of bed by about 1:30pm to get on with the day!
She had Thursday to recover but then on Friday night, Annie - one of her neighboors who is moving - threw her a terrific birthday get together dinner for about 18 people at TGI Friday's in Newington.
She was thrilled to see so many of the neighbors there who had watched her grow up celebrate her success.
I think after that she went home to recover because she was planning on playing some combat backgammon the following night at my The Great 2007 Three Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration. I think she crawled home and crashed... You can check out all of the pictures here!
06/16/07: The Great 2007 Three Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration
I've had a great three years here at the Garrison, and to celebrate I held my 29th backgammon get together. That's a lot of parties.
At last year's two year celebration, I fixed spaghetti bolognese and it was a great hit, so I thought why not make this a tradition.
This time, though, I did a twist on it with non-meat vegiterian substitutes and whole grain drum wheat fettucini noodles. You couldn't tell the difference! You can check out all of the pictures here.
06/17/07: Relaxing Father's Day
After last night's backgammon party, I still managed to get up a little after 8:00am. I wanted to get a start on some new functionality for the Java Forex technical price analysis program I had written last year. I went down to the convience store not far from the condo for coffee and the paper.
Marissa came over about 9:30 and started fixing bacon and eggs. Colin was working but broke off to join us for an hour or so. We had a nice visit and then they were off into the day. I went back to my project and then did some casual reading in the living room until dinner. But because of the huge brunch, I just had a can of soup, watched a movie and hit the rack.
06/30/07: Working My Way Through The 4th of July Week...
Crazy busy week at work and moving sorta slow from being out sick on Monday. So, I just wanted to hang out for the weekend and work on my Forex currency analysis program.
Friday I just kicked back and watched the romantic drama "Secret Life of Words" - not bad. Saturday worked all day on the project, went to Mass, and then out to Castaways in Dover for dinner with a friend. Movie of the night was "Beowulf and Grendel" - pretty good with the surround sound up loud. Just my speed...
Sunday I was up at 7:00am to hit the boards and work on my project despite not getting to bed until after 1:00am. But I was close to resolving a major part of the analysis and wanted to get my thoughts into code while the ideas were fresh in my mind. By 10:00am, I was already done with the coffee I had gone out to the local Store 24 after getting up. Some food shopping later in the day along with a thrilling stop at Wal-Mart and topped things off with the really cute movie "Music & Lyrics". Short week coming up with the 4th on a Wednesday; should have grabbed a couple days off, but a lot to get done.
Tuesday, I left work early met up with a friend at the theater in Newington, NH to see the 4:20pm showing of the new released movie "Transformers". Wow! Was that the perfect action/fun movie ever, or what! I just couldn't believe the special effects. Just amazing...
All week I have been craving a really big burger, so off we went to Ruby Tuesdays in Newington after the show. And I got that burger! Washed it down with a couple of Coronas and I was all set. Can't get enough of the movies, so back to the house and enjoyed "Crimsom Tide" - for me, about the tenth time I have seen it, but never tire of it...
For Wednesday the 4th, I just hung out at home working on my programming project. Called my brother, Alan, and we chatted for about an hour about his recent month long stay in the little village of Gort in County Galway, Ireland. Then I took Marissa and her friend out to dinner to wish her well on her trip to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure with her friend Courtney on Friday. Wish I was going to Florida...
07/20/07: Lost In Work...
Last Friday I worked 16 hours, Saturday 6, and Sunday another 5, and then did almost 50 hours this week and I was back working Saturday for a few hours this week. And that's not counting the extra time spent in previous weeks getting ready for a big production release.
But as a result, I've lost almost a month of Summer! I just checked my entries here, and the last one was 4th of July! So, when I got done with my work this morning I got ready for a nice night out and just decided I wasn't going to get my bowels in an uproar over all this; that's when you start making mistakes. And with literally millions of dollars at stake in these applications, you can't afford to make mistakes. There comes a time when you just have to push back from the table and take a pause.
So, Saturday evening I did just that and it was mah-vo-louse! Sat by the open deck at one of Dover's waterfront restaurants, had a couple of Coronas, and one of the hottest Jambalayas I have ever had; almost broke out into a sweat and got no sympathy from my friend. But it was... mah-vo-louse!
Sunday I was able to make some good progress on my current programming project, a technical price movement analysis of the Forex currency market. I had the windows and deck slider open, and the beautiful Summer breeze waifed gently around me. It was really nice, though there's never enough time on a Sunday to get everything you need to get done completed because of the Great Weekly Food Shopping Adventure For The Sunday Night Party.
Well, after arriving back from the store, it was only natural to pop open the bottle of Barefoot Merlot that I had been eyeing for several weeks. Wow! What a surprise at how smooth and tasteful it was! And, of course, this led to drinking a little too much of the aforesaid mentioned Merlot...
Dinner was an on the fly dish of chicken and mushrooms cooked up in a secret sauce and then mixed with lentils that had been cooked in yet another secret mixture. Along with that, I fixed some steamed broccoli and a packaged rice mix for sides with a salad of baby spinach leaves sprinkled with flax and sunflower seeds. And another glass of wine...
07/28/07: The Great 2007 Late Summer Kickoff Backgammon Tournament And Pizza Mash
Gee... Iíve been working so many hours that I totally spaced out on a 4th of July start to the Summer party. But we just had to have one! So, I just did it!
In the invitation I sent out, I said that the condition to attend was to wear real Summer Tourist garb, and sunglasses are mandatory.
As you can see - despite the despondent downcast to my otherwise cheery attitude due to unconscionable losses to Sherrie all night - I have my Tourist Garb and sunglasses! The banner on the hat says, "I'd Rather Do Sanchin". I probably should have done just that...
08/08/07: Get Away Weekend To Visit My Brother Alan
My brother Alan and I had been talking about me coming down for a visit to his home in Towson, MD for about a year.
For some reason, I never could commit - usually because of work. It finally got to the point this week where I just made reservations on Southwest and went down! How great is that!
I flew out of Manchester, NH late Friday afternoon on Southwest and came back Sunday. It was a great time in which I got a chance to practice my technique of Southern Porch Sitting that Alan had taught me many years ago.
Though it was over 100 degrees when I landed, the weather was cooled off by several sever thunder storms during the weekend. Didn't phase us much. In fact, regardless of the weather Alan and I were practicing that porch sitting routine as much as we could! I got pretty good at it, too! Well, for a city boy...
Alan and I teamed up two of the nights to cook a couple of fabulous Portuguese meals from a cookbook he has been experimenting with. And he and I did what Winnie The Pooh refered to as an "Explore" and went down to Baltimore's exciting Inner Harbor area.
Though pretty hot, it was such a relaxing time and a great opportunity for us to catch up with each other after a couple of years. I even got my (first) Summer Celebration Pina Colada! The Inner Harbor Water Taxi service is just so cool! We started at Canton and transfered at Fells to get into the Inner Harbor area. We just walked around and chatted and then headed back to the house to fix up the evening's next Portuguese masterpiece. And then, too soon, I had to fly back.
Marissa swung by and we chatted for awhile about her getting ready to shove off for college in a couple of weeks. It's going to be a busy month... I just may need to do another "Explore"...
08/19/07: Marissa Comes For Dinner And Then Some...
Marissa and I had been trying to get together for the last few weeks because next weekend she is off to college. She hadn't been shopping with me in quite awhile, and so I piked her up and off we went to the Newington Shaw's. On the way out, we stopped off at Wal-Mart for some various supplies she needed.
After unpacking all the stuff, I started cooking up some tarragon pork chops in one of my secret mushroom mixes. Surprisingly, she even ate hers with the sauce. I also steamed up a couple huge crowns of broccoli and did a requested packaged rice mix for sides. Though she didn't want any, I made up a salad of baby spinach leaves sprinkled with flax and sunflower seeds.
Having just started her packing for college, she opted to head out after dinner. I watched the movie of the night and sipped through the rest of my glass of some off the path cabernet - too cheap and watery and will not be purchased again.
08/24/07: Marissa Off To College
Well, Marissa got all her gear packed into her car and picked me up around 9:00am on a partially cloudy humid Summer day for the drive up to Henniker, NH to New England College where we hope she can keep herself busy for the next four years.
It was a beautiful drive up and we made great time, though we had a minor detour to exchange a pair of shoes that didn't fit her. When we arrived at the campus, there were security folks all over the place directing traffic and advising folks where to go. It was really well organized.
We lucked into the Director of Admissions - who Pat and Marissa had met with before when they had come up for orientation in July - and she helped square away some of Marissa's final requirements. Then it was off to move her into the dorm.
I had envisioned a horror show, but all of the RAs - and it seemed a host of others - met the cars in front of the dorm, unloaded the car in thirty seconds, and hauled all the stuff up to the room for us! It certainly prevented what otherwise would have been a real traffic jam from bringing the whole world to a standstill. The organization was unbelievable! My highest praise for all of the NEC staff that made this flow so well!
We met Marissa's roommate, Amanda, and her dad. Peter, and chatted awhile until he had to leave. Then we all (Pat had come up with her folks who wanted to see the layout) headed off to have lunch together.
It was so smooth and the girls were hitting it off so well that we knew they'd rather just hang out and go to all of the functions that the school had planned for the day. So we dropped the final gear - a microwave - off at the dorm and headed back. Fortunately, the weather - which had looked threatening all day - held up and it was a bright sunny ride back. Another milestone in life...
08/25/07: Boys Night Out: Road Trip
During one of our after Thursday karate class backgammon games, Steve Shackford happened to mention that the new movie War was opening this weekend. What better excuse than that for a Road Trip! We figured, Jet Li and Jason Stratham would be a winning combination for an action movie. Unfortunately, the movie fell far short on almost all counts: direction, plot, cohesiveness; Lots of stuff. In fact, even the fight sequences were choppy and poorly done.
Fortunately, before we headed over to the movie, we had gone out to Castaway's for a great dinner, some cold beers (it was 95 degrees out even at 6:30pm), and some killer backgammon. That saved the night.
Boys being boys, however, we just couldn't leave good enough alone. We got out of the movie around 9:15pm and were hungry, if you can believe it! Yup! So, off to La Fiesta Pizza for a 14" hamburger, sausage, and mushroom pizza. As Rick put it: "The mushrooms make it health food, right?" Sure, Rick...
Oh, and we had to have more beer and play more backgammon. But that finished us up for the night, and we packed it in after about an hour and a half. All in all, though, a pretty nice way to spend a hot Summer's night.
09/01/07: Labor Day Weekend
Wow! It seems as though the Summer just got started and we were griping about all of the hot weather and now the days are just beginning to be noticeably shorter and the nights have a real briskness to them.
Marissa made a surprise visit around 10:00pm on her way to her mom's for the holiday from college, It was great to see her, though she was on a full court press and couldn't stay long. The busy life of "The Dorm Rat" as I have begun to refer to her...
I had nothing planned for the holiday because I've been so busy at work that I totally spaced out on what day it was! Some of us met at Castaways restaurant on the riverfront here in Dover Saturday evening. We jammed it up playing backgammon and having a fine meal on the outside deck as the sun set "...o'r t'h yardarm..." It was amazing the dramatic difference in activity from the week before; you could clearly tell that the summer crowds were now a thing of the past.
Around 8:30 we packed up and headed over to the Strand movie theater not far from the restaurant and caught the 9:00pm showing of the new Bourne Ultimatum movie. Unlike last week, this was a terrific movie; we all really enjoyed it. But it was late when the movie got out so everyone just packed it in and headed home.
I spent most of Sunday working on my programming project and got some of the more complex simulation computations working pretty well. I rolled out about a three hundred thousand price calculations of simulated trading doing various comparative analysis on the results of changing certain of the dynamic parameters to see how things would shake out. Not bad. It's getting there...
I packed it in around 3:30 and went food shopping. A friend came over at 6:00 and we chatted while I fixed up a very on the fly stir fry and drank what turned out to be a really nice bottle of inexpensive Cabernet. The movie of the night was "Tin Cup" with Kevin Costner and Renee Russo; love that movie!
Monday I was up early to start work on the next phase of my programming project, and just pushed that til I dropped around 6pm when I broke for dinner and a final end of holiday relaxing movie before turning in around 11:30. Life is good...
09/15/07: The Great 2007 End Of Summer Backgammon Tournament And Talk Like A Pirate Pizza Rush
Sorry -- I just couldn't resist it: September 19th is "Talk Like A Pirate Day" and so what else was I supposed to do?
I just had to have a backgammon party. And what a party it was. I sent the following followup note around and as you can see from the pictures, we had some who dressed the part:
"Avast! Someone asked if I be serious about dressing in somethin' what looks like pirate gear for this here Saturday's backgammon party. I be serious as being broadsided by a rogue wave, I be. So if ye be comin' to this 'ere get t'gether, ye better have SOMETHIN' that looks like ye are a pirate or I'll be stringin' ya up by yer heels on the yardarm I will... Yours in peace and death on the board, Captain Mean"
Of course, as soon as Marissa saw my get-up, she was mortified. But, hey: what the hell...
And what a party we had! Everyone was trash talking and the dice were flying so hard that I can't count the number of times someone was crawling around on the floor to find their die after flinging them against the board. Oh yeah, baby! And now, we're playing some combat backgammon.
09/16/07: Seared Scallops To Top Off The Weekend
Success at my weekly Sunday Night Dinner Party For One, despite the fact that I started with an Italian recipe for scallops but just had to muck with it. Seared up a pound of large scallops after marinating them in a cilantro, oil, sugar, lime, Worcestershire sauce type concoction, and set them aside. Then after cooking some prosciutto, I stirred in a couple of handfulls of snow peas, a diced sweet red pepper, and some mushroom caps.
Prior to starting that I cooked up some long grain brown rice cooked with some fresh chopped cilantro and about half way dumped in a can of green peas. Probably not as Italian as I would have liked to have kept things, but the Pinot Grigio - a really nice smooth Cantarutti recommended by the fine folks at Dover Wine - went really well with it and the salad of baby spinach, some flax seed and sunflower seeds I threw together. Not bad for a city boy.
Enjoyed a Tony Bennett CD while cooking and Nora Jones during dinner, and then relaxed with the movie of the night. As I was doing some picking up after the movie, WBLM out of Portland was kicking out the tunes with some Led Zeppelin and I couldn't resist: I shut the lights down and crashed on the couch for awhile just listening. Not exactly the same speed as Tony Bennett and Nora Jones, but just fine... But I was all set to hit it Monday morning after that!
09/22/07: Infantile Pursuits
Now how immature is this: I had just learned Thursday night after karate class from Steve that the new Resident Evil movie - the third in the series - was out this weekend. But I can't go because I'm stuck at home with on-call for work so I decided to invite everyone over to watch the first two Resident Evil movies.
We had some killer backgammon, and a couple of great pizzas delivered from Kendall Pond before we started the movies. And if that wasn't enough, after we watched those two movies, we played more backgammon while we watched the movie Marine that Steve had brought over. It was a late night, but great fun.
However, because I was on-call, after everyone left I had to stay up much later and dial into work around midnight. I had to perform some minor validation checks against a production code delivery that had been going on all day. That went smooth, and I was in bed by 12:30a and got a good night's rest.
For my Sunday Dinner Party For One, I stumbled onto a really neat sounding recipe for Tunisian chicken with carrots and black olives over a bed of garlic couscous, though I just bought a couple of boxes of premade couscous; I wasn't up to trying that on my own. I also fixed up some rosemary and cumin steamed brussel sprouts for a side to go with my salad of baby spinach leaves. To go with the process, I had a terrific bottle of Black Swan Shiraz.
09/28/07: 35th Anniversary Celebration of Rose School of Karate
It was quite a weekend starting with Friday night. A few of us got together to complete our Resident Evil movie marathon from last weekend. First, we had some killer backgammon and great bar burgers at Castaways restaurant here in Dover. Then we headed up to the theater in Somersworth off the Dover Weeks Circle. Though lots of action, the plot line wasn't nearly as good or tight as the first two; just antother example of the makers pushing too far off the track that made the original movies so entertaining. But, hey - we weren't complaining, we enjoyed ourselves, and had a great time. And that's all that really matters.
Saturday night, many of my local karate students took me out to dinner here in Dover at Cartelli's, one of the best Italian restaurants I know of. This was to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Rose School of Karate, which I opened in Portsmouth, NH on October 24, 1972. It was a wonderful time, and after dinner several came back to my place to play some combat backgammon. I popped open a bottle of Merlot and we had a grand time. We even went down in the basement and did some karate. No lack of fun or things to do with this group!
Sunday morning I just camped in and didn't drag myself out of bed until late. Had a relaxing day just hanging out and getting some cleaning done, read a little, and got caught up on some emails. Then, after much pouring through recipes, I decided on a Spanish pork with vegetable risto. I just had to have a Spanish rioja wine with that, but Shaw's supermarket didn't have anything Spanish at all. So, I trooped down to the liquor store at the circle and picked one up. Not bad - as some riojas are a little thin. But this one had some nice body to go with the robustness of the vegetables and sauce that I made. Another great Sunday Party For One!
10/14/07: Marissa Stops In For Dinner
I had taken Marissa shopping to supply the dorm locker, and invited her and her friend Gary over for dinner. After cautiously asking what I was having, she readily agreed. Obviously hasn't been at college enough to relesh good cooking...
Anyway, bought some some pork chops and browned them up, tossed a bunch of thin onion slices across them, and then simmered them for 45 minutes in a sauce of gravy, ketchup, Worcheshire sauce, and some spices.
While we listened to Gary's CD request of the evening, Top Gun, he and Marissa played a couple of games of backgammon in the living room.
We had salad and a side of packaged noodles and sauce, and I sipped a marvelous bottle of White Bordeaux while we chatted.
Marissa does not "do" salad, but Gary was game enough to not only have one but to let me sprinkle some sun flower seeds on top - for health purposes...
I had bought some fudge squares on a whim at the store and we were all looking forward to pigging on them after dinner. I rarely have that sort of thing, so it slipped my mind. But I am surprised that they forgot as well. It never dawned on me until around 11:00 that we had totally forgotten our treats! And they were long long gone... So what was I to do? I couldn't - in all good conscience - leave them unopened. Well... could I? Of course not...
10/16/07: Marissa Swings Through Again
Marissa swung through to see me on her way back up to school after having Colin work on her car.
She had some mail to get and wanted to make sure all was in order here for the arrival
of my senior karate students for the up coming week's 2007 Disciple Retreat. It was great to see her even if only for a few minutes.
We also chatted a little about the Halloween backgammon tournament and dinner party that she and Gary are coming to in a couple of weeks.
Of course she isn't interested in the Spanish Pork With Pisto meal that I'm planning, and was sure to point out that she expected her favorite pizza would be in ample stock. Suresuresure, Marissa... whatever...
You know, I keep telling her that "some day..." she's going to really look forward to my cooking. Well, that's the theory! Anyway, just lots of stuff going on! Thanks for coming by, Ris!
10/17/07: Rose School of Karate 2007 Disciple Retreat
Because I outlined a rather aggressive retreat schedule, I opted to hold two Rose School of Karate 2007 Disciple retreats this year at my condo in Dover, NH rather than to travel. One was just for the Nidans, and the other for Sandans and above. I felt that the needs of each group were unique enough to warrant this approach.
In this manner, I was able to focus in on specific issues that were at the heart of the new disciples material to make sure they were comfortable with what they are doing, and then correspondingly to work at an advanced level for those who had covered more material.
10/27/07: The Great 2007 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Spanish Pork With Pisto Gallows Last Dinner
Halloween and a full moon! Hey, what better time to have a backgammon party!
Since the weather is cooling off, I decided to fix a Spanish Pork With Pisto recipe that I had tried several weeks ago and really thought came out great.
I started preparations at 4:00pm with a glass of Chilean red wine I had found, put on one of the several horror movies I had picked up for the night, and started chopping vegitables.
It must have come out pretty good because when the dust cleared, there wasn't anything left of the 8 pork chops, several yellow squash, zuccini, red and green sweet pepers, onions, etc. that I had fixed. No wine left either...
There were some great costumes, wild backgammon, and just a lot of fun. Thanks to all who came over and made this another successful party!
11/02/07: A Wet And Wild Weekend
As I was trolling the shelves at Hollywood Video in Dover looking for movies for the weekend on my way home from work Friday evening, both Colin and Marissa called wondering what I was up to. They suggested Chinese takeout and so that's what we did. Then they were off to do whatever it was they had going and I settled into watching Forces Of Nature, a light romantic comedy which was just what I needed to relax.
I was in bed by 10:30 and didn't get up Saturday morning until 8:30, rising to a really glum overcast chilly breeze. Hurricane Noel,
which had pummeled the Caribbean over the last couple of days, was churning up the coast heading for Newfoundland. But in the process, it was predicted to take a swipe at New England in passing.
By early afternoon on Saturday, it was raining pretty good and the winds were whipping everything around; probably won't be many leaves left on the trees by the end of this.
I had got out earlier in the day, swept off all the leaves and pine needles off the deck, and had rummaged around the project picking up some of the leaves that had fallen for a crystal bowl display; should have done that a couple of weeks ago when they were all bright reds, oranges, etc. but now just the final deep yellows and browns. It's still pretty as you can see from the picture, though the bowl will ultimately end up on top of the refridgerator for the winter.
By the time I left around 5:00pm Saturday to meet up with whoever was going to show up at the Applebee's in Newington, it was really raining and the wind had a sharp bite to it; Noel was really showing herself for sure. We had decided after karate class Thursday night that we would meet for some backgammon and dinner and then head over to the 7:10 showing of the new horror movie 30 Days of Night. I know, I know: what an infantile movie, but it was really good, one of the best of that type that I can remember. I go to the movies to be entertained and to marvel at the special effects and to see if I can be swept from reality and brought into the movie. This one does all of that - if you're into that sort of thing, and getting the crap scared out of you!
Since it was still early when the movie let out - and even earlier because the clocks would get set back early Sunday; done a week later because of Halloween and the kids - Rick came back to the condo to play some backgammon. I though I'd put The Matrix on and let it run, but we got so wrapped up in it, and in woofing down a pizza I threw into the oven, that we never did get to play!
Even though I got to bed at midnight (new time), I slept in Sunday morning until 9:30. Fixed a pot of coffee, did the lanudry, plotted out a small painting project for the downstairs bathroom, and generally just relaxed for the early part of the day. Then, after a bowl of soup I spent a couple hours painting all of the trim in the bathroom and hallway to get that ready for the walls - which I hope will be next weekend.
After cleaning up from the painting, I had a bunch of shopping to do so didn't get back home until around 5:00. Had an early dinner, watched a movie, and then turned in. Another relaxing and fun weekend.
While shopping at one of the local markets to pick up some dry goods for a food pantry, I noticed they had fresh turkeys. I can't remember the last time I had a fresh turkey. And I had never cooked one myself, so: done deal on that. What a difference in the texture and consistency of the meat; it was amazing.
After the initial searing process, I pulled the turkey out of the oven to drape cheesecloth over it so the basting juices would surround it. The whole place was filled with such a great aroma!
12/02/07: Working My Way Into The Upcoming Storm
So, the story all starts Thursday night after karate class when some of us head up to one of the local restaurants to chat, play some backgammon, have nachos and a few beers and just share some relaxing time together. We usually try to get seated in the main dining room so we can spread out and have our girl Lindsey make sure we're ok. I'm always ok, but I need someone to make sure because I got no damn dog or anyone else that gives a shit, so the job falls to waitresses... it's a sad life...
Regardless of all that, I invited everyone over for Saturday night as I had rented the movie Bad Boys with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and had heard that it was supposed to be really good. Somehow, I had never seen it, though it's a fairly old movie. We are expecting a major snowstorm to hit Sunday or Monday, so I just thought we should prepare ourselves for that.
It was a fun night. We played quite a few games at my condo before heading over to Castaway's in Dover for dinner. We hadn't been there in weeks; in fact, the last time we were there, we sat out on the enclosed deck. But the temperature was 18 degrees so we sat inside this time! And we had some pretty exciting backgammon games while we watched football on one large screen tv and Ultimate Fight Championship on another. We fit right into that rowdy crowd; it was a great time. So great that we didn't get out of there and back to my place until 8:30pm.
That's pushing it as my disciple Rick Downs runs a 7:00am Sunday morning Early Bird class out on Four Tree Island at the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth Harbor and one of the attendees was also part of our Saturday night fun and I didn't want to keep them up as I planned to sleep in - which I did! So, we just watched the movie. And how great is Bad Boys! Wow! I really really enjoyed that. That's a do-over if there ever was one!
And I had another terrific Peter's Sunday Party For One. I decided to fix a pasta with broccoli and mushrooms in a yogurt cream sauce with spiced sausages. Of courseeeeeeeeeeeee I had to have some white wine with that and found a large bottle of Gallo Cabernet Blanc - it literally called out to me: "Peeeeeeee-ter.... PEEEEEE-ter... buy me... BUY me..." So? What was I to do? Had to get it...
Also picked up a 22" evergreen wreath for the door and some wire to hang that. By the time I got the groceries put away and the wreath hung, it was time to get on with it. I poured out a glass of the wine, put on John Tesh's "Worship At Redrocks" CD (just a tremendous piece of work regardless of the religious aspects of it), and got the mushrooms marinating in a super broth.
I just puttered through it all and after about an hour and a half, and going through The Hours soundtrack and part of a Tony Bennett CD, I dug in. Mah-vo-lous, just mah-vo-lous... But the standing has really made my hip ache so I'm just going to go crash on the couch and watch a movie on tv.
So, that's the story from here, other than wondering how tough the commute will be in the morning. Just in case, I
brought all my current work home with me so I can VPN into the office. But, if the storm is that bad, then the power will probably go out and I'll lose the day. So, unless we get two feet, I'll make a dash for it.
And what a storm we had on Monday! Started around 1:00am and blew all day and all night with the far north getting the real brunt of it. We got about 4", but it was a mess.
I just worked from home, as well as on Tuesday because Portland got hit again then. In fact, one of the guys at work emailed from home that downtown Portland was just a parking lot and he had turned around and went back home.
12/07/07: The Great 2007 First Snow Backgammon Tournament And Pizza Warmup Party
Well, we had so much fun last week with the movie Bad Boys that we decided to get together tonight
and see Bad Boys 2 and celebrate the first snowstorm of the season from Monday! Hey, a little pizza, some backgammon, and a rowdy movie — how much better can it get!
I ran out to get some chips and stuff and it had started snowing; very pretty. Went to the new Hannaford's market that just opened right down the road from me.
Didn't have a lot of time to wander the isles and check it all out, so I'll have to go back and do some price comparisson and see where they stand on stuff that I buy regularly. I was surprised at how much traffic there was getting back to the condo, though I guess everyone was taking it easy with the glaze of slippery snow on the streets.
Steve had brought several other movies over as well as Bad Boys 2, and a couple of them looked pretty good so as an after thought, I mentioned that if anyone was free that no reason we couldn't get together again tomorrow night and have a Saturday continuation series.
Though a couple said that they'd try, only Rick was able to make it over. We played part of a set and then went out and got Chinese takeout, came back and finished the set. For some reason, the Jet Li movie that we have decided on simply would not load into my DVD player so we just watched the second of the Matrix series, which is another really good action flick. Have to figure out why my player is not cooperating because it wasn't Steve's disk - that was as clean a disk as you can get. And no, for those of you techies out there who are crying out that it was probably the new HD format: it wasn't; just a plain old DVD. Aggrivating...
And my Peter's Sunday Party For One was supposed to be a relatively straight forward pork chops and shallots. I noted that one of the spices called for was marjoram and I had never really had that as a focus spice. I knew I needed something else to offset that, so I figured I'd keep the shallots in chunks rather than minced and after I had them softened up I'd mix in some cut green beans.
Well, then I thought, gee - how about some long grain brown rice first cooked in a broth of chicken stock, Worcheshire sauce, cumin, and... well, secret stuff. Anyway, I figured that after the rice had cooked soft, I'd add it to the juices from the shallots, beans, and mushrooms - ya, I just had to throw some mushrooms in there that I had covered in another stock - and then cook the rice like you would if you were doing it as a risotto.
Well, I got to sipping wine and listening to Phil Collins, No Jacket Required and an old Earth Wind and Fire CD and it was just a marvolous time but far exceeding what I had originally projected it would take me, mostly because the risotto idea got shelved in lieu of adding some tomato paste to the mix and then blending everything in together. But everything came out really good, and so I end up the weekend with a sense of artist accomplishment. And there you have it.
12/16/07: Another Big Storm
We've watched the midwest get absolutly pummelled with blinding snow and ice storms just crippling hundreds of thousands of people and leaving them without power for days. And all that is supposed to hit us this weekend. Soooo... to celebrate this upcoming event, several of us got together Saturday night for dinner at Castaways, lots of backgammon, and then off to see the movie I Am Legend with Will Smith. What a scary thing that was! I love it when the movie is so good that you just forget it's a movie and get fully wrapped up in it. Man it was good; one of the best of that type I have seen in a long time. Great directing and special effects.
Anyway, though it was cold Saturday night, the snow didn't start until around 2:00am Sunday morning. But man did it come on us!
It didn't stop until around 6:00pm and we must have got a foot!
I went out and shoveled off the deck around 2:00pm and then had to do it again around 4:30pm with another three inches or so. As you can see from the picture that I snapped out the front door around then, the front loaders had piled the snow into enormous hills!
The roads were plowed when I went shopping around 3:00pm, but they were really slippery and few other cars were out. In the time it took me to shop and get back out to the car, the snow had begun to be intersparsed with sleet and I had to scrape the windows clear.
It was nice to get back home - though, as I mentioned, I thought I better clear off the deck again. Ya, strained my back just enough to be sore for the rest of the evening, but opened a nice bottle of Sutter Home Merlot and fixed up a nice dinner before watching my yearly pre Christmas movie for the past twenty years, The Gathering.
12/20/07: Yet Another Big Storm
This is getting silly... It started snowing around 2:00am and as of 5:00pm it's still throwing a little at us. But
from around 6:00am through about 2:30pm it was coming down really really heavy until by 5:00pm there was at least ten inches.
And that's on top of what we have already accumulated prior to this!
So, by 5:00pm I had to go out and shovel off the deck - can't let that creep over the top of the sill or when it melts it'll leak.
You have to get it off anyway or the deck could get compromised if things really freeze; it would be June before the thing thawed out!
Have to get out for karate class tonight so hope the roads are cleared off. They should be, though I suspect it'll
be slow going as it was last night when it was spitting a little out.
I had to go into Portsmouth to take my every two year real estate broker recertification class, so had to be careful. Roads were so slippery someone went off into the guardrail just south of exit 7.
If you look in the distance back to the right past the line of garages, you can see the lights from the plow truck. This is it's third or fourth trip back and the snow hills are getting gigantic.
If this keeps up, I don't know where they're going to put any more snow. Wonder if any one in the South would be interested in buying sixty truck loads...
12/22/07: The Great 2007 First Day Of Winter Backgammon Tournament and Piled High Spaghetti Feed
Being a clueless single guy,
I didn't realize that Friday the 21st was the first day of winter until someone pointed it out to me when we were discussing all the snow we had already had. Gad! An event like this should thus be celebrated with a backgammon party, I thought. And so it was!
I had run out to the store in the afternoon and just grabbed a couple of large jars of premade sauce, two pounds of organic linguini noodles, some chips, salsa, and Chianti. Simple stuff that would go together quickly and give me time to play. And Rick said he'd bring the garlic bread, so what more could you ask for! It's an instant party!
We just look happy. Note my closed fist of doom that is about to unleash the dice of destruction upon John. Yeah, baby - and that's what we're talkin' about!
12/25/07: Christmas 2007
It was a great Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that I was able to share with Colin and Marissa. I had them over Christmas Eve for dinner, and then they were back Christmas day for the morning.
They arrived Christmas Eve around 5:30p, though I had started preparing the Cornish game hens around 5:00p. We were having such a good time chating and just hanging out, though, that progress was really slow and we didn't end up eating until almsot 7:30.
Then they were back Christmas morning. Marissa fixed bacon and eggs, and we had a really nice morning together just sharing some quiet time together. It was perfect!
12/29/07: Movie Night Out
I had seen the trailers from the new National Treasure: Book of Secrets movie and thought we should get a group up to see it Saturday night. To prep up for that, one of my karate students and I were getting together Friday night anyway to watch the premire of Fight Quest and he brought along the first National Treasure movie to watch. I had forgotten how really entertaining that was! Terrific.
Anyway, Saturday night, five of us got together at the Asia Chinese restaurant in Newington, NH for premovie dinner and a few games of backgammon. Lilly took great care of us, and the food was super although I took a huge 16 hit from Tim House when he threw a cool series of doubles and I just sucked the crumbs off the felt with stuff like 2-1 and not only blanking one checker, but a couple of times two from bearing off. It was a sad site. As an excuse, I could (could) offer in my defense that we doubled twice on the opening throw to decide who would move first and so by the time the game got going, the cube was already at 4. I could use that...