Vincent’s photos

I was wishing someone a happy birthday today on Facebook, and something new came up – past photos of that person with me, come up along with the birthday wish. This reminded me of my friend Vincent.

Years ago, when Vincent would send Christmas cards, he would include photos of you from the past year. I don’t know if he took the photos deliberately or not, but he would have photos of you at a Fourth of July picnic, or a birthday party or a trip we went on together or whatever.

Usually every December, when you opened your Christmas card from Vincent, out would drop two or three photos of yourself with others, including Vincent (0r not). It was usually some event you had forgotten about, nothing grand like a wedding but always a small event that faded from memory.

I was thinking of Vincent’s photos when the photos popped on on Facebook today, the Facebook photos aren’t current because I don’t take as many photos as I used to. I forget or feel awkward when we’re at a party or event or whatever, I think people may wonder, “What are you going to do with that picture?” But truth be told, everyone is taking pictures every minute of the day, so I wouldn’t be the only one. And 9 times out of 10, they say, “Send me a copy of that!”

Many times at events – with family and friends, I’m tempted to go around and get pics of people. Sometimes I’ll hand my phone to one of my cousins and say, “Go around and get pictures,” but they never do either.

One of my cousins is starstruck and he’s the first to get pics with some famous person or other, whether they want that or not. But I don’t have enough pics of family and friends. I’ve got to make an effort.

I don’t think I have anything from our family Christmas or Easter this past year when we all were together. There was a wedding a few months back, I don’t think I have many from that either.

I’ve got to make an effort to start getting pics of everything.

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Off the grid

I’ve been living in the stone age this week. What happened is, my internet and tv went dead. ATT Unverse just stopped working. It was an area thing, not just me. The frustrating part was that ATT wouldn’t tell us anything – just that the service would be back soon, which it wasn’t.

It is now almost 60 hours and we’re still off the grid. But I finally found out what it is – one of my neighbors told me it’s a problem with a junction box. And that 60 hours may turn into 100 hours without service according to ATT, who my neighbor got through to.

The good part is I called ATT and instead of canceling their service, like I always promise to do, I am giving them more money in the form of a hotspot on my iphone, which now allows me to have internet. So I am able to post this, post my cartoons and do some work.

It all went dead Monday night at 9:30 pm, right in the middle of Summer House, which I was watching. And I didn’t realize how bad things are when we don’t have internet and tv. Mostly, I couldn’t work, not even cartooning because I go back and forth between computers.

It’s happened before for long periods – after hurricanes mostly, but we’re too consumed with that mess to worry about internet and tv. But the last time, we did have electricity, no wifi or tv, but my neighbor who has Comcast/Xfinity, gave me his password and since they were up and running, I didn’t have to rely on ATT, I used his password to go online and work.

At night during that time, instead of being able to watch tv, I watched two Harold Lloyd movies on YouTube on my phone. So I made do. Oddly enough, without wifi and tv, you sort of feel as if you are Harold Lloyd hanging by a thread, off of a clock.

The great Harold Lloyd in Safety Last

But for some reason, Monday, into Tuesday this week felt strange. It’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t rely on the internet, I mean, whether you use cable tv or streaming services, you need to get online these days for that.

My brother was telling me about YouTube tv, he has that. I was looking at how it worked at his house the other day. It’s much cheaper than cable and it gets all the channels. So I was considering changing to that. Again, it would relay on wifi to work, but you could use it on your phone or tablet, etc. so you could use that bandwith to make do.

After 24 hours of this mess, I was over my withdrawal symptoms, I felt at peace. I didn’t miss tv or the internet. I felt like it was in the “old days” when I was hardly ever home and basically in and out to change my clothes.

I think I started being a homebody during the pandemic, and never stopped being in that habit. But now I know I can live without being addicted to wifi and tv. I enjoy depriving myself (doesn’t Kramer say that on Seinfeld in one episode? I think it was about him not having a refrigerator).

First world problems.

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Tutti a tavola a mangiare! 

Ina, Christina, Rory and Mary Ann

Let me start by saying I don’t even boil water. I can, of course, but I don’t. Except to make tea. But I do love watching cooking shows. I guess it’s the same as DYI home shows, I don’t plan on renovating any time soon, or house hunting, yet I enjoy these shows, too. I find them relaxing. There’s not much thinking involved. Although I guess if you’re following the recipes, there is thinking. But since I’m not following the recipes, I don’t have to think.

Right now I have four favorite tv cooks/chefs – Ina Garten, Christina Pirello, Rory O’connell and Mary Ann Esposito.

Ina has her regular cooking show, Barefoot Contessa and her Be My Guest with Ina Garten, which I love. It’s a show where she has a famous person come to her East Hampton home and she interviews them and cooks with them. I found this show while on a plane.

The first half hour is a sit down interview where they sit at Ina’s kitchen table and talk. The best part, I think. The second half is them in the kitchen cooking and chatting, but I prefer the first part where you learn a lot about people and how they got their starts, their philosophies, etc. But now the Food Network screwed up the whole thing by having only the half hour cooking segment, and for the whole hour, you have to subscribe to a streaming service. So you now have to pay for the best part.

I read a reader’s comment somewhere that says the celebs are bubbleheads and this person who left the comment didn’t care what these “bubbleheads” had to say. He felt the cooking segment was the best part, but I feel the opposite and I don’t find Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt, Marcus Samuelsson, Nathan Lane and Julianna Margulies, bubbleheads, quite the opposite. They all have very interesting stories about their lives and how they got to where they are now in life.

And one more show I like, which is sort of a travel/cooking show is Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy show on CNN. It’s excellent and knowing that Stanley grew up in Calabria, Italy, makes it more interesting. The first street I lived on as an adult was Calabria (in Coral Gables, FL), so it comes full circle in a way.

Anyway, on with my favorite cooks – Christina Pirello, hosts Christina Cooks, a half hour cooking show, where she prepares what she calls Macroterranean food. – it’s vegan Italian/Mediterranean food. No meat, no butter, sugar, etc. All natural. I mostly love her personality, she reminds me of so many people I know from the Northeast – Staten Island, New Jersey, etc. Christina is based in Philadelphia.

One thing we disagree with is that she calls Italian sauce “gravy” but we always grew up with it being called “sauce,” and she insists it’s her way, but I disagree. How many times did my mother call me up and say, “I’m making sauce tonight, you wanna come over?” By sauce she meant pasta, meatballs, whatever was made with the sauce (not gravy). Gravy is brown stuff you use on meats!

It’s funny because at Christmas, one of my nieces, a vegan, made some sort of pasta that I loved. I said to her, it’s so light, the cheese not so overpowering. She said it was vegan. I said, “Oh right, I know of this Italian cook (Christina) who uses white miso instead of parmigiana cheese and it tastes the same, only lighter.” And my niece told me that that’s where she got the recipe – from Christina and it was white miso instead of cheese in this dish!

Rory likes to use a lot of wild greens and flowers in his dishes.

Next up, Rory O’Connell. He has a half hour cooking show, How to Cook Well from County Cork farmhouse, in Ireland. He has a thick Irish accent and I love to listen to him talk. He uses such great expressions, things we wouldn’t say in the U.S.

Rory uses a lot of plants and flowers in his cooking. He sometimes goes overboard and finishes a dish covering it with so many edible flowers, that you can’t see what the main dish is below all those blooms. But I like him a lot and find him entertaining.

Mary Ann Esposito has the longest running cooking show on tv called Cia Italia. She’s messy in her cooking, very homey and friendly and cooks in her own home kitchen in New Hampshire, where she lives.

Three of the four live in places I love – Ina lives in East Hampton, NY, Mary Ann lives in New Hampshire and Rory lives in Ireland. Christina lives in Philadelphia, meh, not my fav, but I still like her.

All of the shows I watch on PBS and Ina is on the Food Network and Discovery Plus for the full hour episodes.

And as Lydia Bastianich, another favorite cook says, “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

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‘305 Day!’

Still lots of things going on this season. I missed the Lake Worth Chalk Festival last weekend and a few other art events, but managed to get to this past weekend’s Gifford Lane Art Stroll, which is a block party in our village. It’s a yearly thing – 25th year, this year and it brings out the whole village. It’s like a tv show where the full cast shows up for an event and they are all in one scene.

It was also “305 Day,” on Sunday, which is the area code for Miami and on March 5 (3/05).

The hit of the block party is cucumber punch which is delicious on a hot day, which always seems to be the case for this event each year – it’s been a cool winter, but Sunday was totally hot.

The first year I went, 20 years back, I didn’t know the cucumber punch had gin in it, and I really had my fill, I was feeling no pain. Now that I know the ingredients, I take it easy.

They used to serve the gin at a friend’s house where everyone lined up outside his green door and he and his wife and friends would serve it up to thousands. I guess after 23 years they felt enough was enough with the non-stop traffic through their house, so they have it out in someone else’s driveway now. So last year, I went to the driveway for the first time and got some punch and people started talking to me. But the homeowner was not having it, she started yelling, “Tom, you have your punch, now get out of here!” I couldn’t argue with her, because she is 97 years old! She’s a spry 97, but still.

This year while it was outside her house, she wasn’t around. She’s an avid bike rider at her age, so maybe she was out bike riding!

Anyway, it was a great day, I think I saw everyone I know there which is always nice. There’s a lot of food, live music and kibitzing. A perfect day for a small village.

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How not to sell a house (or condo)

I went to see what I thought was this amazing condo the other day, I wrote a little about it here.

I lived in the building years ago and loved that area and that building and I had a dream about it just out of the blue. And the next day I googled the address and a listing came up on Zillow. It was for this nice, large penthouse. And even though I lived in that building for 9 years, I didn’t realized this two story penthouse was there!

There are four penthouses and two are very large double-floor units, according to Zillow. I had been in the two smaller ones, which were the size of the rest of the units in the building, which were quite large, too.

Anyway, this unit that was for sale looked huge and was two floors and had a big kitchen, which I loved, even tough I don’t cook, and it had a huge terrace and had unobstructed views of east and south – downtown Miami and Coral Gables and I could keep going on and on. And the neighborhood is very quiet and quite convenient. It had everything going for it.

The price was a fraction of my current home, the monthly HOA/maintenance fees were much lower than my current ones and the city taxes were the same as I am paying now. it was a win, win, win.

So I excitedly went to see the place and for some reason I didn’t like it. For one thing – the photos on Zillow were exaggerated and made the place look huge, but in reality it had low ceilings and cramped walls and spaces. But thinking about it days later, I realized the reason I was not into it was that it had to much of the current owner in it and too much stuff. What I mean is I have seen enough real estate tv shows that say remove all personal things from the place, which was not the case here, and it made a difference, a negative one.

There was one of those stair lift seats which was a turn off for me and I noticed a walker in the corner, which was used by the owners late husband it was overloaded with furniture. There literally were two dining room tables just feet from each other, one in the kitchen and one in the dining room, but they were just about 10 feet apart, which really made the place seem cramped. The rest of the furniture was oversized and made the place look crowded.

There were photos of family all over the place and the dressers in the bedrooms reeked of old lady – full of so many things from a lifetime of living.

The kitchen was full of stuff all of the counters (it would have been best to put them away in the cabinets or draws) and there were two dishwashers which I guess are good for chefs, but seemed useless to me. They were different styles and were mismatched and old. And they were not near each other, they were separated. The dark wood in the low ceiling kitchen didn’t make it seem bright and open even though there was one full wall of windows.

There was a very large storage room that was part of the unit, a huge plus, which would have been best left empty to show all the space it had, but it was so crowded and full that you barely could walk inside to look around.

Things lay around on the big terrace outside, an unrolled up hose and other things just making it look messy. And so much more.

So this dream place ended up turning me off and probably others since on paper it looks like a steal and a palace, but in reality it turns you off once you enter; it’s been on the market for six months or more for that reason.

What could have been snapped up on the first week is just sitting there unsold due to the mess that they are trying to show to buyers. And even though I know all these things I mentioned above, I still can’t see myself living there, even though I know it would be a different animal if it was shown empty. It would show so much better with a couple of pieces of furniture and nothing else in the place and then I think people could picture themselves living there.

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Delicious air fryer chickpeas

I don’t like to cook, I barely boil water. Oh, I can cook, I just don’t like to.

But the other day I made Air Fryer Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans). A friend posted a photo on Facebook of the ones she made and I had it on my mind. So I bought a couple of cans of the chickpeas and went at it.

The recipe I read had to be adjusted because as they started frying, they started popping, so I lowered the temperature and the time and they came out perfect – crunchy and delicious.

I washed the chickpeas to get all the salt off and let them dry in the air on paper towels – about an hour. If you let them dry, they’ll come out crunchy.

After that, I put them in the air fryer and air fried them for about 10 to 12 minutes at 360 degrees F. Some recipes call for a higher temp and a little longer time, but as I said, this worked out better for me.

As they were frying, I juggled them a bit every few minutes, to move them around.

When they were done, while still hot, I drizzled them with olive oil and then added sea salt, pepper, turmeric, powdered ginger and powdered garlic. I added rosemary, too, at another time. That really was delicious. They came out delicious. You can actually add whatever you like to them. Add nothing, or add everything. But if adding stuff, do it after they are done frying. Not before or during.

I never liked chickpeas even though I know they are very healthy and full of protein. I try to eat hummus, but never really like it either. There’s a chocolate hummus now, which I bought, but it’s still sitting in the fridge. But now that this new crunchy method is so easy to make and delicious, I may just start eating them, in this form.

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Living small in NYC

This is amazing, a guy turned a 400 square foot apartment in SOHO, NYC into a “large” apartment with all sorts of clever ideas.

When I’m traveling, I often picture my hotel room as an apartment. I think, “How could I live in here full time?” and I try to picture where things would be – the kitchen, the living room, the couch, all in a small area. And this guy did it.

This video is about 20 minutes long, but once you start watching, you can’t stop!

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