Against the odds


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I always delight in finding surprises guests in my planters, the marigolds shocked me because they are annuals from last year, popping up this year in the same planter as last year is very cool in my book. The tiny dianthus sprouting defiantly despite the lack of water and high heat impresses me to no end. Whenever I get sad or stressed, finding these tiny gems turns my day and outlook around, thank goodness for Mother Nature, she never ceases to amaze me.

Purple and yellow theme


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I remember back in high school, a classmate of mine, an art student, told me that yellow and purple worked really well together. Back then I couldn’t see the combination working when it came to choosing outfits, but fast forward 30 odd years and I see how beautiful the two colors are together in my garden. I don’t think I purposely planted the purples and yellows side by side, some of the pairings came about by happenstance, a wind blown seed here or a critter burying a seed there.

The Black-eyed Susans that pop up where they feel like, which I don’t mind in the least,  seem to be drawn to my purple perennials. The wild flowers alternating between purple and yellow, depending where you look, seem to gravitate towards the yellow perennials if they are purple and vice-versa, a nice balance in the color schematic of Mother Nature’s palette.

Hooray my favorite lily!


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I was worried for my favorite lily, I love its color, because when I planted her, I put her in the background near the fence where I thought she would be safe. This was prior to Jack, our dogs Marshall, Rex and Tuck stayed out of my flower gardens back then, but when Jack came onto the scene, he was all about hunting and patrolling the entire perimeter of the backyard. I never said anything to Jack because at 15 lbs, Jack never did any damage to my plants. I didn’t foresee how his actions would influence future dog acquisitions. So in come Lulu and Stanley, Jack’s faithful followers, imagine a 46 lb and a 100+ lb running back and forth along the perimeter, trampling everything in the way. Hooray for my lily, it survived the dog rampage.

These two pictures are a perfect example of what I’m talking about, little Jack peeking out amongst the ground cover while Stanley’s huge face right in the same spot, what a difference, lol. I love my balloon flower plant, I can’t decide which I love more, the sunflower or the balloon flower, they are both so gorgeous.

The summer blooms are out! My coneflowers and upright phlox are just starting to come into their own, what I love is that they keep their blooms much longer than the springtime blossoms. The colors are dramatic, a rich dark pink and a lovely shade of light purple. Looking through the pictures, the colors look nice all together, my plants help soothe my worries, it’s hard to be anxious when you are surrounded by beautiful colors and lovely scents.

What a long day


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Yesterday went well, but what a long day. I left the house at 5:30 a.m and got to Massachusetts General Hospital at 8:05 a.m, good old MA turnpike traffic. There is nothing worse in my book than driving for 2 1/2 hours on an empty stomach, well perhaps the lack of coffee, I adore my morning coffee, operating (no pun intended lol) without it was excruciating. However, all of that internal griping fell away when I entered the waiting area. The distractions of being with fellow patients and the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital helped banish my hunger and caffeine withdrawal, it also helped me manage my anxiety. My husband’s arrival from New York also helped immensely, he texted me as he was getting in the elevator “I am here, you are saved” one of our favorite lines from one of our favorite movies “Willow”, I texted back “yippee” and I meant it. I felt infinitely better knowing he was here to hold my hand.

My procedure was scheduled for 9:30, but I didn’t get into the procedure room until 10:15, the waiting was a little rough, finally getting into the procedure room was a relief, believe it or not lol. As always the nurses and the doctors were great, attentive and compassionate, I was given sedation, not general anesthesia, but enough to allow me to relax, while still being aware of what they were doing, the biopsy was painful, but I was able to power through the pain with the help of the sedation.

I was done with the procedure at 12:35, I know because my husband told me, he was the unlucky one waiting for it to be over, I was on another plane where time had no meaning. What I didn’t realize until right before they put me “under” was that I would have to stay still on my back without speaking for at least 3 hours. It wasn’t so difficult because for two of the four hours I slept, I had my first x-ray before slipping off to sleep and at 3:45 I had my last x-ray just to make sure my lungs were working properly. While I was laying there still and quiet, I was worried about my husband, because if I was finding the day long, he had to as well. He came in to see me right after I got back from the last x-ray and he was happy, no complaining at all, just happy to see me awake. My nurse fed me at 4:30 and at 5:00 I was unleashed. The rest was all about getting back home, we got home at 7:30 and I spent the rest of the evening fighting a headache which didn’t leave my head until right before I started writing this post, it’s gone now thank goodness.

I’m glad that part is over, I’ll know in about four days what comes next, for now I won’t think about it because it doesn’t serve a purpose, I’ll deal with it when I have to, which is later.

Here we go again


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Tomorrow I’m scheduled for a lung biopsy at Massachusetts General in Boston. I have to admit I’m rather anxious about it, the nodule, that is what my oncologist calls it, has increased in size rapidly in the last three CT scans that I have had since last December. The biopsy is to definitively confirm my doctor’s suspicions, malignancy and then if what he surmises proves to be correct, I’ll be scheduled for surgery to exercise the malignancy. I am relieved that if it is cancerous, the protocol is surgical and not chemotherapy, I don’t know if I can handle another round of chemo, it is much too soon. I don’t have that much intestinal fortitude.

Intellectually, I know that whatever they find, it is in the earliest stages, so I don’t have to worry about it, but emotionally this is tough. The word cancer hasn’t lost its ability to strike fear even after you have gone through it successfully. So I am trying to reconcile the conflicting aspects dueling inside my person, my head that is rationally aware I’m not in danger and my emotional self that is thrown by this news so soon after my bout with esophageal cancer in the beginning of this year.

I’ve been sitting on this news since June 28th, I knew I was going to have to have a lung biopsy, but it wasn’t until I received the letter announcing the date it was to be done that it became real and more than a little daunting. I was fine before this, I was able to block it out of my mind, now with it being tomorrow, my stomach is uneasy.

I know I’ll be fine, but I decided to write about it because it is therapeutic to get my fears and emotions out on “paper”. I was going to say it was either write about it or indulge in ice cream, but I realized it didn’t have to be an either or situation, all things considered, I deserve a little bit of ice cream.

Partners in cooking


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Today my husband and I partnered up in cooking, he was outside grilling chicken cutlets and I was inside cooking up the asparagus. I think you can see from the picture that we got three varieties of asparagus, the white, green and dark red, we wanted to do a tasting comparison. After I peeled the green and red asparagus, I left the white as they were, I plunged them in heavily salted boiling water and once they came back to the boil, I left them for about ten minutes.  In the meantime, I made a Dijon mustard vinaigrette to serve with the asparagus, I also used the vinaigrette to dip the grilled chicken in for some added zip. My husband did an excellent job grilling the chicken, the cutlets were tender and juicy with just a hint of char, my favorite part. Did I mention there was bacon? My husband cooked the bacon on the grill after the cutlets were done, wow, grilled bacon is a special kind of delicious, trust me.

If you look closely at the first picture, you’ll see a tiny bit of Jack in the lower right hand corner, he was circling around us in the kitchen, hoping beyond hope for a dropped morsel. He was out of luck, lol.

Ghostbusters:a movie review


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I can’t believe there was such an outcry on social media against having an all female team headlining Ghostbusters, they were fantastic as the 2st century warriors of the paranormal. The ladies were so much fun to watch, but Kate McKinnon stole the show, she was hysterical in all of her scenes. However, the three other women weren’t comedic slouches, not by any means. If you loved the original Ghostbusters, you will love this one as well, trust me.

The only critique that my husband had was that the beginning took a bit long to set up, I didn’t agree, I like getting a backstory, no matter how long it takes. Once the characters made their introductions, got connected and their purpose established, hilarity ensued. I have to give a shout out to Chris Helmsworth, he played his part beautifully, I had no idea he could be so funny. I loved the dynamic between the ladies and Chris, it was nice to see the shoe on the other foot for once. He plays eye candy really, really well.

We laughed and laughed, we thoroughly enjoyed all of the cameos done by the originals, not gratuitous in the least, and we are up for another Ghostbusters, the ladies definitely made it worthwhile. 

Oh what a dinner I had!!!!!


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My husband and I were taken out to dinner last night by our dear friend Kevin and his lady love Allison, she was a joy to get to know, I would venture to say a kindred spirit, we hit it off immediately. The restaurant picked was Le Bernardin, my favorite restaurant in the entire world. Kevin and Allison had never been, so it was even more exciting as a dinner, it was our opportunity to share a special place with them, an opportunity to show them a cuisine that is, in my opinion, a revelation to the world of seafood in all of its artistic and culinary expressions.

As you can see from the picture above, the decor is elegance par excellence, and that excellence extends to the service, there is an art to restaurant service and at Le Bernardin you will see it at its pinnacle. The wait staff anticipates your every need, refilling your glass before it empties, removing your plate once it’s done, arriving with the bread tray once your bread is finished. As a former waiter, I appreciate the high standards that are met consistently by those who work at Le Bernardin, they make it look easy, the surest sign of professionalism and dedication to the craft. All of this is done under the eagle eye of the general manager Tommy, who introduced himself to our table, taking the time to make sure that we were happy and satisfied with our dining experience, he made us feel special and that our singular experience was of the utmost importance to the restaurant’s owner and himself. This personal attention is one of the reasons why I hold Le Bernardin in such high esteem, I feel valued as a patron and it makes me want to go back for more.

Now to talk about the food, the food!!! We decided as a table to have the Chef’s tasting menu, the reason we chose the Chef’s  tasting menu was because it is the best vehicle to introduce Kevin and Allison to the unique culinary vision that the Chef, Eric Rupert, has regarding seafood. My feeling is that until you dine at Eric Rupert’s table, you don’t under the width and breadth of the possibilities that lie with treating fish as an ingredient. Under Eric Rupert’s cooking, the fish is the star of the plate and all of the accompanying ingredients and sauces are chosen to underscore the particular fish and lift it up to its full flavor potential. His creativity and imagination are also the reason why I adore this restaurant so much.

As we waited for our first course, our head waiter surprised us with an amuse-bouche trio, the presentation was simple and elegant, as were each of the following courses, a lobster/tarragon sphere served on a spoon, it looked like an egg yolk, but when it exploded in my mouth, there was no question that it was the essence of lobster and tarragon, it was exquisite. The second item was a tiny piece of fluke served with a yuzu emulsion, so light and flavorful, fish done right and the third piece was a watermelon cube macerated in some type of alcohol, I forget which, but I have forgotten how delicious it was, the trio was the perfect choice to open our palates for what was to come.

We started with King Fish-Osetra Caviar tartare served with a creme fraiche emulsion, a small bite of the clean, fresh taste of the King Fish, a fish in the mackerel family, combined with the briny taste of my favorite caviar, tempered with the smooth flavor of creme fraiche, an excellent start to any meal. 

The next course was lacquered lobster tail with an herb spring roll, served with a lemongrass consommé, the oohs and ahhs over this dish were memorable, Kevin and Allison were in awe of the delicate yet complex marriage of flavors in such a small tasting, just enough to tickle and satisfy the taste buds at the same time. They got their first revelation and there was more to come. I can’t say which course was my favorite, they were unique and special, at every course we couldn’t imagine how it could be topped and yet the next one made us ooh and ahh yet again.

The third course was unbelievable in its decadence, a seared foie gras with a langoustine tail, surrounded with pickled Hon Shimeji and served with a Perigord sauce. Words to describe how it felt to eat this combination of flavors are just that words and they fall short to communicate how exquisite this bite was in my mouth. I wanted the experience to continue without end, the seared foie gras and the langoustine together bathed in the Perigord sauce, lingered on my taste buds, it was heavenly.

The next course was simple and straight forward, a barely cooked organic salmon served with a baby peas and fava bean, mint-tarragon emulsion. The flavors were clean and refreshing, a nice break from the complexity of the last course.

The fifth course blew my mind, poached halibut with Manila clams and a wild mushroom casserole, I would have never, in a million years, thought to put wild mushrooms with halibut, but it works! It was so delicious, if we hadn’t been in a high end restaurant, I would have used my bread to sop up the sauce and then licked the plate clean. Kevin and Allison were beyond words by this point, they had never eaten dishes this delicious before, they were feeling exactly how my husband and I feel every time we go to the restaurant. 

The last course was the piece de resistance, I am ruined for steak forever, as are my husband, Kevin and Allison, we were served grilled Escobar and seared Wagyu beef with fresh kimchi and Asian pear surrounded with a soy-citrus emulsion. Oh my goodness, the Wagyu beef was seared to perfection, the inside was rare and while we were eating the steak, the beef felt like velvety silk deliciousness flowing down our throats, it was truly revelatory in how exquisite beef can be, I’ll never forget it. The Escobar remarkably didn’t fall short, it too was absolutely amazing, it was firm and tender and the sauce was to die for, the perfect compliment to the fish. It was a perfect ending to the savory part of our meal.

What followed all of this decadence was a light palate cleanser, a cucumber “pisco sour”, a sorbet to make way for a tiny bite of dessert, which was on the same plane as what had preceeded it, a coffee caramel cremeux served with a roasted almond mousse.

After all of this, we were beyond satisfied, we were satiated and happy. When we left, our wait staff bid us adieux and thank you, Tommy the general manager did so as well, we were equally lavish with our thank you’s and our promises to come back very, very soon.

This was one of the best dinners of my life, all of the other ones were of course at Le Bernardin, I can’t wait to have another best dinner of my life in the future.  

Heartbreak in Nice


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I didn’t learn of the horrific attack in Nice until 8:30 p.m last night, my heart felt pain and my stomach sank. I was stunned when my husband told me that a huge truck was used to mow down people left and right before being shot to death by the French police. When will this nightmare end? How do we stop these madmen from using themselves as agents of death? I am sick and tired of going through the list of all of my family, where they are, who lives where, when I read about terror attacks in France. This sick and twisted ideology has to be destroyed, how I don’t know, it seems to seduce individuals who are disaffected and marginalized, weak and without a moral compass. How do we get to them, bring them into the fold before they self-radicalize? I have so many questions, but very few answers. 

I am heartsick today.

Happy Bastille Day everyone!


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Happy Bastille Day everyone! I figure that since Cinquo de Mayo is celebrated with gusto in the United States, why not celebrate France’s Independence Day? The feast of Cinquo de Mayo has links to France, the Mexican celebrate this day because they beat the formidable French Army against all odds, so why not another French related celebratory day, this time a bit more celebratory in France’s favor.

The storming of the Bastille is what launched the Independence movement, but it was mostly symbolic, at that time there weren’t that many prisoners, the revolution turned violent and bloody later on down the line with the rise of the Jacobin.   

If you live in a city that has a French consulate, you will have probably been privy to some sort of festivities either yesterday or today. I have not celebrated Bastille Day here in the States as of yet, I have too many great memories of doing that in France with my family, so I wait until I get back to the Mother country to do my celebrating, I love waiting until 1:00 p.m to watch the fireworks, it doesn’t get dark until about 10:00 at night. I’m not one for parades, but I adore fireworks and in 2000, I had a spectacular view of the fireworks exploding all around the Eiffel Tower from my spot right on the bank of the Seine river, it was unforgettable in its beauty. I cherish that memory.


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