Wednesday, January 28, 2009
On occasion, it's these same people who are coping with the lowest form of fair.
This thought comes on the heels of a conversation I had about a friend's obligation to serve on a jury in a Hamilton County civil trial. She lives in the suburbs and was relying on public transportation to get to and from the courthouse in Downtown Cincinnati. Not a regular experience (I'd gander to say it's been decades since she actually rode a bus for anything other than vacation transportation), my friend was taking advantage of the service while avoiding the sometimes treacherous, icy roads.
This friend was relaying to me the "drama" of not having proper winter boots (and also making the unfortunate decision to wear thick socks and Crocks - okay so maybe this has implications regarding her ability to make a fair judgment) and coping with the bits of ice and snow making their way into her footwear.
She was walking from the courthouse with a fellow juror when my friend asked him to pause so she could extricate one of those icy annoyances, offering a quip about how she expected a cold wait at the bus stop. That's when the man mentioned that he was also dreading his own walk home.
"You must live close by," she said.
"Well, no. I live five miles away."
Let's underscore that point: This man walked five miles in the snow and ice to serve his time on the jury.
"Oh, well maybe you should take the bus home, too," my friend said. It was a reasonable suggestion - cold weather = taking advantage of opportunities that enhance one's ability to cope with copious snowfall.
The gentleman offered the simple explanation that he didn't have enough money for bus fare.
My friend must have felt awful. I know I would have - I would have felt so guilty for having the means and ability to use something that is so basic, a public service that exists in part to support the disadvantaged.
I asked my friend if she offered the man bus fare, and she told me she didn't have any extra cash on her. I know I would have also felt awkward about the exchange. Would he think me patronizing? Would he be too proud to accept? Would the man take insult with the offer?
I have always had a weakness for those in need, and I suppose that's why I've committed to giving my time to initiatives that aim to provide a hand up, not a hand out. I am also giving what charitable contributions I can; my line of work is called non-profit for a reason, so my financial support comes with a bit of sacrifice. I'm okay with that - someday I hope my financial means will allow me to increase my philanthropic contributions.
I suppose I buy in to that whole wealth redistribution concept.
Sometimes I wonder why fellow members of the Fortunate Class fail to see beyond their own needs - their needs for bigger, better, faster, stronger. I can't comprehend why these privileged people are unable to consider their own blessings and imagine a life of have not. I think of these people, the ones who cast a blind eye, and I force myself to see more, and visualize what else I can do.
There but for the grace of God...
I suppose right now giving a man bus fare (or a hot meal, or non-perishable goods, or a decent tip) is the best thing I can do.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
That's how it goes when a girl's got to get ready for a party.
And while this is a party that involves vows and cake and toasts and dancing, I am doing my damndest to convince myself it's just another party.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I know I'm a bit behind - have been without my computer since Monday, and I haven't been able to post a thing.
Needless to say, I am thrilled about the direction our nation took yesterday.
I no longer have to fake a "Want to watch hockey and drink Labatt's, Eh?" while visiting a foreign country.
I intended on getting in some good bloggin' action Monday evening, and it just so happens my computer revolted and threw up the Blue Screen of Death.
I don't know if it was in protest of my filing my taxes earlier that morning, a few random tweets I shot out to my friends or the random surfing I enjoyed that morning.
Regardless, my PC is now in the loving hands of my IT/techie friend. He is a genius when it comes to bringing effed up computers back to life, so I have my fingers crossed he can do that for me, too.
I am worried I might lose some pictures of my niece, but I have every photo I ever took of my niece burned onto DVDs, so I might be okay in that respect. Also worried I could lose my entire iTunes library (eight days of music),but am hoping if the hard drive is wiped, I can upload all that music from my iPod. Anyone have any answers in this respect?
All I know is, once I get my baby back, I'm buying an external hard drive.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Granted, the topic doesn't come up in regular conversation, though I DID enjoy a delightful play on words with some crusty co-workers at a late night TV crew party circa 2000.
The whole episode involved shiny Christmas ornaments affixed to inappropriate places on a news anchor's pants, but that's another story for another time.
The only Blue Ball I intend on encountering in the near future is the Inaugural celebration at Northside Tavern next Tuesday.
You can get more information on the fete here, here, here and HERE. Surprisingly, Northside Tavern's website has nary a mention of the event.
The party starts at 8 pm - there's no cover, but guests are asked to bring non-parishable food items to help support Freestore Foodbank.
The celebration will feature fun dance music, delicious food from Melt, the Hideaway and cocktail specials.
Hmm... what to wear to the Blue Ball?
Certainly not the teal saran wrap tube top of my youth.
YES WE CAN.
YES WE DID.
Speaking of blue balls - I'm sure there were more than a few around New York City after this stunt.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The Ferry Building is a grand hall and a historic point of entry along the Bay. This building is an upscale market, with boutique shops shilling everything from Californian wines to the most delicate, briny caviar and exquisite cupcakes that will have you thinking twice about eating your artfully crafted confection.
I made my paces around the building, poking my nose in some stores and passing up others (sorry, but a Sur La Table is going to look exactly the same in San Fran as it does in Cincinnati), all the while contemplating where I'd take a load off and enjoy my first of several wonderful meals in the city. I thought about sidling up to the side of an oyster bar, complete with an army at the ready to shuck your meal at a moment's notice. Instead, I stepped outside and walked along the back of the building, alternately glancing in the restaurants and taking in my first breathtaking views of the shimmering water.
I settled on Mijita - an upscale taqueria that is the brainchild of Traci Des Jardins of the internationally acclaimed Jardiniere. This casual spot is without the tablecloths and pomp and circumstance, but it equally delivers a spectacular meal to every diner.
I took my spot in the queue, pouring over the Spanish language menu and trying to piece together anything the recesses of my brain might have clung to in all my high school and college years of serving. My time in the kitchen taught me bonita, caliente and a few other unsavory expressions, but I also recalled the derivative for fish, and was thrilled at the prospect of a taco with gills. I added a veggie version and a bottle of Bohemia and was tickled at the eleven-bucks-and-change tab.
Scanning the small dining room for a spot appropriate for a solo diner, I opted to step outside and grab a seat at one of the tables, covered in brightly flowered vinyl tablecloths. I cracked open my book but could barely get through a sentence without surrendering to the distraction of the fog and chilly mist my lungs longed to devour.
A few minutes into my moment, I was joined by a group of very curious and aggressive pigeons. My time spent watching Ernie and Bert made me want to be kind and patient with these graceful pests, but after a couple near collisions I shooed my feathered friends, just in time for the delivery of my meal.
The tacos were sublime wrapped in a tortilla.
The fish was tender and flaky and still managed to hold on to some of the flavor of the sea, despite the delicious, golden crust surrounding the mahi mahi. The taco was drizzled with a creamy cilantro dressing that I could have enjoyed by the spoonful. I also rather enjoyed the vegetarian taco, served as a melange of melted cheese, beans, guacamole and salsa. The taco was the embodiment of fresh, laced with bits of cilantro and onions. I am not a vegetarian, but spent four years as a veg-head in my teen years, and this taco surpassed my expectations.
The Bohemia? It was a great brew and I am now searching the local shelves for that brown-and-gold wrapped bottle.
Next up: A trek to Fisherman's Wharf, my favorite walk, a tourist stop that is worth waiting with the masses and the most delicious thing to pass my lips while searching for the REAL San Francisco treat.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
kate_the_great: The #OTRTweetup starts @ 5P & will last until the @CincyChic ladies kick us out. That’s when the crew takes the party to another spot anyway
kate_the_great: @AmyInOhio & I r looking for food/drink sponsors & will have beer & wine on site, but if you want something special, feel free to BYOB.
kate_the_great: Please leave a comment or send me a DM so we know who to expect @ this months #OTRTweetup. Hope to see u there!
kate_the_great: PS U don’t have to be on twitter to hang out w the twitterati–bloggers, non-bloggers invited! We’ll have you hooked by the end o the night
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
The first time I met this gentleman, he was picking me up and taking me to his boat, which was more yacht and less speedboat.
Mike was dating a childhood friend's mother. He collected us and we first made a quick stop at UDF for chicken salad sandwiches - the kind that are cut in half and packaged in those little, plastic, triangular containers - along with some oranges and cans of soda. This was likely in the era when sodas still came in glass bottles with the stryofoam-like label wrapped around the circumference - and so we went with cans.
We got back in the big, black Cadillac and made it to a place where fancy people keep their fancy boats. I don't know if Cincinnati has a yacht club, per se, but we ended up someplace with brown, wooded docks running in all directions to the water.
This excursion was my first experience with riding on a boat, save for a trip or two on Lady of the Lake in Lake Minnetonka and the occasions when my family and I would go sailing when I was little. We'd set out on boats with a rudder and a tiny, little cabin down below where Bridge would play Barbies while I'd try my six-year-old hands out at steering.
This boat was nothing like that.
This vast vessel had two vestibules for steering - actual steering wheels - one on top, where the captain had a spectacular vantage point of all the beautiful surroundings along the Ohio River, and all of the refrigerators, tires and garbage actually floating in the water. The "main" level of the ship offered another spot to allow steering, as well as expansive seating and a huge, flat, lounging area in the front perfect for laying out (yes, I know nothing about nautical jargon).
The cabin offered a full bedroom, working restroom with running water and a kitchen area complete with a refrigerator.
I guess you could say I was pretty enamored with this ship.
We spent the lazy summer day cruising up and down the river, my friend and I occasionally diving off the back of the boat to swim in the muddy colored waters. It was a great moment that I'll never forget, especially considering it was a time in my life when I was not insecure about wearing a bathing suit.
Years passed, and I've since had several other opportunities to see this gentleman, who eventually became my childhood friend's stepfather. I've been to their lovely home for holiday parties and 4th of July picnics, and every time Mike always welcomed me with a kind greeting, a friendly handshake and a smile.
I'd wander the home and its many, expansive rooms and notice photos everywhere, showcasing he and his wife's love of travel. The pictures captured them at the foot of the pyramids, riding on camels. They were on European ski slopes and in steamy equatorial jungles. I'd admire these photos and the many journeys this couple took together - seizing life and all its offerings.
Tomorrow evening I'll go to a visitation to remember Mike's life and pay respects to his loved ones.
I guess I'm at that age - the time when, even as adult children, we are asked to grow up a little more and say our final goodbye to a parent. This is the first occasion when I'll be attending a memorial service for a friend's parent, but unfortunately I know it's not the last.
I cannot imagine losing a parent at this age.
My parents are healthy and I take more than a passing interest in making sure they're going to the doctor regularly and taking the medication they need. I inquire about their exercise habits (I am really impressed and proud that my mom has taken up yoga and palates. If you knew my mom, you'd understand) and make sure they're getting their vegetables now and then.
The shoe's on the other foot, it seems.
The world marches on through time, and each day it takes more people with it - our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors. Our family.
Life's too short to rush through it without savoring.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
I promise, I didn't get stowed away in a closet for lost bags in ORD.
The journey out West has come full circle, and I now have a full day back to work under my belt.
Hopefully these pics will tide you over until I get a good moment to jot down a bit about the adventure.
Tell me - are you staying true to your resolution? :)
Friday, January 02, 2009
That said, I am having a great time out here.
I am STILL brushing sand off my body from yesterday's excursion to the coast (we got sandblasted by 65 MPH winds), even though I was appropriately hosed down in the shower.
We had the most spectacular excursion to King Estate - a beautiful winery in the Willamette Valley. Our tasting host was too kind - normally only five wines are offered during the complimentary tasting, but since we were cute, deep and bubbly (we sound like a wine ourselves, right?) he padded our experience with an extra five vintages.
The lunch was dynamite - I plan on waxing poetic on my selection at a later date.
Tonight, I've got a hot date with a washer and dryer (I've heard naughty things about the spin cycle...) and then I am going to observe the happenings at Denae's TV station, Eugene's CBS affiliate, KVAL.
Tomorrow - we trek to Portland.
A couple days in to 2009, and I am so grateful for life's blessings.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
I've decided I'm not returning to Cincinnati.
San Francisco is too spectacular a town - so I am relocating there to push a dim sum cart in Chinatown and make Irish Coffees at the Buena Vista.
I also think I'd make a way better busker than the guy I saw tap dancing a la Charlie Chaplin on Columbus Ave.
The vacation is going swell - I made it to Oregon safely and managed to put my big toe in the Pacific this New Years Day morning...
I've got TONS of videos and pics to show you - unfortunately my Flip camera is not communicating with my PC... something about a software problem. I don't know how to fix it and have sent an email to the folks at Flip. It turns out even those poor schmucks have taken the holiday off... so I hope to hear from them tomorrow or Saturday.
Until then, you'll have to imagine all of the crazy ass wild fun I'm having.
In the mean time, check out my Twitter Updates box on the right side of the blog - I'm sending out tweets pretty regularly. You can also follow me at http://twitter.com/kate_the_great.
ps- my New Years resolution - to walk a mile a day. I think that's pretty doable, don't you?