Monday, May 25, 2015

Topanga Days

Today was the Topanga Days Parade, a rag-tag, irreverent bacchanal open to anyone who can wear a funny hat and make a fool of themselves!

We used to go to the parade every year when our son was young, but for the last several Memorial Days, we've slept in. But this may be the last chance at Topanga Days for a while, so we got out of bed and took Jack down to the boulevard to watch.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sixty days

We're in a twelve-day contingency with the buyers of our house - they get twelve days for inspections, etc. Since they knew about our house's biggest flaws before they made their offer, I'm pretty sure nothing we signed to in the disclosure document will scare them off.

But whatever happens with the house, it's a done deal that I am leaving my job in 60 days and going to New Orleans. That's right - July 23 is my last day at work. It seems like a long time, but I know it will go fast.

I'm taking a little breather, then I'll get focused on packing up our stuff again, this time for moving and storage and figuring out what to take to New Orleans.

What a trip!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Letting go

We just accepted an offer on the house. Next step....letting go.

Keeping it mellow

So much is going on that I need a reminder to keep it mellow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The spice of life

Street market spices, New York City
Later today we're meeting with our realtor. Cross your fingers!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lessons never learned

Why do I torture myself?

As I was plugging a quarter into the meter in front of the Pearl Dragon, a "pan-Asian" restaurant in Pacific Palisades, they came skipping excitedly down the sidewalk. Two little moppets with LED-flashing sneakers. Down the block, their mother was feeding the meter beside a hulking white Range Rover.

They dashed past me and into the foyer of the restaurant, impatiently dancing from foot to foot as they waited for their mom. As I sidled around them, the hostess asked me how many were in my party. "One," I told her firmly and I grabbed a stool at the bar, where the only other customer was a gentleman drinking a Tsingtao and watching the hockey game on TV.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. I'm sitting at the only place in Pacific Palisades with a full bar, at Happy Hour, seeking a dark, quiet place for a cocktail and a snack after work. I know better, but Josie's was closed, and parking was a mess by El Texate.

Pearl Dragon was once a typical American-Chinese restaurant called House of Lee, notable for possessing the only liquor license in this neighborhood whose homespun elitism earned it the nickname "Mayberry by the Sea." Today Pacific Palisades is a charming village populated by a demographic that skews wealthy and white.

I remember the moon-gate entrance of House of Lee on Sunset, but I never went in the place. Sometime after the millennium, it closed and re-opened as Pearl Dragon.

There's something alluring about a dark, quiet bar with a touch of exotica. Fans and pagodas, bamboo and lanterns. Rich red and black lacquer. A hint of intrigue that flickers behind the Chinoiserie screen. A tropical drink with an umbrella garnish. You can pretend you're in a noir film, meeting a mysterious stranger.

Except here. There's a twittering of high-pitched voices, like birds, or perhaps feral parrots. Small figures dart between the candle-lit tables, giggling. Somewhere in the back a toddler shrieks in frustration. At the hostess stand, a woman requests a table for seven, and half a soccer team trails behind her. The waiter takes a tray with four glasses of milk from the bartender.

"Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom." At one table, a boy doggedly vies for attention, until his mother hisses, "What IS it?"

"Hey guys!" calls a dad. "Why don't you guys share a caterpillar roll?"

I browse through the Happy Hour menu. I order a lychee martini made  with vodka, pineapple juice, and lychee cordial, along with half a fancy maki roll. The drink arrives - its golden yellow with a froth on top.

A slight lad in baseball pants with a sideways ball cap dashes past the bar, barely missing a Latino man carrying a plastic rack of clean glasses from the kitchen. He dodges expertly. None of the staff seem bothered in the least.

"How's that drink?" asks the bartender.

It's actually pretty weak and tastes like watered pineapple juice, but I tell him it's great.

"I've been here for seven months and I still don't know what's a lychee cordial," he says.

A family of four enters; Dad in cargo shorts and sockless sneakers, Mom in yoga togs. The kids park a scooter and a bike in the Zen garden at entry, helmets slung over the handlebars. Somewhere behind me, two siblings are sword-fighting with their chopsticks.

Why do I do this to myself?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Party weekend

Monday morning sight in the parking lot. Somebody must have had a fun weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Taste something new

Today I had a late lunch at one of my favorite places, Hide Sushi on Sawtelle Boulevard. I wanted to go beyond the usual, so I had nigiri-zushi of halibut, drizzled with yuzu, and saba, which is mackerel, a very strong-tasting oily fish.

There was something on the menu I was unfamiliar with, so I ordered it next.

Mentaiko is the roe of pollock, but on the menu it was called "spicy cod roe." It was introduced to Japan after World War II from Korea.

The tiny roe, a coral red in color, are marinated in yuzu and chile. Here at Hide Sushi, the itamae, or sushi chef, rolled into maki-zushi, with cucumber and radish sprouts.

"How does it compare to other roes?" I asked the itamae before I ordered it. "Are the eggs large, like salmon roe, or small?"

"Tiny eggs," he said, "It's salty and spicy."

It was quite fishy-salty tasting, with a chile heat I had to cool with a bite of crunchy cucumber sunomono. I love fish roe, for the way the tiny eggs pop in my mouth, but this mentaiko didn't give me that satisfying crunch Icraved; the little eggs were more like a paste.

But I liked it. It's always good to try something new. Next time, I might try the kurage, or jellyfish.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Storm belt

Today's storm was followed by another one tonight, and as we sat in our cozy, clean - and echoing empty - living room, we watched the clouds move over the mountain.

Thunder growled and the wind grew cold as I hauled a hamper of clean laundry up from the basement.  Moments later, as I sat at my desk, a brilliant flash of lighting came, with a simultaneous huge clap of thunder - the storm was right overhead. Then the skies opened up. Including hail!

I guess we should get used to this, if we're going to live in New Orleans!