“The Worst Bathroom Plumbing Disaster You Can Imagine”

That’s how Mr. Sandwich refers to Friday’s multiple-appliance backup and overflow. And because of how nasty it was, and how well he handled it, from now on this blog will refer to J as Mr. Sandwich. He deserves that respect.

I missed most of it, because I get up and go to work earlier than he does. So Friday morning I was at work when I got a call from Mr. Sandwich. Over the course of the day, and several phone calls back and forth, it became clear that drastic action was needed. He wasn’t able to snake the drains, and neither was the drain specialist, because all of the access points were closed so tight that they had frozen in place.

While waiting for the regular plumber, Mr. Sandwich continued to wrench on one of the access points–until the u-joint broke, sending foul water flooding through the outside laundry room. On the other hand, it stopped backing up through our tub.

The plumbers crawled under the building, cutting and replacing pipe, which was the only way to get rid of the clog. Then the steam cleaner guy came in and cleaned the carpet and bathroom floor. I came home at the end of the day and did a much more thorough job on the bathroom floor and tub, because I was pretty sure that it needed the three-part process of all-purpose cleaner, bleach, and rinsing (BTW, I was right). Then it was on to the kitchen floor, because everyone came in and out through there.

We’re all clean now.

During the afternoon, I got a call from our realtor, saying that they had heard from the seller’s agent. Apparently the bank had decided to approve the short sale, and determined that they would accept an offer of $7000 more than our most recent offer. Our agent said, “If my clients do this, will they get the house?” The answer was yes, but all three of us have a we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it mentality at this point. So in between cleaning stages, we faxed over a letter stating our intent to offer more.

Lots of ups and downs. But at least the bathroom is no longer a hazardous waste site, and we have some new pipes.

San Fernando Valley

Lots to blog about, but not tonight–I’m just too tired. However, here’s a short video I took during this evening’s drive along Mulholland Drive. We stopped at one of the overlooks (technically across the road from an overlook, requiring much attention and running) to see the lights in the San Fernando Valley.

Yes, I Actually Cooked Dinner

And mostly from scratch! I made roasted chicken drumsticks, cheesy green beans, saffron rice (from a mix), and beans (from a can, for J).

It was pretty easy, on the whole, and that makes me wonder why I don’t do this more often. However, as I look into the kitchen, I’m reminded of why. No counter space, no dishwasher. Which means that the sink and the drainer are full, and neither will stand empty for quite some time.

But the fun doesn’t stop with dinner; there are leftovers of chicken and saffron rice, so I have lunch for tomorrow. I really liked the saffron rice–it was delicious and salty. And if you’ve noticed a recurrence of praise for salty food in this blog, it’s because I love salt. I mean, I really love salt. I’ll eat it straight. I could be the incredible salt vampire from the original Star Trek series (“The Man Trap”–first regular episode aired, sixth filmed. Have I mentioned that I am a total nerd? A salt-loving nerd.)

Panini Cafe

Sometimes I go to a restaurant just often enough to know what I like, but not often enough to want to go beyond that. Right now, that’s the stage I’m at with Panini Cafe.

I know I like the falafel wrap, although I could do without the pickle slices (?) that are included. The couscous, with nuts and raisins, is excellent (and generous–I brought half of this side dish home). But I also know that I want to branch out, at least as far as the chicken dishes. The chicken is marinated in and/or rubbed with incredibly flavorful spices, and is incredibly tender. One of my friends ordered this in a shish kebob, and we agreed on a chicken-for-couscous trade. Some day, when I have a kitchen in which I can actually cook, I may even learn how to make it.

Oh, and did I mention that they also have panini? There are several different selections with chicken and turkey, and even a ham and brie panini. If I go there often enough, I may make it through all of them–with the exception of the eggplant dishes.

My Dream Vacation

Before J and I were married, I was working on a project that was extremely stressful. I told him that I wanted a beach vacation–“But not just any beach vacation. I don’t want to have to cross the street to get to the beach, or take the elevator down from the 15th floor and walk through the lobby to get to the beach. I want to walk out the door and be on the beach.”

Fast-forward four and a half years. I’ve just wrapped up a month of stressful projects, and what got me through was the knowledge that there was a beach vacation at the end of it. And, although I didn’t realize it until the day before we left, it turned out to be the beach vacation of my dreams.

Our friends D and A invited us to join them; for the past 10 or 12 years, D’s parents have rented the same beach house in Newport Beach. It’s a split-level with two floors. The bedrooms are a half flight up and face the street. The kitchen and living room are another half flight up and open onto an enormous balcony overlooking the beach. On the ground floor, exit the front door (actually on the side), turn right, and walk 10 feet. Presto. You’re on the beach. No elevators, no streets. Just the beach.

It doesn't get better than this

We spent two days with their family, reading on the balcony, oohing and aahing as D’s father flew an elaborate kite, lounging under beach umbrellas, watching surfers, swimming, and splashing in the shallows. In the evenings we ate delicious food and watched the Olympics. It was relaxing and healing and everything I needed.

Let's go fly a kite!

Let's go fly a kite!

Surfin' USA

Surfin' USA

The truth is that it was better than the vacation I imagined, because we got to share it with dear friends. I miss it–and them–already.

If You Like “Lost”

You’ll love NBC’s Crusoe! Or will you? Don’t get me wrong–I’m happy to see classic literature adapted for the small screen. But I’m suspicious about this choice, considering the success of ABC’s Lost.  Plus it looks like they’ve added a romantic entanglement using (gasp!) flashbacks. Because everybody knows that women won’t watch a show that doesn’t feature a woman, and preferably a woman in love. (Apparently it counts for nothing that I watched the original Law & Order for two years without being aware that it lacked women; I just thought it was a really good show.)

I think I’ll stick with the Olympics and Mad Men.

What Kind of Cereal am I?

You Are Cheerios

Like other Cheerios eaters, you want to be a responsible adult.
But you can’t help but still be a kid at heart!

You try to make good decisions. You’re a clean cut, conscientious person.
You’re the type of person who would never skip breakfast.

Part of you thinks that breakfast is too important to miss…
But a bigger part of you knows it’s too fun to miss!

I have to say that this isn’t really a surprise. I love Cheerios.

Shanghai Red’s

For the life of me, I can’t figure out the name of this place. There is absolutely nothing Chinese about the food at Shanghai Red’s. A friend suggested that we meet there for brunch, and since I’d heard good things about the restaurant but had never been there, I agreed. Then I looked up the menu online and thought, “This had better be good. Because I normally save meals that cost this much for splurgy nights out with J.”

You enter the restaurant through a tropical, quasi-Asian walkway dripping with ferns. The tables are spread through several rooms, some indoor and some out. The setting is terrific–in the heart of Marina del Rey, with views of the water and boats. And who doesn’t like looking at boats?

There are at least three lavish brunch stations: a long room filled with hot dishes ranging from tamales to eggs Benedict to crab legs; an omelet and waffle station; and a room filled with desserts. Everything was excellent, down to the crisp-but-not-burned bacon (and I do love bacon).

On top of that, I got to spend time with a good friend I haven’t seen in months. And really, you can’t put a price on that. Especially when it comes with delicious food. And boats.