New Year

Quiet night for us last night. Gastronomy: snack foods. Whoo. Also, Hoo. One glass each for K and me, of a very passable Riesling. Stupid Drunk People on live national (and international, in the case of CNN) TV.

Up this morning to hit the garage sale at the other REI in Troy. No ticket system here, instead, barely controlled chaos. A feeding frenzy of scary, unshowered, hung-over outdoorsy people pawing over used-and-returned shoes, scratch-and-dent snowboards and other gear, and not a working GPS nav system in sight. We pulled in shortly after 9 am, opening time, and the lot was purt near full in front of the store. Interesting phenomenon: lotsa hybrids in the lot. Countering the hybrids? Lots of SUVs, usually equipped with roof racks and/or ski pods — things that increase drag and frontal area and make already abysmal fuel mileage even worse. We showed up in K’s Focus ’cause of our other errand for the day, about which more anon (really, this time!).

Having escaped the Garage Sale area without finding anything we wanted, but our hides intact, we scoped out the rest of the store. I’ve got a $25 REI gift card from my boss (who enclosed it in a card with a VERY complimentary message in it. Nice to work for people like that), but of course I forgot to bring it. No big — I didn’t buy. K, on the other hand, found a stuff sack (I’ll have to describe her “thing” about bags some day) and a Camelback for use on bike rides (after realizing that a) I love mine and b) it works REALLY well). Hers is smaller than mine, sized more for her body, but has storage in addition to the drink bladders, as does mine. The Camelback was marked down a lot for clearance. Works for me. Works for her, too. 🙂

Next? PetSmart was open, so we went in looking for bird toys while we waited for Nordstrom Rack to open. Not a lot of bird stuff at this one, but a lot of @#!@@#$#@#$!@ cats. No thanks.

Nordstrom Rack, OTOH, opened a few minutes early. Yay! Continued my cheap tuxedo hunt. No joy. Nothing in a 50L or 52L (depends on the maker and the cut). One 48L, but it was missing all the buttons on the jacket! K found nothing, either. Ah, well. Kept our wallets in our pockets.

Then down the street again to the Somerset Collection, and the regular Nordstrom store therein. My mother, for reasons known only to her, decided that my wife needed a very large, green-velour-with-gold-leather-trim, Juicy Couture bag/purse/u-carry-it-studio-apartment thing, and gave it to her for Christmas. Now, K likes green. She likes bags (really, I’ll get into this sometime). But the gold trim and large, embroidered “JUICY COUTURE” logo on the side is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over her personal top. So we went to return it. It had a Nordstrom tag of some kind on it — and we learned it was, in fact, the gift receipt (whew! Mom’s good about stuff like that normally, which is one reason we were confused by the apparent lack of one). The very sharp clerk in handbags was able to decipher the code and discovered it was purchased MORE THAN TWO YEARS AGO(!!!) at a store in the St. Louis area. Which my folks lived in a couple years ago, in fact. Which leads me to wonder if this was deliberately held or lost in various moves and discovered this year when they got settled into what my dad hopes is the house that “sees him on out”. I’m leaning toward the latter, to be honest. Anyway, K took a store credit in the form of a Nordstrom gift card (which can also be used at Nordstrom Rack, of course), and… we had a net cash gain on the day even after her purchases at REI. Bwahahahaha….

Then we went into downtown Detroit to verify K’s driving instructions and scope out parking for her upcoming federal jury duty (we have had any number of folks offer suggestions on getting out of/deferred from this). Then over to Greektown for an ehhh lunch at the Olympic (the staff was phoning it in today…) and a stop at the wonderful Astoria bakery across the street for a few choice cookies and treats (I got a brownie and an apple strudel). Everything at the Astoria is wonderful. If you’re ever in the area, you owe yourself a stop. Hell, Greektown in general is foodie heaven. From Hella’s (105 years of history there) on the east end to Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen (real Creole and Cajun stuff — the kitchen staff are almost all from N.O. or the surrounding parishes, and they bring in Louisiana crawfish daily) on the west end, and Pizza Papalis (Chicago-style deep dish, but, thankfully, with Detroit-style sauce that actually has spices in it – best of both worlds) in the middle, you can’t really go wrong. And there’s even the Greektown Casino, too, if that’s your thing.

A word about pizza. The greater Detroit/SE Michigan area is home to two big international chains (Little Caesars and Domino’s Ann Arbor), one small international (well, Canada IS another country!) chain (Hungry Howie’s), and a couple of regional chains of varying quality (Cottage Inn and Pizza Papalis) but don’t hold Little Caesars or Domino’s against us. There’s MUCH better pizza around than those two (although, for the record, I prefer LC to Domino’s). Over in Troy/Rochester, there’s The Alibi. Great thin/medium crust pizza, it’s a many-times-best-of-Detroit recipient. On the deep-dish front, Pizza Papalis is, IMO, better than the best in Chicago (Gino’s East and Giradella’s), because of the sauce. I found the sauce there on our recent visit to be lacking. Severely. Giradella’s is better than Gino’s East, but both are purt near just plain tomato sauce to my taste. Pizza Papalis, OTOH, does sauce with spices. It actually has its own flavor blend, and it’s WONDERFUL. Combine Detroit-style sauce with my favorite — Chicago-style deep dish, and I’m happy.

I do miss the now-defunct Ken’s Pizza thin crust in Tulsa, although the offshoot, Mazzio’s, has added the same thin crust to their menu along with their normal thick crust. Ken opened the first Mazzio’s because he wanted to have a thick crust but didn’t want to add it to Ken’s menu if it tanked. 🙂 Mazzio’s has great sauce, too.

New York pizza? It’s an entity unto itself. And let’s not get into the California Pizza Kitchen, shall we? Tasty? Sure, but it ain’t pizza.

Anyway… back to our day. We then came home and did a lot of pointed not-watching of football. We did see most of the first episode of HGTV’s “Living with Ed” about Hollyweird eco-freak Ed Begley, Jr., and his decidedly-not-eco-freak wife Rochelle. Interesting premise for a half-hour or even a one-hour show. But a series of half-hour episodes? No. Not something likely to hold my attention. It’s an ecological “Osbornes”: he worships his solar array and bicycles on a stationary bike hooked to a generator for a half-hour in order to make two pieces of toast. She likes long, hot showers and her hair dryer. They argue a lot. Got it. One trick pony.

But then… “Dirty Jobs” marathon on Discovery, and “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel, culminating in the new episode set in Ireland that I’m watching as I type this.

Back to work tomorrow. One minor crisis to deal with, at least one that I know about…

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