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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Being Thankful Can Be Hard

We had a great Thanksgiving. I was able to do what I love to do, cook a big meal, and it was pretty dang good. We had a small table this year with just Leslie, the girls and I and it was perfect. The girls were all sophisticated with their sparkling cider in wine glasses and after dinner we played "I am thankful for...." and we go around the table and you cannot say what anyone else has said. We had fun with it and it made it through about ten passes around the table before it broke up.

The next day, Friday, it was evident that Cooper was not doing so great. After many months of his deteriorating it appeared that something dramatic had happened over night--Leslie suspected a stroke. She took him to the vet and we were prepared to have to say good bye to him Friday; but a phone conversation between us led her to bring him home to see how he faired overnight. Not so good is the answer.

I could go into details but the result is the same, around 11:00 this morning Leslie took Cooper to the vet with the purpose of having him put to sleep. Before she left we all gathered around him on the floor and patted him, cried tears on him, told him how much we loved him and told him how thankful we were that he chose us to be his family.

Giving thanks at Thanksgiving is not just for our family, friends, food and toys; giving thanks for our pets is right up there--in some families above human family members. Today we learned what being thankful is really all about. It is truly about deep gratitude for the love given and taken, the companionship, the laughs and finally the feeling of deep loss that comes with the person, or pet, responsible for those emotions being taken physically out of our lives.

Cooper is part of God as are we all, he lives in our hearts and our paths will cross again. Bless you Cooper and thank you for such a wonderful life that I was able to share with you.

A sad Thanksgiving weekend for the Smiths, but a happy one knowing how much we have to be thankful for in our lives.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

East Side Sario's...I mean Mario's

This is a picture of the Chicken Marsala I had last night at East Side Marios in Lakewood, CA, to be called East Side Sario's in our house from now on. It appears that I have eaten half my chicken before taking the picture, appearances can be deceiving however since this was taken right after it was set in front of me. I had to put my fork in the picture for a size reference to how small the serving of the "tender boneless chicken breast seasoned with cracked black peppercorns, sauteed with mushrooms and Marsala wine" actually was. For $14.79 one would expect a whole chicken breast for a dinner entree, instead I received what amounted to a half breast, and a small one at that; or at least have the accompanying side dish not be two to three times the size of the protein. The Marsala based sauce tasted like canned gravy and overall the dish was not good. Our server asked how the meal was after service and I pointed to the piece of chicken and said, "I am disappointed in the size of the portion of chicken, is this the regular serving?" To which she replied, "Yes that is the normal least you have a lot of potatoes."

Leslie and I went to East Side Sario's because we had been given a gift certificate for $50.00 and decided to use if for our date night. We had a beer in the bar, great value of a large Stella Artois at $4.49 Happy Hour prices, then moved to the dining area--which was dark and cold. We shared a pizza (New York Classic) which was good, but for the price I would rather spend a few more bucks and get Catalano's (Carson and Orange in Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach). Then had our entrees.

The entrees came with a pretty good salad, Leslie really liked it, I was a bit luke warm as they had a considerable amount of crunchy noodles on top. Then our entrees arrived. Leslie had the Sizzling Chianti Steak which is billed as tri-tip but was not that cut and it was over cooked for her order. Tasted okay but again not worth the price ($15.99--note my pennies may be off on the prices but pretty close).

Will we go back to East Side Sario's again? Probably not, if we do it would be for a beer before eating somewhere else, or if we do eat there maybe try one of the pastas. On the plus side, after $11 for the beers in the bar and the $64 for the dinner with the kindness of the gift card it only cost $25 to discover a place to stay away from in the future. Note that East Side Mario's is a brand of the Marie Callender's chains, further disappointing me given the quality I have experienced at every Marie Callender's I have visited.

UPDATE: Not one to hit and run I did make a comment on the ESM/MarieC's website and the General Manager of the East Side Mario's store did contact me, asked about my experience and offered a free Sunday brunch or dinner for two. I told him I did not make the comments merely to get a free meal, but he insisted and sent us a dinner for two. I admire that he took the time to call and see what the situation was, however it seems he was more upset with the server's comments than that the portions of chicken in the entree are miniscule. Today the letter arrived for 2 free entrees--I don't think we will use the freebies as 1) it feels like I contacted them just to get a free meal and 2) frankly not sure what there is to eat there I would want to go back for--except the cheap Stella's at Happy Hour and friend Julie H. indicates a better deal at Curley's in Signal Hill for Stella!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Coming Back

I realize I have been on sabatical for several months and have let my less serious side fester in the writing department. I have been getting a regular every Monday post out on my more opinionated site (, my section is My Front Porch) and have not taken time to feed this side of my brain. Bad on me but since I don't know if anyone visits this site but me I guess I am the only one who notices.

Facing a challenge in that I would like to write a bit more about national topics and the publishers of the LBPost want me to tie everything into Long Beach in a direct connection. As a result I feel like I am stretching the connection sometimes to get my bigger picture opinion on the issue in. I am the only one who writes from center to center-right on the site, in fact taking all the LB media, print and on-line, I am probably the only one, as such I am of the opinion they benefit from having a perspective not written about in the city. But it is their site and if I want to play it is their rules. Writing that has spurred me to contact them about discussing the issue.

My intent is to be more current on contributing to this space, for me and hopefully some who visit will like it. I have missed several movie and restaurant reviews I could have shared, plus many fun family happenings.