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Welcome to Cincinnati, “the best city in the world” according to an old friend (Mike, are you there?). I can’t really speak to it being the best, as our visit was only a few hours, but this, the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, was pretty snazzy. As our dumb luck would have it, as we were neither looking for cool or interesting, just eager for lunch, we found one special place, and quite important historically, with the majority of the buildings of Italianate Architecture, magnificently intact, and easy on the eyes.

Not the best idea I’ve ever had, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of the Holtman’s doughnut sign. BEFORE lunch. They were still warm!

The hubster going big at Pontiac (no website, sadly). Most excellent barbeque and a super friendly server, always a great combination. In keeping with my healthful doughnut before lunch choice, I noshed on pimento cheese. It was awesome. I do not regret it!

This neighborhood is chockablock with fabulous murals. Wowie!

He thought I was shopping…

Narrow. Very narrow.

Thanks for a terrific afternoon, Cincinnati!

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Wednesday, I…

awoke with the sun, to cuddles and the purring of cats.

ate every strawberry I picked.

set my abs and butt on fire with Cassey Ho. Silly and fun, she kills me every time!

mowed and fertilized, and plunged my hands into earthy compost.

heard the first steady hum of bees on blossoming lavender.

got bouquets, cards, and well wishes from friends and loved ones.

walked with the hubster, love of my life.

ate dinner to the Bee Gees, Hall & Oates, and Fleetwood Mac, and sang my heart out!

realized, in a weepy moment of gratitude, that the greatest gift I’ve recently received is that I am finally surrounded by MY people. I’ve shed the drama queens and gossips, the self-absorbed, the unkind, the ones who lack the common courtesy to call or email. My people are kind, caring, fascinating, fun, and super duper smart. We get each other. We love each other. We share all we have and all that we are.

A pretty terrific way to celebrate forty-three orbits around the sun!

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One week ago today, gallivanting on Mississippi. Sunny and warm, the town ebullient and smiling and happy for a gentle breeze. Our bellies led us to Radar and were very, very pleased. It’s a delightful galley of a place, long and lean and filled with tip top service and lovely details, like cool decor (a painting of a ship!), eco-friendly towels in the loo, and flowers matching one of the owners names, Lily (super kind and lovely!), and wafting deliciously about. The food was mighty fine, too. Roasted radishes in brown butter (gasp!), deviled eggs done three ways, deep fried and glorious chick peas a whisper on the tongue, and knock out Manila clams. Wowie, not a complaint to be heard.

Best dining companion, ever. Who am I kidding? Best companion, ever!

Oh, and the drink is spectacular as well. That’s a Gin Botanical hard cider by Seattle Cider, with a scent so clean and apple-y that I had a hard time deciding whether I liked it or the flavor better, a very close call. My drink, the European Union, was a quite perfect one, if I do say so.

Hello kitty!

A plethora of cool architecture and one stellar mural, Mississippi is good and great and awesome.

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! Which celebrates the Mexicans winning a war against the French, I think. But, like any other holiday, the celebrating comes down to food and drink. So some favorite Mexican food it is! This is at Taqueria Nueve, which I sorely missed during its five year absence, even though Tapalaya, also one of my favorite places, lives in its old location.  In particular, the Coctel del Pulpo, a sweet and spicy bit of ambrosia, haunted me. I literally had dreams about it and sought a replacement hither and yon, to no avail. I am most grateful I can get it once more, along with a mighty fine chile relleno and vegetarian tacos. Arriba!

On to La Taq (no website, but next door to Podnah’s and from the same owner), which is really Tex-Mex, but, to me, Mexican food is all in the family. They have super green chile, fantastic tacos, and a pretty spectacular queso, too. Unfortunately my food photos are blurry, probably because I was too hungry and excited to sit still. The kindly bartender is shaking my margarita, my favorite in town, I might add, with the perfect balance of sour and sweet. It’s pretty snazzy!

And back to Mi Casa. The hubster and I had a serious New Mexican food craving yesterday, so we walked to the market for provisions and whipped up a feast. There was green chile, of course, brown rice, smoky garlicky beans, guacamole, and home made tortillas, rolled into gut busting burritos. All turned out muy, muy delicioso, though my Dad would probably be disappointed to learn that I didn’t have any meat in mine. The older I get, the more vegetarian my leanings. Life is full of surprises!

P.S. I almost forgot! Have you tried Xochitl chips? Oh my goodness, they are the best. Thin and crispy, just like the package says and seriously good! A chip gone to heaven and back, maybe. The only problem? I feel like I’m cheating on the glistening chips made in Hood River with these Texas Wranglers. Sorry!

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Happy Earth Day to you, gentle reader! I hope you treat her and yourself kindly today. Every day would be great, actually. I took this picture a few days ago, on my first foray into the yard, giving Martha a tour of our beloved patch of earth. I got tuckered out after snapping the photo and came in for a rest. Life post surgery sure makes a body grateful for strength.

The hubster went back to work at the office yesterday, after taking two days off and then working from home the rest of last week. I got spoiled with him here, but we made up for his first day away by meeting him for lunch. That’s his mom next to him (Hi Martha!), but I’ll bet you can see the resemblance. He said to her, “After a while, you get used to all the picture taking.”

Our trio did good work at Grassa. Have you tried it, yet? My stars, if you like kindly servers, pasta, fritto misto, and rockin’ tunes played on a turntable, they have your number and mine! They also have the Yonkers cocktail, which translates to whiskey at lunch. Yeah, I earned it after walking more blocks than a person in my condition really ought. Phew! Live and learn.

And to this morning, more savoring of our garden gifts. I feel like the poppy, almost ready to bloom, to be myself again, and stretch my sturdy yet delicate petals to sun and wind and rain.

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