Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Koshimi Comes Home Again

On this last day of December, the final day of 2008 I decided to write one more post in memory of my beloved Koshimi. You see, yesterday I went back to the vet's office to bring Sheldon for his surgery to be neutered. It was difficult to be back; the last time I was there it was to put Koshimi to sleep. Once I dropped off Sheldon I went to the reception area to pick up Koshimi's ashes, which were being held since he was cremated last week. I didn't know what to expect but I definitely was not ready for it. The vet tech was very considerate and expressed her sympathy as she handed over a large brown paper bag that was labeled with Koshimi's name and the date of his cremation. As I took the bag in my hands, it felt much heavier than I expected. I still had not opened the brown bag yet, but I started to get a little teary so I made a mad dash for the door to get to our car. Once in the car I opened the brown paper bag- there I saw the most beautiful cedar wooden box, with brass hinges, secured shut with a brass pad-lock. I was immediately reduced to tears as I gazed down at this little box that contained the remains of my beloved dog. I sobbed for awhile, feeling overwhelmed again with sadness. In addition to the box, there was a nice certificate of cremation, stating that my pet was "respectfully handled and cremated" (see below). They also included a little green sheet of paper, rolled up with two poems on either side. I wanted to share them here and tried to type them here for you several times but it was just too much for me to handle. All I can say is they are the most beautiful poems for people who love their pets. Anyway once I got home, I found a nice spot in the house for Shimi's ashes. His beautiful cedar wooden box now rests in our library where he used to like to curl up next to me. On top of the box is a photo of him, young and vibrant- how I shall always remember him. He was my best bud, and I miss him so very much.

We are grateful to have Owen and Sheldon in our lives, both are wonderful pets and members of the family. Having Koshimi's ashes here at home will help to bring some closure for me. It just feels better having his final resting place with us. I feel like I can now close this year and enter 2009 with a sense of peace. Thanks for reading today, sorry to bring things down. Tomorrow I'll be back with a New Year's Day video, I hope you can join me then.
-Rick Rockhill

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich with George Foreman's Grill

So far this Christmas is turning out to be one of the best in a long time. We both took this week off on vacation, so between the Christmas Eve break last week and all this week, it feels like being off a long time. It is a healthy break from work, and I like nothing more than to be able to relax at home in the desert. We're working on a project at the house-parts of the kitchen are torn up and a total mess. I've been taking photos so it will likely turn into a post later in the week. When lunch time rolled around today, I went to the refrigerator to pull something together. Of course, nothing appealed to me at all. The spiral baked ham was staring at me through the plastic Saran Wrap with a muffled voice: "eat me, eat me, I don't have much time left". I cringed. Blech, I'm sick of cold ham, I thought. But I HATE to waste food under any circumstances. I pondered what my next move would be. Pizza? Pasta? Frozen something or other? Then I remembered I had a George Foreman grill buried deep in the cabinet somewhere. A hot ham sandwich sounded perfect! So I went to work.

above: I carved a few slices of ham, and some fresh sharp cheddar cheese...
above: I piled the ham and cheese on slices of wheat bread and placed in on the George Foreman grill...and in no time...
VOILA! My hot, ham and cheddar cheese sandwich was ready! The cheese was oozing from the sides of the sandwich, the bread was all toasty and crisp! I found the jar of kosher dill pickle spears and called it lunch. It turned out to be a perfect lunch for a winters day. I guess a bowl of tomato soup might have made it even better, but it was plenty of food and I was satisfied. The best part was that I didn't waste any of the ham. And now I thought I'd close with a joke I received yesterday from my friend Pete:
A lady goes to the bar on a cruise ship and orders a Scotch with two drops of water.
As the bartender gives her the drink she says, 'I'm on this cruise to celebrate my 80th birthday and it's today...'
The bartender says, 'Well, since it's your birthday, I'll buy you a drink. In fact, this one is on me.'
As the woman finishes her drink, the woman to her right says, 'I would like to buy you a drink, too.'
The old woman says, 'Thank you. Bartender, I want a Scotch with two drops of water.'
'Coming up,' says the bartender. 'Thank you, says the old woman.'
Shortly after, the old woman says again, 'Bartender, I want another Scotch with two drops of water.'
'Coming right up,' the bartender says.
As he gives her the drink, he says, 'Ma'am, I'm dying of curiosity. Why the Scotch with only two drops of water?'
The old woman replies, 'Sonny, when you're my age, you've learned how to hold your liquor. Holding your water, however, is a whole other issue.'
Happy Tuesday!
-Rick Rockhill

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bowling Bonanza!

This past Saturday, members of my usual "poker gang" met for a night of dinner and bowling. We started at a popular restaurant called "Manhattan in the Desert", but the wait for a table of six was close to 30 minutes and we had bowling to do, so we decided to leave. Next up was "Cipolline", an Italian restaurant with a reasonably priced menu. I had chicken Parmesan, which came with a side salad, pasta and veggies. The pasta was overcooked, but the chicken parm was decent. I've eaten here once before and liked the food, although the service both times was just fair. There wasn't anything wrong with it, but the servers don't have a whole lot of personality so it seems very transactional: Sit. Order Food. Eat Food. Pay Bill. Go Home. Anyway the food hit the spot and soon enough we were on our way.
We arrived at Palm Springs Lanes ready for our Bowling Bonanza. I bowl about once per year, so my only expectations were that I would have a few laughs with friends. I figured I'd be lucky to break "100" at all. The scary bowling alley attendant assigned us our lanes and set us up for a few hours of play. Palm Springs Lanes had been renovated since the last time I was there. The lanes have what looks like "laser lights" moving down each lane. It actually was pretty cool.

above: soon enough we were in full swing, in heavy competition.

above: My game name was "Ricky Ticky Taffy"-my first game I had three strikes and scored 109! I was thrilled.

above: The second game I was off and only bowled a 79, needless to say I didn't take a photo of those scores! But the competition heated up, and soon my game was "en fuego"...

above: Game three I had two strikes, but picked up a few spares, and hit 137.

above: I wonder if my score was good enough to make coverage in "Bowling News"?

above: I converted this photo to black and white just for the fun of it. These are some of the "Poker /Bowling Gang", heckling each other on every frame. It was a fun night all in all, I hope we make it back for another night of Bowling soon. I'm curious if you have any bowling tips or secrets to help me improve my game...
-Rick Rockhill

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Art Review: The Passage of Time

Today marks the final Sunday Art Review of 2008. Another year has flown by- the passage of time seems to be moving at a record pace. What is it about time? It goes by so slowly when we are young, yet as we age, it passes far too quickly. Time seemed an appropriate theme for this week's Sunday Art Review: The Passage of Time. I searched high and low, near and far, for an artistic representation of time, and chose the hour glass to tell this story. The following pieces are borrowed from around world wide web. I hope they tell a story of time. All I ask is that you remember how precious time is to us all. So "Carpe diem" (seize the moment).

above: "Hour Glass Skinny" by Katie Flindall

above: "Vitruvian Man with Clock" by Da Vinci.

above: "The Hour Glass" by Bruno

above: "A Matter of Time" by Tilly Strauss

above: "Hour Glass Rock", by George Mendoza

above: Hour Glass, Jahangir-Enthroned
Which piece do you like best? Go ahead, leave a comment, it's the last Sunday Art Review for 2008!
To close this post I thought I'd share a piece of 80's pop music history. A song called "Time" (Clock of the Heart) by Culture Club, oh, so 28 years ago! I hope you enjoy it.
-Rick Rockhill

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Saturday Seven: Favorite Cheeses

Our Christmas holiday was blessed with a series of gastronomic pleasures. Delicious meals, paired with enjoyable wines, fresh baked breads, fantastic cheeses and scrumptious desserts. There is something quite enjoyable about cheese. Typically when I go out for a fine restaurant, I like to end the meal with a selection of cheeses. It is a practice quite common in Europe, but less-so here in the US. It isn't hard to find good cheese here, but most people think of cheese as a before dinner food. I find cheese to be a wonderful way to end a meal. Last night we enjoyed a quiet dinner at home, and finished off with a fantastic wedge of Rugged Coastal English Cheddar Cheese. It was deliciously sweet, with calcium crystals in it, signifying its proper aging. It was the inspiration for this week's edition of The Saturday Seven: Favorite Cheeses. I don't profess to be a connoisseur of fine cheeses, or to have a particularly advanced palette, but none-the-less, here are my seven favorites:
#1 Cheddar: Without question my favorite variety. I am partial to English Cheddar, but I usually eat American Cheddar, made from happy California cows, or from Wisconsin. Cheddar is usually aged from nine to twelve months. A mature cheddar has a firm, smooth texture and a rich, full flavor. It can be "white" or "yellow", but either way I find it delicious.
#2 Stilton: A magnificent cheese, known as the "king of English cheeses", it is smooth and creamy with a slightly acidic flavor. It is a delicious dessert cheese too. It is made from whole cow’s milk cheese, aged for four to six months with some Roquefort added to grow the mold. It is creamy yet slightly crumbly and has delicate blue-green veins. It has a somewhat mild flavor, not too heavy in the usual 'blue cheese" family.
#3 Buffalo Mozzarella- seems like an odd choice among flavored and hard cheeses but I love it! It is a soft, slice able curd cheese that originally comes from Italy. Some readers may recall I saw fresh mozzarella being made before my eyes while in Sicily this past fall. I was amazed and enthralled by it that day. Traditional mozzarella is made from water buffalo milk, which is high in fat. This cheese is not aged like most cheeses and is actually best when eaten just after it has been made. I love to eat it with fresh ripe tomatoes and basil, a touch of olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
#4 Stinking Bishop: is a soft cheese from the South West of England. It is made from cows raised in the Gloucestershire area and is distinctive for its flavor. As the name suggests, it is a cheese with an odor, but it is quite pleasant. Its color can be white, yellow or beige and often has a rind that is usually white, but sometimes orange or grey. It's nice on crackers, or fresh baked, warm crusty French or Italian bread. Add to it a glass of wine? Mmmm I get excited just thinking about that, don't you?
#5 Caerphilly: It is a fine Welsh white cheese, moderately firm and creamy. Its delicate flavor is slightly salty and lightly acidic. Caerphilly is made with a long and complicated process. It curdles at high temperatures, is cut into cubes then is stirred for awhile before it is able to age. It is probably the most famous of all Welsh cheeses-I first became enamored by it while living in the UK back in the early 80's. I spent many a time in Wales and learned to partake in the local pleasures such as Caerphilly cheese!
#6 Havarti: a well known, semi-soft Danish cheese made from cow's milk aged for three months. Havarti is aged without a rind and has a smooth buttery, slightly acidic flavor, with a white cream to yellow color depending on how it is made. It is known for having "eyes", small and irregular openings throughout. The "holes" are not as large as Swiss cheese, these are much smaller and not as hard in texture.
#7 Lancashire: a creamy, textured cheese with a mild flavor, aged for two to three months. It's light, creamy flavor makes it perfect for breakfast, sandwiches or even with tea. It can be slightly crumbly and has a mild acidic flavor, aged for just two to three months. It is an "easy" cheese to enjoy, not offensive to anyone. It is a safe choice when having guests who may not be cheese fans. I guess I would compare it to things like Monterey Jack cheese, although that is a little more soft and creamy.
What kids of cheeses do you like? Go ahead, leave a comment. Even if you are a velveeta or cheese whiz person, I welcome all comments and opinions.
-Rick Rockhill

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas at Melvyn's!

For Christmas dinner, we went to the famous Melvyn's restaurant at the legendary Ingleside Inn here in Palm Springs. Rated by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous as one one the top destinations, Melvyn's restaurant offers a taste of old Hollywood glamour. It's one of my favorites for the food, atmosphere and stellar service. We arrived early to relax in the lounge for a martini and to enjoy the live music. The staff take excellent care of me, and are so charming. "Nino" was performing at the piano, and in no time I was humming along to the festive Christmas songs. In this photo I am sitting at the piano bar, before any of the other guests filled the lounge. Shortly thereafter we were whisked away to my usual table, which is known as the "Sinatra Table", named because Frank himself dined here for many years. Melvyn's has such a great history, loads and loads of famous people have passed through these doors over the ages.
above: I stopped in front of the entrance to Melvyn's by the Christmas tree for a quick photo.
Another "Glamor Shot"
above: I was trying to get a photo without the flash reflecting in the mirror- it was tough to do with the cheesy camera I have. As a side note, I'm wearing one of the new ascots I bought in Venice a few months ago- it matches this velvet jacket perfectly!
Christmas Eve....

above: Christmas Eve was a cozy night- we spent it with friends and enjoyed the glow of the fire by the tree.

above: It was also the birthday of a friend- here is the cake served in his honor, isn't it fantastic? Bee, since you love cake too, this is for you! Christmas turned out to be a wonderful holiday this year. We are truly blessed in so many ways. I hope your holiday was enjoyable too.
-Rick Rockhill

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Extravaganza Post

Greetings! I am happy to present this Christmas Extravaganza Post, just in time for Christmas. I recently acquired a web cam to be able to see my two nieces more regularly. It seemed appropriate that the first use of the web cam should be for my good old blog. What a perfect time to create Christmas Extravaganza video, I thought. So I pulled together some odds and ends, set up the webcam and Voila! OK, so this might not actually qualify as an extravaganza, but it sounded nifty. Since I scraped it together at the last moment, I had to make do with what was around. Owen has been a good little kitty lately and wanted to open the video, so he put on a Santa hat. He is fighting a cold at the moment, sneezing and coughing so he only makes a brief appearance. Hopefully Santa will bring him some goodies tonight as a reward. So without further ado, we present the Christmas Extravaganza Video.... (it's a little long, so get comfortable). Click the little arrow below the box below:

To watch the Christmas Extravaganza video click above.
I hope you enjoyed the big Christmas Extravaganza video! We had a lot of fun filming it. Next time I won't bob and weave around so much. It caused a lot of blurriness. After we finished filming the video, Sheldon borrowed Owen's "Santa hat" and posed for this photo, isn't he cute? We're going to listen to Christmas Carols tonight by the fireplace and relax with some hot chocolate. What are your plans? Whatever you do, we wish you all a Happy Christmas!
-The Palm Springs Savant, Owen & Sheldon

If you had trouble viewing the video above within blogger, try this version on You Tube:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Breakfast at The Waldorf with Olivia

Last week I was in New York for a few days on business. I made last minute plans to meet Olivia for an early breakfast. Regular readers may recall that I last met fellow blogger Olivia while in London, where she had been living before relocating to New York. As I was staying in Midtown Manhattan, Olivia very kindly made the journey into the city, braving the snow & sleet. It was a nice chance to catch up on things since London. We had a relaxing chat over breakfast. I had Eggs Benedict and coffee, Olivia had a bagel and tea. Much to my surprise, Olivia brought a present for me (see the beautifully wrapped package in gold stripes). It was a lovely picture frame for me to use in memory of my beloved Koshimi. It was such a nice gesture, I'm not sure I properly thanked Olivia for her thoughtfulness. Our time flew by ever-so-quickly before I had to dash off to a work meeting. Olivia may be moving to Washington DC next, I wonder if I'll have any business travels there! I'm starting to wrap things up at work before the holiday. I'm planning a Christmas extravaganza post, so I hope you can check back. Thanks for stopping by today.
-Rick Rockhill

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Has Arrived in Palm Springs

Winter has arrived in Palm Springs. Recent storms in Southern California did not spare us, coating the mountains that surround the Coachella Valley with a layer of marshmallow-I mean snow. With mountains as high as 10,000 and 12,000 feet high, we usually see snow at the highest peaks during this time of year. Cooler winter temperatures, along with a series of storms led to snow accumulation at the lower levels of the mountain ranges, probably as low as 2,000 feet high. In this series of photos you can see how low the snow is on the mountains. Here on the desert floor, our daily temperature these past few days have been around 65-68 degrees, so we don't have any snow. I took this photo above, and the little video below. The rest of the photos are from The Desert Sun website, which are much better than what my camera would have taken. I'm sharing them as proof that we actually DO have a change of seasons here in the desert!
Here's a video taken from my back yard:

And now a few spectacular photos-click on them to biggify:

above: you can see the difference in elevation, where the snow accumulated. My guess is that's about 2,500 feet high.
above: these are taken form an angle looking up toward toward the higher elevations. I like the contrast of the palm trees against the snowy mountains.
above: another great contrast. One of the many reasons why I love living in Palm Springs. We get the snow, but can enjoy it from our back yard in shorts! How's the weather where you live? Share your story...
-Rick Rockhill

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Art Review: A Fellow Blogger's Work

First off, I want to thank everyone who left such kind comments and sympathies about the loss of my beloved Koshimi. I hadn't planned on taking so much time off from blogging, but I really needed to focus inward this past week. We're doing fine, but it did affect me more than I expected. I did decide not to send any Christmas cards this year because I'm just not feeling very cheery. At any rate, I'm happy to be back blogging again to resume my normal routines. So here I am, with a fresh installment of The Sunday Art Review. I thought I'd feature the work of a fellow blogger, Erin, from The Babblings of a Whimsical Brainpan. She recently shared some of her work on her blog, and I received her permission to feature her here on the Sunday Art Review. This first one in the top left is entitled "Rose", in watercolors and ink.

above: "Pond", in pencil and ink

above: "Flowers", watercolors and ink

above: "South Paw Days" in color pencil

above: "Lillies", watercolors, based on a Robert Maplethorp photo.
Which work do you like best? Erin is modest about her work, but she says she enjoys creating it, and that's all that matters, isn't it? So please leave a comment to tell Erin what you think. And stop by to say hi to her sometime.
-Rick Rockhill


This blog is about life experiences & observations and stuff I am interested in. It is simply a side hobby and creative outlet; generally, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. I don't take it too seriously, nor should you. I do not profess to represent every point of view. Nothing on this site is a paid post.

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