Oprah said this would happen

So I’ve been watching Oprah, thanks to my sister’s collection of episodes on Tivo. Oprah told me, yesterday, that whatever I thought about would come into my life. It’s “The Law of Attraction”, she said. Like: she got a silver-plated bubble-blower from Tiffany’s just by thinking about blowing bubbles.  The perfect gift from the Universe, for the woman who has everything.

Today my mother was clearing out her recipe book, which is less an actual book and more an overstuffed manila folder with clippings, Xeroxes, handwritten scribbles. I happened to look over her shoulder as she leafed through these and, lo and behold, she flipped to a recipe for the Original Pancake House’s Apple Pancake and German Pancake, photocopied from a cookbook featuring “top secret” versions of popular chain restaurant dishes.  The book states: “It was in 1953 when Les Highet and Erma Huenke opened their first Original Pancake House in Portland, Oregon, using traditional pancake recipes handed down through generations. Now, with over 100 restaurants in 25 states, this breakfast chain is generating a huge cult following.”

So I may be making these delights at home, if I can get my hands on a cast iron skillet.

If only I’d been thinking about winning the lottery instead of… eating pancakes.

Back in Buffalo

Sleeping: in the office, on a pull-out couch. Zipper, our 15 year-old golden retriever, has been guarding me every night.

Eating: so much spaghetti and raviolis and cookies and cheesecake and pie and calzones and homemade pizza. And cannoli. (My dad: “It’s GA-nolli.”) Plus diner breakfasts. Plus scones and tea.

Watching: cable news about some dead kid named Caylee, episodes of Oprah on Tivo, romantic comedies (Sleepless in Seattle made me cry, I am ashamed to admit) and re-runs of Friends.

Reading: The Sun Also Rises (which makes so much more sense now that I’m not in high school).

Wearing: whatever my sisters tell me looks good. A second opinion and a live figure model really helps one get dressed.


The Original Pancake House in Williamsville, New York serves fresh orange juice and enormous pancakes. That’s really its thing. That, and being a destination brunch spot for all the surrounding suburbs. On weekend mornings it has that over-warm, over-loud, elbow-to-elbow bustle of the bar/restaurant down the street here in Chicago that serves high-end beers and mussels, that fogs up your glasses when you step in from the street and makes you confer with all your friends: Do we really want to wait an hour for a table? When I come home to visit family, this is where my mom wants to take her three girls. If the wait isn’t too long.

This weekend Kevin and I were walking around the Lincoln Park neighborhood here in Chicago and saw a sign for the same restaurant, same logo — little dude in a chef’s hat, scripty font for the name. It had to be the same place. I squeaked out some kind of joy-noises and Kevin followed me down a set of stairs to the place, which was tucked away below street level in the downstairs of what looked like an apartment complex. It was closed. Which makes sense, for a Friday night. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the same place, or if it got the same kind of traffic, or if it’d serve me a giant apple pancake and some fresh-squeezed juice. Anyone who got the apple pancake, when we were kids, was always given a stern warning from the waitress: Yours will take longer than everyone else’s. Implicit meaning: Yours will be better than everyone else’s.

Reading Mark Bittman’s blog today, I found out he also has apple pancake memories of the Original Pancake House, except in New Jersey, and also hadn’t realized it was a chain.

-1 degrees

It’s -1 degrees outside here in Chicago. That’s just the other side of the lookingglass, just beyond the knife-edge of zero, into the netherworld of cold that sends me under the blankets, under more blankets, wishing I could be reading Little Women or something, or maybe I just feel like Beth, the sickly sister, looking up from darning a sock to note that it’s minus one degrees right now and the moon is bright but maybe too bright, like it’s really a giant snowflake ready to fall once its heavy enough with ice and mirth to descend like that ball on New Year’s Eve, and we missed it, the countdown should’ve stopped at zero, but it’s minus one.

Chicago ice

My little sister Lisa and her boyfriend Sean came to visit this weekend. We roamed from the thrift store to the coffee shop to the diner to the handmade market to the record store, to Too Much Light, to the couch, and back again. Everything was just as it should be, until the morning they were supposed to leave. At 6am we bundled up — sleepy as hell, trying to be coherent — and made our way outside, braced for the long drive to Midway airport. It was pretty much the coldest morning ever on the planet. Like, I was shocked we saw no woolly mammoths and penguins skidding around. And my car, well… my car door was frozen shut. This has happened before, and a good kick and shove usually knocks it free. This time, no dice. More kicking, more shoving. Nothing. After a few minutes it became clear that I’d have to abandon this idea and put them in a cab if they were going to make their flight. I didn’t have enough cash on hand so we shuffled like a trio of penguins down to the corner gas station. The screen on the outdoor ATM was frozen over so I couldn’t see what buttons indicated which choices. Was I withdrawing 500 from my savings account? Fifty from checking? Press, press, press, hope. Finally with the right amount of cash in hand, I hailed them a cab and sent them on their way. We barely remembered to say goodbye, in the shuffle and hustle of things.

Later that day I was walking home from work and completely wallowing in the grumpiness of the temperature, the wind, the ice, inching my way down the sidewalk with my head down. Then some guy walking ahead of me on the sidewalk, similarly bundled up and looking down, just started sliding on the ice, taking quick short steps to get his speed up and then sliding like a snowboarder as far as he could go. I smiled. And after he’d crossed the street, I tried it myself. Ok, I almost fell on my ass immediately, but the walk home seemed a little less cold.

Word cloud

Here’s a word cloud of this site, thanks to the fine folks at Wordle.com. I’m not totally sure how accurate it is, because it seems heavy on recent posts, but it is true that I write a lot about being hungry, what things smell like, and, apparently, knowing. Or, more commonly, a lack thereof.