Category Archives: diane

Tales of Pasta and Terror


How bad of me to skimp on recounting my recent visit to Austin and the charming Diane von Austinburg.  We had a lovely, lovely time.  Our definition of “lovely” might not match up with other’s, but do we care?  No, we do not.

Essentially the visit consisted of us visiting many of the finer thrift stores in town and canvassing their aisles while keeping up a running diss of their merchandise.  Or “merchandise.”  To quote myself from several previous times “This all looks like the leftovers from a bad garage sale.”  But that’s the best part.  We examine a mind numbing array of the chipped and should-have-been-discarded, items of dubious function, and what we were sure was the contents of hundreds of dead grannies’ homes, shoveled into the Goodwill maw by their undeserving heirs and then we don’t buy a single thing.

I did fall sort of in love with a love seat upholstered in a velour Union Jack.  Fortunately, Diane was there to quietly steer me away even as I was scheming how to ship it here, to an apartment where there is absolutely no room for it.

And then we went out for enchiladas.  Oh, such good Mexican food.  High class fare from interior Mexico, low class Tex-Mex in a joint that had started out life as a laundrymat, and a great place we love with such delicious tortillas.

Of course it was not all beat up Pottery Barn rejects and guacamole.  After all, there has to be some low point.  Who would have dreamed it would turn out to be pasta?

I was staying the very fancy Fairmont hotel.  It was excellent.  When I made the reservation, I signed up for their benefits program, which I always do wherever I stay.  Usually it’s not much, maybe a free bottled water  (Whoo-Hoo) but this time it turned out to be a goldmine, baby.  From a private registration desk (oh, right this way, Mr. mrpeenee,) and this cool concierge lobby with snacks of a most delicious nature (a dessert bar at night with these adorable miniature French pastries.  Another six cream puffs?  Why, I think I will.)   And a big, comfortable room.  What more could you ask for?

Well, that’s where the pasta comes in.  Diane works nearby and had come to meet me after I checked in.  We hit the Happy Hour snack bar and should have just stuck with that, but instead decided to slide downstairs to their real restaurant and have real food.

The dining room had a theme, which in my experience is never a good idea.   If you’re a restaurant, your theme should be “food.”  Instead, this place had the walls lined with fake facades of an old timey Texas town.  I think?  It was hard to tell.   It was very Disneyland. I was willing to ignore it and hang with Diane, but I ordered pasta carbonara and that’s where the real trouble came in.

Perhaps you are familiar with pasta carbonara?  It is one of the simple dishes that is not easy.  It consists of eggs, bacon and cheese over pasta.  The secret is how you add the ingredients, but I’m not here to give away my culinary secrets, I am here to gripe.

We both got our dinners eventually and started in while chatting.  After a few bites, i realized my pasta was missing the bacon.  Called the waitress over, explained, she took it back to the kitchen, reemerged with (possibly) a new plate, which I poked around in and announced, “This is the same thing, there’s no bacon is this either.”  She valiantly offered to make another run at it, but she had a look on her face, a look I have myself worn at times, a look that said “The chef is a screaming, egomaniacal lunatic, please don’t send me back in there.”  So I just said never mind, take it off the check, we’re fine.

Despite that, before I could finish stealing most of Diane’s excellent Asian pot thing, a manager type slithered over with a third bowl of the pasta.  You’ll never guess what was not in there!  As she was standing there, I demonstrated my now honed technique for bacon hunting.  “The chef says it’s called ‘pancetta’ and he slices it very finely.”  The whole “pancetta not bacon” pushed my blood level up a few notches and I offered her 20 bucks if she could find any of this finely sliced pancetta.  Sliced on a microscopic level, I don’t know.  I did explain the dish only had three ingredients, it seemed difficult to overlook one of them.

I waved it away.  Diane approved, noting that by then, one of the ingredients no doubt included spit.  She went home and I went back up to the fancy guests’ lobby and to wait for the dessert bar.


mrpeenee asks “Where’s the meat?”


…and the universe answers

Daze Gone By


Preach, sister, preach.

We had a lovely and far too short visit with dear, dear Diane von Austinburg last week.  Because my thrilling lifestyle consists mostly of sleeping, I would stumble downstairs and we would go out to dinner, come back and I would stumble upstairs to go back to sleep.  I know some people would have problems with livin’ on that particular edge, but I do not.

Diane shoved off on Thursday (I should mention Saki, the cat, does not like visitors.  Any visitors.  Every visit, Diane spends all her efforts at convincing him that he does not suspect her of low habits and misdeeds.  Diane reports gleefully every time Saki deigns to allow her to pet him without bloodshed.  I’m not impressed, because this almost inevitably  occurs when I’m holding him, most often in a headlock.  So Saki spent all day Thursday stalking around the house to make sure Diane (whom he refers to as “That Guy”) is actually gone.

I spent Friday crushing a giant nap.  I would wake up when Saki yelled in my ear about how he was starving, feed him, take my meds, and go back to dreaming about living in some grim institutional building that I was decorating.  One of those things where I couldn’t decide if it was a nightmare or not.

And then, just now, I got out of bed during the daytime (it happens) and thought how very much I would like coffee from Peet’s and some of their delectable little pastry items. And so I rolled downhill into the Castro.

I found an empty parking space (the only one in all of the Castro Neighborhood,) tried to pay the meter, cause the meter maids apparently have a special bounty system set up for my poor old car, and the meter gaily announced “FREE PARKING.”   Really?  I wasn’t going to look a no cost parking space in the mouth, so I wafted on towards Peet’s when I suddenly wondered “Could today be Sunday?”  Hmmmmm.

One of the things I like about my phone is a special feature it has for the forgetful and easily confused (that would be me) where it announces the day and date every time you kick it into gear.  Sure enough,  it confirmed my suspicion that today is, indeed, the Lord’s Day.

I’m perfectly happy with Sunday, bringing with it free parking, as I mentioned, and a great many young muscular mens wandering around without much in the way of clothing to hinder one’s ogling.  But this brings to mind the question “What happened to Saturday?”  It’s not a Lost Weekend, more like a temporarily mislaid day.

Trying to recreate some idea of how I had spent June 10, I turned to my computer, cause I’m all modern and hip and stuff.  The history there informs us that for some equally mislaid reason I looked up Marguerite Albert.  Mlle. Albert turns out to have been an early 20th century Parisian red hot mama.  Sued the Prince of Wales, lived across the street from the Ritz in Paris, murdered her husband and got away with it.  A role model for us all.

Aside from that and a few visits to the dwindling number of blogger friends I still maintain, there was nothing informative on the computer;  the car is where it’s supposed to be and all its pieces are still where they started out.  There are no inexplicable stains, or no new ones anyway.  Turning to Saki as a source of information, ugh.  He just leaves the room and either plays with his catnip sausage rope or pees in one of the many places he shouldn’t.  Sadly,  there are no unfamiliar young men snoring away in the guest room.


tumblr_orasfpC4Sq1qkopyqo1_500Let us be clear.  If anything even vaguely resembling this turned up, I would immediately start composing some lie about how we had gotten married after a whirlwind romance; some Lucy-and-Ethel kind of shenanigan. He doesn’t look very suspicious minded or like he has the mental high capacity to catch me out.  Tragically, it’s just me and Saki as far as I can tell.

Oh well, as I mentioned once in a long ago post: I say if the police aren’t asking uncomfortable questions, it’s probably best not to worry too much about those lost weeks.  Or day, for that matter.


I Hate Writing. I Love Having Written.


In an almost charming back-and-forth in the comment section of Cafe Muscato , Diane von Austinburg and Muscato were griping about my lack of writing, blogging, mash notes, whatever, so I’m ripping off a portion of an email I JUST SENT to Diane as proof that they’re full of baloney.  There.

to wit:

“I had a dream some person stole a baby and then I was reprimanding them for this and then, I don’t know, they died? Maybe? Anyway I wound up with the baby and was terribly confused.

Did I tell you about the path o’ destruction I found here when I came home? A busted window, a broken lamp, a hole in the office closet door, my keyboard and mouse replaced because the old had “gotten fried,” and the dried remains of some mysterious fluid splattered all over the upper stairwell and hall. Secret Agent Fred blamed Saki, Saki took that “Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t” attitude cats are so fond of. I’m not sure I believe either of them.”

See?  I write.  News you can use, gossip, and slander all rolled up with possibly prophetic dreams.

Speaking of dreams:


Also, while I’m recycling old emails to friends who don’t deserve them, here’s part of one I dashed off to Night is Half Gone’s Jason while we were ducking and weaving in New Orleans last month:

“two of my neighbors blipped up on Friday and tried to be trouble to me, but I charmed them into fucking off. Later, I mentioned to the contractor and one of his minions “I got 99 problems and that hag ain’t one of them.” Both of the guys seemed gratifyingly amused, less amusing was their attitude of complete astonishment that I could paraphrase rapper thugs. Bitch, what you looking at, I am down.”

I’m telling you, epistolary.

Cough, Cough


In my post The Return of Diane, Muscato impertantly demands details about Diane’s visit claiming “We’re waiting. Certainly there’s enough depravity to recount by this point, no? After the weather we’ve had here this week, I could use a diversion…”  Tragically, there is no depravity to report; not just because I have turned into a fusty old thing, but mainly because I’ve been sick the whole time poor Diane’s been here.

I developed an interestingly wheezing cough the day she arrived.  I tried to blame her cat in Austin, implying she had imported dander to which I was allergic, but she pooh poohed that with a firm pooh pooh and before I could fabricate any kind of evidence supporting my theory, I was spiraling down an all-too familiar path into our old friend, bronchitis.

I’ve contracted bronchitis so many times that now when I call my doctor with my self diagnosis, he no longer questions me, but just sends a prescription for antibiotics and probably a short prayer of gratitude that I’m keeping my snotty infection out of his waiting room.

Believe me, this re-enactment couldn’t be any farther from the truth if it featured Bea Arthur and Carol Burnett.

The last few years I worked, I wound up with bronchitis each fall and then again at the tail end of every winter.  This, though, is the first time I’ve fallen for it since I retired, so yay for avoiding the filthy public and mass transit.

The only entertainments we’ve attempted have all wound up with me pathetically slumped over and coughing vigorously.  Still, the antibiotics have done their wonders and I’m pretty much recuperated tonight: unfortunately, tomorrow is Diane’s last day in town,  rats.

The Return of Diane


After many starts and stops, unfortunate oops and errs, our dear friend Diane vonAustinburg finally will be appearing in the skies over San Francisco Wednesday afternoon and shortly thereafter we all will be tucking into a terribly groovy new restaurant based on a Venetian seafood bar.  It’s called Pesce, Secret Agent Fred and I are wild for it, but not as wild as a chance to hang with Diane.

She’ll be in town for about a week, we will cook, and beat thrift stores to their knees and in general hang out. Several other friends here have already demanded their share of the Diane-ness so her dance card is filling rapidly.  Her only request is that we hit some art installation at Grace Cathedral where some possibly deranged artist has hung 20 miles of colored ribbon from the ceiling.

Reports as they become available, or as I make them up.  Depends.

Again, Yo.


Oh darlings, I’m so very sorry to have sort of drifted off like that.  Oops.  First there was my whirlwind tour of the south, then my computer died and then inertia won out once again.  But trust me, my thoughts were never far from you.  Except when I was thinking about snacks.

Austin was terribly amusing since I got to hang out with Diane von Austinburg and eat excellent Mexican food and I found a cock ring in a thrift store.

I visited with my white trash crazy family in Houston all of whom are still white trash, crazy and very amusing.  The less said, the better.

The night I got to New Orleans there was a parade.  Not for me, specifically, but for Halloween, but close enough.  It was the Krewe of Boo.  Is that adorable or what?

I had a lovely hotel.

And I got to visit with Jason from Night is Half Gone who took me out for the biggest banana split I have ever seen, cause the pound and a half of shrimp I had eaten for dinner shortly beforehand was apparently not enough.  He was charming as always.

Oh, and I bought a house.

My plan is to live there during the fall and winter and then flee back here to San Francisco to avoid the miserable heat, cause I have done my time with that bullshit.  It’s a block over from my best friend in a terribly cool neighborhood, has a huge yard and seems structurally sound, but shabby, just the thing an elderly poof needs as a hobby.

It’s been a rental for the last thirty or forty years, I’m sure we’ve all seen the equivalent dingy white paint and cheap bathrooms.

I intend to drag its sorry ass into the land of fagulous beauty.  My friend Stephen, who has lots of experience with renovations, is in charge of the remodeling and I’ve anointed myself as Queen Decorator.  Lots of turquoise.

I’m going back on Saturday for the inspection on Tuesday and unless that turns up a nest of alien invaders in one of the back rooms, I’m set.

News from Austin.


I’m hiding out at Diane VonAustinberg’s for a few days as part of my 2013 World Peace and Enchilada Tour, which will also include a flying visit to my family in Houston and a longer one to New Orleans as a reward for putting up with the flying monkeys that comprise my beloved relatives.

Diane is,of course, the consumate hostess, aside from trying to kill me on her treadmill by luring me up on it backwards, like some crazed OK Go video.*  We had delicious Mexican food tonight and look forward to tearing it up in various thrift shops tomorrow.  The thrill of other people’s discarded crap!

*DVonA says:  I did nothing to lure Mr. P onto the treadmill (“I’m really getting quite good at this” he says, just before slipping off the end. “Except now I’m sort of dizzy.”).  I have done nothing but give him excellent directions to my house, which he ignored and which resulted in him taking an hour-long tour of the Texas hill country. Now, back to Mr. P.

Lies, all lies.  Although I am sort of dizzy.  Maybe I should go lay down.  Also, when I demanded candy to assist in the creative process, Diane denied having any and offered dried apples instead.  How am I supposed to sling wit and wisdom with dried up apples?

Possibly more travel bulletins as they occur.

We Give Thanks for So Many Things


In case you missed it, Thursday was Thanksgiving.


Let’s just move on, but not before offering up sincere and deep thanks to Diane von Austinburg (who blew in town just for the cooking) and Secret Agent Fred, both of whom were great help.

In more up-to-the-moment news, we are sharing in the general slavering over tonight’s trainwreck that is the Liz and Dick movie starring Lindsay Lohan.  A great many reports confirm that it seems destined to challenge Plan 9 from Outer Space‘s long held title as the worst movie ever made.  The New York Time’s review actually said that it wasn’t “terrible enough.”  That’s right, they were complaining it was insufficiently crappy.  Wow.  That’s just greedy.  Anyway, come 9:00 PM West Coast time, count on the inhabitants of Chez Peenee to be in our jim jams, thrilling to this epic.

Lifesaving bitches at attention in case the Virginia Woolfe scenes overcome mrpeenee.

The mrpeenee That Care Forgot


Vacation slide shows. Who doesn’t love them? I’m going to split this last little trip into the New Orleans and Austin segments to better drag it out. Whee! Let’s go!

We had a lovely time in New Orleans. Secret Agent Fred had never been and was most impressed with all the the charm, the architecture, the food, the cute boys, and mostly the law that allows you to take your cocktail with you out of the bar in a plastic Go Cup. There were many Go Cups involved.
Also involved was the ongoing misapprehension by about everyone we came in contact with (including the hotel desk clerk, who I’m pretty sure was an old trick of mine) that Fred was my spouse and that I was an abuser. Spousal Abuse! How hilarious. Fred had gotten in a brawl in a bar here the night before we left (oh, those Irish hooligans) that resulted in a broken jaw, a black eye, and various scrapes and bruises.

I thought about getting a tee shirt that said “Not My Fault” but I never got around to it.

It also resulted in us using a candy wrapper as an eye patch and a 40 of piss water beer as an accessory one late night in a patio at our hotel. It was a very late night.

The same night, same patio, I was a middle aged mutant ninja. I supposed it was result of all those people thinking I had popped Fred in the eye in some misguided homage to Rick James.
Speaking of happy times, we celebrated my birthday at one of my favorite joints, Liuzza’s, where we were joined by a gang of best old friends

Let’s just call them “The Girls.”

as well as Diane von Austinburg and blogger extraordinaire Jason from Night is Half Gone

who very, VERY sweetly brought my favorite birthday cake in the world, a New Orleans specialty called a Doberge. Rich and totally delicious.
We also got to hang out with Jason and his drastically good looking boyfriend at an odd bar outside the French Quarter. The joint had this bullet proof door you had to be buzzed in through, I suppose with the idea it would keep out the low lifes, but there were plenty more riff raff inside than out, so maybe that plan wasn’t working so well. Also, I have no pictures from that part of the evening because by then I was so loaded I apparently mistook my car keys for some kind of super spy camera and tried taking pictures with them. Again, another plan that so very didn’t work. Still Jason and his boyfriend John were funny and charming, just like his blog so it was fun.
Most of our time was just spent wandering around the French Quarter and the neighborhood next door, the Faubourg Marigny. During the prehistoric time I lived there, The Quarter was the gay neighborhood and Marigny a quiet little backwater, but time marches on and now The French Quarter is much too expensive real estate for impoverished poofters (like I was) and now all my friends have fled to the Faubourg, a charming area full of pretty houses that have benefitted from this migration.

My friend Cow Queen says the places that used to be cheap apartments in the Quarter are now vacation homes for out of towners. Certainly that would explain the odd, almost deserted quality its streets have at night now, so different from the crazy buzzing energy of my youth there.

It was sad and sort of poignant to walk them after midnight, as we did so often, and see so few people around. It reminds me how wildly lucky I was to be there when I was.
What else, let’s see….

At some point on every trip I make to the Old Country someone snaps a “I Walked with a Zombie” shot of me.

Our hotel, the Provincial, located directly across from where R Man and I used to live, had an unexpectedly charming bar in it. If you’re in town I recommend it.

You get home from a trip, look through your photos and wonder “Why did I take four pictures of a dumpster?” Then you remember you liked the color of the shutters and were, perhaps, a tiny bit loaded.

Our friend Rich has the most charming patio. Full of bananas and elephant ears and ginger, it’s like the definitive New Orleans setting.

So, yeah, a fabulous trip and a sweet reminder of how I love the old place.

And They’re Off

Secret Agent Fred and I went out for drinks this afternoon. I stopped drinking in 1980 and only started again, rather timidly, a few years ago. I still stick with one drink, partially because that’s all it takes to get me loaded and mostly because more than that and I turn into a nasty drunk. Not nice.
Anyway, we had fallen into a shabby joint called Martuni’s that’s marooned in a no man’s land between downtown and the Castro. It’s the sort of comfortably unattractive place you can stay for an hour or so complaining the whole time “This place is a dump.” Decoration is squarely in the camp of fussy old queens from the Nancy Reagan school and the waiter we always get is surly. And yet, it’s where we wind up.
Today they had a special “Electric Lemonade” so of course, I ordered one based on my theory that if you only have one drink, it might as well be ridiculous. Surprisingly, this turned out to be rather tasty. As I told Fred, “Looks like anti-freeze, tastes like fruit punch.”
All of this bacchanal was sort of in the way of warm-up. Fred and I are off for a vacation in New Orleans next week and the always attractive Diane von Austinburg will join us there. I suppose middle-aged shenanigans will follow. Also, I’m hoping to visit with that blogger of bloggers, Jason from Night is Half Gone. I could promise to post updates from my travels (we’re also going to hit Austin while we’re out on the road,) but I know that’s a lie, so I’ll just say adieu for now and ask you to check back April 14 for all the fascinating details I can make up.
In the meantime, here’s my new favorite pretend boyfriend, Sadik Hadzovic .