(Disclaimer: WordPress is being difficult and not loading my pictures correctly so I’m just throwing them on here and hoping for the best. Thanks for understanding!)

Last week I didn’t post to the blog for the first week since kleimansays.com took to the airwaves, er, internet waves on October 8, 2018.  I was in a Christmas dinner food coma from the day before and also, I didn’t want to work! (Yes, this is work.) And we had company. The kids were home, and the dog visited. And none of you would read it anyway as you were all in a food coma with your kids and relatives and dogs and whatnot.

The granddog, Rory. Her motto? Bark softly, and carry a big stick.

Yesterday was January 1, 2020, so I didn’t want to work, again.  Let’s face it, I never want to work, really. Actually, I forgot it was a Wednesday in the first place, plus I was recovering from oyster and martini consumption on New Years’ Eve, so… you get the gluttonous picture, it wasn’t pretty. And then we walked on the beach.  Big surprise there, no?

For the first blog post of 2020, here is a quick recap of some of my thoughts over the holidays, with photos so you don’t have to worry your own self about reading too much.

We celebrate everything pretty much, not just because we like to be inclusive, but also because it gives us opportunities to eat and drink more and try new recipes. First, there was Chanukah (often spelled Hanukkah, but I don’t know why, ‘cause as Angelica Pickles from Rugrats said, you have to “chhhh” when you say it, and I don’t mean as in Chicago), which of course means latkes, but we didn’t take pictures of the latkes because they look just like the ones last year, only they get better each year due to adjustments.  (This year’s improvement: grapeseed oil for frying.  High smoke point.)

As an aside, we always go to see good live music, and so here is a perfect example of holiday blending: TBear and Root 66, dubbed the greatest live band in LA (it’s true).  Why a perfect blend?  Okay, here’s a picture of a Jewish guy (TBear nee Richard Gerstein) from Queens, NY, in a Santa hat playing “Merry Christmas, Baby” in Woodland Hills, CA.

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TBear rocking the holidays with Root 66. This band kills it every time.

But the best thing about Chanukah, for me, is the menorah, especially 8th night, when all 9 candles are lit, and no, I’m not going to explain the 9th candle, or the Shamesh.  That’s what Google is for.


We had company coming, and the front door had seen years of weathering, so Kiki “suggested” it needed painting. I figured I could paint the door and save time instead of getting the maintenance folks in our townhouse community to do it, so I asked for the paint color. I have brushes and whatever else, so all I need is a lousy quart of paint.  But they don’t have a color that I can get at the hardware store around the corner, no.  It’s a formula that needs to be made at Home Depot.

Anyway, I got the secret door paint formula filled by a vastly experienced 19 year old (estimated) at Home Depot and she did a fine job.  Here is the before and after.  If you are looking for a home painting estimate, please IM me with the details.  I’m fast, clean, cost-efficient, and guarantee the work.

We also do Christmas dinner. This year, we went Italian because we had just spatchcocked a huge turkey for Thanksgiving. So we made pasta, meatballs, eggplant balls, homemade marinara, etc. 

I’ve been told many Italian Christmas dinners include lots of seafood. We didn’t have a lot, but here are the Clams Oreganata (not Casino, that was a made-up name for 70’s cocktail parties). We used the recipe from Rao’s in Manhattan, only we didn’t make our own breadcrumbs. Sorry Mr. Rao. One usually doesn’t eat clams around the menorah, but hey, life’s an adventure.  I’d show you the meatballs but they look just like meatballs.

Mmmm. Clammy.

One thing that happens a lot during the holidays is receiving packages. These days, people swipe packages off the doorstep so you need to be careful.  We work at home and have nosy neighbors, so we don’t have that problem. But I do have a beef with Amazon and other retailers: packaging.  Let’s try to be more environmentally sensitive, okay?  You’re already burning tons of gasoline with the delivery fleet.

Here’s an example: box, open box full of bubble wrap, and the 4 batteries, each the size of a quarter, that were packed in it.  These things can’t be broken. Does anyone use envelopes anymore?

Okay, enough Andy Rooney (ask your grandparents, kids).  Now back to the holiday fun.

No Southern California Christmas/Chanukah/New Year’s is complete without a visit to the beach, and we got lucky with the weather the last week after the rain on Christmas.  Not only nice, but the sunset one day was out of this world.

Best of all was the return of the giant starfish. About 5 or 6 years ago, there was a massive die off of seastars up and down the California coast.  In some places, like Cambria, the tide pools were full of them, and sea urchins, anemone (say it 3 times fast), and other beautiful creatures. Then, one day, all the stars were gone.  Just like that.  It wasn’t pollution or rising ocean temps. They weren’t sure but suspected a virus.

Well, this was sad and so for the last several years I’ve been looking for signs of a return. A few trips to beautiful Cambria turned up nothing.  But a few weeks ago, I saw a few small orange sea stars on one of our favorite beaches, and also some colorful snails. And then last week, at an extremely low tide that exposed miles of tide pools that normally are at least a few feet underwater, and all of a sudden, there were star fish all over the place!

I took a picture of one particularly large, orange/pink starfish and realized that this one is clearly Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants.  He lies around all day, sometimes stuck to the side of a rock, and in this picture, at first glance, it seemed like he was just lying there resting with the mussels.  But then I realized, sea stars eat mussels. This guy is laying there right on the dinner table with the food, completely stuffed with mussels and digesting. Just like Patrick would do.

Patrick has clearly overindulged.

And the new snail population.  Not sure what the story is here, but let’s hope they are indigenous.  That being said, these guys are so pretty!  I asked real nice for them to line up for this picture, and they obliged. Unfortunately, it took them hours to get into position.

Snails. Lots of snails. Flamboyant escargots.

There are so many more ocean life pics I want to share with you but I’m running out of space, so here’s that sunset from the same day with the star fish. This one happened unexpectedly because it looked like the sun might just sink behind a big storm front off the coast, but then this happened.  You get these once in a while.  You just need to be there at the right time.

So that’s the Holiday Report from Woodland Hills, CA.  Hope you had a great holiday season and here’s to an incredible, healthy, happy, and prosperous 2020 to all of us. We deserve it.

Still working on the new book and getting ready to make Smoking in Bed available through this website.  WordPress is a big pain in the ass and I am not skilled in this area.  More to come.


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