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My editor at the Town Courier News is great. She gives you all the assignment facts but every now and then I miss the buried clue. Thus, I am clueless.

Here I am last evening siting near the bar at Not Your Average Joe’s (NYAJ) looking for three women who write a blog called “Hardly Getting By” ( I need to take a picture of them for the paper in their creative environment. It somehow has to do with wine.

So going without their names (it was lacking from my editor’s email) I go out approaching groups of seated women at NYAJ – with the introduction line – “Do you write a blog?” After about a 4 turn-downs and strange looks from the wait staff – I slink back to my four-seat table top across from the bar.

The waiter again approaches me to ask if I wanted to order something – so I picked the first appetizer – teaser – that sounded good and ordered a beer so that he would go away. I flip to my smartphone – why do I call it smart – to re-read my editors note. I get a bit more frustrated and write her (it’s dinner time) and ask for the women’s names – which she earlier described as being between 40 & 50 in age.

Then the ah-ha moment – I see the link to the blog site in the editor’s earlier email and click on it – bingo up pops their blog – and what do you know there is even a picture of 3 blond women – yucking it up in what looks like – a booth at NYAJ’s. They look like they are laughing at me – this fool with a bunch of cameras – searching them out.

Just then I hear women laughing from behind me and to my left. I spy through the break in the glass panes that separate the dinning area from the bar and what do I see – 3 blondes.

Emboldened by my prior bar pick up line failures this time I get “smart” and take my phone with me and approach the booth.

“Excuse me” I begin – “but I have been looking for 3 blonde women all night and you all look like the ones on this blog site”. I turn the smartphone towards them – they all start giggling – and basically say – where the heck have you been all night didn’t you hear us. Of course that makes me explain my sojourn of introductions to would-be bloggers/diners.

I cajole them to bring their drinks and join me at my special table – photo booth – where I promised to make them all look cute – and tell my story.

As it turns out we all live around the Darnestown / Gaithersburg area – have lots in common – and even write blogs from homes that have the same Zipcodes 20878 – all but for Kristen – who really lives in old Darnsetown, she is the 74.

They treated me to a beer and my teaser – appetizer and now I owe them a mention in my blog and perhaps a few future glasses of wine with waters all around.

Here is their picture – and you can catch their blog at

Hey Girls – Game On – tag your it!

Two 78's and one 74

Two 78’s and one 74

Seaside Heights NJ

It has been slightly over 2 years since I was last up to Seaside Heights NJ with my camera. And about 10 month since Hurricane Sandy stormed through the area.

I don’t know what I was expecting but in a way it was a pleasant surprise to see that the recovery efforts were visible everywhere. That is not to say that all is back as it was or has returned to normal. It hasn’t and it won’t be the same as it once was. Hopefully, it will be better.

My sister and brother-in-law who live in Toms River, NJ experienced enough discomfort and fortunately for them their respective damage was done more by the Nor’easter snowstorm that followed Sandy than her hurricane winds.

The boardwalks in Seaside and as well at Lavallette have been rebuilt. The people/summer residents have not returned in mass to Seaside – and the locals there claim that it is the draw of the boardwalk rides (lack thereof) that populate that stretch of beach.

The Sea Gulls too, seem few and far between along that shoreline. Maybe that is because there is not as many handouts and leftovers from the day beach goers – and maybe they don’t have their high perches off the boardwalk rides to rest and spy on what’s left on the beach.

What I know is that the Jersey shore is bustling. Homes are being lifted higher, construction crews are on every street, residences and business are still boarded up along long stretches of Ocean County NJ – but there is progress.

So enjoy these photos from last weeks visit to the Jersey Shore and then check out my Seaside Postcards photos from August 2011 – for a view of the way it was.

New Boardwalk Construction – end of the line at Seaside

New Boardwalk Construction – end of the line at Seaside

Construction worker – building a walkout on the boardwalk

Sporting events are attractive on several levels.

It can be the venue in which the sport is played. It can be the shared sporting among players themselves that attract attention. It can be the participants who chose a day to sit with friends, family and fellow sport lovers to cheer and root on a favorite. And some days it can be just as wonderful to be outdoors in the sun and shade for a long walk. Such is the game of golf and venues on which it is played.

Ever since my late father took me to his club, Seneca Golf Club in Baldwinsville, NY and taught me the game he enjoyed best – it was an attractive bet that I would enjoy the scenery more than my score. My father-in-law was the same – he loved the sport played at Westover Golf Club in Norristown, PA until the day he died on the 3rd tee with his hands firmly gripping his 3-wood.

The DC area is blessed with many outstanding, picturesque courses that can play host to a sporting venue but none better than Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD.

So in this month of June for my father and father-in-law, both of whom I know would have enjoyed spending a nice sunny afternoon like we had this past week in Bethesda walking outdoors here are a few of my favorite photos as viewed from Inside The Ropes.

Daily Coverage

Sunday June 30, 2013

Boy, are the folks over at MCM (Montgomery Community Media) giving me the mo-yoke (my grandma Bosco’s – evil eye). It seems that I have not blogged for them in a while. And I have not uploaded to this my page in a while either.

Well, I was busy.

How busy you ask (sounding like the GEICO commercial guitar picker)?

I was busier than all the sous chefs at Jaleo, Chef Geoff’s or the Peppers/Monsoon Indian combined and trust me – they are very busy.

To bring y’all up to speed – in a span of one week I photographed three unique chefs. Chef José Andrés of Yaleo, Chef Geoff Tracy of Chef Geoff and Chef Mike Bhatnagar of Peppers/Monsoon Indian. All are Montgomery County residents and all own/operate restaurants in the county.

I held up writing about them until the articles and photos (I worked on) were published – which all happened this past week.

I found it puzzling how to compare all three. Chef José Andrés and Chef Geoff are young and in their forties; Chef Mike is a little grayer but has been a chef for 40 years. All started young in the business and all three did everything from washing dishes moving up to cooking for dignitaries – maybe that should be my angle.

Their retail presence varies with restaurants in street locations such as in Bethesda, Tysons Corner and Penn’s Quarter in NW DC (Yaleo); to Northwest DC, Rockville, Chevy Chase and Tysons (Chef Geoff); to a second floor retail walk up in Gaithersburg (Peppers/ Monsoon Indian).

Chef Jose Andres of ThinkFoodGroup

Chef José Andrés is the father of the Tapas craze. He opened his first restaurant on 7th Street in NW DC in 1993 six years before the Verizon Center moved into the neighborhood. He is credited with jump-starting the revival of the Penn Quarter area of NW DC. These days Chef José is concerned with philanthropic, educational and humanitarian projects. He has lectured at Harvard and this spring at George Washington University. He is concerned with the influences of food on the world politic. He fights hunger both locally and globally.


Some consider him among the 100 most influential individuals in the world. PS: his latest project is working on the film Hannibal, the great military commander – consulting on what foods Hannibal’s troops would have eaten in his native Spain (Iberia) – as they transited the European continent on its’ way to Italy.

Chef Geoff Taylor was a theology/philosophy student at Georgetown University. One day in his teens he was challenged by a restaurant owner to work a busboy job – and they say the rest is history. Today he runs (together with his brother) four Chef Geoff’s and the Lia’s in Chevy Chase. He views himself as the creative officer but don’t let that fool you – he has done everything up the restaurant chain of command.

Chef Geoff Tracy

Married to Georgetown graduate Nora O’Donnell, co-anchor of CBS This Morning, Chef Geoff splits time here in Montgomery County with another home closer to New York City. He has been seen on NBC”s The Today Show demonstrating his cooking for millions and Matt Lauer.

Last, but certainly not least, is Chef Mike Bhatnagar of Peppers/Monsoon Indian in Gaithersburg. Chef Mike is trained and educated in the food industry studying both in his native India and in the US (Cornell University), in this his adopted homeland. Ever the journeyman Chef Mike worked as executive chef for Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Sheraton and the Hilton chains.

Chef Mike’s welcome

He owned and operated Peppers in Los Angeles, with locations in Manhattan Beach and Hollywood. ARAMARK, his last employer, brought him to the DC area where he now has a catering business and his own restaurant Peppers/Monsoon Indian. It was there up on the second floor that I noticed his menu board above the kitchen – it had every type of ethnic cuisine listed. He can cook anything – and has done so for many dignitaries, Presidents, Pope John II and even Jackie O.

Chef Mike

So now given the choice of all these fine establishments which one will I sit down and eat at after I put down my camera for the night?

Well, to be honest I think that Chef Mike’s beautiful wife, Jyoti, would give me the mo-yoke if I did not return with my wife to sit and listen to them spin stories while Chef Mike was back in the kitchen cooking up Grandma Bosco’s favorite – spaghetti and meatballs.

“Manga, manga Phillie”

Slice of life moments exist all around us in the Washington DC area.

Here are but a few photos of the new Congress who meet on Thursday for Swearing-In Ceremonies. Perhaps the most emotional moments were seen on the Senate side of the Capitol where Senator Mark Kirk (R-ILL) returned to work some 348 days after suffering a stroke. As a result of the stroke the Senator had to relearn how to walk. Vice President Joe Biden along with good friends, Senators, family and a large contingent of Chicago based media were on hand to witness his return – along with yours truly.

Enjoy these slices of life from the US Capitol – January 3, 2013

Women Democratic lawmakers gather on the East Capitol steps.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) front and center with Iraq Veteran Rep. Tammy Duckworth to the right (Pelosi’s left).

Sen Mark Kirk (R-ILL) with Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer climbing the Senate Steps

Vice President Joe Biden awaits along with many Senate members for Senator Mark Kirk to make his way up the Senate steps.

Sen Mark Kirk (R-ILL) jokes with the Vice President, as Senators Manchin and Durbin before climbing the Senate Steps

With Senators and family encouragement Sen Mark Kirk with the help of Sen Joseph Mancin and Vice President Joe Biden (far right) begin the climb up to the top

Photo op moment for all. Biden, Kirk, Manchin and Durbin.

A Wide Angled view of the gathering

Senator Ben Cardin, his wife Myrna and Vice President Joe Biden at Swearing In reenactment in the Old Senate Chamber.

Myrna Cardin leaves her Husband Senator Ben Cardin’s swearing in reenactment in the Old Senate Chamber.