Friday, July 31, 2009



We had a couple of adventures last night. First, we bit the bullet and got our hair cut. This was something of a signal event, because our friends Frank and Rick in Arlington had been coming to our house every six weeks to cut our hair and hang out for more than 20 years. We hadn't set foot in a hair emporium of any kind--hadn't even thought about it--in all that time. So many questions came to mind. Do guys down here go anyplace but barber shops? If I went to a barber shop would they snicker if I gave them a few directions about what I wanted done? (Thin the sides so I don't look like a Kremlin dome, among other things...) Finally I discovered Edenton Hair Solutions "for Gals and Guys" right downtown and made appointments. A matronly lady named Anita, who, she told us, has been cutting hair since 1964, welcomed us to her one-chair operation.

There was a slightly shaky start when she asked us what we did for a living. When I told her I was retired from the Peace Corps, she said, "So. The military." It's been so long since I explained what the Peace Corps is to another American (have I ever?) I wasn't quite sure where to start. I told her it was a government program that sends people to live and work in poor overseas countries to help them. No glimmer of recognition from Anita--not even a perfunctory "that's nice." I had no idea what reaction the word "Kennedy" might elicit and wasn't particularly anxious to find out, so we left the Peace Corps and moved on.

Anita was clearly grateful for our business and chatted about how things in Edenton are changing. She bemoaned the fact that most of her customers are newcomers anymore, replacing the old timers who have either moved away or passed on. More and more businesses are catering to tourists instead of locals, and that can be hard...and I agree it's ridiculous that people in this relatively prosperous little pocket have to travel more than 30 miles to get to the Elizabeth City Super Wal-Mart to get cheap groceries, or to Lowe's...and the nearest Home Depot, if that's your preference, is all the way up in Virginia. We asked her about the county fair, coming up at the end of October. She told us she's with the American Legion and is there every day cooking. We used to love the Arlington County Fair and visit it to sample the various ethnic foods available. Now, down here we aren't expecting satay with peanut sauce, not even kielbasa with peppers. But chili dogs? Not a word about barbecue in this literal hog heaven. But, strained conversation aside, Anita did a good job on our hair for less than half what we used to pay Frank and Rick, so we'll stick with her until we move up to Hertford. Then we'll probably find someplace else for our haircuts in (relatively) urbane Elizabeth City. (We hope once we're in our house we can entice Frank and Rick down for an occasional weekend visit. Maybe every six weeks???)

Speaking of barbecue, our other adventure was a barbecue dinner at Captain Bob's, a big roadhouse on US 17 we pass every day on our commute to the property. There's always a lunch and dinner crowd there, so we figured it must be the place where the locals know they'll find the best BBQ around.

The official name of the joint is "Captain Bob's Barbecue and Seafood" (emphasis mine), and its sign has a picture of an old salt with a parrot on his shoulder, so we should have been clued in to the preponderance of seafood on the menu. Yes, they do have barbecue: minced or sliced pork, which is done with vinegar-pepper sauce, the way I like it, and sliced beef barbecue, which is also not too bad, at least not cloyingly sweet. I ordered a plate of the minced pork with coleslaw, potato salad, and corn bread. How's that for a great sounding Southern spread? My mouth was watering.

Well. Ever had potato salad so soupy you needed a spoon to eat it? I drank it out of the bowl. (Yes, there were a few lumps of potato, but clearly the stuff had been sitting around so long the vegetables had given off all their juices and watered down the mayonnaise to the consistency of soup.) Same with the cole slaw, whose main ingredient besides cabbage was sugar. (I poured it over the pork to moisten the meat a bit and it wasn't too bad.) The meal was served with a golden-brown hockey-puck thing sitting on top of it. That turned out to be Captain Bob's version of Elvis Presley's death-wish corn bread. What they do is take a slice of perfectly presentable corn bread, and then they dip it in batter and deep fry it. Is this some regional specialty the rest of the country has never heard of? If so, I understand completely the South's desire to keep it a secret.

We figure we'll give the place one more chance for the seafood. At least we know what to stay away from next time: the potato salad, the coleslaw, and the "corn bread." Steve had an order of onion rings and they were good, light and beer-battered. And the pork wasn't bad. But mine's better.

So far I'm amazed at the lack of imagination--or local pride, really--we've seen in restaurant food here. We're not looking for gourmet and certainly don't expect it from roadhouse food. But freshness doesn't seem too much to ask for. We'll keep looking. (And I have to admit that the three sit-down restaurants in downtown Edenton are not bad at all.)

Today's recipe is a very simple but delicious treat, made with the same marinade I use for shrimp kebabs, but with a little brown sugar added. I like pork tenderloin, but I don't often grill it because it cooks so fast. After firing up the Weber and waiting for the coals to heat, the 20-minute cooking time seems anticlimactic. But it's good to eat, and perfectly suited to the faster gas grill.

Herb-Garlic Marinade:

6 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup packed fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 cup packed tender fresh rosemary sprigs
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark, whatever you have on hand
Pepper to taste

1 package pork tenderloins, 2 1/2-3 lbs.

Mince garlic, herbs and salt together in a food processor. Woody stems on the herbs are OK--they will not be eaten. Add lemon juice and olive oil to herbs in processor bowl and process until emulsified.

Remove tenderloins from shrink-wrap, run under faucet to remove moisture, and pat dry with paper towels. Place meat in large ziplock bag and add marinade to cover. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight, turning meat occasionally.

Remove meat from marinade and pat dry. Discard marinade. Allow meat to air-dry at room temperature while you prepare grill for the indirect roasting method.

When grill is ready, place meat directly over coals (or burners) and sear for 5 minutes to develop surface carmelization. Turn and repeat to brown other side. (The sugar will brown quickly, so mind well the size of the flame on a gas grill.)

Move meat to opposite side of the grill, cover, and continue roasting with indirect heat another 10 minutes. Remove meat to a cutting board, allow to rest about 10 minutes. Slice into inch-thick pieces and serve.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Learning along the way

I've had the picture and my song ready to go since early Saturday morning, but this is the first chance I've had to sit down and write something. Between playing tourist and taking care of business both on the construction project and everyday living, there has been little time for this. Today is different because Steve went to the property by himself to work on the garden shed, which I'm not much help at. We'll start clearing again tomorrow or Thursday, and the morning labor routine will begin again. We're almost finished with that job; now we have to get a tractor mower to stay ahead of Mother Nature, who appears to abhor an underbrush vacuum. When the shed is up, we'll have a place to store the mower. You know how it is, one thing leads to another....

The picture above is a closeup of the Roanoke River at Williamston, NC, about 40 miles south of here. As you drive south on US 17, you cross the river at that point on an enormous bridge, and you see what appears to be a complex of walkways. In the same proximity along the road are signs bringing your attention to the Roanoke River Wildlife Sanctuary. A stranger to these parts can be forgiven for putting two and two together and concluding that the walkways are part of a walking tour of the Sanctuary. At least, that was our conclusion, and we set out Saturday morning to take a trek and see some wildlife. Wrong. Turns out the walkways you see from the bridge are all there is; they don't "go" anywhere. They're just part of a small park. Interesting enough, for about 5 minutes. We drove into the town of Williamston itself to check out the tourism center. On this sunny summer Saturday, when tourists may be expected out and about, it was closed. Weekdays only, 9 to 5. What, one may reasonably ask, is the point?

We continued on to the town of Plymouth, whose name we had seen on road signs since we've lived here, and was intriguing. It's a harbor town, it has the same name of the more famous town in Massachusetts, and there might be something there to explore.

We discovered another barren little viilage, hanging on by a thread. We stopped for lunch in the only place that was open, the Plymouth Bakery and Café. The owner/hostess/waitress, an older woman, turned out to be a transplant from New Jersey who engaged us enthusiastically once she found out we were new to the area and from "the North." She asked us what we were interested in, and we said activities like antique stores, walking tours... she became a fount of information about out-of-the-way restored plantations and emporia. Plymouth is trying hard to rejuvenate itself, but like so many places we've seen in this depressed pocket of the state, it has been hit hard by the economic crash. People like us are bringing a little cash in, but it's a mere trickle at this point.

It wasn't my intention to write something depressing today, but this is what came out as I followed the words. We still like it here very much, but as is to be expected, we are discovering things we hadn't anticipated, such as these dormant local economies. In Edenton we find ourselves in a capsule of relative prosperity, and when we move, our little neighborhood will be the same. Our "big city" then will be Elizabeth City, and collectively we will be contributing to that economy by spending our retirement pensions there on restaurants and good grocery stores. Little by little.....

Friday, July 24, 2009



I was hoping to get this done before we went out into what is now our workaday world this morning but the picture took so long to upload I didn't have time for anything else. It rained buckets last night, and I thought maybe we'd have a day off, but the sun came out in the morning, so we went ahead and continued the clearing work on the property. The eye-popping "before-and-after" views are all created now; we're down to nitty-gritty places that aren't as attractive but still need to be done. And when it rains a lot of that forest floor turns to shoe-sucking, tire-burying muck. It's so hot so early in the morning that before long all those long sleeves and long pants--necessary to keep away the bugs--are sticking to you as if you'd been wading in the water. There is no way to put a "whistle while you work" spin on this uncomfortable drudgery. Its only reward is its completion, and the fact that what you've done has made a visible difference. Next week the foundation bricks will be laid, so I'll have more pictures to share.

We are still enjoying the bounty of all the little vegetable stands nearby. When I saw baby limas at the place down the road I knew I'd have to make some succotash with them and some of the sweet corn I still had on hand. There's nothing very complicated about the succotash I've always known--corn and limas--but to make sure I got the proportions right I went to Epicurious to find a basic recipe. What I found was this instead, a great variation on the classic standby that uses two more gifts of the season: tomatoes and fresh basil. And it happens that this is a dish that truly does improve with a few hours to let the basil flavor develop fully. I liked it the first day and LOVED the leftovers the next day. If you think succotash is a plain-jane side, you may change your mind after you try this.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
Coarse kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups chopped red tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 1/4 cups corn kernels cut from 4 ears of corn
2 cups fresh lima beans (from about 2 pounds pods) or 10 to 11 ounces frozen lima beans or baby butter beans, thawed
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sprinkle with coarse salt. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, corn, and lima beans. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until corn and lima beans are tender and tomatoes are soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in basil and serve.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"A bunch of Yankees"

First: take a look at the new masthead photo. Since we're all about transition here, I thought it was time to get rid of that tentative image from the time we were merely hoping to be able to make the property into something, to an up-to-the-minute representation of what it looks like now. We finished clearing the land all the way to the house site today and now you can actually see where the house will sit the at the end of the curving, shaded driveway. Lovely, if I say so myself!

I'd always heard there are southerners for whom the Civil War never ended. We saw one such soul today. It was at the dump. The guy was at a distance and he must have heard us say hello to the attendant in our accents, which mark us as not from these parts. "A bunch of Yankees," he said to no one in particular, was filling up the yard waste bin with pieces that weren't cut down to four feet. Huh? After at least a dozen runs to that same bin at that same dump, the people working there have never said anything to us about a size limit. But leave it to us "Yankees" to fill up the waste bin too fast and make it harder for an honest Reb tryin' t'do the rat thing.

Steve and I have probably been called much worse, of course, but never to our faces. We had an epithet--Yankee--actually thrown at us! You think of all kinds of snappy comebacks later, of course. (My immediate reaction was what I wrote above: "huh?" because we didn't know about any four-foot rule, and as far as we're concerned, until an attendant at the dump tells us about it, we still don't.)

I could have said, "I'm no Yankee, I'm from Virginia, but I outgrew the accent." But it would have been too subtle for such a sledgehammer brain. You think about a possible conversation with somebody like that and you mentally ascribe all the worst prejudices to him because he called you a Yankee. Jews, queers and n-words are what's wrong with this country. Can't you just hear it?

I think the reason I'm so taken by this incident is that it was the first negative vibe we've received in the month-plus we've lived here, and in all the visits we made before moving here. Steve and I aren't the most obvious gay men swishing down the trottoir, but we figure it has to be clear to anyone with two eyes that we're more than just good friends, the way we finish each others' sentences and appear together everywhere. And yet we are welcomed everywhere we go--indeed have at times been overwhelmed by the kindnesses we have been shown.

Ignoramuses like that "Yankee" slinger have been around since long before I set foot on the planet and will no doubt continue to reproduce. God bless America because they can say and think what they want. As long as they remain under their rocks while I'm out cutting my 6- to 8-foot brush, I'll be fine.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Arrgh! Between Blogger taking its more than sweet time to upload these pictures and the new, slower speed I still need to get used to, my attempt at the proud papa act of pulling out photos to show you is being short-circuited. Just these two photos took 20 minutes to load. The other two I wanted to share just weren't moving at all. So I'll settle for these today and try for the other two another day.

Our days are falling into a routine. We are still clearing the front couple of acres of the property--the subject of these photos--so we get up there at around 8 o'clock so we can work while it is still relatively cool, quit around noon, come home, have lunch, and then tend to whatever town or home chores await. It is very hard work I would never do for anyone else, even for money. But it's also fantastic cardio exercise over a period of a couple of hours, so I'm not complaining--I'd be getting the workout somehow, anyway. And the pride of accomplishment and ownership is worth every drop of sweat--which is profuse, bundled up as we are in long pants and long sleeved shorts against the chiggers and ticks.

Here's what the area to the right of the driveway looked like this time last week: The camera's back is to the road and it is looking towards the area cleared for the house and the septic field, which is just barely visible through the thick grass and the tree suckers. Here's how we left it today: it's the same view taken from pretty much the same viewpoint. It's starting to look like a yard! The clearing in the distance is the septic field, and the house site is behind the last clump of trees on the left. We have a total of 2.5 acres and I'd estimate that the house will take up the .5 or perhaps .75. The rest will be cleared forest land. The initial clearing is by far the worst part. Maintaining it should be fairly easy with a riding mower,which is inching up to the trop of our list of things we need. We have a backup generator scheduled for delivery this week (that's in case a hurricane knocks out power, and also to operate our boat lift before the house is finished), and then next week our garden shed will come, just in time to keep usn busy after the clearing job to be done. The shed is coming as a kit, which we'll put together ourselves. (When it's built, there'll be room for the riding mower!)

Initial ground breaking on the foundation happened today; that was the subject of the other two pictures. We now have trenches with re-bar in them. (I hope to show you on Wednesday.) Next step: inspection, then concrete in the trenches, then some actual carpentry.

We're on our way!

Friday, July 17, 2009



I'm really pushing to get this done within the next 20 minutes; otherwise the day will take off and leave Food Friday in the dust. According to the weather forecast, we have only a couple of hours to do some more brush clearing on the property before the heavens are scheduled to open with heavy rain for the rest of the day. We'll work until we are rained out, then come home and get cleaned up. Then we'll be off to the big city to see about a dock permit. Yesterday we took a one-day trip up to Delaware and back to get up some things for the boat we had left in storage there. Four-and-a-half hours up and the same back, with about two hours in Delaware itself eating lunch and loading the car. We took the time to look at the old property and see what has become of it. You won't believe it. Traces of our idyll there have been completely erased. I'll post pics tomorrow. No time now.

Our friend André Miller brought this scrumptious salad as his pot luck offering for our Farewell to 12th Street party. Anything André makes is a treat; this stuff was gobbled up before many people even had a chance to sample it. It's a perfect way to showcase some of summer's bounty. Try it once and I guarantee you'll be going back to it again and again as long as corn and tomato season lasts. I used the last of the delicious corn we had bought from our neighbor.

Notes: you don't have to grill the corn. I just cooked mine conventionally on top of the stove, and it came out fine. The blue cheese is an unexpected addition and absolutely makes the dish. Substitute at flavor's peril.....

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ears corn, grilled in the husk, kernels removed
1 sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla), halved
and thinly sliced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Combine the vinegar, basil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4
teaspoon of pepper and oil in a blender and blend until
smooth. Can be made 2 hours in advance and refrigerated.
Bring to room temperature before using.

Combine the corn kernels, onion and tomatoes in a large bowl.
Add the dressing and toss to coat, season with salt and
pepper. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before
serving. Top with crumbled blue cheese and garnish with
basil sprigs just before serving. Salad can be made 1 day in
advance and served cold or at room temperature.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It rains here too....

We had torrential downpours last night that left everything wet this morning, which means if pavement is wet, then the clay at the property is muck, so what we thought would be a working morning is turning out to be something else. We've both been sitting at our computers all morning long--another unexpected luxury. Not sure I'd like a whole string of days like this, looming fairly empty, especially when we have a house to build, but a few are just fine.

One of the perks of living in North Carolina, of course, is all the furniture that you can get here. I took a preliminary gander at that scene this morning. It looks like the place to go is Hickory, about 6 hours away, and it'll be a trip of a couple of days because there are at least 25 big-name outlets there, not to mention any one-off local places we may find lurking when we get there. We'll need a sectional sofa and maybe a cabinet for the TV, although there is still discussion about the final location of that dominating but necessary appliance. We've never had a television in the living room until now, in this rental, where lack of space demands it. Practice proves the theory: neither of us likes the look that a huge (42-inch plasma TV) piece of technology gives to a room that is supposed to be a comfortable refuge. Add to that the all TV paraphernalia--the magazines, the remotes, the wires, the DVR and DVD and what-all else, and you've got a room that looks more like a computer lab than a living room. But. We eat dinner in front of the TV and it sure is convenient to cross a single threshold from the kitchen. At least, that what Steve keeps saying. And that's where a TV cabinet comes in. He thinks it would be fine to have a nice-looking cabinet to hide all that stuff when we weren't using it. But as far as I'm concerned we're used to carrying plates of food around the house from 28 years of doing it in Arlington. As far as I'm concerned, that's what we can do in the new house, too. Just have to find a painless way to make it happen.

The sun is trying to make a soggy appearance. The pavement has dried. It's time to stick my head out the door and seek some inspiration.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Transitions, changes, evolutions....

Well, for a while there I thought it would be easy to start doing regular postings again, but what I call the "f & b world" (for flesh and blood) keeps getting in the way. The bottom line discovery I'm making is that I'm living as two now 24/7; I'm no longer a 9 to 5 bachelor with a lot of time to stare at the computer screen. And between the move, settling in here at the rental and working on the property, we're busy. I have these few hours this morning as we wait for the dump to open at 1 PM. I can do laundry and write. It's a luxury. I find that I plenty of interesting things to share but less time to share them.

The hours of the dump figure into today's plans because when it's open is when we can fill the car with the brush we're clearing off the property and take it to the yard- waste bin at the dump. (Here they call it a "convenience center.") The property is 2.5 acres total. About half that acreage will remain a neat-but-natural looking woodland. The driveway will meander through it to the house, which will be visible in the distance through the trees. The photo above shows Steve with his brand new toy, a weed-whacker with a serious, rotating saw blade at the end, that he's just finished using to clear about a quarter of the property of warm-season growth. He cuts it all down, then I cut it further into car-sized pieces and drive it to the dump as the car fills up. Made just three trips yesterday--the stuff compacts. (The clearing for the house is in the distance above Steve's left shoulder.)

Here's the the exact same view taken just before the weed-whacker magic:

Quite a difference, no? In that picture, the gray area in the lower right corner is the driveway. We'll be working on the other side of that over the next few days.

All the work in these pictures took about 4 hours, in the early morning, before the heat of the day sets in. We must suit up up for the job--the first innocent walk we took through all that brush in sandals and shorts we both came home one giant chigger welt, and I found a tick on me. So we put on clothes with legs and sleeves--long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and we tuck the cuffs of our pants into our socks and then tape them together so nothing can get in. We sweat a lot as a result, even before the heat sets in. But that discomfort is a hundred times better than 20 chigger bites. (We hear there are also snakes in those woods, but so far we haven't seen any. Steve will drop his weed-whacker and go running for the next county if he does.)

So there you have it, the latest chapter in our grand adventure. I will try to be more regular but can make no promises. Just rest assured I'm not stopping this blog. I have way too much fun with it and enjoy your company too much. I'm still around. I even have a couple of things ready for Food Friday!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Life in the country

We live about two miles away from this view, the downtown waterfront of Edenton. For my morning walks I now hop into my car and drive into town, where this spectacle awaits. The first thing I do is walk all the way out on the concrete fishing pier, where nothing separates me from the water, just to savor the sight. It was exceptionally clear this morning: I could see the land on the far side. The water is Albemarle Sound, the huge, shallow bay that separates North Carolina's barrier islands--famous as the Outer Banks--from the mainland. After seeing the water, I turn north up the main drag, Broad Street, and walk straight for about 20 minutes before choosing a side street to explore. Each house in this lovely town seems more beautiful and gracious than the last. I've never seen the mansions of Charleston or the fabled squares of Savannah, but Edenton will do just fine until I do. When our house is finished we will be living about twenty miles away from this lovely place. We'll miss it, but we'll always know it's here for the occasional visit.

Yesterday, my next door neighbor--that's the one with the goats and the chickens--came over to tell me he was selling his sweet corn. A whole trailer load of it, $2 a dozen for the biggest ears you've ever seen. I paid for a dozen and got fifteen. We ate four of them last night for dinner and the rest will go into a special salad I'll show you this coming Friday. Sweet and crunchy, all it needed was a little butter. It just doesn't get any better.

Today we go to the big city--Elizabeth City--to check out some flooring for the new house and do a little shopping. Then it'll be back here to the goats and the chickens. Care to join us?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back home

I really do mean to try to be more regular with my posts from here on out, but if this morning is any indication, it will be a challenge. What used to take seconds is taking hours at the internet speeds I have here--at least that's the case today, when my air card has to try to read signals through a cloud cover. It literally took 2 hours to upload pictures of our Cincinnati trip to Picasa, and a half-hour to upload the one song I'm playing today to Hipcast. I had intended to show you a photo album of the trip, but half the day is already gone. If I didn't start writing now, I never would, so I had to put off arranging the uploaded pictures into an album until later.

The picture above shows the status of the construction project as of last Tuesday, before we left for Cincinnati. The ground clearing had been completed and the pad for the actual house was laid and flattened--that's what you see there. The driveway meanedering through the woods is becoming a reality, and the idea of the house peeking through the woods as you approach it is becoming clear. We're going to visit the property later today to see what more, if anything, was done while we were gone. If there's anything to show, I will.

Really the thing to talk about today is the wonderful time we had in Cincinnati with Michele and John. Michele was the other Peace Corps volunteer in my city, Kumasi--we've been close friends since that time 40-odd years ago. She and John were scientists with Procter and Gamble. They started their careers with the company in upstate, rural New York, and we used to drive up there from Arlington for great, sometimes snowbound Thanksgivings. After many years they moved to P&G headquarters in Cincinnati, so now we go there to see them. John is the foodie to end all foodies. He loves the chance to cook for an appreciative audience, and for three days he had three happy captives (here's Steve, Michele and John after Wednesday's repast)hanging on to his every pinch of salt. Pulled pork with coleslaw and 3 other sides awaited us when we arrived after the 12-hour drive Wednesday. Thursday was a "round the world" sample menu of 10--yes 10--different dishes, starting in Mexico, and ranging through Germany, France, Asia and the Caribbean as we progressed for three entire hours. Friday was pork tenderloin night, and Saturday we had a traditional July 4 feast John-style, with, among many other things, a mixed grill and my potato salad (I was beyond flattered to be invited to contribute).

Michele and John also love to show off their adopted home town, so in addition to all the home-cooked food, we toured the best breakfast places (oh, we didn't just pig out at dinner!) in fascinating and beautiful little corners of the city, and did a walking tour that took us across the Ohio River into Covington and Newport, Kentucky, the two cross-river suburbs that have their own distinct charms. Cincinnati is a beautiful city I wouldn't think twice about living in except for the dominant rightward trend of its politics....

We're off to inspect the property now, and maybe find a Goodwill store to buy a secondhand microwave oven to heat up our Cincy leftovers.....