“I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11.

“Through the mirror of my mind time after time, I see reflections of you and me; reflections of the way life used to be.”- Diana Ross

2010 brought “joy and pain like sunshine and rain.” There are so many things to reflect about 2010, but one stands out clearly because it is my new year’s resolution. Every year at the Wright family’s annual stroke foundation walk around Druid Hill Park reservoir, I promise to walk. Fortunately, I leave before my mind convinces my legs to walk.

“In the morning, a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Hey, Ma. Look at me I’m on top of the world.”- James Cagney

“Got my mind made up.” I was elated when I accomplished the walk this year. It took me a minute; I walked, sat down, talked, and enjoyed overlooking the cars whizzing along Jones Falls and the beauty of the city stretching out for miles. Did you know there are two fountains in the reservoir?

I always wanted to walk the reservoir and can’t wait until I do it again. Special thanks to my walking partners Karen Brown, Tracey Wright and Milton Solomon who rode their bikes around several times checking on me. “At last” I noticed the same people passing me. Aha! it dawned on me they had been around the reservoir several times to my one.

“If my heart can become pure and simple like that of a child, I think there probably can be no greater happiness than this.”- Kitaro Nishida?

I must be “crazy.” I love celebrating New Year’s Eve downtown, watching the city of Baltimore come alive with the crowds, traffic jams and fireworks in anticipation of a new year. The carnival atmosphere with mimes, musicians, magicians and stilt walkers greeted us when we stopped at Pazo’s for our traditional champagne toast with bartenders Tracey and Carmen.

Next, Ruth Chris’s Water Street where owner Steve DeCastro, David Sadeghi and Gaby warmly greeted guests anxious to be in place at the stroke of midnight. I ate so fast, hardly tasting the succulent grilled scallops, nervous I would miss the fireworks.

“I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”- Langston Hughes

“Round midnight” the valet approached and said, “Ms. Val your chariot awaits outside.” Ruth’s Chris had arranged for their limousine to take us to Ruth’s Chris’ Pier 5 to watch the fireworks. Pier 5’s manager Jim Daughtry escorted us to the best seat on the pier overlooking the harbor. Before midnight a bottle of champagne mysteriously appeared.

Welcome to 2011, the beginning of a New Year and a new decade. “Suddenly” the bejeweled sky ignited as the rainbow colors exploded into a kaleidoscope of brilliance. The spectacular view was so close I thought I could “reach out and touch” the fireworks.

The driver waited to return us to Water Street where we danced “in the wee small hours of the morning” in the Havana Club. Special thanks to Steve, David, Jim, Leander, Patrick, Lindsey, Joe and staff for a magical night. Gaby formerly of Ruth Chris’ Pikesville is now at Water Street.

“Humor is laughing at what you haven’t got when you ought to have it.”- Langston Hughes

Baltimoreans are perplexed that our “Top Chef” Timothy Dean did not receive the coveted title from Bravo’s “Top Chef.” The room filled with laughter and good humor when Tim shared his experience at the wine and dinner event at his Fells Point restaurant. The atmosphere was permeating with the fragrance of the meal Tim was preparing during the tableside demonstration.

“Days of wine and roses.” The three-course dinner paired with wines featured pumpkin soup with shallot flan, pan seared red snapper with braised oxtail ragout and pinot noir sauce, a 21-day aged rib eye with root vegetables and black truffle essence and pumpkin crème brulee for dessert. The featured wines Syrah Navarro, Correas 2007 and Riesling Sage-land accentuated the meal.

Guests enjoying the richness of the newly remodeled dining area were Dr. Hadassah Saunders, Yasmin Seay, Morris Johnson, Euchalla Paylor, Elizabeth Knoght, Doug and Jabet Kozler Valerie Moore, Natalie Berkley, Mark Howie, Wanda Watts and David Taylor of New Jersey.

Praying for “peace in the valley” for Forest Park golf pro Tim Sanders on the death of his father; Bernard Bynum and Jeanette on the death of Sherrie Bynum; Ken and Linda James, Kay Curry and family on the death of their uncle Ronald James and to Cathleen Taylor-Dudley on the death of her grandmother Grace Melcher.

“I’ll drink to that.” A toast to family and friends of Jiggs owner Walter Wilson on his death.

Violets to members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on the death of our 11th national president Dorothy Harrison at age 103.

Celebration time! Happy 60th birthday to my sister, Cheryl Johnson, Ann Branch, Brandon Davis, Jo Lewis, Karyne Henry, Wendell “Pete” France, Rose Hamm and Jean Johnson of Washington, D.C.

Keep hitting them straight Pine Ridge golf pro Tony Evans on your 62nd birthday.

Sending yellow roses and well wishes to Betty Stop’s mom Helen Mackale, Ardena Dixon, Jackie McCloud, and Eugene Smalley.

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.” – Joey Adams

“I’ll be seeing you.”
-Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch