Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nobody Knows

Nobody knows that when I was a senior in high school, my brother a sophomore, and our neighbor and mutual best friend a junior, we had some great big parties while my parents were vacationing elsewhere. Yes, I remember high school like a John Hughes film.

Nobody knows that I miss that brotherly friendship with all my little brother's friends who were constantly hanging around our house.

Nobody knows that one summer night at one of those parties, sitting on the shag carpet in front of the tv that was blaring MTV (back when MTV actually played one music video after another), Ken, one of my brother's friends confessed his love for me.

Nobody knows that same night, my resistance to someone younger than me was numbed by the wine we had been drinking.

Nobody knows that we kissed passionately while Modern English sang, "I'll Stop the World and Melt With You", the lyrics and melody magically surrounding us, reflecting our feelings for one another at that moment.

Nobody knows that my heart swelled and skipped a few beats for Ken that night we shared a somewhat innocent kiss. I never told him.

Nobody knows that when I came back from college at Christmas break, I wanted to be of service to my community, so I organized a movie day for some underprivileged kids in my hometown.

Nobody knows that my brother would not go with me to help out.

Nobody knows that Ken volunteered to go with me, without me even asking him.

Nobody knows that when Ken and I walked through the doors into the darkened theater, a string of kids, who had never been in a movie theater in their lives ran in front of us all the way to the very front row. We chose two seats directly behind them so we could keep an eye on all of them at once.

Nobody knows that Ken and I both fell madly in love with the youngest and smallest of the group, a small four year old boy named 'Ocean Man'.

Nobody knows why a mother would name her son, 'Ocean Man'.

Nobody knows that as soon as the lights went out and the huge picture came on the screen along to the booming sound, Ocean Man jumped out of his seat like a shot and ran the entire row, as I stood, panicked, calling to him. He immediately turned into our row and ran by all the empty seats to hoist himself squarely in my lap.

Nobody knows how special I felt at 19 to be chosen by this precious soul, or to be sitting on this row in this dark theater with these two precious souls.

Nobody knows that when I came home from college that summer, merely three months later, I was told that Ocean Man had been hit by a car.

Nobody knows how devastated I felt that Ocean Man was dead.

Nobody knows that I wondered constantly if Ocean Man's family appreciated him and tried to protect him, or were they too busy in their survival to be bothered. Was he left to fend for himself without the protection of a warm lap? Did anyone know how precious Ocean Man was besides Ken and I? Could I have saved him?

Nobody knows that the years passed, and I lost touch with my hometown and everyone in it, even Ken.

Nobody knows that years passed, and we both moved on, fell in love with other precious souls, were married with our own new precious souls to take care of without any word to each other.

Nobody knows that when I heard that Ken had taken his own life, I was devastated. I had no right to be devastated. Ken wasn't a part of my life any more, nor I of his.

Nobody knows that I wondered constantly if his family appreciated him and tried to protect him, or were they too busy in their survival to be bothered. Was he left to fend for himself without the protection of a warm kiss? Did anyone know how precious Ken was? Could I have saved him?

Nobody knows that when I saw Ken's picture, it was a picture of a grown man I did not know.

Nobody knows that when I closely studied his eyes in the picture, I saw the Ken I melted with that night so long ago.

Nobody knows that to this day, when I hear that song by Modern English, my heart swells, and the rhythm of it's beat changes. I am back there in the embrace of a precious soul, stopping the world and melting with him.

Nobody knows how much I miss those two precious souls who each etched their initials in my heart so deeply with such brief encounters.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Queen of Sheba Cake

I read about this cake that inspired Julia Child. It may be the first cake she
tasted in France. I was dying to try it.

The Christmas season finally gave me an excuse. It is the perfect occasion, right?

I invited some friends over for dinner on Christmas Eve eve.

I made a simple fish stew, and that was nice with the cheddar biscuits and a salad.
It was all really an excuse for me to finally take on the 'Queen'.

Of course, you know it was a disappointment.
How could I have worked myself up like that and not experience a let down?
The cake is good. It really is.
However, what cake can live up to mythic standards?

The icing was a sort of ganache.
It, on the other hand, was mythic and epic, and I'd happily trade
my husband and children for a bowl of it right now!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Gotta Start Somewhere!

Wow, I really let this blog go.  A couple of blog friends tried to nicely mention all the cobwebs building up in the corners and the dust covering everything, but it took me a while to get over here and clean it up.

So, my last post was ~ 2 months ago.  What have I been doing?

I can account for ~ 3 weeks, which were spent traveling.  Then, there's the packing before the trip and the unpacking after the trip.  There's the time it took to find a place for the dog .  .  .

Okay, okay .  .  .  honestly, I just got out of the habit.  I had planned to do a lot of blogging while we were in Europe, but obviously, that didn't happen.

Since, I have to start somewhere, I'll start by recounting the three weeks I can account for.  
I'll start with the Negresco.  

It's a hotel in Nice.  Let me rephrase that.  It's a sort of .  .  .  a crazy hotel in Nice, France.  My husband had a business event in Nice, and his company chose to put everyone up at the Negresco.  We actually started our trip in Germany.  I love Germany, but the German part of our trip was really short and to the point, 
and I don't have any interesting pictures from that part.  

So, without further ado (my mother's favorite word when I was young and able to cause much ado), if you haven't met, let me introduce you to the Negresco.

It looks beautiful.  It is impressive.  It's outrageously expensive.  Supposedly, celebrities stay here.  There were paparazzi outside taking video, hoping to capture me stepping out on the balcony .  .  .  or someone equally as impressive.  

If I had $700/night to spend on a hotel though, this probably wouldn't be it.  I'm not complaining, I'm just saying.

This is the wall inside the elevator.  Enough said.

This is the wallpaper in the hallway of our hotel room. 

This is the sink in our bathroom.  If you can't tell from the picture, it is glittery, sparkly gold.  The bathtub and the bidet matched the sink.

This is the antique bed in our hotel room.  Notice the canopy that matches the wallpaper from the hallway walking into the room.

This is an original Salvador Dali painting found on the Dali hallway, which was filled with original Dali paintings.

Did I mention that this hotel actually prides itself on being an art museum?

This unclear photo was taken in the Negresco in Salon Versailles (said with a pretentious French accent).  This is a portrait of King Louis IVX by his original portrait painter.  There are three of these authentic paintings in existence.  One is located in the Palace Versailles.  The second is located in the Louvre, and the third is here in the Negresco.  This room is complete with Louis IVX furniture placed the way it was placed at Versailles.  We know because we tried to move a chair and got yelled at by the Negresco's proprieter.

This is a massive and gorgeous chandelier in one of the main salons.  
The roof was designed by Eiffel.  Yes, that Eiffel. 

Is the Negresco unapologetically pretentious? Yes.  Is it ostentatious?  Yes.  
Is it a mix of art from the 17th century through to the 21st?  Absolutely.

Is it lovely and tastefully decorated?  Not so sure.

The absolute best part of the Negresco you see in the top photo.  
The view from our room was awesome.

I will continue recounting the parts of our trip that I feel like recounting 
until I find my 'blog voice' again.  

Thanks for stopping by.  Sorry about the dust - I'll try to be more attentive.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Birthdays - the good, the bad and the . . .

I have to start by saying I am not complaining. Really, I'm not. I am soooo blessed and I do know how blessed I am.

My birthday was on Sunday. Whenever anyone in our family has a birthday, we start the day with breakfast together. It doesn't have to be fancy, but we always set the table to make it feel that way.

This Sunday I knew that my daughter and husband had to leave at noon. They let me know that we would have breakfast together before they left, and they would be home to make me dinner and had invited my mother and friend to join us that evening.

So, Sunday morning we all enjoyed a much needed sleep-in. I was hungry when I woke up, but I didn't get myself anything to eat, because I was waiting for everyone. I was reassured several times that soon they would get breakfast together.

Finally, at 12:05 my daughter and husband apologized profusely that they had let the time slip up and ran out the door. My nine year old son had cut up a peach for himself. I peered into the bowl of mush. It looked like he had pulled apart the ripe, mushy peach with his bare hands, squeezing as he went. He held the bowl out to me and asked, "do you want a piece of my peach?"

Fast forward to the evening when the guilty culprits returned with tails between their legs. They both promptly disappeared to do 'important' stuff. I was worried because I knew people were coming over, and I generally prepare before someone walks in the door.

I couldn't just sit by and watch more crashing and burning. I grabbed some cheese out of the fridge and poured some crackers on a platter just as the doorbell rang. I sent my son to find the scoundrels that were supposed to be making dinner.

They came and sort of pulled it together. There was a lot of talking and joking as we waited and waited for food to be prepared. At every opportunity my daughter disappeared, and we had to call her back to join the festivities. Granted, she's a teenager, but she also LOVEs a party.

When I opened my gifts, there were potted herbs for my herb garden, some great placemats, a Barnes and Noble gift card that will be used before you know it. My son made me a gorgeous bracelet out of purple string and silver beads. My husband gave me the big finale - something I had been really wanting - the Bamboo fun tablet for doing artwork and crazy creative stuff on my computer. My daughter's gift was conspicuously missing. She said she was still working on it.

The next night there was a beautifully wrapped gift on my bed. Within the homemade sparkly paper I discovered an amazing photo album full of our family at different ages. Every page was completely covered with colorful clippings, creative doodads and scrapbooked sayings all straight from my daughter's heart.

It might be my favorite gift - ever. But, next year I want to eat before noon!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Soiled at 10 and 2

Today I was driving around on my normal chauffeur route, squeezing the errands in between.

I drove up to the bank drive thru, and as I sat in my car next to the pneumatic chute waiting for the receipt to come back, I realized my hands felt sticky (no, not like the lady in my WWUD post). 

Upon inspection, I realized my fingers were black. I surveyed the steering wheel and immediately discovered the source of my problem.

Black, sticky splotches of paint were strategically located in the 10 and 2 position on the back of my steering wheel, but now smeared blotchily around the steering wheel and my hands.

*Important background info that I knew* 1. The last time I drove my car I took it to the car wash, which I rarely do, but sooooo enjoy the aftereffects.   2. My husband used my car after I took it to the car wash and had to open our recently painted gate to drive my car through. (you guessed it - I don't have to tell you what color the gate was painted!)

I was pissed (putting it mildly).  The whole momentarily pristine state of my car was sullied.  I lost my 'moment'.  

I started fumbling for wet wipes, trying not to distribute the lovely blackness any more than necessary. Once I got the deposit slip, I slowly pulled into the closest parking space in order to clean up, take a breath and plot revenge on the guilty culprit.

I got it together and moved on.

When I got home, my home phone was ringing. Here's the phone conversation that followed, and this is absolutely true:

"Hello, this is Rena, the manager from the Wachovia branch you visited today."

"Okay" - immediately scrolling through my memory banks - did I leave my card in the machine again?

Rena: The teller who helped you today said that when you left the drive thru, you did not have a smile on your face. We were concerned that you did not receive excellent service.

Me - stunned : Uhhhh, the service was fine. I had other issues within my car.

Rena: So, is there any way we could have improved your service today?

Me, so in shock that I can't come up with anything snappy: No, I don't think so.


Is my bank now concerned about my emotional health? I find this whole phone call hard to swallow. I still haven't figured out the underlying angle. They can't actually be interested in customer service after all these years of not caring.  The economy must be horrible if the bank is actually having to resort to positive customer experience in order to retain clientele.

This personal service is making me uncomfortable.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Story of a Princess

This story is based entirely on actual events that have occurred in the life of my friend, Gem and her boyfriend, Duke.

Gem was born in a small town in Georgia. Gem was always bigger than the life she was born into. She loves to travel and has an appreciation for the finer things in life.

Into Gem's life, Duke sauntered. Duke was born in Nigeria to a prominent family. He is now living in Georgia and in Nigeria, where he maintains three homes.

Life in Nigeria is far different than life in America. Duke is accustomed to such things as having his underwear ironed. He has one person on his staff in one of his homes whose only job is to reset the switch (equivalent to flipping a breaker) whenever the power goes out.

Duke quickly swept Gem off her feet and they were drawn together into a full-swing romance, traveling frequently all over Europe and Africa.

After a year together, they decided to establish Duke's American residence in Gem's home. They officially moved in together, though he still had his three homes in Nigeria and work there kept him in Africa quite often.

During one particular extended stay, Duke walked into their Georgia home from the garage. He was overtly upset as he slammed the door.

He said to Gem, "something's wrong with the light in the garage."

She asked, "is the lightbulb burned out?"

He said, "I don't know. Can you get somebody to fix it?"

Upon further inspection, Gem realized it was simply a matter of changing a light bulb.

Gem said to Duke, "I'm on my way out. You can change the bulb - there are new bulbs in the cabinet, " and she left.

Duke was panicked. Duke had no idea how to change a lightbulb. Duke went to Gem's twelve year-old-niece and asked her how to change the lightbulb.

I dont' think I have to spell out who the actual princess is in this story.

I must admit. My son is afraid of any work. What I'm really saying here is, "I'm afraid my son may also be a princess."

Update on the whole horse debacle . . .

If you didn't read the previous post - this is just a follow-up.  

It was pretty anticlimactic.  

After many calls to Edna where she never answered, I loaded the kids into the car to drive over there with our gardening gloves and grubby jeans.  We knocked on her door to report for duty - still no answer.  I was beginning to worry about her.

We walked back to the barn and peaked into the stalls to see what was in store for us.

Those stalls were unbelievably, spotlessly clean.

So, we left, and I continued to call Edna until she finally returned my call.

This time it was a whole different story.  Her voice was bright and chipper, and she said she felt much better and had no problem now taking care of the horses.

So, it's the thought that counts, right?  I mean, I was willing to help her, and I didn't just hang up the phone originally, pretending that I didn't understand her, like my husband said to do.

So, God, do I still get all the points as if I had actually done the dirty deed of cleaning up behind the majestic creatures that are so much nicer when you don't have to clean up behind them?

I'm not sure though if I actually believe in domesticating animals like this.  Would I get more points for sneaking around at night and letting all the locked up horses run free?