Category Archives: Fine Dining

Birthday Song

 

The Radish & Her Baby Princess

The Radish and Her Baby Princess

 

Many thanks to all of my family, friends, and internet companions for your well wishes on my birthday.  As many of you know, it was also my dearly beloved mother’s birthday as well.  I had nine months to prepare for the day and I used every one of them.  There has not been one day in which I have forgotten that she is no longer on this earthly plane.  Not one day.  But in the end, it had nothing to do with me, really.  It had everything to do with YOU, dear reader, and my mother.  Instead of a day of intense sorrow, there was peace and joy.

Let me explain for those of you interested enough to keep reading.  Warning:  Jesus will be involved.

As I wrote earlier in the year, my mother Sally’s word for 2017 was REJOICE.  She only had two weeks on earth to work on that word but apparently it was enough.  My words for 2017 were HOPE and RESTORE.  Honestly, though, I adopted and focused on my mother’s word and by so doing, hope and restoration followed.

Let me explain, for those of you interested enough to keep reading.

As I also wrote earlier in the year, my Reading Brain and my Prayer Brain were adversely affected by my mother’s untimely passing.  For the first time ever in my life, reading brought little solace.  The Bible (gasp!), bible studies, People magazine, House Beautiful, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, the news held no appeal.  A voracious reader, my appetite was gone.  GONE.  My Prayer Brain was even worse.  Meandering.  Directionless (at a time when Direction is most urgently needed!  We need a job!  Health!  Peace!  Stability! Focus!).  Distressing.  What to do???

Let me explain, for those interested.

On Friday night I attended a pipe organ concert at our church in St. Augustine with my father,  Big Mike.  The organist, Ken Cowan, play from memory eight complicated compositions.  You have no idea how amazing this musical contortionist was [an grammatical edit is needed here but see above paragraph].  One of the pieces had what Mr. Cowan described as a “fugue”.  After the concert, I asked my father what the musical term “fugue” meant.  Musically illiterate,  I could think only of the word “trance” .  Naturally, my father gave me the definition almost verbatim from Merriam-Webster:

1

  • a :a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts The organist played a four-voiced fugue.

b :something that resembles a fugue especially in interweaving repetitive elements

My interpretation was close to the secondary definition:

  • 2
  • :a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect the acts performed

This is as approximate a description of the last nine months of my year, a “fugue”.  Between the moments of total functionality and quasi-normalcy, there have been many other moments of which I have zero recollection.  I have done some pretty random things, like become a certified yoga instructor.  (Say what?  Yep. I still can’t explain it to myself.)  Point, counterpoint, enter a voice or two, sing high, sing low sweet chariot.

Let me explain.

Yesterday after receiving my annual birthday blessing, I had an epiphany or three:

1) My mother came to church with me and even went so far as to engineer the liturgy for the day:  Phillippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord; and again, I say rejoice!” and Psalm 23, “He restores my soul …”.   While The Word in its totality has not fed me this year, the words REJOICE, HOPE, AND RESTORE have.

2) Jesus is the last person to care that I am not on my prayer game – there is no condemnation in Christ. [Romans 8:1].  Thanks, Jesus, for once again getting me off the hook.

3) Music, the language of angels, has soothed me.  To quote Eric Church, I have had “a record year.”  Mr. Church, Motown, and hippy dippy trippy yoga music have nourished my soul instead of books.

Finally, I took such great comfort in knowing that so many of you were hoping and praying I had a great day that I ACTUALLY DID!  YOU LIFTED ME UP FROM WHEREVER YOU WERE AND I THANK YOU.  I FELT THE LOVE!  THERE’S A PAIR OF WINGS WAITING FOR YOU IN HEAVEN.  Sunrise at the beach, a nap after, back to the beach for some vitamin Sea and D, a pitcher of beer with Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Pride and Joy at Finn’s rooftop bar, and dinner with my extended Florida family = birthday bliss.  Kudos to Mr. Understanding for bringing me coffee every morning of Birthday Week.  And if, in my fugue,  I have forgotten to thank you for a kind note or act, please forgive me!  It was not my intention. For those who perhaps have been in a fugue of their own, don’t worry!  I get it now.

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under Birthdays, Family, Fine Dining, Life, Parenting, Reading, Religion

Little Ears

 

orecchiette_tomatoes_and_ricotta

Photo Credit:  Sally Calligan

Stumped by what to cook last night, I opened the gift book curated and compiled by by sister’s friend,  Michelle Walcott, of Sally’s blog.   My mother probably had a good idea for dinner that was cheap, quick, and easy, right?

Mind blown.  Winner winner, pasta dinner!  Do not ask why I had not consulted Sally before.  DO NOT ASK.

If you do not eat gluten or dairy, it sucks to be you.  Modify!

Click here for a delicious mid week bowl of scrump-dilli-ishous.  I just had to share a kitchen victory!

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Life

Glorify

On Friday I had the pleasure of dining with Mr. Herman Mehling, with members of his family and mine, at the St. Augustine restaurant The Ice Plant.   Unbeknownst to me, it was his 94th birthday.  I have never shared a birthday with a 94 year old before so this was quite special.  I had been wanting to meet him for a long time.

Herman, a.k.a. “The Jesus Man” is the father-in-law of my former Nordstrom Menswear salesman Bruce from Columbus, Ohio.  How, you ask, are you having lunch with your former Nordstrom salesman, his wife, and her father?  That is a story for another day.    Before our “tribulations” he and his wife Judi stayed at our Florida cottage when they visited Herman on several occasions.   During the last few years of my crazy life, Bruce called to check in every few months, even after he left Nordstrom.   Sometimes I could not return his calls as I was in the throes of a crisis; no matter, he did not stop trying.  Now that I am living in the Florida cottage with four animals and a teenager, hosting Bruce and Judi was not an option, so lunch it was.

A few years ago, as a gift for sharing our home, Bruce and Judi gave me one of Herman’s Jesus signs.  This is what the sign looks like up close:

 

thumbnail_IMG_0962

 

This is what the sign looks like from a distance:

thumbnail_IMG_0963

 

 

Bruce and Judi, who also visited with my parents and in-laws, also gave each family one of these signs.  It was this sign that greeted me at the dermatologist’s office on Valentine’s Day, the one month anniversary of my mother’s passing.   When my mother died, my youngest sister, MCV asked how she could get her hands on one of those signs.  My parents’ sign sits on a roll top desk by the front door, monitoring the comings and goings of all.  I called Bruce and he personally delivered two (one for each sister) to my snowy back porch in Ohio.  (Polly Positive whisked them inside and I eventually mailed them on).

Back to Herman.  You can watch an interview of him here.

As mentioned in the interview, Herman had several careers:  Police officer in the Bronx, firefighter, sheet metal machinist.  As a police officer, Herman delivered two babies.  It is evident that Herman is good with his hands.  At age 92, Herman developed “the tremors” in his right hand.  This has not stopped him from producing four signs a day, the production of which is a story in itself.

Today, since it is Memorial Day, we honor the part of Herman’s life path that was a sheet metal repairman in the U.S. Navy during World War Two in the Pacific Theater.  Assigned to a repair ship, he and his fellow sailors stayed behind the lines and repaired ships damaged in battle, preparing them to go back in.   One day, as Herman was on the deck of his ship, the small ship next to him exploded, killing all fifty US sailors aboard.  The Navy does not know what caused the explosion:  A mini Japanese submarine, an internal situation, who knows?  A mystery in the line of combat.  Herman did not die in combat but he watched others who did and it those young men on that ship that we honor today.

Bruce, Judi, and Herman brought me two more Jesus signs on Friday.  One is sitting in our  Florida cottage – our original one is either in Arkansas or in storage in Ohio.  The other is being sent to a former policeman in Washington who is suffering from cancer.   I had the temerity to ask for more and they gave me three more from the stash in the trunk of their car.   Even Urban Meyer has one in his home.  I had not yet seen the interview wherein Herman states he would like his children to pass them out to those who attend his funeral.  If that is the case, Herman cannot stop making Jesus signs for a long time.  It will be a big party.  His 95th is already inked in on my calendar.  If you NEED one of Herman’s signs, I will inquire however, as to their availability.  They are not for sale – they are freely given.

In closing, I leave you with the words from verse 2 of hymn 719 in the Book of Common Prayer.  Written by Katherine Lee Bates, O Beautiful for Spacious Skies, the music is set to Materna by Samuel Augustus Ward:

“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife

who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!

America! America! God mend thine every flaw,

confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law!”

 

So today, fly your flag in honor of the fallen, cherish your liberty, enjoy a meal with your family, friend, or stranger, and give thanks that although flawed, America is still beautiful thanks to those who gave their lives for us.

HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MOODRINGMOMMA, FAVORITE CHILD OF THE RADISH, AND HER SON-IN-LAW, UNCA DUNC.  REJOICE!  On her first birthday, I saw MoodRingMomma take her first steps.  XOXOXO

 

 

 

 

9 Comments

Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Folkart, Friends, Holidays, Life, People, Religion

Mother’s Day – Good Gifts #3

thumbnail_image2.jpg

The above painting is one I had commissioned by Charleston, SC artist Joyce Harvey as a gift to myself.  I was not expecting it to be finished in time for Mother’s Day!  (More on Joyce in a future post).  It represents me and my sisters.  It was inspired by a painting called “The Happy Tomato” done by my sister in law, Dr. Skin.

I know you are all thinking that today will be hard for me.  It will be.  Today is my first motherless Mother’s Day.  It is also the 4 month anniversary of my mother’s passing.

In spite of that, today I choose to REJOICE! that I had such a fine mother, who gave me, along with my father, two wonderful sisters.  They have sustained me mightily during this period.  It is a shared grief and that makes it more tolerable.  I also have a wonderful mother-in-law, Winnie, who gave me by ever-patient husband Mr. Understanding (he lives up to his name) and whose gentle presence has helped me heal.   When I go to church today with my father Big Mike, I will REJOICE in his excellent taste in women; without him, there would be no mother.   He too has been instrumental in my healing.

Finally, I give thanks today for the lumpy, bumpy, large and mugwumpy body that gave me three beautiful Things.  They are glorious.  Without a whole lot of loving Understanding, I would not be a mother.

The grieving for today was done earlier in the week and I am looking forward to homemade lemon blueberry buttermilk ricotta pancakes  and an afternoon reading on the beach.  It is a beautiful day and this is exactly what I want to do.  May yours be equally satisfying, joyful, and glorious.

 

5 Comments

Filed under #Art, Family, Fine Dining, Folkart, Friends, Life, Parenting, Reading

Good Gifts #2

thumbnail_IMG_0767thumbnail_IMG_0769

It would be nice if the grief journey were over, wouldn’t it?  Sadly, this is not the case.  In many ways, it is just getting going.  We all survived the Easter holiday but it was not the same without our Radish.  MCVWasHere and I managed to grill a butterflied leg of lamb, thereby making our mother proud from her heavenly perch.  I am pretty sure we screwed it up but it was tasty nonetheless.  Severe holiday let down set in on Monday  with family returning to The Other Coast.   After the shock has worn off, the active MISSING phase begins ninety days in.  Man, would Grandmere have delighted in the peas, carrots, and Easter Egg hunt …

Perhaps to prep me for this, a galaxy of friends sent me a gift every day.  EVERY DAY OF HOLY WEEK I RECEIVED A GIFT.  Surprise!  It was not Christmas but it sure felt like it.  And to think that this was not coordinated by friends, only two of whom know each other.

On Monday, a box arrived with four wrapped gifts and a note from one of my DF Chicks, MLD, a needlepointing and reading maven.  She was also my Heart Surgery Coach.  Thinking I would need these gifts later, I hoarded them for Sunday.  I confess to feeling through the paper – they felt like books.

On Tuesday, a flat package arrived from Martita, another DF Chick, and Thing 3’s godmother.  This I ripped open, thinking it was an Easter card.  Instead, it was gorgeous watercolor painting of a bunch of radishes, an article on them, and a long lovely letter of a personal nature on what grief for one’s mother looks like after twenty years.  I never met Martita’s mother but I still quote her:  “If they [gossips] are talking about you, that means they are giving some other poor soul a rest.” Although Martita and MLD are good friends, I do not think these gifts were a coordinated effort.  My sister MCVWasHere also gave me a Glassybaby, a pink “goodness” votive for my burgeoning Radish altar.  This was not actually a gift – it was for winning a round of the High Stakes License Plate Game – but since I’d forgotten about it, it still counts!

When Wednesday rolled around, I opened a package from Amazon, thinking Mr. Understanding had ordered yet another guitar instruction video.  But lo and behold, it was another book, this one a gift from Ms. Broccoli.  Called Designing Your Life – How to Build a Well-Loved, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, it is a Stanford University design class on how to create a life you actually enjoy living, the perfect gift for a family in flux.  Think “encore career”, or for me, middle aged starter career.

After three amazing gifts in three consecutive days, it dawned on me that the Universe was sending me a big fat message of LOVE.

But wait!  There’s more!  It’s almost embarrassing.  Almost.  I am just trying to make a point here.  Wait for it.

On Thursday, MCV handed me and my father each a gift from her college friend, Michelle.  This one makes me cry when writing about it – a beautiful compilation of Sally’s musings, photos, and recipes from her blog CookSallyCook.com.  Curated and organized with a table of contents, I was awestruck  by this gift.  Michelle and Sally had bonded over the ancient grain einkorn.   Who knew???  An heirloom, both the grain and the book.  Earlier in the day a Jackson & Perkins bulb garden arrived from Dr. Skin.  Bloom where you are planted.

Moving on to Good Friday:  a hand knitted, lacy, rainbow pastel prayer shawl from MoodRingMomma.  I do not know how my sister had the mental band width to create such an intricate gift.  I had been using a prayer shawl of Sally’s given to her by the women of the church.  It was toasty warm but I confess to finding the colors not to my liking, even thoughI did get in the habit of putting it on.  Another heart wrenching heirloom, imbued with tears.

On Saturday, MCV gave me a blue Glassybaby cocktail drinker (“splash”), another premio for winning a second round of The High Stakes License Plate game.  My in-laws sent a bento box tower of nuts, which I put in Mr. Understanding’s Easter Basket.  Mine, as you can see, was full.

On Easter Sunday, MCV returned to my Children’s Bible Stories,  given to me and inscribed by my Grandmarie on Easter, 1971.  She also gave me Anne Lamott’s latest and greatest book Hallelujah Anyway.

On Monday, feeling bereft (which is just pitiful), I opened all of MLD’s gifts:  semi-cerebral brain candy* and a Mexican angel ornament that doubles as a nativity scene which went directly to the makeshift altar.   In the middle of my pity party, I took a nap and while I was dozing, the postman delivered a box of gifts from KT:  a key chain with Phillippians 4:4 on it (REJOICE!), a new CD by Olivia Newton John and friends called Liv On,  some paper goods from Magnolia,  and a favorite hymn printed on pink paper.  I actually knew the words.

I still cannot believe it.  Can you?

And then today:  a signed contract for the sale of our house in Ohio.  Cranky me, it seemed like another loss, the closing of yet another chapter.  Punto final.  Until Thing 2 said to me, “What if it’s an Easter gift?”  Indeed.  He did not know about all of the other ones …

So what do you think the cosmic message is, sent by a phalanx of Easter angels?  Here is my best guess:  READ.  FEED YOUR SOUL.  High brow, low brow, non-fiction, fiction, the Bible in adult and children’s versions.  Go to the beach and design your life.  Plant seeds.  Eat ancient grains and nuts.  Drink a cocktail out of a handcrafted colored glass and savor it.  Light a candle.  Say a prayer for your friends and for the world; wear an heirloom made with love while you do it.  SING!  OUT LOUD!    Frame all those extraordinary radishes and hang them where you can see them every day.  Have mercy on dear Anne Lamott and make your peace with her she’d meet you at the beach and chat with you about Jesus.  Miss your mother fiercely but remember she is in The Best Place, hanging out with the Mother of all Mothers, REJOICING.  She sent a cadre of love language speaking friends and family to remind you of the power of Resurrection, the unlikely gift of an empty tomb.

***********************************************

*MLD’s book choices to lighten the heart of the Expat Princess:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen

7 Comments

Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Friends, Life, People, Princessdom, Religion

Self Portrait of an Artist #2

thumbnail_IMG_0502

Tonight I am fixing “easy grilled chicken” from Naomi Duguid‘s beautiful book Burma.  This is NOT The Atonement Dinner. My last post before my mother died was about her being a Food Diva.  Regret.   I am not sure I can face The Atonement Dinner just yet.

This meal is a repeat, however, of the last meal I remember Sally fixing for me.  I even made the tangy red chili dipping sauce (of course she had dried ancho chiles in the cupboard).  I can only hope it is half as delicious.

Happy Friday.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Life, Reading, Sightseeing, Travel

Possible Heart Nutrients

lord-stood-by-meThis is from Sally’s 2016 archives.   What are you doing for your heart?

This is what I am doing for mine:

IMG_0976.JPG

OK, I am not actively reading cook books.  Yet.  But my father is.  He had to go buy Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, ironically the one book that my mother didn’t currently own because she knew how to cook everything.  She gave it to everyone in the family – I have gone through several copies because the binding is terrible.   Dad’s  Mardi Gras waffles were stupendous.

Suggested reading:  Grit by Angela Duckworth.  Am only a chapter in but it is fascinating.  More on this topic later, but needless to say, SALLY HAD GRIT.

11a2d410-ff05-435d-9fe6-9319c26f7027--food52_04-17-12-8372-1.jpg

 

Here, a recipe from Food52.com for grits.  You can add shrimp.  Or not.  You know what I would do, even though it is a Lenten Friday.  XOXO

_sally_and_painting_2.jpg

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Life, Reading