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Posts Tagged ‘celebrations’

First of all, Happy Happy Birthday to my firstborn son. He is kind, talented and fearless. He’s been laser-focused on all-things-music since he was seven years old. Last year he married his first love, then won two Cleos, and then, this year, he started his own company! If we parents can’t brag about our own children, well who will? Sorry Sister Mary Claire, being humble had its place once upon a time.

IF I’d thought of it, I would have put up a “Happy Birthday” billboard in LA.

Because we Americans can say whatever the heck we please in public right? Well, not exactly – that First Amendment is tricky. It uses an archaic verb to say what the government can’t do to our freedom of speech; it cannot “abridge” speech…which doesn’t mean legislators can stop a person from speaking.

Abridge comes from the word abbreviate, so it refers to: shortening/omitting/diminishing/depriving.

In other words, let’s have a civil discourse and not interrupt each other with opinions that at times might fly far from facts, and incite violence. I’ll be watching closely the court case this week against Alex Jones, the Austin based mogul of Infowars media. He spread rumors that the Sandy Hook massacre of elementary school children and their teachers was a hoax, causing the parents of Noah Pozner to move SEVEN times because Jones also reported their new address to his conspiracy-obsessed-gun-toting followers.         https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/31/us/politics/alex-jones-defamation-suit-sandy-hook.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

And in Germany, the government has decided to send out Holocaust educators and bullying experts into its schools since it has seen a rise in Anti-Semitic, Holocaust denier rhetoric, something that country takes very, very seriously. In this case it seems that, unlike Mark Zuckerberg, hate speech will not be tolerated.

“…a brutalised climate now, in which more people feel emboldened to say anti-Semitic things on the internet and in the street”. “Previously that was unthinkable, but the threshold has dropped.”  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44725066T

We walk a serpentine line today as the soap box in the town square has turned into the world wide web – every paranoid schizophrenic or malicious Neo-Nazi can broadcast their misleading, patently false, absurd speech to anyone with a phone. And today, we came very close to being able to 3-D print a gun anywhere at anytime without a background check.

Let’s raise the threshold this November. Look for the “Gun Sense” symbol of approval on a candidate’s resume. And don’t be fooled by the GOP’s “I’m not a politician” rhetoric, that just means they will do Mr T’s bidding. It’s like saying, hey he’s not a brain surgeon but I want him to operate on my brain anyway. I borrowed that from Bob, my first love!

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“We’re gonna have a good time!” Even though it’s not a “special” birthday, marking a decade or anything, it’s nice to know I’ve made it through another year on the mountain. As Bob would always say, “It’s better than the alternative,” meaning I could have had a funeral. Nothing like an ER doctor to put things into perspective.

According to Native American culture, I was born during the Duck Fly Moon. And last night, unfortunately, we missed seeing the total eclipse of the moon in VA due to a stack of clouds. Amazing pictures have been scrolling across my Facebook feed, along with birthday greetings from friends near and far. Sometimes I just shake my head at political commentary, or shrug about people sharing TMI, but sometimes you just gotta love social media!

Today we plan on going to the movies to see Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway in “The Intern.” People are raving about it, even my brother, Dr Jim, told us it’s a good take on aging. He said when some HR person asks DeNiro, the new intern, where he sees himself in ten years, and the answer is, “You mean when I’m 80?” his expression is priceless.

We could use a good laugh. And to be honest, I don’t see myself on this mountain for another ten years. I reluctantly moved South to be closer to the Bride, but she’s working on her career in Nashville while the Groom’s interviewing all over the country. Who knows where they will settle; and the Rocker and Ms Cait? I’m pretty sure they will be West Coasters for the foreseeable future. It’s time Bob really thought about retirement, and it’s time we thought about our Golden Years.

When we are no longer driving, I’d like to live in a walkable neighborhood. We know only too well how circumstances can change. And as much as I’ve enjoyed the serenity and the views from my aviary, I know we have another move left in us. But for today, I’ll eat some cake and think about all that tomorrow.

Sunset on the Porch

Sunset on the Porch

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Every now and again we go all out. Usually it’s for a big event, like our wedding anniversary. To celebrate our early years in the Berkshires, we would travel across state lines to Hillsdale, New York for an excellent French meal at L’Hostellerie Bressane, a country inn. According to a review from the 80s, the rooms had a “rustic charm” and the kind of attention to detail that is similar to a French “auberge.” Of course I thought of an eggplant, but auberge comes from an old Germanic root and means an inn or tavern.

Now I was not entirely new to this type of laid-back luxury. When I was young, some of my earliest memories are of my older sister Kay taking me out to “dine” in New York City’s finest clubs and restaurants. Long before food network stars, there was a certain understanding that Lutece was the best of the best French bistros. It was THE place to be seen in the 60s, and has been recreated on the set of Mad Men. I always felt like such an impostor, a country mouse taking the bus from NJ to my big sister’s upper East Side apartment; being scolded corrected about my burgeoning Jersey girl accent; being taught what fork to use when, and how to eat a baguette like a lady. She was my Auntie Mame and I was her willing student.

Lutece was in business for 43 years, but alas has fallen prey to the new cuisine of a new world. Andre Soltner was not just the chef, he was the owner and greeter at the door. He swept the floors and ordered the flowers. A choreographer in the kitchen, he never opened another Lutece, there was only one and will be only one. Maybe it closed because of that, because its entire existence depended on just one man.

I could never have opened a second restaurant, though many people suggested it,” said Mr. Soltner, who missed a grand total of four days of work between 1961, when Lutèce opened, and 1994, when he sold it. “I had to take responsibility for each person’s pleasure and well-being. It was my job.”

http://observer.com/2013/04/an-evening-at-lutece-andre-soltners-famed-restaurant-resurrected-for-one-night-only/#ixzz3cI7cpZu0

A luxurious meal of old may be hard to come by today, with restaurant “themes” and chemical gastronomies of celebrity chefs who open multiple eateries around the country. But Bob and I managed to find that old world charm again for our 36th wedding  anniversary dinner in Virginia. From the moment we pulled up to Chef/Owner Patrick O’Connell’s The Inn at Little Washington, we knew. https://www.theinnatlittlewashington.com

We were greeted at the door, by name, and asked if we’d like to sit in the dining room or on the porch overlooking the garden. I could imagine secret liaisons between the ghosts of political power couples lurking in the corners, so I chose the garden room because I loved the light. Chef O’Connell transformed this sleepy town into a world-class destination, in the most gorgeous rolling countryside an hour from Washington, DC, just a year before we were married.

O’Connell has been referred to as “the Pope of American Cuisine”. His orientation is different from most chefs today primarily because he considers himself to be a restaurateur and as the title implies, his goal is to actually restore and heal people – the preparation and presentation of food being but a single element in the process. Selecting The Inn at Little Washington as one of the top ten restaurants in the world, Patricia Wells of The International Herald Tribune hails O’Connell as “a rare chef with a sense of near perfect taste, like a musician with perfect pitch.”

What an inspiring, delightful tastings menu! My palate and nearly every one of my senses was awakened The service was impeccable. Our waiter appeared just as we thought we might need something, as if he could read minds. He was professional but not stuffy, prompt but not intrusive. He asked about allergies because the chef was preparing an amuse bouche – it wasn’t called that, but occasionally we’d be surprised by a small bite between courses. Silverware was replaced immediately, and water was poured simultaneously; like a French Foreign Legion drill team. Bob chose the Menu of the Moment and I chose the Enduring Classic Menu, without the wine pairings:

A Shot of Chilled Minted English Pea Soup

Chilled Maine Lobster Salad with Marinated Hawaiian Heart of Palm

Carpaccio of Herb-Crusted Baby Lamb Loin with Pistachio Ice Cream

                          Pan Seared Rockfish with Braised Baby Bok Choy and Softshell Crab Tempura

Huckleberry Marinated Squab Breast with a Crispy Potato Galette

Veal Shenandoah: Local Prosciutto Wrapped Loin of Veal with Country Ham and Fontina Cheese Ravioli

The Inn at Little Washington is a member of the famed Relais et Chateaux. http://www.relaischateaux.com/en/search-book/hotel-restaurant/washington/#.VXMNgKaCblI Long before we heard of “farm to table,” small, exclusive restaurants were practicing and cultivating partnerships with local farmers. Created in France in 1954, today there are 520 establishments that bear the esteemed fleur de lys around the world. “Relais & Châteaux is an association of the world’s finest hoteliers, chefs and restaurateurs that has set the standard for excellence in hospitality. Relais & Châteaux has redefined luxury hospitality by emphasising holistic experiences that transport its guests, taking them on a sensual journey and introducing them to a deeper, truer understanding of the Art of Living.”

IF you were married in June, I wish y’all a very happy anniversary! And feel free to tell me what you do to celebrate your anniversary. IMG_2717

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Granted, I’ve never kept a gratitude journal. I tried once keeping a diary, in middle school, it was pink and had a pretty lock and key. When my older brother found his way into it, I decided it wasn’t worth keeping after all. The Bride, however, did like writing in a journal consistently, at least in high school and through most of college. I think it was a way to let off steam in her highly competitive world.

But years ago I did follow Oprah’s advice and try to list, in my mind and sometimes aloud with Bob, three things every day I was grateful for, every night before going to sleep. Some nights the list was easy; 1) I saw two juvenile foxes playing in the backyard, 2) The mole isn’t cancer, 3) My son’s band released an awesome album.

And sometimes finding things to be grateful about was harder; 1) The sun came up, 2) The rice didn’t burn, 3) A hospice nurse was at the wrong house. Some days, it feels like nothing is going your way, but especially on those days, it’s important to find something, anything to turn your mood around.

Which is why it seems like Thanksgiving is just some arbitrary day on the calendar to be grateful. Why shouldn’t we be grateful every day? After all, we may have been saved by Native Americans on that First Thanksgiving, but then look what we did to them. We brought them plagues and pox and then we herded them off their sacred land.

We’re not with our Big Chill family this year because we were expecting a grand baby in Nashville. Our little guy came three weeks early and his other grandparents, along with Aunt Jen and Uncle Dan, will arrive tomorrow to sit at the Bride and Groom’s table. It’s their first Thanksgiving, but Bob and I will get the turkey in the oven early in the morning like we’ve done for decades.

And tonight I’ll make a gratitude list, and instead of telling Bob, I’ll tell you: 1) I’m grateful my little Love Bug said she needs me to help her play Pictionary – Dada draws a picture and we guess what it is; 2) The Preschool Thanksgiving was the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time; and 3) I’m so happy to hold our little grandson in my arms. And I could go on and on. What are you grateful for?

"Mama you are a princess and I'm a ballerina" the Bug

“Mama you are a princess and I’m a ballerina” the Bug

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As you already know, we had a Bris this weekend for our new grandson. He was named after his Great Grandmother Ada’s Father, Sam Pinkofsky, who was the first to immigrate to this country with a few scheckels in his pocket from Russia. Sam taught my honey, his Grandson Bob, to love digging in the earth, and to go through life looking on the bright side of things. “Better it Couldn’t Be” was his motto. And this baby boy was blessed with Sam’s Hebrew name, Sholom, which means “Peace” – a a very chill, peaceful baby he truly is!

The Greats flew to our Simcha – a Yiddish word that means a joyful celebration. Grandma Ada, Grandpa Hudson, and Great Uncle Jeff all came from NJ. Friends from Nashville came bearing flowers, beer and gifts galore. And we not only had a delightful, young woman Rabbi, we also had a sweet and talented woman Cantor to accompany this age-old ritual procedure, the circumcision of a son on his his 8th day of life. Our Mohel was a pediatrician from Vanderbilt; the house was chock full of doctors! And though everyone thought it might be his Nana (me) who might hit the floor and pass out, it was actually Great Grandpa Hudson who went very pale and said,

“I don’t feel so good….”

So Hudson hitched a ride by ambulance to the Bride’s hospital. One of their friends went with him, and the baby naming went on as usual. Because in Judaism, life always trumps death, and anyway, Hudson was fine and being a Vet, he was discharged immediately. As most ER docs will tell you, Vets pretty much have to be unconscious before you can admit them to a hospital.

PopBob got back in his plane and flew home to the Blue Ridge, and the Greats all went back North. But I’ll stick around a few more days just to help keep the chickens out of the kitchen.  IMG_1644

 

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