Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy This

I'm not very often at a loss for words. But at least in this case, my friend Jason says this much better than I could have.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November Starts the Holiday Season

First snow today! Beatrix was very excited, but seems to have somewhat inherited my attitude towards snow — it looks pretty and all, but once you get all bundled up and head out for a walk it's still kind of cold and a PITA. Some cocoa cheered her right up, though, and it really is pretty.

Somehow (likely on Twitter?), I had heard that Linder's was doing a holiday lighting festival tonight, so we headed down there after dinner. The greenhouses are lit up so that they really do look magical, and they are filled with Christmas items. It was a completely child-oriented event, and within minutes of walking in Beatrix had received a candy cane and flower seeds from Mrs. Claus, a balloon, and a chocolate chip cookie (she insists, by the way, that chocolate chip cookies are perfectly good Christmas cookies if you draw a tree on with icing. I can't say I disagree. We stood in line for a hayride with Santa, and a large family even let us go ahead of them when there was little room left on the cart, so we got to sit right next to Santa so Beatrix could tell him just how excited she was about Christmas. The Linder's property is amazingly large, and they set up areas like "Christmas tree alley" full of sparkling trees.

After that we checked out the reindeer in the corral, listened to some Christmas carolers, appreciated the poinsettias, and — Beatrix's favorite — checked out the fairy gardens. When we got home, Beatrix said "That was really fun, thank you for taking me!" and I certainly agree! (this is a hard holiday season for me — see earlier post — and this was a great way to start it out).

Now for some Beaujolais Nouveau, another of my favorite November holidays...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pizza Lu-Sigh

Like many Americans, pizza is my go-to comfort food. And I have had a love affair with Pizza Luce since my days at Jeune Lune, where pizza from the original location was on heavy rotation — hey, I even served Luce pizza to Kevin Bacon! So, nearing the end of a long week, what better dinner solution than meeting our good friend Leah from A Taste of My Minnesota, and her darling daughters, for some pizza?

Oops.

The evening started simply enough — the waitress forgot to mention it was Happy Hour, but we did solve that and get some drinks, the three girls colored and played with chopsticks, the table next to us, seated at the same time we did, received their pizza quickly and it smelled great. The girls' food came, and our artichoke dip, and we were told the pizza would be soon. And then, nothing.

About 40 minutes in, as the girls were getting squirrely, we asked on the ETA on the pizza. We were told it was "in the oven" (well, I suppose that's good), and it would be out in 6 minutes.

Another 20 minutes passed. The boxes we had asked for for the leftover kid food had not arrived, so their leftovers turned into finger paint. We went off to find a manager, who said that a "big order" had come in and backed up the kitchen. Never mind my feelings about basic kitchen management, wouldn't you communicate that fact to your waiting patrons? The waitress arrived with the pizza, we sent it back to be boxed up because, at that point, we really had to go (near bedtime). She came back and said "I guess we're buying your pizza because of the wait." We paid, and booked out. I just had cold pizza finally for dinner, 3 hours after we first sat down.

I didn't want free pizza tonight. I wanted to sit and visit with my friend, and I wanted good food served to me in a reasonable timeframe and with pleasant service. I wanted communication, and I didn't want the feeling that we had turned invisible. Is that so much to ask?

EDITED: I have to say that Pizza Luce saw this post and took the situation very seriously, sending me a gift card and having two people to call me to find out what happened. I'm totally willing to give them another chance. I will say, though, that it engendered a lot of discussion with friends who had had similar (though not quite so bad) experiences, so I do think they have some PR work to do.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Refugee Furniture



I saw this dresser several weeks back, in someone's trash behind the Holly Tot Lot, and fell immediately in love with it. Much to Patrick's dismay, I returned later that night with a flashlight and a drill, disassembled it, and brought it home.

But something happened to Patrick when he carried it inside after several days of it taking up too much space in the garage. He saw what I had originally appreciated — this is not a piece of mass market furniture. It's extremely old, handcrafted from oak that was likely hand-milled. The carving on it is slightly primitive, again done by hand. It's kind of battered, and in some disrepair. As Patrick worked on re-assembling the piece, tightening the pieces and getting everything back together, he fell in love with it too.

I ordered some new hardware from the super-super-sale section of Anthropologie, and this morning Patrick put the hardware on and Beatrix and I polished the wood. I'm thrilled to say that the piece looks even better than I thought it might, and I am very happy I acted on impulse and brought it home!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Five Years


I'm having (a lot of a) struggle already, as we move into the holiday season that marks five years since my mother's death on Christmas Day, 2006.

In some ways, it feels stupid, self-indulgent even. Five years is just a number. It doesn't, in itself, mean any more or any less than any other number.

But we humans tend to mark time in landmarks, and there have been a lot of landmarks. Patrick and I have been married for five years (this past June). Five years is twice as long as my mom lived after the diagnosis. Five years is as old as Beatrix's friends Alex and Kelsey. Five years is half the lifespan of my favorite wine shop. And five years is that many Christmases, and birthdays, and Mother's Days, and amazing Beatrix moments, and so many other things.

My mother never got to meet my dog, or two of my cats, or most of all, her granddaughter. She never got to see her nephew get married in Norway, or meet his son. She never got to support any of the theatres I currently work for by seeing shows there, she never saw our new back yard and porch and bedroom and guest rooms. She never got to even know the idea of a Kindle (god, she would have loved that). She never got to meet some of the friends I am now closest too. Five years is really the blink of an eye, and it's an eternity.

Five years is long enough that I perhaps *should* be over losing my mother, and yet I am not even close it seems.There are times, when I am at a place that reminds me strongly of her, that it's an actual physical ache. In some ways, I have gotten used to life without her, and in some ways it's still so overwhelmingly raw and painful and life-shredding. It hits me at the worst moments sometimes — when I remember a book she liked, when I look down at my hands that are beginning to look just like hers, when I still catch myself wanting to share something with her and realize I can't, when I long for the unconditional support you get from your mother that I just don't have anymore.

So I'm trying, really hard, this holiday season. Christmas was so important to my mother, and that love has carried on to Beatrix in spades. Yet there's a big part of me that really wants to hibernate just about now, and re-emerge sometime in early January. So if I seem a little off, if it seems like I may be faking it somewhat at a holiday gathering, just know that it's five years — and that I'm hoping six will be easier.