Discours

September 26, 2012

 

My husband and I are planning a trip to Paris don’tcha know! Fancy huh?  No doubt, it will be exciting, romantic and filled with delicious foods, stimulating art and ,sadly, jet lag.  You will not hear me complain though; for this trip is something we have been dancing around for years.  To make this dream excursion  even better, our good friends, Kathleen and David, will be chunneling from London to meet us in France.  Together we will explore this magical city, enjoy long, relaxed lunches complete with champagne and chocolate, and watch the  most fashionable women in the world stroll by.  Ahhhhh.  Cannot wait.

To prepare properly, I have been spending a little time with Rosetta Stone. Not enough time mind you, but a little.  Better than nothing.  So far I have mastered the tongue as long as all I say is,”The man is eating.  The man is not swimming.”  So, that is what I plan to say.  Of course I know the usual greetings and casual expressions but the only complete declaration I can make is, “The man is eating. The man is not swimming.”  And if the ugly truth be told, what I am probably saying is something like, “The man is for to eat.  The man will no for swim,” or something like that.  You get the picture.  OK.  Truth or tell.  I am disgusted with my lazy self for not starting on the French lessons months ago.  The yellow box containing this power has been sitting on my desk staring at me for weeks and weeks.  Rosetta has been calling my name.  “Mademoiselle Donna Gay!    Be one with me!  I can take you places!  Let me get into your head!”  But, as with a lot of things, I put it off and put it off.  Other things took priority and before I knew it, well….all  I can say is something along the lines of, “The man eats.  The man does not swim.”  That’s ok though because as soon as we touch down in the land of croissants and crepes, I will pick up the language, right?  I hope so.  One hears stories about the snooty attitude of Parisians, but surely somebody will help me.  Right?  They are just people after all.  Not all of them could be snobby America haters right.  Or….or….I can just make sure that my mouth is full of pastries most of the time, so no one expects me to say anything.  Right?  Good plan.  Right?   C’est bon.

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Breaker Breaker

September 8, 2012

Well, the storm is behind us and I am back home in my house that, once again, has juice.  Hurricanes, evacuations, generators.  It is all unsettling to say the least.  Grateful as I am that I had the luxury of evacuating to a gentler setting I was ready to return home for days.  We were notified on Saturday afternoon , by a considerate neighbor, that our power had returned to the house.  Yipppeee!  Going home!  Hooray!  My husband and I decided that he would leave early the next morning in his fancy new diesel fueled SUV, dogs in tow.  I would stay behind to give our beach place a deep clean.  Truly, being in a condo for six days  with a husband and two dogs left the place hungering for a little TLC.  I must admit I was almost looking forward to it.  There is something to be said for the instant gratitude that comes from seeing a tattered living space get its mojo back with a little sweeping, mopping, dusting and scrubbing.  You get the picture.  Strangely I was anticipating the project with delight.  So Tom and I decided to go out to dinner that evening to celebrate with another couple who had outrun Isaac.  We had barely brought any civilized clothes with us as neither of us had planned on this trip being a vacation, so we scrounged around for decent threads and headed out to dinner with our buddies.  Ahhhhhhhh.  The cabin fever was coming to an end and we were ready to head home and face a yard full of limbs.  That was ok though, for we were grateful to have a dry home waiting for our return.  Dinner was delightful and, afterwards, we slumbered like babies.

The next morning we woke early to have coffee together before Tom and the pups hit the road.  Clever as I am, I made it a point to clear out the refrigerator and pantry before he left so that he could haul it all back to Louisiana.  The fact is that an empty fridge is easier to clean, so bye, bye Tom.  Adios dogs.  And off they went.  As for me, on went the rubber gloves and off came the dirt, the dog hair, the soap scum and the grease.   I went to town with the broom, the mop, the vacuum, the dust cloths, the sponges and my new favorite cleaning weapon, white vinegar.  I turned the music up and the filth came down!  I was going to town with it.  Whew!  Yeah baby!  I was Wonder Woman with a bucket.  It felt so good that before I knew it, four and a half hours had passed.  As I finished up and placed my beach bag by the door, I admired my work.  Yes!  Perfect.  I wouldn’t even step one foot back inside lest I taint it with a grain of sand.  Purse on shoulder, I was ready to head home so I reached in my purse to suit up.  Sunglasses on.  Check!  Lip balm on.  Check!  Cell phone handy. Check!  Car keys.  Car keys.  Keys?  Keys!???  As  much as I hated to do it, I stepped back inside and perused every surface for the keys.  They were nowhere.   Think.  Think!  Then I remembered. Tom drove my car the previous night.  He always puts the keys somewhere logical….to him.  I calmly picked up my cell phone and called him.  He answered with a cheerful, “Hello Bayyyyyyybeh!  Bienvenue a la Louisianne!”  How impressive.  He speaks French AND is already back in Louisiana.

I matched his joviality with a quick hello and then got to the point.  “Uh, sweetie, what did you do with my car keys?”  Long dead silence before he slowly responded like a balloon hissing its last breath of air.

“Put…them…in…my ….pocket.”

“Pocket of which pants?’” I asked, hoping I could simply fish through his closet and deal with this.

“The….ones…..I am …..wearing.” he bravely stated like a prisoner being led to the electric chair. I could feel him holding his head high, ready for the blow.  Instead, I held my own.

“Oh.  OK. Well, that can be fixed.  Just overnight them and I will come home tomorrow.”

He paused again.  “Today is Sunday so there will be no Fed Ex or UPS.  Tomorrow is Labor Day so they will be closed then too.  Uh.  Let me figure this out.  I gotta go now.  I have to find a gas station with diesel.  I am really low.”  Silence.  Dead  line.

So I took off my shoes and walked back into the condo, set up my computer and proceeded to send SOS messages to anyone I could think of who might be heading from Louisiana  to Florida.  I could handle this.  I could do it, I could. I wanted lunch instead, but there was nothing in the refrigerator but the smell of clean, so lunch wasn’t an option.  So I sat…for a few minutes, then headed out on foot for a sandwich and a few groceries.  By the time I returned, a couple of hours later, Tom was calling.

“Your keys are on the way!” He proclaimed as though he was announcing the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

“How?  Who is bringing them?”  I asked.

“Roberto.”

“Who is Roberto?”

“A truck driver.  Big rig.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.  You have to figure out a way to get to Crestview, to a truck stop or somewhere you decide to meet up.  He should be there by 7:30 tonight. I gave him some money and your cell phone number so I hope it works out.  He will call you when he crosses the state line.”  Fabulous.

“Where did you find him?”

“At a truck stop…where I got diesel after running out of gas on the interstate.”

“What did you do with the dogs?”

“They went with me to the truck stop.”

Admittedly most of this info was extraneous and of no relevance as far as my keys were concerned.  Still, I wanted to seem concerned, but for the moment “Roberto” and “truck stop” was all I was getting.  Then I couldn’t help myself.

“Did you walk on the interstate to the truck stop?”

“No, Joseph (his son) brought me some diesel.  Enough so that I could drive to the truck stop.  The dogs and I waited in the woods till he got there.  You know, so we wouldn’t get hot.  Or hit. I found a big stump in the shade where I could get phone service.  So we sat there.”

 

Alrighty then, game on.  His part was done so now I had to put the pieces together on my end. Crestview is about forty five minutes away from our condo and, as you know, I had no wheels.  A dilemma to be sure.  And honestly, after cleaning for almost five hours, then walking  to the grocery in the post hurricane heat, I looked like I belonged at a truck stop…..repairing trucks.  So I wasn’t too hip on calling any of my Florida friends who I thought might be able to lend a hand.  They were surely all cool and clean, dressed in their  polo shirts and sundresses.  Probably sipping something appropriate for a Sunday afternoon.  The whole thing was embarrassing to begin with and I looked like doo doo and I really didn’t want to soil my sparkly clean shower by doing anything about that at the moment.  So I pondered.  If only I could find someone who didn’t know me very well, they wouldn’t know the difference.  They would just assume that I was a crazy woman who didn’t put hygiene at the top of the list.

I wandered outside and just sort of roamed the hood till I strolled by a house containing people I had spoken to in the past.  They had a dog named Winston!  I knew these people.  There dog had met my dog!  Well, this was a no brainer so I knocked on the door and explained my situation to these angels from God.  I just wanted to borrow their car for a bit.  Well whatdaya know?  This kind woman insisted on personally driving me to the truck stop.  So off we went and right on schedule Roberto was ringing my phone.  Within an hour he arrived like a knight in shining amour…literally.  I could hear the theme from Rocky building in my head as he came curling around the corner of the Wal-Mart parking lot. Our headlights kissed and soon we were shaking hands and laughing.  In less than thirty seconds he was pulling away and I was sitting in my neighbor’s car with my very own keys in my hand.  What a great guy!  What a great neighbor!  Life is funny, you know?    When you least expect it, the kindness of strangers is all around you.  Right?  Right.  10-4 to that, good buddy.

 

Saving Mayhaws

September 1, 2012

 

 

I had been planning a personal beach retreat for weeks.  I would read, write, sleep late and perhaps not put on real clothes for two or three days.  This all seemed reasonable.  My husband and his law partner have been closing in on a trial so I know he would be fairly absent from my life anyway.  So I packed a little bag and drove over with a girlfriend who would be dropped off at her own private getaway place on the way.  There was little chat about a “system in the gulf,” but hey…this is Louisiana at the end of August.  Par for the course.  That system is now known as Hurricane Isaac. Before my friend and I had even crossed the state line into Mississippi, my husband was calling.

“That storm is headed right for us.  I am putting the dogs in the car and coming over to join you. We will get some of it in Florida, but probably not as bad as at home.”

This was all fine, except that I had not prepped the house for a storm because I thought he would be there to take care o bidness.  Anyone who regularly dodges hurricanes knows that the refrigerator and freezer either need to completely empty or completely working off a generator.  If neither of these things is addressed, you have a very smelling, gooey, wet mess to clean up when you return home.   Often, you have to get rid of the freezer or fridge entirely, for the putrid smells just refuse to go.   I conveyed my concerns to my sweetie and he assured me that he would simply pack all the food into ice chests and bring it over to Florida.  There wasn’t much in there anyway, for I have learned to weed out most frozen foods by hurricane season.  Within thirty minutes he had me on the phone again to say that he was on his way.  He had loaned our generator to friends since we wouldn’t need it anyway.  Wow!  My hero. Superman!  He is fast.

“And you took everything out of the freezer and the refrigerator?” I asked in amazement.

“Sure did!” he happily replied.  I was impressed.  Not only did he save the appliances, but he was bringing food to me so I wouldn’t even have to grocery shop. Good thing because even in Florida stores were boarding up and shutting down for Isaac.

He drove so fast that by the time I had dropped off my girlfriend and picked up some fresh fruit at the store, he had already arrived, unloaded, walked the dogs and was happily settled in.  I hugged and kissed him before opening the refrigerator to check the inventory.  Inside was exactly three half gallons of milk, a bag of sliced turkey, a bag of sliced cheese, half a loaf of bread and …….that was it.  I opened the freezer.  Inside was a bag of frozen grated lemon zest, a bag of frozen edamame and a bag of frozen corn.  Oh, yeah.  Also there was a little container of homemade chicken soup.

“Where is all the food?” I asked.

“In there,” He replied proudly.

“But what about the container of squash I cooked before I left?  And the alfalfa sprouts?  And all the Kale and carrots and other veggies that were in the drawers?  What about all the bags of frozen mayhaws for your jelly, and the ice cream?”

Dead silence.  He kept his eyes on the dog.  Ok.  I got it.  Well, maybe we won’t lose power.  Maybe we would be lucky this time.  With Katrina, we were out of power for weeks, and we were there the entire time.  So we notified our neighbors that we were AWOL and asked them to let us know if the power went down…..which it did….of course.

If it were not for the kindness of dear friends, the smelly food would still be rotting in our fancy stainless steel fridge/freezer combo.  But because Chris and Al are so altruistic, and because they offered, and because one gets so bored during a slow moving category one hurricane that one will do anything…ANYTHING to have a  change of pace.

“Oh, we will go clean it out for you!” Chris interjected with delight.  Really!  We don’t mind!  It will give us something to do.”

Fine with me.  I told my husband that they were going to our house to clean out the freezer and fridge.  He kept looking at the dog.  And incidentally, they did find a bag of frozen fish that I had no idea was there.  It was marked, 2010.  Wow.  That little bag would have been the kiss of death to our top-o-the-line Sub Zero.  Just hiding in the back like a land mine waiting for the power to die.  Thank goodness for good friends. They saved the mayhaws so Tom can still make his jelly.   They saved my hand squeezed, home grown Meyer Lemon juice.  They tossed the two year old fish fillets.  They did it all in a flash like Batman and Robin.    And, thank goodness for the frozen bag of edamame.  It  came in handy when:

  1.   Tom sprained his ankle while walking the dogs during the storm (my version).
  2.   Tom sprained his ankle while sprinting to save our little dog from the torrential surf  as  she bolted down the steps toward  the angry sea (his version).

Anyway, when we go home, Tom is going to make jelly, so if anyone wants any, let me know.   This batch comes with a great story.