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Most Fortunate Week!

 
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2006 8:09 pm    Post subject: Most Fortunate Week! Reply with quote

Can't remember where Donna mentioned our dinner together so I'll start again here.

I have had a lovely, lucky week. On Wednesday I had lunch with Alisa from the San Fernando Valley and Paris and her adorable girls and on Friday I had dinner with Donna from (is it?) Germany and ... and Oakland and her drole, fabulous baker/architect husband Sam. And along the way I (well, my daughter Rachel, actually) discovered a fantastic place for breakfast.

Alisa and I met for a very late lunch or very early dinner after she and the girls had spent the day at the beach. As it turns out, although she's off living in that glamorous world capital, she grew up not terribly far from where I used to live and also lived in the small, rural LA community of Topanga were we ate. I had brought with me a book I recently really enjoyed. Can't remember the title now, but it's a contemporary account of Julia Child's years with her husband in the foreign service during which time she co-wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking and all this is reconstructed from her correspondence and notes from those days. As soon as I read it, I thought Alisa and Debbie will be able to walk those very steps and visit the places Julia remembers. So I took it along and it turns out it was something Alisa had on her list of things to take back with her! Is there any better feeling than hoping something will be as meaningful to someone else and finding out that it is? And you're kindred spirits? And I really feel like we're kindred spirits. ...only now she's going to take off and cross an ocean again. Sad Oh well, lucky Debbie and Paris is all I can say!

So we had a nice lunch and, in the company of her girls who are so much fun, wandered around a little spot of Topanga that's new since Alisa lived here. Her older Maia is poised, elegant, serious, multilingual and very sensitive at the tender age of 8 or 9 (did I get that all right, Alisa?) and her younger Margot is an absolutely indomitable free spirit. I'm pretty sure I've got that right! Wink

We held second story foot races with complicated routes specifying paths for adults and those under 5 all orchestrated by Margot. We stuck our noses in the windows of the shops that were closed and found geodes that delighted Maia. We planted seeds and protected them with tiny stone walls and touching notes to those on whom we're depending to watch over and nurture them. And then they had to go on to their next California adventure. Crying or Very sad (for me) Hooray for them.

I'm going to remember them for a long time and hope they'll phone or e-mail me when they're in SoCal again. It was like taking a short trip back 20 years to when my girls were that age. Very Happy And I loved Alisa's stories of living in Paris. And feel like I know Debbie that much better now. If only....

I will enjoy that afternoon as long as I savor the sel de Camargue and confiture du lait that came all the way from Paris to little old moi! And then some!

Thursday I packed in a flurry, whipped up some truffles (which I hope didn't suffer from the lightening prep and at least 4 climate and temperature changes from SoCal, a long hot drive and then NoCal), and rushed off to Interstate 5 by 10am. We drove about 6 hours, moved Rachel's worldly goods into her new digs and then I slept for 14 hours. No kidding. It really was 14 hours.

Friday Rach and I shopped til we dropped (intimidated only slightly by the insane way their freeways do three things at once and how they drive...), assembled and arranged and then headed off from the spare, economy of her new room in a rented house to Donna and Sam's warm and charming home. How do you describe the feeling of being instantly at home and among good friends with people you've only just met (well, except for the lovely lunch that Donna and I had a month or so ago)! It was perfect. PERFECT!

The evening had just started to cool down, the house smelled of roasting garlic and crusty walnut bread that Sam had baked for the occasion. Donna had prepared a lovely cheese and paté tray with a duck paté, a pork paté with pistachios, St. Agur and a lovely ripe sheep's milk cheese. I could have stopped right there and been in bliss. But no. Then we had Donna's salade niçoise with fresh grilled tuna (YUM) out in the Harrison's charming garden. Their sweet dogs accompanied us by virtue of Sam's inventive "instant fence" — a pitchfork stuck in the ground to impale the end of their leashes! Funny, inventive, rustic and effective and it gave them the run of the yard. I just love creativity and spontaneity!

Dessert was sublime! Blueberry ice cream that Donna made herself and served with white nectarines and additional fresh blueberries (come home, Ben, we've made a convert!). The combination of flavors was wonderful! And the only thing that could have topped that was the hospitality and conversation. We discovered that we had so much in common that our carpets are actually the same. Sam even has a hobby of public speaking which Rachel feels is her next goal and so Sam invited her to his group. Man! Could I leave her in a better place than the Berkeley/Oakland area or in better hands?! No way!

I got to see photos of the Harrisons' son Ben. Turns out he and my husband have something in common too. I'm hoping Steve will have some avenues that may be helpful to Ben to explore back on the East Coast.

AND I left with a jar of lemons Donna preserved that are soooo pretty it will be hard to use them.

That was a busy, wonderful couple of days. And then Saturday as I left Rach she took me to a Mexican restaurant in her new neighborhood for brekkies. I was open to it but not expecting too much because, frankly, huevos rancheros never seemed all that interesting to me. We ended up ordering three breakfasts to share because the menu was so interesting and these three sounded so yummy I couldn't miss them when I'm not sure how soon I'll be there again. We had chilaquiles with chorizo, a scramble (not nearly an elegant enough word for this) of eggs, Mexican cheese and avocado served on wedges of spinach tortilla and an omlet with grilled salmon. Even the toast was exceptional, being a grilled (I think) slice of artisan bread. If you guys in the Bay area are interested in trying it, it's Montero's on Solano at San Pablo in Albany. A margarita would have made it totally over the top but I had a long drive in front of me. If you can stroll the interesting neighborhood after brekkies you definitely should indulge. The service, not to make it too wonderful or anything, was very personal and hospitable.

There was what looked to be an interesting tea shop just across the street, but it wasn't open and I had to boogie and get back to Steve, Iz and the animals roasting back at home (it was 112 degrees yesterday in the San Fernando Valley!).

What a GREAT couple of days I had! Thank you Alisa, Maia, Margot, Donna and Sam! If only we could all have done it together. I know you would have enjoyed one another as much as I enjoyed being with each of you. Who could guess that having a single common interest could unfold into a kaleidoscope of shared experience and lovely people?! No wonder people flock to meet Clotillde when the opportunity presents. There sooo much more to discover and delight in that we just don't get to see until we have these face-to-faces. Nevertheless, I'm raising my glass to the internets and Clotilde for making it all possible!
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God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor


Last edited by Rainey on Mon Jul 24, 2006 1:30 am; edited 2 times in total
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a beautiful post, Rainey, thanks so much for sharing your wonderful week with us.

This gets my vote for 'Post if the Year', it's .... well.... I'm lost for words (post-night shift sleep deprivation), but it's superb!
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a fabulous time Rainey. I'm envious.
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Barbara
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I am that you have met madame and that she has met you! Very Happy I hope you guys will be able to get together with Debbie while she's in the South Pacific! And I'm sure you'll tell us all about that. Wink
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God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't aware Debbie was visiting down this way. When?
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Barbara
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe she's there or will be there soon. I hope I didn't tell a tale out of school.... Shocked ::and smacking myself silly:: But I thought trying to have a rendezvous was part of her plan. Question

I only made general note of her travels since they weren't at all in my vicinity of the planet. And, of course, you'd understand if her family monopolized her time since they see so little of her, I know. She may not have said anything knowing that she'd be bucking her family's and her husband's family's need to spend precious time with them and hoping not to disappoint.
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God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally have a minute to sit down and chime in about what a WONDERFUL treat it was to have Rainey and Rachel visit us in our home.

Rainey imports her boundless energy and good cheer, so it was a bubbly evening, full of chatter and delight in our shared enthusiasms. Plus, she brought chocolate truffles, a jar of ganache and a jar of pumpkin butter! All to die for! The truffles have none of the slightly funky, homemade, charming, but slightly irregular look of the truffles I make. They look like truffles you would be paying $1.50 apiece for in a fancy candy store! Laughing They each had a little swirl on the top. Almost too pretty to eat...but you know I ATE them - of course! Actually, I still have 4 left that I am hoarding! Wink

Rachel is a lovely self-confident young woman who has discovered that her strengths and her unusual view of the world are truly valuable. She is a joy to talk to. She expresses herself so well, is so articulate and such a strong, deep thinker. Whatever she chooses to do, I predict major success. She is also a real natural beauty with lovely skin and beautiful, expressive eyes. I can see strong hints of Rainey in her features.

Conversation ranged far and wide, from politics and philosophy to food, bread baking, kitchen appliances, literature, travel, roots, etc., etc., etc.

We separated, knowing that there would be more visits, thanks to Rachel's thoughtful choice of Berkeley. And I will make sure there are pictures next time!!! Laughing Sam and I are delighted to have Rachel close by and happy to help her acclimatise - if necessary. So, I agree with Rainey that it was a fortuante week for me as well!
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