Tag Archives: dining

cool as a cucumber

i am currently in the fabulous town of naples, florida, and enjoying every second of it!  especially dinner last night…we went to tommy bahama’s and feasted on some delectable seafood treats while drinking artistic cocktails and being serenaded by live music.  it was perfect.  you know what was the most perfect part?  well, aside from the company (mom and andrea!), i would have to say the “cool as a cucumber” martini.  does anyone have the recipe for this amazingly refreshing drink?  it’s my new favorite! 

 anyway, i guess i should go back to bed.  my internal alarm clock is set for 7:15, so i woke up to write about cucumber martinis and now i’m going back to bed!!!  good morning and good night!

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a day i will remember

my first day of classes was last monday, january 8th. i spent that day flying back from my family’s house in naples, where i had stayed with my mom and her parents for the past couple of days. they are in their mid-eighties, and both have fairly sever macular degeneration. my grandpa also had a stroke several years back. i’m glad that i spent the weekend with them, because i will remember it forever. i can’t say the same about what would have been a generic first day of classes.

even more special was the way i spent tuesday, january 9th, my second day of classes. i woke up bright and early and drove to dublin to meet my dad. together, we drove to the coldwater, ohio hospital to surprise my grandpa and grandma. my grandpa was very recently diagnosed with cancer, and he was having a port implanted through which he would be receiving chemotherapy. he is a strong man, tough and stubborn, funny and hardworking. at 78 years old, he had been to the hospital a mere three times in his life (which i think includes his most recent trip). it’s hard to say whether he was in a lot of pain prior to his diagnosis, since he rarely complains of any pain or discomfort. not much can get him to a doctor.

growing up, i always thought that my grandpa was larger than life. he is an important figure in his community. he was mayor, and later, the county treasurer and state representative to ohio’s legislature. he is primarily responsible for bringing the hospital to coldwater, along with a new fire station, among other community advancements. he gave many speeches; mesmerizing speeches. he commanded attention, and was clearly a natural born leader. people want to listen to him, they want to follow him, they want to be in his presence. this is a characteristic that i think my own father inherited from him. all of this from a man whose own mother died of lockjaw, causing him to grow up in an orphanage when his father could not handle the responsibilities that a very young child presents. he is a very strong man with a gentle heart.

my grandfather’s booming voice calls out the christmas gifts every year. “to hedley, from rick” and the present is passed through a dozen people before reaching its intended recipient. i have such fond memories of those times, with my many cousins and a dozen aunts and uncles. it’s as if the holidays take on an energy of their own, filling the room wih something more than a physical presence. it’s magical, and he leads it all.

finding out that he has cancer in an advanced stage is shocking. in fact, the day that he was taken to the hospital, he was up on a ladder, stripping wallpaper. he seems like the guy who would never be affected by anything. prime example: he used to smoke, then quit for several years. when he reached 70 or so, he decided, “what the hell, i’m 70 now and if i want to smoke, i’m going to goddamn smoke!” he has the aura of an old time cowboy.

anyway…to go back to tuesday, january 9th, the day that we were at the coldwater hospital…well, we quickly found out that he was actually at st. mary’s hospital several miles away. so, we embarked on another roundabout journey through the quiet farm towns of western ohio to find my grandpa. after stopping at a funny little balloon shop, run by a husband and wife and their dog (haha) for guidance, we made it to our destination. we navigated the labrynthine halls of the hospital and arrived at room 6 of outpatient surgery. we walked in and surprised them both. my grandpa was soon wheeled away for his procedure – but not before joking to the nurse about whether he could snag a beer in the operating room. she said she wished they could, and if so, she would join him. my dad and i sat with my grandma in the hospital room, in a lopsided circle of makeshift chairs beneath the hospital’s buzzing, harsh lights, and waited. my grandma looked worn out, but was strong and in good spirits. we told stories, and laughed, and waited for grandpa’s return. a young, wiry, articulate doctor entered the room to fill us in on how the surgery went. he explained the impending chemo procedure and my grandpa’s current status. shortly thereafter, my grandpa returned.

for a man who had just undergone surgery (with an inadequate and mistakenly administered numbing procedure), he was in good spirits, and ready to eat. my dad suggested behm’s, a lakeside diner a few miles away. so we set off and got situated for one of the most memorable lunches of my life.

we have a big family on my dad’s side. all in all, there might be up to 30 people at a family gathering. while this makes for lots of fun, it doesn’t allow for too many intimate conversations. the lunch i had with my grandma and grandpa was unlike any time i had ever spent with them. i heard stories and told a few of my own, and laughed and felt loved and happy and hopeful for the future. with all of the support my grandpa has from his family, friends, and community, coupled with his own positive attitude, i think great things can happen. i think the positive energy of all of these people can affect his healing, and help to eliminate the cancer from his body. stranger things have happened, and i am a firm believer in the power of positive thought. i love him very, very much, and i am proud to be his granddaughter. i will never forget that day – especially when we were about ready to go, when my grandpa said, “how about i buy you all one more beer?” well, my dad and i gladly accepted, and we sat a bit longer and shared more. it was a wonderful day.

screw the second day of school. i have the memory of a lifetime. i love you, grandpa and grandma.

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fruits ‘n memories

at the moment, i am in naples with my mom and her parents; my grandparents. my parents have a beautiful place here, and i decided to accompany them down for the weekend before i start my LAST semester of law school (thank god!). the last couple of nights, i’ve gone virtually without sleep. there is something sad and life-changing going on, and i will talk of it later when i feel that i finally have the right words for it. for this moment, however, i am once again an insomniac and decided to do something with this eerie 3-4 a.m. time slot rather than lie awake, staring at the ceiling and trying my best to numb my thoughts.

today my mom and i stopped over at the grocery store. we just got into town and needed to stock up on the basics (which of course included such staples as jalapeno cheese tofurky dogs, weight watchers carrot cake bites and some delicious looking havarti cheese), when, in the midst of the produce section, a delightful aroma caught our senses. i couldn’t quite place it at first – you know, when you just know something so well that the name actually escapes your mind? my mom was experiencing the same sensation. we sniffed around like a couple of bloodhounds hot on a trail, and ended up nose to fruit with some peaches. the aroma was heavenly – i know it sounds like a huge exaggeration, but sometimes a powerful scent can truly transcend time. after all, scent connects us to our past; the smells of christmas, the smell of pie baking at grandma’s – it really takes you back. that’s when i remembered the best peach i’ve ever had.

it was a hot summer in france – in nice, to be exact. we (my best friend, her younger sister, and i) were staying at an adorable bed and breakfast on the coast of the french riviera. our first morning there, we ventured down to the open market, where we bought fruits and cheese and fresh bread and pastries. we returned back to our room to stash our extra treats before hopping on a bus to antibes, leaving a simple peach on a table basked in sunlight. when we returned home later that day, i picked up the peach, now warm, and took a bite. PERFECTION!!! it was the juciest, most succulent, sweetest taste i’ve ever tased. sort of like hot peach cobbler, but better.

so i relayed this story to my mom, as we snatched up peaches, and i got to thinking…the cherries in istanbul, the waffles and falfafel in amsterdam, the vinegar fries in brugges, the gazpacho in barcelona, the curry in london, the watermelon in naxos, the mashed up thing in budapest…the list goes on, and it continues into my own hometown – our favorite pizza and phad thai and ahi…then i started to wonder whether i have too intimate a relationship with food, or whether it’s normal to remember places by not only architectural and artistic landmarks (and people encountered), but by scent and taste?

well, normal or not, it’s what i do. at least i can always be the person to consult when deciding where to get a bite to eat. and i find that to be some very useful information to carry around!!! time to check out, i have a peach to rate…

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christmas dinner and things that we love…

i thought that today might turn into a disaster of sorts.  well; not a colossal disaster, but certainly something that we might not be able to handle.  mr. parks and i appear to have successfully cooked christmas dinner for his mom and stepdad.  i know, i know, it doesn’t sound like a great accomplishment, but it was the first time we have attempted such a feat.  usually our moms, stepmoms, and various restaurants/caterers have tackeled this challenge.  but today, it was us. 

i truly felt like we did it right – we had the christmas lights up, the tree, candles, and some TSO.  our house smelled right; it really smelled like christmas.  i didn’t know that we were capable of reproducing my childhood memories in our own home.  i almost thought that little kids would be running around, counting down the minutes until gift-opening time arrived.

i don’t mean to overdramatize this whole experience – but something just feels great when you realize that you can carry on christmas traditions.  mom; thanks a zillion – i think i called you about 40 times while attempting to prepare a feast.  all i hoped to do was to recreate the feeling that you give us every christmas; and if we partially did so, i consider it a complete success!!

debbie, thanks for the extra guidance and the fabulous twist on the sweet potatoes; it may become an instant classic.  and doug, thanks for your help with our garlic mashed potatoes – i hope you enjoyed the cheesecake!!

grandma and grandpa – i can’t wait until we go to florida.  thanks for coming over tonight and checking out our home.  i’m so glad that you got to spend a little more time with mr. parks!!!  and beautiful goose, of course!!

and on to the things that we love…

i love stocking stuffers from mr. and mrs. claus; aka marmar and poppy

i love beautiful matching necklace and earring sets from santa and my soon-to-be extended family

i love massages!

i love wine and yummy food

i love time spent with family and friends

i love becca’s birthday!!!

i love how happy gus is when he opens his presents

i love to look at banner, michael!  and to laugh and laugh and laugh

good night to all, and to all a good night!!!!

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