Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mad About Good Books, Can't Get My Fill

I'd like to make a public service announcement. It's not winter.

Walking around today, I saw people in bulky jackets, scarves and hats. It was 65. Granted, drizzly, but 65 degrees.

When it's 65 in April, folks in these parts are sporting shorts and sundresses. Today suddenly, it's bundle up time.

Perhaps there's a chance it was a reaction, not to the temperature, but to the long-absent rain that fell all afternoon.

I know because I drove to the northern neck to spend the afternoon talking to a couple of award-winning sisters, the rain steady from the moment I left home and all the way to the Rapphannock and back.

While hearing one delicious story after another, one sister said that she didn't have any men in her life because she didn't want anyone telling her what she couldn't do.

Seems the David Letterman show had invited her on and when they called to confirm, she wasn't home and her fiance told them she wouldn't be able to come.

You hold something like that against all mankind, it seems.

So it was I spent a fascinating afternoon with the two of them, hearing 60 years worth of stories, with a whole lot of testifying and "uh-huh-ing" going on all the while.

We had a ball.

Back in the city, I found rushing water so deep in the curb along my street that I needed to shed my shoes before exiting the car.

I showered while it was showering outside, got dressed while it rained on and drove to meet a favorite couple at Pomegranate under a steady drizzle.

Not ashamed to say I like days like this. I can even do a stretch of them, just not daily.

But driving from J-Ward to Carytown, it was hard to miss how empty places were, even for notoriously slow September.

It's only rain, after all, and a mild, soft humid night at that.

Unless you're the Wicked Witch of the West, I think you're okay.

Because the only other occupants were taking up half the bar, we wound up right in front of the screen, so I just swiveled to look out the big front window and watch the rain and car lights make patterns on the shiny streets.

What screen?

This was not a random get-togetherbut a posthumous celebration of my friend's Aunt Doris, who would have been 95. In tribute to Doris, she'd had two martinis by 7.

I believe that's how the Doris tradition is kept alive, a nod to all the great adventures, drinking and otherwise, she'd had with Doris over the years.

Waiting for our food over Jean-Luc Columbo Viognier (with one abstaining for a cocktail), we toasted Doris and allowed our ears to wander with whatever Great American Songbook Pandora station they'd chosen.

Apparently it was just the kind of music Doris loved.

Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat "King" Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Gershwin.

I like New York in June, how about you?
I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?
I love a fireside when a storm is due
I like potato chips, moonlight, motor trips, how about you?

A far cry from last night's thrash at 821.Variety, spice of life and all that.

I'd chosen mussels and frites in a tomato basil broth, getting such a plentiful serving of mussels (and a mound of flaccid fries) that I left little room for bread sopping of what was a perfectly delicious broth, hunks of cooked tomato throughout.

My friends told me about having seen violinist Joshua Bell with the symphony Saturday evening followed by a discussion of Bell's performance next week at the Union Station Metro.

It'll be interesting to hear how differently people react to him playing than they did when he first tried it in 2007 and only a handful paid him any mind.

We talked about how much my friend dislikes listening to WCVE's jazz show with Peter Solomon and having the musical vibe broken hourly with jarring news.

In his opinion, they should hold the news until after jazz ends. First world problem.

Sharing notes on each other's full moon-like experiences last Friday, they told me about finding a girl passed out on a neighbor's lawn and I shared how I'd seen a girl go from vertical on a corner to crumpled on the curb in less than five seconds.

Rein it in, kids. Life's a marathon, not a sprint.

They both smacked their lips over their dishes - his enormous and vaguely obscene pig and bacon sausage over spaetzel and apples, her steak frites made with culotte steak, a lean cut I like for its toothsome meatiness and she did, too - and we agreed on Espolon for dessert.

My friend whined that his high school reunion had been scheduled for opening night of the Folk Fest. He's not pleased.

I heard about a new exhibit at UR showing the development of the Westhampton area from amusement park to university, just the geeky kind of thing I'd love to see.

My aunt Faye went to UR back in the '60s and never quite accepted the merging of the men's and women's campuses, despite being extremely liberal and forward-thinking. I think it had more to do with academics than anything.

The male in our midst was left behind when we got off on a tangent about VCU's Grace Street area in its heyday.

I told her how when I first moved here from Washington, I was thrilled to discover Sunny Day, a clothing shop on Grace Street that carried decidedly un-Richmond like clothes for 1987.

Squealing in delight, she said she'd bought two pairs of sky-high platform shoes there in the '70s, one pair black and the other silver, both of which she danced in until destroying the black ones.

The silver ones she still has.

And get this, she paid for them by the shoe, not by the pair. Crazy, man.

I told her I'd danced a half dozen times this summer and had on platform shoes every time. Old habits die hard.

Just for the record, I also like potato chips, moonlight and motor trips.

Motor trips, even in rain like this. Here's to you, Doris.


  1. ....dearest k:

    ...maybe your friends' a bit demanding... npr has less breaks than anyone...[except pledge week]. naturally mr. solomon must excuse himself. it's the news...and other than RVA, (wrva) we're lucky to have radio, (free) cover the news. by-the-way as you may know pete solomon plays a mean trombone. can u dig it maharishi? agree with your aunt faye. westhampton was a beautiful campus. still is i guess. perhaps
    u of r has overbuilt. a pity -- there was a time of many splendid open spaces on campus.

    seems like of late i've monopolized your in-box. don't want to go stale or bore you. cool weather ahead -- may hibernate for 'while - let others carry on.

    chips, moonbeams & trips -- me to but maybe not in that order.


    1. I don't feel demanding. I just don't like Jack Spear and Lackme Schwing interrupting my dinner or groove with bad, bad always bad news. I'm not contributing money to WCVE to hear "the sky is falling" while enjoying jazz. In the 60's my dad had CBS news on his radio FULL BLAST while we were eating dinner. Instead of the middle east, Obama, and our current problems, we were treated to Walter and an evening update of the Vietnam War.

  2. No need to retreat, cw, because I always enjoy your comments. Good to know someone is reading and thinking about what I write.