Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mum's coming home

We ate dinner outside on Father's Day. It was such a beautiful evening. Although it was after 8 p.m. by the time we actually sat down, it was still warm and pleasant. Even though it was Father's Day - Bill cooked. He prefers it that way. He made chicken parmigiana in his own style and  then "parmigianed" some huge Portobello mushrooms. OH MY GOD, they were delicious. Emma had driven home from a weekend in Toronto  (she's still looking for a suitable apartment) and was anxious to tell us her tales of woe while being rejuvenated by Bill's cooking.

Even our neighbors were outside and we tried (not very hard) to keep our voices down so we wouldn't disturb them. We tend to get boisterous when the four of us eat together. Especially as we re-enacted some of the cruder scenes from "Curb your Enthusiasm". Will and I had seen Jerry Seinfeld on Friday night at Shea's and we were remarking about how easily Jerry can keep his stand-up material so clean. Yet, Larry David's show can be so raw on HBO.

Bill commented that he was looking forward to the return of my mother for the summer. My mother loves Bill's cooking and  heaps praise and unconditional love upon him. He totally grooves on that level of affection. We all said that we would have to "curb our enthusiasm" for ruder jokes and keep the swearing to a minimum at dinner. Mum doesn't like swearing very much but, she never reprimands us. She also thinks that the three of us are way too hard on Bill. The three of us, however, think we are the only people who can keep him in line. If it weren't for us, he would be OUT OF CONTROL.
Will looks forward to Mum's visit because she makes him laugh with her incredibly inane stories of people he doesn't know. Plus, they garden together and Mum teaches Will about mulch and proper planting techniques and the benefits of peat moss. Even though Will can be annoying at times, Mum overlooks all of his idiosyncrasies and slovenly habits. He can do no wrong in her eyes.

Emma adores her Nana and has promised to take care of her when she starts to slow down. The two of them have a secret pact, I believe. Just yesterday, Mum sent Emma an article about the resurgence of the Roller Derby league in the Sarasota area. I guess she wants her to know that she can keep busy once she moves in with her.

I love it when Mum comes home. I don't have to worry about her when she is with us. When she's in Florida, I talk to her everyday on the phone... and when I can't get her to answer I always try to quell the panic in my stomach. It's stupid, really. She has a thousand friends and a million clubs and volunteer activities so its natural for her (a) not to be home and/or (b) not pick up her cell phone. She is of the opinion that her cell phone is for OUTGOING calls from HER - and she is not inclined to answer any INCOMING calls.

So tomorrow night when she wings her way up on US AIR , stopping for an hour in Charlotte (her favorite US Air hub) we will all be anxiously awaiting her return. Will will crush her with one of his man hugs, Emma will worm in there with a long hug of her own (they are the same height and get and give the best hugs to each other), I'll squeeze her tight and make her a drink and Bill will proffer his cheek for a kiss. But, it's he who will be happiest for her return.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Derby Queens

Last night Emma and I went up to Toronto via the Queen Elizabeth Highway (the QEW) for two reasons: (1) to look at an apartment for rent and (2) for derby practice - for Emma not me.

Emma had spent last weekend looking at a whole bunch of potential homes (she wants to leave her current apartment) and she had narrowed it down to one. She wanted me to give it final approval (especially since the landlord preferred if I co-signed the lease). We left work at 5:30 p.m., sailed up the QEW to Toronto and arrived at her 'future abode' in plenty of time.  We cooled our heels on the curb for about 20 minutes, watching the passing traffic (foot, bike and car) and assessed the rhythm of the neighborhood. So far, so good.

We met the landlord at 7:45 p.m. and I put an hour's worth of coinage into the meter.

We left in under 15 minutes.

This place was a dump. I have no idea why Emma originally thought this would work for her. Good Grief! And the woman wanted $1450 a month. That's FOURTEEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS. I would have committed suicide within the week if I had to live there. Emma's excuse was that she had originally looked at it during a torrential downpour and it had felt "cozy". Last night at 8:00 p.m it felt claustrophobic and filthy. The current tenants had thoughtfully left a large plastic bag of rotting apples in the kitchen. Maybe they didn't want to move and were trying to sabotage the move, but the odor, coupled with the closeness and lack of natural light accelerated my descent back down to the front door.  I couldn't wait to leave. Emma could tell by my overly polite manner and raised eyebrow that I was nixing this place. Ugh.

We left the apartment and headed up to the Downsview hangar ( a semi abandoned Canadian air force facility) where Emma's derby girls had a scrimmage scheduled. On the way north Emma vented her frustration about house hunting and wondered if allowing me to have a veto was the right decision. She was torqued - to put it mildly.

She strode into the old Downsview hangar with an attitude that I would describe as  'pissed' - only to be met by about 20 rough and tumble roller girls suiting up for practice. Let me draw you a picture of the scene:
  • A hangar from WWII  with a painted track on the floor. The floor was sticky. 
  • The stench of millions of previous athletes trapped in the rafters. The smell was only slightly better than the rotting apples we had left downtown.
  • The temperature was a good 10 degrees hotter inside then outside despite the fact that the huge airplane doors were wide open. And, it was a hot night. 
  • Scantily clad girls racing around a track - shouting instructions and encouragement and trash talking the other team.
  • A dull roar from other parts of the hangar where soccer, street hockey and lacrosse were simultaneously being played.
Emma mixed in with the roller girls and, two hours later, emerged drenched, drained and HAPPY! She got in the car and said  "I am so over this apartment - that was the right decision".  Endorphins are a wonderful drug!

We left practice, got on the QEW and sailed back home. Emma was driving and was coming off the high of working out with the girls. All was right with the world... until we got to the Ford plant in Oakville. All 4 lanes came to an abrupt halt. Construction at midnight had begun and we were in the midst of it. It took us 1 hour to travel 1 mile as the 4 lanes were forced to merge into one.

Uncharacteristically, Emma and I did not swear and gnash our teeth. Instead, we laughed and joked and told stories while we inched our way forward. And, a lot of the stories were about Bill. We both know him so well that we can tell stories in short-hand and laugh without really finishing our thoughts. We were probably a little punchy since it was so late and we'd had an emotional evening. But,  we made the best of a bad situation.
 It was kind of like waiting in line at Tim Horton's .... without the promise of coffee. The payoff was the time we were spending together.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Stop and smell the coffee

Saturday morning I went to the farmer's market in Williamsville. It's a small market, set at the foot of Spring Street -  down by the old red mill. There isn't a lot of produce for sale yet, since it is the beginning of the growing season, but I wanted to go because it makes me feel good to buy locally. And, my friend Nancy called me the night before to remind me that I had promised to go.

Nancy is very good for me. She's much more relaxed and easy going even though she juggles a lot of stuff. Here's an perfect example of how we differ:

"Where shall we get coffee?" I asked as she got into my car.

"Well, we could go back to Panera's (where we usually meet for coffee on Saturday mornings), or we could stop in at Coffee Culture at the top of Spring Street, or we could do the drive through at Tim Horton's."  Nancy offered all three options.

"What is your very favorite coffee?" In my head I was chanting : say Tim Horton's, say Tim Horton's, say Tim Horton's.

"I think I really prefer Tim Horton's ... don't you?"

 SCORE one for Liz! Another reason why I love Nancy.

"OK"  I said. " Let's see how the line is at the drive through and we can decide." Tim Horton's that was on the way to the market is one of the busiest, if not THE busiest Tim Horton's in the area. It's right next to a thruway exit and in a fairly upscale strip mall. Invariably, there is a line.  

Nancy gave me a quizzical look.

"What does the size of the line matter? We aren't in a hurry".

I pondered that one for the rest of the day.

To me, the size of the line is the premier question - no matter what. I don't care if I have 2 minutes to live or if I have all the time in the world. I refuse to waste my time in a line.

Nancy, on the other hand, feels that the coffee decision was already made. We agreed about the coffee and there was nothing more to decide. Plus, we didn't have a deadline. I just cannot get my brain around to that point of view.

Which brings me to my poll at the side of this blog. Please answer honestly.

Is there something wrong with me? Am I a product of my over scheduled time? Or, do I need to spend more time in a yoga studio? Will I change my ways when I retire and I have more 'free time'? ( I doubt it). Luckily, Bill and I have the same temperament when it comes to lines and minimizing down time. I'm not sure I was always like this and I can bet you that Bill has influenced me greatly when it comes to "saving time".
But, back to Nancy. The purpose of the trip to the market really wasn't about the vegetables - it was about spending time with Nancy - whether in the car waiting for the large coffee with double cream, or checking out the basil plants.  How much time we spent waiting for coffee was completely irrelevant.  

So after pondering that mindset the rest of the day I realized that I must make an effort to stop and breathe.

But, I sure as hell am not going to do it in theTim Horton's line.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Miles from home

My goodness, I've been to a lot of weddings lately. Yesterday, we drove to Geneseo to see a cousin of Bill's get hitched. Geneseo is fairly close to Buffalo - less than an hour and a half. But, truly a life time away.

The ceremony was in a lovely mid-sized Catholic church with a big painting of Mary in the apse. She had on the requisite blue cape and a beatific smile, while Jesus hung, suspended from the ceiling on a wooden cross in front of her. I've seen this juxtaposition before. It's kind of weird: Mary gazing at her suffering son.

Which reminds me... the term 'sacre bleu' (made famous by Hercule Poirot, Pepe Le Pew and, more recently Lumiere from Disney's" Beauty and the Beast"), is a rather quaint french profanity. It literally means sacred blue and it refers to Mary's garb. Small bit of trivia for you.

Anyway, it was a lovely ceremony - the priest had a sense of humor and the service was less pedantic than usual. Both bride and groom spoke loud and strong. SCORE! They were both practicing attorneys so that may have made a difference.

The reception was held about 5 minutes away from the church. I had no expectations since I don't know Geneseo at all. We turned down a lovely tree lined, hidden driveway onto the grounds of an old house - well more like a manor house. The place was in various states of repair. The proprietor met us in the circular driveway and directed us to the parking lot. He looked like a member of a 1960s psychedelic band - right down to the Birkenstocks and foot long hair. And his manner was ultra layed back.

But, it was a truly magnificent joint. A band was around the side of the house playing tunes on a covered stone patio. As I stepped onto the brick walk, "NEW YORK, NEW YORK" was being belted out by the lead singer. The patio opened up to a large lawn where one could envision croquet games being played. The house itself was perched atop a hill and the view was really spectacular.

In addition to the house, the bridal party had set up one of those enormous windowed white tents. The dinner would be held in there. And there was a winding path that led from the house to the tent.

I stole away from the guests to walk around the property a bit. While I was walking I pretended I wasn't from a nearby town. I pretended I was on a trip to another country and was crashing a local wedding. It was easy to do. I remembered being in Ravello, Italy (on the Amalfi coast) with Bill and the kids when we found ourselves in the middle of a very high tone wedding. Every one of the guests looked like movie stars. Or at least it felt that way - like we were on a movie set. I could easily transport myself to that feeling right there in Geneseo.

I thought how wonderful that we had such a magical place so close by. We travel miles, cross oceans and traverse plains to see something unique, different and truly foreign. And, here it is right under our nose.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bar Pictures

Today I went downtown at lunchtime to have my picture taken. Every so often the Bar Association of Erie county updates its member pictorial. I think they might do it every 5 years. The bar puts together this book that identifies all the lawyers in the area - I guess so when you go to court you know what your opponent actually looks like.  It's fun looking back at the old editions and seeing how badly everyone has aged. Ouch.

Circa 1993

Each year, my picture is next to Bill's. That's kind of nice. When I checked in with the photographer at bar headquarters I almost screwed up. She asked me how I would like my name. I said: "Elizabeth Martin Savino." When I looked down at the sheet she was filling out, I realized that the way she had set it up, I would have been sorted under 'M': she had written my last name as Martin Savino.

"Oh no - you've got to change that" I said. "I'm really a Savino". That sounded kind of funny. 
Circa 2006

Then she eyeballed my outfit and wrote down "white shirt..." I interrupted her again and said:

"Oh, no - I'm not wearing this. It's casual day at work and I was in jeans. I had brought a suit jacket, thinking that only my torso would be showing.

"Well, what color is it?" she inquired.

"Navy blue, I think". I pulled the rumpled mess out of my large bag, gave it a few swipes with my hand and unfurled the collar.

"Yes, navy blue.  Can I change somewhere? "

"We have a bathroom right here... perhaps.... you'd like to comb your hair?"

Not only did I comb my hair, I put on lipstick and reapplied some mascara! I showed her!!

I sat on the proffered stool, complied completely with the requests of the photographer and tried to appear demure yet firm, sweet but fierce. I thought about looking "fierce" as an homage to Tyra Banks and even  asked the photographer if he'd like that look.  He suggested that I stick with my original smile. So I stuck my chin out, tried to hide the turkey skin in my neck and set my shoulders back and down. I told myself  "think perky breasts" and maybe they'll comply.

We were done in seconds. While I sat there making adjustments I couldn't hep but think: rather than complying with the photographer's directions, why don't they just erect a big mirror so the subject can actually see how they look themselves and adjust their gaze/smile/collar/crazy hair, accordingly.  Hasn't anybody thought of that? I have to rely on someone I've never met, someone who clearly hasn't figured out my best side, to choose the best angle.

He may be a professional, but I am a control freak.

Let's hope the picture comes out OK and that I haven't aged too badly. In 2016 I'm definitely taking a hand mirror with me. And scheduling my session with Bill.