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Archive for April 2011

Birthdays: From None to One to One MORE and Then There were Seventy! (April 28, 2011) (CB’s Birthday)

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Seems to me that April was the season of birthing a while ago, which would make July the rutting month for a lot of moms and dads sixty – to – seventy years ago. And every one of us gets to get presents and praise and cake on that special once a year day.

CB turns seventy April 28th. On the 27th for her birthday I got to eat beer-fed Kobe steak for the first (and probably only) time in my life. I think she was scared off by the absence of a price on the menu, only “Market” which is pretty much an ominous threat that you’d better have some extra fifties in your shoe. The market on my kobe steak was $72. Big surprise to me was thatis her steak (2 ounces bigger at less than half the price) was just as tender and almost as good as the kobe.

Sun rays from above pulling gold from Cincinnati soil, CB's marigolds, a birthday gift from Bob, beginning their march across CB's flower bed.

A high-fallutin kind of place it was – Carlo and Johnny’s in Cincinnati. Reminded me of steak houses I’ve grazed through in over half a dozen states and 40 years. Lots of black and low interior lights (I could hardly read the menu) to disguise blemishes and it works; the place was impressive and the severe black and whites were almost, also.

Service aint the same, though, is it? Here we were in a  high class joint so expensive I had to float a loan to pay for it and the first person (after the water glass filler person) who came to the table to show us how well he had memorized the menu for the day and commenced in his sing song way to shoot rapid fire until his mouthful of ammunition was exhausted. Memorized because I heard the same presentation twice later in the evening and it was the same presentation, good, or bad, enough to have been a tape recording.

Tried a fried cheese salad  – I liked it; CB didn’t, and lobster chowder for which I may have seen an honorable mention in the sideboard over there in the service bar.

Written by frankieleeee

April 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

Posted in Family, Lunchbunch

Scrabble Bounces Back Off the Front of My Head (Richfield OH April 16, 2011)

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The Spring Fling

A week ago, I played Scrabble (copyright til you die) in Fenton, Michigan. Not very happily. Not very well. I played so poorly that I almost wished all my Scrabble (copyright til you die) friends would disappear and leave me with nary a single reason to continue the insanity of this stupid game of luck and frustration. Only redeeming value, besides the cadre of friends you find, is that it lets you play jeeessst well enough to tease you into buying a bus ticket to the next tournament in the next town. “Man, did you see that word I came up with. Straight out of my butt. No, no, I didn’t win but I found me an insanely great word, didn’t I?”

The previous Saturday in Fenton, I played in the baby group and still dropped 24 rating points on Saturday, down to 1274 (remember when I’s in the 16 & 1700s REGULARLY?). But on the 16th day of April in the year of our lord 2011, I played with them what been snickering ever’ time they approach my Scrabble (copyright til you die) throne (and so, sadly, deserved). Got creamed in game one. Got flushed down the drain in game two.

“Same ole. Same ole.”

Then it happened!

A miracle. Or was it my years of bakshish spread out among 25 or so pantheons of deities finally paying off?

Or was it the Spring Fling flushing out the bad stuff and replacing it with the clean and the good and the positively upward spiralling kharma?

I won games 3, 4, 5, 6 AND 7! I finished third in the BIG PEOPLE’s division (and woulda finished 2nd if I hadn’t let that 90-something bingo get past me, dagnabit!). FIFTY DOLLARS!

Rating up 66 points! (And STILL only 1342, but I’m not … I’m not … I’m not complaining).

Cross-Tables confirms what I say: it was a wonderful day, starting at about 11:30!

Look at me! Bitching about winning! A sorry way to show my appreciation to those who allowed themselves to be intimidated by my pseudo ferocity, isn’t it? And not so considerate of a bunch of badluck bears, like CB who usually finishes dead even with me but who got mired in quicksand in a letter-riddled marsh this time. I guess that last birthday cake got stuck somewhere between my brain and my belly.

So where’s Stocky been gettin’ his entymological (entymological? insecticidal???) .. err.. etomological musculature of late, anyhow? Tell me that, if you dare!

Seriously, for a second, if that’s possible, Dallas Johnson and wife Sue always put on a good spread and tournament in the Richfield’s rustic Brushwood Pavilion in the Furnace Run Metro Park. Breakfast and lunch courtesy of Sue. I hope they broke even so they can do it again; if not, I’ll be happy to contribute a little something extra for the next one.

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I’m sorry I missed the awards ceremony at Dairy Queen down the road from the park (apparently no money can change hands within the park itself: bakshesh outside this perimeter … please!

Written by frankieleeee

April 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Food We ate at the Cherry House Cafe in Beavercreek OH (Lunchbunch food. 4/19/2011)

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All in all. For a good time, we couldn’t beat it. For good food with somebody you DON’T like, go somewhere else! And that’s the way that wuzzzzzzzzzzz!

Written by frankieleeee

April 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Lunchbunch

Cherry! Cherry! Easter Week; Easter Flavors. (Lunchbunch Tues, Apr 19, 2011. Cherry House Cafe, Beavercreek, OH: 6.28

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Somewhere between Cincinnati and Dayton on I-75 had the flood actually been cats and dogs, we'd have had nourishment for a lifetime (Just kidding, Bob & Willie)!

It rained all over this April 19th Tuesday. Perhaps the gods were angry at our changing our little Lunchbunch klatch from Thursday (Willie was off Wednesday for another Scrabble tournament in Gatlinburg; the week before Bob and I Lunchbunched on Tuesday so CB and I could get to the Richfield tourney on time.). Perhaps they’d heard my imprecations on Saturday when I’d missed a winning Scrabble play in Richfield, Ohio. Perhaps the World was simply filthy and it was time for an Earthwash. I do know it rained and it rained. With the gusto of religious fervor. It rained as Tranq roostertailed his way all the way up Interstate 75 to Dayton. It rained as we dined under the guidance of Chelsea the server.

Shivers to Sugar!

Server Chelsea wringing her hands in glee in anticipation of meeting the renowned Lunchbunch and catering to our every whim of which let there be said there are many and then still many more.

Strangely conflicted, says Chelsea, is owner Annette Mangan who, though a vegetarian, serves much meat in Cherry House. Why? "Capitalism," smiles Chelsea in her Sunday gratuity accepting demeanor.

It rained as we charged through the doors to the parking lot, umbrellas not up to saving both Junior, Jr and me.

CB (inside) and Willie (yellow) load the sodden throne chair for the trip to Afterwords at the Beavercreek Library.

It rained as we drove to the Beavercreek Library. It rained as we skated through the waves to the shelter built on the backs of the city’s rather-large contingent of intelligentsia. It rained and it rained and it rained. And we still had armfuls of laughter and wet curls full up with fun.

As Hank Williams used to sing "A Picture from Life's Other Side."

Strange when you can have so much fun in face of what normally might have been party pooping problems: 1) sandwiches on stale bread, 2) dust-dry potato salad, 3) ice in my pop (can’t have it; can’t do it!), 4) butterscotch-less butterscotch cookie, 5) recurring absent-mindedness of our charming server Chelsea, 6) you get the picture. In spite of the dinky stuff, it was a boisterously pleasant time.

Physically, Cherry House Cafe reminded me mightily of Miss Molly’s Bakery & Cafe in Farmersville down to the fresh, clean, shining faces of the owners: Annette in Beavercreek and Miss Molly in Farmersville. While we had great fun at the Cherry House, Miss Molly’s without a doubt served far superior sandwiches and desserts.

Willie shows off some new tricks she has learned at the pool lately while CB looks on in .. utterly fascinated.

It rained birthday gifts for me from Willie who had forsaken me, my birthday even, for her unflagging devotion to Scrabble (copyright til you die): roadkill sausage (can’t wait for my next dietoff day), pure-dee Vermont maple syrup, two great ballpoint pens (to name them is to diminish them) to add to my alienlike collection of collections and a uniquely appropriate gaseous birthday card to this “ole fart”:

Knowing I've never met a writing instrument I didn't like, Willie searched far and dug deep to find a couple of gems. Here's the angel (Who besides Willie woulda ever thought to give ME an angel 🙂 ). I love them both.

This ballpoint pen from Willie seems to be a combination of clown and criminal/satan. Knew she'd have to dilute that angel.

It rained snicker doodles from Willie down on all of us who grabbed one (well, okay “I” grabbed one) in appreciation.

Don’t tell me there’s no Easter Bunny. She has a bag in one hand with all her goodies and a phone in the other presssed tightly against her ear under the bright yellow hood of generosity.

Bob and CB enjoyed beating up on Willie and me Afterwords at the Beavercreek Library. Bob won 3. CB 2. Me 1. Willie none. After running up the flag 3 days earlier in Richfield (5-2) I thought I’s gonna make mincemeat of them all. Which proves one thing, but damned if I know what that one thing is.

The triple threat of the team (Bob, CB & Willie) under attack by vicious menus and inadequate answers.

Willie picked. CB paid. Willie tipped and swept up the leftovers for long-suffering John waiting every so patiently at home.

Next week is Bob’s pick. Willie pays. Bob tips.

Husband John musta had a feast when Willie laid these "leftovers" on his table last night.

And that’s the way it wuz! Or was it the way it woulda been if dreams came true?

The terrifying trio (CB, Willie n Bob - plus strange unidentified lady) break loose from their bonds set by staff members of the Beavercreek Library to rescue the throne chair and sit it free to come back ... to me.

Written by frankieleeee

April 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Finest Food Photos: Goodies’ Best (April 14th, 2011)

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Written by frankieleeee

April 21, 2011 at 11:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Goodie! Goodie! (Lunchbunch April 14, 2011 – Cincinnati OH)

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Willie was wandering around the air above New England, riding the drafts here and there, catching streams and sailing along, singing a song of jubilation for hadn’t she battled the egos of seven states over Scrabble (copyright til you die) gameboards for two nail-biting days? CB was at home tossing out, rearranging and “cleaning” fle’s flimsy hold on his teeny corner of the world, transmogrifying that corner into a into unaccustomed confusion. Spring cleaning?

Bob De Tore, caregiver of the day after I turned 68. Amazing the difference a birthday makes. Decrepitude fell sullenly, er suddenly from the sky as though a meteor was guiding fates hand.

Bob had been dubbed “caregiver of the day” for fle (me) and set about his duties with a will. “I don’t give a damn whether you want to cross the street or not, grampa, I’m here to help you and first thing I’m gonna do is help you across this here street.”

If fle had masochistic tendencies he would have been having the time of his life, flinching under the repeated lashings of worldly slings and arrows.

And so they set out, these two scheming adventurers from the parking lot to the other side of town where they were sure to find, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, good Southern eats at the Goodin’ Plenty Cafe on Montgomery Road. Southern cookin’ and sunshine and time to talk all day if we wanted to; who could ask for – who could want – anything more.

Bob was hassled at the moment so I could only catch this fleeting glance of Goodin Plenty Cafe on Montgomery Road. Inaccessibility is built in and apparently preserved with pride.

Except first stop at Goodin’ Plenty reminded fle he and Pamela had passed this way on a past birthday when that same INACCESSIBLE building held Emanu Ethiopian Restaurant. And had been forced to find J&W Barbecue down the street. Goodin’ Plenty is also INACESSIBLE. A 6-8 inch raised concrete step beneath the front door. No way could Junior, Jr negotiate it. No way.

I thought the ADA would have come into play when a new business went into the building, the requirement that if changes require accessibility. But I should have known better. Cincinnati is almost as bad as Tennessee and Mississippi and a bunch of other ignoramus states in not giving a damn about the custom of us handicappers.

Despair and gloom spread through the interior of Tranq like a mudslide.

Until

VOILA!

Bob says, How ’bouts we try Goodies again; we’ve only been there a dozen times or two?

The smoke from Goodies signals my taste buds and asks the age old question: "What are you willing to sacrifice for a rib? A rib for a rib, mebbe? A fancy bauble?"

Half an hour later we were digging into the best fried okra either of us had tasted in a month of Sundays and renewing our acquaintance with Tony whose sister owns the joint.

Tony autographs another Goodies menu for lunchbunch, probably the tenth or 11th time and still he smiles thru the grimness he must feel as he must need wheedle and needle and kiss our (butts). And a bottle of rum - yum yum.

NOT ONE COMPLAINT ABOUT THE FOOD! Not one!

First time ever.

First time ever Bob and I agreed completely on anything. Just ask our friends who are forever wondering whether we’re going to body slam the other with the power of rancor and stubbornness.

We grinned and grinned til the walls caved in under the heavy weight of the goodness building thickly within.

Rib tips (best I ever ate).

Barbecued chicken (best I ever ate).

Chess pie (best I ever ate except for Aunt Louise’s way back in time in Tennessee).

Barbecue buffalo wings (best I ever ate outside Buffalo, home of the Anchor Bar, where they were originated).

Okra (best I’ve eaten of the deep-fried variety.)

Potato salad (very, very good).

Rice and beans (very good).

Collard greens (excellent).

Peach cobbler (excellent).

Cornbread (excellent).

As always Tony was most gracious.

Friendly, too.

Afterwards we wandered into a shoe repair shop looking for someone who could replace a zipper in my purse which niece Sandi had found for me a couple years ago. Didn’t know a cobbler would have so much “stuff” in stock, including leg warmers (not nearly as pretty as mine which were made by Maria), and looked like everything else that came from a cow and some stuff that didn’t.

Except he seemed sort confused about the zipper part, kinda squishing his eyebrows toward each other wondering what the heck I was talking about.

I’ll look up another cobbler; see if that’s the norm.

Bradford pear blossoms cover the canopy formed by their branches like a fancy wedding parlor. "Something to behold," Bob.

With a casual stroll (in a van?) down Junietta Street over by the firehouse where the Bradford pear trees bloom every year, tugging Bobby’s heartstrings as he, for a moment or three, regrets the move from the pear blossoms to the guardhouses. Just for a moment. Mayhaps.

Thence to the mansion and Scrabble (copyright til you die) in the spare dining nook. My luck from Fenton MI last weekend continued to hold.

Bad luck.

Bob won all three. I may have given one away, but mostly my head felt like a crossword puzzle with half the letters missing. Maybe they’ll (gray matters) be recuperated by Saturday in Richfield (OH).

Finally.

Bob packed his pie, his leftover ribtips, beans and rice, and okra, and scrambled, with all due haste back to Sardinia and his beloved walled city.

Fle chose. Fle paid. Bob tipped.

Written by frankieleeee

April 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

When You’re 68 (minus 2 days) and It Feels Like You’re 10! (Monday, April 11, 2011)

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Aunt Betty talking to Bud who drove over in his Ford to her driveway in Wyandotte. (fle photo. April 11, 2011)

Down in Paris (TN) we used to count the days from the day school turned out for the summer until Uncle Pete and Aunt Betty drove into our drive for the official kick-offtheir vacation. Later there was also Pamela and then Sherry and even later then, Alan, whom we all called Bud.

Bud is a real laidback comedian. A pleasure to be around. Here he waits patiently for Junior, Jr, to climb down from Tranq and make our way into the Rams Horn. (fle photo. 4/11/2011)

We knew for two weeks, there would be excitement running wild circles through our heads, coming out of our hands and feet like solid-fuel rockets blasting us to the moon or wherever Uncle Pete suggested we go.

Swimming down at the lake.

Picnicking down at the “Springs” with catfish and hushpuppies as special guests of our digestive tracts.

And car rides where Uncle Pete would give that fifty-seven ford a boost of energy just as he topped that rise on the Mansfield Road, lifting the car off the pavement (or so it seemed) sending our bellies pushing up through our throats.

Only thing was Aunt Betty’s family lived in Mansfield and after a couple of days with us, they’d pack up and go out there to have fun with those folks. Boy, were we jealous!

When they left for the last time, to go home up north, you’d ‘a’ thought somebody had died we were so sad.

Some of the happiest moments of my childhood center around Aunt Betty and Uncle Pete coming home once a year from that magical city where they lived – Wyandotte, Michigan. We knew it must be grand where candy and ice cream flowed like water and where Uncle Pete and Aunt Betty spent all their waking hours entertaining and buying special treats for kids.

After I’d grown a bit, got married, and moved my wife and myself to Mount Clemens, Michigan, I started seeing them again. Wyandotte was 45 minutes to an hour away on the other side of town – downriver.

It was like old home week for a while. Aunt Maxine, Uncle Ambry and their families also lived in Wyandotte. And by now most of their kids had kids, or, at the least, serious plans to create some soon’s they found fingers to fit their rings.

Haven’t been to Wyandotte in an age. Aunt Maxine and Uncle Ambry moved to Jerome, Michigan, far away in the middle of the state, after Uncle Ambry retired from the paint company. Uncle Ambry died.

Only Uncle Pete and Aunt Betty stayed on where it seemed like they’d lived forever. Uncle Pete worked at Ford – they’d all gone up north in search of jobs and to get away from subsistence farming – until he was diagnosed with cancer which he battled for half a dozen years before he, too, died.

Aunt Betty, the matriarch of the Wyandotte branch of the Sutton family. What a welcoming human being!. (fle photo. Wyandotte MI. 4/11/2011)

As CB pulled Tranq up to the sidewalk in front of Aunt Betty’s house yesterday, I was thunderstruck with nostalgia as the memories formed white rapids in my chest, fighting off any benefits I was getting from the oxygen shooting up my nose.

The house looked smaller but as neat as a pen. The front porch had been changed and looked like it wasn’t as high as it used to be.

But when Aunt Betty opened the door and stood peering at us to make sure we were the usual suspects whom she knew, my smile grew to the size of my belly and beyond.

CB and Sherry inside The Rams Horn, a design surely resembling the inside of a bedouin bent on the Sahara where the hand of friendship is offered freely over a cup of turkish coffee. (fle photo. Wyandotte MI. 4/11/2011)

It was wonderful as we moved the reunion to the Rams Horn Restaurant in Southgate – I couldn’t get up the steps into her house, I’m afraid, nor could Junior, Jr, the three-wheeled attack vehicle I keep closeby for protection and transportation.

Bud drove to the house to chauffeur his mom; Tranq was filled to the gills with support staff and stuff for the ole guy riding shotgun and calling shots to an empty house :).

Sherry met us at the restaurant in spite of an ear infection which had transmogrified the world about her into a giant echo chamber.

Sherry the patient! Perhaps a holdover from her great-great-20-something-great grandfather Charlemagne, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. Brings a smile to my lips, even with the echoes of Jamaica beating a tattoo of pain on her eardrums. (fle photo. Wyandotte MI. 4/11/2011)

I remember when Sherry came with her parents to Tennessee in the 50s (I think) and I took her down to the mulberry tree down by the Coopers’ house a block and a half down the gravel road. As I recall I induced her to join me in dying our fingers and fances a deep bluish purple to the delight of our taste buds.

CB holds Tranq's door open as Aunt Betty, Bud and Sherry gather around to join the well-wishing until the next time we shall meet again. Can't be too soon for me. Nothing like family, is there?. (fle photo. Wyandotte MI. 4/11/2011)

Ending the visit was way too soon, but we had another 250 miles to Cincinnati and I had to rest up for my birthday (I’s deciding on whether to bungy-jump, jump out of a plane, or just take another leap away from reality.)

I guess you can tell I  liked it

PS: DO NOT use a GPS to navigate from Fenton MI to Wyandotte MI. The shortest/fastest way is Southfield Freeway. Southfield Freeway is under construction to A-to-ZIP (miles and miles). The GPS will take you back to Southfield Freeway no matter what you try. CB and I spent way over an EXTRA hour getting to Aunt Betty’s, finally resorting to phoning my blues buddy Don who lives in Lathrup Village to get us to a spot where we could turn on the GPS without it cursing us into another Southfield Freeway route, as it had done FIVE TIMES before. Couple of tries. Sweat of angry frustration pouring from my pores like pouring liquid iron, we finally found Greenfield and Redford. No more switchbacks, U-turns, left-left-left, detour-the-bridge-is-out. Easy from there. But couldn’t phone Aunt Betty to tell her we hadn’t forgotten because the number I had now belongs to granddaughter Elizabeth – I thought that pleasant young voice on the answering machine was Aunt Betty jazzing up her communications equipment.

Sigh!

-0-

Written by frankieleeee

April 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Family