Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Late August in Maine

Other than a weekend camping trip to Big Sur last fall, I hadn't traveled in a while. The itch was getting to me; I feel so restless at times, and traveling is one of the best ways to expand ones own mind.

When my great aunt Edie (pictured below) told me she was renting out a house in Maine for the month of August I asked her if I could come and stay for a week. Was that rude of me to invite myself? I don't know, but after a summer of working and showing visitors around San Diego I was 1. Ready to go somewhere new and 2. Really sick of the Zoo. Edie said yes and I spent a lot of my dollars on a plane ticket to Portland.

The first thing I did when I touched down was go to Dunkin Donuts. I have missed it so much! America doesn't run on Dunkin, only the east coast does, and I was happy to get my hands around the blue collar cup for the first time in almost a year.

Portland had all the Colonial charm of a ritzier New England town but with a sleepy fishing village laid backness to it and a desire to "keep it weird" that mirrored the northwest's Portland, Oregon. The food was fresh and locally grown, the wine was mostly Californian, and the people were a mix of stocky fisherman and skinny kids in all black with recreational piercings.

I got to be there at the summer's end, to see the last of the heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market and the first of the crisp autumn apples. I sampled every cheese I could get my hands on and took time out for reading and writing in the rooftop garden of the house my aunt rented. I ate too much. I had lengthy talks with my great aunt and cousin, Rachel. We spoke about family and partnerships. Edie told us tales of her late husband, our uncle Richard. I hope I find a love like that and have the good sense to hold on to it. I hope I am as alive as Edie is when I'm a great aunt myself. I hope I'm as alive as she is today, at 29. I'm grateful to have spent time with my family, to see a new and lovely place, and for the breeze that kept me cool on the rooftop.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Deano and the Dead Bird

I work in a little office in the back of a medium-sized office building in an industrial park in Kearny Mesa, the land of car dealerships and not a lot else in San Diego County. My little office has it's own door to the outside world, where there is currently (and has been since yesterday) a dead bird just outside.

Today an older man wandered into my office from the outside door. And instead of "Oh, whoops! Sorry, wrong office. Can you tell me where the Whatever Department is?", which is what normally happens, he just looked really confused. The office is very tiny, so when there's a new person in it, we're in close proximity. As he stood there perplexed I asked which office he was looking for.
"I...I can't remember", he told me. 
"Ok, well do you know who you're looking for?" I asked.
"Yes. She's...she's my wife. But I can't remember her name. I'm too old, I guess."
"Well, if you go out to the main lobby there's a directory where you can look at the names of all of the offices and that might be helpful." I told him.
"Oh, ok. Yes, maybe so. I'm so very hot. I...I don't know how I got here."
And then I just looked at him, because I didn't know what else to do. 
"I guess I'll try going the way I came", he told me.
And he walked out of my office. Instead of turning left towards the main entrance and the lobby he turned right and walked straight into the bushes. I figured once he realized he was in the bushes he would turn around, but he didn't. He just kept walking into the dirt and shrubs around to the ice plant and into the nothing that's behind the building. I sat at my desk as he disappeared around the corner and tried to think of what to do. Call the police? That can't be helpful. I didn't know what other options there were.

About 10 minutes later I saw him wandering out in front of my door again and went outside with my cell phone, the only thing I really have that I thought might be helpful.

"Hi." I said. "Are you still...not finding what you're looking for?", because I didn't want to insult the man. He looked about 80 and was wearing a members only jacket. He'd seen so much more than me, and regardless he was just a person, and he needed help.
"Yes, I'm lost." he confessed.
"Do you know what office you're looking for?"
"I do, but I can't remember the name."
"That's ok. Do you know who it is you're here to see?"
"Yes, she's my wife. But I can't remember her name. I just...I can't remember. She's small like you and she has blonde hair...but I guess it's white now."

I asked him if he had her number and he pulled out a flip phone and said that she wasn't answering. I took him to the lobby and read off the names of all the offices in the building, none of which were familiar to him. As I took him from place to place I began to fear that his wife was, in fact,  nowhere to be found. He told me that he couldn't remember her name because he had been gone for a while.
"Well, that's alright", I told him. 
"I was gone for a few weeks. I was in the hospital, you see. I just had a stroke."
"Oh, well that's terrible", I said. "I'm so sorry to hear that. That must be awful."
"Well...", he began to say, but let his words trail off as tears started to roll down his face. 
"My mind...it just won't work anymore. I can't get it to work." he told me.

I tried to stay optimistic. I wanted to cry myself, but I knew that wouldn't help either of us. After we'd exhausted all of the options in the building and the man was growing very upset, I asked if maybe I could try to call his wife. He opened up his flip phone and pushed the number 1 but nothing happened. He put it to his ear, but without pushing send, it didn't do much good. I took the phone from him. "Try 3" he suggested. So I pushed 3, then I pushed send, and it began to ring. Someone answered.

"Hello", I said "I am with a friend of mine-
"Deano!" Deano said
"Deano", I said, "and he's looking for his wife but I can't seem to remember her name."
"Maxine" the other voice said.
"Maxine?" I said to Deano.
"Yes, yes that's it, that's her!"
"Yes, I said. Can I please speak to Maxine?"
I was on hold for a long while. When she answered I told her that I was with Deano, her husband, and that he'd lost his way. She said that she was a few offices down the road and point him in the right direction.
"Well, he's lost." I told her. "He can't find the building. If you tell me the number I'll bring him over."
"He won't know the number. Just send him up the hill", she said irritated.

I got the building number out of her and walked Deano on the busy street to a few blocks over. Every few steps I had to lead him back to the street so he didn't wander off into the bushes or the path of cars. 
"You watch out there, there's cars coming", he told me. 
"Oh, I'm alright Deano."
"What's your name? I'm sorry to have taken you away from your desk"
"Don't you worry about a thing, I'd much rather be out here in the sunshine than sitting at my desk", I told him. "And my name is Jennifer".
"Ohh", he said like it was his first time hearing the name. "What is it again?"
Eventually we got to Maxine's office and there she was, standing outside in floral knee-length shorts and a matching top, all irritated and reigning Deano in.

Deano thanked me again, and I told him it was no problem. He asked for my name a third time, like he really wanted to remember it but he knew it was impossible. 

I turned around and walked back into my little office and sat at my desk. My boss called with some things for me to do and the day continued as it always seems to do. Later someone came to shovel up the dead bird just outside my door and haul it away to wherever it is you put things like that. I kept making phone calls and writing e-mails and going to meetings, but I didn't want to forget about Deano...and all I could do was promise myself I wouldn't. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What I Ate - Heaven Sent Desserts

One of the perks of being an event planner is you get the chance to check out some great venues (read: fancy new hotels), and delicious food, and it's usually in the form of a party for event industry folks like myself. Recently I was asked to attend a dessert tasting at Heaven Sent Desserts in San Diego's North Park and was oh so pleasantly surprised with their delicious treats.

Jenni, the manager and wearer of all hats, was so friendly and welcoming. I absolutely love food and eating, but overall I'm more of a savory lover, so I figured I'd have a few polite bites of each offering and be on my way to dinner at El Camino. I underestimated Heaven Sent Desserts.

Pictured is a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, a white cake with lavender and raspberry filling and a white chocolate ganache frosting (nom nom nom) and a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache on top and a pistachio mousse filling. I missed the chocolate-obessed gene that most girls have, but this cake was good. I died for the pistachio ganache.

While everything I tried was good, the pièce de résistance was the vanilla bean panna cotta with basil, strawberries, and a balsamic reduction. After sampling the above cakes and other pastries, I still ate the whole thing. It was such a delight for the palette. The vanilla bean panna cotta was cool and sweet and reminiscent of madagascar (had I ever been there). The fresh basil was the perfect garnish and the strawberries were so sweet and juicy. This dish is perfect for an outdoor summer event in lieu of a traditional cake. The balsamic reduction was amazing. I am a balsamophile and will basically drink a bit of it on it's own. Reducing the balsamic makes it a little thicker and a little sweeter, and drizzled on top of the panna cotta, the strawberries, and the basil, it was just absolutely perfect. The presentation was lovely and the taste was heavenly. I wish I had another one right now...

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Winter" on the San Diego Bay

Derby and I walked the few blocks to the pier and it was so warm I wished my tea was iced instead of hot. Derby didn't have any tea, hot or iced. Dogs don't drink tea.