As a special guest of Sally’s, it was a dining pleasure to top them all!
My daughter-in-law knocked on the door. Upon opening it she smiled, tired from a long day of teaching teens and in-betweens. Math and science it seems. Walking across the wooden floor, ran a robust toddler of one to greet her with open arms. “Mama, Mama…” Blond and blue-eyed, his face was aglow to see his mother bending down on one knee, ready to hug him-so-tight. This single grandson of mine wrapped soft pudgy arms around his mother’s neck squeezing her with all of his little might. She fell back on her behind to laugh aloud. Tired no more, life was all about the moment…
With the rest of the family off to a Michigan game for the weekend, the three of us skipped off to a nearby café to enjoy the treat of a special dinner. Our chosen restaurant was a small, family owned place where menus were written overhead on chalkboards of black. Beverages were self-serve near a wall towards the right, while wooden booths waited for us to sit and chat on the left.
Although the food in this café is truly delicious, all homemade and one of a kind, the chef is mainly known for his French pastries and desserts. People from all over St. Louis come to enjoy a slice of mile high raspberry cake filled with buttercream frosting or delight in their signature chocolate desert covered in milk chocolate ganache. At holiday time, rows and rows of cakes and pies line the entire restaurant with orders sold in advance. Call early if you want to serve anything filled with cream or baked in crust at your dinner table!
Of course the above, in all its magnificent glory sits behind massive cases of glass lit from behind, tempting anyone who comes to dine. It’s impossible to say, “No.” I’ve tried looking another way or ignoring the display. I’ve even pretended it wasn’t there in order to “come back another day.” Ha, it doesn’t work that way!
Still, my daughter-in-law and I were doing fairly well in masking our watering mouths. We sat in our booth, discussing children’s play while waiting for sandwiches to be delivered. ‘Our’ little man was buckled into a seat, his back to the tempting treats.
Minutes went by…then out of nowhere came a clear voice, as if from a speaker. “Cupcake.” It was clear and concise. Anyone could have said it. Yet, lips of a toddler were moving up and down. “Cupcake.” My daughter-in-law laughed. Me too! Then, Little Guy began to giggle. “Cupcake!” Our dinner hadn’t been delivered yet, so what the heck? With permission of course, my grandson was allowed to devour desert as his first course. Oh, and on the way out, another one to take home!
It is freezing cold here in St. Louis. Much like the rest of the country, I’m told. When I rose from under layers of cozy bed covers this morning, my “Doodle” dog barely lifted his head. From the dimly lit room, I could tell what he thinking. “Those bare wooden floors are cold. What are you doing, what are YOU thinking?” I sat down for a minute or more. Just when he thought it was safe to scoot back under, I fooled him. Taking a deep breath before putting fuzzy slippers on my frigid feet, I jumped up for the day. His shaggy white head and black nose peeked at me one last time. “Are you CRAZY?” At least that’s what I imagined he was….thinking.
There I was in the midst of, ‘everything.’ Running around and about, I was busy cleaning up, sorting mail, and emptying trash when I saw them. Crumbles of hard caramel-colored pieces sprinkled here and there. They were left in a trail thoughout the house much like “Hansel and Gretel” would do in their fairy tale.
Nubby golden nuggets shaken like salt and pepper led me down the hall through my bedroom to the point of origin. The door was wide open to my walk in closet. Sitting on the floor where I had left it the night before was the small tote bag that I had carried on the plane. Peeking through the zippered opening to see, was only a warm fuzzy blanket. The rest was a mystery to me.
So, I shut the door to go about my day. I did not have time to play. Still, everywhere I went were reminders of the evidence. Wherever I walked, wherever I stepped, nubby brown nuggets stuck to the bottom of my feet. Then, up from the stairs bounded my favorite fluffy fur ball, jumping into my lap with greetings of love. It was my “Doodle” dog. Ha! I had my answer now. Surely, he was the one. I needed to find out what he had done….
Like a white creme puff, I carried him to my closet where I opened my tote to get to the bottom. Slowly, I unraveled the warm fuzzy blanket. Shaking it out, more crumbles fell out. All of a sudden a crackling sound could be heard. Clear cellophane paper appeared!
Sitting on the beige carpet, I looked to my left where Doodles sat upright together with two white legs and black paws, in front. Like a small child, he knew he’d been caught. He knew he’d been found out. Beneath his dark eyes and under his black nose, the evidence was clear. Looking closer now, I could see. It was there, underneath his chin. Chocolate that he had tried to lick off, but couldn’t quite reach.
In my closet, in my tote, Doodles had sniffed it out. He dug through the blanket to ‘carefully’ scratch open the cellophane, paw by paw. The clear was not slit down the middle nor shredded to bits. No, he was smarter than that. He lifted a piece of my favorite sponge candy out of the fancy wrapped bag, one piece at a time. Like you or I would do. It was obvious he didn’t, ‘wolf it down.’ No, he finished the first before returning for the second. Perhaps he was saving a bite for me?
You may wonder why I’m writing this, but I have a lesson here. This is not the first time….. I should have learned by now from this “Doodle Bandit” of mine. My dog is addicted to chocolate. I’ve called the vet who has told me that some dogs are allergic to chocolate. They may get sick or even worse. Not Doodles. He simply steals and devours it with glee.
Long ago I came home when he was just a pup to find an up-opened box of Godiva chocolates sitting oddly on the floor. I took the lid off. A few were missing. Others were pinched. Yes, pinched by a small white paw. The box was perfect. No papers out of place, no chocolate to be found anywhere.
Crazy I know, but isn’t that what a cat burglar would do?
This is quite unusual. Earlier, I startled awake having dreamed of writing my post with a title already in place. I accept the fact that it’s not extraordinary for a writer to dream of words. Often during my “sleep state” I see them dancing in pairs to a beautiful waltz. Polished wooden instruments are playing among a full orchestra down in the pit shining under stage lights. The scene and sound within my sleeping mind may go on the whole night through.
This is different, though. In the darkness of my bedroom last night, I slept like a baby in a big crib. It’s only when my eyes popped open this morning that I was startled so. There was this title, “The Friendship Ring,” milling about as I slid cozy blue cozy slippers upon my feet. Rarely do I ever title a post until I’m finished writing it. It’s just the way I work. The simple and true fact is that I never know where the keyboard will take me until I’m finished. Today, I’m working in reverse. It’s a surprise for you and me! Let’s see where we go ….
Last night a holiday party was held in the neighborhood where I caught up with friends I haven’t seen in a while together with others I’ve never met before. My neighbor’s house was decorated beautifully,like a picture postcard ripped from the pages of “Better Homes and Gardens.” Trees were lit in every room, berried wreaths were hung on colored papered walls, and reindeer pranced down snowy table runners sprinkled with Christmas colored diamonds.
As I went from room to room, “oohing and ahhing” at the most magnificent decorations, I was stopped by a middle-aged couple from down south; Baton Rouge, Louisiana to be exact. They were visiting the host who they had known for years and years. The gentleman had a slight drawl, the kind I caught only at the end of certain words or phrases when he spoke. His head was thick with hair the color of salt and pepper grey, and he wore a long-sleeved red woolen shirt. Taking my cold slender hand, he warmed it when he shook it jolly, like Santa would.
His wife was different, yet similar. They were a nice complement to one another, I could tell. She was dressed in festive slacks and a fuchsia silken blouse, loosely draped at the neck. The moment she smiled her warmth radiated like I’d known her all of my life. We shook hands politely and introduced ourselves. Then we talked for what seemed like hours. In fact it was. It felt like we’d been friends for years or maybe more.
They loved my stories of writing, something they dabbled in, while I was enthralled by their tales of travel. They could “pick up and go” whenever it fancied them so. At one time, their eyes widened in horror listening to my snowy weekend weather report. “Can it really be that bad?” At the same time, they mused of “balmy blue seas, tropical temperatures, and crepe myrtle full of buzzing bees.”
When it became apparent that the party was near its end (almost everyone had left by then) we exchanged addresses, e-mails, and promised to “stay in touch.” The three of us said our “good-by’s,” before walking into the cold and snowy night.
For me, the party was a great success. My neighbor’s house was a holiday card of beauty incomparable. The food and drink were better than any restaurant could have served. It was a pleasure to see my friends and other neighbors: to talk and laugh and have some fun. The biggest surprise of the evening was the gift of new friends. I learned so very much from couple I met last night. They taught me about their culture, their love of nature and their freedom. I felt their warmth, and their love of spirit.
This new day I have two new friends who live way down south in another state. It is a long ride down river away from me. Yet, I will always remember them and hopefully they will always remember me.
I’m cooking today. Yes, it’s true. Nothing like my Grandmother used to do, rising early to bake her home-made dark, Swedish rye bread. She always wore a cotton dress, nylon stockings and “comfort” shoes, with a freshly pressed flowered apron tied at her waist, and a big organza bow behind her back.