Can I Get a Word in Edgewise 2015

Scan0008We met, Julie, Carolyn and Karin, while working in the Naseau Project, a research pilot program funded by the Medical College. The name, the Naseau Babes, just sort of happened with no way of knowing how they’d stick together over time. But they did. Here’s an account of two days spent together in August 2015. Within seconds, they got right down to business.

“So, Carolyn. Are you dating,” asked Karin. It was important to find out if recently divorced Carolyn had made the transition; seemed she had. Her Match.com-match, a dog owning, never been married with no children sound engineer, seemed to be a keeper. They already have Thanksgiving plans.

And that’s just the beginning. Inviting Julie’s husband Dennis along to a local bistro, they’re dinner conversation included thoughts on the female Viagra pill getting FDA approval, sharing similarities and anecdotes from the practices of Dennis, an MD, and Carolyn, a family nurse practitioner, congratulating Julie on her new teaching position at UWM, and sympathizing with Karin’s retirement dilemma of deciding each day “what do I want to do.”

Carolyn slept at Karin’s the first night and it only took five minutes for her to fix Karin’s DVD player and to answer burning questions on home decorating. Karin knew Carolyn would have great ideas but her offer to move the furniture right then and there was deemed premature.

Next day, once Julie arrived, the discussion advanced to how Karin should consider a chair and a half with sleeper to solve her living room conundrum and still be able to accommodate the occasional overnight guest. This of course led to urgency: shopping for furniture right now!

The Babes have never been known to do things half way, so what followed were visits to every furniture store in the vicinity. Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Steinhafels, Lazy-Boy. Carolyn introduced herself to puzzled sales persons as “Karin’s advocate.” She asked all the tough questions.

Overwhelmed from shopping, the Babe’s had to have an ice cream break and got lost looking for Culver’s on Mayfair Road. How is it that three competent women with over 150 years of life, one PhD and three master degrees between them can’t find a shop on Mayfair Road?

Using an I-phone with Google maps that wouldn’t work right, in desperation, they stopped at the first ice cream shop they found. After a challenging picture taking session with a very needed-to-be-useful man, they headed back to furniture stores, laughing and pointing when they spotted the Culver’s a few blocks north.

Returning to Julie’s house and fully accepting their dwindling stamina, they scrubbed the planned trip to the art museum in lieu of an afternoon chai, nap, TV and preparing dinner. Watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa inspired Julie and Carolyn to go through all Julie’s cookbooks and then visit the grocery store.

Kitchen-averse Karin was awestruck as these creative ladies went from allegro to adagio, whirling and twirling from one end of the kitchen to another. No collisions or missteps reported! Carolyn completed a pirouette as she used a zester on a lemon; immersion blender in hand, Julie executed a flawless pas de deux.

Final product: the Contessa’s cream of tomato soup and a peach crumble. Add grilled cheese sandwiches and salad for perfection. Karin insisted that they should audition for a reality food show. Bobby Flay or Emeril Lagasse would be judges.

With dinner precooked and stored, the Babes headed off to a Milwaukee River Boat tour. Riding from the dock past the many condos and apartments, it was amazing to see the city’s transformation from the once busy factory and warehouse district it had been.

DSC_6567The trip included going outside the breakwater with the boat tipping and swaying. The captain assured of their safety as they seemed to be following the Denis Sullivan across the lake. Sighs of relief when their boat turned back.

GetAttachmentAs they sat atop and sipped their Marguerita, they noted how odd it was that most passengers remained below in the lower quarters. Close to the bar, perhaps. The Babes loved the fog and the landscape of the city. An hour and a half of relaxation.

DSC_6600When they got home, Dennis had made a special trip to get Karin’s brandy. What a guy! A perfect night as they had dinner, sensing that the Contessa was beaming from the shadows.

The Babes wrapped up this marathon talkfest with tired jaws and shriveled brains. They’d fully discussed the trials and tribulations of both dating and relationships. Agreed that being alone was not all that bad. Questioned how, in hindsight, they’d become so wise when looking at past relationships. Shared insights into what lies ahead as health care concerns must be thought through each day.

IMG_6498Finally, there was happiness all around that Skeeter and Karin were once again friends. And that he, as a small dog, still does have a long life ahead. Speaking of a long life, it’s amazing to recall that they’d met around 1994 and became the Naseau Babes shortly thereafter. That’s over 20 years ago! And they still have so much to talk about!

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A New York Deli Experience

oct 31 007

A street food vender kindly pointed us toward a coffee shop on that steamy New York City day; we desperately needed something to eat and drink before embarking on our carriage ride through Central Park. Eating establishments were rare in this commercial, business area so we were relieved when we turned off Central Park South onto Madison Avenue and saw the large coffee sign down the block.

After walking past Barney’s New York department store on the left we navigated two crowded intersections. In my two short days in NYC, I’d learned that it nearly took a college degree to figure out how to avoid collision with the surge of humanity advancing upon us at these busy crosswalks.

Viand Coffee Shop was long and narrow; the cluttered counter allowed just enough space for a plate to sit at the very edge. Bar stools were on the right and very small booths along the wall on the left that could only seat one person on each side. We were a party of three, so sat at the counter in front of the cashier who took our order.

It seems I’d done something wrong asking what kind of bread came with the egg salad plate. The cashier barked an answer.

“No bread,” he growled. Actually he snarled at everyone in every situation. I gave my order and he shouted it out to the kitchen toward the back since there was no partition or door to separate them. Nothing was written down and hung on the circular spindle common to such establishments.

The word viand means food or a place that serves food and is of French derivation but the accents in this noisy establishment seemed harsh and guttural rather than French. Loud voices and heavy accents galore. Greek? Italian? Who knows.

This crowded 1950’s era, run down establishment is touted on the internet as a deli/diner/café/coffee shop. It’s much different from the Viand Café, located farther uptown with a more upscale atmosphere that boasts that its Michael Bloomberg’s favorite coffee shop. The internet says Viand Coffee Shop, where we were, is considered a quickly disappearing NYC deli/diner experience. Woody Allen has been known to frequent this place.

Internet reviews posted by past customers cover the whole spectrum from great to awful. Since arriving in New York City, I’d quickly become accustomed to the twenty dollar hamburger common near Times Square and Broadway, so the prices here were quite reasonable. The food was good and plentiful with little concern for portion control.

A second man behind the counter did nothing but pacing and watching. Perhaps he’s the crabby and bossy manager noted on internet posts. He and the cashier had an ongoing conversation, more like an argument, some of it in a foreign language with a sprinkle of English. Crabby manager seemed to be eyeing the movements of various diners and keeping the kitchen staff in line.

A steady stream of customers who were on a first name basis with the cashier picked up to-go orders; their playful banter signaled familiarity. A soup-Nazi-like heated argument ensued between the cahier and the crabby manager when we asked for our checks. It seemed the cashier thought it was the waiter’s job to write out our checks and the waiter was nowhere to be found. In all this chaos, I didn’t remember even seeing a waiter. So let’s get this straight: the cashier who’d given us menus, taken our orders and delivered our food was insistent it was not his job to write up our checks.

I was about to jokingly ask if this meant that our lunch was free but didn’t want to risk being yelled at again. The a waiter showed up with a note pad, asked each of us, with a grumble, what we’d had, scratched a number on the check and stomped off. Then, cashier then took our money which I guess was indeed his job.

As we got ready to leave, I asked where the restroom was. The cashier said it was across the street on the second floor of Barney’s New York. So we crossed the two busy intersections once again, checked out $500.00 dresses as we entered Barney’s and took an escalator to the second floor. The large, public restroom in this high end department store was complete with black and white tiled floors, large mirrors and a sitting room scattered with upholstered settees. I thought I’d been transported back to the 1920’s. My travel companion, Phyllis, grinned and commented: “that’s New York.”

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