CLOSING TIME ~ OUT OF TIME DESIGNS

….COMBINING LIFE AND ART


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Lust For Life…

“I’ve looked on many women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows I will do this and forgives me.”~~ Jimmy Carter

It was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip – Paris, the city of love!  Elaine would never have a chance like this again; a discounted trip courtesy of the senior class.  She and her husband Henry, were going as extra chaperones; Elaine was beyond giddy.  She always had an expressive, romantic soul- perfect foil (she thought) to Henrys more staid demeanor.  While he was not given to displays of affection Elaine thought Paris might change his mind and put a little spunk in him.  One could always hope!

Just a week before they were to leave he started acting funny.  Not thinking much of it Elaine blithely went about packing and arranging what needed to be done.  Then she got “that call” informing her that there was someone else in her husbands life and it wasn’t his golden retriever.  However, the trip was paid for-no refunds, so on they went.  Obviously a volatile situation, Elaine tried to make the best of it.

The flight over was uneventful if a bit tense.  On the surface Elaine looked calm but her mind was boiling with the years of deceit that had come to the surface at this inopportune time. Her romantic  side warred with her scorned, hurt side making her quiet and morose.  Being a school tour nearly everything was arranged in groups, check in at the hotel, trip to the Louvre, “typical” French restaurant.  All orderly and scheduled with no room for error.

“This isn’t the way to see Paris,” she thought, “I should be on the back of a motorcycle, zipping through traffic, arms around the waist of a hot hunk.”  She intended that to be her husband until plans changed.

One day they got a “free day” to explore as they wanted.  Being motorcycle enthusiasts they and another couple went to the Paris Harley Davidson. The strain must have showed on her face because as the others were browsing the clerk approached Elaine, making pleasant small talk.  She wasn’t used to the accent but she tried to keep up with the conversation.  Suddenly she thought she heard him say “Would you like me to arrange that for you?”.  “I’m sorry, what did you say?”  “Mademoiselle, does she like zee French boys?”  “B-b-but you do see that I’m here with my husband?”, she finally managed to stammer out. “Zoot alors! What does that have to do with Paris and fun?!”, was his pragmatic reply.  Joining the others she returned to the hotel.  Elaine sadly reflected on the irony of the proposition presented earlier in the day.

In the middle of the night she realized that Henry was no longer in bed. Dressing quickly she hurried downstairs to find him whispering sweet nothings into a lobby phone, apologizing for not bringing “her”.  Quietly slipping back to their room Elaine started packing her bags; they were to board the plane tomorrow.

Early next morning as everyone stood groggily in line for the airport bus Henry’s eyes searched for Elaine.  “She has to be here.”, he mused since she had already packed, leaving the room before he was awake.  Unable to find her they checked the American embassy to no avail.  Henry returned home.

That afternoon, zipping through the cobbled streets, a smiling blonde perched behind a lusty Frenchman.  Her arms encircled his waist as she surveyed her future.

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**This is another piece inspired by a contest over at k8edid on the 7 Deadly Sins.

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Remaking A Childhood Favorite…

As a child I had a terrible sweet tooth, oh hell who am I kidding? I have a terrible sweet tooth!  However, I also have far too many pounds that are testament to a long and sordid history with food.  I, of course, don’t want to blame myself so instead I blame my Grandpa Meiners who doted on me as the first grandchild and the apple of his eye.  He came from a background of deprivation as did many from then. His and my grammas story would make a good post for another day. Suffice it to say they raised a family during The Great Depression and were not able to give their children many of the “niceties” of life.  So when I came along two decades later he lavished on me everything he could.  What stands out in my mind the most was of course food!  The Easter baskets he gave me as a kid in the 1950’s were wondrous to behold and the start of my lifelong love/hate relationship with food.

So here I am six and a half decades later still trying to resolve the issue of comfort foods when I saw a post on spontaneous tomato about Thai Ice Tea popsicles.  I never really “got” the idea of lumps in my drink so I don’t care for it, but it got me thinking about my favorite popsicles as a kid.  I absolutely loved Creamsicles and could eat them to sickness (which I often did).  But now with my need to have a healthier diet I have become a fan of greek-style yogurt. So I decided to experiment a bit, perhaps the longer I played with my food the less of it I would eat!

I don’t have exact measurements here-just whatever works for the size container you have.  But very simple greek yogurt and frozen concentrated orange juice.  Yes, I know that I could use fresh squeezed but geez Louise I can’t change everything all at once!  If you want fresh squeezed go ahead, after all the idea is for you to make what you like.  I find though that I don’t need to add any sugar/sweetner since the concentrate already has enough. Mix it to taste with the greek yogurt ( I keep the honey yogurt on hand) to the proportions you want. The fun part is tasting to see if you got it right.  That’s it! Then you just spoon it into your popsicle holder thingy and you’re set.  I like the holders Allison has because when they drip you have a built-in straw, but I found my bunny ears for a buck.  Besides in some small way it reminds me of the gigantic (solid!) rabbits grandpa would stuff in those Easter baskets!

So have fun, play with your food and find new healthy ways of eating.  After all Paula Deen isn’t the only one who needs to watch her diet!


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The Pride of Jersey

The first time I saw Teresa was at the corner of Romaine and Pavonia Aves; we were both 11 years old.  I remember very clearly that she seemed much older than me; she had a sophistication and worldliness that I, an inexperienced Midwesterner lacked.  She also had a pride about her, bestowing a confidence that I had yet to find.

Our family was always moving around due to my dads work, or lack of, I should say.  I met Teresa when dad moved us to New Jersey so that he could commute to New York city.  By this time we had already moved several times and I was getting tired of making and breaking friendships; I was determined to see this one through.  Theresa taught me a lot about life, and pride of accomplishment.  While she didn’t exactly excel at St. Anthony’s elementary she was learning the lessons of Jersey life.  She would hold forth to the girls  that raptly  gathered around her, listening to her plans for the future.  She was going to be big some day, people would pay attention to her and she would marry a guy that would give her everything she thought she deserved.

As the years went by we stayed friends and kept in touch even though I ended up in public school and she went to the local Catholic high school, “That’s where I’m gonna find my guy, Angie! You just wait and see!”  I never doubted her for one minute, her resolve was astonishing. And find him she did.  She was on the fast-track, so was her husband; Jimmy was a wheeler-dealer if there ever was one.  Soon they had the big house, the kids, the cars and OMG the bling!  No one that was showered with their attention understood what Jimmy and Teresa actually did, “entrepreneurs” was all we knew.  And proud! Heavens, all she did was boast about how smart her kids were, the latest diamond ring Jimmy got her or the latest deal she cooked up.

After awhile the gang started to drift apart, partly because of job commitments, but increasingly due to an uneasiness about Theresa and Jimmy’s values.  Rumors drifted around about the origins of their wealth and lifestyle.  At first Teresa started to hide little things, she would deny the rumors and allegations.  Eventually though her boasting won out, “That D.A. doesn’t know who he is dealing with!”  We thought that perhaps Teresa didn’t really know what (or who) Jimmy was involved with.  But the much publicized trial told a different story, one that painted Teresa as the master-mind, the one who knew “where the bodies were buried.”  Jimmy was just the “muscle”.  The jury took half a day to find her guilty, handing down a sentence of 20 to life.

Feeling a bit guilty for losing touch I decided to visit Teresa at EMCFW.  The person that sat down across from me was just a shell of the person I knew in another life.  Gone were the fancy clothes, her styled, coiffed hair was a straggly salt/pepper combination and her complexion devoid of the fancy, expensive cosmetics.  One of the CO’s told me that Teresa still tried to “hold court”, still was a wheeler-dealer, albeit on a smaller scale.  Now her commodities were mostly sweet rolls and coffee.  As we sat there trying pretend the years away it was clear she would never change. And although she had no physical resemblance to the girl I met 30 years ago, she was still the same.

The last time I saw Theresa she still had that haughty look of pride.

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**This is another piece inspired by a contest over at k8edid on the 7 Deadly Sins. Check out the entries, lots of good writing (I have humbly entered one on envy).  Perhaps the next time you’re tempted you will stop and think of the consequences.


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“Today’s Special Is…”

Bob knew that he and the night manager at the restaurant weren’t that different;  both had anger to spare.  Sometimes it was the slow burn, other times it was as fast as a match on a hot grill.  People would say of the manager that it was “that time of the month”, but Bob wasn’t sexist about it, he knew it went much deeper than that.  This woman was consumed with wrath at the whole world and Bob in particular.   However, years of jail, rehab and anger management classes taught Bob how to usefully channel his anger.

He was fortunate to land this job; many potential employers would not even return his calls.  So he swallowed the insults, bad hours and downright harassment, after all the economy is in a slump, right?  In his spare time (what little was left to him) he would develop new recipes as a way of letting off steam, thanking his lucky stars that he had the job of cook while in rehab.  If he could only make his dishes a hit the other managers might take notice. He might even get relief from the nightly assaults.  After all how patient could one man be?

The other managers realized the strain Bob was under but were powerless to do anything; all decisions were made by corporate headquarters after a managers meeting.  Whenever Bob presented a new idea she always shot it down. Bob decided he needed to make an extra effort to win over this obstacle to advancement.  He stayed late one night to see if he could make the night manager see his side of things.  As he poured over his spices and herbs he became aware of her voice yelling at yet another employee.  “Great”, he thought, “…now I’ll have double work tomorrow after this one quits!”  He had scheduled a meeting in the morning with the other managers, hoping to impress them with the new menu.  It looked like he would be thwarted once again.  His anger rose up at the injustice and frustration .

Just then the manager burst in on his thoughts, berating him for being on company time.  He assured her that this was all on his dime and asked if she would like him to prepare her a late night snack.  That seemed to calm her down somewhat and she started to chat with him about his project.  He was so happy to talk about his love of all things culinary, before he knew it he had poured out his heart and his recipes.  Realizing too late that this was just what she was after his anger flared like a grease fire.  Exercising every bit of his knowledge from the past few years he got it under control. He then told the manager about one recipe he had held back; this one would become his favorite dish.  He then set about preparing it for the presentation the next day.

Morning arrived and the managers were treated to a lovely table setting; Bob was smiling as though he didn’t  have a care in the world. In the center of all the samples was the piece de resistance.  Glancing around nervously, the staff waited for her to show up, but Bob explained there was no need to worry, the night manager had been there last night while he was preparing the dish. In fact, she had even helped him with some of the key ingredients.  Happily sampling the many choices arrayed, all agreed the favorite was the one Bob graciously named in honor of the night manager.

**Another Fantastic Fable based on one of the Seven Deadly Sins (this time Wrath)

***Photo Credit: Amelia Speed


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The Anniversary Gift

   Kelly always said her parents were two of the hardest working people she ever knew.  Unfortunately, there were six siblings so she had to fight for every scrap she got whether material possessions or love.  Her absentee parents created a void in Kelly; as she grew so did the envy in her heart.  Now married she still was not content. If another womans’ husband liked the theater, Kelly envied that. Another she envied because he bought his wife expensive jewelry, yet another for the lavish trips the husband provided.  So she got what she wanted from other women’s husbands.  Just enough that her husband wouldn’t get too upset and so that the other wives would never catch on (after all they were just friends).

Her husband Phil was a forgiving man; content with what he had without ambition or pretension.  He loved Kelly but realized that she could never be happy with just his love. Something in her was broken; he just didn’t know how to fix it.  He would buy her gifts but they never seemed to be good enough. He felt that if he could get just the right gift then she might be happy and not feel the envy he knew was hardening her heart.

As Kelly’s envy grew so did her claims upon other husbands.  One day she became entangled with a man whose wife was not willing to give up without a fight.  Kelly didn’t know what the woman did; oh, she knew that this wife dabbled in the “arts” somehow, but not being a creative person herself she just didn’t ‘get it’.  She knew that this man loved his wife yet still had a craving for attention, a void like Kelly’s, waiting to be filled.  She also knew that this man was willing to spend on her, and spend he did. Kelly got  jewelry,  trips and rides on his motorcycle.  Eventually it took a toll on his relationship, his wife began to notice, protesting the so-called friendship.

Phil knew an important anniversary was coming up; he was determined to pick the perfect gift.  If Kelly would love it, and him as well, it might be the gift that would keep her content and at home. While Kelly was gone Phil took that time to shop around; he haunted all the small shops and boutiques hoping to find that perfect piece for his wife. One day he wandered into a small shop that he hadn’t noticed before.  Lots of colorful silks, jewelry and sculptures filled the store, creating a most magical aura.

As his eyes became accustomed to the candle-lit atmosphere he noticed a woman approaching, inquiring about his needs.  He was hesitant at first, but after awhile poured out his heart along with his story.  Phil felt that this woman could see into his heart, somehow knowing the importance of that gift.  Together they looked over the items in the shop, many of them hand-crafted by this woman herself. Phil finally chose a teak statuette, carved by the owner herself, portraying a lady with a look of longing that reminded him so much of his beloved Kelly. The shopkeeper cheerfully rang up the sale and Phil took it home.

Phil never got to give his gift to Kelly.  Despite his inquiries no one knew where she was, not even her “friend” who, oddly enough turned out to be the shop keepers husband. But unknowingly Phil did get his wish, Kelly never did leave home again. She stayed right on the oak mantle where Phil unknowingly put her on his return from the boutique.