Saturday, January 31, 2009

A note from January 31, 2009

January 31, 2009

Hi hi hi!

Today is a great day. The chill is leaving. Yesterday’s freeze is melting away. Tomorrow it is supposed to be in the high 50s. NICE! This morning I could see light behind the trees as soon as my alarm went off. I love the light. I love the return to longer days. I love the promise of spring.

Tomorrow I am driving to Washington, DC to speak at a big fundraising dinner. A big group of women chefs is gathering to make their specialties for an audience of some couple of hundred guests. This event is a fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance – the primary beneficiary of my upcoming cross country bike ride. I’ve been invited to speak (for 2 minutes!!). I’m taking my bike and I’m excited.

Two minutes isn’t a long time, but still, I’m thrilled to do this initial speaking engagement. Pretty soon I’ll be riding across the country, meeting people all along the way. This message, the message about paying attention to your body, is a good one. Early detection can be a life saver. It was for me.

Next Thursday, the 5th, we are going to host a very important event. Lance Armstrong is starting a series of conversations – all over the world – about cancer. He is in Australia right now, kicking off this initiative, getting people to talk about the affect cancer has had on their lives. In September there is going to be a big summit in Ottawa where the results of these global conversations will be collected. Lance and this movement will hopefully make a worldwide difference in this terrible disease. The conversation here on the 5th will be the very first one of these in the entire Untied States. If you’d like to come share your thoughts and concerns (on the 5th from 5 – 7pm), register via e-mail with Mary Hill, the event organizer (

In other news – well, things seem to be cranking up. Though I’m trying to stay focused on every day’s tasks, I find myself drifting off to bike ride, bike ride, bike ride things. The other day someone asked, “So, are you going to be MORE tired or more ENERGIZED at the end of the ride?” who knows? I certainly don’t. I CAN say that I find myself quivering with excitement. I CAN say that my body is whipping through soreness and feelings of invincibility and the sense that this is absolutely impossible – sometimes in the span of a few minutes. I look around my house, my car, my office, my town, and wonder how it’s all going to be. Wonder wonder wonder.

So there I go again. And I still have a desk of assignments: menus to write, an article to do, my checkbook to balance, advertising to plan, on it goes. Then it will be time to go home, walk the dog, and try to settle down enough for sleep. Tomorrow it will be one day closer. And tomorrow we’ll start serving breakfast and then it’ll be time to go watch the Superbowl with my sweet friends and then it’ll be time to go to Washington and then it’ll be time for…

I’ll be in touch next week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What a week!

January 24, 2009

What a week! Boy, after feeling like I was holding my breath, things seemed to blast open on Tuesday. And I held my breath again, waiting for it to be Tuesday and then waiting for it to be daylight and then waiting for it to be morning and then waiting for it to be noon.

Around 11:00 we turned on the radio at work and, at 11:50 we lined up chairs in the café and sat, rapt, as our new President took the oath of office. It was a magical, magical moment. And, in that moment, I felt like I started to let some air in, out, in, out.

The afternoon was quiet and I had no idea if all the people who were supposed to come to our party would come. It was cold and I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for staying home. But right at 6:00 people started to drift in and by 6:25 the café was packed, people carrying their chili and beer to tables, pushing the chairs around, rearranging things, making themselves at home. At one table, a cluster of friends leaned in, sharing the highlights of the days’ celebration. Up in front, people who had not known each other shared tables, shared stories, shared friendship. Someone had given us some balloons and they made the place look very fun.

When everyone left I, still quivering from the energy, started to let in all the voices of all the people who have been saying that they’d like to come to our place at night. It suddenly began to make sense. This place is a nice place and so I just felt like, well, why not? So we’re going to work it out and pretty soon we’ll be open for you. (And this very weekend we’re going to start with Sunday breakfast. Fun, eh?)

So on Wednesday I was still feeling spirited and began to feel like I was emerging from a major slump and emerging felt really good. The balloons were still full of helium and the place looked festive still and I was so happy about our new President. (I was not thrilled that the balloons set off my shop’s motion detectors, making me go in to work in the middle of a nice dinner I had cooked at my house for my sister, but she’s good company so it didn’t matter that much.) And I got an e-mail from our new President and hooked into the new White House website. Amazing.

On Thursday I was part of a fancy dinner for a couple hundred guests, a fundraiser for the scholarship program of our Independent Restaurant Association. I had a BLAST! All of us chefs helped plate each other’s courses and it was a very, very fun night. Big time teamwork. Great food. Big fun. We all want to do more so stay tuned.

And by Friday I was still in a good mood. The balloons were still full (who has ever heard of balloons staying inflated for that long?) And at night I made a birthday dinner for a friend who had gone to the Inauguration and a bunch of friends and I sat around making her tell story after story. “And THEN what happened?’ “And then!?”

Today is Saturday and it’s taken me until night to finish my newsletter because there was a computer glitch. So I left work, took the pup for a walk, and just took a deep breath. No reason to sweat this small annoyance. And when I left work the balloons were still full of helium. And I still felt good.

I’ll be in touch next week.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

in the kitchen with the red Trek

Thoughts of the morning

January 10, 2009

Still haven’t gotten used to this 2009 thing. Yesterday at the bank I wrote and crossed out 2008 a bunch of times before I finally was able to write it correctly. I’m not one who slides into the new with ease.

Tomorrow is the day we will have our staff Christmas party. What? Yup! Historically we’ve always been too full of work and the season and such to be able to carve out time to celebrate on our own. And then we go away, close our doors and go back to our home places, wherever they are, and do the celebrate with family thing. Many of us travel and so the second weekend of January is frequently when we get back together and have time to catch our breath.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Well, actually, I have a lot to do to get ready, but that’s a good thing, because these are things that need to happen. I need to vacuum. I need to pick up the yard (um, not sure that is going to happen by tomorrow), and, oh yes, I need to make my present. See, we do one of those gift exchange games except that each person, if inspired, makes something. And most people make their present right before the party. The cool thing is how inventive people get.

We all make things to eat too. We have, on occasion, brought food in from elsewhere. And we have, a time or two, gone out. But the most fun always seems to be when we each bring a taste of something that we made. Tomorrow I’m making little hamburgers, “Sliders.” We’re making them for a party in a couple of weeks, see, and the idea seemed so good that I’ve decided that will be my contribution. So yes, I have to go to the grocery store too. Sheesh! Lots to do.

In the meantime, I’m still working on getting this body of mine into shape for my bike ride. Three thousand miles is a heck of a lot of miles. (I’ll say!) Last week I rode 20 miles on Sunday. Remember how beautiful it was here? Well, the 20 miles scooted by in a zip. And, as I was pedaling, I thought about these days, these days that are coming right up, of riding all day long for that many days. 20 miles takes a bit more than an hour. At the end of my 20 mile jaunt I went home, sat in the hot tub, lazed around, puttered. I might have gone to bed early. I went to spin class on Monday and Wednesday. I worked out on Tuesday and Friday. But each of those things lasted only a couple of hours. I’m kind of sore from these days of training. But more than that I’m feeling kind of stunned about this whole adventure. In less than two months I’ll be doing nothing but riding fro two whole months. Ohmygod. It’s so hard to believe that I’m going to do this thing.

Okay – enough of that.

I have things to do right here, right now. Brides are beginning to drift in and I have menus to write, proposals to do. I have planning for the three parties I told you about earlier in the newsletter. There are signs to make for our tables. A delivery, later on today. No time to get caught in obsessing about mileage.

I’d better go. If I keep this up I’ll scare myself too badly and there simply is no room for that.

I’ll be in touch next week. See you then if not before.