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Friday, January 31, 2014

Brunch with Uncle P

Dear Mom,

Whew, it's been a long week! Sorry for the radio silence. Hilary said she was starting to worry about me! I had a crazy week at work, and last weekend just sort of flew by. So, let's start with last Saturday. "Uncle P" was in town for the Winter Antiques Show. As you know, Leigh Ann and I started calling Miss Lillian's sons Pat and Gerry "Uncle P" and "Uncle G" around the time y'all started eating Christmas lunch with them, when LA and I would go to Dad's or Mimi's or Aunt Judith's.

I decided Fred's at Barney's would be the perfect spot for us to meet for brunch. Neil & Nate took me there on my first Sunday in the city, and they've had some great celebrity sightings at Fred's. I like that it's in midtown and near all the touristy stuff but doesn't feel like a touristy place.

We were both tempted by the entire menu but finally went with pasta. His "spagillies" were in honor of your many trips to Mom & Dad's over the years. I had tortelloni stuffed with veal and a cream sauce with peas. It was heavenly! We also split a salad with squash and ricotta salata or some other cheese, but it needed more dressing. We skipped dessert but did have both champagne and wine.

So much fun, and he treated me, which was too sweet!

We talked a lot about your service, and I had forgotten it was held on his parents' anniversary...and they married at Centenary, so that seemed special. We also talked about the fact that I was with him the night his mother passed away, as it happened when he was in New York with Tulio.

I wish you were here so we could talk about all of the special connections Pat and I discussed, as some of them seem like TMI to share with others. Let's just say we go "way back,"and I know you were proud that the friendship had continued to the new generation.

Here are a few shots from Pat and Tulio's NYC trip in the summer of 2012...

I had them over to the apartment (Kurt must have been out somewhere) and put out a proper Southern hors d'oeuvres spread. We set up the camera on Kurt's desk to get a group shot.
Saturday morning, we met for brunch in the theater district (little did I know I'd be moving to that neighborhood!) at 44 and X. Then we hit the Yotel for drinks on their gorgeous outdoor terrace...which we all loved...and that's when I discovered the crazy "disco brunch" (or "drunch" as Adam calls it). (Hmmm....maybe I should see if I can get the girls to go back there!) 

All right, while I'm in flashback mode, I'm going to carry on with the theme and explain more to our gentle readers about who Tulio is...starting with when he first entered the Snipes family as a teenager. 
In the 70s, when you were teaching at Shanks and Uncle Bob was a student, four Brazilians came to Quincy on a study program. Tulio told me you were the coordinator. They stayed for several months, and Tulio became very close with Grandmama and Paw Paw. They always called him their Brazilian son, and he did a wonderful job of staying in touch over the years.
The Weavers and two other families also hosted students, but for some reason I think Pat was the only one from Quincy who went down to Brazil. He had such a great time, he called Miss Lillian and said he didn't want to come home! He did extend his stay...maybe for another month? 

Anyway, 20 years later, Tulio came back to visit when he and his friend Fred were touring the U.S. I'm pretty sure it was the early 90s and Paw Paw was still alive. They had SUCH a great time that they came back three or four years later! Fred even worked the crossword puzzle with Grandmama. Such sweeties. She had a ball with them! You loved telling people that someone would come from Brazil to visit New York...Miami...Orlando...and Quincy. (Kinda like those London...Paris...Rome...Quincy shirts they used to sell at Etc., which were made for lots of other cities, but you always said the only one better than Quincy would be Two Egg.)

Here are "the boys" sporting the Coca-Cola t-shirts someone must have given them as a memento of Quincy's history. 
(BTW -- I cannot believe Leigh Ann and I never made you do anything about that ghetto paneling in the den. We should have pulled a rogue operation on it when you were out of town, like we did with your bed and the bedroom paint! Or the time Mr. Tony came and "surprise" fixed your driveway for us at Christmas.) 

So, of course it was funny that we had these Brazilian connections when I started going to Brazil to volunteer with the Methodist church. Here I am in 1999 translating for the bishop when he came to visit during our very first trip to Muriae...
In 2002, when I stayed in Rio for three months, I took a trip to Belo Horizonte to see Tulio, who was building a new house at the time.

(Yes, I am rocking that Canadian tuxedo! Brazilians seemed to have different rules that season...I think denim shoes were a big trend. When in Rome...)

This is Tulio's niece Marianne.
 And we met up with Fred! That was fun. I'm sure Grandmama loved this picture when she saw it.
Okay...I think that winds up the trip down memory lane. But you can tell Pat and I had lots to reminisce about, and he enjoys a lot of the same stuff we do. He and I had a wonderful time strolling through the Winter Antique Show. I'd never been but knew it was a big event for Kurt's catering company, as they keep a cafe staffed so patrons can wet their whistles while contemplating that $50,000 set of English silver or that new $175,000 pair of antique pearl earrings. 

We were kind of fascinated by the fact you can collect anything, if you have the money...

Some of the prices were insane! But it was lots of fun to look around, and we had fun chatting with some of the friendlier vendors, one of whom was a veteran of Antiques Road Show and gave us some behind the scenes tidbits. 

On our way out, we checked out the gorgeous reception rooms on the way out, including the Veterans Room with its Tiffany windows and fireplaces. Looks like the Armory offers tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. Maybe I can get Neil to meet me one day and say I have a doctor's appointment! ;) That seems like one of the "off the beaten path" places you would have loved exploring. 

Love you and miss you, Mom. 



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Do You Know the Mattress Man?

Dear Mom,

You may remember last spring when I was moving into my apartment, my friend Eric was moving in with his boyfriend. So, I got his mattress and bed -- and assorted other goodies -- from his apartment in Queens. 

Around that time, Katie needed a new mattress, so she and I spent a Saturday afternoon testing them out. She fell in love with one at Keetsa, a company Gavin recommended we check out. They have a store in SoHo. We figured it would be more expensive, but they were actually pretty reasonable! 
Eric's bed served me well for almost a year, but I decided to upgrade and treat myself to a queen. I mean, what if I have a girlfriend who comes to visit?! Doubles are for short people! 

I'll admit this is a classic example of spending money unnecessarily. But I do not care! I wanted it, and I got it. As you used to say all of the time, "People find the money to spend on whatever they want to spend it on." I think it's so funny how we all do this in ways that drive others nuts. For example, you spent a bunch of money getting Billy Lewis to seal up that window by my bed in your house...which you thought was just the greatest thing ever, and Leigh Ann and I both thought was a total waste! 

Anyway -- back to the reason I thought this deserved its own post -- the Mattress Man. 

One of our favorite stories from last fall was the day I "charmed" the Mattress Man from the medical supply company. Bless your heart. You'd just had'd been a trooper about having to get rid of your beloved iron bed and having to start sleeping in the hospital bed. But they'd sent you some shitty mattress, and you were so uncomfortable. You let that poor delivery guy have it when he showed up with the replacement! I slipped outside and started to sweet talk him. 

Once I'd warmed him up, we found out his brother-in-law had saved Miss Densyl from the purse snatcher in London! He was practically our new best friend! When he left to call his dispatcher and arrange the upgrade, Cookie saw her chance. A single man in the last!  

"Lynsley," Cookie whispered. "I think he might like you..."

"Cookie!" you hissed. "Lynsley did not go to Duke to marry any Mattress Man!" 

We told that stories a few times over the past year...and we told it to Big George the night you died. Everybody laughed as usual at the punchline...and then Big George paused. 

" you don't mind my asking...who DID you go to Duke to marry? I mean...what are we waiting for, girls?" 

Touche, Big George. Touche! You would have LOVED it. 

Anyway, back to Manhattan. After lunch with Rob on Saturday, I headed down to Keetsa, where the Mattress Man remembered me (and Katie) fondly! He hooked me up with the mattress she'd purchased (and loves) and arranged for a Sunday delivery. 

On Sunday evening, the Mattress Man arrived. He was from Malawi in east Africa -- funny enough, Katie studied abroad there! 

"Why are you getting rid of this bed? It's a nice bed!" he said. I agreed and told him I just wanted a queen. 

"It's a great bed!" I said. "Maybe you have a friend who could use it?" I was praying he'd take the frame so I wouldn't have to carry away and donate it somewhere. (Honestly, I might have just put it out on the curb and prayed it would find a nice home...)

"Sure! I'll take it!" he agreed. Once he had the mattress all set up on the floor for me, I asked if he'd like to take the dishes I'd boxed up for donation. One gal's junk! He was delighted. I tipped him and helped him carry it all downstairs. Then I slept on the mattress on the floor for two nights. Monday morning, I finally ordered the frame and headboard I'd been sussing out on Amazon. 

Boom -- the frame arrived on Tuesday! Not bad! I assembled it after I got back from my snowy run to the grocery store. 
I'd like to note I do at times wish I had a man around the house...but in addition to setting up my bed, I've also "repaired" a lamp this week. So, I'm feeling pretty accomplished and self-sufficient! 

Here's a look at the final was great that I had Cyrus coming down for dinner, as it made me finish getting everything back into position. One thing that's going to be great about this new setup is being able to store stuff under the bed. 
By the way...the cardboard box beside the bed is your Dean Goia painting, which also arrived on Tuesday, courtesy of Juliane. I'll be hanging that once the headboard arrives.

More photos to come!



Snow Day

Dear Mom,

We got a big winter storm on Tuesday. The weather man said Central Park got 6 or 7 inches, and a gauge on the Upper West Side measured 10 inches! 

I guess it wasn't that bad in the end, as they didn't close NYC public schools. But John told us all to head out early from work. The gal who sits beside me waited two hours for a bus that never came! UGH. 
I headed home around 3 (yes...I love my job...and my sweet boss!), so I decided to scoot to the grocery store and cook myself a yummy dinner. (And assemble my new bed frame...more on that in the other post.) 
I took some photos as I walked out of the subway and headed down my street... 

View from my apartment...
Walking back from the grocery store and thinking, "Wow, I sure am glad I don't have to be out delivering packages right now...God bless those who do!"
When I visited Peggy and Charles in San Francisco, they gave me a copy of a cookbook they love from the Bi-Rite Market. I flipped through it and found a recipe for braised chicken and vegetables. The recipe called for braising the meat in riesling (similar to a recipe I made you once...something Anne and I both made from Bon Appetit), but since I still had a bunch of cider on hand from last week's pork chops, I decided to use that instead. 
The Food Emporium on my street just got renovated and is fairly decent, but I couldn't believe their root veggie offering consisted of celery root! No parsnips or turnips! I almost got the celery root (it looked like a big ol' brain), but it was $10, and that just seemed (a) ridiculous (b) potentially bizarre or flavor-twisting. 
Since I was going to the trouble of cooking, I asked my neighbor Cyrus if he'd like to pop down and eat. He took me up on it, but then I felt bad because it wasn't ready until 8:30! Oops. I guess "city folk" like to eat that late, but not moi. 

Cyrus texted to see if I had a fireplace. "Nope, but I'd definitely put out for someone who did!" I texted back. So, I decided to put this on Facebook and see who responded...

I got some funny responses. You would have enjoyed reading along. An old classmate messaged me to say he couldn't imagine I had trouble getting a date. I admitted I MIGHT be just a LITTLE bit pickier than the post had let on... 

Cyrus and I had a fun time visiting while the meat cooked in the oven. It was really tender and tasty, but we needed some crusty bread to sop up the sauce. Then I stayed up entirely too late watching TV, and wondering why the hell they make reporters drive around doing live shots behind the wheel... Remember when I turned down that job in Rock Hill because they wanted me to run my own live truck? Give me a break! 
Anyway...the next morning I could have worked from home, but I decided to head in, since I have a fairly short walk to and from the subway. This shot of my colleague and friend Serg says it all... 
Our colleague Steven came in too. We died laughing over what I called his "shoe condoms." He had these slip-on rubber sleeves to protect his shoes. They fit perfectly and were actually rather brilliant! 

I actually stayed until 7 and had a really productive day. So much for the snowication!

Aunt Debbie called to check on me and make sure I was staying warm. Just like you would have.



A Lunch So Nice We Had It Twice

Dear Mom,

For the second year in a row, my friend Leora and I hit ABC Kitchen for lunch on MLK Day. You would have loved meeting Leora. We met through work but would have been friends "in real life" however we'd met...she went to Harvard undergrad and got a PhD in English at Columbia. She worked in publishing before she sold out like me and cashed into the corporate world.

She is witty, wise and just plain wonderful. She cracks me up with her dating advice and insights! (She's happily married.) And, we bonded more over the past year, as she lost her dad to pancreatic cancer when she was in her 20s. So, she could really empathize with how hard it was when you were sick.

Anyway, our lunch was practically an exact repeat of the lunch we had last year! That post actually has recipes, if anyone wants 'em. You may recall I made a few of these dishes for you, Betty, Billy and Karen last February when we watched some awards show... And Leigh Ann made Nanami's Greek Fish. That family recipe definitely needs to be the subject of a future post!

But back to the lunch:
roasted kabocha squash toast, fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar
line caught tuna sashimi marinated with ginger and mint
shaved raw fluke, crushed olives, lemon and chilies

braised hake, cabbage, chilies and seaweed
black sea bass with chilies and herbs, spinach and basil
sundae with salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn, whipping cream & chocolate sauce

Ordinarily, I might have tried harder to order some new things, but we loved it all so much last time, we just did a full-out repeat! I treated myself to some holiday Sancerre, but Leora had to work in the afternoon and was thus a good girl. 

I love to consult Leora whenever I am having dating problems, as she cracks me up with her honest insights. I keep a list of some of my favorite quotes from her when I've pinged her to get advice or to share one of my stories about a crush gone awry...  

"Are you serious? This guy is already creating work for you. It's like you have to fact-check everything he says and come up with an alternate narrative that would make what he said true..." 

"I bet he was thinking, 'Good thing she's pretty. Too bad she keeps talking with her words and her ideas and everything.'" 

"Aww, poor guy's been given the wrong script--thinks he's the love interest when he's really Ducky Dale."

"I feel a little bad for him. I don't care how many people he assassinated for the CIA -- he doesn't know who he's dealing with."

"Watch out boys, she'll chew you up..." very favorite of all time: 

"Lynsley, sometimes guys keep calling you and asking you out because they like you, not because they are insane. And sometimes guys don't call not because they are highly-evolved creatures giving you space but because they are turds who date 20-something Miley Cyrus lookalikes." 

Ha! I love her. I wish you'd met her.