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Dinner at DeCarlos

13 Dec

We eat at DeCarlos all the time. It is a wonderful restaurant for local people. We love to go there because we feel completely comfortable. Low lighting and no steps to enter the place make it easy for anyone using a walker or a wheelchair.  The parking is easy, too.  There are a whole lot of neighbors who use DeCarlos as their “go to” dinner spot.  And it is to their credit, that the waiters learn what drinks their regular patrons prefer.  They pride themselves on getting those drinks on the table, while the guests are still settling themselves into their chairs.

It is quiet because the tables are covered with table clothes, often two deep.  There is carpet on the floor and acoustical tile on the ceiling. The place is a lot bigger than it looks. It can seat something like a couple of hundred diners, in a night. Usually, it is NOT that crowded.  That is part of its charm.  Guests often feel like they are among the ‘few’ customers, in any given night.  But actually, the place has a lot more diners than are obvious at a glance.  There are several private rooms and alcoves and booths. Even if you sit out in the middle of the front room,  you can not really tell how full the place is.

We love going there. My 100 year old mother feels comfortable and cared for by the staff.  When they see she is coming in to the restaurant, the manager immediately grabs two pillows to put in her chair.  This is especially for her because she likes to move out of her wheelchair and sit in a regular chair. Almost every table seems to have at least one patron in a wheelchair, with a walker or at the very least with a cane.  There was a period a couple of years ago, when I was in a wheelchair, due to a broken ankle/leg and my mother was using a walker.  We were able to do just fine there, because it is so accommodating.The Italian cuisine is delicious and augmented with specials, which change daily.  They have wonderful things such as a whole steamed artichoke. This makes a low calorie, but delightful one dish meal when I am cutting calories. They usually have calves liver and bacon, which is “soul food” to me. The owner, Lucy DeCarlo runs a tight ship.  She is personable and friendly and often greets her guests in person.

The place which is located on Yuma Street behind the Spring Valley Shopping Center, is wonderfully near to our house. It requires little effort to go there.  The moment we walk in, we feel peace and familiarity.  I recommend it for those who may be physically impaired.

I often go there for lunch with a friend.  It even has a bar where one can sit and have drinks or a light meal.  This is the perfect neighborhood meeting place for enjoyable dining experience.  Don’t miss DeCarlos, if you are in North West Washington D. C. and feeling hungry. You won’t be disappointed.

Copyright©.  2018 Bonnie B. Matheson

Do you know many snowflakes?

31 Oct

Do you know many snowflakes?

I am curious about the way the world is changing. It seems like a different place much of the time. Megan Kelly got fired (more or less) for saying that she did not think wearing “blackface” as part of a Halloween costume was bad or racist. WHAT???

She lost her job over politically incorrect speech? I am truly horrified. What is the world coming to? And why do people believe it is better to try to be evenhanded in all speech, rather than truthful. What the Hell is wrong with Blackface? Nothing!

What is wrong with dressing up as an Indian?  Dressing up is by definition, being someone whom you are NOT. It is not an insult to anyone. In fact, you could say it is a compliment to want to dress up as a different group from the one you are part of.

It makes me unbelievably cross to see our country cowering for fear of punishment over some minor indiscretion that may have been completely unintentional. What if it actually was intentional? Who cares? Ignore it.

Does no one remember the nursery rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”

When did we become so soft that hurtful words are banned? And yet at the same time many words once considered ‘swear words’ are used daily by just about everyone. What happened? Is it a plot by those who wish to overthrow the values with which we were all raised? I find it hard to believe that everyone is so thin skinned. And I can’t help but believe this is deliberate.

Back when this all started the teachers had a choice. The choice was to teach children to have self confidence and feel secure. Or to let them be so sensitive to words that they become “triggered” by certain words and phrases. It is clear what happened. The children today, who are grown up enough to be in College, need “safe spaces” where their feelings won’t be hurt by any stray “insensitive words”

Who will lead us when this generation reaches Leadership age? Who will be strong enough emotionally to stand up to those other countries who may wish us harm? Some despotic leader might say a mean thing to the President and he (or she), might start to cry. Seriously!!! It shocks me when I think of how tough our ancestors were. I just don’t understand who thinks it is a good thing to encumber people in this way. The way of thinking that leads to political correctness is a sure way to oblivion for our species. This is not racially exclusive. These people are every color and ethnic group. They are all scared of each other. They may say something that might be considered disparaging. Get a grip!!!

Grow up! Join the Marines! That might fix some of them. But of course most would drop out after a few days. They absolutely do not have what it takes. They are called snowflakes for a good reason. They melt as soon as things heat up.

I hope none of my grandchildren are so fragile. And I wish for all of these people to take a look around. Real life is messy, and scary and hard. But for the most part in the United States there is VERY LITTLE actual racism, very few people discriminate against women in the workplace, no one cares what gender anyone else is, just stay out of the bathroom of which ever one you are NOT dressed for. If you look like a man use the men’s room. If you look like a girl use the ladies room. How hard is that?

What would they do if they suddenly found themselves alone in the wilderness? DO they think they could survive? Do any these children go away to camp? Do they have real life experiences of deprivation? Do they hike and get wet and lose their food and shelter and still come out alive the next day? Do they know what to do if they become cold while lost in the woods? Would they have any idea of where to find water?

I have no faith in their ability to survive one day much less weeks and months. I wonder how much they would care about the “choice of words” in a life or death situation between themselves and nature?

There is no cure that comes to mind. What I fear is that the situation will become so toxic that violence will ensue. When it is war, perhaps these same people will be able to straighten out their priorities. I hope we never have to find out that way.

To all the young people who have been triggered by words they don’t like, I would like to say this. PLEASE, be more realistic about what you can expect others to do to accommodate your likes and dislikes. You may just have to like it or lump it.  (Like we always have.)


Copyright©. 2018 Bonnie B. Matheson

The Lesson of the Pear Trees

23 Sep

Years passed at Heathfield, happy years for the most part. My love for the house and everything in it grew a pace. The land and the trees and the bountiful flowering bushes, lilac and snowball and Japonica. I adored the place. That first summer I would walk around it just saying silently “This is OURS, this is MINE.” It was a dream come true. Why had I delayed moving to the country so long?
I had been afraid. Afraid of change and the unknown and having to make a whole new life for ourselves. But the very things I had been afraid of became the best things. The whole new way of life was miraculous. And we all grew and changed and became better people because of it. Because of Heathfield we had a wonderful life of healthy, fun and frolic. We raised dogs and horses and cattle and chickens and pigs and even tried quail (disaster) and bunnies and I am sure I have left some animals off the list, by accident.
Time passed, our son Charley Jr and daughters Helen and Lilla grew and more were born. Robert and then Murdoch added to our young family. We entertained a great deal. Often we had parties on the terrace overlooking the yard where a pair of pear trees dominated the view. They were charming with their wide branches and tall for fruit trees. Gorgeous in springtime covered in white blossoms, magnificent in summer laden with pears, presaging winter as their leaves changed early in the fall. And in deep winter standing naked and proud of their shape, they were the first thing the eye beheld when looking south. I loved those trees.
And then disaster struck. One morning when I looked out of the window towards the south a horrible sight greeted me. One of the pear trees lay in pieces on the ground. When I say pieces I really mean pieces. It looked as if a china figure had crashed and broken into sections which were lying on the ground. I was so sad. It was heartbreaking to see the remains of that tree. And the other one looked forlorn and alone. Charley called a tree company and they came out to look at it and they brought horrifying news. We must cut down the mate to the fallen tree. We had no choice. It was dead and brittle just like the downed tree. No telling when it, too could fall. It might happen while children were playing in the yard. The situation brought a real danger to our family and needed to be addressed immediately. So we cut her down.
I cried. And I mourned those pear trees. When ever I looked into the yard in that direction, I saw only the gap where there had once been trees.

My eyes saw no further. It was as if there were a screen between me and the further fields. And so things remained all the rest of that year. Over and over I mourned the trees. I spoke of them often. It ruined my pleasure in that yard to see the empty place where they had been.
The following spring I gave a luncheon for the Mount Vernon Chapter of the DAR, at Heathfield. I wanted to please my mother in law. And I was pretty good at throwing these parties for a whole lot of people. I did not hesitate. The day was fine. Not too hot nor was it cold. There were about 60 ladies and I had tables placed all around two sides of the house for them to sit down and eat their lunch. I believe we served them quiche and a salad and then when it came to desert I realized that the pies I had bought were frozen. They needed to cook for nearly an hour in order to be ready. it was a terrible mistake. We heated the ovens extra high and tried to speed it up other ways.
In the meantime I was outdoors trying to distract the ladies from the fact that the desert was so late. I was speaking to a couple of ladies as we gazed out, toward the south. We were looking at the yard where the pear trees used to stand.
“I am so sorry you cannot see the pear trees which once stood there,” I said. “They were so pretty and big and bloomed so wonderfully in the spring.”
And the lady said “Oh that would have been terrible. They must have spoiled your view. You would not have been able to see this lovely vista!”
And when she said that, it was as if scales were removed from my eyes. Suddenly I saw the view. The gorgeous view that had opened up immediately when the pear trees were down. A magnificent view had been there all the time, and I never noticed it. I was too busy mourning the trees that were gone. Focused on lack, I failed to see the abundance which was squarely in my view.
But once I saw it, I could not UN-see it. I was grateful. And I marveled at the human brain and how it can deceive us. All that time I spent missing something that had run its course. Those trees were old. Their time was past. And furthermore, we had acquired the land on the other side of the stone wall. It belonged to us now. And we were able to care for it and mow it and keep it trimmed to some extent while still allowing cover for the little animals which lived in thickets around the fence lines.
What I saw now was spectacular. The long view, the vista, the undulating land disappearing in the distant wood and succeeding fields carried the eye on and on. Everyone could see it, but me. I have rarely been so blindsided by something that was right in front of my face. The lesson has stayed with me. I often speak of the Lesson of the Pear Trees. I have told the story hundreds of times and gained a bit more self knowledge each time. I am so grateful to those trees for teaching me.
It is one of the most important lessons one can learn. And for some reason it seems to be a common problem. People focus on something or someone who is gone, and fail to see that a better thing or person is right in front of their nose. Why is this a pattern?
I am not sure why. It is almost universal. But I preach this over and over. Don’t overlook something wonderful because you are busy looking for something that is no longer there.
There are so many properties, so many dogs, so many choices of people who could be a mate. The possibilities are endless. But you must take the trouble to look. And sometimes that is not easy. Everyone gets tired of beating their heads against a stone wall. People lie to themselves, often. The most important thing is to know what you want, and why you want it.
I wanted the Pear trees because they had always been there. As soon as they were gone I began focusing on lack. it colored everything I looked at. It even colored my thinking about Heathfield for a time. And yet there was NO LACK. Actually there was a better view than we had ever had, and besides that, the entire yard south of the house now opened up for football and tag and what ever games the children wished to play. And when we had our 20th Wedding Anniversary Dance we were able to place the tent without worrying about those trees being in the way , the way they were for our 10th Anniversary party.
Occasionally I have discovered other situations like this, that I would never have noticed it if were not for the Lesson of the Pear Trees…

That sadness which was real, but unrealistic, taught me. I longed for something whose time was over, and almost missed something whose time had come. And there is where the lesson lies.


Copyright©. 2018 Bonnie B. Matheson