Dinner at DeCarlos

22 Apr

A very experienced writer friend told me to set deadlines. And that is something I often leave out when I am writing. I do the work, but let it sit, sometimes for weeks, or worse. I think I could come back to it later and make it better. It could always be better. Who would have thought that I would turn out to be a perfectionist? I am so casual and easygoing about most things, never focusing on making things perfect around my house. That is partially because there are so many things wrong. If I tried to make things perfect, it would be an endless project.

I live with my one-hundred-year-old mother in her house in Washington, D.C., a house which I believe was built in approximately 1924. There is a great deal of upkeep. For instance, there are rotting window sills, falling trees, deer eating the roses, cracks in the pavement of the driveway, and peeling paint in out- of- the- way places. Everything can be fixed, except for the deer eating the roses. They are permanent. It is illegal to shoot them. Nothing scares them. Someday, this house will be bought by some very special person wanting a large piece of property in the city. Perhaps a big company, or an embassy, or an investment group will buy it. They can decide what to do.

In the meantime, I entertain my mother at meals and by bringing in friends and taking her out to eat at clubs or restaurants. She has a good life, but she is forgetful, now. She loves the fun of getting dressed up every day as if she were going somewhere very fancy. She always wears pastel colors and her jewelry matches her clothes. Often, she wears little fingerless gloves because she is so easily chilled, especially her fingers, toes, and her nose. (She even has a couple of nose warmers knit from pretty, colored yarn). These also match her outfit. She always carries a matching purse and a Pashmina of the same shade.

She often changes her clothes again before going out to dinner. She will wear a completely different color scheme if she does that. For instance, if she has been in what we call “lipstick pink” (a bright fuchsia), she will change into something turquoise or perhaps chartreuse. Never does she ever wear black or gray or beige or brown. She glows with color. And her blond hair surrounds her pretty face like a halo. In a dark restaurant, she stands out. To prove my point, here is a little story about what happened at the end of the week.

Last Friday, my mother and I went out to dinner with two of my children to a local restaurant, DeCarlo’s on Yuma Street in Washington. We sat at a table for four

and enjoyed the companionship and the delicious food. The couple who had been having a meal at the table next to us got up to leave. The man came over to our table and said, looking directly at my mother, “You are so pretty. You are just beautiful. I have been watching you, and I just wanted to tell you before I left how amazing you look.”

Mother blossomed under his words. She did not know him, but she blushed and smiled broadly and basically flirted with him with her eyes. He blew her some kisses and left with his patient wife.

My children and I laughed uproariously at the fact that the man had singled out my one- hundred- year- old Mother. But, it was not the first time that has happened. As my daughter said, “Gramma is a ‘guy magnet.’”And she is. Men have always been drawn to her for her beauty and her sunny nature. She is sweet- tempered and it shows in her face. It was very thoughtful of that man to express his admiration for her. There are almost no contemporaries left to flatter her. She misses having a real beau and being complimented. And yet, she is still getting paid compliments that most women never receive. She is a lucky lady and so are we to have been able to witness that.

Writers, mostly all, are scared to write. At least all the writers I know seem to be. I am no different. But I promised myself that I would post something on my blog today. So, I am taking a leap of faith and doing it. I hope you enjoyed reading about my mother and her adventures at the age of one hundred.

©Bonnie B. Matheson 2018

The coolest me I can be.

12 Mar

The coolest me I can be.

In my youth I NEVER worried about who I might be or what I planned to do with my life. The answer shown like a beacon. Grow up. Leave my father’s house. Become a bride. Move into someone else’s house. Have children. Make sure they were happy and not afraid. Try to make sure they remember their childhood as carefree and loving and just plain fun.

That picture of the perfect family grew strong in me. It settled in my mind, I recognized it. Knew the edges of the scene, imagined colors and dialogue and kisses and hugs. And almost all of it came true. I created it in my mind first. Then I set out to make sure it really happened in real time. Of course this did involve a certain amount of manipulation and intrigue. And sometimes a stark reality would fall and hit me on the head with real force. Most of the time I could avoid seeing the parts I did not like. I ignored what did not fit the photo in my mind. And that amounted to quite a lot. Oblivious does not quite describe me, yet it seemed as if those parts were “greyed out” like words on a computer screen tool bar that cannot be “clicked upon”. They were there but not to be entered. Intrusions included extra people for dinner, a trip to the emergency room for one of us or the children, a litter of puppies, or a possible change in staff. I could handle any of that with ease.

What it did not include was introspection and inner work which might entail turning over a few rocks to look underneath. MY clothes were important, my shoes were lovely and often uncomfortable. My help at home was constant. Our nanny, Lucy never took a day off except for every 6 weeks when she would go home to Charlottesville, for a long weekend. SO I was covered, and never had to take full time care of my children. At night I was free to go out with my husband and never had to skip a party because the baby sitter did not show up. I felt 100% entitled to this freedom. It was deserved and expected. And what others might be going through, never really applied to me. I missed it, completely that we were not the norm.

But something felt wrong, or unfinished, or ragged underneath, like a tiny stone in my shoe. It was often not apparent, and even when it was it was so off to the side, I rarely confronted anything unpleasant At moments when I least expected it the things that were wrong and felt horrible struck and shattered my precious “picture”. So I went to great lengths to repair it and even greater lengths to hide the damage. That was not cool. I was not cool. I was a quivering bowl of jelly inside.

Now, I am waaaay cool. Even though heavier than I have ever been, and certainly older than I have ever been, I feel cool. And that is because I am a writer and author. And I am going to pursue this avocation with all that I have. There is no other thing taking up my time. Mother though constantly there, is not really an onerous burden because there is so much help with her care. Much of my job is keeping the roof from leaking the, walls from flaking and falling in, the pipes from freezing and all the other little items necessary to keeping this place solid for the next few years.

So I do all that, and I write. I entertain mother, and I write. I try to keep the staff healthy and happy and I write. And myself, I try to keep me healthy too. and I write. The writing part has become a constant. Before I only wrote now and then. When the mood struck me I would write feverishly, but often it did not amount to more than a few words, 500 being a lot of words for me. Now I realize that 500 words is just a warm up. Like the first quarter mile of a 3 mile work out. But this new habit of daily writing is most satisfying because it has given me a body of work. It is real. I can look it up. And if I were more organized I would figure out a way to find it again.

That would be the coolest me. An organized me.

Anniversary of the Last Supper (in my house) 2017

1 Feb

Anniversary of the Last Supper (in my house) 2017

It is hard to believe how many changes have occurred in the last year. Now I live in Washington DC with my 99 year old Mother. But a year ago I still had a home of my own.

I had a dinner party for my 75th birthday in January 2017. I had 34 people for dinner (and only seating for 30) My two wonderful sons in law sat in the library and watched football because there was no room for them at either table. But I barely knew about that until later. One of my sons had come with his son to wish me a happy birthday, but went home before dinner. All the others were seated at 2 tables. The big table in my dining room had 17 people squeezed together.  And at a table for 10 in my living room I managed to put another 13 people. The food was super and I had spent money on a bar tender and cook so that made things easier. Or it should have. But the cook was very late with dinner because she did not understand exactly how I managed to cook a dinner like that with only one oven. It all worked out though. She finally got it all done using the microwave, the toaster oven and all the burners on my stove along with a rice cooker. It was all simply delicious and everyone loved it.

I don’t have time to describe the food, and the dishes, and table decorations, but they were lovely. The whole party was just perfect. And then suddenly one of my guests had a fainting spell. 911 was called and I did not even know that this had happened until the rescue squad arrived. I think there were 6 men in florescent vests in my living room and an ambulance and a firetruck in my driveway. Oh well. She was fine. She refused to be taken to the hospital, insisting that this happened now and then. It really did NOT dampen my party at all. She stayed and everyone else just had another drink.

What is especially ironic about that party is that unbeknownst to me, it was my last party in that house in Charlottesville. Two days later I fell as I was walking along a flagstone path and broke my ankle. I spent one night alone in that house with my dogs and realized that I could not live there with a broken leg. I got driven up to Washington the next day and never came back to that house until a brief stay in April. or May. Then I was able to spend the month of July there, but the kitchen floor was all torn up due to leaking dishwasher and I never had a party again. Moved out by the following November 30th. All gone. Sad to leave that house but what a lovely memory that last dinner party was for me.

And when I moved out, I gave away all of my possessions to my children and grandchildren. SO I cannot have another dinner party like that, with those exact things ever again. It was a nice finale to that phase of my life. Now I am more or less unencumbered. And I have determined to remake myself and become the healthiest, fittest person I can be.