The salt to my pepper

Today was Queen's Day and it was epic. Tom and I had no agenda other than wandering and we ended up seeing just the people we wanted to see and doing just what we wanted to to. And I wore a parrot on my head all day. Photos to come later.

Queen's Day really is the world's largest garage sale, and I spent most of the day digging through vinyl, looking for records to boost my new collection. I did exceedingly well, bringing home 10 new LPs and a big box full of 45s -- 90% of which were free.

One of my new records is by Kate Bush, my best friend Jonna's all-time favorite. As I listened to her tonight, laying on the floor between the speakers, a massive wave of love washed over me. Such a massive wave that I grabbed my computer, compelled to write.

I was not a girl who had close friendships growing up, and though I have some regret about that, I also accept old scenarios as being exactly what they were. What I know more that anything is that, no matter what signals I sent (send?) of independence, confidence and self-contained affirmation, I was desperate to find people who got my jokes and wanted to be in my orbit.

I actually didn't know a joke getter existed until my first week of college, on floor two of Moore Hall in the Bean Complex, at the University of Oregon. I met Jonna, who was so much cooler than I was. She was funny and dry, knew about music, was super smart, had a great style and was a fierce individual, but didn't alienate anyone around her as she flew her unique Jonna flag. After a month of torturing our respective roommates, we moved into the same room, and the rest, as they say...

It is only after 20 years that I appreciate what a monumental meeting ours was. Before Jonna I didn't know what it was like to have a best friend. Someone with whom my emotional kimono could remain perpetually open without fear of a pointy "Ha ha!" We were a pair, and according to a few people who shared our world, a bit of a force to be reckoned with.

There is no way that I could ever do what I am doing if I had never met Jonna. It was because of her friendship that I started to believe that I had something to offer other than good outfits, because if someone so great likes you, then you must actually be likeable. And maybe a little bit great as well.

I have never had Jonna's grace, but that is so ok with me. She is the salt to my pepper, which means we both have strengths that the other may be lacking, but the combination of both makes a perfect seasoning. As I listened to "Wow" by Ms. Bush tonight, I realized that Jonna was the first person to tell me I was cool. Amazing even. And that song will remind me of her (and the coolness) forever.

There is not a real point to this post, other than to acknowledge the impact Jonna has had on my life. A best friend is a powerful thing. It doesn't matter that her days look different than mine because at the core of it all, we are still the same 18 year old girls tickled to death that someone gets us. When I grabbed bags of free clothes tonight, as the official selling hours ended and street vendors left their unsold items on the street, I knew that whatever didn't suit or fit me would be sent directly to Jonna for a secondary perusal - undoubtedly finding things that make her look fabulous. No one will appreciate the random care package like she will, and that makes her rock all the harder.



Bumbling through the tulips

Tom and I rented bikes and rode out amongst the tulips.

...and daffodils.

We stumbled upon the world famous flower parade. This is a photo of an old person waving at a float.


A right of passage of sorts

Disclaimer: This entry is personal and perhaps disconcerting for those who don't want to know about my boobs.

Today I had my first mammogram. A right of passage for a 40 year old in the USA, in the Netherlands, a woman isn't "qualified" to get one until she is 50. After my sister was diagnosed two years ago, I asked about paying for a mammogram myself, just to get a baseline to measure against later on, but was told it was not possible. Even if I paid myself! The nurses I talked to advised me to lie and make up symptoms so my house doctor would give me a referral, but I couldn't do it.

Then I didn't have to make up symptoms because I found a strange mass on the side of my right breast that hurt when I pushed it. I waited about a month before getting up the guts to make an appointment with my house doctor, and then went in and showed her my business. She thought it was nothing, but with my history, gave me a referral. I felt like I won the golden ticket!

So this morning I went in and got squeezed. It hurt a lot more than I thought it would - I yelled, "Holy crap!" at squeeze #4, much to the surprise of the technician. Then it was done and I was told to get dressed and wait in the waiting room. That was the only time I felt scared -- while waiting. But after five minutes, another nurse came out and told me everything looked fine. Just like that.

I've been thinking about my health a lot lately. Thinking about my dad's slow PD progression. Thinking about my sister. Thinking about the strain on my mom and the effects it must have on her. Thinking about the Pickle who had surgery to remove a cyst on his brain last week. The line we walk is a thin one and every day we can get an "all clear” has to be considered a small victory.


Vegetarian vacation

Saturday morning in Boulogne-sur-Mer saw me with Rabito and a big cloth shopping bag, following old women with empty baskets as they vaguely made their way toward the town center square. One of the sterling pieces of advice I can unequivocally give to anyone who asks or cares is always, ALWAYS, follow old women with empty baskets on Saturday mornings. Unless the empty baskets are shopping carts and you are on a freeway. Then not such good advice.

Old women know cooking and cooking means markets and markets in France mean everything. I was in absolute and utter heaven. And udder heaven too, as the cheese I tasted there was sublime and ridiculous. The neurons in my brain actually shuddered (uddered?) and I was filled with a strange sense of glee, which led me to buy a large chunk from the cheese makers selling from a folding card table and plastic cooler. "It is good for four days and don't refrigerate!" I was told...ok.

To go with the cheese I bought a French rotisserie chicken for a ridiculous 6 euros, a baguette, three apples, a jar of home-canned gherkins from an old man and a bottle of hard cider, which Normandy is known for. Breakfast was two pain du chocolate and a home canned jar of strawberry jam. Truly bliss. It was a bit sad not to be in a place with a kitchen because there was just so much to buy and try -- whole birds of every shape and size, rabbits, black truffles in a big mound, gorgeous artichokes, cheese, cheese, cheese, meat, sausage like you wouldn't believe, a hill of Coquilles, fish, flowers, bread, cakes and the list goes on.

We drove down the coast, stopping for our amazing picnic, briefly in Deauville, to walk the beach in Honfleur and at the D-Day monuments at Juno and Gold beaches. The architecture in Normandy surprised me - all half-timber houses with scalloped Victorian fanciness. Sort of like towns made of tuberculosis asylums from strange Gothic novels.

We didn't book any hotels ahead of time, so when we had a rough idea of where we wanted to get to, I looked in a guide book and called the one hotel that sounded good (it had a recommended seaside restaurant attached, so we could avoid the experience of the terrine). I nervously dialed the number and asked, "Parlez vous Anglais?" when a woman answered. "Non." was the reply. There are two things to do at this moment: hang up or muddle through. I muddled -- horribly, but adequately and did the biggest happy dance of all time when I hung up the phone. I like to think my slaughter of French pronunciation and vocabulary made her laugh.

Our dinner was excellent and the bed gave me the best night of sleep I'd had in a long time. Day two was fantastic and I really felt rejuvenated and ready for day three.


I do not think that word means what you think it means

Tom and I made our way to France for a long weekend road trip through Picardy and along the Normandy coast. It was fantastic, made all the better by the sheer impetuousness of it all.

Friday we rented a car, packed Rabito in the back, made a last minute hotel reservation in Boulogne-sur-Mer and hit the big, wide road. We caught our first glimpse of ocean in Calais and took a break to frolic in the sand before driving the rest of the way.

We got to Boulogne just in time for dinner and fell into the classic trick spinning in circles trying to find a restaurant as our blood sugar spiraled downward. We were there during the Welsh festival (cheese, fried egg, ham on toast) and every place featured a sign with a smiling egg yolk, which seemed to mock our hunger. We wound up going to a strange place that specialized in food of the Alps region - raclette and fondue and such, which was perhaps a bad decision in retrospect. Tom was curious about the Welsh, but the terrine made with rabbit, pork, chicken, etc. sounded good too (especially the way I described it - all put together in a nice hot stew pot like a cassoulet but without the beans), and since the waiter wouldn't let him order two main courses (!), Tom eschewed the Welsh and went with my suggestion, as well as ordering an appropriate entree. Order! Garcon in French chain restaurant must have ORDER!

It ends up that terrine isn't a nice stew at all, but a cold gelatinous meatloaf, and Tom was not the happiest camper in town. He valiantly ate some, as I picked at my duck salad (my vegetarianism took a holiday too). It was not our finest meal, by any stretch. But it was a meal, and sometimes that is enough. And we were in France on a Friday night, which is always a good thing because you know what happens on Saturday mornings in France? Markets!!!

And that will come tomorrow.


Turning 40 part 3 - Electric Bogaloo

Saturday night was my Aaron Spelling Party, where guests came as characters from his shows. Fantastic theme with fantastic people. Really. Here are a smattering of photos. So fun!

Pasquale and Marco as Starsky and Hutch

My friend Buffi Duberman as the misguided but well-intentioned hippie character on Mod Squad.
Tom as James Brolin from Hotel and Alexis Carrington from Dynasty,
though I wouldn't blame you mistaking me for a New Jersey realtor in bad drag.

Maureen's Krystal and Alexis waging an epic battle.

Alison as Heather Locklear in TJ Hooker, sans wig

Holly as Hooker With a Heart of Gold #1 from Fantasy Island (or Stephanie Power from Hart to Hart)
Demelza as Farrah Fawcett from Charlie's Angels and Barrie as Steve Sanders from 90210

Nicola as "Powerful female business woman" from Dynasty with Brenda Walsh (post mid-party costume change)

Jen as Jo from Melrose Place and Krystal Carrington. The cheekbones!

Alison and Snapper (in the background) looked suspiciously like strippers in their costumes.

Joshua and Steven AS Hart to Hart and Fantasy Island, respectively. And Brenda.

Closing with Mr. James Brolin. Sexy!