Monday, September 28, 2009

Visiting Friend

My after school and weekend job when I was in high school was at the college food service at Cornell College in Mt Vernon, Iowa. I made lots of friends in the bowels of the Cornell kitchens and dining rooms. Some are still friends to this day. Anne is one of those friends.

This is a souvenir of an award Anne and others had made for me back in 1981. I kept it all this time. I don't remember the circumstances that led to me getting this, or why I never threw it out after so many moves and life changes, but there it is.

She was over here in the UK, far from her native Minnesota to be a referee in a tae kwon do tournament in Manchester. As a 5th dan black belt, she's kind of a big deal in tae kwon do and travels all over the world to be a referee. Manchester is a mere jaunt down the motorway from us. In fact, we regularly travel to and from our family holidays from the Manchester airport. Armed with this information, she extended her visit to the UK for a few days and came up for a visit.
I had not clapped eyes on Anne since she was a guest at our wedding over seventeen years ago. I must say that the years have been very kind to Anne.

We did have a bunch of fun during her stay. I took a few days off so that I could devote all my time to her visit. We went to Edinburgh one day and the Scottish Whiskey Experience at the top of the Royal Mile and slap up against Edinburgh Castle.
Anne accurately described the whiskey experience as" sort of like Disneyland for drunks". Pretty accurate description! We bought tickets, went on the ride (yes there is a ride) that informs about the process of making whiskey. On to the good bit - whiskey tasting! We bought the higher priced ticket that included extra whiskey tasting (naturally). Sitting in front of four jars, each jar having cotton impregnated with one of four different elements you might taste/smell in Scottish whiskey. Mostly I was thinking "blah blah blah . . . give me whiskey". I still don't like the smoke riddled Islay malts. Give me a gentle Speyside malt anyday! Oh, blends are nice too.

After the whiskey experience we went to The Jolly Judge for some lunch. Outside Inside

We toddled around the centre of Edinburgh for a bit - took the obligatory photos of Fleshmarket Close. Have you read the book by Ian Rankin named after this small bit of Edinburgh?
Anne was here for about three days and we really packed in a lot in that time. When she was getting ready to depart, I gave her my copy of Julie/Julia. Anne had already taken her mother to see the movie and we talked about the film/book. The film hasn't arrived at our local cinema yet, but I had finished the book and was happy to see it go to a good home. I liked the book well enough, though I did find Julie a bit of a drama queen and ever so slightly whiny. Despite that, the story was engaging and it had me all fired up to inflict some experiments in French cookery on my family.

About a week after Anne left, a parcel arrived for me. . . . From Amazon . . . . . boxes from Amazon are always good. It was addressed to me! More intrigue! It was box of presents! As a generous thank you Anne sent me My Life in France by Julia Child ( a delightful autobiography) A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage, A Primate's Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky (which I am reading just now and really love) AND the ultimate fabulous book of all time Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child, Bertholle and Beck!! I was thrilled beyond speech to have these lovely books. With this kind gesture, Anne has cemented a permanent and standing invitation to visit whenever she wishes, with whom ever she wishes and stay for as long as she wants. In addition to that, I solemnly promise that she will never ever have to eat fish or cooked spinach.

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