Even the dream life can be a little less than dreamy sometimes. Not that its bad, it’s just a lot. Witness life around here lately.
It all started a couple of weeks ago. I was working hard trying to nail down just the right recipes to send to our Wine Club members. I needed ten dishes perfectly paired with ten different wines. I’ll write more about that process, but for now just know that it’s a lot of research, shopping, cooking, tasting and tweaking. Good thing I love what I do.
I just about got that all nailed down when it was time to get ready for our Crab Feed at the winery. 110 people were coming for dinner and I decided to do the food myself (of course)! Now mind you it was a very simple menu, and the crab – so fresh and delicious, the sweetest crab I’ve ever had – was cooked by someone else, the people who caught it.
So I was on for hors d’oeuvres, salad and baked potatoes. Which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the volume that gets you.
The very next day was my daughter’s 10th birthday. She decided to only have a “family” birthday party this year, which meant dinner for 14. She wanted lamb chops, we compromised on leg of lamb. I made the French classic 4-hour leg of lamb because it cooks unattended for a long time. That was handy as that afternoon my son was speaking at a gathering of people who invested in his trip to Mexico to build houses (to which I was supposed to bring a homemade baked treat to share). And in between that meeting and the birthday dinner I surprised my daughter and took her to get her ears pierced. The closest place to do that is at the Claire’s in a mall that is an hour from home, one way.
Our adopted family came for dinner and we celebrated our beloved girl well and feasted on the delicious lamb. Everyone graciously left early since I had to get up before dawn the next morning to catch my plane to Michigan where I would spend the week doing sales.
The shuttle to the airport arrived at 4:30am. I was so grateful that the driver didn’t feel the need to chatter with me for the hour + drive. While in the car I realized that I had forgotten to pack a pair of black shoes. I crossed my fingers that the really good clothing and shoe store at the Portland airport would be open at 6 am, the time I got there. It was! I scored a very cute and very comfortable pair of shoes that were even on sale. Thank goodness because I was on my feet for hours in the days to come.
Two planes later I arrived in Detroit – which is where I grew up by the way, so I’m no stranger to that town – rented a car and drove 3 hours to a city on the other side of the state, Grand Rapids. Imagine how happy I was to get to my hotel and order a martini and a (delicious) hamburger. I calculated that I traveled about 2400 miles that day.
The next day I got up and worked all day, including a 4-hour trade tasting (read: lots of schmoozing and pouring). That evening I got to go out with some colleagues to a terrific restaurant and wine bar called Reserve. If you’re ever in Grand Rapids I recommend it highly. The wine list is like a playground for people like me!
The next morning – it’s Wednesday now – I got up and drove 3 hours to Traverse City. Except it took me a little longer because my GPS failed me and I got and I took a few wrong turns along the way. Never underestimate the good old trick of stopping at a gas station to ask directions.
I arrived about 10 minutes late for my next trade tasting (more pouring and schmoozing). Lucky for me my oldest brother and his two sons live there and so afterwards they came to meet me for dinner at Trattoria Stella. Another fantastic restaurant, by the way. Every time I eat there I am just amazed by the quality of the food and the thoughtful wine list. I had a wonderful evening with three of my favorite guys and then headed back to my brother’s house where we proceeded to stay up too late finishing the sample bottles of wine and catching up on each other’s lives.
The next morning I got in my car – about an hour later than I intended, after that late night – and headed south. What should have been a 4 hour drive was about 5 1/2 as I was traveling through heavy thunderstorms, 60 mile an hour winds and a couple of detours for road construction. I got back down to the Detroit area later than I should have but managed to connect with the sales rep who was waiting for me and make a handful of calls on restaurants there. A brief but successful work day.
I’ll digress for a minute here just to mention that my parents recently moved away from the Detroit area after living most of their lives there. Moving them and downsizing their 4000 square foot house to fit in a 1200 square foot apartment in a retirement community was no small affair. My father, ever the optimist, decided to keep his office however and maintain his business from their new home in the Chicago area. Did I mention he is 85? After just six months of traveling back and forth every couple of weeks to work, he’s decided to throw in the towel. We’re all relieved, but it just so happened that the week they were there closing the office, was the same week I was there working.
It was a good thing because I got to help and spend some time with them, but by the time I connected with them I was already pretty exhausted. Nonetheless we got a lot accomplished and shared a lovely meal together at yet another fine restaurant Forest Grill in Birmingham.
In between I did a little more work, met an old college pal for a couple of glasses of wine, and took my mother to the nursing home to visit with her sister who is dying of stomach cancer.
The latter was an amazing interlude. It’s too much to talk about now, but I was reminded of author Kelly Corrigan saying “eventually we learn that it as much an honor to watch a person leave this world as it is to watch one come in to it.”
When I turned in my rental car at the airport, I noticed that they clocked me at over 850 miles driven in the week. Only 2000 more to get home.