Scenes From the Beauty Parlour

Ever since her bout with cancer, my hairdresser only works three days per week (can’t say I blame her, quite frankly) – usually on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  Occasionally, she’ll switch her Saturday for a Friday.  More often than not, I get an appointment on Tuesdays (nice and quiet), sometimes on Thursdays (a bit more action); I avoid Saturdays because, frankly, I just do.

Last week, I called Françoise to see if she had any openings and she could only give me the next Friday morning at 9:00 am.  I accepted (gawd that is early!) since I usually have Fridays off and if I don’t, I probably won’t start until 4:00 pm which just so happened to end up being the case.  I know for most people 9:00 am is no big whup but when you work the night before until 11:00 pm or later, you just don’t really want to have to put the alarm clock on…

There was just Françoise, waiting for me, and one of her colleagues, let’s call her Yolande, because I have no clue what her name is, and she is taking care of one client whilst another waits in one of her chairs.  Yolande talks loud.  No, I mean LOUD.  And she sounds like a dock worker.  I asked my sister if she knew what her name was and her response was:  “The one with the potty mouth?  No clue.”  😉  So. Yolande it is.

Another customer comes in –  Yolande’s.  The noise level has gone up more than a decibel.  Not long after, in comes Pierre-Luc, owner of the shop and requisite gay coiffeur – walk and talk as one has come to imagine as well as the expressive hands.  What can I say? Stereotypes were not born of the air.

Pierre-Luc’s customer comes in.

During all this coming and going, at the other end of the salon, Françoise and I exchange looks and smiles, with the occasional laugh at the conversation behind us, while she does my own roots in a shade of exactly my natural colour (coz I’m wild like that) and if she wants to speak to me, bends down close to my ear otherwise must shout above the din.  She is not the shouting kind.

Dye applied, she leaves me to read for my 45 minutes as her customer comes in.  Or rather, attempt to read.  I go through comments on my last post, chat with a friend on messenger, and then try to get into my book.  I, at first, keep my back turned to the circus behind me in said attempt.   Finally, unable to concentrate, I give up and turn around to enjoy the show fully.

One woman, who is trying really, REALLY hard to “keep it young” is sitting in the third chair.  Her flaming red hair is standing up in chunks all over her head, while her roots are being refurbished with the appropriate shade of “You Can’t Miss Me”, giving one the impression said chunks are pulling her face up though we know it’s the result of one visit too many with Dr. Nip and Tuck.  Her face is painted to match her hair, clothes appropriately loud – ’nuff said.  Trying hard to look sophisticated and worldly until she opens her mouth and the trash talk that emits is enough to make one take a step back.  She is Yolande’s customer.

The door opens and a man pops his head in, letting Ms Flashy-Red know he saw her car and knew she must be close by and hoped to see her.  Then leaves.  Well THAT starts a whole rush of “What was that?” and she admits the man seems a tad smitten with her and basically follows her around.  The comments of “Did you call the police?” are mingled with the “Look at you with your admirer!”  One can’t help but laugh.  The man is in his early 70’s or well-used late 60’s…

Just as my timer pings, Mr. Loverboy pops his head in to check on his “sweetie”, well hidden behind Yolande, who is just finishing up one of her ladies – you know the type who comes for her weekly wash and set, now properly pouffed and spray-netted and sent out the door..  He says: “I get to see you in your pre-beauty stage!” and leaves.

Ms Flashy-Red says, “Oh my God, he won’t leave me alone and he can’t see me!”

To which I retort:  “If you want to get rid of him, maybe you should let him see you like this!”  Everyone cracks up.

By now, I have had my hair washed and have moved to Françoise’s chair for my cut.  In the mirror I can see Pierre-Luc teasing (they still tease?) the hair of one of his weekly-wash-and-set ladies and find myself wondering if all of this should end up in a post.  Of course it must as here I am.

The conversations are one one top of the other; a true cacophony.  The customers know each other; the hairdressers (we are not in the “stylist” business here) interjecting their two cents’ worth…  I feel I’m in the middle of a mix of “Coming To America” and “Steel Magnolias”.  Everybody knows everybody and their business and I’m just sitting here enjoying the show

Oh… and, before you ask… end result (once I re-wet it and removed all the gunk…)

 

 

From Outrage To Opera – Friday Fictioneers

Good Wednesday evening, my readers! It is Friday Fictioneers time and I (foolishly?) decided to try and channel our very own Queen-of-bringing-history-to-life, Rochelle. What was I thinking? Thank you to GAH Lerner for the use of her lovely photo.

Please, do join in and give us your 100-word story that came to you upon gazing at this photograph. Once you have written it, click on the blue frog below and add your link… then the best part is this: You read and comment on other’s stories, they read and comment on yours and our community becomes even more wonderful. And, bonus, you don’t even realise it, but your writing becomes all the better for it! Win-Win!

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From Outrage To Opera

Moon gazing, Ryan thought of his journey. He saw his 12-year-old self, sitting in solitary confinement despite two good years with Miss Hughes, a teacher who never gave up on him, telling him he mattered.

Once out, he vowed to change his circumstances, including signing up for choir despite his lack of singing skills. Mr. Brown, teacher, took it upon himself to teach him, bringing him to the Metropolitan Opera at 15, with Denyce Graves, an African-American lead singer. Someone like him. Finally, Ryan had a dream.

Nine years later, Ryan Speedo Green sang at that very same Metropolitan Opera.

***********

Read more about Ryan here

Cook in Tuscany – La Chiusa, A Surprise, Innocenti and Farewell

*** EIGHT – yes, EIGHT!!  months have gone by since I returned from Tuscany.  I had so many issues with my computer that I had put this aside to finish later and later never seemed to come.  I am now, if you don’t mind, ready to finish the telling of this fabulous life-changing (for me) trip! ***

♣♣♣TWO YEARS – yes, officially TWO YEARS have, as of today, gone by since I started my Cook in Tuscany Trip.  I am not counting my day in Zug because that would have made yesterday the official two-year mark.  Though I am not pro-resoution, I have promised myself to finish every project I have started and that includes this one.♣♣♣

Now where was I….

Sigh, the last full day in Montefollonico, at La Costa with this fabulous group that made the start of my trip so wonderful. The next morning most would be hopping the van to Chiusi-Chianciano Station to continue their adventures elsewhere or return home.  But till then, we had a full day of wonderful stuff!

As per usual, we had our breakfast in the closed-in veranda before making our way to our last cooking class.  It is kinda funny that we had the van, considering how close we were!  We could easily have walked there and back but hey, why not?  And it’s not like any of us knew where we were going anyway.

This time we made our way to the restaurant La Chiusa, run by Michelin-star chef Dania, a woman who is somewhere in her 70’s but does not dress “accordingly” (whatever that is supposed to be)!  She is one sexy lady!  Though divorced, her husband still works with her.  How very European, eh?

Dania is very artistic and she showed us how to decorate plates with zucchini and beet purées.  We made stuffed zucchini flowers, pesto risotto, chicken stew, caramel nests, fig and caramel ice cream.  The colour of the egg yolks… I have no words.  And this standard for them!

Once most of the mains were started, Dania brought us through to her gardens, which were still amazing in September.  Huge kale, leeks, rows and rows of rosemary, basil, eggplants, peppers, fig trees, zucchini with their blossoms – it was amazing to walk through, while Dania chattered away, occasionally translated by the lovely Geraldine – same who had translated on truffle-hunting day.  I think I would spend hours on this bench, dreaming of what to pick next…

Group photo!

We then went into the “pasta” kitchen where Antonietta had us making ravioli stuffed with ricotta and lovely gnocchi.

All that hard work meant we got to eat al fresco on the terrace.

To return “home”, we decided to walk this time.  It was just up a hill, less than a kilometre and let’s face it, walking was not a bad idea.  As we entered the gates of Montefollonico, we were chattering and laughing when I heard “Dale?”.

What the… I spun around and there was Pierre.  One of Mick’s close friends and former clients.  Oh. Em. Gee.  You cannot make this stuff up!  I mean, come ON!  This is not THE rocking place of Tuscany.  This tiny village is tucked away in the middle of nowhere!  I can still hear Donna saying:  “You turned French Canadian in front of my eyes!”  Speaking of eyes, the whole gang got all misty-eyed at seeing us hug.  Pierre looked at me, then up at the sky and let out a “Mick, tabarnac!”  He said he was a little bit of a believer but now was full-fledged.  I had no idea he and his wife, Geneviève, were there on vacation.  And it was his in-laws who wanted to go visit there.  What were the chances?

Pierre and Me

We exchanged emails and made arrangements to hook up in two days.  So. Very. Cool.

We had a few hours to kill before our next adventure and Sandy wanted to deliver an apron to Dania in thanks.  So I joined Donna and her for a walk back to La Chiusa and Dania.

Our last excursion was down the street from LaCosta to Innocenti Wines.

We were greeted by Vino, Vittorio Innocenti’s sweet dog.  We entered and a few feet in, found ourselves in a fairly dark and musty wine cellar with the big casks.  Vittorio and Laura (Geraldine’s mum) were waiting for us to give us a tour.  Not a very big one!  The place is quite small and feels very intimate.

It was our last night together! How quickly it passed.  How much fun we had.  The memories created will remain forever, of that I am certain.  Friendships created and with the magic of Facebook, maintained.

Our last supper was at La Costa in the closed veranda as the evening was quite cool.  We had a lovely feast of pork chops and the lemon roasted potatoes and balsamic roasted cipollini, three types of crostini (mushroom, roasted tomato and olive), salad and a birthday cake for Cindi and Alison!  A perfect ending to a perfect week in perfect company.  Linda and George gave us each a lovely ceramic plate as a memento.  We would save our good-byes for the morrow.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

 

 

What Determines Beauty?

“Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Three years ago, at a get-together of eight former classmates (and a few spouses) I met Tania Cong.  Tania is married to François, not only one of the said classmates, but the one who organised our reunion.  It was a wonderful happening and one that I felt extremely privileged to be a part of.  You see, I only briefly hung out with but a few of them back in the school days and yet, I was included in this, what turned out to be, fortuitous event.

Class of ’81:  Marc H, François, Tania (welcome intruder), Chantal, Martin, me, Sylvie. Marc G., Dany

This first get-together gave birth to a desire to keep it going and not lose touch.  We have reunited, minus or plus a few, depending on people’s schedules and health, many times per year since then.  François and Tania were part of quite a few of these.

You know that image of a smiling, laughing little Oriental we have been fed through TV and the movies and various other media?  Well, you cannot help but add Tania to that image.  Please note I am by no means denigrating this lovely lady at all when I write this.  She is a beautiful woman, born in Vietnam, who has found her way into François’ heart and thereby, into our circle.  And we are all blessed for it.  I have yet to see a frown mar her pure face.  This little video I taped in error shows that…

While I have met Tania a handful of times over the past three years, this past Saturday, at Giselle and Dany’s annual BBQ, we really got a chance to chat more than usual.  Or rather, she was even more talkative than ever.  It just so happened all the women were at the same end of the table and subjects morphed from one subject to another.

Sonia, Deirdre, Linda, Tania, Gisele, Caroline, Me

Other than that youn’un Sonia (who’s I think, not even forty), we are a mighty fine looking group of fifty-somethings, don’t ya think? 🙂

Talk turned to twins – Deirdre has twin girls – and we learned that Tania is a twin.  She was saying they are so connected that when her sister gave birth, she felt her sister’s pain.  We marvelled at that.

Talk turned to Tania’s wedding to François about ten years ago. For the first time in her life, Tania was being coerced into putting make-up on her face.  We all looked at her in disbelief.  No way!  “Yes,” she said in her very heavily accented English.  She was informed she needed to get a facial and have her brows plucked and her ‘stache waxed and for heaven’s sake, put some lipstick on! She said that stuff felt weird on her lips and she was made to feel that maybe she was not enough.  And she resented that.  And refused to look at herself looking like this.

She then shocked us even more.  She informed us that she never looks at herself in a mirror.  Ever.  As a matter of fact, other than the one in the bathroom – which she won’t use – there are no mirrors in her house.

Stunned?  Not strong enough to describe our reaction.  Dumbfounded.  Astonished.  Stupified.

Surely, she was joking!  She shook her head. “I don’t need to look at myself when I wash my face, brush my teeth, comb my hair.  Although I wasn’t sure with that make=up on how to remove it!”

Yes, but….We clearly, all six of us, still cannot comprehend.  It is beyond us to even contemplate the absence of a mirror in our lives.

“Why would I look in a mirror?  What will I see?  Will I find fault with my appearance?  Will I think I am not good enough?  Not beautiful?  No.  I don’t need to look in a mirror.  François tells me I am beautiful.  So. I believe him.”

Happy birthday, Tania!  You are a beautiful light to all of us who have had the privilege of meeting you!

 

 

A Timely Encounter – What Pegman Saw

It’s Labour Day here Canada and in the States. If you’re not familiar with it, Labour Day is a national holiday in which rich people go out of town for a three-day weekend and have poor people wait on them. 😉  I would be one of those poor people who is working tomorrow…

Appropriately, Pegman takes us to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Grand Hotel has been a favorite vacation destination of Americans since 1877. If you’d rather skip the hotel, you have the whole of Mackinac Island to wander.

Your mission is to write up to 150 words inspired by the prompt. Once your piece is polished, you can share it with others using the linkup below. Reading and commenting on others’ work is part of the fun!

Thanks to Karen and Josh for hosting this weekly prompt.  This week I looked up just enough info to be able to use it but didn’t want to go the whole historical route.

 

 

A Timely Encounter

We agree to meet at the base of the stairs leading to Fort Mackinac at 3:00.  I arrive early and pace nervously, looking up the stairs into the blue abyss, wishing it would swallow me whole, wondering if I have completely lost my mind in agreeing to come.

I finally force myself to sit on the bench and relax, taking deep breaths of sea air, closing my eyes, feeling my heart slow to a steady beat.

Restored, I open my eyes and watch a man slowly make his way towards me.  He looks as nervous as I.  Still tremulous, I slowly stand when he is within handshaking distance…

BOOM! 

We both jump out of our skins in fright, our hands going to our chests in the same manner. Helluva time for the cannonball fire.

“Jesus Christ!” we yell in unison.  Looking at each other, we burst into laughter.

“Elisa.”

“Dad.”

 

 

 

 

The House That I Built – Friday Fictioneers

Good Wednesday morning, my peeps!  What does that mean?  Friday Fictioneers!  Luckily for me, I was asked to switch shifts (from 11 to noon) so I had an extra hour this morning so I could write this now rather than later, when I could have forgotten what I wanted to write.  Coz that happens.  Often.

Thank you always to the lovely Rochelle for hosting this here weekly party and this week, a thank you to our very own Dawn M. Miller‘s grandson, Nathan Sowers, for this beauty of a picture.

Want to join in on the fun?  It is fun.  And addictive.  Just click on the blue frog below to add your link to your 100-word story that you came up with when you saw this picture 😉

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The House That I Built

“Why do you always bug us to keep the house up?”

“You listen to me very carefully.  It took me everything to get where I am.  I worked hard.  But I became a drug addict and a pusher.  I had a house at age 23.  Amazing, eh?  Well, I almost died from those drugs and lost everything.  I owed lots of money and could have gone bankrupt but instead I worked my ass off, ate macaroni and bologna for years as I paid back every single dime I owed.

“So yeah.  It’s really important to me to keep my house up.”

Ridiculously Optimistic or Foolishly Delusional

“See me for who I am, and then you’ll see the real me.”
Anthony T. Hincks

I have had many adjectives assigned (allotted? thrown?) to/at me over the years.  Most, I believe, are positive:  athletic, strong, caring, generous, beautiful, smart, intelligent, cultured, interesting, resilient (why do I cringe with this one?), open, accepting, helpful, talented, optimistic, realistic, honest, funny.  Some, I know, are negative:  bitchy, cold, heartless, naive, disorganized, lazy, delusional, ridiculous, foolish, sarcastic (on the fence on where this one belongs) – there are surely more but why focus on the negative?  And some fall somewhere in-between; or rather, I know they are not necessarily negative per se, but when they were thrown at me, were not meant to be complimentary:  eccentric, weird, different.  Many, as you can see, are contradictory because perception is, well, what you perceive.

One day I will get to the point in my life where I can say this is my philosophy as well.  I am working on it.  I like to think I’m a good 75% there.

What has this got to do with my title?  Everything.  And nothing, to tell the truth.  I am, and have been, at various times in my life, every single one of the adjectives above – and more.  And will again in the future.  Because that is who I am. What you see, is what you get.  No one is all good, all the time, no matter what people say or think (ridiculously optimistic)?  Nor are they all bad, all the time either (foolishly delusional)?

I’m blathering.

Because I have been thinking lately about friendships and romance.  And won’t lie.  Have been rather frustrated and kinda lonely at times.  Maybe I’ve been thinking too much!

We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It’s a death trap.

And, much as I say I have no expectations, it’s really hard not to have at least a little…

Friendships:  We form all sorts of friendships with people.  Some are surface-type and of lesser import and others go much deeper.  With the deeper ones, we like to think (and can’t help but expect) the other feels the same way about us as we do, them.  It is heartbreaking when you realise that no, you are not on the same wavelength at all.  Sometimes the other plays along to your tune to make you happy until they finally admit to themselves that this is not what they wanted in the first place and slowly drift away or immediately cut ties.  You are left standing wondering what the hell you did wrong and why the music stopped.  The truth is, you did nothing wrong.  And neither did they.  The other had different lyrics in mind.  To be fair, it goes both ways.  And to be even more honest, there rarely is malicious intent (this may be naive of me but I’ll keep that trait, thank you very much).  Of course, it would be wonderful if each communicated to the other their desires from the get-go…

“When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as
the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Romance/Sex/Love:  This one is a hard one.  I can say all sorts of things but losing Mick put me in a position I was frankly not that interested in finding myself.  I remember telling him once that I would prefer to keep the devil I knew then to find myself out there on the “market” again.  Thanks a lot, Mick.  What’s a woman to do? 51, working in her own kitchen, all her friends (mostly) are coupled…  How are you supposed to meet people guys?  So I signed up for a couple dating Apps.  Yes, those ones.  And I won’t lie.  I had a lot of fun.  And a lot of headaches.  I was not looking to become part of a full-time couple – not permanently, anyway and not at that particular time 😉  I wanted to go out, do stuff with someone, date.  Not that I have a problem with taking myself to the movies and such; but let’s face it, it is much more enjoyable à deux.  This dating shit is not for the faint of heart, lemme tell you.  I could write a book.  Point is, I go off and on these stupid sites every time I get fed up of being alone and in the hope of meeting someone who wants to do more than have a one-night-stand.  That old optimism thing.  Which I quit again.  Was exhausting.

“…sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I get bored. And sometimes all I want, more than anything else in the world, is to go on a freaking date.”
Kiersten White, Paranormalcy

I shall call this my little rant.  It shall pass.  It always does.