Tuesday, October 14, 2008


this shot up to the top of my favorite night's in 2008 list write away..

it was the p.p.i.e.'s (that's pleasanton partnerships in education foundation): bon appetit toasts and tastes of fall ~ culinary event ~ fundraiser.

tickets were like, $60 each, so no chance i would have been there if not for working at amelia's

(thank you gita/vinit again!) and being invited by chef steve to help out.

let me start by telling you what help out meant: it meant first, getting dressed up.. and i've not had many opportunities/reasons to get dressed up, so very excited about that

good, valid reason to put on my favorite long black gypsy skirt with sequence embellishments around the bottom, my high heel black boots, and found a pretty black top with a fancy open paisley shape near the neckline with a diamond-looking gem at the point on the clearance rack at macy's

and i must share here, a fashion-first for me. i went into that dressing room with 7 or 8 different blouses.. tried the black one mentioned above on first, and it fit so perfect, felt so comfortable, and hit so write within my budget, that i never did even try on the other blouses. just took it off and went straight to the counter to pay for it

next day, i think it was.. chef steve tells me maybe saturday is off.. i won't be going.

"but.. but.. i got a pretty blouse and made a hair appointment.. you're not allowed to change your mind.."

and so i think there was some shuffling done behind the scenes to include me after all.

i'm very grateful, because the next part of helping out meant leading everyone (chef steve & tony) to the carr america center. and i know write where that is because that's where the poetry, prose & art festival was held one year, and that's where centerpointe church was held inbetween their old and new locations.. and with my broken compass, usually i'm the very last person to be asked directions, but in this paricular case, with such confidence i could say, follow me boys.. and lead the way.

next it was my job to sit in chef steve's truck and listen to music while him and tony carted things inside the building, -because someone had to watch the stuff, write..-

and then it was my job to fill a bucket with water and bring it to our table, and then unwrap a few condiment containers.. and then, get this..

mix and mingle with our table partners. because each restaurant/chef's table is paired with a principal from one of the schools in the district, and a corporate sponsor

in our case, the principal was colleen henry, the principal from lydiksen elementary, and the corporate sponsor was shawn batoy, who sits on the p.p.i.e. board and works for robert half international. two of the coolest people you could hope to share a table with...

[hear my daughter's voice.. whenever we drive by...

is it robert half. -international? or robert. -half international?]

i hit it off with colleen write away, because i found out in no time that she is a fellow writer.. and not just a fellow writer, but a self-published fellow writer.. her and a best friend, had some time ago, during and in the aftermath of their mutual divorces, written an erma bombeck-ish, tongue n' cheek story about their experiences with divorce/single motherhood.. took them three years she told me.. and you know i have got to get my hands on one of those books! -which she believes she still may have available somewhere in the boxes in her garage..

in any case.. she was delightful, fun, light-hearted, generous, and i liked her immediately, but got even better when i learned that, like me.. she doesn't much cook

poor chef steve.. there he was with some 600 bacon wrapped shrimp, TWO grills..

and two women.. but neither one of us fighting over the chance to learn how to cook those shrimp

enter corporate heroine sponsor write here: because in walks shawn batoy, who knows her way around the kitchen..

thank God! -that shifted things so that chef steve actually had some talented/competent help with the grillin' and colleen and i were free to do what we do best,

drink. ~ i mean ~ .. open wine bottles and pour wine. and when i say, what we do best, i mean, between cooking or pouring

the opening part was a little tricky.. i've not used that type wine opener before, so cut a few corks in three, but .. after opening some 20 bottles, i started to catch on..

so this was how i helped out all night; this was, ~my job: open wine. drink wine. pour wine. visit with people and tell them about amelia's..

(waiting for full time position to open..) "and do you know about our new expanded menus? our live chef on friday nights?... we're on the same street as the farmer's market.. let me give you one of our cards.." smile. pour. next...

the wine by the way,

was.. was..

let me think..

because at some point, a man named david in a blue shirt, came to our table and told us.. he held

up a bottle, and pointed to the label, and explained in great, sophisticated detail, the name.. the grape, the location.. the year.. but he went really fast.. and i didn't have a pen and paper, just my ears.. so although colleen and i listend with every intention of sharing this information correctly with our guests.. the information seemed to disappear in random pieces in the air

did he say saugivnon blanc? he said, savin-yawn something..

and he said, grov-s, (ahs) not graves.. with a long A sound,

even though that's what was on the label

i never could say it with any confidence.. always a question mark..

"we really like this wine.. what is it?" and i would say.. sahvin-yawn blonk? and then instead would just pick up a bottle and let them read the label.. and here's the thing.. i don't think saugivnon blanc is mentioned anywhere on the label...

[have labels competely forgotten their role, i wonder]

colleen found her way around it by saying, and very professionally, i might add, "it's a light, french, white.." and just kept pourin'

i would later learn david is the husband of debi covello, who is the p.p.i.e's executive director..

enjoyed meeting them also; and here they are here:

and rarely, once i think, i felt a slight hint of guilt not working the grill, but chef steve said to me.. "you can be eye candy"

and i know what eye candy is, so i gave a yeah-write thanks, and thought to myself, .. definitely not eye-candy.. eye-broccoli maybe.. but definitely not eye candy

but i can report here, there were lots of beautiful women, in beautiful/sexy dresses to admire throughout the night..

great part of the fun, seeing everyone dressed up, with the men all very handsome, the women with their hair done, extra make-up, pretty outfits, shoes, and jewelry

and i got to see/visit with lots of people i've come to know over the past several years.. several parents from the kids schools and/or activities, former neighbors, other restaurant owners i've come to know, oh, look my ex-husband.. dan/teresa.. people from my writing circles, church circles, arts/crafts circles..

and that's write! jim & pam ... jim ott.. met him for the first time here -carr america center- during the poetry/prose/art festival.. and billy collins.. it's a lucky place i think

and many, many, people i met for the very first time, but know i will see again soon at amelia's.. because everyone ~ everyone ~ was falling in love with chef steve's bacon wrapped shrimp with cayenne pepper sauce

there was never a time steve and shawn were not refilling their pans with more bacon wrapped shrimp.. the aroma.. the sound of the skillet.. the hot, enticing, delicious shrimp, all red n' pink and sizzlin' fresh from the skillet.. that addictive spicy, cajun flavor..

seems like the fresh cooked batches would disappear quicker than our two star chef's could cook 'em -and our table was never without a line..

"we voted for you.. " or "where do we vote for you?" -heard this a lot, because not only was this a fundraiser for the schools, but a competition among the chef's and restaurants.

-somewhere, and i'm not sure where.. guests were invited to vote for their favorite appetizer, dessert.. favorite culinary team.. in the silent auction area i believe..

i was pretty sure we had it locked in, but when she announced the winners at 8:45..

amelia's wasn't mentioned. i felt so bad for chef, but he shook it off quick. - she, by the way, was heather quarterman, from kkiq -our local hometown station-

and i loved getting the opportunity to meet and talk with her for a while.. put face/name/voice all together for the first time, - and heather (if she does not mind me saying so.. ) is the very definition of eye-candy.

a beautiful, vibrant blond, with great style and confidence.. completely approachable/adorable, and fun to talk with

and i enjoyed learning she grew up here.. in livermore.. spent some time in journalism.. television, i think.. yes, -intended at first to be a weather girl - lived in san diego.. and by way of many different happenstances, found radio to be the perfect fit.. and is back home, in the tri valley, doing what she loves, and what it sure seems she is meant to do.. -and how cool is that.. to be a personality on the radio station you listened to growing up..

i talked with her in more length than with others, because she is experiencing, to a degree, a taste of what i believe might be ahead for me.. and we talked a little about that.. being recognized.. having people like/dislike you.. she told me she has not been recognized by her voice in stores or other public places, which surprised me, and she followed that by saying, "but i bask in my anonymity"

and it does seem pretty plush.. to be on the radio where it's your voice vs. your face out in the public arena

like with church, i do feel myself with one foot in, one foot out of my ambition to become a famous american writer.. because it is pretty awesome write now, to write what i want, when i want, how i want.. not answering to anyone, not meeting deadlines, or worse.. certain expectations, or to reach a specific audience population; with no book sale quotas to worry about

should i mess with this great freedom? i suppose if i could earn a living another way.. and keep writing like this, i would..

but can't figure out how to earn a living another way.. come to think of it.. i haven't figured out how to earn a living this way..

[skip depression dip, continue on.. ]

where was i? have i mentioned there is live music being played.. gorgeous music.. a tremendous flautist is standing out in my memory.. and that the whole place was decorated so beautifully.. with colorful fall leave decor all around.. glass sculptures filled with wine corks, ribbon, and more ribbon around each table, candles, table confetti, pumpkins.. gorgeous fall centerpieces sparkling everywhere

and it is circular, two-tiers of table after table, with every kind of gourmet appetizer you can think of being prepared before your eyes by all the great local restaurants and star chef's, and a different wine being poured from every table..

i'm not going to retype the menu, but hope i can link it here so you can see how amazing..

and did i mention we are surrounded by huge windows, so behind the scenes of all the lovely, festive people, the live cooking, the wine pouring.. the socializing.. the sky slowly darkens into a moonlit october night

it was an unbelievably wonderful, gorgeous/beautiful, ultra-fun, went-by-too-fast kind of night.

colleen and shawn left around 9:30, i think, so were unfortunatley not there for the surprise good news & extra happy ending

and -almost- neither was i.

i was busy helping chef steve pack things up and carry them to his truck. this time it was his turn to sit in his truck and listen to music while i brought things back n' forth

and i made two trips, with boxes and papers and menus.. but had seen a portable fire hydrant under the table. wasn't sure if each table was provided one for safety, or if it belong to chef..

which it did. so third and final trip back in to get chef's fire hydrant, just exactly as i'm walking through the glass entry doors, i hear heather quarterman on the mic again

"and the people's choice award goes to AMELIA'S.."

i was so happy and disappointed at the same time.. there was no colleen, or shawn, or chef steve to hear it with me..

so i hussled out, and soon as i was within shoutin' distance, hollered out to steve the good news..

then quick gave gita a call to share the good news -on her recorder-

and i'm not sure what goes along with this award.. a plaque? a prize? an announcement on the radio? the website?

but.. it sure was the perfect happy ending to an already great night to see the look on chef's face when i told him..

and i have no doubt, our "live chef" time at amelia's, where he prepares gourmet appeitizers while you watch, sip wine.. beer.. visit.. is going to grow in popularity and become the people's choice for friday nights too..


"cheers & congratulations to you chef steve! to gita/vinit! to everyone at amelia's!

pleasure meeting you colleen & shawn

and thank you to everyone at p.p.i.e. who contributed to this spectacular event!"


At 6:43 AM, Blogger FLRXMAN said...

Sounds like great fun AND YOU ARE EYE CANDY (you little milf you)

At 7:48 AM, Blogger karma lennon said...

So fun!!! I love helping out at stuff like this. It is just the ultimate! :)

At 8:10 AM, Blogger she said...

belated editing note:

that would be fire extinguisher not fire hydrant.. but you knew what i meant, write..

8": it really was great fun, and thank you.. in that, you must be a friend of squidmann's kind of way.. you big nbcm you

karma: absolutely.. and i really think it may even be more fun helping than attending only as a guest
but either way.. a great time is had by all

At 11:52 AM, Blogger The Dalai Dog said...

What a wonderful post! I felt like I was there! (and will have to go next year!)

What great observations! Funny because Colleen is our principal and now I see her in a whole new light. Maybe the parents should hang around drinking wine with her sometime!

And I second the notion that you looked like like very fine eye candy! You looked gorgeous!


At 7:19 AM, Blogger she said...

dd: big thank you my friend.. and yes.. a great date night for you & your husband next year

and, didn't realize til you just mentioned it, -you know colleen-

and she writes! instant friend then.. and she drinks! and she pours..

she was a ton of fun (but maybe that's best kept a secret from the other parents/students..)

can't wait to read her book,

-and your next one-

love & see you tuesday, ~s.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Hawley said...

Wow! What an exciting and wonderful affair. I know what you mean - it feels so special to get all gussied up and to be "needed" (even if its just to sit in the car or pour wine ;) ... and I feel the same way. To me, there is white wine and red wine and ones I like and ones I don't. Beyond that, it's all mumbo jumbo to me ;) I love Riesling becuase it's sweeter ;)

Anywho, it was very wonderful to read and you are indeed beautiful. "definitely not eye-candy.. eye-broccoli maybe.. " made me laugh, but we all know you're just being hard on yourself. You are beautiful and vibrant and full of wonders! :)

Matt had a "discernment committee" meeting (the first) last night as he begins the formal steps toward seminary and hopefully ordination someday, and was pretty nervous about it I think. There was a woman on the committee who he said reminded him of you, though we've never met :) Full of energy and passion and pep!

Wish we could meet you - in person :)

Blessings and love to you! So happy for Amelia's and for your new found friends!

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Hawley said...

ps - I still didn't expect the ending despite the title. by the time I got there, I didn't have the title on my mind anymore ;) Way to build the suspense!

At 6:37 AM, Blogger she said...

mbh: thank you so much my angel friend..

i imagine you bring light/joy/fun to any event you're a part of..

and pass on my best wishes to your (don't you love hearing this word..) ~husband~ in all his steps along the way

for both of you; in the journey as individuals and husband/wife

(and no rush here.. but, ) and parents ")

i've no doubt we will meet in person one day, and i very much look forward to it!

will toast to you this weekend w/some riesling, "cheers!"

love & God shine! ~s.

At 4:46 AM, Blogger FLRXMAN said...

hmm, what is nbcm?


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