Our support group honored Valentine's Day at SweetBytes Cafe in Ambler, PA, once an asbestos capital of the country.
If I thought our time at the cafe was good, little did I know what would await me when I began to drive home.
First, though, I found the Ambler coffeeshop easily. After parking, I opened the two doors - good idea Donna and Lorraine Mitchell - to keep the heat inside. It was exciting stepping inside. Who knew what to expect?
There was Jack Enea strumming his guitar. Hi Jack, I said, and then I saw them! The New Directions crowd! Helen the Mall Queen was dancing w/husband Larry the mustachioed athlete. All told, here's who came: Ron, the "one-armed man" who brought two huge photographs of alligators; Mike, whose Italian family name was changed at Ellis Island; Ingrid Bergman and her husband the famous Italian director Rosselini; Tony, another athlete and cardio-kickboxer; Fontaine whose aunt (pronounced ahnt) calls her Fontanya.
The food was unparalled! I thanked my pancreas for doing a great job digesting - oy veh! - scrumptious hot chocolate w/o whipped cream (see, I do have will power) and perfectly browned slices of French toast made w/raisin bread.
Have one, Fontanya, I said.
Then we each got a complimentary pint-size red cupcake with frosting and I called upon my lovely pancreas to again help me digest this delicious morsel.
We stayed till the cafe closed at 2 pm. And good news! We will definitely host one of our Coffeeshop Gigs here. The owners said the most wonderful word in my vocabulary: YES.
Pam London Barrett will be overjoyed. Ya know what? Maybe we'll have it in March, snow permitting.
More than anything, I love putting on shows. Wait'll I tell you what the sculptor Henry Moore wrote about the meaning of life.
The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is —it must be something you cannot possibly do!
Ain't that great! When I worked for Art Matters I interviewed Phil Berman, art collector extraordinaire and then-owner of Hess's in Allentown, PA, who took me out to his rancher which was filled w/Moore sculptures in his backyard!
My backyard is filled with leaves, snow, a fallen-over hydrangea tree we'll have to chop down. Sculptures? Not a one.
Berman drove a Cadillac Cimarron, the Edsel of the Cadillac family, which I immortalized in my first novel. The car is driven by a real estate agent. I think my novel is pretty good.
Various things remind me of my novel.
My daughter Sarah has a new blog which I found tonite by accident. She doesn't like me commenting on her blogs or even reviewing her book on Amazon but I couldn't resist putting in a comment on her fab new blog.
Here's what I wrote, just in case she bans it:
Comment by Mollie Feigenbaum
What a wonderful column this is. I'm actually the main character of a new novel that is trying to get published. I perform a sexy dance for my lover Angel Guerrero in which I put on some hoppin music and sexily gurate for him. In addition to being a very sex scene, I hope it frees up readers to loosen up about sex, enjoy it to the max and just have fun.
As you may know, I taught two Joy of Intimacy classes in the Doylestown Hospital Wellness Center. May do it again if I get up my nerve. And if I ever have sex again.
She is not a gal who kisses and tells.
I'm driving home from the coffeeshop. Came to Lindenwold Road. Had been there before to check out The Vikas Home for mentally ill adults. No, not for me, silly, for one of my clients. Was stunned by the beauty of the many-turreted many roomed house and retraced my carprints.
Down down down the street I went and pulled out my camera. Put on my flashers, got out into the howling wind and took a photo of a grand house and a tall beautiful wrought-iron gate with letters reading St. Mary's Villa for Children.
Just the word 'villa' connoted something grand and different. I drove on looking for the entrance.
No trespassing read the sign.
Then.... Alcoholic beverages not permitted. C'mon, will ya? Have faith in human beings. Don't be so damn Catholic, making people go to confession as if all we're capable of is doing bad things.
He who among you is without sin go directly to the doghouse.
So I proceeded intrepidly down the lane passing a HUGE frozen pond with statue in the middle. I could not believe my eyes. But that was just the beginning. Each building was an architectural masterpiece. This must be the estate, I thought to myself, of one of the Asbestos Magnates who built up the town and erected castle-like houses for the company execs and rowhouses for the workers.
Oh, dear, it breaks my heart that the workers get the short end of the stick. I do believe in capitalism, I do not name names, Mr. McCarthy, but the chasm between rich and poor is simply too great.
At a chapel I hopped out of my car with my camera, stepped way way back and began shooting. And there, quite simply, five stories up was something that looked like a puppet of Jesus Christ our Lord. Or Howdy Doody. I couldn't tell from where I stood on the ground.
Driving out I did get stopped. The man was one of the administrators of the place, Dave Como, who wore a beautiful yellow scarf. We talked a few moments and I drove slowly away.
Builder of Lindenwold, I learn on the Internet, was Dr Richard Mattison, a chemist with the asbestos company Keasbey and Mattison, est. 1873. From patented meds, they moved to producing asbestos after learning that "milk of magnesia would adhere to a hot metal pipe, and when mixed [with] asbestos and other heat-resistant products, could be turned into an insulation material." This soon became "the focus of the company."
And later, of course, for investigations into the cancer-causing properties of the material.
I brought my photos to my son Dan and Nicole's house hoping they could get the photos out of the camera for me. Unlike Bill Hess, I don't know how. Dan told me he'd find me another camera.
Nicole showed me the ultrasounds of their baby cleverly dubbed Peanut Deming. Is he ever adorable! He's already started reading books in the womb, I think he's reading about cats, since he'll be joined by Nudge and Blank, the Toohey-Deming family cats.
I couldn't quite make it out but I also thought Peanut was drinking.... yes... yes.... iced coffee! A family favorite. Dunkin Donuts has the best. Sipped thru a straw you can listen to the jiggle of ice as you inhale deeply.
Life: love it, revel in it, kvell in it as the Jews say, well, not the Jews, just me, kvell being a wonderful word meaning Immerse yourself.
That's it. I'm outa here. Five more movies from the Abington Library to watch. For movie-lovers I suggest the 1934 B&W Boudu Saved from Drowning. Film-maker Jean Renoir was the son of the famous painter. He used the great Swiss actor Michel Simon in the title role.
As I told my group today, I can usually remember facts for about two days and then - poof! - gone with the wind.
When I returned my previous 5 films and books to Abington, here's the conversation that transpired when I went to the counter:
RZ: Hi Linda. Did you get the handout I emailed you about my bread class?
LJ: Yes, but you didn't tell me how much flour the library needs to buy.
RZ: Okay, I'll mail it in. Hey, can I borrow a pen and a piece of paper? I wanna write down the final words in this book by Salinger.
And now, as I fumble in the pocket of my black coat, I pick up the scrap of paper with the following words, the very end of Seymour, an Introduction:
Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next. Is he never wrong?
Profound, n'est-ce pas?