“Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” ~ Romans 9:20b-21 (NKJV)
“Take clear water with grass waving at the bottom. It’s wonderful to look at, but to try to paint it is enough to make one insane.” ~ Claude Monet
Insane or not with the help of a great deal from Living Social ($17) and a fun company called Wine & Canvas, I had a great time painting my very own rendition of Monet’s Water Lilies, 1916, including working to capture that grass waving at the bottom.
Nearly 30 of us – one or two brave men among all the women – met at The Factory restaurant in Fort Wayne and enjoyed an evening of painting, singing, and – for those so inclined – a glass of wine. (The singing to Don McLean’s, Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie, was impromptu, not included in the price of the “date,” and indicative of the relaxed and fun atmosphere.)
I’d always wanted to take a painting class just to see what might be secretly waiting to erupt on canvas. This was a great way to dip in and try my hand, to make a start.
My impression so far is as Monet once said,
“No, I’m not a great painter. Neither am I a great poet.”
Of course, we all know his criticism of himself was quite unfounded. Of me, it’s apropos.
Never mind that! I’m a work in progress and for now along with Monet, I find,
“I’m in a fine fettle and fired with a desire to paint.”
Ponder & Chat: What are you in a “fine fettle and fired with desire” to do? How can we encourage you to begin?
As excited as I was, I felt a bit awkward and a little nervous entering George’s place. He has an “international” appeal that is reflected in the diversity of those I met coming and going. The entrance to George’s is actually a bit small and a hangout for the practical tools of his trade, shopping carts. I had to pause for earlier visitors to make their way out the door before continuing.
Once inside it was easy to relax. My olfactory system kicked in identifying scents of lime, tomatoes, and onions. The aroma of meat cooking and something deep-frying made me glad I’d planned to dine with George. But first I’d look around a bit – take in the surroundings.
Even though I knew George was Greek, the first thing I began to notice was his obvious love of Mexican fare. A stack of cactus leaves. A wall full of hot sauces.
(I’ve recently learned that whole cactus leaves are called nopales and nopalitos when they are chopped. They’re a great source of calcium, fiber, vitamins A, C, K and magnesium. They can be served chopped in salads. Another serving idea is to saute or stir-fry them with onions and chili peppers and sprinkle with cheese.)
Near the hot sauces was a full rack of spices containing every imaginable dried or powdered ingredient one might need to create an array of tantalizing flavors. Across the aisle freshly made salsa and tortillas. Mexican vanilla and hot chocolate blends. My taste buds were aching.
Then, just as suddenly I was transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean isle of Greece. Colorful Olives and fresh feta cheeses beckoned to me along with fresh pita bread.
Teas from Sri Lanka and London tempted me and won, but I successfully resisted the many displays of cookies and sweets from around the world.
I could stand it no more. I needed to eat. George’s own Mexican Cafe was just the place. Fresh salsa, homemade guacamole, freshly made tortilla chips, and a cheese-filled quesadilla. The freshly made meat tacos were tempting even to my preference for most things vegetarian. An assortment of bottled drinks, including orange soda, were available along with freshly made lemonade. Sitting in a booth by the window, I enjoyed watching the diverse clientele come and go, dipping and munching and people watching. Life is good.
And there’s still dessert and the bakery to explore.
Ponder & Chat: Have a favorite market spot you like to visit? What makes it unique to you?
The melding of sites, smells, sounds, activity, and languages captured my present and ignited my memories as I stepped in to meet George.
A sudden silly thought: “Well, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
I wasn’t even sure I was still in Indiana.
“Just keep walking. It’s an adventure, and you love adventures. That’s why you came.”
As I prepared to meet George, someone mentioned that he was Greek. Intrigued, I wondered about the origin of his name.
From Behind the Name, the etymology and history of first names, I learned that the name “George” is indeed derived from the Greek name εωργιος (Georgios). Essentially, it means a tiller of the soil, an earth worker, or a farmer as we like to call them here in the midwest.
St. George, who was mentioned in nearly all the research sites, was a legendary 3rd century Roman soldier said to have slain a fire-breathing dragon. As tales of his life and martyr’s death were carried to England, he became their patron saint.
It was in the 18th century that King George I reigned in England and raised the name to “royalty” level. Perhaps the English-born parents of America’s first president, George Washington, had this in mind when they named their son.
Lots of famous George’s grace the pages of history. One of my favorites, comedian George Burns kept folks laughing with lines like, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family, in another city.” George W. Bush kept us laughing with some great lines, too. One I personally got to hear was when he said to Queen Elizabeth, “You helped our nation celebrate it’s bicenttenial in 17.. 1976.” (Click quote to hear it yourself.)
So, what about the interjection, “By George, I think he’s got it!” Best I can come up with was that it’s an acceptable way to substitute for inappropriately exclaiming the name of God. God starts with the letter “G.” George starts with the letter “G.” (The Mother of one of my life-long friends used to say, “Oh, sugar!” Her sweetened way of uttering something a bit less pleasant that also began with “s”, no doubt.)
I realize we’re a long way from my date with George. But sometimes following the rabbit trail can be fun, don’t you think?
Ponder & Chat: What’s behind the meaning of your name? By George, I think you should look it up and share with us!
The first time I met George was by accident. I was intrigued but unprepared.
The second time was intentional. I was curious and studied.
Most of the time I despise taking interstate highways. Sure, you nearly always can drive faster and keep moving on them. There are few distractions, not much life, not much color, no shops, no people. Just the mesmerizing hum of the tires on the asphalt and the center line whizzing by. As the cruise control keeps a steady pace my feet often wonder what to do while my hands continually push the button looking for a radio station to keep us all awake.
Give me stop signs, and pedestrians, storefronts and street vendors – give me “life” in the slow lane.
That’s how I met George. On one of my “life” journeys when I avoided Interstate 69 and set out to make my way home from the airport. I live on the north side of the city. The airport lives on the south. In the year I’d lived here, I’d not yet explored much of what lay in between the two destinations.
With no Google Maps, iPhone, or GPS, it was up to my own sense of direction to figure out the unknown streets. Unfortunately, my love for “life” outpaces my gift of a sense of direction. Fortunately, I’m a fairly brave, if not sometimes foolish, soul who believes it all works out. If you just keep moving, pretty soon you figure it out. And often, that’s when you meet the most interesting people and see the most fascinating sites.
On that day, I first met George. Today I met him again on one of my 52 Dates with Myself. But that’s tomorrow’s story.
Ponder & Chat: What’s one of your good stories about getting lost? Who did you meet as a result? What unexpected place did you see because you took a wrong turn? Please share it with us in the comments section below.
Don’t want to tell my neighbor boy, however. Just the other day his baseball rolled across the street toward my driveway. I thought I’d be nice and help him out, so I ran over, picked it up, and proceeded to throw it to him.
Okay! Yes, I’m being generous with the word “throw.”
He’s still quite young, though. I tell myself it’s possible he just saw my “throw” a bit like his own.
Don’t think his handsome Daddy thought that. He looked like he couldn’t believe I was going to try to throw him a ball overhand. I could tell, too, that he didn’t expect me to make it across the street.
Nevertheless, He smiled broadly – probably his way of stifling a belly laugh. He may have just been protecting his son, but he lunged sideways as if he meant it when I hurled the ball low and to his right. He even pretended not to mind when he had to go into the woods to retrieve it. Taking advantage of a teachable moment, he told his son to say, “Thank you.”
“Seriously,” I thought. No wonder kids learn so quickly not to trust adults. Embarrassed, I tried soothing my bruised ego by reminding myself that he’s a fireman, a natural rescuer.
So, I suppose a “throwing” date could prove quite interesting. As the anticipation builds, I’m kinda wishing I could take a handsome fireman with me just in case there arises a need for a rescuer in this upcoming date with myself . Maybe that can be next year’s project.
Ponder & Chat: What’s your best “throwing” story?
I couldn’t believe I was about to miss my date for the night! I’d kept “Joe” waiting all day. He was flexible and didn’t mind that I’d not been able to set a definite time. His schedule was open until 9 p.m.
But where did the afternoon and the evening go? How did 1:30 turn into 8:15?
Jumping in my car, I quickly calculated that if I hit all the lights just right, I could maybe get 30 minutes with him. Those 30 minutes would be wonderful. I’d take them and enjoy every moment.
Like me, “Joe” loves good food. Though he’s a year younger than me, he seems so much wiser in the “ways of the world.”
Like me, “Joe” loves variety. Though his house is not that big, he has “mementoes” from many lands.
Like me, “Joe” likes good wine. Though he might choose something expensive, his “signature” bottles are, well, cheap.
Like me, “Joe” loves to have fun. Though he’s quite serious about business, he always looks like he’s going to a luau.
Like me, “Joe” loves communication. Though he’s not one for sitting down too long, he’ll “ring my bell” when something needs said.
Like me, “Joe” can be full of surprises. Though he’s often sure and steady, he’s always got something new and different for me to try.
Ah, “Joe,” forgive me for being late and thanks for unlocking the door when it was time for me to leave at 9:30.
Can’t wait to do it again soon!!!
“The troupe has become a favorite on the Washington social circuit. Its political satire brings chuckles…rave reviews…guffaws…and bipartisan grins all around. The satire hits the mark.”
The Wall Street Journal
What’s better than laughing till your sides hurt? Getting in free to a great show that gives you the chance for that laughter! That’s the gift I found for last week’s date in my journey of 52 Dates with Myself. IPFW’s Omnibus Lecture Series celebrated its 100th Lecture since 1995 with free tickets to a hysterical performance by The Capitol Steps.
Their musical political satire had the 1,600 members of the crowd in a constant uproarious state. Saturday Night Live on political steroids. Check out some samples of the fun here at their website.
Just as exciting and fun as the show was discovering the wealth of great events IPFW brings me. Over 1,500 free events annually. There’s lectures, comedians, cookouts, theater, visual arts, concerts. Many of them free, many of them very affordable. Looking forward to more date nights to come.
Ponder & Chat: What great free or very affordable date opportunities have you found your local colleges and universities provide?
Now, I’m not talking about a break-up like the one in my April Fool’s day post. But rather just a simple hiatus from the daily routine and sometimes narrow focus that happens in a long-term relationship.
This past weekend, I had just such a break from the relationship with myself at a mini-retreat with three life-long friends. Life has taken the four of us down unique paths, even as it has given us much to share and learn from each other.
For years we were only Christmas card friends, but a few years ago we reconnected and established a loose routine of an annual retreat. We know our early histories quite well, the families from which we spawned, the siblings, the parents, the school days, the church groups, some of the spouses.
Our first times together were filled with catching up on the long, yet somehow short, years of life when we were not so connected. The children, the loss of spouses, the loss of parents, careers, faith, health, struggles, joys, happiness. All the things that make a life.
Now, having added more history, we just enjoy being together. Sometimes we’ll throw in a show or a museum. We may seize the hot tub from the kids at the hotel. But more often than not we’re gathered in the hotel room, chairs encircled around a game of cards or our feet propped on that same table with laughter and tears flowing.
I love my friends and am grateful that they:
- hear me out and give me other perspectives to consider;
- love me and challenge my faulty assumptions;
- laugh with me and never mind the tears that closely follow;
- feed my soul then release me to fly re-nourished for my journey and reinvigorated with commitment for my other relationships.