Monday, August 26, 2013

"The Butler", a film ..... Inspiring Personal Reflections

A movie, just like a book can have a big emotional impact.  For me, this movie stirred me, dredging up memories of long ago.
When I was a little girl I would be told the Gypsies were people to be afraid of!  Never open the door when they knock, they will steal everything they can.  This sentiment was also bandied about during our period living in Sweden just recently.

My second look at prejudice was at an age of around fifteen.  At the time I did not realize what a sad and disappointing experience that was..... simply because I thought my parents were NOT prejudice!
I had met two boys while working at Skansen, a rather famous outdoor museum and park in Stockholm, where I took care of the ponies and led them, for young children to ride.  It was my very first REAL job!  These two young boys, were about my age, we shared lunch time together and chattering away as I did, (and still do) I told them where I lived and sure, I would like to see them again.  They were visitors in Sweden as I recall.  Part of my fascination was that they spoke english and also the colour of their skin.

My parents were well educated and well travelled.  Spent vacation times in Paris as I was growing up. The also got married there.  My Mother would, upon her return, tell us stories of meetings with  interesting people of different skin colour.  She had pictures of velvety eyed dark complexioned people and enjoyed their company while being in Paris.
Therefore, mark my surprise, when my parents, particularly my Mother, was totally horrified when the two boys showed up outside our apartment, hoping to see me. They were too black I fear. That was the end of that budding friendship!

Some time later I worked in a depesche office connected with one of the newspapers in Stockholm. One of my responsibilities was to write, in calligraphy, the world headlines on big sheets of paper, to be displayed in the window.  At that time the trouble in Little Rock, Arkansas was prominent in the headlines.  I was horrified!  Unable to understand the treatment of folks there. (And  I still am.)

Fast forward to my leaving Sweden at the tender age of seventeen.  Suitcase full of my clothes and those forty dollars. (The story told in an earlier blog post.)  Minnesota the destination.  Not too many dark skinned  people there either.

Some years later, married with three beautiful little blue eyed  blondies, I go to work at Mister Joseph's Salon in Saint Paul where the owner, Mister Joseph was jewish.  A new experience for me.  Later  still,  I get a job at "The VIP" a prestigious beauty salon in Minneapolis.  This was during the Vietnam War,  the Kennedy administration era, the Freedom Riders,  the "sit ins" etc.  All so well depicted in the movie "The Butler."

While at The VIP I met  and became friends with Barbara a beautiful black young woman.  A Mother of three small children just like myself.  She too worked there.  I  also met Charles, a tall handsome gay young man, who was the receptionist.  A customer Mrs. Katz was also added to my memory list.  It was Mrs. Katz who got me hooked up with KQXL, a local radio station, where I hosted an hour long program on Saturday mornings called what else, "The Scandinavian Hour?"  Mrs. Katz was the hostess for the Jewish Hour.

The engineer who guided me  during those broadcasts and spun my records was Ray Moss a tall lanky black guy from Redondo Beach in California.  He was awesome!  We became good friends and he was a great addition to the international families who frequently would gather at our house, where we had friends of, I swear, every colour and creed.  There was Larry, a jewish trombone player, a member of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra married to Eileen, a classical pianist. She was of Italian decent. Their son Todd was Maria's best friend.  There were The Shuberts', Karin and Rolf, from Germany.  Their son Lars was Freddy's best friend.  We had the Jakobsens' from Norway and a great guy from Sweden who worked for SAS, he played the guitar and sang for us (his name eludes me) and many more wonderful people in our social circle.  Ray Moss swam in our communal swimming pool at Windsor Green, probably one of the first Afro Americans to swim in a pool where only white folks lived!  In Minnesota anyway!  We were proud of that moment!

All of this was spinning in my head as I watched the movie "The Butler."  I feel truly grateful with all the "players" in my life.  Earl, or EmoSan from Hawaii, Charles Scott and his family from somewhere  in the deep South, Vern Herzer who kindly tagged along to school with Maria for Show and Tell, to speak about being a Native American.  Bob and Roz who fed us Tacos and taught us what  chorizo was all about.  Who would we be without these fabulous people and all these influences?

When President Kennedy was shot, Barbara was grief stricken.  Wondering who would care about "her people" the way she felt he did?

Then not long after that I came home from work that tragic day when Martin Luther King Jr., had been shot.  John visibly upset, saying to  me "Mommy, Mommy they have killed the King"!  He was trying to tell me in his way!  John was six years old!

Prejudices come in many forms.  Islamophobes, Homophobes, and oh, the Gypsies , etc.  Like a snake, crawling in tall grass.  We are all guilty of it to some degree or other, sadly.  I met, this person a while back who not long ago moved to California from Sweden, having landed first in Minnesota just like I did.  This person complained about there being too many Mexicans in the neigbourhood where her friends lived!

As it appears to me prejudices of all kinds, big and small are taught!  I have learned in my personal  life with my own children that they do not "see" skin colour, differences in the shape of eyes, or whether hair is curly or straight.  Unless you point it out to them.  They learn that later as they are growing up through their social contacts.

When I was growing up there were some members of our family who used and liked GARLIC! Imagine that!  They liked salami, God forbid!

What can one say, other than back in the day they burned "witches" at the stake for less!
How would it be if we just tried to be a bit more tolerant?  Allowing people to be different.  Not having  our neighbours necessarily  eat herring and pickled pigs feet if they don't want to.  Embracing immigrants. Being grateful for what they bring into our lives and into our culture.  Variety!  New tastes!  New ways of doing things!  Just because we have done something a certain way for the last 100 years does not always mean it is the ONLY way.  Does it?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Carmel By the Sea -- you see!

A day for shopping

enjoying this adorable dog friendly town

where there are many dog friends to meet

much news "to read"

small dogs to "kiss"

being in the center of attention!

There were even some cats,

in hats!

Window shopping!

....... and what might I (Ralle) ask, is THAT?

Time for a break in a shady place.

Resting all four and some toes.

A blue dog?

Doris Day memorabilia at The Cypress Inn.  She is the reason for the dog friendliness in this quaint town, we have been told.

Shopping and all that walking made us hungry.

The Future Chef enjoying Oysters

on the Half Shell..... Gulp!

Lovely grilled salmon on a bed of heirloom tomatoes and capers

Shrimp Fettuccini

Yea, we stuffed it all down

while the vigilant Ralle made sure we were not accosted by anyone!

Bread Pudding for desert

and NO we did not leave any of that behind either!

Ralle being greeted by yet another friend.

He did a little shopping too.

My turn!  I almost had to buy larger sizes after that late lunch.....

What a wonderful way to spend a day!  I shopped, Ralle shopped, the "true shopper" did not get a thing.  She drove us here and there and was the best company one could possibly have.  We have to do it again SOON!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sleeping In Seattle ... and Other Places

Loading up for a road trip to visit family in Seattle.  The future Chef wanted to see her older cousins before returning to Rhode Island to resume her university studies.  Starting year THREE!  Wow!
The distance between Hollister in central California and Seattle, Washington is approximately 750 miles = 1200 kilometers.  On the way north we over nighted in Ashland, Oregon, about half way in between here and there.

We had to look long and hard to find one of our favorite fast food places, "In N Out!"  Finally, shortly before we hit the Oregon border we found one!  Here we are having a late lunch on our first day.  There is NO "In N Out" in Oregon or in Washington State.
What they DO have in Oregon however are gas station attendants!  You cannot pump your own gas there.  Out pops the "man" who fills your tank and washes your window!  I had almost forgotten that luxurious treatment!

Ralle always enjoys checking in to the hotels and testing the beds where we  are staying.  Traveling is, after all, an arduous, tedious, and tiring business.  Good beds are important!  As opposed to our last long trip to Texas, the future Chef did most of the driving.

Taking a walk along the Knife River where Ralle got to cool his toes and have a refreshing drink of river water.  A nice break from riding in the car.  We did try to catch pictures of the "Welcome to Oregon" or "Welcome to Washington" or "Welcome to California" signs...... missed every single one;(

Crossing the river between Oregon and Washington on day two!  We got stuck in traffic heading in to Seattle...... pooped but happy, we finally arrived at the Quist house.

JQ had prepared a delectable Seafood Bouillabaisse for us, we were really hungry and MAN was it .....Mmmmm good?  Yes, it was!

A bright and early Ralle walk the first Seattle morning and every Seattle morning thereafter, heading down some quaint allies on our way to feed Felix, the guinea pig!  JQ was in charge of feeding him  his breakfasts and dinners while his "Mom" was away.

The future Chef was invited by JQ to visit a chocolate factory by the name of Theo, short for the latin name of the cacao tree (Theobroma) in Seattle.  She had NO idea there was so much to know about chocolate.  Tasting and shopping was fun too!

There was a lot to learn in this virtual Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.

One of the evenings JQ had invited friends, colleagues, and some neighbors to his "Personal Pub" for a cocktail party!  The Guest Mixologist had an opportunity to test her skills behind the antique british bar  in this swedish — icelandic basement, in this nearly 90 year old home, built in the norwegian section of Seattle.

Here she is mixing and pouring, shaking and stirring, while her Uncle proudly looks on.  The guests were charmed by her shining, smiling, happy personality!  As well as her mixing skills.

Ralle was a hit!  Ralle is ALWAYS a hit!

JQ and his beautiful wife invited us to lunch in the city!  The future Chef picked the restaurant. Seatown!  One of several fabulous restaurants owned by Chef Tom Douglas!  Ooooh Fabulous!  What to choose?  There were Lobster BLTs, Oyster Stew, Omelet stuffed with leek served on a bed of tapenade with a side of hash brown potatoes like no other!  Even the toast was amazing.  Thank you JQ. It was awesome!
Ralle napped next to a yellow lab, tied to JQ's chair during our sidewalk lunch.  All was well until a german shepherd went by.  Ralle did NOT like him!  So flew up, barked and was ready to defend his flock!  While JQ hung on to his chair fearful of going flying!  Too bad we did not get any pictures of THAT!

Vi'Skaly's Ralph Lauren is a magnet wherever we go!  Young and old they all flock to him!

The future Chef and current Starbucks Barista is seen here posing, outside the ORIGINAL Starbucks Coffee Shop!

We cruised through Pikes Market.  Packed with shoppers and delectable goods and food alike.

Produce, seafood, clothing, you name it... you can find it here ..... a truly amazing place!

A Seattle Highlight!

During our visit we had an "assistant Ralle walker"  who quickly learned to "share" his charge with lot's of people who wanted a nose nuzzle and a cuddle!

There was cheese to taste,

pizza to make,

pizza to eat,

and favorites to hang out with.

The host and hostess look really good walking their visitor, don't you agree?
The host and hostess are most likely still vacuuming white hair, don't you think?

Playtime in a neighborhood park where remnants of an old norwegian church still remain.

Homeward bound! The "polar bear" is posing with a brown bear outside our hotel in Grants Pass, where we feasted on Chinese Take Out......

and rested a bit before hitting Rogue Creamery, for tasting and shopping for truly unique and fabulous cheese.  Monica Oldsberg of Oldsberg's Ost,  you should come!

THE  prime place for handmade artisan cheese on the US West Coast!

Oregonzola or Rogue River Blue?  A hard choice to make.  When it is hard to choose, get both!  Right?  Then there is Triple Cream Cheese from Cow Girl Creamery and cheese from France from Italy from .... ???  No, no Westerbotten ost I am sad to say;-(

Next to the creamery there was a small winery with tasting  opportunity and yet another wonderful place, Lilliebelle Farms, where chocolatier Jeff Shepherd reins.  His Lavender Caramel dipped in velvety chocolate, sprinkled with Fleur de Sel..... I can not begin to tell you...

Back in the car for another long ride home. Filled with memories and lot's of good food.
Grateful for the wonderful time....

grateful for chocolate and grateful for cheese.  Most of all grateful for our FAMILY!